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.

Cats Shows and Breeders and Haters, oh My.

I like to think I’m open-minded. I try to give everything and everyone a chance, resisting the temptation to make a judgment about an issue based on little or no facts. With my life, via this blog, being part of the fabric of social media, I find that people are very willing to express their feelings about what experiences I've written about and can be quick to make negative comments. It gives me pause. It makes me wonder if I should not write any more or if it’s worth it to constantly open myself up to a volley of negativity.

As always, I will go to my center, where my goal is simply to tell my story and through my experiences possibly educate anyone who takes the time to read these words. Success AND failure is something we learn from. My ups and downs are like anyone else’s, except for that they’re a lot more public and open to scrutiny.

I ask that you remain open-minded as I tell this tale because I know it’s a minefield and may fill some of you with a lot of strong emotions ready to fire off, but I have to speak my peace.

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It’s been a very long time since I’ve left the house for more than a few hours, and even a longer time since I’ve gone anywhere overnight. As much as I love my cats and Sam, I needed a break.

I was supposed to attend an animal rescue related conference in early April, but I got the flu the day before I was to leave. I was so sick I didn’t do anything for three weeks other than lay in bed and feel miserable. I was so angry, feeling robbed of my one tiny chance to get away. I cursed at the sky and asked whoever the Big Boss is, why, someone who helps others, who is so poor, who works so hard, gets the flu the one day she is supposed to do something for herself (which in truth will help others since she’ll learn things about rescuing cats).

I still had one more trip to look forward to this year and I decided early on that I’d get there, no matter what. I’d been invited to attend a cat show in Massachusetts as a Guest Judge. Judge? Cat Show Judge? Me?

Not only that, but little Freya, our pooping-wonder-cat, was invited to be the Guest Cat! If I wanted to, I could show her in the Household Pet Cat division. Did I? Gosh, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but it also was an opportunity to educate people about the importance of saving the life of a cat who was deemed “un-savable.”

Freya is our Mascot after all. It’s through her that we were able to help save more kittens with atresia ani and put a spotlight on the importance of helping kittens with birth defects reach a happy adulthood.

Okay. I decided to give it a try.

I know what some of you are going to be thinking, and you’ve already voiced your opinion on my Facebook page about how cruel showing cats is and that any animal breeder should be punished, their animals not paraded around to the benefit of their owners and that how could I, as the President & Founder of Kitten Associates, dare do that to our Mascot, leaving her terrified in a tiny cage while waiting to be judged?

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I’d have to admit that before I attended the cat show, I did have reservations. Sure, I’d been to cat shows plenty of times before, but only to oooh and ahhh over the pretty pedigreed felines and buy cat toys. I thought about how many cats are in kill-shelters, how many are starving and dying horrible deaths and that cat breeders just made the problem worse by adding more cats to the population problem.

I’d heard stories about breeders euthanizing cats that weren’t up to Standards, or not breeding their cats responsibly and causing birth defects or genetic health issues, then selling the cats for twisted amounts of money under the guise that they were healthy and robust.

I’m sure that there are those of you who know every fact and figure to prove the point that breeding should be outlawed completely, so how dare I spend the weekend at a cat show, showing my little cat in the Household Pet Cats ring?

There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

Firstly, there is no black and white about cat shows and breeders being all good or all bad. There are degrees of both states, just like in anything else. I did a lot of thinking about this topic as I walked around the show floor. I wanted to hate the breeders and be pro-cat-rescue, blinders firmly in place.

But then there were the cats.

Holy shit they were stunning. I thought about what the world would be like if no one preserved or created new breeds of cats (like the Napoleon who I just saw this weekend who was so cute I practically melted or the mind-blowingly magnificent orange Maine Coon with paws as big as my hands).

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Baccaruda, one of my new BFFs gets shown. He is all fluff, all the time.

