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.

9 Ways to Prepare for an Emergency with your Cat

It’s late at night. I heard one of my foster kittens scream. Within seconds I was in the room with her and her family, my heart about to explode out of my chest I was so terrified. One by one I checked the kittens to see which one had been injured. Sure enough Twinkle-Twinkle looked up at me, took a step and literally fell over. Her back leg was broken. It was 11 PM. What should I do?

In the past month my cat rescue, Kitten Associates has had to deal with four emergencies. Some times these things happen even in the best home with the most loving care. I know what to do when trouble strikes, but do YOU KNOW what you’d do if your kitty suddenly became ill or was injured?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Little bone broken. Big expense to repair it.

Here are some simple things you can do RIGHT NOW so you’re prepared for how to handle an emergency with your cat.

1. Get a Vet! If you don’t have a Vet, you SHOULD get out there and find one. They will maintain your cat’s health records. You’ll need this information sent to your ER Vet if your cat requires treatment where you have time to access those records. If you can, keep a copy of all your cat’s medial records in a place that’s easy to find so you can grab them and go. Remember, if you bring your cat in for a wellness exam annually you can avoid many problems that require a trip to the ER Vet in the first place.

2. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between the ER Vet and your General Practitioner Vet. Usually the ER Vets are staffed with specialists in many areas of health, while your GP handles a wide range of issues, but usually does not have the suite of expensive equipment that an ER Vet would have or the experience to handle more difficult cases. Some times your GP vet can do the basic diagnostics then will refer you to an ER Vets.

ER Vets are open 24/7/365. Your GP won’t usually have those hours. If you think you’re cat will require overnight care, head to the ER. If you’re not sure where to go and you have time, call your GP Vet and ask them. For complicated cases they will often direct you to the ER Vet.

On sams lap robin olson 400
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinks in her boo-boo bandage.

3. Locate the 3 closest Emergency Vets and put their contact information in your address book, on your phone, everywhere you keep such information. If you can, choose to “Favorite” or add to speed-dial those vets, all the better. Don’t forget to enter the address of these vets into the GPS in your car. When you’re in a panic, the last thing you need to do is worry about how to get somewhere.

4. Have a cat carrier in an easy-to-access location. I use a big cat carrier with a heated pad inside it as a cat bed to reduce my cat’s fear of being in a cat carrier. It’s out all the time. Make sure your cat carrier is big enough to handle your cat since some people adopt a kitten, then never get a bigger carrier as the cat ages. Also, make sure your cat carrier isn’t falling apart. Some have plastic tab closures, or nuts that come loose. You want to be able to grab and go!

5. When an emergency occurs, first thing you do is CALL THE VET. Let them know you’re coming and what is happening with your cat so they can prepare and get staff ready for your arrival. Be prepared to as CLEARLY AS POSSIBLE describe the age, sex, breed of cat. Is your cat spayed/neutered? Is your cat up to date on vaccinations? Does she have any behavioral issues that might make treating her difficult? Be ready to describe why you think you’re cat is in crisis. The more information you can give them, the better they can prepare for your arrival.

This is also WHY you need more than one ER Vet’s contact information. The ER Vet you first call may tell you they are very busy or the specialist you might need is not on call that night so you can quickly call another ER Vet and make sure they can handle your cat’s care.

6. Other things to bring with you. Many times you’ll have to wait a long time before you can see a Vet if the ER is busy. Bring your phone charger. If you have a device where you can get online-like a tablet computer or laptop, bring it. You may be able to look up the diagnosis you get from the Vet so you can make better decisions.

7. MONEY! ER Vets want money UP FRONT once they determine what it will take to help your cat. Some vets charge more AFTER midnight. All are expensive-far more costly than your regular vet. If money might be an issue, apply to get CareCredit. It takes about 15 minutes to get approved, then you have the card if you need help. If you can pay off the charge in less than 6 to 24 months, it’s fee free. Your bill also has to be over $200.00 minimum.

Get health insurance for your cat NOW before she is 10 years old. That can help offset costs of care.

Lastly if you can get the ER Vet to give you time, you can opt to do an online fundraiser or reach out to family and friends. There are organizations that help cover costs of emergency medical expenses for people who get Public Assistance. Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance is just one and they may be able to direct you to others. You can also find them on Facebook.

8. Try to BREATHE and stay calm. Being panicked means you're not thinking clearly. You're going to feel stressed and possibly upset. That's understandable, but focus on your cat. SHE NEEDS YOU to be as calm and focused as possible. Once you’re at the Vet they will take over so your cat will be safe. They may tell you things you don’t understand. Speak up! Ask questions. Ask if they can keep your cat stable until your regular Vet is opens if costs are an issue. There are certain situations where a GP Vet can take care of your cat, but if they don’t have late hours or staff caring for the animals at night it may not be an option.

9. Go over the line-item estimate carefully. Make sure you understand WHY you’re getting charged for each service if you don’t understand it. There may be other ways to handle the situation. As long as the staff understands that money is an issue they will usually adjust the estimate to the basics if that’s what you can manage. There are items like e-collars or other items you can provide to save on costs so ASK where you can help out. Some times you can provide some of the care at home and bring your cat in for an additional exam instead of paying a boarding fee.

I’m glad to report that today Twinkle got her cast off after having surgery to put 2 tiny pins into her heel bone. She’s comfortable and happy and I finally got my pulse to slow down. When you’re in the worst of it, remember, this will pass. You will get through it and hopefully because you’re done your homework, your cat will have the best chance possible to survive this challenging time.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Snuggle time!

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This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about #PetBloggerMonth, but Covered in Cat Hair only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.

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Dear Freya

Dear Freya,

What a day it’s been. I was glad I had a chance to visit with you this morning before the Vets began taking x-rays, a CT scan and lots more tests to find out what makes your body different than that of most 4-week old kittens. We can tell some things from looking at you. Your tail is missing, you walk with an odd gait. We know you only eliminate from one opening, but we don’t know how far into your body those routes go. We have lots of hope that maybe your insides aren’t as bad as we fear and that the Vets can help save your life.

