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.
It’s been a week since Biscotti arrived in his new foster-to-adopt home. There were plenty of bumps in the road between his foster mom, Mary Lou, fretting she had cat allergies and her not being sure he would come out of his shell and have a happy life. As the days passed I got updates that Biscotti truly was a brave little lion. He was hiding less, and snuggling more. He loved his new dad, Greg and Graham the 17 yr old high school student with movie star looks. I got a few photos of Biscotti as he began to blossom. I could see the sweet but slightly scared look on his face, the one I knew so well. I could see him struggling, but overcoming his fears. I was so proud of him.
It’s been a week since Biscotti arrived in his new foster-to-adopt home. There were plenty of bumps in the road between his foster mom, Mary Lou, fretting she had cat allergies and her not being sure he would come out of his shell and have a happy life.
As the days passed I got updates that Biscotti truly was a brave little lion. He was hiding less, and snuggling more. He loved his new dad, Greg and Graham the 17 yr old high school student with movie star looks. I got a few photos of Biscotti as he began to blossom. I could see the sweet but slightly scared look on his face, the one I knew so well. I could see him struggling, but overcoming his fears. I was so proud of him.
In a few days, Mary Lou is supposed to go to see her allergist and there I had hoped she would be able to put her fears of allergies to rest or be able to find a way to enjoy living with Biscotti without any discomfort. She’d even mentioned that perhaps it had nothing to do with the cat, but perhaps something else, especially this time of year with all the pollens coming out, that were causing her eyes to feel dried out and itchy.
Biscotti hoping this is his forever home.
Then an email this afternoon telling me how beautiful Biscotti is and in the next breath how he needs to come back tonight, if possible. That Mary Lou’s reaction to him prevents her from even going in the room where he’s staying. She won't even wait until Monday or try any product I suggested that will neutralize his dander. I even suggested to wait a bit longer because some times you can get used to a cat, but…I didn’t know how badly she was doing. I imagine sniffles and for all I know she’s having an anaphylactic reaction.
But she does want a cat. Just not Biscotti.
As always I try to find answers and be helpful but I was also suspicious that something else was going on. I gave her some options for some breed-specific rescues and now I’m sitting here waiting for her to get home so I can go get our cat back.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.
I’m sad Biscotti lost his home, but I’m glad to have him come back. I know he’s had a good challenge and it will help me understand what sort of home would be good for him going forward and I’m PROUD of him for being such a brave boy.
Something just didn’t feel right once we arrived at the house. Mary Lou was rather stiff and made a quick frowny-face at me as if she was pretending to feel badly. Her son greeted us and gave us the same uncomfortable look as if there was more going on to this than we could know. Sam and I entered the room where I’d last seen Biscotti. He was sitting on the floor, looking a bit confused, but didn’t run off.
The room was rather a surprising mess compared to the utter perfection I'd seen a few days before and right away something bothered my throat. I don’t know what was causing it, but there was something in the room that was really irritating me. As Mary Lou gave us her feedback about how Biscotti was doing, telling us of his charming antics, while I politely nodded, I really just wanted to get the Hell out of there. My throat was really bothering me, but Mary Lou seemed fine. I think she was trying to be nice about giving Biscotti back but I couldn’t help but feel that something else was going on.
Mary Lou is still going to her Doctor on Monday. I don’t know why she couldn’t wait a few days, but she can’t. She gave me back the food I bought and Biscotti’s cat bed along with a few toys. Biscotti had hidden under a table. I scooped him out. He felt a lot heavier and was clearly afraid. I gently put him back in the cat carrier and he began to cry. Mary Lou seemed unfazed.
Sam and I made a beeline out of the house. Mary Lou said she was sorry to which I replied it was fine. I’d rather bring him back and my gut told me not to try to fix the situation-just get out.
©2014Robin A.F. Olson.
It took a few hours for my throat to feel better. I decided to email Mary Lou and let her know, in case it would help her going forward. I told her I was not trying to get her to take Biscotti back, but that she should be aware something is going on in that room if two other people had allergic reactions. Her one word reply left me feeling flat: “WOW!”
©2014Robin A.F. Olson.
I brought Biscotti back to his old buddies, the Clementine-kittens. There was a lot of sniffing and Biscotti hid right away. I checked in on him a bit later and he came out of hiding, but he definitely had a setback. He was not as friendly as he was just last week and he was clearly confused and upset. He didn’t eat well, but I know that will change. He felt a lot heavier so he must have had some good meals.
As the Clementines ran around the room playing, Biscotti sat on the bookcase away from the activity as he did before. He watches the world go by and wishes he could take part, but something in his heart hasn’t ripened enough yet where he feels like he can.
I know my little lion-heart will get there. It’s just a bump in the road.
Back to the drawing board for you Biscotti. We’ll find you the home you were really meant to have, not the one that gave up on you at the drop of a hat.
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Some cats are born with a special sweetness about them. They don’t hiss, fight or bite. They don’t spitefully urinate on the wall. They're often overlooked because they might be shy or reserved, but it doesn’t mean there doesn’t beat the heart of a lion within their chest. Biscotti, who was literally thrown into a hot metal dumpster, burned and left to die when he was barely 3 weeks old, is one of those specially sweet creatures. Though painfully shy, since Biscotti arrived with his surrogate mother Mocha and her kittens Pizzelle, Lyndsay and Nanny last fall, he has slowly undergone a transformation.
Some cats are born with a special sweetness about them. They don’t hiss, fight or bite. They don’t spitefully urinate on the wall. They're often overlooked because they might be shy or reserved, but it doesn’t mean there doesn’t beat the heart of a lion within their chest.
Biscotti, who was literally thrown into a hot metal dumpster, burned and left to die when he was barely 3 weeks old, is one of those specially sweet creatures. Though painfully shy, since Biscotti arrived with his surrogate mother Mocha and her kittens Pizzelle, Lyndsay and Nanny last fall, he has slowly undergone a transformation.
