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.

The Loss that May Break the Internet. Farewell Big Daddy.

I just got word that after a 7-month battle with nasal lymphoma that Big Daddy had to be humanely euthanized this afternoon. His daddy, Warren worked tirelessly to find a way to keep this gentle giant alive, but in the end the cancer made it impossible for Big Daddy to have any quality of life. It had spread and was far worse than anyone realized. Though they sought out help from Vet-oncologists and made sure that no matter what, Big Daddy had everything he needed to live the best life he could, it would never be as long as any of us would have wanted.

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©2014 William Mahone. www.WilliamMahonePhotography.com. The face that launched 10,000 friends on Facebook…Big Daddy.

Big Daddy's story is truly unique and in many ways breathtaking. From an injured stray cat who was assumed to be feral, Big Daddy sauntered into Warren's trap and the rest is history (some of it you can read in a selection of my previous posts HERE, HERE and HERE).

 

What hooked all of us from day one was that face. Big Daddy always had this forlorn expression-mixed with a combination of curiosity and surprise. When we expected him to be aggressive, he was mild-mannered. When he had to go to the vet or ride in the car he never complained. He never was foul-tempered even after getting painful radiation treatments. He tolerated chemotherapy, too, all with grace and dignity. He liked nothing more than to sleep with Warren and relax by the fire or hang out with his other kitty buddies.

 

Though I have never had the pleasure of meeting Big Daddy, I've been in the background helping Warren learn about feline nutrition and how it would help Big Daddy's prognosis. I also helped raise funds and shared funds from my own rescue. I was there for the late-night calls and tried to help Warren manage the excrutiating emotional ups and downs of Big Daddy's many close calls.

As time passes we'll learn more details about why Big Daddy was so happy and seemingly fine barely 24 hours ago and what trigged a massive seizure that though he recovered from, it uncovered something else, something so dire there was nothing more that could be done for him other than to allow him to have seizure after seizure. It was no way to live.

Warren promised him a long time ago that he would not let him suffer and he kept that promise today.

Big Daddy and Warren
©2014 Warren Royal. BFFs Warren with Big Daddy.

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When I die I hope I come back as Warren's cat. His devotion, compassion and love for Big Daddy should be something honored and revered. He is the epitome of a Cat Daddy. If everyone was like Warren this world would be a far better place.

 

I know Warren, his family, his co-workers at Royal Bobbles, all the friends and families who loved Big Daddy from near and far are all heartbroken today-including myself. Big Daddy lived big, loved big and sadly died after a big battle that no one could win.

 

We love you Big Daddy. We will never forget you. Fly free.

#AdoptaShelterPet

Fear is the number one reason people don’t adopt pets from shelters. Some shelters aren’t in the best shape, with rundown quarters for the animals in their care while others are more like cheerful playhouses for cats and dogs. But even though the environment might be pleasant, having so many adoption options can be overwhelming as the fear of “What if I feel like I have to adopt them all?” or “What if I feel like I have to adopt a pet because it looks so sad?” arises keeping people away.

 

There are many complex emotions that can be stirred up visiting shelters. It’s not only a terrible shame that this obstacle exists, but the result means that millions of perfectly adoptable animals are being euthanized solely due to lack of shelter space. The adopters are out there, now we just have to get them IN to the shelters to meet these amazing creatures.

 

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©2010 Henry Co Animal Control. Kitten Associates opened in 2010 and this litter of kittens was our first rescue. They were at high-risk of being put to sleep solely due to lack of adopters and limited space. Each one later found their forever homes.

While tremendous strides are being made to change perceptions, change ideas and move towards never killing otherwise adoptable animals, part of the change requires a leap of faith for some. Taking those first steps into a shelter can be daunting so here are some reasons how being willing to take those steps can literally save lives.

1. If you think you’re ready to adopt, go on Petfinder.com and search for shelters in your area. You can usually visit the shelter’s website and see photos of the facility ahead of time. That way you won’t be afraid to walk in the door.

2. If the place is a bit shabby, that’s okay if the animals are getting properly cared for. You’ll know by talking with the staff and asking questions about what care the cats or dogs get. Some shelters don’t have huge operating budgets, but focus their funds on the animals and not the color of the walls.

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©2010 Henry Co Animal Control. Rocco was a senior kitty but that didn't stop us from rescuing him. His gentle and affectionate personality won us over and Rocco quickly found a loving home where he was doted on for the last years of his life. He passed away earlier this year surrounded by love.

3. Have an idea of what you’re looking for before you go. There are loads of web sites about every breed of cat or dog that will help you focus on what you think might be the best fit for your family. Knowing ahead of time that you’re looking for a friendly orange tabby or a feisty Jack Russell Terrier narrows down your search so you’re not overwhelmed. You can often see these pets listed online before you meet them in person which also takes out the fear of feeling obliged to adopt all the pets you see once you arrive at the shelter.

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We rescued this kitty and named him MacGruber. He ended up being one of the most sweet and friendly cats we've ever met. He lives in a loving home with another kitty we rescued and a third kitty the family found as a stray. Can you imagine what would have happened if we hadn't intervened? It's very likely he would have been euthanized.

4. Understand that seeing cats and dogs in cages is not ideal, but that it’s also not forever for that animal. A shelter should be just that-a place to house animals safely for a time period until that animal finds their new family. Unfortunately some animals are caged far too long, but from experience I can say that I have a cat who was in a cage for 2 years and she’s a very happy cat today. She was MORE friendly and sought out affection because of her confinement and I do believe she is also more grateful to have what she has with us. Though that may not be true of all animals confined for along period of time, don't feel you can't also consider them to be part of your family. Just be prepared that their adjustment to their new life may take more time and they may need some guidance or behavior training.