Like everyone who as met you and even those folks who have seen your videos and photos, you are adored. You went from being a tossed-away kitten then found a loving home, but one that wasn’t quite ready to be able to shoulder the financial responsibilities of the complex care you require. Though they only had you for two days, they were still selfless by being willing to find you help when it also meant they had to give you up to do so. They didn’t know you needed so much when they offered you a home. They knew they could provide for you and your brother, but provide things most new adopters would provide-like reasonable vet care, good food and lots of love. If they had known that you were suffering from serious birth defects I know they probably would have found you help but known they couldn’t have done more than that.

These kind people did their part in giving you a chance to live and those good intentions did not end with these people. This is what amazes me about you, Freya. There’s something magical about you. There’s a serenity, a sweetness and a purity about you that is irresistible. It was easy for not one, but two rescue groups to jump in to help you take the next steps to wellness. My own non-profit, Kitten Associates (KA) and our dear friends at Animals in Distress (AID) jumped in to help even though they are grieving over the recent loss of their darling 16-yr old kitty named Angel. We have joined forces to help you. KA raised money, AID has promised to find you a home and help provide for your financial support, too. Together we can do more for you than just one group, alone.

Freya in blankee R Olson B
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

People wanting to help you seems to be a theme for your short life because as the news comes out, and it’s quite bad, another group joined forces, fearlessly, to do something I’ve never seen happen before-all because of you.

 

You see, Freya, I am sad to tell you that the tests results gave us a bleak outcome for your future. Your spine is slightly deformed, the combined urethra and rectum go well into your body. There is a fear that somewhere in your belly is a slow leak of fluids, too. At first the surgeon felt that maybe it was for the best that we let you go. Your chance of surviving was maybe only 10%.

That’s when the tears began, Freya, because in our short time together I already fell in love with you and I was so very sad that you would never grow up and continue to spread joy as you have done for so many people already, but…

Ah, this time I love writing the word “but”…but Dr. Deb Weisman who is an amazing surgeon and who is the co-founder of Newtown Veterinary Specialists, was told about your case because the surgeons and staff are so very fond of you that it was hurting their hearts to think they would have to help you pass away. When I found out what their plan was I almost fainted.

Dr. Weisman said that she wants you to take a few days off to rest and grow a bit stronger. You need someplace to stay, so I asked if you could stay with me. I think that’s where you’re going to go and if so I promise to find a way to give you the best weekend I can. I will stop working and just spend time with you. If someone else fosters you for a few days I know they’ll love you just as much. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that on Tuesday Dr. Weisman will begin exploratory surgery and begin repairing as much of you that needs fixing as possible and she will not be doing this alone.

 

ALL the Surgeons, the Vet Techs, the Interns…everyone is going to be helping with your surgery. You case is rare and complex. The staff can not only pitch in to make sure your surgery has the best outcome, but they can learn about how to help other kittens who have birth defects like yours. I can’t imagine how much it would cost to basically rent a Vet hospital and staff for an afternoon, but thankfully, I do not have to. Dr. Weisman is focusing on YOU, not making a buck, but you. Everything else will be sorted out. Yes, there will need to be some funds paid, but because of your story and the love they all have for you they want to give you this one, big, amazing, generous, compassionate gift. The rest will be up to you.

 

Freya in Blankee R Olson 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

It’s been a very emotional day, Freya. Even though I know that there is a great chance these are the last days of your life, I know that you will have had the best chance to live a life at all thanks to a great number of people working together on your behalf. It is an amazing thing to behold.

I am so proud to be a small part of your story and really proud of how everyone is focusing on to trying to save your life. I truly hope your story will have many more chapters yet to come.

Love, Robin

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For Freya's Sake.

I just met a very nice young couple at Newtown Veterinary Specialists. They rescued two tiny kittens from a “friend of a friend” who let her cat outside and didn’t seem to care that the cat and her offspring were flea-covered and starving. The young couple wanted to help so they took two kittens and named them Pablo and Freya. The thought was that these kittens would become part of their family, so they focused on bathing them to get rid of their fleas and started feeding them consistent meals to help them gain some strength back after what the fleas did to them.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My first glimpse of Freya and her sparkling blue eyes.

But there was something odd about Freya.

 

Although Freya is sweet and loves her brother dearly, Freya wasn’t eating very well. Add to that she seemed to be in the litter pan a lot and nothing would happen. She would strain and thrash about and little would come of it so she’d leave the pan, then go right back in moments later.

 

The couple knew something was wrong so they took the kittens to the Vet. The Vet got the kittens de-wormed, tested the brother for FIV/Feline Leukemia and said since he was negative then surely his sister was, too. The Vet began to examine Freya. Her eyes are little blue sapphires that dazzle against her mostly white fur, save for one tabby-patterned circle on her forehead. Everything appeared normal but has he continued the exam, the further he got to her back end, the odder things became.

Freya has no tail and the couple noticed she walked a bit oddly too. Upon examining Freya’s rear end it was discovered that she does NOT have a urethra and rectum. She only has ONE opening when there should be two. No wonder she was having trouble passing anything. It wasn't possible to tell where these two join together. The Vet knew that the kitten needed to see a Specialist and SOON. This was no easy fix. If this kitten couldn’t eliminate properly a whole host of problems was going to crop up fast. It was rather amazing that she was even alive considering the severity of this deformity.

Sweet Slumber R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Too tired and weak to run around.

Dr. Andrews, the surgeon who helped us with Twinkle, did the exam this evening. He told the couple that Freya might be helped by surgery IF the two areas were only joined together fairly close to where they end. If they are joined together further into her body, then depending on how far in, would depend on if they could do anything to repair it. I wasn’t there to ask if that meant she would have to be humanely euthanized, but clearly this is not something she could live a long life with if nothing was done.

Yucky back end A
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. WARNING: Graphic image of Freya's rear end. Click to view.