What if we DID outlaw breeding and all we had were what I usually see in my rescue-world—an assortment of tabbies, gray cats, lots and lots of black cats, fluffy cats, orange cats, calicos or torties, but I wouldn’t see a magnificent, mellow-minded Birman, with big white mitts, sapphire blue eyes and chocolate coloring that fades along the abdomen and darkens at the paws. I wouldn’t see a delicately proportioned, trouble-making, Singapura with a ticked coat and pale green alien-like eyes who had so much energy she was practically vibrating.

What goes beyond looks is that these cats are also bred for temperament. Some are chosen for being curious and playful, while others are gentle giants. I never know what I’m going to get when I rescue a cat. Usually they’re sick, thin, full of fleas. When they feel better, they can sometimes become pretty obnoxious, while others might become fearful once they’re strong enough to show their true nature. I work hard to help them become confident and loving, but if they were genetically predisposed to be sweet and I knew that ahead of time, gee, there is something to be said for that.

I’m not looking to start a big argument about what is right or wrong, but I am hoping that maybe some of you will just be open-minded enough to think about a world without purebred cats and focus your anger on anyone who is cruel to animals, period.

Do I love that these cats are sold for crazy amounts of money? No.

Do I love that there ARE some cats who are stressed out of their minds and should not be shown. NO!...but we’ll talk more about that in my next post because I did see some pretty amazing changes in the cats as they quickly acclimated to their surroundings (including Freya).

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Stunning Maine Coon KITTEN.

That said, I would never condone making a cat miserable just so I could show him or her off and I am clear in the fact that there are breeders who do horrific things to their cats in the name of the almighty dollar.

Then there’s something I’m not sure many folks consider. There are a few people who do the cat shows who would otherwise have little or no contact with anyone in society. They use their cats as bridge so they can be comfortable around others. It gives them reason to get out of their home, socialize, and make friends when they probably can’t do that very well in their day-to-day life. I honestly think it improves their mental health.

Is it right that cats could be seen as being used to help humans? Well then what about service dogs? Horses? Police dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs, cancer-sniffing dogs, therapy cats? Is it so different that some of these cats provide their guardians with a feeling of safety and security in social settings?

And lastly, when you look at any cat, what’s one of the first things you do after cooing over how cute it is? You try to sort out what breed it might be. I think it would be a sad world if we were reduced to describing our cats, as, well, cats or by color or fur pattern alone.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Freya "helps" me pack up for our trip.

Slowly, over generations of not preserving breeds, we’d end up with a mixed bag of cats, who have no interesting personality traits that we can count on and probably less and less remarkable coloring or characteristics. I’m not sure what the impact would be on over-crowded shelters because the sort of people who don’t spay/neuter their cats isn’t going to change. Yes, some unscrupulous breeders dump their pet-quality kittens or adults at shelters, but my gut tells me the folks who don’t spay/neuter their cats or give kittens away for free on Craigslist without them being vetted are a bigger concern.

As humans, it’s in our nature to categorize, identify and create. Over the millennia, we have come to do that with our cats, too. We have bred cats who are sweet lap cats and cats who are glorious athletes. Just as humans are diverse, so are our cats. Do we really want to get rid of cat breeds because some breeders are rotten apples? Do we really want to close down cat shows because some of the cats experience stress for a few hours? How many cats are in homes that experience stress 24/7 due to their guardians behavior or suffer stress from the other pets in the home because they were not introduced properly or don’t have appropriate places to flee when they experience fear?

While I can’t say I love every aspect about breeding cats, maintaining a standard, or cat shows, I can say that after being part of one I see value I couldn’t see before. I hope you can, too.

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So, yeah, I judged a cat show, but first, I had to get there and let me tell you, THAT was a story in and of itself.

Warning Lights R Olson
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Anti-lock brake, brake and traction control warning lights come on 12 hours before I have to drive to MA. Do I stay home or risk driving a car that's about to crap out on me?

Next up…the trip from HELL, in a hateful car, with a dead phone and no way to navigate my way out of a horrific traffic jam where I was traveling at a blazing 4 MPH. How determined was I to get away for a few days after all? Maybe I should have just stayed home?

