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Monday, February 14, 2011

dilemma about a space

Our spare room, currently occupied by two tenants, is going to be empty soon, which is a good thing - mostly.

When our tenants confirmed they were moving out we smiled a bit. Our first response was, "Cat boarding!" because in the line of our work we meet cat owners that need a hotel to board their cats on holidays and they simply have to go elsewhere because we can't do it for them for lack of space. With a spare room, we can. Cat boarding is also in line with the social enterprise direction we are intending to grow along as a cat rescue. It is the only way I can finally move towards cat rescue as a full-time job, officially, because it will bring me income.

Right now, of course, I am already doing cat rescue full-time, and my unrelated but paying freelance jobs are just part-time. Well, full-time is a misnomer when it comes to me, because I can't really work that much, still. I still can't do a lot of things normal people can. I still get panic attacks albeit now less frequently (last one was on Saturday). I still fall sick with psychosomatic rubbish often; I have been having a headache for the past 3-4 weeks now and even as I am writing this. From the small pool of resources within myself to do anything occupational, almost all of it goes towards my cat rescue work. It isn't enough of course to count as much, but J does it with me, I am not alone. So, despite how weak I am, it is safe to define that I really am doing cat rescue full-time, just simply unpaid at the moment.

I could of course, abandon the cat boarding idea for the spare room, and think of my original idea before this pair of tenants came along: which was to make it my classroom to teach my students in. It has great light, the air-con is cooler. The hard part is prospecting for more students. Doable, I guess. The only problem is, what kind of student-load can I take on before I fall too sick again and need to be forced into a sabbatical and let everyone down? I need to take on 2-3 more students to replace the loss of rental income. I am not sure I can handle that without breaking down. And if my doctor tells me once again I need to work only on alternate days and not every day, I pretty much have to let go of the idea of more students to love and teach. A dedicated teaching room is too big an investment on a brittle person like myself.

We do relish the idea of having the whole flat to ourselves when our tenants leave. We can use the room to store the rescue cats' supplies, and finally clear up the cat-related clutter in the foster lounge (living room), make space to foster more rescue cats if possible. I also look forward eagerly to our electricity bills coming down with less humans in the house. And a cleaner toilet (current tenants don't really upkeep the bathroom), dedicated to cat-related uses like cleaning and baths. In any case, for the spare room, storing foster cats' stuff and boarding cats for owners on holidays are both synergistic uses that work together.

Yet at the back of our minds we worry about the loss of regular rental income. Sure, cat boarding income will be about the same as our current rental income. But it won't be regular, and thus will take some getting used to. And, considering how poor we are now no thanks to my inability to work more and my crazy-high medical bills, this will be a tough one to ride out.

The good thing is, while it is a fluctuating source of income, it has the potential to bring us much more than from simply renting out a room at a fixed rate monthly. There will be a teething period, there will be down times. But the financial potential is great. It is synergistic with our goals in our volunteer work. It is easier for me to do than teaching because I can go on furlough anytime if I break down.

But our financial drought will become worse before it gets better. If this is the route to take, we will have to survive it no matter what until we start on a financial trajectory.