The costs for Freya’s surgery far outweighed the couple’s ability to pay for it. They faced having to put her down right then and there unless they could get a rescue group to take on responsibility for the kitten, so that’s when I got the call.

When I saw Freya laying in Chelsea’s arms I almost cried. She is so completely innocent. Fast asleep, probably exhausted and sick, she was nestled in her blanket. I took one look at the couple and knew they were loving, caring people who were really busted up that they had to give up their kitten to provide her with the care she needed. They were really great about it saying they wanted what was best for her and that they were truly grateful that they could get help, even if that meant they would not be taking her home ever again.

Freya and Chelsea R olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Freya likes belly rubs from her mom, Chelsea. Her tummy is wet because I just tried to kill off a few fleas.

I spent a long time with them, giving them tips about how to care for Freya’s brother, treat fleas, where to get him neutered one day. They were so appreciative and I was glad to pass on what I’ve taken years to learn. We talked about next steps for Freya and after that I let them have some time with her to say their goodbyes. I promised I’d keep in touch and I told them I knew how hard it was to let her go. They were doing the right thing and it really inspired me to do something for them and for Freya.

I’ve only had an hour to think about how to say this, so this is the best I’ve got: Remember how you guys told me you had my back? Here goes:

 

I know we just did a miraculous fundraiser for Twinkle-Twinkle’s surgery barely two weeks ago and I hate to ask for help so soon after we just did but that’s how rescue goes. One week a kitten breaks a leg, the next week we had Fernando rip his eyelid up. Now it’s Freya. We don’t have deep pockets so we won’t be able to help Freya unless we get some assistance.

 

Freya has been signed over to our friends at Animals in Distress, but we are partnering with them to raise funds and to hopefully provide a good foster home for Freya after her surgery is completed.

I’ve set up a fundraiser for this kitten’s care and I’m REALLY PUSHING hard to get the costs DOWN as much as I can. Where we get stuck is due to how the billing works at NVS. They have to bill us for 75% of the high estimate amount THEN they refund 20% back as our discount, plus any other discounts NVS can give us. We’re told that Dr. Andrews is going to donate a portion of his fees, but again, that doesn’t get cut from the invoice until AFTER we pay it up front. Crazy? Yeah! (and we don’t know how much he is donating yet...and BTW THANK YOU to NVS for giving us a generous discount in the first place and to Dr Andrews for being awesome-sauce!).

Wrapped up Asleep R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I love her little spot!

 

What does this mean in English? It means we need to come up with 75% of $4832.00 which is $3624.00. This doesn’t include other surgeries if she needs them or after care, but if we can knock this down, it will really be a big WIN for a little kitten.

 


©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A few seconds with Freya.

Ways you can help Freya

Call NVS and make a donation directly to Freya’s Fund at 203-270-8387. Please note: you will need a PayPal account to donate. They can’t take credit cards over the phone for security reasons.

We get more of your donation if you donate directly using our PayPal address: info@kittenassociates.org or if you go through our DONATE page on our web site.

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

Just SHARE this with your friends who have kind hearts and love cats. That helps Freya, too.

Your donation is Tax Deductible. K.A. is a non-profit rescue and our IRS EIN is 27-3 597692.

Any funds we don’t use for this surgery we will set aside for Freya’s future needs. If there is still anything left after that, it will go into our general fund and help provide care for the 27 other cats in our program OR it will go to Animals in Distress. We are still working that out.

 

In my mind’s eye I can see Freya, sleeping on a soft bed that is bathed in sunlight. She’s comfortable and plump. She looks like she’s smiling as she sleeps away the afternoon. She is healthy and well and these dark days are over for her. She didn’t have to die, she got to live. That is my dream for Freya and I hope you can help me make it come true.

 

Sweet Dreams R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I hope this is one of many happy moments little Freya will have.

 

 

UPDATE: DUE TO CHANGES MADE by PetCaring.com on how they process funds we have decided to shut our PetCaring Fundraiser down. PetCaring forces us to use WePay to process payments and they HOLD donations for UP TO A WEEK. We can't access any money we raised on that account last night! This is NOT acceptable. Please make donations directly through our DONATE page on the Kitten Associates web site so we get funds right away. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

 

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What if this Happened to You?

I have nightmares. Many of them revolve around me losing my home to foreclosure, of having to move out with nowhere to go. I tremble and thrash around in my bed as I see in my dream the doors fly open and my terrified cats escape outside into the woods. I know their lives will come to an abrupt end without my care and protection. They can’t fend for themselves and now I can’t either.

But what if I woke up and that was true? What would I do if I lost my home? Where would I go? I don’t have any family who would help me and I couldn’t ask my friends to take on me AND my cats, too…but I couldn’t LIVE if my cats weren’t with me. It’s not an option.

I met a lady on Facebook named Barbara who has 5 cats. A long while ago she baked me some bread and made some granola for me as a “just because” gift. I always thought of her as a kind person, but I also knew times were tough for her.

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©Barbara Hayes.

She recently left a comment on my Facebook status message that really shook me up. She said she was about to become homeless in a little over a week. Her house had been foreclosed and the bank was selling it. That the new owners legally could evict them and their cats and she had run out of ideas of how she could keep her family from being tossed out onto the streets.

My friend Mary Shafer who captains a freelance marketing consultancy and commercial copywriting shop called The Word Forge heard about Barbara’s plight and offered to help. She summed up their situation thusly:

Barbara Hayes and her husband Kenneth are in their 60s and have been married for 40 years. Like most middle-aged couples, they were hoping to be able to slow down a little to plan enjoying their retirement in their Deerfield Beach, Florida, home. But then in 2012, her husband developed a large cataract in his good eye (the bad eye has had two retinal detachments and required several lens replacement surgeries). As a reward for 12 faithful years on the job, his employer fired him when he told them he was going blind.

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©Barbara Hayes.