What A Mother Won't Do for Her Kittens

Her claws dug into the wooden grate and tugged, tugged hard. Beyond the grate in the shadows under the house, she could see a safe place to hide away from the tidal pool, the animals there, the wetness that could sweep up and drown her if the rains continued to fall. She was so close to Long Island Sound she could hear the hiss of the waves as they reached the shore, but she didn’t care for a trip to the beach. She had far more important things on her mind.

A little black and white, tuxedo cat named Izzy was pregnant and desperate to find a place to give birth, but time was running out. Izzy bit and clawed at the grate. One corner was loose. If she kept pulling she’d be able to remove the grate and enter the depths of the underside of the house, but she'd have to rip out some insulation, too. No other animals had been there, she could smell the sweet earth and staleness of the fiberglass and knew she’d be safe. Her kittens were wriggling inside her. She knew they’d be coming soon so she continued to claw away even though her claws were breaking, the sheaths splintering off into the grass.

At last the grate gave way and Izzy clawed at the insulation ripping it to shreds as she made her way under the house as far back as she could; away from the wet, the wild, the world.

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©2016 Dana Kane, used with permission. Photos of Izzy under the house, then as the kittens get trapped and ready for a trip to "Aunt Katherine's House." If you look carefully, the bottom center image shows the area Izzy dug out to have her kittens.

Two weeks later…

Izzy gave birth the first night under the house to four kittens and began to care and feed them while she herself was slowly starving. She foraged for food but she couldn’t be away from her kittens for more than a few minutes so often her attempts were unsuccessful. It was unusually cold for May, the nights especially so. Many other kittens born outdoors weren’t going to survive and the odds were against Izzy's too.

One day a lady noticed the broken grate and pieces of insulation. She assumed it was done by a raccoon or opossum and didn’t think much of it until she saw Izzy duck under the house. Not long after that she saw a kitten, then another. She loved animals dearly, but didn’t know what to do. Of course she could put down food for the mama cat, but what about the kittens?

It’s not always easy to find help for a mom and kittens. Rescues and shelters are overloaded, especially this time of year with other moms and kittens who need help. The woman called and emailed and after a week had passed she finally found Katherine, from Animals in Distress, who was willing to come help trap the family and get them to safety. Katherine had no problem getting the kittens, but she had to return to the home a few times, in the middle of the night and early the next morning on only a few hours sleep, until she finally trapped Izzy.

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©2016 Katherine Reid, Animals in Distress. Used with Permission. While hoping Izzy would get into the trap, along comes who we think is the "baby daddy"! He's getting trapped next!

Once trapped, the problem was that Katherine only had one space for the family, in a big crate inside her bathroom. It wasn’t ideal. Katherine has other cats. The more cats, the more chance of spreading disease to the kittens, whose immune systems were just developing. The best thing would be to move the cats into a home with no or few other cats, but where would that be?

That's where I came in.

Over the past year and a half I’ve been struggling to find a home for Laney and 15 of her offspring. I’m down to the final two, Jelly and Lolly, and frankly I was dreaming about taking a break when they got adopted, but part of me was also yearning to be around kittens. I’ve missed having little ones running around, learning to be confident little cats. I miss the joy of seeing them thrive, though I don’t miss the heartache of seeing them get sick or worse.

I knew we had the space to take on the mom and kittens, but SURPRISE, I’d also just said OKAY to taking on six orphan kittens from two different kill shelters (stay tuned for updates on them)! Now what would I do?

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Our marvelous mama, Izzy.

Thankfully I have another foster home with Ms. J and her family. I love these guys to pieces. They always jump at the chance to foster but they’ve never had LITTLE kittens. There’s a lot to learn and it can be a very tricky few weeks. At least there was Izzy to feed and clean the kittens. They were almost 4 weeks old and would start using the litter pan and eating on their own, but they needed guidance to do that. Could I oversee their care when they were in another home? Would they be willing to take on such a task? Inasmuch as they were new to fostering kittens, I needed to do a great job passing on my knowledge to them.

