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.
The one and only Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, has a new WEEKLY web video series, called Cat Mojo that delivers cat-centric tips, stories and more. The series launches TODAY, Dec., 9, 2013 and is sure to become an instant hit. Jackson's teamed up with the Animalist network to bring you his new show which hints at sharing stories about more than just cats! Make sure you check out the trailer to give you a taste of what's to come.
Jackson is finally going to tell us what Cat Mojo really means. Watch his new series to find out!
You can check out the trailer here and make sure you subscribe so you don't miss an episode!
Can't wait? The first episode just aired! You can check out right here!
On December 14, 2012 my neighbor was murdered in her bed. Her son took off, armed to the hilt and for reasons we may never know, headed for our local elementary school and murdered some of the staff and 20 children.
From the moment I heard the news, I knew I had to do something to help my community. I didn't have much to offer, other than a house full of foster kittens, but what I take for granted, I knew other people might find unique. What I also knew is the healing power that resulted in spending time with kittens. Pet a kitten. Watch them play. You can't be sad when you're in a room full of kittens. The day after the tragedy, my program Kitties for Kids was born. A year later I can say that it was possibly the best thing I've ever done in my entire life.
I had no idea we'd get accolades from the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association or that I'd meet someone I look up to-U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who also awarded our program with a Special Certificate of Recognition. I just wanted to help my broken-hearted community and had no idea or expectation that anything would happen to me as a result of giving back.
Our program was extended into the spring of this year, then it faded away when our dear kitten Fred, grew ill and later died from the dry form of FIP. I didn't give Kitties for Kids much thought. I was too busy grieving. We didn't get requests for visits and I thought it was time to close the program.
This summer, I was surprised when Susan Logan, the Editor of Cat Fancy contacted me and asked me if I'd be interested in having them do a story about our program for their December 2013 issue. I didn't hesitate to offer to write the article myself, but in all fairness she said it would be better reporting if she sent someone to me to do the story. I agreed, though as a cat writer, I admit to being a bit frustrated to being so close to writing for a national publication I'd admired since I was a kid.
I met with Kellie Gormly, a cheerful, chatty, cat-lover early in April. We talked at great length about not only doing rescue work, but how the residents of Newtown were coping. I took her on a tour, showing her the Newtown Healing Arts Center where the arts were used to help the children express their feelings and where many donations of artwork were displayed from around the world. I showed her other areas that were about being positive and hopeful, instead of focusing on a tour of where grisly events unfolded. We paid respect to the little fire station near where Sandy Hook Elementary once stood. On its roof are 26 bronze stars, one for each of the victims in the school. It was a cold, bright day, not unlike the day of the shooting. I didn't want to be anywhere near this place and was glad to leave it behind.
Kellie got to work on the article while the design staff at Cat Fancy reviewed the photos I sent them and made their selections for what would make the issue. At the time I had no idea which photos were going to be used where, nor how long the piece was going to be. I hoped for at least a 2-page spread, but had no idea what they'd end up doing.
The article about Kitties for Kids starts on page 16!
My dear friend Ingrid King sent me an email with the subject saying something to the effect of: "OMG DID YOU SEE THIS??!” Ingrid had attached a scan of the article. Unbeknownst to me, Cat Fancy came out early to subscribers and Ingrid hadn't known Kitten Associates was going to be featured. I imagined her turning page after page, then seeing someone she recognized…there's ROBIN and Spencer!
To quote my mother, I think I “plotzed” when I saw the scan. There, on the very first page of the article was a photo of me with Spencer. It took up more than half the space. When I envisioned the photo being used, I assumed it might be a thumbnail-size near the end of the article. Oh no…it was me in all my glory. Holy moley. I wondered if this is what it's like to be a celebrity? I admit to feeling a mix of delight and horror. Yes, I need to be out there in the public so my rescue can get more help, but wowie it is a strange feeling to see yourself in a magazine you often read.
Here's a sneak peek of the December 2013 Issue of Cat Fancy. To get your own copy, visit Cat Fancy online.
The next day I had to bring some kittens to Dr. Larry's and the second I walked in the door, I ran over and grabbed their copy of Cat Fancy. I asked if I could do "show and tell" during my appointment and they looked at me like I was crazy (which they are also used to by now). I went into the exam room and looked at the article. It blew me away. Kellie did a great job and I loved the layout. It is 4 pages long and full of photos from our program. They even honored Fred's passing, which meant the world to me.
My parents died many years ago and this is one thing I wish they had lived to see. All the hard work, the tears, resulted in something wonderful for Kitten Associates. When Dr. Larry looked at the spread, his face lit up. He smiled. He was really impressed and proud of me. In that moment I realized how meaningful it is to get a reminder that you're doing the right thing. It gives me fuel to keep going when times get tough.
Kitties for Kids hasn't come to an end. After careful consideration, we have decided to do a special 2-week run of our program. It will start on December 14th, the first anniversary of the tragedy and will run until December 28th. Though we hope no one will feel the need for kitty play-therapy because their hearts are healing, we'll be ready in case we're needed. If you live in Newtown, CT and would like to book a play therapy session, just email us at info@kittenassociates. org and we'll fill you in on how to sign up.