©2013 Betsy Merchant. First glimpse of Biscotti right after rescue out of a dumpster.
Biscotti tries to overcome his fear. I don’t know what sort of Hell he suffered before he was thrown away, but it must have been very bad. The little tuxedo is not shy of being petted, in fact he enjoys it. Since he’s not “head shy” I don’t think he was hit, but something caused him to turn inward and retreat any time he is stressed. He hides away and only after a long time will he come out and explore the strangers in his room. If I pick him up around strangers, he’ll tighten himself into a ball. I can put him on anyone’s lap and he will stay in his little ball shape with a very sad look on his face.
His fragile nature is a magnet for compassionate people. Everyone feels badly for him and they all feel the desire to help him overcome his fear, but in the end they always opt for the more social cat to adopt. I don’t blame them, but I see what they don’t. He’s a little lion.
©2013 Foster Mama. Biscotti with his new mom, Mocha and step-brother Pizzelle.
When it’s just me in the room, Biscotti will come over to me, tail up in the air, ready to sit on my chest and get petted. If the Clementines weren’t so demanding of my lap-space, he’d be right there, too, but he’s too shy to push the others away to get what he wants. I try to give all of them some of my time and sooner or later Biscotti makes his way up on my lap where he’ll get as much love as he wants.
Over the months he’s really come out of his shell. I know he’ll be a great companion, but whoever adopts him will have to have faith that what I’ve seen, they will see, too. It’s just there’s no guarantee WHEN it will happen and the home has to be the right one. It has to be a CALM home. No little screaming kids. No late night parties. He needs a stable environment with people who understand cats and understand they have a diamond in the rough. The payoff won’t be instant gratification, it will be in knowing they had a hand in helping this poor creature find his confidence and in doing so, he’ll find his happiness and they will have an amazing companion in return.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti at 8 months old looking out into the woods of western Connecticut, a million miles away from the dumpster in Georgia where he was abandoned.
Just a few days after Blossom and Buttercup were adopted, I got a call from Mary Lou. She was in love with Biscotti’s photos on Petfinder and wanted to meet him right away. We had a long chat and she sounded great, but hadn’t even filled out an adoption application. I had a very good feeling about her, but was a bit worried there would be something in the application that would prevent me from moving forward.
I’m usually very slow processing applications. I HATE to deal with them. I am very sorry to anyone who has adopted from us or tried to. I do the best I can but having to have confrontations and talk to strangers is not my idea of a good time. One day I’ll have volunteers help me with this but right now I’m on my own.
©2013 Betsy Merchant (inset) and ©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A fragile kitten grows into a handsome, loving young adult.
In this case, because I had a good feeling and the application was good, the very next day Sam and I did the home visit and right after that they came over here to meet Biscotti. It went well, but as expected, the Clementines were all over the couple and I knew it would be hard to overlook them for the shy, motionless cat who was sitting under the cat tree.
I put Biscotti in Mary Lou’s lap. He looked very forlorn but sat there quietly as Mary Lou cooed over him. Her husband smiled at him but couldn’t help but be charmed by Mango. I didn’t push the subject, giving them plenty of time to consider their options. I was told that there was another rescue pressuring them to take THEIR cat. I’d heard of those tactics before, saying someone else wanted the cat and if they didn’t act fast they’d lose out. I never do that. If it’s meant to be, it is. I am not in the “business” of moving cats into okay homes. This is non-negotiable for me and I was rather disgusted that another rescue was pushing by constantly calling and texting Mary Lou.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti often poses for the camera making getting a good photo of him rather easy.
They had to think about it and I thought maybe it wasn’t going to happen but the next day I got a call that surprised me. Mary Lou had an allergic reaction while she was here. Her mom is allergic but she didn’t think she was. She was concerned about adopting ANY cat if it meant falling in love with it, then having to give it back. I was, too. She didn’t know what to do about it so I suggested she foster Biscotti for two weeks. If he made her sick, then I’d take him right back. If he didn’t and it was a match, then we’d do the adoption. She liked the idea so a few days later I brought Biscotti to her home.
I knew Biscotti would be terrified so I brought a hooded cat bed that smelled like him with me. Mary Lou and I got everything set up in his new room, which was a very sunny living room with large windows and so very well appointed. I looked for hiding places and was glad to see we only really had to change one thing and the rest of the space was clear. My hope was that I’d guide Biscotti into the cat bed and he’d use that for his safe place until he felt he could explore his new home.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Who wants to kiss that face? I do!
I’m really glad I brought the bed because that’s right where he went when I took him out of his cat carrier. He curled up in the bed, glad to be in the dark. I petted him and he loosened up a bit, but I knew he was very scared. I didn’t know if being the only pet in the family would be good or bad for him. My hope was that with the attention of a loving family focused on him that he would shine, but there was a long way to go before that happened.
I anxiously waited for news on how he was doing and feared he’d stop eating and completely fall apart. But Biscotti’s lion-heart rose to the challenge. He ate that first night and used his litter pan. After a few days he was coming out of his hiding places to get pets and get to know his new family. I heard they are all madly in love with him and look forward to him coming out of his shell more, but he’s already playing and I take that as a very good sign.
©2014 Mary Lou H. Biscotti under cover in his new foster home.
With adoptions, nothing is ever certain. It’ll be another 10 days before the foster agreement comes to an end and Mary Lou and her family have to decide. Even if Biscotti has to come back, he will be that much stronger and ready to take on more. He’s a brave little fellow and no matter what, I will always have his back.
…and then the phone rang again. It was Mary Lou. “I think I'm allergic to Biscotti.”