It took a few days to work out the details. Katherine grew ever more frantic that the kittens would get sick. I understood having had so many kittens suffering from upper respiratory tract infections from being in kill shelters. She called around to other rescues just in case I had to say no.

What was really great was that Ms. J and family were ready for the challenge. They knew that there are plenty of risks involved…that something very bad could happen if they weren’t careful and even if they were careful. You have to have a big brave heart to do rescue and be willing to be crushed, then do it again and again because you love cats, because you need to help make their lives better. If Ms. J hadn’t said yes, this story could have ended in a much darker way.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson.

So I began to shop for things the kittens would need: baby food (chicken!), goat's milk, syringes, cotton pads (to help them eliminate their wastes), pee pee pads, paper towels, cat food for mom. I put together a trunk full of stuff including a new baby scale. The kittens have to be weighed every day to ensure they are growing properly and so we know if they need some help with extra supplemental feedings.

Two days ago, Katherine, Ms. J and family and I met to get Izzy and family set up in their new foster home. Ms. J’s two daughters were glowing they were so excited. As Katherine introduced us to each kitten, we all swooned. We have a litter of four tabbies, with lovely sharp-edged stripes along their brown fur.

Sleeping Cuties
©2016 Robin AF Olson.

Katherine and I began talking about what to do for the kittens, how to do it, when to do it, all while the kittens were being passed from one of us to the other. We marveled at their markings and took notes about which two were our boys and which two were our girls. Two of the kittens, a boy and girl, are almost identical with the exception that the girl has a tiny white tip one her tail. We hugged and kissed them, welcoming them to Kitten Associates.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Safe, with mama and a fully belly, it doesn't get any better than this.

It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to rescue one kitty family. It also takes resources and that’s something we need a lot of help with. These kittens will need vaccinations, de-worming, to be spayed or neutered. Izzy eats as much as three adult cats and fairly soon the kittens will be eating cat food, too.

Katherine and I focus on doing the right thing for cats in need. We hope that our efforts will be appreciated and that in the end when we need help, it will be there for our foster cats. Without it we simply can’t keep our doors open or rescue another cat.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. One of the boys gets some extra nom noms.

That’s where you come in.

Since the kittens do not have names yet, I’ve decided that for every donation of $10 or more, YOU CAN MAKE NAME SUGGESTIONS. We’ll review the suggestions and we may pick yours. It’s one way we can say thank you for loving what we do and for caring about our kitties.

Be a part of our life-saving efforts by sharing your love in the following ways:

For super fast donations of a specific amount use:

$10 Donation make a name suggestion for one or more kittens

$25 Donation helps keep Izzy's tummy full

$50 Donation provides cat food and treats

$75 Donation lots more cat food, toys and treats or first vaccinations for all the cats

$100 Donation covers spay/neuter one kitten

$200 Donation which sponsors one kitten's complete vet care

Make a donation HERE to use our DONATE TODAY button (and yes, you can use your credit card).

Send a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Kitten Associates IS a 501c3 non-profit rescue so your donation is tax deductible. Our EIN is 27-3597692

Purchase cat food or chicken baby food or teenie tiny toys through our Amazon.com Wish List so you can choose exactly what gift you’d like to give to our foster kitties.

Purchase catnip-free cat toys at Purrfect Play. We LOVE their toys because they're small and not scary to growing kittens. Since we have six MORE kittens coming in, we'd welcome more toys! You can ship to our P.O. Box 354 (see above).

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Learning how to syringe-feed. Yum!

Every single dollar adds up and no gift is too small. We appreciate everything we get and sharing on social media helps, too!

We’re working on getting Squee TV HD up and running so you can watch our kittens 24/7 so stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates and a link to the web cam!

Thank you to the family who found Izzy and went to bat for her and made sure she found safe harbor with Katherine and I’m not thanking Katherine because she knows why. Hee hee…hey..we blogger/cat rescuers have to have a few secrets once in awhile.

NAME THESE KITTENS

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Boy 1

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Girl 2

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Girl 3

Little Guy 650
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Boy 4


©2016 Robin AF Olson.

