These are the stories of my life, rescuing, socializing, and standing up for the rights of cats everywhere. It’s an amazing journey, one of inner and outer tribulation and triumph, of heartache and hope. As I struggle to make ends meet, get my Non-Profit cat rescue off the ground and simply find my way in the world; I extend my hand out and ask you to join me in my dream of finding a home for every cat and to stop the insanity of euthanizing adoptable animals as a way of population control.

And I do all that while caring for my own 8 cats who leave me somewhat cranky and perpetually Covered in Cat Hair.

Welcome.

Timmy's Ashes Project. One Cat Who Changed the World.

When I was 16, my very first serious boyfriend and I traveled about 90 minutes from my parents home to the “northwest corner” of Connecticut. My boyfriend wanted to impress me by taking me somewhere romantic and it was a big deal to be able to go so far from home, alone with a boy! I remember walking hand-in-hand with him, feeling like we’d always be together. A sparkling waterfall roared nearby, but we were too in love to hear it, busy sneaking kisses along the steep path to the top of the falls where we could kiss some more.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Covered bridge entrance to Kent Falls.

Kent Falls is far more than a tiny state park nestled into the shoulder of a the southern Berkshire mountains. After almost 4 decades, it’s entered my bloodstream. Although my boyfriend and I didn’t last, I continued to visit the falls over the years, especially off-season, right after a heavy rain. The falls were almost bursting at the seams and the effect was dramatic.

My mother and I often went to the falls together and, in fact, today, when I returned there, I flashed back to those times. I had a difficult relationship with my mother, but at Kent Falls we were too busy taking photos to get on each other’s nerves…okay until she asked me, as she often did, to stand somewhere precarious so she could get a good photo. If I fell to my death, she’d worry about getting the shot over saving my life, but in a way I couldn’t blame her. We often walked the trails in the area watching others get a bit too close to the water’s edge. My mother would whisper to me; “FALL!” hoping her desire to see someone fall into the raging river would come to pass. Did I say my mother was a sweet angel? No. I did not.

2005 Mum on the Rock
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. My mother on the "do not climb" area.

Our last trip to Kent Falls was about 6 months before my mother died. Her passing was unexpected and terribly shocking. She’d kept her heart failure a secret from me and I found out the hard way when she didn’t answer her phone one morning and I raced to her home to find her already gone from this world. It was this last trip that was our best, and why Timmy’s Ashes Stones needed to become part of our memory tapestry there.

I was driving north, about 30 minutes away from the falls. My mother and I weren’t saying much, the usual tension filled the air. Off to our right, soaring high above us we saw a large bird.

I said to my mother; “Is that a bald eagle?”

“Yes, I think it is!” she replied excitedly.

Then suddenly, what at first looked like a white ribbon, quickly emerged out of the back of the eagle and fell just as quickly to the earth.

Once again I asked my mother; “Was that what I think it was? Did that eagle just take a shit?”

Without pause, my mother turned to me and put her hand on my arm. She replied; Turn the car around and head home. It can’t get any better than this.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. One of Timmy's stones. It reads: "Timmy was here."

Both laughing, the tension evaporated between us. By the time we reached the falls they were broiling and bubbling as we’d never seen before. The nearby Bulls Bridge area was terrifying, the river was lapping against the banks as we passed a bit too close by on a tiny slick path that hugged the side of a hill. We got our photos. We didn’t fall to our death (or see anyone fall, though one guy was pushing his luck) and before we headed home we stopped at a café and had grilled cheese sandwiches and tea. It was a perfect day.

I cherish this place like no other, so that’s why today, on a brisk, brilliant day, I drove my car north, to Kent Falls. It was the first time I’d been there since my mother died so it was an especially meaningful trip.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Base of Kent Falls near where I placed the stones.

When I arrived, there were barely a handful of people at the park. As I walked over the narrow wooden covered bridge to access the grounds, one that was built in the early 1930’s, as the ghosts of my past came to visit me. On that bridge, faded and softened with time, are my initials carved into the wood, along with those of my first boyfriend, David. I can’t even find them now, but I know they're still there. The dreams of our life together are long gone, but the memory of that first love will always be in my heart.

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As I walked along the path that lead to the falls, I remembered holding my young nephew’s hand on his first pilgrimage to this place, my mother urging us to stop every few steps so she could take another picture of us. She couldn’t capture the feeling of family, of love and togetherness. She was too uncomfortable to be affectionate or say; “I love you,” but we knew she did as she clicked the shutter, yelling at her quirky old autofocus camera to “FOCUS DAMMIT!”

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson.

Then my thoughts turned to Timmy, a cat I’ve never met, who’s life was cruelly shortened by a toxic exposure to over-the-counter flea treatments. I think about his mom, Claudia and how her heart is broken now that Timmy’s gone. I think about how if Timmy hadn’t gotten sick, Claudia never would have created a non-toxic soap that my rescue, Kitten Associates, can safely use on the tiniest of kittens. How I don’t have to worry I’m going to harm the most innocent of creatures because one woman loved her cat so very much and who loved all of us so very much that she wanted to protect every cat and dog in the whole wide world.

So she did.

It takes a certain kind of brave heart to be able to face the painful daily reminder of seeing your cat wobble when he walks, his nerves forever damaged, but to turn that heartache into helping others so they never have to see their own cat suffer, too—well that needs to be honored.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson.

That’s why I wanted to tell you about my most special place on earth. It’s full of ghosts, tears and laughter, but mostly it’s filled with love.

As I walked up an incline near the falls, I found a place very close to the water, but not too close so that Timmy’s memorial stones would wash away. I knew that even if they did, that was okay, too because Timmy’s memory would move along the river and find a new place to be discovered. Now his stones are part of my memory and part of my life. He may have been a cat I’ve never met, but his loss is just as vivid as if I lost one of my own.


©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Stone placement.

I sat on a fallen tree near the falls after I placed and photographed the stones. There was no one else around and I was glad to have some privacy. I cried for Timmy, for how unfair it was that he died so young. I cried for his mom, Claudia, wishing I could give her a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay and that I’m so proud of what she’s done to honor her beloved cat. I cried because I wish I’d hear my mother’s voice, tell me to sit up straight and tip my head down, just a tiny bit, so I wouldn’t have a double chin in the photo she was about to take of me. I cried because somehow 40 years have slipped by and I realize I haven’t done enough good in my own life.

GPS
Geotag of stones.

Timmy and Claudia are an inspiration to me and a reminder to all of us that one cat with one person who loves them CAN change the world. I hope that tonight when you’re with your cat or cats, you think about ways you can make the world a better place for all of us and get out there and do just that.

Fly free sweet Timmy. Thank you and your mom for making our world a better, safer place.

#TimmysAshesProject

#TinyTimmy

#BetheWave

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Thank you for allowing me to be a ripple in the wave.

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This Precious Life: We'll Never Really Know. Conclusion.

(Continued from Part 1)

I asked about the moms and she said yes to me getting them spayed, at least.

In the end, she adopted out 8 kittens that were not fixed and I doubt had any vetting of any kind. Who did she sell them to? What really happened with them? I do not know. The few times I asked I got a different answer. One answer was it was good homes to good families then it was to friends and to their own family members. I was livid. I knew if those kittens were alive, all of the rescues in CT just had 8 more intact cats to deal with. God knows how many more kittens they would have before they were vetted, IF they were even alive.

Chapstick at 2 weeksish
Chapstick/Miracle beating the odds.

I begged to help the moms get spayed and we finally were able to set up an appointment to get it done. I was so excited that we could get these cats vetted. Everything was going fine. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I had found out they were moving to Georgia soon, so it was good this was getting done. An HOUR before the appointment I got a text…“sorry but Jon worries the moms will throw a clot on the trip down to GA because it’s so soon after we have to leave so we have to cancel.”

Once again I found myself in utter disbelief. What a crock of shit. Really? Instead of getting these cats vetted for free, they’re going to move them intact into the state that has a horrifically high kill rate in all the municipal shelters. Those cats, if they ever got lost or kept breeding had a very bad future ahead of them. I was at the end of my rope, not to mention I had to be rude and cancel on my Vet which hurts my relationship with him.

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One of the other mama-cats.