He was already suffering health issues from a brain injury he received in 1978, when he was run over by a tow truck. Blind Services paid to have the cataract removed and the lens replaced, but by this time, he had slipped into such deep depression that he couldn't get out of bed for a year. His brain injury worsened, and he now receives disability because he can't work.

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©Barbara Hayes. Ken.

Barbara is also disabled, but because she had no guidance to navigate our country's overwhelming bureaucracy, she waited too long to apply for SSI, so now she only receives $84/mo in those benefits, as well as Medicaid. Which is fortunate, because she has A-Fib, a heart problem that has required hospitalization for procedures twice in the last year. Her third hospitalization this year was to remove her gallbladder. She also suffers from arthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetes. Not surprisingly, she has consequently developed clinical depression and social anxiety disorder.


Neither of them can do much physical work, but Barbara does what she can to sustain them by baking bread. The problem is that, with all the disruptions to their lives and loss of income, they were unable to pay their mortgage and now their home has gone into foreclosure. In ten days, they will be forced from their home.

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©Barbara Hayes.

It's bad enough for them, but the biggest problem is that they have five cats who have helped them stay sane and brought some small measure of happiness. And of course, there will be no apartment owner who will accept them with the cats, so they're left with either finding another house to rent, or becoming homeless, because they will not allow their own misfortune to force them to give their cats away.

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©Barbara Hayes.

Anyone who's a pet parent and really loves their companion animals can understand this. I certainly do. I'm asking that you please consider giving whatever you can to help the Hayeses raise enough money for the first and last month's rental and security deposit on a house. They believe they'll be able to make it if they can just raise this money to help them bridge the gap between where they are now, and where they'll have to relocate.

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From Robin

I realize that barely a week ago I asked all of you to save my little cat rescue and Twinkle our injured kitten who needed emergency surgery. You did that for us without batting an eye. I realize, too, that it’s asking a great deal to ask for anything right now, but this is truly a crisis and these folks just don’t have any resources.

I feel a moral obligation to help them because I believe that in the United States of America we SHOULD NOT HAVE ANYONE LOSE THEIR HOME, EVER. Everyone should have a clean, safe place to live with clean water and light. Everyone deserves to have a life of dignity, not where they are treated like garbage because of their physical disability and difficulty earning a living. This could be our MOTHER or FATHER, our BROTHER or SISTER. I hope we can join together to make a positive difference in their lives.

If any of you are in the DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA area and can help even run an errand in their car (since the Hayeses have no car) or if they know of any low-cost housing where they CAN have their cats, please email me and I will get the word to them. info@coveredincathair.com

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©Barbara Hayes.

You can help Barbara and her family by making a donation to their fundraiser OR you can visit their Amazon.com wishlist and purchase some items to help them once they get into a new home. They just need the basics, like soap and cat food, so please feel free to do some shopping just like you’d do for yourself, but this time do it for them.

Thank you everyone. Let's help these people and their beloved kitties stay off the streets.

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Twinkle's Lucky Break Ch 2

It’s 5 AM. 27 hours have passed since Twinkle broke her leg. She’s in a big dog crate in my living room. It’s covered with blankets to keep her calm, but she’s lonely and scared so she cries from time to time. Sleep is hard to come by for both of us. I know if I run to her side every time she cries then she’ll continue to train me to respond to her crying. I have to wait for her to stop, then I can go to her and comfort her but it's a challenge.

First Day Home
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinks first day after surgery.

Her first hours home were the worst. I knew it would be like that. The effects of sedation were still wearing off. Her heart was racing. She was mad with fear, frustration and hunger. I could only soothe one of her aches so I fed her. She ate so quickly her teeth would sometimes make little “ting” sounds against the china plate as she gobbled up mouthfuls of food. I held the plate up for her so she could eat more comfortably. With her right back leg in a cast, everything she does is going to be awkward for the next few weeks.

Ugh. “Next few weeks.”

I can’t help but flash back to Bobette, after she had a surgery that we hoped would repair her back left leg. She had to be in a cast for 4 weeks. She couldn’t get in and out of a litter pan so I had a baking tray for her to use. Every day it was a huge mess. She had to be restricted to a very small crate. She could not be allowed to move. She had to wear the “cone of shame” (e-collar) so she wouldn’t chew at the dressing on her leg, but with her it was one thing after another. The bandage almost came off the first night and required a trip to the ER Vet. Then I didn’t know her bandage had a wooden splint in it that was digging into her heel. It caused her even more pain. The surgery was a total bust even though we spent hours sitting with her and cleaning her and protecting her cast. Bobette eventually needed the leg to be amputated and though she did fine through the surgery, she died right after it, her blood unable to clot. She’d been adopted by my friend JaneA of Paws and Effect by that time and there was nothing anyone could have done. It still pains me deeply to have tried so hard to help her when it was all for not.

Bobette in Cast on Sam sm
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette

I think back on those tough days when I look at Twinkle-Twinkle. I've already promised myself that this will not happen to her. Her surgery wasn’t even surgery when it was all said and done. During the course of her first 12 hours at NVS there was much discussion on whether or not she had a break to her “heel” AND a torn Achille’s tendon or if it was just a fracture.

I was told if it was a fracture they would repair it using radiographs to guide them so they could place tiny smooth pins into the broken pieces. The pins would hold the bone in place and because she’s a kitten, the new bone she creates as she grows would cover over the pins and give her a very solid repair. At least that is the thought. BUT, her growth plate could be effected which would result in her leg becoming deformed as it grows.

Stretched out sleeping r olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle in one of her favorite places to rest-Sam's lap.

The problem is she can’t mess around with that cast. She can’t run around. She can’t do much or the pins could work themselves out and we’d have a bigger problem on our hands. In her after-care notes it states that it could be “catastrophic” for her to have any access to the leg, which means the e-collar must stay on and she must be kept quiet and away from her family.

But she wants her mother. She wants her siblings. She wants the cast off NOW.