In any big city as you walk down the street, you might come across a street performer playing music with an open guitar case next to him displaying a small collection of spare change scattered inside it. You might walk hurriedly past the person, feeling uncomfortable to connect with a stranger, or, if the music is just right, you may become his audience, if only for a few moments. Before you part, you fish out a few coins or notes to offer him for his time, leaving it behind in the case.
James Bowen’s International Bestseller; “A Street Cat Named Bob & How He Saved My Life” chronicles his life and the divine meeting of the self-described recovering heroin addict and “busker” (in the USA we would call him a street performer) and a very special orange tabby cat he later named, Bob.
You can’t read a book about someone else’s life without comparing it to your own. In reading Bowen’s words, I was caught up in challenges of his life lived on the streets, to transitional housing in London, which allowed him to continue treatment for his addiction. Where one night his fate would be forever changed by meeting an injured Tom cat who was sitting outside the door of an apartment in his building. In the same way the busy London crowds might ignore a busker, Bowen could have chosen to walk past the cat and not get involved.
In fact, during Bowen’s first weeks with Bob, he often gave the cat chances to leave since Bowen could barely afford to feed himself, let alone provide vet care for an injured cat. Where this story takes a surprising turn is that regardless of how much Bowen protests or questions what he's doing with this cat, the cat, however has clearly made up his mind about what he wants. This cat is like no other. Instead of being fearful, he saunters along with Bowen down crowded streets, even following Bowen onto a bus. He keeps Bowen company as Bowen plays guitar in a public garden, hoping to earn enough money to get to the next day. With his new furry partner at his side, crowds begin to form around the curious duo and the contents of the guitar case show surprising results .
Photo courtesy of James Bowen & Street Cat Bob's Facebook Page
A Street Cat Named Bob is a quick read, especially if you speed-read the scary parts where a few worriesome things happens to Bob and Bowen (I won’t spoil it here) and you can’t stand waiting to get to the part where you hope they’re okay again. I found myself rooting for the two of them to see what was becoming clear-that they belonged together.
While the prose is a bit awkward and those of us in the USA might need to translate some of the terms (like moggie=cat), it’s an honest telling of the story. Bowen, himself, is not from a polished private school background built around decades of studying literature. I wouldn't believe the story if it was better written and it would have lost some of its charm. His voice rings clear, even though he did have some help from writer Garry Jenkins to structure the tale just right.
I had the opportunity to ask James a few questions about how he’s doing now and how he feels about his book becoming an International Bestseller and this is what he had to say:____
Photo courtesy of James Bowen & Street Cat Bob's Facebook Page
Nothing…I tried in vain to get answers to a handful of questions. I spoke with Mr. Bowen's Publicist via email a number of times. After two months I've given up that any of my questions will ever be answered. Though I'm definitely not thrilled to share this news with you, it does not diminish what I think about Mr. Bowen's book.
Considering we're about to hit a holiday here in the USA where we should remember to be thankful, A Street Cat Named Bob is the sort of story that reminds us to be grateful for what we have when so many aren't as fortunate. As for Mr. Bowen, his life is changing in ways he never could have imagined and with Bob by his side the future is looking bright.
A Streetcat Named Bob is available for purchase HERE.
UPDATE: LEAVE A COMMENT TO WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY OF A Street
Cat Named Bob! Winner chosen at random 11/27/13 at 6PM EST. USA Residents only.
She lives in a bad part of town south of Atlanta, Georgia in an apartment complex where she and her daughter are in hiding from her abusive husband. I can't say her name or mention her town to keep her safe. She doesn't have two sticks to rub together. She doesn't have a car. She barely gets by on her own.
3 to 4 Month old gray kitten-FRIENDLY.
The one thing she does have is a love for cats and their well-being. Against the rules of the apartment complex where she lives, she takes on the stray cats that show up in endless numbers and tries to do right by them. Last week I found out that 3 more kittens, probably litter mates, had shown up and were living off dumpster food or scraps they could beg at the nearby McDonald's. It's no life for any cat, but this woman is trying to get help for them and is feeding them what she can until we can get a rescue involved.
I'm left scratching my head about what to do. I've got 22 cats in my house. More than half are rescues. I'm not getting adoption applications. I'm worried I won't find homes for the cats I already have.
I want to help this person, partially because I know she's risking her home by helping these cats. I want to help because I love cats too and will do as much as I can.
3 to 4 Month old medium-haired orange kitten-FRIENDLY, but a bit shy (just needs a bit of lovin').
We all see pleas for help every day so I know it's asking a lot. These cats face either being returned outside or given up to the local kill shelter where they will probably never get out. I'd like to give them a chance and I hope you'll help me simply by sharing this news with any of your cat loving friends-especially ones that do rescue in Georgia.