MEOW: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition

MEOW: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum, now—Sept 4, 2016

“WAM takes the theme of cats by the tail with this one-of-a-kind, multi-faceted project. Meow includes an exhibition exploring the feline as an iconic element of art, a self-guided "cat walk" through the Museum, an interactive installation featuring live cats, a community art show, a naughty kitty take-over of Helmutt's House, a dog show curated by Helmutt, and special art classes. From serious art to mischievous fun, Meow promises to tickle the whiskers of museum and cat-lovers alike!”

---from the WAM web site

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I was delighted to be a guest of WAM for the Opening Party for Meow: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition just a few nights ago. The building was packed with feline fanciers galore as well as costumed cat-racters (sorry, had to!) like Hello Kitty and the Cat in the Hat.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. HELLO KITTY. HELLO ROBIN.

It was the place to fly your furry feline flag meanwhile celebrating artwork from modern day submissions by the community, to an Albrecht Dürer woodcut from the 15th century. There were also varying cat-centric pieces of art peppered throughout the museum in addition to two special installations featuring a wide range of artistic styles.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. WAM interior courtyard. where we got chastised for almost leaning on the walls (the docent said "everything here is art!").

As an added bonus to the dazzling display of artwork, was a chance to have a poster autographed by Emily the Strange artist/illustrator, Rob Reger. I jumped at the chance to chat with Mr Reger, being a fan of his work. The line moved painfully slowly, but before I could become annoyed, I realized it was because Mr. Reger was adding artwork to each poster, taking time to speak with each person on line (most often a child). He was clearly tired (a new daddy), but eager and interested to listen and interact with everyone. He was charming and even seemed to brighten up when I mentioned I ran a non-profit cat rescue. His wife, nearby with their newborn, was equally charming and friendly. Mr. Reger asked if we’d seen his new line of Kitty Gems. They are hand-cast, very limited production run sculptures made of colored polyurethane. They were so pretty it was tough to choose a favorite. He clearly understands how to express the form of a cat without being cutesy or heavy-handed. The moderne-style figures were a true delight and I’m certain most cat art aficionados will be jumping at the chance to add them to their collection.

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Emily the Strange goodies.

I was glad to tour the exhibit with my friend and fellow cat-rescuing-blogger, Connie who writes Tails from the Foster Kittens. Though we were disappointed that the cats-in-residence program hadn’t opened yet (it’s not set to open until July 13, 2016), it was very enjoyable to discover so many pieces of art dedicated to cats. The Community Cats section was my favorite. I was so surprised that WAM opened up their space to the general public to submit their own offerings of cat-themed art. This seems out-of-the-norm of what an art museum would do, but then again, why not? Art is everywhere and cat lovers especially want to share their love for cats by honoring them artistically. It was delightful to see a great range of artistic skills from pieces done by young children to very talented professional artists.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Rob Reger signing my poster.

As the music played on and the crowds grew larger, Connie and I headed towards the gift shop, hoping to score some goodies before we called it a night. As a cat-blogger and cat lover I could barely wait to see what I might discover. Though the selection was good I was very disappointed to find out that there was no exhibition catalog or really much of anything that had artwork from the show on it. Perhaps they underestimated what cat-fans would want to bring home with them or that there were permission and copyright issues with using any of the community submitted art. I hope they decide to open this exhibit again, but make it bigger and have more goodies available to purchase.

Robin and Cat
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Me and...?

You know how we cat parents are, we can’t get enough goodies for ourselves if there’s a cat on it AND heck, where were the artistic cat toys?

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If time allows I may travel back to Worcester to scope out the Cats-in-Residence Program featuring the Worcester Animal Rescue League. This exhibit is a human/cat contemporary art installation featuring ADOPTABLE CATS. I LOVE THIS IDEA. It helps take the stigma off shelter cats and for those of us who feel too scared or sad to go to a shelter, they can experience the cats in an art installation. I hope they all get adopted the first day and…when can my rescue take part in this?

Arlene Skaran ROlson
The Hunter, The Hunted, Arlene Skaran, 2014.