She was lucky that she most likely did not tear her tendons. Though there is a good deal of swelling in her leg, her paw still functions and she has normal range of motion, well IF she could move her leg. It means an easier recovery for her and quicker recovery. It will still be an eternity of weeks until we know how the repair will go and I have to keep telling myself that this will pass, just like everything else. She WILL be out of that cast one day, but for now my job is to keep her as comfy and happy as possible, even if that means getting up in the middle of the night or not working as much so I can sit with her after my duties caring for the other cats is over for the time being.

On sams lap robin olson 650
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. With Daddy-Sam. Sam's boy Nicky is to the right.

My own cats are VERY curious about this newcomer. My gut tells me to keep them away from her, but I need them to realize she can’t bother them and vice versa. Hopefully they will all settle down, but I fear that her being in the living room will set off a volley of urine marking as my cats will believe this tiny kitten to be an intruder who needs to stay away. This is an exercise in finding balance. I have to keep my own cats happy and keep my feelings calm and relaxed. I can’t yell at the cats to stay away. If they sit on the dog crate, they sit on the dog crate. If they peek in at Twinkle, as long as she’s not upset, that’s okay. The less I get upset, the less my cats will bother with her. At least that’s my hope, but we have just reached a place where the cats are basically fine. No marking or very little on the tile floor in the kitchen. With Twinkle's arrival it could get so much worse.


©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle meets a new friend-Fluff Daddy

What is so much better is my heart. My soul? What I haven’t touched on is that moments after I reached out and asked for help, it was there for Twinkle. Her fundraiser started at 2 AM the night after I got home from dropping her off at NVS. I didn’t think much would come of it because of the late start and because I knew I had to raise a LOT of money—more than we’ve ever raised and in a much shorter span of time. NVS needed 75% of the high end of their estimate paid before Twinkle would have any surgery. We didn’t have that much in our account-not even close.

Twinkle Gnaws Robin Olson copy
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle a few weeks before the accident doing what she always does-have fun.

After I broadcast our fundraiser every way I could I dragged myself to bed for a few–hour nap. I got up at 7 AM and got to work feeding the foster kittens, scooping pans, putting out fresh water, petting a kitten here or there. There was no time for play-time, but at least I could say hello. It made me sad to see Celeste, Twinkle’s mother. She was quiet and didn’t eat. Twinkle’s siblings were quiet, too. They were still shook up from what had happened a few hours before. I knew they were missing their sister.

I answered emails and tried to catch up on a few things. It dawned on me to check on the fundraiser progress. I expected we might have raised a few hundred dollars. I knew there was no way we’d get everything we needed. I was already practicing how I was going to beg NVS for a payment plan so we didn’t have to make Twinkle suffer one second longer than necessary.

What I saw took my breath away. I immediately began to sob as the tension I’d been holding onto slipped away from my neck and shoulders. The excruciating stress I’d been under released like wild floodwaters. There was $2770.00 raised in a few hours. By then Sam was getting breakfast ready for our cats. I went to him, openly crying. He thought someone had died. I tried to get out the words, but I just mumbled between sobs. When I told him the news he was as shocked as I was. I was so shocked I asked him to look at my computer screen to make sure I saw what I thought I saw-that it was not a cruel illusion. Nope. Not an illusion. Wow!

Screen shot of fundraiser 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. You guys are amazing! THANK YOU!

It didn’t stop there, either.

Even with Facebook and it’s unfair algorithm that keeps unpaid posts from many users seeing them, the word got out about Twinkle and with that the donations came flooding in. Friends rallied around us, not only sharing donations, but sharing their love for what we’ve done for the past 4 years. With every dollar donated was also the encouragement for us not to give up. It was completely overwhelming to see the figure rise meteorically as the day passed.

On sams lap again
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Another night spent on Sam's lap. Twinkle is getting all the attention we can muster.

In less than 12 hours we hit our goal and exceeded it by a little bit. I was completely flabbergasted-so much so that I recorded a thank you video for all of you. It’s completely embarrassing for me to see it again and I fear it will turn into one of those parody videos, but I needed to say thank you and writing a blog post wasn’t good enough. I’d cried a better part of the past day, from worrying, from fear, from anxiety, then from joy and eventually, relief.


©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My Thank You Message to everyone who donated and shared our fundraiser plea.

When the time came to pay the bill, I could. I didn’t have to be scared any more. All of you had my back and many of you left comments on Facebook saying as much. You told me not to worry. You told me that for all the good I do, that you wanted to do something good for me in return. I do not feel worthy but I am more grateful than words can describe. Not only could we provide for Twinkle but I have been re-energized by your faith…re-energized and deeply honored.

Sleepy twinks
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet dreams, Twinkle. We've got your back.

I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring but I do know that when times get tough I’m blessed by having so many caring friends.

I know that somehow it will be okay.

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Twinkle-Twinkle's Unlucky Break

It's almost 2AM. I'm so tired I want to fall over, but I have to tell this story now. I don't have the luxury of time. Tonight Celeste's daughter, Twinkle-Twinkle broke her leg and with that it could mean the end of Kitten Associates.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a responsible person. I always do my best to provide for our foster kittens no matter what it takes. I gave up my career to rescue cats and I gave up any easy kind of life. I don't have two nickels to rub together, but I'm not complaining. This is my life's work. All of my resources are gone. I have been really proud of what I've accomplished with Kitten Associates. We've always paid our bills in full and on time. We've always found a way to raise money when we really really needed it. People have always helped us and without all of you we would have sunk a long time ago.

Bright Twinkle 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle still wants to run around, get petted and was even purring when I left her tonight. She's on pain meds and they will be bandaging her leg to keep the damage from getting worse until the orthopedic vet can see her.

But we do not have the luxury of a nest egg to fall back on. We have enough to vet all our 28 foster cats. We have enough to feed everyone because we get food donations when we ask. With something like a serious surgery, we do NOT have funds to cover that. My hope was that if we could squeak through this month, that maybe we would be lucky enough to win a Pettie Award or that some of our friends would win or both. The $1000.00 per award would go a long way to helping us, but I can't count on that now. I don't even know WHEN they will announce the winners.