Unwilling to give up, I took yet more time to send them info on low cost clinics in their new home state so they could get all the cats vetted once they got there. They always assured me that the cats would be taken care of and it would be fine, but I just felt placated.

The final straw was this week.[editor's note: this was over a year ago] I thought they were long gone but they were still here, living in a hotel. Now they wanted help getting their two moms (the ones I’d offered to get spayed) a new home, along with the male who I’d had neutered. They were moving in a few DAYS and couldn’t keep all the cats. Could I help?

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Tiny tummy.

I should have said no, but I wanted to help the cats so I said I would try. I begged a BIG favor from a dear friend who does rescued and she offered to take them, but…she asked after Miracle. What about her? Of course, she needed to be spayed, too. I told her she would have to make the deal with the couple. That I would go get them, I would help vet them, whatever I could do, but in the end if she was taking the cats she would have to make the arrangements.

She talked to them a few times each time getting a different story. I didn’t even know they’d kept a male kitten from one of the litters so they had a male and female kitten who were intact. When she told them she’d take ALL the cats and get them vetted, then give them back the kittens they balked. First, they suddenly changed their minds that the fixed male could stay with them and that they only wanted the two females to be re-homed. They wouldn’t answer certain questions. It was Wednesday, they were moving on MONDAY. We had to RUSH to get every cat vetted. Then all of a sudden they wouldn’t answer Katherine’s texts asking them when we could come get the cats.

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Miracle with one of her stepmoms.

Clearly they did not want to give up the kittens, but it was okay to give up the young adults that had just had litters of kittens. Why? Was it because the new “adam and eve” kittens were going to be bred next? Had I unearthed a backyard breeder? I can’t say. I can ask questions because things didn’t line up. It’s one thing to change your mind, but it’s another to change your story depending on who you’re talking to. I was furious.

I got up very early Thursday and called my vets. I again begged for an appointment to S/N the kittens. We could do the adults later. No one could help or if they did the costs were outrageous. I knew I had a litter of kittens coming up on a transport the following week. It runs back to Georgia so it would buy us time. All I had to do was get the kittens vetted, then we’d pay to transport them to Georgia and Christal could pick the kittens up when they were in their new place. It was crazy, but it was the best we could offer. My friend would take the adult moms and get them vetted and find them homes.

Opening Eyes
Looking more like a kitten than an alien.

Then yesterday…the final straw. Now they were leaving the next day (today) instead of Monday. And she tells me; “thank you for your help but we’ll just get vouchers” (her patented answer every time we challenged her about really getting her cats S/N. You can only get one per family in CT and she needed at least 4-again more BS. When they get to GA they will take care of it and to forget it but they will just keep all the cats—even the ones they asked us to re-home.

Sure they will.

So I blew my top. I went online to Facebook. Christal had unfriended me. All the photos she’d posted on my timeline of Miracle were gone. I did a search on her name and it came up empty. Why do this if they are so innocent? I searched for Jon. Same thing. Gone. I decided to let them have it. This is my final text message to them:

"Never in my life have I ever been so manipulated, lied to, used, taken advantage of. You’ve wasted SO MUCH of my time that could have gone to helping cats who really deserved help. Shame on you. I can’t believe you won’t get your cats S/N. Backyard breeders are the lowest of the low. There is no excuse. Let me be clear, I find what you do disgusting and reprehensible. Saying you will get a voucher or find a service is a lie. Everything you’ve said to us is a lie. I have news for you. You can’t make a buck off kittens in Georgia if that is even where you’re really going. All you’ve done is guarantee that poor chapstick will have a hellish life and the others will, too. We offered to help you, no matter what it cost us in time and resources and you just made up another excuse. This didn’t have to happen. All your cats could have been traveling healthy and not been able to reproduce ever again. Thank you for reminding me never to trust anyone or give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m sorry for the rescues in the state where you’re moving to next. All the rescues need to be warned about you as well as the DOA [note: Dept of Agriculture who oversees animal welfare issues] and if I can I WILL get the word out about what you’re doing. That’s not a waste of time in my book as you have been. Have a great move. Thank you for leaving Connecticut and all those intact kittens you sold to “good homes.” I’m sure we’ll be cleaning up that mess for years to come."

With his new mamas c peruzzi
Latched on.

She replied that she was sorry. That she would agree to get the cats spayed some day and they were NOT backyard breeders. That there were things going on she could not talk about-too embarrassing-that caused them to make the choices they did—that they wanted to keep all the kittens the mamas had, not just keep the 2 but it wasn’t feasible.

I didn’t write back. I don’t know what to think. It would be one thing if it was only me who felt uneasy with how this transpired but my friend was distrusting of them from the first moments they began to talk. She was very leery of the answers they gave her and how they kept changing their tune. I wasn’t being paranoid. I could trust my evaluation of the situation.

Because I don’t want to vilify anyone I will leave it up to you to decide what you think is wrong or right with this big mess. Maybe Miracle will be just fine. Maybe she will be vetted one of these days when this family gets back on their feet. Maybe we should be compassionate and help this family through a tough time and understand that this was all a bunch of unfortunate coincidences and because we don’t know the FULL story. We can’t judge.

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Eating on her own.

So. I’m not judging, but I DO feel like I’ve learned a lesson. In my friend Chris’s words this is a cautionary tale. There’s a point at which you have to walk away from a rescue situation. This time the cats are leaving the state and it’s out of my hands. If they were staying here I know I’d still want to find a way to help, but can’t if I can’t trust these people and their intentions.

That poor little kitten barely clinging to life in a cardboard box, then nursed to life truly is a miracle, but what happens next to her…I shudder to think.

As for myself-I’ve learned I have to insist on doing paperwork every time we let someone foster for us, help us, work with us. The logistics and emergency nature of Mira’s rescue made that impossible, but I am going to make sure this never happens again. At least if I’d had the forms signed, I would have had a right to get her back even though I doubt I would have been successful.

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Last photo of Miracle I got.

I hate to think that this is yet another situation that will cause my heart to turn against people. I’ve heard it so many times. People who do animal rescue despise humans. They despise the bullshit, the lies, the cruelty. I don’t want to be one of those rescuers, but I have to admit it’s not going to be easy to remain open and caring with the next person who calls.

This Precious Life: We’ll Never Really Know.

There are rarely situations where what occurs can be clearly labeled as black or white. Somewhere in between the shades of grey lies the truth. Many of you have asked for an update about a neonatal kitten nicknamed Chapstick, who's called Miracle these days. I’ll do the best I can to not point fingers or make declarations in this update. You can decide for yourself what you think is going on because in all honesty, I don’t know that we’ll ever really know the truth.

Miracle and a sibling were found inside a cardboard box, hidden under trash in a dumpster at a gas station in Waterbury, CT. The folks who found the kittens thought they could care for them, but I warned them that perhaps we should help. Neonates are very fragile and I was very worried about them. They said they were okay for the time being.

After a day they called again asking for help. The kittens were dying. I had our Jeannie jump in to take charge. She’s my trusted “go-to” person for the littlest kittens. Before she could do much of anything, one of the kittens died. The other was in critical condition. The rest of these first hours are documented in my posts HERE and HERE.

If the story had ended as this tiny kitten was becoming stabilized in my previous post, it would have been a joyful conclusion. Miracle had many setbacks but she did not die. In fact after a rough week she began to improve. She was very small for her age, but she did begin to grow. She was put with the combined litters of 2 sister/mama-cats who had just had kittens of their own around the same time Mira arrived. We know that her new moms were one big reason why Miracle survived. The other reason was her foster dad, Jon.

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©2014 Jeannie G. How Chapstick got her original name. Later she was called Midnight, then finally, Miracle.

Sal, the guy who originally discovered the fragile kittens at the gas station, had put an ad on craigslist looking for a lactating cat to put the kittens with and had found that Jon had mama cats. We didn’t know this while Jeannie was trying to save Mira, but after she told me the kitten was dying and it was just a matter of time, I would have told her to try anything to save its life. As the clock was running out on Miracle, Sal called Jeannie and said he’d found someone with a mama-cat. She agreed it was the kitten’s best chance to survive so that’s how Mira ended up with Jon's cats. I didn’t have much say in all this, it happened too fast. There were no other options. I also didn't want Jeannie to suffer further heartache with the possible loss of another kitten. In all the confusion, I never got any foster paperwork signed over. It was touch and go with the kitten and I was soley focused on her well being, not the fine details of whose cat this was. We’d sort it out later.