Let's Make a Deal
What I Will Do in Return
The cats weigh about 3 lbs, so it means they are about 3-4 months old (yes they look bigger in the photos). They are all friendly, though the orange one is a bit shy. They will need vetting, but I'm not asking for any rescue to pick up the tab.
3 to 4 Month old black and white kitten-FRIENDLY & GOOFY.
I will ask those fans to offer donations to your organization and look at your cats for adoption. There is a chance that these 3 cats will not cost you a dime and may help you place other cats, too.
Rub ma belleh.
If you're with a rescue and can take these kittens, please contact me, Robin Olson, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and please let your friends know about these kitties. This woman has given everything she has to save these cats from death. In her honor let's help these cats find a life.
All the kittens get along well with each other. Can you help us find them a rescue?
WARNING. THERE ARE GRAPHIC IMAGES OF ONE KITTEN'S EYE INFECTION BELOW. EACH IMAGE HAS A BLACK PANEL OVER IT SO NO ONE HAS TO SEE THE IMAGE IF THEY DON'T WANT TO. TO VIEW THE IMAGE WITHOUT THE PANEL, YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON THE PHOTO.
Shelter kittens get sick pretty much every time I bring them into foster care. There’s just no way to keep viruses out of shelters. I wish there was and I hope there are some shelters out there doing a great job of keeping their rescued cats healthy, but I expect that sooner or later (usually sooner) I’m going to see upper respiratory hit the kittens.
I had a nice break from sick kittens with Minnie’s family. They were born on a sidewalk and never saw the inside of a building until they entered foster care on their 4th day of life. They were treated for parasites, but I don’t think they had any. They had some loose stools, but that was about it.
I look back on some of our first foster cats—Polly Picklepuss, her sister Cara Melle and brother Chester Cheesetoes. Polly and Cara are STILL sick to this day (years later) from the wicked viral “thing” they got in a shelter. It’s a miracle they survived. Cara had about $5,000.00 of vetting to keep her alive, not to mention round-the-clock care for a few weeks that required I medicate her every 6 hours.
With the Clementine kittens, they got off transport with a few minor eye issues. I had been treating them with Neopolydex drops and thought that was the end of their care. A few days later, they had bad FVRCP vaccine reactions and one of them, almost overnight, broke out with very swollen conjunctiva (the tissue the lines the inside of the eyelid). The victim was Sherbert, one of the two male kittens. Bert looked terrible so I brought him back to the vet AGAIN. This was about the 7th Vet trip in the 3 weeks I’d had this litter of kittens.
Dr. Mary said she really wanted to treat him with Terramycin® ointment, but it’s no longer available. I asked why and she had no idea.
Dr. Mary gave me the option of trying a different eye drop to see if that would do the trick. I asked if there was any way at all to get the ointment and she said she had a connection that could get it compounded but it was very expensive and time consuming to get it.
I tried the new drops for a few days, but Bert’s eye got worse. I’ve never seen a cat’s eye look so monstrous. In fact, looking at it gave me the shivers it was so gross, but I HAD to overcome my squeamishness to help him. I was terrified he would lose his eye and I promised myself, arrogant or not, that there was no way in Hell he was going blind on my watch.
I took Bert back to Dr. Mary for a re-check and we decided to order the Terramycin, but it would take a few days to get it. I heard you could buy it online for $12 for 3 tubes. It was imported from Turkey. Yes, I realized it could be counterfeit and do nothing but I’d rather blow $12 and hope it works. I put rush shipping on the order because Bert’s eye was so swollen I thought it was going to pop. We started him on another eye drop in the meantime, hoping it might do the trick.
That night I went to check on the kittens and I saw something coming out between Bert’s swollen eyelids. I didn’t know WHAT it was but I was horrified at the sight. It looked like a piece of his third eyelid was protruding from between the eyelids. I carefully wiped at it with a gauze pad but it didn’t move. I didn’t want to pull at it because I feared it might be Bert’s eye, perhaps it had ruptured after all! I felt like I was going to be sick. It was almost 11 PM. I knew it meant taking Bert to the Emergency Vet, who would charge at least $125.00 to just examine Bert’s eye. I feared it was going to cost about $1000.00 when they were done with whatever they had to do, but I couldn’t wait until morning. The infection wasn’t responding to anything. I had to help this kitten.
I called the Emergency Vet and told them what was going on. The woman who answered the phone said they could get the Vet Ophthalmologist to come in if needed (and I’m guessing it would be out-of-this-world expensive to get someone out of their home late at night to tend to a sick kitten). There was a General Practitioner on duty in the meantime.
Sam and I rushed Bert to the Vet. They weren’t busy when we got there, but shortly after we arrived a woman came in with a dog. He must have been in more serious shape than Bert so they took the dog first. Sam and I were put into a waiting room. A tech came in and looked at Bert. She was pretty cold to us and didn’t say much about what she thought was going on and she didn’t tell us not to worry. She said to wait.