We are in DIRE STRAITS if we can't raise the money to repair Twinkle's leg. I HAVE to provide surgery for her. I will NOT amputate her leg to save a buck-not when she's a kitten and could regain function. I HATE HATE HATE asking for help, but I have no other choice. If I had the money, I'd pay the Vet out of my own pocket, but I have no resources of my own.

Xray 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle's "hock/ankle" has a sharp fracture. See the radiologist report for details and lots of big words I've never seen before.

The facts are:

I do not know how Twinkle broke her leg. I reviewed our Dropcam footage and what happened occurred on or near the washing machine. I have a clip saved where you can hear her screaming, then see me enter the room less then 30 seconds later. I'm not going to share the video. Hearing her scream is heartbreaking.

At first I didn't realize she was the one injured because her screaming caused her brothers Astro and Hubble to claw their way behind the washer and hide so well they had to practically be pried out of hiding. It was only after they were safe that we checked the other kittens. Twinkle looked up at us, tried to walk and fell over on her side. I knew this was not a sprain. I got her to the vet within 20 minutes fearing internal bleeding.

Her "hock"/ankle is broken and the ligaments that attach to it may be damaged or may be pinched under the broken shards. The Vet at the ER did NOT know how it is repaired. We have to wait until later this morning to speak with Dr Andrews, the orthopedic surgeon. He will have to do more x-rays (according to the radiologist report shown here) or possibly an ultrasound before he figures out how to repair this leg IF it can be repaired. Then we'll find out what the costs are.

Report full 475
Radiologist report. If anyone can translate this I would appreciate it.

As a non-profit, Kitten Associates will get a 20% discount but only after the bill is paid in full. We've paid $939.00 already just for tonight's exam and x-rays. I honestly have no idea what the surgery will cost. Maybe $4000? I don't know. All I know is I am terrified that we won't be able to pull this off. THEN WHAT HAPPENS? What happens to Laney & Winnie, their 7 kittens? Mia's kittens? All the other kittens?

Invoice full 475
Tonight's invoice. We paid $939.00 so far. That is 75% of the full amount. The rest will be due when we sort out the surgery/aftercare costs. THEN we get 20% off the total.

We need a miracle.

Please consider sharing your love for Twinkle. You donation IS tax deductible. My rescue, Kitten Associates, a 501c3 non-profit and our EIN is 27-3597692

If you do not want to make a donation using the PetCaring widget below, you can also make a donation via OUR web site at: Kitten Associates Just use the donation button on the right side of the page and it will go directly into our general fund.

You can also mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470 and put a note on the check "For Twinkle".

You can also CALL Newtown Veterinary Services at 203-270-8387 to verify this need or to make a donation to Twinkle's care.

Thank you everyone for sticking with us and for believing in what we do. For all the love and good wishes and prayers. If you can't share your love with a donation, then just share this post socially. Maybe other cat-loving people will see it who can offer support, too. It all helps.

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The Neglected. Ch 2. Love is...

A few weeks ago I agreed to bring two pregnant cats into my rescue, knowing full well that we really didn’t have room to take them on. Over the weeks we’ve been impatiently waiting for the kittens to arrive. Eleven days ago Winnie, the grown daughter of the second pregnant cat named Laney gave birth. Her labor was effortless and quiet. Her first two kittens were large, but strangely silent upon arriving into the world. They were both stillborn.

Happy Winnie and Piglet
©2014 Kitten Associates. Winnie with newborn Piglet.

The final kitten arrived, tiny, weak, but alive. Foster mom, Moe named him Piglet. Of all the kittens born that day, we were all surprised that the smallest one lived, but for how much longer we could not know. Winnie grieved over her loss and didn’t immediately bond with her little son, which put him in grave danger.

Laney Preg with Piglet
©2014 Kitten Associates. Laney and her belly full of kittens.

Winnie stood by the place where she gave birth and cried out. She didn’t eat well. She half-heartedly cared for Piglet as Moe and I worried that Piglet’s days were numbered. “Grandma Laney,” so filed with kittens she could barely walk, took interest in her grandson and took him from Winnie to care for him. Perhaps Winnie needed time to adjust to being a mother and to her losses. It didn’t matter to Laney. She was doing what she’d done so many times before. Her last litter was barely 17 weeks ago. Motherhood was something she knew better than anything else.

PHoto of Laney s previous litter
Screen shot of photo of Laney with her last litter just about 17 weeks ago. Pictured beside her is ANOTHER one of her kittens who was having kittens of her own. This cat has since been spayed through the generosity of Kitten Associates. All but two of the kittens pictured here are with Moe and are in foster care and part of the K.A. family. One kitten was lost due to predators and one is with another family.

Mama 69
©2014 Kitten Associates. Laney gives birth not long after this photo was taken. Notice Piglet is sandwiched between the mama-cats.

Moe slept on the floor in the room with the moms making sure they kept Piglet warm, clean and fed. She only supplemented his feeding once on the third day when he just wasn’t gaining any weight. This frail kitten needed something more to survive and that more came a few days later when Laney went into labor.

Piglet 3 oz with balm MS
©2014 Kitten Associates. Just 2 ounces at birth, Piglet was premature.

Saturday afternoon, around 1pm, Laney began to pant heavily. Winnie took notice and ran to her side. Pacing and fussing around her mother as the contractions came, she ignored her kitten. But Laney needed Piglet. She’d get up to be near him or pick him up and keep him close by. It didn’t matter if she was giving birth, little Piglet was her comfort and her reason to keep going. Her love for him, her need to keep him safe, no matter what was all that mattered even as her body shuddered through another contraction.

First 3 born 400
©2014 Kitten Associates. Laney, panting. About to give birth to kitten #4.