A few days after Mira arrived at Jon’s I went there to see her and to bring a huge donation of food, toys for the cats and toys for the family’s 5 little children. What I didn’t feel comfortable about writing about until now was that their apartment was in a very bad part of a not-very-safe town. I was nervous walking less than a block from where I parked to their home. Once inside it was clear they didn’t have two sticks to rub together. It made me feel scared for them and also made me want to help them even more. I figured the least I could do is keep their cats fed after they told me they never meant to be in this place, but chose it from photos on the internet. Once they arrived in this central Connecticut town from their home in Pennsylvania, they realized they needed to move, but the problem was their finances couldn’t cover a change any time soon. Now they had five cats and two had just given birth. I offered to get them all fixed when the time was right. Two of the cats were already spayed and a third, a young male, needed to be neutered. We agreed that once the moms were ready, we would cover the cost of getting them spayed, too.

Trunk of stuff
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A donation of food, toys and treats filled my trunk.

But there were aspects of this situation that didn’t sit right with me from early on and this is where the finger-pointing might begin. Is it at me for how I handled things? Is it towards Mira’s caretakers? Is it both?

You have to understand something about me. I want to help everyone I can with whatever is troubling them. I take people at face value. I assume people are honest with me, as I am with them. Does that make me gullible? Probably, but I believe that lying is a big waste of time, plus there is no way I can remember my lies so I don’t bother. Doing rescue I’ve seen that it usually requires the effort of a team of people, people you have to trust. It’s life or death in many cases and many of us understand that and respect it. We put our nose to the grindstone and get the job done, save the life if we can, then go on to the next situation.

I will do what it takes to help cats and perhaps that is also my Achilles heal. Sadly, I think there are people in this world that will take advantage of that truth about me.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Unable to right herself, Miracle fell over but we were right there to help her sit up.

I asked Jon how he knows so much about kittens. In a rapid-fire staccato, he replied he'd lived on a farm and the cats were always having kittens and he would jump in to save them. It made sense, but alarmed me since why not get them spayed since he knew about getting that done. I didn’t want to be disrespectful so I kept my mouth shut, plus it was water under the bridge. Then we got to talking about their intact male cat who had fathered both litters of kittens. Jon made a comment about wanting the cat’s genes passed on. It startled me but I didn’t push the fact. I offered to get the cat neutered and they agreed to have it done (which WAS done a few weeks later). I asked what happened with the sisters getting pregnant and they said they didn’t realize they had 2 girl cats since one was an orange tabby they assumed it was a boy.

What didn't add up was that the cat wasn’t orange it was buff. How could they know everything there is about kitten care, but they can’t sex an adult cat or not notice the cat was going into "heat"?

Maybe they were just being quirky? I didn’t know. Knowing that Mira was okay, but fragile, I left my donations with them and said to let me know if they needed anything else.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fussy feeding time while Cupcake looks on.

I got a call the following Saturday. Due to Jon having to stay up around the clock with Mira, he lost out on a carpentry job and could I help them get more cat food? I felt terrible about that so I dropped what I was doing, ran to the store, then drove another hour in a different direction to their apartment to get them the food. When I arrived Jon said they were okay and didn’t really need it that second, but thanked me. I had just spent most of my Saturday getting this done for them and now they don’t really need it? His wife, Christal tried to sweep it under the rug. At least I got another look at Miracle, though my camera failed, I could see she was doing much better.

Christal then told me she was worried about one of the other adult cats named Cookie. She worried there was a mass on her side but they couldn’t afford vet care. Normally we don’t pay the vet bill for owned cats, but I felt I owed this family for their care of Mira so I said I would get their cat vetted if they used our low-cost vet.

Well…the two vets who are reasonably priced were a few miles too far to bring their cat to so I had to set the appointment up with my own vet who is very expensive. I worried that if the cat had cancer we could be on the hook for who knows what sort of tests. I decided to set a budget and just okay an x-ray and blood work and the exam and figure out what to do next. It took many text messages back and forth over days to find a time and day that would work...then appointments would be canceled last minute over and over. I understand. She’s got little kids. They don’t have money for gas. I was tempted to give them money, but I was really starting to wonder what was going on so I just waited for them to let me know when to try to set the appointment again. Frankly, I barely had money for gas myself so I did what I could.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Cookie getting examined.

We finally get Cookie to the Vet. Cookie is a gorgeous silver tabby. She looked great but I knew that there could be underlying problems. Dr. Mary carefully examined Cookie as she spoke with Christal. Dr. Mary tried to find the growth on Cookie’s abdomen. There was no mass of any kind. She politely said it could just be some belly fat, while Christal tried to act as though there was something there when there wasn’t. I didn’t want to do any more tests, but we did them and they were all negative or normal. Cookie had flea dirt so I told Christal I had flea treatments at my home, which is a 15 minute drive from my Vet. I asked her to come to my house so I could save the money on buying flea meds from the Vet but she said no, she really couldn’t take the time. She also added that Cookie wasn’t getting along with the other cats and I said I would take the cat and re-home her but she said no. It was, however, okay for me to spend another $50.00 on a feliway diffuser for the cat and they’d see if that helped her stop peeing on the clothes the kids were leaving on the floor. (even though leaving clothes on the floor was the problem).

In the end I spend over $200.00 vetting a cat who didn’t need anything other than a flea treatment that I had FOR FREE at my house. I was glad Cookie was okay but I was sorry to let her go back to that situation. I know I could have re-homed her easily.

Yet again something that was off...okay maybe she made a mistake, but I’d repeatedly asked her over the WEEKS it took to get the appointment if the growth was staying the same size or getting bigger. I worried about an abscess or a tumor, but she would only say she wasn’t sure.

I felt like I worried about this for nothing, not to mention all the time I wasted trying to get this appointment worked out.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. So very tiny!

The next issue was Christal complaining to me that Sal, the guy who found the kitten wanted the kitten back and that he and his girlfriend were harassing Christal for her to return the kitten. By this point Christal had told me that she and Jon wanted to keep Mira. I wanted to say no, but after everything they did how would I get the kitten back?

Christal wanted me to help protect her from this harassment about getting Mira. What could this guy do to them legally, she asked? Christal said they never promised Sal that he would get the kitten back. I thought this was nuts since last I heard Sal told me they could not afford another pet so it didn’t add up.

I also had NO idea they were even in touch. I called Jeannie and asked her if she knew anything. She reported that indeed Sal wanted the kitten and that his version was that Christal had been sending them updates this entire time, plus photos and was calling them often and making it sound like they COULD get the kitten when she was ready to be weaned. Now she had changed her tune and they were really upset for being led on for so long.

Since there was no paperwork proving that anyone “owns” this once discarded kitten, whoever has her owns her.

Sure. People can change their mind. Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe Jon decided after his hard work the kitten needed to stay with them, but why lead these other folks on? Okay, maybe it was just another not-so-smart move. I’m just getting texts asking to fix it. I can’t. It’s their mess, but I could tell them that cats are only considered “property,” like a shoe or car, and that ownership has to be proven, and in this case it was impossible.

Meanwhile, the two litters of kittens were approaching the age of being ready for adoption. I contacted Christal and asked about getting them set up to be spayed/neutered (S/N) and that I wanted to get the moms done, too. Our verbal agreement was that my rescue, Kitten Associates, would cover the costs of vetting all the kittens and the moms. We would post the kittens on our Petfinder.com account. We would direct applicants to use our online application and direct all inquiries to Christal so she and Jon could choose the homes for the kittens. Made sense. Everyone agreed…

…until the subject of money came up.

Christal wanted to know who would get the adoption fee for the kittens and I replied that we paid for the services so we get the fee. If there was anything left above and beyond our costs (very unlikely) that I would be happy to give that money to them. After all I’d paid for their cat’s food and some of their medications, gotten one neutered and one vetted and we’d pay for all this, then what..come up with nothing?