While we waited, Bert was fussing. I could tell he needed to go to the bathroom because he almost did it in the cat carrier. I asked the lady at the front desk to get me a litter pan and the second she brought it in Bert used it and took a big pee. Sam and I laughed. These kittens seem to constantly need a litter pan during their Vet visit. Our laughter was cut short when Bert returned to the tiny tray and took a very watery, smelly poop. There was NO air in the tiny waiting room and it quickly turned into a noxious death trap. I asked the receptionist to please take the tray away while I opened the door to the room a little to get some air flow.
Bert wanted to get OUT of the room, so we had to take turns either holding him or playing with him to keep him from taking off. The open door didn’t do much to help the stench so we sat there with our eyes watering, while Bert played with some toys I found in my bag.
The Vet examined Bert’s eye socket, searching for his eye under all the swollen tissue. He could barely see a tiny bit of Bert’s pupil. The swelling was so severe it was impossible to tell if Bert would ever see again.
Although there was nothing more we could do, at least I knew what I was looking at. I had to work on being able to get over being nauseated while treating Bert going forward. I was so angry that he could go blind that it made me get over my own fear and decide then and there that I was going to kick this infection in the ass if it was the last thing I ever did.
The next day the Terramycin arrived. I started it on Bert and hoped that the convincing little box from Turkey was going to make a difference. I made an appointment to bring Bert back to Dr. Mary in two days, which was when the compounded version of the ointment would be ready.
I’m not sure if the Turkish terramycin worked or not. Bert didn’t seem to improve after two days. I couldn’t risk it being Vasaline in a tube, so as soon as the compounded version of the medication was ready, I loaded Bert up with it.
Dr. Mary showed me how to rinse out his eye and clean out the gobs of pus. She wasn’t sure if his vision would be saved and my heart sank at her words. I took Bert home and gave him a kiss. I told him we’d fight it as hard as we could and that if he had to go blind in that eye, so be it. We’d still find him a great home when he was feeling well again.
Over the next few days the swelling in Bert’s eye went down a bit. I kept taking him to see Dr. Mary for re-checks because I wanted her to witness his progress in case it wasn’t going as well as it should. I was being very protective over my little ward and it was worth the extra vet costs to make sure we didn’t miss anything.
Bert’s siblings were contracting the conjunctivitis, too. Blossom, who’d been so sick the week before, got the infection in her left eye so we began treating her. Then little Mandarin got it. She hated being medicated and struggled and cried every time I treated her, but ANY sign of redness around the eye meant that kitten was getting medicated.
Every day, a few times a day, Sam and I went through the routine of cleaning the eyes, medicating the eyes, dolling out antibiotics and hoping to see some sign of improvement.
I kept thinking the swelling was going down on Bert’s eye, but I wasn’t certain. One morning as I entered the room to give the kittens their meds, I couldn’t figure out which kitten was Bert. Bert’s inflammation had improved to the point where his eye was open and I could SEE Bert’s eye!
We were due for another visit with Dr. Mary, but this time felt more like show and tell. I was so proud of myself. I was fairly sure Bert was going to be all right.
Now I could cry, but it would only be tears of relief and joy.
Next up…as Bert recovers the 5 remaining kittens get the infection. Will it EVER go away? What will it take? Will another kitten be at risk of losing her vision, too, or worse, will this horrible disease hit one of my own cats…hard.
Twenty-four cats were seized as part of an animal cruelty case in North Carolina. Due to the Court System and the former owner, who would not stop fighting the case, the animals were left to suffer at Animal Control for TWO YEARS. Many got upper respiratory infections, almost half ended up losing their lives. Of the thirteen cats who survived, one came to my home (a cat I named Mabel, who had been one of our former fosters) and the most of the rest went to Wake County SPCA (who I'd been working with behind-the-scenes to help these cats). If you'd like to read more about this story, you can visit this LINK.
Today I'm thrilled to share with you an email I got yesterday from Elinor. She adopted one of the other cats named Jethro and she wanted to give me an update. Her story and photos are used with permission.
©2013 Iredelle County Animal Services. Our first look at Jethro.
“I recently found your blog about 12 kitties caged for 2 years.
I wanted to send you a big thank you for finding shelters to take these cats. My husband and I adopted Jethro from the Wake County SPCA in June. He is such a smart, playful, friendly cat.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
I saw him at the SPCA, a little cat sitting on a chair watching over the lobby. I petted him briefly, he was sweet. When I moved on to some other cats, he got out of the chair and came up to me for more petting. When I left the room, he followed me to the door and looked through adorably. He was just begging me to take him home. I took a picture with my phone and looked at it a lot. We came back the next day and adopted him.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
When we first got him, he was temperamental from switching environments. He had some of that pet me/don't pet me attitude, but he really wanted love. Slowly he started to trust us more, let us pet him and request attention. As I'm writing this, he's in my husband's lap purring loudly. He is one of the smartest cats I've met and eager to please. He follows me around the house, sits for treats and plays fetch with a ball. He loves climbing on things and running up and down the hallway. I've learned that exercising him is important or he runs around all night.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
Once in awhile we get to take a moment to look back and realize that all our efforts, our tears, were so worth it. This one cat has the chance to live the life he's deserved since the day he was born. It's clear that thanks to Wake County SPCA, this cat and most of the remaining twelve cats have the same chance at a happy life and for that I will always be grateful.