As Laney pushed hard and cried out, her first kitten came into the world, quickly followed by two more kittens. After giving birth so many times it was easy to deliver the kittens, but she was also too weak to even clean off their afterbirth. It was Winnie who realized there was a problem and immediately began to clean each kitten’s face so they could breathe. Moe pitched in to help clean them off as Winnie ate the afterbirth. Laney laid there quietly, her paw reaching out to little Piglet. She’d been through this too many times and the kittens were enormous. Her uterus wasn’t strong as it once was and passing the kittens was taking a toll.

Winnie cleans Laney after birth
©2014 Kitten Associates. Laney, exhausted. Winnie jumps in to clean off the newborn kittens. Laney had delivered too many kittens over the years and wasn't strong enough to handle delivery.

The first two kittens were buff tabbies-a boy and girl. The third was all black and also very large. After Winnie cleaned them, they began to nurse right away on Laney. Laney began panting and again another kitten arrived and again Winnie helped her mother while Moe watched ready to offer assistance.

Tired mama Laney
©2014 Kitten Associates. Even during labor, Laney wanted to have her grandson, Piglet nearby.

After only a few hours the labor was over. Six very big kittens were born. All looked healthy and vibrant. Laney got to work feeding them, falling into an exhausted asleep with her eyes open, but she didn’t leave Piglet out. He had to be with her or she’d get up and move him to her side. Fearing the other kittens would not get their colostrum-which is only produced for the first day or so a mother nurses, we decided to move Winnie and Piglet away for a day or two.

Distress 400
©2014 Kitten Associates. With another kitten coming, Winnie comforts her mom, Laney.

What happened next surprised us. Winnie stopped eating. She was very upset and didn’t want to care for Piglet any longer. She needed her mother. The next day passed too slowly while Laney continued to care for her six kittens. Winnie fed Piglet but with little interest. The next day Moe decided it was doing more harm then good to separate the moms so they were reunited.

Laney and Winnie Sharing Care
©2014 Kitten Associates. Little cat bed, big love.

Within moments of being back with her mother Winnie ate, Laney grabbed Piglet and got him cleaned up and fed. Later that day Winnie showed more interest in Piglet and Laney’s kittens too. So began Winnie and Laney’s co-parenting of all the kittens. They were never apart and laid together facing each other on a small cat bed. The kittens fed or slept between them. Winnie would wrap her arms around her tired-mother giving her comfort as she did her duty providing for any and all kittens who needed it.

Piglet with Gma Nursing copy
©2014 Kitten Associates. Piglet's turn to shine. With two moms his odds of surviving just went through the roof.

And the best part was that after a single day of the cats being reunited, Piglet’s weight increased by a full ounce, which is the same as a 150 lb person gaining 50 pounds overnight. It was the day that made all the difference for Piglet because now he was the same size as his nephews and nieces even if he was a week older. It also meant he had an increasingly better chance of surviving. With two moms who adored him and a doting foster mom in Moe, Piglet won a jackpot, which will hopefully end up with him living a long full life.

All the kittens on birthday day
©2014 Kitten Associates. A birth day for most of the kittens but you can see Piglet, who is a week older, barely is the same size as his newborn counterparts.

What helped Piglet beat the odds was not only simply sustenance but love. Love from his moms. Warmth from his new siblings. A sense of belonging he was missing being an only kitten. We’ll never be able to ask Piglet what he thinks about all of this but I can bet he’d tell us that the love he felt was what got him to step away from the darkness. His moms wanted him to live, so he had to oblige.

Mother and Daughter and Kits 8 17 14
©2014 Kitten Associates. True love.

As for myself, I couldn’t help but imagine the “what ifs.” What if I had said no to Moe because we haven’t had any adoptions in months. Because we have a record number of cats in our program. Because it’s risky and might break our bank to care for these cats if something should go wrong, we can’t do right by them. I think about them being in that neighbor’s yard with a dirty dog bed covered in fleas for their new home. I think about the filthy fly-covered food they might have had to eat, if someone fed their moms at all and what the poor nutrition would have done to the kittens growing inside them. I think about how they had no safe place to go so they would have so easily fallen victim to any number of predators and meanwhile the humans in the home would have turned a blind eye to them, making up some lame excuse as to what happened. Maybe they’d say they “ran away” or “didn’t know what happened to them.”

Happy Mamas
©2014 Kitten Associates. After a very long day some much needed rest.

I know that at least half of Laney’s kittens would have died and Piglet along with them. I think Laney had a very good chance of not making it, too. Because soon after she gave birth, we realized something was terribly wrong and her next stop was to the ER in the middle of a very rainy night.

To be continued….

I love my mum 400
©2014 Kitten Associates. Winnie looks lovingly at her mom, Laney.

(If you’d like to know more you can read the beginning of their story HERE and HERE)

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Ever since I was a little girl when my mother would read me stories each night before I went to bed, I wanted to believe the world was a magical place. I never outgrew the deep longing to feel like I was like a character in a book specially chosen to be unlike anyone else in a world filled with endless possibilities. I would go to the movies and wonder why I couldn’t be like those people who went out and did great things, against all odds, they’d save the world after a remarkable adventure.

But the reality is, I’m just another schmoe, with ups and downs. I don't have a secret world only I have access to that's filled with talking beasts and dancing trees. But that’s ok because I’m not going to be disappointed when those things don't happen. Those things are for fairy stories, not real life.

The thing that makes me sad is that magic isn’t real. I want the trees to come to life and dance around me or for my cats to talk to me, but those are the notions of a child, not an adult. I have to put those thoughts away and simply enjoy being entertained by movies and books by the fantasy of “what if” and not expect anything more. I’m the daughter of two scientists after all.

Robin and Judy 2001 R Olson
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. My Mother was the first female research scientist hired by Pfizer back in the 1940s. She was part of the team that developed terramycin. She was a genius by any measure. Here we are so many years later by a hidden waterfall in upstate CT.

Eight years ago tonight my mother died. I wasn’t planning on writing about it again, as I have so many other years, but something happened that I wanted to share with all of you. I believe that perhaps I was wrong about magic. It IS real and I have proof.