There was an uncomfortable pause. Then she told me that they really needed the adoption fee to pay for their move to Georgia. I wanted to ask; “So you mean that you're selling kittens for profit? Was that the goal all along?” but I didn’t have the nuts.

She pushed that I had raised money to have the cats vetted so the fees were paid, so why couldn’t they get the adoption fees? I’m sorry, but we don’t work like that. We don’t SELL kittens for profit. The fundraiser and the funds are for the cats, but we have to keep getting that money BACK or we have nothing left because vet care always costs far more than we ever can raise. As it was, I’d already spent at least $600.00 on them. Add the cost of vetting 12 cats to that and it’s well beyond what we raised. It wouldn’t cover the 12 cats so we’d have to dip into our account even further, but I would gladly due it to keep those cats from reproducing.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Some of the kittens I couldn't get vetted who have since been adopted.

She said that they would deal with it if that was the case. She offered to get the FVRCP vaccine and give it to the kittens to get my costs down so they could get more of the adoption fee, but they legally can’t do enough (like do a snap test or give a rabies vaccination to the moms) to make a big difference in the cost. I was FLOORED. I begged her not to let those kittens go out not S/N. I offered to TAKE a litter of the kittens just to cut her costs. I offered MANY TIMES to let me take any of them, but no. She always refused. I tried everything I could to get her to let me get those kittens taken care of EXCEPT offer to pay her for them, which, in my desperation I began to consider doing.

This story concludes in the next post…

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Happy Birthday to Me. The Best Gift Ever.

It’s the morning of my birthday, a fresh coating of snow outlines the branches of each tree. The temperatures dropped from the 60’s down to the 30s. The wind is picking up. It’s going to be a blustery day. Whatever plans I may have had are cancelled due to the worsening weather. I guess at my age, an age that I don’t even want to admit to, it doesn’t much matter if there is a celebration or if it’s “business as usual.” I don’t want to be old. I’m longing for my youth. I suppose that happens to most of us. We don’t have much choice. There are people who embrace their wrinkles as a badge of wisdom, but I’m not there yet.

Robin Birthday April 1963
©Robin AF Olson. Me, at 2. I was never a skinny kid.

On my last birthday I weighed 50 lbs more than I do right now. 50. POUNDS. I still can’t believe it’s true, but looking back on photos of me, I can see it is. My moon-shaped face is being replaced by one that has a jawline and now, a lot more wrinkles, the price of “deflating” I suppose. Most of my clothes don’t fit me any more. I purged some of them because it was a foolhhardy to try to wear pants that only fell off if I slipped them on. It feels like someone played a prank on me. I went to sleep and the next morning all my clothes felt like a tent. I used to wake up in the morning and wish I could magically lose 50 lbs. There was no magic, but the dreamy feeling still lingers.

I’ve dropped 4 sizes and very soon I will never have to shop in the “Women’s” department (a term I loathe) or the “Plus” section (it’s disgusting that there’s a separate area for these clothes. It’s just fat-shaming and you know and I know the plus-size girls have to shop in the dark corner of the store, not out in front).

Robin feminella
©Robin AF Olson. The ever-familiar round face. I was 16 in this photo. After going away to college I really started to pack on the pounds.

Maybe part of my journey was inspired by sheer anger. Anger at the media for still making it ok to make fat people feel they don’t belong, of course because we’re lazy (are you kidding me?) and unhealthy, that we all must fit into an ever-changing height to weight ratio. We have to do this and do that. Don’t eat this, but eat that. No. Let’s change it and don’t eat the other thing we said was good because it’s bad. Let’s just all go insane worrying about what we’re eating, drinking, if we’re sitting or running because whatever we do we’re just not good enough as we are. I think that’s a crime of the century and a waste of someone’s life-to fret and fuss and feel unworthy or ashamed of their body. I wish we could all just look at each other as we look at ourselves and love each other and respect each other for our different shapes and sizes. It’s been said much better by others, but if we could only take away stigma of all kinds and be open and accepting of each other, wow, what a world it would be.

I lost the weight because I had two big health scares last July; diabetes type 2 and heart troubles. I don’t have diabetes now and though the heart issues aren’t sorted out, I usually feel a lot better day to day. I gave myself a gift through a lot of sacrifice and continuing day to day struggles, but it’s worth it. My health is not simply a personal thing, I have to be in good shape to care for my own cats and the cats who are in my rescue. I can’t assume someone else will step in and take over if I can’t. I could continue down the path of spaghetti and meatballs many times a week (partially to save money) or eat much better (spend a lot more on food), cut carbs down to the nubs and kick sugar and processed foods in the ass.

2012 with care bears
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Super-sized me at Toy Fair in 2014.

Again my anger flared. FUCK YOU to the food companies for putting SUGAR in pretty much everything, like chicken broth. Why the HELL does chicken broth need sugar added to it? It’s chicken and water and spices. And FUCK YOU food companies for LYING to the public about what you put into the food, how you know those additives make us yearn for more. You make it cheap (fast food) and use lousy ingredients that we’ll love to eat more and more of because it hits our taste buds just right because you have labs and food scientists making sure of it.

It’s a joke, but a painful one; who CAN eat just one potato chip? Well, that’s the whole idea. You can’t.

They want you to eat and eat and eat so they can make a buck. Then someone else wants you to not eat and not eat and exercise so you can stop being a fat pig, but how can you break being addicted to sugar, fats, all the other secret goodies in food? If we’re so fat, we’re getting sick (as I did), then how can we fight back? We can’t. We’re too tired from the mid-day slump. We’re too caffeined up from not sleeping well because we need a C-pap machine to sleep.

Birthday 2005
©2005 Robin AF Olson. My dad committed suicide a few years before this birthday, I went through a divorce and a year later my mother would be gone. Lots of reasons why I gained, but I own my choices. I could have not taken out my pain on myself.

It’s not adorable that there are a zillion combinations of Oreo cookie. It’s not good for any of us to believe that anything that says “all natural” is better and worth the cost. Arsenic is natural and so are a whole host of other things that are either poison or that screw up our metabolism and push us into taking acid pump inhibitors (by the way DO NOT DO THAT you need the acid and produce LESS as you age…look it up!).

For me, losing weight was terrifying because I feared 1: I could not do it, 2: I could not stick with it, 3: If I did lose weight I couldn’t keep it off because hardly anyone who looses CAN keep it off and 4: I feared the effects of diabetes on my body (amputations, neuropathy, macular degeneration and more).
It was not easy to lose weight and I had to re-tool my life and re-learn to cook. I doubt it’s easy for anyone, but I was lucky that I had already cut out most processed foods and no fast food, a long time ago.

In a way I’m just like my cats. I had to cut all the junk out of their food, ditch the dry and get them onto a fresh diet with wholesome ingredients. Most of them slimmed down, increased in their energy and zest for life and stopped getting IBD, pancreatitis, diabetes and other disorders. I’m giving them a better future and I guess I finally felt like I deserved the same.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Me and Duck at Toy Fair 2016.

I feel a lot better. I’m happier. I sleep better. I have energy all day. In all these months I only once felt like I had to have a nap. Am I perfect about my eating habits? No. Do I expect to be? No. What I expect is that I will take it one day at a time for the rest of my life. That’s it. If I eat something on the bad list then I will go for a walk afterwards, but I find that less and less I’m even interested in eating those things. I recognize the addiction to carbs and sweets is a powerful one, but I’m trying to acknowledge it, but not let it rule over me. I’m not a bad person if I eat a cookie and I certainly felt a lifetime of guilt over doing just that.

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©2013 Robin AF Olson. If looks could kill.

So on the morning of my birthday I know I will not have a cake or candles to blow out. I might have a scone with high tea or allow myself a few finger sandwiches on white (gasp!) bread, too. After I eat those things, when I start to feel a brain fog, a stomach ache and tired, I’ll remind myself that those things are what’s keeping me from my next birthday and maybe one day I’ll learn, but I’ll also go back to eating well as soon as I can.