What didn't pass unnoticed was something magical. It's Elinor's last name. Angel.
Once in awhile you get a foster cat who doesn’t cause any trouble, who doesn’t have serious behavioral issues, who gets a bit…meh-sick…but not really ill. They might not stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it takes more than simply spending time with them to see how they stand apart, but in this case I didn't see this cat's magnificence until I saw her through other people's eyes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bright-eyed Bunny.
I’m referring to Bunny Boo-Boo, the now full-grown brown tabby who started her story with us as a little 4-month old kitten, dumped in the parking lot of Target in McDonough, Georgia. Bunny’s family, for whatever reason, thought that dumping their cat was the answer for whatever issues they had with her. Was it that they couldn’t afford to take care of her? Couldn’t keep her in their apartment due to regulations? Were they just cold-hearted fiends?
What I do know is in September of 2012, our intrepid foster mama, Maria, was shopping at Target when she saw Bunny, just moments after she got dumped. Seeing cats running loose in her town is not uncommon. It’s a sad fact that there is rampant cat overpopulation in the south and Maria has helped as many as she can (most end up coming to our rescue, Kitten Associates). I don’t know how Maria does it, but she jumped into action, even though she was already fostering other cats for us—even though she has more than enough on her plate.
Bunny's Adoption Flyer featuring photos of her when she was a kitten. What a cutie!
Maria called me to ask if I could take the kitten and at the time I had to say no, but I did say I would help her find a home for Bunny. Maria got Bunny vetted and I designed a flyer she could hang out at work and share around town. Bunny did very well in Maria’s home. In fact, Maria became very fond of her little tabby sweetheart. A few months passed and Maria felt hopeless about finding Bunny a home. She asked me again if I could help and since I had space I told her I would take her on, knowing I might have a hard time finding Bunny a placement. She was much bigger now and as you know, the bigger they are, the harder to find cats a home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sleepytime.
Bunny arrived in Connecticut in February of this year, along with her new buddies, George and Bongo. They were all adult cats, but I wanted to see if we could make a go of adopting out cats that were older than kittens. It took a few months, but Bongo and George found a great home together. By then we’d had some changes in our foster spaces and with poor Barney alone, after his brother Fred died, we put him with Bunny and they got along great.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny and buddy, George.
During all these months since Bunny arrived, a friend of mine in Boston named Michelle, had told me she was looking to add a kitty to her family. She and her husband, Pat had a sweet cat named Sunny. Sunny was submissive and shy so when they brought a new kitty into their home, Sunny stopped eating. The new kitty was marvelous on her own, but she was too much for Sunny and they began to worry about his health.
Though they tried everything they could, they realized it wasn’t a good match. They had no other choice but to return the cat to the shelter, but the good news was the kitty was not at any risk and the couple gave the rescue a huge donation and returned their adoption fee. The kitty was adopted again shortly thereafter.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny has a "necklace" of black fur that encircles her neck, then runs down her back, all the way down her tail.
The couple truly suffered after that unfortunate experience and decided to take a very careful, long look for another cat. After they shared their story with me, I suggested a few different cats for them and we talked at great length about each cat’s personality and how it might work with Sunny’s. At the time, Bunny was still in Georgia, so I offered other cats we had as options. Then, nothing came of it.
I didn’t hear much from Michelle for months. I didn’t pester her. I figured she adopted from another place. What I didn’t know was that Michelle had a death in her family and there were a lot of expected issues surrounding that so she stepped back from thinking about adopting a cat for a long time. Meanwhile, Bunny continued to be overlooked as many of our other foster cats got adopted. After the first year passed, I wondered if we'd ever find Bunny a home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny with new buddy, Confetti Joe.
A few weeks ago, I heard from Michelle. It had been about 10 months since we first started talking about finding her a good match. I told her about Bunny and sent her photos. She used our web cam to observe Bunny’s interaction with her new foster friends, Gracey and Joey.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny snoozing with Minnie's kittens.
Michelle and Pat thought that maybe it was a sign that this was their new cat because they already called their current cat, Sunny-Bunny and they loved how sweet Bunny was with the kittens. She often groomed them and slept with them. If she was so friendly with Minnie's 5 kittens, Barney, George and Bongo, certainly there was a good chance that Sunny would someday be her new best friend.
We set up a time to meet and I thought it might be Bunny’s adoption day, but the couple wanted to drive down from Boston just to meet this kitty and to really, truly make sure that this was the kitty of their dreams.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I oftener watched the kitties sleeping together via our Dropcam.
I liked that they wanted to meet her without the pressure of deciding. They know what a commitment it is to adopt a cat and they take it very seriously. I had a good feeling about it when within the first few moments of entering the room, Bunny walked over to Pat and rubbed up against him! Bunny had been quite a shy kitty when she first arrived in Connecticut and as the months passed she’d become more friendly and outgoing. I was delighted to see her out of her shell, but I also knew that she had to win Michelle over, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny is very good at making funny faces.