…to be continued…
Of the six Clementine-kittens only one has been adopted. Marigold found her forever family while her brothers and sisters continued to wait. The Clems had been with me for over SIX MONTHS when Mari left us. The delay was mostly due to a reoccurring eye infection/upper respiratory tract infection. Though not seriously ill, I couldn’t let them be adopted until I had a better understanding on whether or not this was going to be a chronic condition. It wasn’t fair to adopters.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy, Blossom, Bert and Mango (I can FINALLY tell them apart!)
The reason Mari got adopted was that she had been one of the most healthy of the litter and I’d just started a new treatment that we thought would resolve her issues. She seemed to do well so I believed I could move on with adopting out the others, but I was wrong. Buttercup got the eye infection again and Bert looked like he was getting it back, too.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Vampire Buttercup!
In March, one of our vets suggested we test the kittens for Bartonella. I almost slapped myself in the head when he said that. Of all the treatments and tests we’d never done that one and it made PERFECT sense. Bartonella is transmitted by fleas and the Clems were COVERED with them when we got them off transport. No wonder the kittens were never 100% well—especially Bert, who early on got hit the worst. I chose to test Bert for that reason and wasn’t surprised at the result.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Rock Star Pose with Mandy (left), Blossom (center), Mango (right).
A week later the results came in. Bert was a STRONG positive for bartonella. This was great news because it’s treatable, but the bad news was for Buttercup and Blossom, who were on the cusp of being adopted by Ellen and her family. Sadly Ellen has to be extremely careful about her health and after a long talk with her Doctor and Vet they decided it would be safer for the kittens to get their treatment here, THEN finalize the adoption.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Silly Mandy with her “Precious” toy. She is obsessed with it.
I could not argue that point, in fact, I wanted them to stay with me. Why have the first few weeks of an adoption include their new mom having to medicate them for 3 weeks? Also, bartonella, also called Cat Scratch Fever, IS contagious to humans and from what I’ve heard from a Vet that caught it, it’s a very painful infection.
The medication cost $235.00 for the 6 Clems and Biscotti, who I decided to treat at the advice of our Vet. I almost fell over at the cost. This litter of kittens was one of the most expensive to care for to date. Some times it amazes me just how expensive it is to care for a few kittens. It can really add up fast when they get sick.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Bert and Mango want MOMMY while Blossom jumps down to rub against my legs
The risk of making the adopters wait was that the adopter could give up on doing the adoption and the girls would lose their home. There was nothing I could do expect hope for the best and that the family would still want the “kittens” now that their kittenhood is long past them. The “kittens” are huge, too, eating me out of house and home. I have to feed them at least 10, 5 oz cans of food a DAY. I can barely keep up with demand. I’m used to feeding a few little kittens, not the equivalent of 6 more adults who are pushing 8 pounds each (their brothers will be 9 pounds any second now). I really needed to get these cats placed before I ran out of money to care for them.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy and the faux-sniff.
Ellen and I volleyed emails and photos, making sure our connection wasn’t lost. She watched SqueeTV , our webcam, with her boys all the time so she could keep up on how the kittens were doing. I could tell she was anxious to get the girls and was willing to wait the extra time to be able to finalize the adoption. I was very relieved.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti, always in the background with Blossom and Mango.
Finally on April 6th, Sam and I drove the girls to their new home, which is a block away from Long Island Sound. It was one of the first really sunny spring days so it was a very enjoyable drive to Westport, CT. The girls were a bit fussy in the car, but surprisingly Blossom got out of her carrier and sat in my lap, purring, watching the traffic go by. Buttercup was a bit more reserved but the trip wasn’t very long, so I don’t think she was too stressed.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy and Buttercup.
After over a month wait, the girls got to meet their new family. Ellen was making sure everything was set in the kitchen where the girls would start off their new life. We took away a few items that might cause problems, then let the girls out. Blossom fared better, but both girls were very scared. The room was big and bright with lots of windows for bird watching. I knew they would be happy, but I knew it would take time.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Blossom, Buttercup and you-know-who watch Mango fly.
As we filled out the paperwork the girls began to explore a little bit. We gave them a snack and they both ate, which was a good sign. The neighbor’s cat, who looked like their dad, walked past the front window but the girls didn’t notice. I warned the family that the girls might flip out if they saw the cat again and that they could start peeing in the kitchen. I silently prayed there’d be no problems. The girls were very easy going and sweet. I hoped they’d get a kick out of seeing another cat.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. NOT photoshopped! Mandy (left), Blossom (center), Mango (right), Biscotti pose for the camera (for once!).
©2014 Ellen Gleicher. Used with Permission. The girls together in their new home.
I’m glad the girls get to stay together, because I always prefer litters to be split into pairs if possible. Now I had 3 kittens left from this family: Mango, Bert and Mandy.
But what of Biscotti, the shy kitty who always got overlooked? He’d moved in with the Clementines after his surrogate mom, Mocha, and her kittens were all adopted. I worried that Biscotti, who hides and seems to be completely mortified when new people arrive, would never find his place. The Clems are outgoing, fearless. I will find them homes, but I had my doubts about what was in store for the little tuxedo until a few days when I got a fateful call.
…to be continued.
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“Running on empty.” That’s how I’d describe the last month or so. Kitten Season is here and in full swing with no end in sight. All my rescue friends are reporting they are inundated with pregnant cats. I'm stunned since I thought we had a tough winter and didn't expect things to ramp up so fast. Meanwhile, Kitten Associates is slowly but surely growing into what I’d call a “real” rescue. We have a new foster home, another on the way. We have some other folks who can help foster from time to time, expanding our efforts to five homes and mine being the sixth. Because we can extend our efforts, I’m willing to forgo the “break” from rescue I was hoping to take (after 4 years of NO break) and plunge headlong into the craziness of the season. There’s SO MUCH to tell you I have to break it up into separate stories that cover a total of 20 cats!