And to everyone out there who is overweight, I love you as you are. If you want to lose weight, you can. If you don’t want to, then don’t. You have the power to give that to yourself, but you have to find motivation to stick to it and you most importantly have to FORGIVE YOURSELF when you have a misstep and not use it as an excuse to give up. Just start again and get back on track and again if needed. Keep at it. It does get easier AND in truth, better food tastes a lot better. You’ll find you feel gross if you don’t eat well.

Portrait 4 2016
©2016 Robin AF Olson. The new, older me.

We’re all just a skin bag full of chemicals and what works for me, may not be the best thing for you. Talk with your doctor, but also do some research, ask friends, ask another doctor or someone who works holistically. Don’t look to a pill to fix whatever ails. It’s on the plate in front of you. Put the right things on it and just like our cats, with good nutrition we can do a great deal to correct many of the medical issues we face and give us a much brighter future.

Happy Birthday to me. I made it another year.

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Product Review: PetBit. Never Get Bitten or Scratched Again!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free. I was not required to write a positive review and, in fact, I didn't. The opinions I have expressed are my own, as well as my evil twin's. I am disclosing this somewhat in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How many times have you been innocently petting your cat when, WHAM!, you get bitten? What if there was a way to stop that from happening? Conversely, if you have a cat who can't be petted enough and you have a competitive streak, what if you could track every pet you take and measure your prowess against other cat-petters?

Now you have the one-stop-cat-petting-tracker-solution that also protects your fingers, hands and other parts of your body in one easy-to-wear device called the petbit™.

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The petbit uses hyper-sense technology™ to read, not only the speed of your hand moving back and forth during a petting session, but the pressure and location of the petting in relation to your cat's body and position. Why this is important is simply put: if you understand where, how often and how hard your cat LIKES to be petted, then you'll reduce the risk of being bitten as well as enhance the cat guardian to cat bond.

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Who wouldn't want a road map into their own cat's psyche without having to watch out for their tail to flick back and forth or pay attention to their ears "T" or "airplane" as a warning. Why bother even thinking about where your cat might like to be touched when with the glow of the display and color indicator, you can look at your wrist and get all the answers you need...once you've memorized the simple to follow Guide (see below)

What You Can Learn About Your Cat

Harder-how hard or softly does your cat want to be stroked? As you increase the pressure, the LED colored readouts on your petbit indicate that you may be reaching a point of too hard. That's when (advanced models only) the all red LED lights come on indicating a BITE WARNING® just milliseconds before kitty is going to sink their teeth into you giving you time to dump kitty onto the floor and run for cover.

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Faster-some cats love a slow, soothing pace to being petted and some prefer a rapid ripple along their back. Watch your petbit turn greener as you step up the pace. Go too far and that's when (advanced models only) the all red BITE WARNING® lights up. Quick, move out of the way or else!

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Not There-There-Pet your cat's belly? Yes or no? What about the base of their tail or their paws? petbit steers you in the right direction-the lighter the purple tone, the closer you are to the right location. Ignore the purple getting darker and you know what happens next. With hyper-sense technology you should never have to worry you're touching your cat in the wrong place.

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Pet Count Community Building-I've always wondered how many times I've petted my cats. Now, not only do I have a global count of pets per hour, day and week, but I can join the petbit community where I can share my latest petting tallies! Now I can show my friends what a great cat mama I am! The only problem I see is that you need to purchase a separate petbit for each of your cats (which is why you can now get them engraved with your cat's name) AND you have to remember to change the petbit when you begin petting another cat. ANOTHER AND...of course pet your cat too many times and you know what happens on advanced models, only.

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I would say that petting, location, hardness or speed are well and fine, but if this only had one feature, I'd want to upgrade to get the Bite Warning™ indicator on my petbit. Honestly, if I knew that once I saw the red lights flash on and off that my cat was going to bite me maybe I could have avoided going to the ER and getting a big shot of antibiotics in my behind. There's a disclaimer in the 401 page owner's manual, that due to a cat's ability to react far faster than a human or the petbit can detect, that petbit international cannot guarantee you'd be any better off using common sense and paying attention to your cat's state of mind than you would be waiting for the red LED lights on the device to appear.

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But heck, it's a really sweet design and light on the wrist. It comes in designer colors AND there's a new model coming out soon that has Scratch Sense™! Considering the number of scars all over my arms and hands, I'll be first in line to get one and I hope you'll join me!

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How do you get a petbit?

Sadly, as this was going to press, the company went bankrupt and sold all their technology to an S&M retailer who changed the product's name to: PetMyBits™ (think "50 Shades of Gray"). I guess you could do a web search to order one. I hear they're shipping in brown paper wrapped packages with no return address on the box. I'm not sure you'd want to sign up for the Pet Count Community they've created, but heck, to each their own.

You'd be a Fool not to get one right now.

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Losing Their Home. One Last Chance for Forever.

I often get emails and calls from people asking me to take their cat. Usually the reason is a family member has allergies or they're moving and for some (stupid, if you ask me) reason they can't bring their cat/s with them. I always do the best I can to help, but more often than not, all I can do is send out an email to my peers and see if someone else can jump in and take over. Even if I did have a shelter and not a few foster homes, we'd never be able to take on all the cats who need help.

Enter Dacus.

Dacus contacted me about his cats FeFe and Meow. He lives in the town where I first rescued southern kitties: McDonough, Georgia. I have a special connection to that town since my house has had dozens of southern belles from there pass through our rescue program since we began in 2010.

Dacus's story was different. He and his wife are in so much physical pain that they are unable to provide care for their two adult cats.

Dacus didn't dump his problem on me. He began looking for help by reaching out to as many rescues in his area who could possibly help him. He was turned away because he was honest, saying one of the two cats was a bit shy and due to the cat's ages they were certainly not easily-adoptable kittens any longer.

I know for a fact that the municipal animal control in his town WILL take his cats and they might have a DAY there before they end up being euthanized due to the burden of over-crowded conditions they constantly face. The cats won't stand a chance to leave there alive and Dacus knows that.

But Dacus and his cats are running out of options. In his own words, this is his story:

“The reason we are trying to re-home the cats is because my wife and myself have back and neck problems due to car accidents. We are both in our sixties. On March 2nd 2016 we were involved in another rear end collision. This accident has exacerbated both of our previous injuries. She was injured in 2012 and has lingering problems with her neck and back. In that accident she was also rear ended. She can hardly lift anything and day to day chores are painful for her. I, too, have medical problems. I was injured at work in 2014 when the tug I was driving was hit by another tug in the back. Due to the accident I have back, neck and face problems. I have trigeminal neuralgia.  It has gotten considerably worse since the accident on March 2nd. I have constant headaches and face and neck pain. The more that I do the more the trigeminal neuralgia hurts. My lips go to sleep and my teeth hurt like I have an abscess tooth. Lifting things, especially things that are heavy, cause my face and head to hurt. Sometimes just getting out of bed will cause my lips to go to sleep. It is very painful to carry and change out the cat litter. In addition to the back and neck pain I had shoulder surgery in January 2016. We can’t physically take care of them. We would like to re-home them in a loving home so their quality of life stays the same. We have tried hard to find a rescue center and/or a rehoming agency to take them. We do not want to take them to the Animal Control Center and this is our last resort.

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FeFe. Used with permission of Dacus G.

About FeFe (from Dacus)

Fefe is a 9 year old indoor only cat. She has been with us for 8 years. She is current on her shots, March 2016, is FIV negative. She has a heart murmur and has had a heart murmur as long as we have had her. It doesn’t cause any problems and she is healthy. She is spayed. She is a gray, white and brown long haired mix but she looks like a Norwegian Forest Cat. She has short legs and has never been known to jump or the table or kitchen counters. She is a sweet cat that loves to be petted but is not a lap cat. She will climb upon your stomach and give you a belly massage. She is very friendly but loves to be petted on “her terms.” She gets along with other cats, but we have never had her near a dog. She shared our home with a cat that recently died. The cat that died was 19 years old. 

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FeFe. Used with permission of Dacus G.