I left the couple with Bunny to have some private time with her. I thought about how she’d been in our program for over a year and that in all those months she’d only had ONE adoption application that fell through right away. Bunny has beautiful coloring, a deliciously soft coat and is in prime health. She’s also very charming and has a high-pitched me-ow that I find amusing. I don’t know why she never had a line out the door of potential adopters, but in truth, all she needed was one good one.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Licking Gracey's tail.
Michelle called for me to join her and her husband in the foster room. I asked them how it went and they were very pleased. I asked them “Is this your cat?” and they said YES! Though they weren’t ready to take Bunny home with them that day, we did sign the contract, sealing the deal.
Bunny had her forever home, at last.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Bunny.
Michelle and Pat wanted time to get their home ready, buy a few things for Bunny and arrange to take a few days off to help ease her transition. I was very impressed and thrilled when they talked about how they plan on spoiling her, too. Clearly, there was something about Bunny that stood out from all the other cats they could have adopted. Maybe I didn’t see how special she was until I saw her through their eyes as they began their lives together. I hope it works out for both Bunny and her new friend, Sunny, but only time and careful introductions will tell.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny the spy.
I’m off to drive Bunny to Massachusetts to start the next chapter in her life. Though it took a very long time for Bunny to find the right place, I’m happy about how things worked out for her. Bunny will have lots and lots of love and the companionship of both humans and a new kitty friend that will bring her great joy.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny often sat on a shelf on the bookcase near the door. She liked to greet me when I entered the room.
From dumped in a parking lot in Georgia to a loving home in Boston—not a bad end for this cat’s rescue tale.
Update: Bunny was delivered to her new mama last night and I've already heard that Bunny was ready for pets and play time not long after she arrived in her new home. I feared she would begin her new life by hiding under the bed, but she just enjoyed getting to know her new family. Go, Bunny! Hurray!
Blossom was up on her paws, walking. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Just hours ago she’d appeared to be near death and now she was looking up at me like I had a bad dream because certainly everything was right as rain.
Of course, being that Blossom is part of a litter of 6, I knew that the odds were good that another kitten might fall ill. At least if they did, I knew what to do for them and that with supportive care, they should be fine in day or two.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Puttin' some meat on their bones.
I checked in with one of our Vets, asking him if it was okay to get the kittens their second, in a series of three, Distemper combination vaccinations called FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) He felt it was safe to vaccinate because it was rare to have a complication after the injection and since Blossom seemed well again that we should go ahead.
On Wednesday, October 16th I took the cats to the Vet for their shot. They had a grand time exploring Dr. Chris’ office, though he did not particularly care for them ripping his furniture with their claws. Each kitten got their vaccination in their right front leg. I packed them up into their carriers and brought them home. It was a quick visit.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Mandy gets weighed in.
I knew the kittens might feel a bit off, a bit more tired than usual, or picky about their food, so I didn’t worry about checking on them right away after I got them home. I waited about ninety minutes before I checked our web cam, Squee-TV Channel 2, to see how they were doing. They were all huddled onto one cat bed. They looked unusually flat. Concerned, I turned off the camera remotely and went into their room.
All the kittens were flat. I tried to get a few to walk and they limped on the leg that got the shot, then laid down in place. They felt hot to the touch. They were crying. I knew there was a chance of an allergic reaction to the vaccination and Dr. Chris had closed for the day. I grabbed a kitten and took her temperature. It was 105.2°F. I called the Cat Clinic and Dr. Feldman spoke to me directly. He said he’d make time for them and to bring the kittens in right away. If they were having an anaphylactic reaction they could die.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sherbert feels awful and Mandy can't even get up (background) they are feeling so poorly.
I raced over to the Clinic, swearing under my breath that if this vaccine killed any of my kittens there was going to be Hell to pay. The kittens cried the entire trip to the Vet. At least I knew they were alive.
Dr. Feldman and his assistant examined each kitten. They all had very high temperatures of over 105°F. High normal for a cat is over 102°F. They were all lame in their front leg. I worried that the vaccination trigged Calici, which is what might have made Blossom lame a few days before or if the needle used for the shot was too big. I didn’t know if the vaccination had expired or was otherwise hurting my kittens. All I knew is seeing them all suffering was heartbreaking.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango and Meri are miserable.
Though rare to have such a bad reaction, Dr. Feldman suggested we give each kitten a shot of Dextramethasone, a steroid, to combat the high fever and comfort the lameness. He said I might read that it would invalidate the effects of their vaccination, but at this point we had no other options. The kittens might overcome their fevers on their own, but at what cost? I knew steroids were NOT what I’d ever want my kittens to be given, but I had to hurry to make the decision. They were suffering so severely and were affected so quickly after their vaccination that I felt our hands were tied. We gave them the steroids.