First up, is a long overdue story of escape as winter slowly lets go of its grip in southern Georgia...
“Running on empty.” That’s how I’d describe the last month or so. Kitten Season is here and in full swing with no end in sight. All my rescue friends are reporting they are inundated with pregnant cats. I'm stunned since I thought we had a tough winter and didn't expect things to ramp up so fast.
Meanwhile, Kitten Associates is slowly but surely growing into what I’d call a “real” rescue. We have a new foster home, another on the way. We have some other folks who can help foster from time to time, expanding our efforts to five homes and mine being the sixth. Because we can extend our efforts, I’m willing to forgo the “break” from rescue I was hoping to take (after 4 years of NO break) and plunge headlong into the craziness of the season.
There’s SO MUCH to tell you I have to break it up into separate stories that cover a total of 20 cats!
First up, is a long overdue story of escape as winter slowly lets go of its grip in southern Georgia...
©2014 Warren Royal. Can you help me save some kitties? Which ones can you take? How about ALL?
For a colony of 12 feral cats, the sound of the dogs terrifies them as they do their best to hide from danger. They may skip the meal left out for them by a lady who owns the farm where they live. She does her best for them, but she doesn’t understand that to fully care for these cats, they need to be vetted-especially sterilized. She’s not a cat rescuer. She’s a kind soul who just wants to help these poor creatures and feeding them, in her mind, may be all that is required.
©2014 Warren Royal. The buff long haired cat is sick, with what we don't know but those crusty eyes look like a bad URI at least. I fear the worst for this baby. I hope he or she will be okay.
She may not even know where a vet IS in her part of the state. It’s probably too far away and she doesn’t have access to traps. She loves the cats, but in this case love is not enough. The cats hide in the barn, behind bales of hay, under the porch. The farm spreads across 40 acres and beyond that there isn’t much of anything, certainly no services for animals. The dogs can roam anywhere without fear of animal control. There just isn’t anyone to bother.
©2014 Warren Royal. What a handsome boy…which I later found out was a GIRL who we named JuneBug.
One by one, the cats began to fall prey to the dogs. The original number of 12 goes down to 7. The woman’s husband doesn’t fuss over the cats, but he does care that his wife is upset. They don’t have the resources to provide proper vet care for such a large number of cats or to work with them so they will no longer be feral and could be adopted. They don’t hang out on Facebook and get tips from rescuers in their area or have ever heard of Petfinder or Alley Cat Allies or any other resource that might make a difference. They do what they know to do. They feed the cats and hope for the best.
Something had to be done before all the cats were killed.
©2014 Warren Royal. Even though I had no idea if we could socialize these cats I could not say NO to this face!
As a small rescue, my group, Kitten Associates can get a lot done by working in partnership with others. When I heard about the cats, I wanted to do something. The cats weren’t fractious from what I was told. They were young, maybe a few months old and they’d had some contact with their caretaker, so possibly in time we could socialize them enough to help them find homes.
It’s not the dog’s fault that they weren’t cared for. They were surviving as best they could. I’m sure they’d never touch the cats if they had a decent meal, but they must have been in a very bad way to have to make those choices.
©2014 Warren Royal.After being trapped, three of the rescues head off to the vet. The dilute calicos are with Good Mews now.
Our friend Warren volunteered to drive 4 hours to get to the location and once he arrived he got to work quickly trapping 5 of the 7 remaining cats. On a Sunday, not near any familiar Vet, Warren spent a lot of money getting the kittens snap tested so we could accept them into our program. Our amazing foster in the area, who had asked me to take a break from fostering, decided she needed to help these kittens regardless of how tired she was. She got her foster space prepared for them, dropping the other things she hoped to accomplish for that day.
I contacted Good Mews Animal Foundation and asked for help. They stepped up and offered to take 2 of the kittens as long as they were friendly. It was a big risk because we were worried they’d need too much work. I told Warren that the friendliest cats should go to them. We would take the 3 timid long-haired cats (considering I'm a freak for the long hairs, I almost didn't care how much work they needed anyway) and Good Mews would get the sweet short haired calicos. The 2 remaining cats we would try to get as soon as possible, but for now getting most of the cats out was a big win for us all.
©2014 Foster Mama. Headed to our vet, then to their new temporary home. We have two girls and a boy.
Good Mews reported that the 2 kittens they received were very sweet and they didn’t have any concerns about finding them great homes. If it wasn’t for Good Mews, we would have had a problem, because our foster mom doesn’t have space that’s big enough for 5 cats.
©2014 Foster Mama. Lovely Purrcee, an artistic interpretation.
Now was the time to focus on continuing getting the vetting done on the cats, get them spayed/neutered, their vaccinations, de-worming. Maggie and Junie began to allow their foster mom to pet their bellies. Purrcee was a bit more shy but still not aggressive. He’d come around in time, so we could take a moment out to appreciate that things had gone so well.
Some time later I learned that the remaining 2 cats did not have to worry about being safe. Their caretaker was considering taking them into her home and getting them vetted. At about the same time, I heard the heartbreaking news that her husband, wanting to protect her and the cats, shot and killed the pack of feral dogs. I had no idea he would do that, because it just never occurs to me it could happen. Guns? Shooting dogs? I’m not even sure how to make sense of it.
©2014 Foster Mama. JuneBug makes me swoon.
I would have tried to do something to save their lives if I’d known, but in truth I had to wonder what sort of life they would have had without him intervening. I’m not sure there was any way for their story to end happily. Picked up by Animal Control they would be euthanized. They would not be suitable or safe to be around kids. I am not qualified to vilify this man for what he did. I AM “qualified,” however, to be busted up that any animal died. I sincerely mourn their passing.
©2014 Foster Mama. Maggie waits for a wonderful home now that she's safe.