About Meow (from Dacus)

Meow is a 3 year old indoor/outdoor cat. He comes into the house during the day and sleeps in the garage at night. We generally let him and out when he wants. He is the classic tuxedo cat. His mother was a feral cat that we fed. She had two kittens that we were able to get someone to adopt. Meow was the only surviving member or her next litter. She eventually quit coming around but Meow continued to show up. We fed him and made a place in the garage for him to sleep. He likes to sleep on my wife’s car. He has had all of his shots and is FIV negative. He is neutered. He is friendly to my wife and myself but is afraid of everyone else. I think that with a little patience he would make someone an excellent pet. He loves to have his belly rubbed and will roll over on his back and spread his legs. He used to sleep on my chest but hasn’t in a while. He always comes when my wife calls him. He loves eggs but just the yoke. 

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Meow snuggling with mom. Used with permission of Dacus G.

Note from Robin: From emails with Dacus I believe both cats were "snap tested" and negative for FIV and FeLV (feline leukemia). Meow has been vaccinated against FeLV since he goes outdoors. He has no contact with FeFe and does not share litter/food with her.

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Meow, a handsome fellow. Used with permission of Dacus G.

We all see stories like FeFe's and Meow's and we feel like we're trapped about what we can do to help, but it's not that tough. First, transport IS available outside of Georgia! If you live anywhere on the route between Georgia and PA, we have someone already willing to drive them to your area next month.

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Meow, Mr Mellow. Used with permission of Dacus G.

I can help coordinate paid transports (usually about $75/cat) from GA to points to the northeastern USA. Outside of that area we can arrange for a pet flight. It may take a bit longer to sort out.

If you're with a non-profit rescue and can take these kitties on, contact ME at info@kittenassociates.org and we will get the kitties to you. We will also provide at least a $200 sponsorship (possibly more) towards the cat's care.

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FeFe dreaming of her new forever family. Used with permission of Dacus G.

If you're interested in knowing more about either of the cats---they CAN be adopted/rescued separately because they have not lived together---then contact me at info@kittenassociates.org If you are seriously interested, fill out our pre-adoption application. I will be helping screen applicants for Dacus, but my rescue, Kitten Associates, can not be responsible for the cats once they are on transport and arrive at your location.

Please help us get the word out on these deserving and adorable kitties. It would be a great way to honor cats you love by helping these cats find their home, too. Thank you!

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A House Panther's Painful Story.

It’s been a long road with Laney and her family, from two failed adoptions to a seemingly endless number of inappropriate adoption applications. After over a year in foster care I’m starting to wonder if the cats will ever find their forever homes.

Yes, it's my fault. I’ve decided that after everything they've gone through, Laney, Winnie and Piglet MUST be adopted together. Finding an adopter to take one cat is tough enough, but three? I must be insane. I’ve also decided that JellyBelly and brother Lollipop have to stay together, too, but Lolli is fearful. Who would want to adopt him? Lolli has never been cuddly and though he will sit next to me and sleep, he’s very jumpy. I know that in time he could improve, with the right family who would go slowly with him, but that’s a lot to ask.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Lolli's hidey place.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to spend more time with the cats, playing with them and having cuddle-time, to encourage the kitties to be better socialized. The girls love it and Lolli loves to fly-high after the toys.

Jelly was equal to his brother in enthusiasm, jumping almost as high as my head to get after a feather-toy. But lately Jelly hasn’t been jumping. I had a gut-punching-fear that maybe Jelly had the dry form of FIP, just like what ended our 10-month old kitten Fred’s life a few years ago.

But Jelly didn’t have any of the other symptoms Fred had. Jelly just seemed to be a tiny bit off and more interested in having me bring him the toy, then to chase after it. I started to wonder if he twisted his leg or hurt his back from jumping, but he wasn’t obviously limping.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Mr. Handsome-JellyBelly relaxing on his blanker.

The other night Jelly did something very strange. He laid down during play time. I knew something was wrong. Jelly never lays down for the feather toy. I stopped playing with the cats and carefully observed Jelly. There it was a very slight hitch in his back right leg. Almost as if his leg was giving out on him. When he jumped onto the bed I could tell he wasn't pushing off from the floor, but rather was pulling himself up by his front legs. I slowly ran my hand over his back legs, trying to feel for an obvious sign of a break or imperfection, but found none. Jelly walked normally, then his right side would subtly dip down, or did it? I wasn't sure. It wasn’t an emergency, so I didn’t have to get him to the vet that night, but I also couldn’t let this go on without getting him checked out.

I brought him to see Dr. Larry the next day.

Dr Larry Examining
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Larry & Super-Deb examine Jelly's legs.

As much as I believe I have a good basic understanding of our cat’s health issues, I still get surprised by what ails them, and some times not in a good way. I expected to have to do x-rays on Jelly’s leg, to cage-rest him and that he sprained his leg, but I was wrong. Dr. Larry made the face that I have come to fear; the grimace, the stern look as he felt along Jelly’s leg. He knew what was going on, now he was thinking about how he was going to break the news. My heart sank as Dr Larry told me that Jelly’s kneecap was going in and out of place. That’s why he seemed to be fine, then wasn’t fine. That it was likely a genetic problem, which is why we didn’t notice it sooner. These things get worse as the cat ages and gains weight. It also can effect both kneecaps. Thankfully in this case, Jelly’s is only on his right side.

I asked what can we do for Jelly? The answer: surgery. A luxating patella is graded in a range of 1 to a 4, 4 being the most severe. He rated Jelly’s at a 3, which also means the only thing we can do is surgery, which will repair the problem. Because he’s not at the most severe stage yet, he has a great chance to make a full recovery.

Scared Jelly
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Poor Jelly was scared but he was a really good boy through his exam.

This is where things get really tough.

The repair will cost $2700, including pre-op blood work (blood work is not listed below) and our discount. It has to be done by a Board Certified Surgeon. This is NOT a typical repair for a cat. Dogs get this issue all the time, but not cats. Jelly will need a long recovery afterwards, too and lots of cage rest. How will I ever get him adopted? And what about Lollipop? Does Lolli have the same problem, too? Will I have to separate the cats and adopt them alone?

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Here's the estimate. We get 20% off the totals thanks to our super-awesome vet, Dr. Larry.

Then another problem.

We just did a fundraiser through Fairfield County Giving Day. We raised $3700.00. Great, right? Well, firstly I had prayed that we could have used the funds to refurbish our truly awful foster room. It looks like a dump and the cat trees are all shredded and falling apart. Updating the room is something I’ve been planning on for awhile now. Okay, that can wait another year but, Jelly’s leg cannot.

Then it gets worse.

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We don’t GET the money we raised for 60 days! This is a BIG PROBLEM. The longer we wait, the more pain Jelly will be in and worse-THE BIGGER THE CHANCE JELLY WILL COMPOUND HIS INJURY AND MOVE IT TO STAGE 4. If that happens, even with repair from a stage 4, there’s about a 50% chance it will happen again later in his life. If he gets the repair as a stage 3 the risk is zero! Who will adopt a cat knowing there’s a big cost involved one day?

We can’t wait. We can’t afford it with the funds we have on hand, so we have to try to raise the funds for him NOW and we know it's going to be tough.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Jelly with Auntie Winnie (who is still hoping to find her forever home!)

Is Jelly a critically ill kitten? Nope. Is he a sad sack dirty, injured old kitty? Nope. He’s a gentle giant of a cat, a black “house panther” who loves his feather toy, his brother and his mom. He needs surgery to be pain-free, but we can't afford to help him and that's devastating to us.

Many rescues like ours face the sad truth that it would be a lot less expensive to go ahead and amputate Jelly’s leg instead of spend the money on repair. We could still afford to feed our remaining foster cats and Jelly would manage on three legs, but I just can’t stomach knowing that we’d ever let money stop one of our cats from getting the care they need. Also, what would happen if Jelly’s left rear kneecap luxated one day and he didn't have his right leg any more?

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Jelly can bear weight on his leg-sometimes-but this is the knee that's giving him trouble.

There are LOTS of ways you can help. I am not going to use a fundraising web site because they take a percentage of what we raise OR they grossly hold up on releasing the funds when we need them NOW. I will report back here and on our Facebook page should we reach our goal of $2700.00, so we don’t take on more than we need.

3/24/16 UPDATE: WE MADE OUR GOAL! YOU GUYS ARE FABULOUS!!!! THANK YOU! I'm booking Jelly's surgery appointment today!