Dr. Feldman is very compassionate. He made sure they used the tiniest needle possible on the kittens. It looked like the width of a single human hair. The kittens cried getting another shot. I felt so badly about causing them any more pain, but we had to do it. I was told to observe the kittens and report back the next day unless they got worse. The thought was that we’d have to repeat the FVRCP vaccination again anyway, so we would just move on, give them time to recover and in a few weeks try it again.
We could also pre-treat them with antihistamines before they got the next shot. To be safe, we recorded the lot number and date of the vaccination they got and compared it to what the Cat Clinic would be using when we did the next one. The date of expiration on the vaccination that made them sick is December 2014. Cat Clinic’s expires December 2015. I had to wonder if the vaccination had already gone bad and that’s what made the kittens so sick. It's on my "to do" list to contact the manufacturer and report this problem.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Since they've arrived a month ago there hasn't been one day when ALL the kittens were well. Here's Blossom, Buttercup and Mandy in better days before the vaccination.
By the next day, the kittens had bounced back. They were eating and wobbling around. Clearly they were still sore, but doing much better. My goal now was to focus on fattening them up, since they were still looking like furry skeletons, and get them ready to be spayed and neutered. I wanted them up for adoption soon while they’re still small.
Little did I know that this little upset in their lives was nothing compared to what was about to occur…
Part 4 coming up next where I face the real possibility that one or more of the kittens will lose an eye due to illness.
(Continued from Part 1)
We got home around 1 A.M.
The kittens were ready to explode out of their carrier and I felt badly confining them to a large dog crate for the night, but I had to contain the fleas, as well as the kittens. I got them settled and brought them food, wondering if they would even eat. I knew they’d been fed all sorts of dry food and that transitioning them over to grain-free canned might be tough.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our first look at Buttercup, the sole buff colored kitten.
The kittens went crazy for the food and ate so much I had to keep bringing them more. For six little guys they ate three, 6-oz cans of food. If nothing else, they would be able to rest now that they had a full belly and a soft bed.
The kittens had been removed from the shelter in two groups. The first one to get out was a solo kitten named Blossom, along with a dilute calico who was on her own and not part of Blossom’s family. They left the shelter and entered rescue days before I even knew about the Clementines.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Out of the cage and ready for fun.
Because Blossom got out earlier she had advantages over the others-access to better food and more of it, a less stressful environment and a lot more love. As a result, Blossom grew much larger than her siblings as they continued to wait in hopes of rescue. It meant, at least, Blossom should do better than the others, but I was wrong.
Blossom was the first to get really sick.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
The next morning all I had to do was feed the kittens and load them into the carrier, but I needed a few minutes with them before we left. I wanted to have a chance to at least get a good look at the little guys, maybe grab a few photos. Even knowing about the fleas, the poor kittens wanted to run around so I let them out of the crate. They raced around the room, exploring every nook and cranny. Each one came over to check me out, too. A few were purring at the slightest touch. The energy in the room was one of joy and I couldn’t help but feel charged up by it.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The littlest, Mandarin (Mandy).
My joy was short-lived when I saw Mango. His left eye was runny and swollen. The folks in Kentucky had mentioned eye issues in two of the kittens and that the Vet had put “salve” on them. I cringed wondering if it was vasaline or if it actually was medicated and I wondered why they didn’t include the meds along with the kittens. Due to the laws in Connecticut the kittens had an appointment to see one of our Vets in a few days to be issued a health certificate, but looking at Mango’s eye, I knew it couldn’t wait. I called for an appointment to see Dr. Mary and asked our new foster mom if I could delay getting to her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This can't wait a few days. Off to the Vet with Mango and gang.
The kittens had fun at with Dr. Mary. She examined a few of the kittens and we discussed treatment plans. I asked about treating them for fleas but she said there was no way we could do anything more than bathe them at this point. I was to treat everyone with eye drops and hope that would do the trick. She said she wished we could get terramycin because it’s the “go to” medication for this sort of conjunctivitis, but it’s on some sort of universal outage for vets. They can get it for newborn babies, but that’s about it. In fact there’s a program in Philadelphia where a hospital donates their one time used tubes of terramycin to animal shelters so they can get access to the drug. I don’t know why this is going on. Is Pfizer causing a shortage on purpose to make a buck? I didn’t understand. All I knew is that Dr. Mary had just met another vet who said they could get it but it was very tough and if they didn’t respond to the current treatment we’d get the medication.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Spring fling.
The plan was to take the kittens to their new foster home and see how the meds worked. I was very relieved they were out of my house because the cat population was up to 22 cats and that just didn’t sit well with me. Every spare room was loaded and I was grateful that Jeannie offered to help. Without her home I would increase the risk of illness racing through the other cats. The more cats, the more stress, the better the chances that things will go downhill fast.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttercup gets a bath.
Jeannie is great. She’s got a big smile and friendly, chatty demeanor. She’s fostered all sorts of kittens in all sorts of situations. Nothing fazes her. She actually wanted to bathe the kittens and has a routine all set up. I knew I could learn from her and was eager to get these kittens cleaned up.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Yikes.