©2014 Foster Mama. After a few weeks struggling with shyness, the kittens emerge to discover the delight of playing with toys.
Instead, thanks to a few very hard working, generous souls, these cats can begin their story with us. We pick up their tale as they complete their thousand-mile journey to Connecticut and into the home of Jame and her daughters Frances and Grace, where they will complete their socialization and begin the journey to find their forever homes.
To be continued…
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. We were able to save more lives because we have a new foster home with Jame and her family.
Another birthday has arrived and here I sit thinking about my life. I’m to an age where I feel like I’ve lived long enough to have learned a thing or two and I’m also at an age where I can’t take living another year for granted. There are things I wonder about; things I want to say that I want to have written down so they don’t make me itch at night.
I have questions that will go unanswered. I want to know WHY we suffer so very much in this life. Why are things such a struggle for most people? Why is there so much GREED and AGGRESSION when compassion and understanding, when brotherhood, friendship, love, could make this heaven on Earth?
It drives me nuts.
I see on the news something about a kid who is dying of cancer. Her mom asks for a few people to show up at the hospital and sing her Christmas carols. 10,000 people show up. They forgot about their own needs to help someone else. Or of course there’s “BatKid” the little boy who had a large part of San Francisco turn out to make his dreams come true for one very special day.
We marvel at the spectacle and we may even cry. We have the ability to create such beauty and MAGIC simply ignited by our common basic goodness.
What if we treated EVERYONE with the same desire to help them make their dreams come true? Not just a kid dying of cancer, but EVERYONE. Instead of worrying about what YOU get out of it, you focus on others. Then one day you find that your life is so much better because the same good intentions you have are mirrored right back at you. We can create this world right this very second, but many of us are too wrapped up, too busy, too afraid to try.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Yours truly with clown.
What makes it worse is that there are people who run monstrous corporations who knowingly create products that pollute, poison, ruin the world. Why do they have to put ingredients in our food that they KNOW will cause us to be ill and cause an epidemic of obesity? Yes, I DO blame food companies for putting sugar and gluten into food that doesn’t require it as a root cause for widespread ill health. Why base your model of business on GREED? Don’t you see what it’s done? You may be the “1%” and have all the money and more, but at what cost? How many millions of people will have terrible lives so you can spoil yourself with foolish rewards? Or prove you can run a “profitable” company to make others rich.
WHY is the answer to so many things to have CONFLICT? To wage war? Because someone has something YOU WANT..so YOU CAN HAVE SOMETHING, CONTROL SOMETHING, have POWER OVER OTHERS. Where does all that end up? How does that make your life and the lives of others better?
It has been said far more eloquently by far more people, but in my humble way I just want to know WHY it has to be like this. And WHY can’t we look at everyone we meet, or simply share a bus ride with, the same care and concern as we would our own children? We’re all in this together whether we want to admit it or not.
I’m challenging myself to be more open to others, with no boundaries, to open my heart to everyone I meet, to not be afraid to reach out, to judge less and be helpful more. I hope that you will join me or let me salute you if you're already doing this.
So, my birthday wish is really for all of you. I hope you have a wonderful life and help others do the same. Happy Birthday to you when that day arrives and happy everything else.
Cherish this day, this gift you have been given, because there are no guarantees you'll have another. Try, if you can, to remember how LUCKY you are to have this precious life and do something wonderful with it.
Today “Chapstick” celebrates reaching the second week of life. During that time there have been many struggles. After being thrown into a dumpster like a piece of meaningless garbage on a cold early spring afternoon, with a sibling kitten who didn’t survive, this poor little creature was lucky to have Guardian Angels on its side.
We’re fairly sure that Chapstick, whose given name has been changed to Miracle, is a girl. At her age and stunted size, it’s tough to tell, but for now we can think of her as a little girl who, so far has lived up to her name.
©2014 Jeannie Garrison. Our first glimpse of Miracle beside a tube of Chaptstick® to show just how small she was.
Miracle is finally bigger than the lip balm she was photographed next to and in the latest photos from her foster family Christal and Jonathan, you can see her limbs look thicker and more robust and her fur looks like it’s growing softer. In fact, Christal believes that Miracle may be a long haired cat. It’s another one of those things where it’s too soon to know for certain.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. The same age as her step-siblings, Miracle is dramatically smaller, indicating it's very likely she was born premature.
What we do know is last week Miracle was not doing well and Jonathan realized he hadn’t gotten her to pass stool for far too long. How he did this or how he KNEW to do this, is beyond my knowledge of neonatal kitten care, but Jonathan managed to give Miracle an enema with a small amount of mineral oil. He also fed some to the kitten to see if he could get her to function normally.
It worked. The next day Miracle passed very hard stool and after that she began to struggle less and thrive more.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. Able to sit up on her own.
Miracle doesn’t fight off attempts to feed her any longer. She goes for her bottle and is happy to latch on to her new stepmom-kitty a moment later. She’s eating like a champion and we hope this means the worst days are over for her.
Her step-siblings are about the same age as she is, but compared to her they are gargantuan. They are healthy, happy, thriving, as all kittens should be, growing lovelier every day.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. Miracle's eyes are opening, yet another good sign.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. The results of round-the-clock care are clear. Miracle IS living up to her name.
We just took a pregnant mom into Kitten Associates, my rescue, and she gave birth two days ago to five healthy kittens (more on that in a future post). I fear “kitten season” is going to be brutal this year, which shocks me because the winter was fairly harsh yet kittens are being born barely moments after the first day of Spring.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. She feels so good she accepts belly rubs now, too.
I still think about the person who put Miracle and her sibling in the garbage, assuming they would die fairly soon. I wonder if they regret what they did and feel badly about it. I wonder if they don’t sleep well realizing what a horrific thing they did. I wonder if they knew one of the kittens still lived and was possibly going to make it if they would be relieved or just not care. Sometimes I imagine telling them she’s still with us, but they don’t deserve any chance to feel relief. Every day that Miracle is loved and grows bigger and stronger is proof that her precious life DOES matter.