Instead of being stuffy and elitist, it’s clear that WAM’s goal is to be inclusive and light-hearted by taking a chance on a somewhat off-beat subject matter. I applaud their efforts and hope you’ll check out this delightful exhibition.

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Buster Doesn't Like the Smell of Fabreze, by Heather Meri Stewart, 2013.

Socks R Olson
Socks by Karen Maust, 2013.

MEOW: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition runs through September 4, 2016.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

In a Perfectly Perfect World

I entered the foster room and was met by Laney, Winnie and Piglet. Their tails held high, their eyes bright with excitement. They crowded in close, rubbing up against my legs as I struggled to enter the room without dropping their food. It was time to have breakfast and they were eager to eat.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Winnie, Piglet and photobomb by Laney.

As I lowered the tray, covered with small mounds of chicken, they gathered in a circle, joined by shy-Lolli, and began to eat. It was just another breakfast, about their 485th, with me, but this one was different. It was their last breakfast together.

Last Meal R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Last breakfast.

I watched them eat, oblivious to what I knew was going to happen in a few hours. They lapped up every morsel as they quickly glanced over to their neighbor to see if they had any food left that could be snatched away. In moments the tray was clean, as if nothing had ever been on it in the first place. It was a metaphor whose meaning wasn’t lost on me.

I sat on the bed, in my usual spot near the right side. Winnie jumped up right away, as she often did, climbed into my lap and began washing her face. Laney took her place just in front of me and Piglet was off to my left. They were getting clean before settling down for a nap. The only sound was them purring away. All was right in the world, but wrong in my heart.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Love-filled lap.

Winnie looked up at me, her sweet expression filled me with sorrow. I ran my hand along her back and she pressed against me. Her fur was soft and thick, no longer shabby and dirty from living a lousy life outside with no one to care for her. I wanted to hold onto this feeling of love, make it solid somehow, so I could have it with me whenever I needed it. In that moment I saw Winnie vanish, my lap empty, as if she never existed. I felt the pang of loss, the yearning, the familiar heartache that was to come. Our story together was ending, a real end this time, and her story was going to begin anew with someone else.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Used with permission. Winnie, pregnant, just before rescue.

Time felt more like a layer cake than a linear path. All at once I could see Winnie sitting in the grass in Georgia, fat with kittens inside her, the same sweet expression as she had now. I saw Winnie struggling with an upper respiratory tract infection last year and coming back home from a failed adoption in early February. I saw myself entering the room and the girls would not greet me. They would be gone and I probably would never see them again. All things were happening at once, the beginning, the end, the challenges, the happy moments.

As much as I wanted Winnie, especially, to stay with me forever, it was not fair for her to stay in a small room for the rest of her life. She and the girls always deserved more, better. I turned away great adopters who only wanted Laney and Piglet had a failed adoption by a poser-cat-person in NYC over a year ago. I struggled once I decided the girls HAD to stay together because who would adopt three cats?

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. The ever-silly, Winnie.

When I found an adopter, she was flakey, changing her mind over and over again. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt so I moved forward with the adoption. I wasn’t surprised when after barely a week, the girls adoption fell through, leaving me to drive to Boston and back in an afternoon to bring them back home.

After over a year I wondered if I was doing the wrong thing. Maybe I should let the girls go to a home on their own? Maybe I was stupid and greedy. I didn’t want them to leave. I liked having them here.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. No vacancy.

In March I got a two adoption applications for all three girls. I wanted to get excited about it but I couldn’t get my hopes up after what had already happened with them. It was a good thing I just went through the motions of processing their applications. Both adopters backed off-one after going back and forth with me for a MONTH, the other had a terrible vet reference.

Laney Winnie Photobomb R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Laney.