We set up an assembly line. Jeannie bathed the kittens and picked off the fleas. I dried the kittens and placed them into a big cat carrier that was lined with a thick blanket and had a small space heater blowing warm air into the space. Jeannie cooed over each kitten, talking to them about how we’d get those nasty fleas off them, and saying how cute each one was. It wasn’t until we bathed the kittens that I realized how very underweight they were. They were basically skeletons with fur, made more extreme by seeing them wet. One of them, a tiny little girl, seemed so fragile I worried if she got sick we’d lose her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh the humiliation!
One by one the kittens got bathed. They were either relaxed by the warm water and got sleepy, or being so malnourished they went limp in my arms since many struggled against being in the water. It was rather unnerving to see them like that. It took them awhile, but with the warm air and being clean they slowly began to groom themselves and show signs of life.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Did you ever have “one of those days?”
Jeannie was ready to take over the helm and I had to race off. Why? To help another family of kittens who were arriving on a transport from Georgia get to a temporary foster home for another rescue group. It meant having a chance to see our dear friend Bobby and I couldn’t pass it up.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
A few days later I had to bring the kittens to another Vet for their health certificates. I told Jeannie I was going to bring them back to my house after the vet visit because we’d been fortunate enough to adopt Lolly and Clark and their room was now open and it would give me a chance to get a few photos of the kittens and see how they were doing. I’d bring the kittens back in a few days or we’d take on other kittens for her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wet and flea-free.
The vet visit was unremarkable in nature. What we’d already started doing based on Dr. Mary’s orders was fine to continue doing. I went home thinking things would be all right.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Having fun wherever they go.
On Friday, Blossom seemed picky about her food. On Saturday, clearly she wasn’t feeling well. Jeannie and her friend stopped over to see the kittens and we examined Blossom. We took her temperature and it was 105.2° F but then her friend reminded us that Blossom had been laying on a heated bed. Relieved it probably wasn’t a fever, we still noticed she seemed lethargic and depressed. Jeannie has a medical background and suggested taking Blossom home with her where she could give her round-the-clock care for the next day or two. We went back and forth about what would be the best thing for Blossom. Would it be safer on the others if she was separated from them?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What? We're not doing anything!
I was ready to let Blossom go with Jeannie, but then we got her to eat a little bit. I knew if Blossom got worse I’d have to run her to the Vet anyway so I told Jeannie I’d take care of her.
The next morning, Blossom didn’t want to walk at all. She was like a limp rag in my arms. She wouldn’t get up to eat and she was crying. I tried to get her to walk but her back right leg was tender and she favored it. I’d read about kittens limping being a possible sign of Calici virus and I started to panic. Dr. Mary and Dr. Larry were off, being that it was Sunday, so I took her to their associate, Dr H. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of Dr. H, but she is the only game in town, unless I wanted to spend $1000.00 or more going to the ER Vet.
Dr. H. barely looked at Blossom and talked to me about what she wanted to do. I had to ask her to watch Blossom try to walk and talked to her about my concerns about it being calici. What sort of exam is it if she’s not even looking at the kitten walk or checking out why she is lame?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Trying to get Blossom to eat.
I felt like she was ignoring me and talked about levels of care and their costs. She wanted to do full blood work, x-rays, repeat the snap test, and a PCR test and pain meds. I told her it was very clear to me it was calici and I didn’t want to do all these tests. Yes, Blossom could have fallen but there was no obvious sign of injury and she was painful all over her body, not just her leg.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blossom's x-ray shows good growth plates but no issues.
Dr. H. wouldn’t let up so I said to go ahead with the blood work and x-ray. Both were normal. Now I was out $500.00. I was really pissed. I was to take Blossom home and give her sub-q fluids a few times over the next two days. If it was a virus, giving her antibiotics wouldn’t help, but the fear is secondary infection. I said no to the antibiotics, but got pushed into getting pain meds. She wanted Blossom on Buprenex because letting her suffer wasn’t fair. Again, I felt it was off base. When I get a bad cold, I feel like crap, but I don’t want to load myself up with drugs that give me more problems than help and this was a little kitten. I thought supportive care was what she needed, not more drugs that really only make her loopy and possibly lose her appetite…which again..does not make sense. Why make it harder for Blossom to recover by taking away her appetite? It was the only thing she had going for her. At least if she couldn’t get up I could feed her if I held the plate next to her mouth as she laid on the heated cat bed.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor sweetie. Blossom was wiped out from the virus.
I feared that Blossom was going to die she was so weak and then I started to wonder if this was going to become my worst fear—some sort of terrible virus wiping out the whole litter and Blossom was only the first to go.
I thought to myself; “Baby steps. Just breathe. Keep her comfortable and fed. Give her fluids and hope she can beat this on her own. Don’t freak out. Just focus on keeping her comfortable.”
The next day I didn’t believe what I saw when I entered the foster room. When I looked at Blossom all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.
Part three next…