Plus, if I ever met the person who did this I would skip any updates and go straight to hurting them with all I've got.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked on all those gold hunting shows on TV, like “Ice Cold Gold,” “Bearing Sea Gold,” “Gold Rush,” even non-gold, treasure hunting shows like “Prospectors” and “Gem Hunt.” If I didn’t have preternaturally pale skin that keeps me indoors or an aversion to getting dirty, I’d be out there with the rest of the hunters trying to strike it rich.
One of the benefits of writing a cat-blog is that I get notified of new cat-centric products before they hit the marketplace. It’s a lot of fun, but not very lucrative—that is, until now.
There’s a new cat litter about to hit store shelves and I could just KICK MYSELF for not coming up with the idea first. It’s the only litter I’ve EVER used that makes me look forward to scooping the litter pan every day-heck many TIMES a day!
Glitter is the brain child of Ima and Walter Jester, a cat-loving mom of 6 cats and her husband, who retired from a major corporation where he was Director of Development of brand of cat litter (I’m not allowed to say which one, other than it rhymes with Hidey Hat). Walter, happy to be away from the clumping game, planned on spending his “golden years” (pardon the pun) as a gold prospector in the famous Klondike region of Alaska, which is famous are for producing gold.
Shortly after the Jesters moved to Alaska, Ima suffered a near fatal wolverine attack (She tells me this never would have happened if she’d only had a lanyard for her eyeglasses! She then would have had her glasses and been able to distinguish the beast from her beloved cat, Orlando, but she'd left her glasses by a cup of tea on the kitchen table when she heard a ruckus outside.). Her buttocks and back legs were so badly injured it made it painful for her to squat down and scoop her cat’s 6 litter pans. The job fell into the capable hands of her husband, but after 36 years of testing, smelling and re-engineering cat litter he was loathe to touch the stuff ever again.
But the couple loved their cats and in that devotion was also the solution. Ima played a prank on Walter. She snatched a small gold nugget from her husband’s stash and dropped it into the cat litter bag and shook up the contents. The market value on it was almost $500.00 so she knew it was a big risk if it would be lost.
Ima, who had been quietly observing pretended to be shocked. Her prank was a success, but how could she afford to keep the prank going?
Unable to keep a straight face, Ima finally admitted what she did. Walter was angry at first, but then she noticed a particular gleam in his eye—a twinkle of mischief laced with discovery. She asked him what was going on and he replied, “You know honey, that was the best prank ever, because now I think you’ve just figured out a way to make us millionaires!”
Of course it would be easy to place a nugget or two into boxess of litter, BUT the costs would be outrageous. Being a prospector, Walter knew that to keep costs down he could add gold dust to the litter, which would not only make it tougher to rip open a box and steal directly, but it would also make it more FUN to get the gold out of the box. Being familiar with marketing also meant that Walter could create what are called “line extensions”…meaning more products that could be purchased in addition to the litter so the company would make even MORE PROFITS!
Walter contacted his old employer and asked for a meeting. Let’s just say it must have gone well because Glitter was born.
Glitter is infused with minute particles of gold. Each box can contain between one (troy) ounce to only a trace of gold, depending on the box and your own luck, so there’s a bit of gambling involved in this purchase, too. The boxes are only sold at fine jewelers and are only in a 7 lb size so if you have a multiple cat household as I do, you'll have to get a lot of boxes. The cost, I hope you’re sitting down, is $174.99 a box, BUT you COULD make up to the market rate of gold, which last checked was $1285.00 per oz.
If you watched any of those gold hunting TV shows then you know the answer-you have to get a Litter-Sluice™. Just like prospecting gold in Alaska, you have to run the litter through a sluice, which by definition is an artificial channel for conducting water, often fitted with a gate (sluice gate) at the upper end for regulating the flow. The water flows over the litter and the heavier particles settle into a mesh which is later panned to uncover any gold particles or nuggets.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get a Litter-Sluice™ due to low supply so I can only show what a gold mining sluice looks like. For my review that meant I had to pan each litter pan full of waste, which I have to say was a bit messier than I would have liked, especially if there was a lot of feces in the pan, but the excitement about finding gold kept me motivated.
Glitter has an earthy scent and is chunkier than the cats might like. Some of the cats wouldn’t use it, but it was so much fun to hunt for the gold, I didn’t care. I even ended up panning a few boxes that I didn’t let the cats use! I never thought I’d get gold fever from litter, but by God I did.
It makes scooping litter a financial risk, but it’s not without reward. Supposedly every 1 millionth box will have at least 1 or 2 pea-sized or bigger nuggets, along with the gold dust, so I have been investing in boxes of Glitter and have a nice stockpile going. I can’t pay my bills but the hope is that I will luck out and find gold in them thar boxes and be able to retire to the life of leisure I am so accustomed to.
Due to the cost of this litter I am unable to do a giveaway! Sorry! If you’d like to know more about where you can get Glitter™ and enjoy 24K fun scooping your litter pan or how you get a coupon to save $2.00 on a box of Glitter simply visit: www.areyoukiddingme_aprilfools.com
Life is precious and should be revered in all its forms, whether it be a plant, or bug, a whale or amoeba. It’s also natural and expected that all forms of life draw to an end at some point, whether it be after only a few moments or many years. Death must occur to make way for new life to emerge in an endless cycle.
When a life comes to an end we may not even notice. We might step on a bug on a walk to the bus, while the end of another life form might break our hearts, making living our own life difficult, if not impossible.
When faced with losing our own precious life, we fight, we take medication, we have a surgery, we ask for prayers. We may also do the same thing in honor of a life we want to protect that’s in the balance. It might be our child or our friend or in this case that of a tiny newborn kitten who was found inside a dumpster with his sibling.