3/22/16 UPDATE: OMG! THANKS TO AN AMAZINGLY GENEROUS DONOR YOUR DONATION WILL BE MATCHED UP TO $1000! So that means you donate $1 and it comes to us as $2 (and so on) 3/22/16 SECOND UPDATE: THE $1000 DONATION HAS BEEN MATCHED ALREADY! WE ONLY NEED ABOUT $550 MORE TO GO!

1. Use DONATE TODAY button to make a donation via our PayPal account. Kitten Associates is a 501c3 Non-Profit so your donation is tax deductible. Our tax ID is 27-3597692. [MAKE SURE YOU READ BELOW BECAUSE ALL GIFTS OVER $25 GET A THANK YOU GIFT FROM US!]

2. Call our vet’s office, Maple Ridge Animal Clinic, at 203-262-0595 to verify our need and to make a donation to our account: Kitten Associates “For Jelly."

3. Mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354 and put in the notes “For Jelly.”

4. Purchase cat food from our Amazon Wishlist. We spend a tremendous amount of money on cat food and if we don’t have that concern we can use some of our remaining funds for Jelly.

5. Share this post socially, with your cat-loving friends, and ask them to help. It doesn’t have to be a big donation because together they all add up!

You Get Something Awesome, Too!

Everyone who donates $25 or more will get a special gift from our friends at Satiama. You WANT these gifts. I just got a set of them, myself, and I have to say between the quality and the love that’s put into each piece, whether it be an a multi-award-winning CD, a multi-award-winning book or multi-award-winning Spirit Animal Cards, any item would bring great joy.

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If you have kids or are grandparents or just love nature, they are especially meaningful. The Spirit Animal Cards are used to help parents teach children as young a 4 years of age (and upwards into teens) valuable lessons and gain compassion for themselves and others. The beautifully illustrated and high-quality cards come with a guide for parents, too. Partnered with that there are two volumes of Children’s Spirit Animal Stories on CD, with music composed by Grammy-award winner Barry Goldstein. These stories dovetail perfectly with the cards and help make connecting with nature and our own hearts even more fulfilling.

The story of “How the Trees Got Their Voices” goes beyond simple storytelling, by combining colorful illustrations with entertaining facts about the flora and fauna all around us. This book is meant to be read over and over with a fresh meaning discovered each time.

Lastly, “Come Walk with Me” is a series of 4 guided meditation journeys by Eva Blacktail Swan. In these trying times, we rarely take a few minutes for ourselves. This CD can be particularly helpful in release and healing of painful feelings or for those seeking direction in life. Eva’s voice is very soothing and for me is much better than eating cake when I’m at my wit’s end!

To take advantage of this offer, pop over to THIS PAGE and look at the options. Remember which one you want then use the DONATE TODAY button and add to the NOTES section which item you’d like (1 book, card set or CD per person please) making SURE your mailing address is included so we can ship the item to you! (yes, shipping is free, too).

We need 108 people to donate just $25 to hit our goal. Do you think we can do it?

Cute Jelly R Olson 475
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Jelly is such a sweet boy but these days he feels better sleeping on the floor so he doesn't have to face the pain of jumping onto the bed.

A BIG BIG BIG Thank You to Karen Stuth one of the Founders of Satiama for her generosity. She is getting NOTHING out of any of the donations and is simply providing free books and CDs and shipping costs out of her own pocket. We at Kitten Associates are VERY GRATEFUL to her for her support and love during this challenging time.

In a Perfectly Shitty World. Returning Home in One or More Pieces.

(continued from part 1)

I just couldn’t get my mind or body to feel settled as I began the drive to Boston. My pants felt too tight. My jacket was bunching up in the back. My sunglasses had smudges I couldn’t wipe away. I had to use Sam’s hands-free dohickey because my old one doesn’t hold my new iPhone. I really needed something that worked in case I got a call. Add to that problem was just figuring out which car to drive. My car has a seal that’s broken along one door so the interior temperature isn’t great and there’s a windchill advisory here. With the uneven temperatures inside the car, it often fogs up as a result. My only other option was to borrow Sam’s car and it’s a lot bigger than mine is and I don’t drive it very often. I figured I’d have enough on my plate just getting to the location. Adding feeling awkward driving didn’t make sense either so I took my ol’ beast and hoped the windows wouldn’t constantly be fogging up.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. I wondered if Winnie would still be as sweet after the ordeal she'd been through.

It was a bright crisp winter morning, but no sooner than I got on the road, my thoughts drifted. Lady Saturday was back at the vet getting her urine re-tested. She has a very bad, very dangerous bladder infection that the antibiotics may not cure. Add that to her poor kidney function and this is a cause for concern.

The hope was that 3 weeks of meds would have kicked the infection down, but would it?

My phone rang and I couldn’t answer it. The Bluetooth was acting up, or the phone was acting up, or I was just crabby and trying to drive in heavy traffic and not get into an accident answering the phone. I pulled over and listened to the message from my vet; where was Lady Saturday? No one showed up for the appointment. No one is answering their phone.

I texted Saturday’s foster dad, really chapped that I had to deal with this on top of everything else. There are a lot of terrible things going on that I can’t even talk about, but they are BAD things that require lawyers, so at this point I really didn’t need “one more thing” to go wrong.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. And what of Piglet? She's been adopted and returned TWICE? WHY?

I called Betsy, my buddy at Dr. Larry’s office. She assured me it would be okay, but I said I was very sorry. I don’t want our rescue to be the cause of issues with their practice. It’s not professional and it’s rude. I can’t risk losing my vet-not that I would over this, but still. It’s not cool.

I got back on the road and tried to keep a good pace while I couldn’t get settled. I knew most of the trip by heart since it meant basically driving to Boston. The problem was where it stopped being the usual trip-it meant going against the way my GPS would route me and I had to memorize the last 30 miles, until I got close enough that it got me on the track I intended in the first place.

Getting lost on the crazy roads with crazy drivers in south Boston is not my idea of a good time.

I got to exit 14 off the Mass Pike. This is where the drive was going to get hairy. The traffic thickened up. There was construction. I was paying careful attention while the GPS was telling me to do something else. I made it to 93 heading north without ending up on Cape Cod. By just after noon I pulled into the icy driveway next to the home where Laney, Winnie and Piglet had been living for the past 11 days.

Laney on the Bed
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Laney waits forever for a family to call her own.

I was greeted by Michelle, the pet-sitter, since the adopter was still out of town. She was very nicely dressed and had carefully applied lots of make-up. She had a thick Boston-accent and I found myself unable to understand all the words she said. It was like a phone call with a spotty connection where every so many words drop out of the conversation. It was enough so that I understood, but if there were any nuances I missed them.

I’d never seen the home in person though I most often do home visits before adoption. I’d seen photos so it wasn’t much of a surprise. It was a cute 1940’s era bungalow. All the heavy oak trim had been painted white. Most of the walls and furnishings were white and there were a few very nice period pieces of furniture, but there wasn’t much of a sign of anything for the cats other than a very tiny, short cat tree that wouldn’t stand up to much more than a kitten.

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The only image I have from their adopter, before she left the girls.

I looked down and Laney came over to me, tail up. She looked much as she had before, only a bit thinner and she had dandruff, which alarmed me. It’s usually a sign of diet issues and I wondered what she was being fed. Winnie and Piglet were nervous. They knew something was up.

Michelle and I filled out the Surrender form, then we discussed how we’d get the cats in their crates. I had hoped to lure them into the bathroom where I’d have easier access to them, but it didn’t work. Only Laney went after the treat and I easily put her into the bigger of the two carriers. I’d noticed a few weeks before that she seemed to like being with Piglet so there was room for her inside the crate, too. We just had to get her.

Winnie was tough to wrangle, but eventually I was able to get her crated. She began to cry and so did Laney. I knew getting Piglet might be nearly impossible. She would certainly know something was going on and she'd already dove under the sofa to hide.

We tipped the sofa back and it surprised me but Piglet shut down emotionally when I reached for her. I quickly scruffed her and lifted her into the crate with Laney. Laney, her devoted grandmother, immediately hissed and swiped aggressively at Piglet.

Great. Just great. I had no other place for Piglet. We’d just have to deal with it. Maybe they’d calm down?