My mother and I had a tough relationship but we were also very close. We both had the same wicked sense of humor, always had a camera on our hip, were ready to find a new, strange place to visit or take in any cat who needed us. I asked my mother if after she died she would come back to me or send me a sign and she immediately said no. She said “when you die, you die. That’s it. Don’t go looking for me. I’m going to be dead.”

The odd thing was that every year since she died, on the anniversary of her passing, something would happen that truly seemed like a message. One year I received mail addressed to her. It was a coupon from CVS. She was a mad coupon-freak and CVS was the last place she went before she died. I hadn’t gotten mail from them before. It just had to mean something…was it a message from beyond the grave or $2.00 off my next prescription?

Mum on a log
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. My Mother on our last trip to one of our favorite places- Bulls Bridge.

I was driving along Highway I-84. It was early evening and I was on my way to meet my friend Marcia at the movie theater. We had planned to see the movie the The Hundred-Foot Journey, but I hadn’t been feeling well. I almost cancelled at the last minute, but it was too late so I just sucked it up and made my way to the theater.

It had been a lovely day. Cool, dry, sunny. The clouds were puffy and brushed in amber by the setting sun. I looked at the time. It was almost 7pm. I thought to myself that was about the time she died those many years ago, though I wasn’t with her when it happened so I can’t be positive of the exact time. No one was with her. No one even knew she was so sick from congestive heart failure that her life was so fragile.

I felt the familiar tug of missing her and I thought to myself how I wished she’d send me a sign and almost right after that, my scientist DNA said that could not happen and not to be silly. I exited off the highway, trying to get my mind off my mother by thinking about something else. As my car passed between two rows of tall trees I saw it out of the corner of my eye…a rainbow.

Rainbow R Olson B 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Last night.

I did a double-take because I hadn’t SEEN a rainbow in YEARS. It wasn’t raining. It was lovely weather save for a few clouds. It didn’t make sense. As a lump grew in my throat and my eyes began to fill with tears, the colors in the rainbow became more vivid and part of a second rainbow formed. I flashed back to that silly YouTube sensation video where the guy is crying about the “Double Rainbow!” I did what my mother taught me. I thought about something funny to cover up how I really felt, because my heart felt like it was going to explode from renewed grief.

Seeing that rainbow felt like a kiss from my mother. She was waving at me saying “Hey, I was wrong. Of course I’ll come back to you and I miss you, too! I’m still here, Robin. I’m still here.”

Rainbow R Olson 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Right over the movie theater.

As I reached the parking lot at the theater I fought back the tears. I lost sight of the rainbow and thought it had faded away, but when I looked up the rainbow was still there. It looked as if the rainbow’s end was at the movie theater—a big colorful ribbon pointing to where I was headed.

Maybe it was all just a coincidence, but this time I’m telling my genetics to shut up and believe that there really is magic all around us. We just have to open our hearts to see it.

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Kitten Season: A Beginner’s Guide to Fostering Kittens

[note from Robin: In over 8 years of blogging this is the first time I've ever allowed a guest post. I feel this message is an important one and certainly worth sharing. It's part of the #100KittyDays initiative where Found Animals is hoping to place 500 kittens in 100 days.]

100 Kitty Days

Hello all! My name is Aimee Gilbreath and Robin asked me to lend a hand and help create awareness for kitten fostering. I am the executive director of Michelson Found Animals and, like Robin, I am a huge supporter of rescuing cats and kittens through foster programs. As kitten season continues to purr on this summer, a frequently asked question I receive from new and existing cat owners is: “What exactly is kitten fostering?”

Kitten fostering is volunteering to take a kitten into your home and caring for them until there is room for them in a rescue or shelter, or until the kitten is old enough to be spayed or neutered and adopted. When you foster a kitten you are saving a kitten’s life! Most shelters don’t have the resources to care for kittens which lead to an extraordinarily high euthanasia rate amongst kittens.
Without the long-term commitment that comes with adopting, you can learn about animal behavior, caring for kittens and experience the overwhelming cuteness of a kitten, before you commit to adopting. There are several aspects to consider before becoming a foster parent. Here are a couple things to think about before you take the plunge:

1. Understand your responsibilities. Before you take on the responsibility, make sure you understand that fostering a kitten can be time consuming, and entails socializing and feeding and cleaning up after your new furry friend. Setting aside time for your kitten will ensure that foster kittens receive the time, care, and attention they need. If you won’t have time to provide the proper level of care and interaction, fostering might not be for you.

2. Be prepared. Many foster programs will provide you with supplies, but don’t assume this will be the case. Purchase a litter box, water bowls, toys and other accessories you may need while fostering the kitten. The investment is small but the returns are great!

3. Have fun! While fostering has some serious undertones, let’s remember that kittens are adorable! Seriously, who doesn’t want little bundles of cuteness frolicking around their home? Yes, there can be moments of anxiety when a kitten is sick, but the joy of watching a kitten find its way in the world is totally worth it. (FYI – while super-cute, kittens can be a bit….messy. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

4. Training. Remember that you are preparing the kitten for its fur-ever home. Just like humans, it’s always best to start training as soon as possible. You will want to make sure the kitten will grow up to be a good cat citizen by teaching it right from wrong.

5. Goodbyes. Fostering a pet is temporary. While it can be difficult, we recommend against becoming too emotionally attached to your foster kitten. Keep the cuteness going by taking lots of photos and sharing them on social media so all your friends can see how fun fostering can be. Prepare yourself to say goodbye once the kitten is ready for adoption and consider fostering again in the future!

Celestes Four Kittens
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Just 4 of the many kittens Kitten Associates has available for adoption-just saying'.

If you can do all the above and are ready to foster a kitten, thank you for saving a life! Also, support campaigns such as Found Animals Adopt & Shop’s #100kittydays campaign. During the campaign, Adopt & Shop hopes to adopt 500 kittens in 100 days this kitten season. Just like Robin’s nonprofit Kitten Associates, we're huge supporters of fostering kittens until they find their fur-ever home.

Now, let’s save some lives!

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