Someone who did not consider life to be precious had a pregnant cat. The cat gave birth far too soon. Perhaps she was highly stressed or sick. She may have even died due to complications from the delivery. Her kittens were smaller than normal by more than an ounce, when a birth weight of a newborn kitten should be at least 3 1/2 ounces. Being down 1/3 of normal weight meant those kittens had a high probability that they would be robbed of having a normal life span.
I want to know what sort of monster would do such a thing. Why was throwing away a precious life was the answer to their problem. What other things was this person capable of? What excuses did this person give himself or herself so that person could feel like their choice was acceptable and they would remain blameless for their heartless actions?
But what the person didn’t expect was that a man named Sal went to the gas station some time later. While he was getting gas he heard crying. He thought the high-pitched sound was made by birds at first. He went to investigate, and to his surprise, he unearthed the box of kittens, who were so small their umbilical cords were still attached.
He has a dog and cat at home. Life is precious to him. He brought the kittens home and called a Vet who gave him some idea of what to do and what to feed the kittens, not understanding that these kittens were newborns, called neonates, and that they needed more care than a kind-hearted soul could give them.
I got a call about Sal needing help so I called him, concerned about what I’d heard. I had no idea how serious the situation was either, but I asked, truly urged Sal to let my rescue, Kitten Associates, have the kittens. I’d called Jeannie, one of our foster moms who has a lot of experience with kittens, far more than I do, and she was on standby to take them.
Sal wanted to try to provide care. His girlfriend was home all day and would stay up and watch over the kittens. Less than a day later, I got a call that the kittens weren’t doing so well. I rushed to reach Jeannie and she changed plans to take the kittens as soon as possible. I worried we were too late.
The prognosis for the other kitten wasn’t so good either. This little black kitten was very thin and not very lively. Jeannie took a photo of him for me. She put a Chapstick next to the kitten to show me just how tiny he was. It was a shocking sight.
Jeannie stayed up all night with him, trying to get him to take nourishment, trying to get him to warm up, but he wasn’t responding very well and seemed depressed. We all knew about Failure to Thrive or Fading Kitten Syndrome-when due to illness, gestational issues (born too soon or developmental issues) or some times it’s not even known why, some kittens just don’t make it. They are too weak, too fragile and once that process starts they usually die very quickly.
©2014 Jeannie G. The lone survivor moments after entering our rescue.
I wanted to hurt someone, specifically I wanted to hurt whoever robbed these innocents of their life. They didn’t ask to be born, but they were here, so let us respect that. Ask for help from a local rescue. Reach out to SOMEONE. There are many resources where you can get help. Why would anyone THROW THESE KITTENS AWAY? I don’t understand. I don’t understand how cruel this person could be and I worried about the mom cat. What became of her? But I could do nothing other than sob for what will never be–two kittens having a chance to grow and thrive and live a wonderful life. Now it would not happen and as bad as this was, I worried about what this heartache would do to Jeannie, too.
Early that afternoon I texted Jeannie. I hadn’t heard from her that the kitten had died so I wanted to check in. I asked if he was gone and she answered, “no.” I asked; “is that good?” and she replied, “no.” I knew it meant the end was near. I hung my head and cried some more. That was all I heard for a few more hours, until my phone rang. It was Jeannie.
©2014 Jeannie G. First look at Midnight after surviving the second night.
“Wait…so the kitten is not DEAD?”
“Right. He’s alive, but I have to tell you I don’t think he’s going to make it.”
©2014 Jeannie G. Little Man.
I didn’t want to shoot off fireworks and proclaim all was well with the world, but I had a glimmer of hope that somehow he would make it. Jeannie told me that she had stayed up all night and tried to get the little kitten to eat every hour or so. By morning he was doing so poorly and she was so tired, she finally gave up. She let herself sleep for a few hours, leaving the kitten in a warmed up blanket in a box next to her bed. She knew when she woke up that he would be gone, but when she woke up and touched him he cried. He was hungry. She fed him, but he was still very weak and probably fading away.
With nothing to lose, Jeannie brought the kitten to Jonathan and his wife Christal. Over that night we heard no updates. In fact I was wondering if it was some crazy tall tale and that this guy didn’t even exist. I couldn’t get his contact info, but I knew Jeannie was exhausted so I didn’t bother her to get it. I called Sal and asked for the info but he never called me back. Almost a day later I got the number from Jeannie, but she said the number was disconnected. I called it and sure enough, the phone was off! What happened to the kitten? I had to know.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Unable to right himself, Midnight wobbles. I assure you we quickly helped him adjust his position (see below), but I include it so you can see how TINY his legs and paws are.
Jeannie said she was going to go back to the home. I asked to go with her but she said it wasn’t necessary and that these folks were very private. I was jumping out of my skin, but there was nothing I could do. I had to keep waiting and wondering what I’d find out.
Not long after I got another message and a new phone number. The couple had recently moved here and had coincidently just gotten a new phone number. Not only that, but Jeannie had just been to the home and believe it or not, the kitten was STILL ALIVE. She said in 15 years of being a nurse, of working with little kittens, she was impressed with what this guy did to keep the kitten going. She said the kitten looked a little better, still very week, still far too tiny; that he was put with a mama-cat who accepted him and 4 new sisters who crowded around him to keep him warm. I was thrilled and anxious to offer support. I couldn’t let this good deed go unrewarded.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.
I was finally able to get in touch with Christal while Jonathan tended to the kitten. I offered them food, goat’s milk, whatever they needed. I offered to help them with placing and vetting the kittens and getting mom spayed one day. I couldn’t do enough to help them, but they were probably shocked that a stranger would want to do so much, so it took a few emails and calls and finally we set it up so that the next day I could bring them supplies as a gesture of thanks and of support.