There was no fanfare. No goodbye. It didn’t look like a home that had cats. It looked like a home that was going to be in a magazine and it didn’t have room for messy cats. Part of me wanted to do something mean. Break something. Say something cruel, but what would be the point? In the end, Michelle gave me directions to the highway and instead of following her, I just left. I wanted to put this behind me as fast as I could. I’d been in Boston for 30 minutes. That was enough time for me.

Winnie was upset. She cried. She cried ALL THE WAY HOME FOR THREE HOURS. Laney flipped out and attacked Piglet. There was nothing I could do. I had to drive safely. I wanted to scream. At one point I did. I yelled at them to shut up, but that didn’t fix anything. I quickly realized that if I drove over 65 mph, the cats would cry even more and Laney would lay into Piglet again. I couldn’t even try to get home fast. I had to balance driving with the nutjobs who were focused on getting out of work on a Friday afternoon and getting to somewhere better. With the constant shrieks from Laney, I had even more pressure on me to get home before Piglet was gravely injured.

I knew I could stop to check on them, but again, it would just drag out the trip. I wanted to get this over with. I was already really tired after driving the first 165 miles of the trip. Now I had to do it in reverse.

I had planned to stop at a deli on the way home and get some treats for Sam and myself. Sam was going to place the order ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to wait, but I was already in such a bad mood I called him and said not to do the order. I had to get home. No stopping. Just driving. It was bad enough that I pulled over at a rest stop to call him because the hands-free thing didn’t work very well. Stopping didn’t soothe the cats. Three more hours and I’d be home.

I hated my life. I hated the crying, fighting cats. I hated that they were going to be messed up from this experience. I hated that they were going back into a small room. It wasn’t fair to them. I hated that I would have to cancel my plans on rescuing some kittens because they were taking up space that could go to them. I hated that it seemed like all I had in my life was bad news, heartbreak, stress. Nothing was good any more. I was probably gaining weight back, too. The thing I fear so much after giving up everything I loved to eat was that I couldn’t maintain the weight loss. My pants felt like they were strangling my waist.

Sun Dog
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson.

And then I looked up. It was a sun dog. As I drove along the Mass Pike, I realized it was a full sun dog. I’d never seen one before. As the cats cried, I whispered; “thank you,” not sure to whom or what being, just a general thank you for the reminder that there is good and beauty in the world. It’s all around us. In our darkest hours it’s there. We just have to open our eyes to see it.

©2016 Robin A.F. Olson.

Next up: Home Again. Will Jelly and Lolli remember their mom? Will Laney continue to flip out? Is Piglet badly injured?

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A Rescuer's Worst Nightmare. Hoarding.

I just did something I don’t feel good about. In fact, I’m shaking.

I just got off the phone with a Humane Enforcement Officer because I needed to let her know about a situation that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few days. Due to the legal implications surrounding this case I have to change names and locations of all involved. I hope you understand that before I go on any further. The last thing I need is for this to blow up, but I can’t keep this story to myself either.

Last week I got a call from a lady who lives out-of-state. She’d called me a few years ago asking for help with kittens. I was able to put her in touch with a great gal who does rescue in her area who could help her. This woman was a bit difficult to work with and seemed easily stressed and somewhat paranoid, but my goal is to help the cats whatever it takes, so I did my best to focus on the task at hand. The very nice gal took two moms and 12 kittens. Everyone of them was spayed and vetted and the moms were returned to the woman. The kittens were all adopted. At the time, I was told there was no concern for the living situation of the cats and that the great gal did not see any sign of hoarding.

When the woman called again the other day, things went differently. The woman told me she had two cats who were pregnant and about to give birth any day. She’d called on other rescues and shelters but they would spay-abort the cats and she couldn’t allow that to happen.

I understood her feelings and I have to admit it’s something I haven’t done, either. This is a divisive topic between people who do rescue. They don’t usually talk about aborting kittens. Frankly, I don’t want to even think about it, but…the woman told me the pregnant cats were 9-10 MONTHS OLD. They were still kittens themselves. The stress on their bodies, their smaller size, their inexperience could add up to a very bad situation. Our foster kitty Winnie was very young when she gave birth and only one of her kittens, Piglet, survived. Piglet only lived because Winnie had parenting help from her cat-mother, Laney. Who would help these cats?

Trying to remain calm I asked about other cats in the home. The woman admitted to having over 30, brushing it off, blaming her husband for taking in a stray male cat who was intact and the fact that they couldn’t get the cats fixed until spring when the mobile spay/neuter van came around. I told her I’d find her a vet to do the procedures sooner and that we’d even pay for it if that would help, but she continued on saying her home smelled like cat urine, as if that was something anyone in her situation would expect.

Then she, matter-of-factly said something that made it tough to not crawl through the phone line and throttle her. She told me that last year she lost (died) 16 kittens to a “URI”. SIXTEEN KITTENS DIED. WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON.

Clearly there is a much bigger problem going on beyond needing a rescue to “get rid of” (her words) the kittens who would be born soon. She didn’t suggest they be killed, but she wanted them out of her home, just like the last two litters…well they weren’t the last two litters that were born. The last kittens I knew of were born years ago and she's telling me that kittens are still being born because she added there were a bunch of kittens running around “but we’re going to keep them. We just need help with the ones that are being born soon.”

I offered to take the pregnant cats and that I’d work with a rescue/s to get the moms back to her once the kittens were weaned in about 8-12 weeks. She flipped out. She began to rant that the cats couldn’t leave her. Why couldn’t I just come get the kittens in 8 weeks? They could be born in her home. She had them locked up in a cat carrier in the bathroom so the other cats couldn’t get to them. I told her about the health risks since she had so many kittens die that certainly there was an illness in her home and she volleyed back that her cats only had worms and that she used Frontline on her dogs and used the SAME stuff on her cats to save money (which can be DEADLY! DO NOT USE FLEA TREATMENT FOR DOGS ON CATS).

I explained that complications can arise during birth and asked her if she was ready to take the cats to the Vet should something happen. She said she didn’t drive and was handicapped. I suggested that it would be much safer for the pregnant cats to leave her for now and that I was sure any rescue who took them would give her updates on how they were doing. She got more and more upset, saying she didn’t have email and she couldn’t bear for the cats to leave her. They were “her life” and that “they got upset if she ever left the house.”

The conversation was going south fast. I tried everything I could think of to get her to let me take the cats. She said she’d have to think about it and call me back. I knew she would never call again. As I hung up the phone, I imagined the cats, suffering, probably quite sick, pregnant, in a home that struggled to provide for them.

And then I made the mistake of going on Zillow.com to look up her address. She lives in a 470 sq ft trailer WITH OVER 30 CATS. I knew then I could not hope for the best. I had to do something about it.

I did some research and there wasn’t much available online. I managed to find the number of that state’s SPCA. Though they did not have jurisdiction where I needed help, the did tell me a few things: 1: Over 24 animals requires a breeder’s license, 2: if there are unsanitary (cat urine!) conditions then it doesn’t matter how many animals are on the property.

The officer gave me the contact info of a Humane Officer who could help and today was the day we were finally able to speak about the situation.

She agreed this person needed to be investigated and also that the part of town was notorious for having issues with animals. Though this person wasn’t on her radar she felt it was definitely something she had to check out. I don’t know when she will go there, but I do know that the local shelter is too small to take all the cats. I’ve already started to reach out to some rescue folks for help but I plan to do a lot more once I have some answers and know what is needed.

I asked Sam to give me a hug after the call was over. I felt like the fate of these cats was in my hands; that if they were put to sleep it was because of my call. Sam reminded me that these cats would have died anyway, perhaps a lot slower, perhaps in much worse conditions. Maybe they’d die giving birth? I hate myself for doing this, but I'd also hate myself if I didn't make the call.

For me, there is no winner in a situation like this. It's unlikely that all the cats will get out alive. What's likely is that this woman and her husband are being sickened by the ammonia in the air in their their trailer. I want to think of the good that could come out of this. Perhaps not being stressed by the responsibility for caring for so many animals in too small of a space would help them, but I doubt it will happen. I think the woman is going to flip out…way out…if they take her cats away and my fear is she's going to come after me next.

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