I began to feel remorse every time I entered the foster room. I felt so bad for the girls and for poor Jelly, who is still in a cage recovering from knee surgery. I felt so badly for his brother Lolli, who I doubt will ever be adopted because he’s too skittish. For the past five weeks, every Monday night, a couple came to visit Jelly and Lolli with the idea that if the boys warmed up to them (they did), they would adopt them. I was so excited that they might find a home, but even after hosting this couple when I had the worst Flu of my life, after answering a million questions, putting them in touch with my vet so they could be assured they understood why Jelly had to have surgery, I get a short email. “Bad news.” The woman’s dad brought over two kittens and they couldn’t say no (really?) and the adoption was off. I was devastated.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. On or near my lap, this wonderful family will be one I'll never forget.

The cats deserved more than to be in a small room day in and day out. They were bored and I didn’t blame them. We were all ready for a change, but I felt like hope was running out unless I did something.

I got another application for the girls-for all three. It wasn’t another out-of-state adopter. It wasn’t someone who had two dogs and a cat. It wasn’t someone who had a terrible vet reference.

It was from a couple who live IN Connecticut, in fact, about 30 minutes drive from my home. They live alone with no children. They had no other pets. Their cat passed away in March at the age of 19. They had room in their heart for a new cat and they wanted to help cats who were hard to adopt.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Too much love irks Winnie.

A few days ago Sam and I did a home visit. I loved their home. It wasn’t too big or too small. It was on the side of a hill surrounded by plants and trees. The home was immaculately clean and when I mentioned that Winnie would jump on their piano because she liked to be up high, they thought it was charming and said they didn’t care about furnishings. They just cared that the cats had each other to play with while they were away at work during the day. There were lots of big sunny windows. This was it. Now all I had to do was have them fall in love with the girls.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. I know. I played favorites, but I do love them all, just maybe not exactly equally.

I really liked this couple; Amy and her husband, Markel. The more we spoke, the more I liked them. I never had a weird pull at my gut telling me something was off. This time it was easy. They came to visit the girls for maybe 30 minutes. The girls were great with them and vice versa. It was the easiest adoption I’ve done in ages, though they’d have to come back and finalize the paperwork once they had things set up at their home, it was decided. The girls found their forever home and I had a few days go say my goodbyes.

Bye Bye Girls R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. I wish I could have told them it was going to be okay and that they'd understand this was all so they could have a great life.

I’ve fostered over 500 cats so far. Most of the time it’s not too difficult to say farewell, but the girls have been with me for so long that it was more like I was giving away my own cats, than I was adopting out foster cats. I knew if it went on any longer, Winnie would be staying with me. It wasn’t fair to my other cats or to Winnie. I didn’t want to break up Laney’s family any more than I already had. I had to continue on with the plan. I had to let go.

Last night the girls began their new story, their life with their new parents. Markel came to get the girls since Amy was delayed at work. He has a loud, deep voice, but the moment he loaded the girls into the car his voice turned falsetto. They were crying and scared. As he entered the car, he turned to the girls and said it was going to be okay, that they would be home soon.

©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. A few final moments with the girls.

Home. That's what this story has been about from day one; finding a home for sweet cats, neglected by uncaring people. It took a small team of dedicated volunteers, especially their rescuer, Moe, our intrepid foster mom in Georgia, to reach this joyful conclusion. The money spent, the sacrifices, the fearful times were worth it because we got what we dreamed of, placing three adult cats in a home together.

Their story with me has come to an end. It’s been a very long journey. All in all we saved 16 cats all because Laney was never spayed. I still have Jelly and Lolli left to find a home for. I know they'll be missing their mom, so I return to the foster room to comfort them, but in truth, they'll be comforting me.

A long, happy, loved life to my girls…forever in my heart.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Used with Permission. This is how I'll remember the girls and their amazing story.

©2016 Foster Mom Moe. Her lovely video in honor of Laney & family.

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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?

Belly Happy R Olson
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.

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©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.

Tortie Babies R  Olson.jpg
©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.

Me at Toy Fair with Duck copy
©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.

Sprinkles make the world go round copy
©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™.

PetBit Logo copy

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.

Petbit pink copy

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!

Harder b 475

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.

Not there there B 475

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.

Wallace Biting 475

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.

Scratch warning r olson 475

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!

Scratch warning pet bit b 400

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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