Thanks to some donations we already received, I was able to buy a few cases of cat food, some hybrid grain-free dry/raw food and some goat’s milk with probiotics in it. I bought the kitten and his family a very soft, flat bed, no sides for him to get hung up on. I had some toys that were donated to us so I grabbed a bunch for the adult cats and the kittens for when they got bigger. I knew the couple had children so I packed up a donation of plush cats so the kids weren’t left out.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My trunk loaded with goodies.
My rescue has been very lucky to be on the receiving end of many acts of generosity, but it was nice to be able to pay it forward. It had only been 2 days since the kittens were found and here I was in a part of a nearby town I’d never been to, hoping what I’d heard was really true and that this kitten was still with us.
I expected that when I met Jonathan he’d be tired, but this poor guy was loopy from being exhausted. He came out and met me after Christal had welcomed me into their home. He’s a young man, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, barefoot, with his hair askew. He apologized for just waking up even though it was mid-afternoon. I told him not to be sorry and that I truly appreciated what he was doing. I couldn’t wait to find out how the kitten was doing when he quickly left the room and returned, holding the little guy out to me in his hands.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Literally and figuratively-Midnight is in good hands now.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fussy feeding time while Cupcake looks on.
Jonathan spoke at a rapid fire pace. I asked him how he got this far and he told me so much that it made my head spin. He said he’d lived on a farm and had raised hundreds of kittens over the years. He knew about fading kitten syndrome but he was not about to let that beat him. He told me how he slowly but carefully got the kitten’s core temp to rise, how he made up some homemade Karyo syrup to get his blood sugar up. He gave the kitten, who he calls Midnight, an extremely minute dose of amoxycylin and something that helped perk up his electrolytes. I was aghast. Whatever he was doing resulted in this little guy latching on to his new mom for a moment. It caused this little guy to allow being syringe fed a tiny amount of milk. This kitten was reacting to the world around him even though he was far too weak to do much more than wiggle against sensations like being held or being syringe fed that he didn't understand yet.
Jonathan felt the kitten had been depressed from being alone, but now had become more energized now that he was with his new family. The fight was back in his heart. This little kitten wanted to live again and Jonathan was going to do whatever it took to keep him going.
I wished I could take Jonathan home with me so we could write everything down-so this information would not be lost, but I also had to wonder if there was just something about him and his wife, too, that was something more than just knowledge—maybe it was their faith? I told them that I’d posted the photo of the kitten on Facebook and asked for good wishes and prayers and that almost 30,000 people had been rooting for this little guy to live, but the news didn’t effect them. They were so focused on this one fragile life that that was all that mattered. I also knew they were both exhausted.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. So very tiny!
I thanked them again. I didn’t stay long. Jonathan needed rest and the kitten needed more meals. I promised to help them cover the costs of the vetting, spay/neutering of their current litter of cats AND the second litter (yes there’s a second pregnant cat in the home-they assumed the cat was a boy because it was an orange tabby and it’s less common for the orangies to be female). I will help them find good homes. I offered to take some of the kittens into our program but right now they want to see the kittens placed themselves. I honestly am so indebted to them I would move mountains for what they’ve done. I know it may not last. I know this kitten is far from being out of the woods, but I am trying to have faith that he will be okay.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Ready for more nourishment.
©2014 Christal P. Midnight surrounded by his new siblings.
Day six. Guess who is still with us? Midnight eats more from his new mama now and is a little bit bigger. Christal estimates he’s the size of a 2-day old kitten. She feels he can go the distance and frankly nothing would make me happier if that truly came to be.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I was honored to have a moment to be able to meet Midnight's sisters who are all adorable torties. They are almost the same age as Midnight, but so much bigger.
Midnight, his new mom, his 4 new sisters, a dad and another mom and her as-yet-to-be-born kittens will all need to be spayed or neutered, vetted and have proper food and care. I would like to be able to provide that care for these families, which I estimate to cost over $1000.00 as long as no one gets sick or needs critical care. I’m passing around the hat in the hopes that in honor of this precious life we all are blessed to have, that you will consider sharing your love with this family.
©2014 Christal P. I love this photo. Midnight stretching out on his mom while her sister (who is also going to give birth soon) reaches out to comfort the little guy .
March 26, 2014 UPDATE
March 27, 2014 UPDATE
Fundraising services either ask for a donation towards their service to direct your funds to PayPal or they take a percentage of your funds before it goes to PayPal. PayPal also takes a cut.
To maximize every contribution, we’re asking you simply go to our web site and press the Donate button which will take you directly to PayPal. Once we reach our target, I will update this post and end the fundraiser.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. One of Midnight's sisters.
HAPPY ONE WEEK BIRTHDAY little one! Midnight has lived a week, is growing and eating much better. He also doesn't sit still for photos.
©2014 Christal P. I will never stop being amazed to know that Midnight lived another day. Look at how much bigger he is today!
Chelsea Ellis, of Angels of Assisi in Roanoke, VA didn't waste a minute after Big Daddy arrived at their shelter barely a week ago. This morning Big D. made his first television appearance on the Fox 21 27 Morning News segment called Furry Friends.
What amazes me is Big Daddy has only been off the streets for about a month all told. First Warren trapped him by Home Depot, thinking he was an injured feral, but he quickly discovered his first thoughts were wrong. Big Daddy's story took another turn that once again left us in awe shortly after I covered his tale and Chelsea Ellis read about him.
With all the love and fuss over Big Daddy, I feel very hopeful his forever family will find him soon. Whoever they are are very lucky folks. I can't imagine anyone meeting him and not falling in love.
I hope the next chapter in his story is about just that—finding home.
Read the entire The Accidental Feral Series
Part One Warren traps an injured feral, who ends up surprising everyone
Part Two Big Daddy's Trip to the Angels