5. It’s not your obligation to adopt every pet you see. It’s your obligation to be responsible and only take on what you can easily provide for from today until the last day of that animal’s life. Don’t be selfish or impulsive. Adopting is for YEARS, not for now. Do your homework, prepare yourself, then ENJOY the experience of knowing you’re going to find your soulmate. Be prepared that it might not be the first time you go to the shelter. It might take a few trips over months, but in the end not only did you literally help save that animal’s life, you just made room so that another animal can be saved, too.

 

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©2013 Robin AF Olson. This post is in honor of Mabel-Baby, who survived being in two kill-shelters, one of them for almost two years. She's my kitty now and she'll never see the inside of a cage again.

Take a deep breath. It just takes a bit of bravery, some planning and a willingness to open your heart to a cat or dog who may be a bit rough around the edges, but over time, in a loving home, you’ll be amazed at their transformation. It’s a great gift that one might not even realize is part of adopting a shelter pet, but indeed it is the most precious aspect of it.

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This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about #AdoptaShelterPet, 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.

Follow Your Heart. Maggie's Story.

Maggie Mae and her siblings were rescued last winter out of a dangerous situation in southern Georgia. Maggie was shy and skittish, but one couldn't help but want to cuddle and pet her because she was so beautiful.

Maggie and her sister, Junebug spent months in foster care hoping their forever home would find them, but they were no longer tiny kittens and as young adults their adaptability began to wane. I wondered what I could do to help Maggie find a home that would give her the chance to blossom. I knew that in time-maybe months or even years-Maggie would be all right but it had to be with the RIGHT family or Maggie could revert and become more feral.

All outside before trapping
©2014 Warren Royal. Maggie (grooming herself in back) with her siblings the day before being trapped. You can read their backstory HERE.

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Kendra adopted two kittens from us a few years ago. A brother and sister, Bandit and Smokey, where two of our sweetest fosters. They joined three dogs, Kendra's son and husband where they all lived peacefully together. But something was missing. Kendra wanted one more cat. It would be her “dream cat” and because of that it had to be a kitten and it had to be long-haired and make her heart swoon. She takes the commitment of adopting pets very seriously so she asked me about our kitten, Julep.

Julep is in Georgia in foster care so I couldn't tell her too much other than she was very sweet. We volleyed emails back and forth about it, but Kendra wasn't sure. Then one day she asked seemingly out of the blue about Maggie. I'd posted that Maggie could not be around dogs because she came from a situation where feral dogs were picking off, one by one, the cats in the colony where she lived. I just assumed she would be terribly fearful of dogs so I didn't want her to be near them.

Bandit and Smokey happy
©2013 Kendra Friedman. Smokey and sister, Bandit (right).

Kendra shocked me by saying that she'd wanted Maggie for months, but never thought it could be possible because she had dogs. I told her my concerns, but I also knew that Kendra's dogs were very easy going and already lived with cats. A few days later Kendra met Maggie and the rest is history, but how things worked out shocked us all.

Kendra and Maggie
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Gotcha Day! Kendra & Maggie.

Maggie must have been waiting for her family to show us her true colors because within barely a few days of arriving in her new home, Maggie began to blossom. When Kendra expected fear, Maggie was completely relaxed. Maggie was fine being with the dogs and soon enough was making friends with Smokey. Bandit wasn't very happy about this newcomer, but Kendra didn't give up.

Barely two months after Maggie's adoption this email arrives in my in-box.

I often wonder why I write so much about Maggie, and take so many pictures. Here's what I think. When I adopted her, I knew Maggie was beautiful, soft, and shy. I hoped she could learn to feel comfortable and that one day, after much work, she might sit on my lap or play with the others. I thought I was going to give up on the one dream of three happy kittens playing together to fulfill the dream of righting a wrong for a cat who had gone through more than she should. I was good with that decision and happy to provide a great home for the rest of her life.

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©2014 Kendra Friedman. Loved no matter what. Oops.

I met her and she let me get close and she let me kiss her and I loved her right away. And I was willing to give up on a tiny kitten for her. And I picked her up and she shook, the whole crate shook, the whole way home, so I told her over and over "you don't have to be scared anymore. You don't have to search and wonder. I am your mommy and I will protect you and love you forever."

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©2014 Kendra Friedman. Dogs eating on the right and on the left, the cats (way up high on the cat tree).

And she came home and she was nervous, but not afraid. She was timid, but she was brave too. And then boom! I found myself with what I expected- beautiful, soft, sweet, but also funny and playful and ballsy! And she made friends with Smokey and they started to play! And she walked around the dogs and I was in awe.

Maggie and doggies
©2014 Kendra Friedman. What dogs?

And the last piece of it was Bandit, and I'm not gonna lie- I didn't think she was gonna come around. She would run up to Maggie and then hiss and growl and run away. And then- she stopped! And they became friends.

Mag and bandit
©2014 Kendra Friedman. Maggie and her new sister, Bandit watching the world go by.

And now the three of them play like kittens and especially Maggie and Bandit love each other. They sleep in the same bed and Bandit licks Maggie and for hours, HOURS!, they chase each other all around the house like little monkeys.

Photo 3
©2014 Kendra Friedman. Smokey and sister, Bandit (right).

Somehow, by choosing to do the right thing and not the selfish thing, I got exactly what I wanted. And more! I am so amazed by this and so in awe of Maggie's transformation that I just have to document it and comment on it constantly. Who is this girl and how did this happen? It must just be a miracle.

Thank you for my miracle.

Kendra

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©2014 Kendra Friedman. Maggie makes new friends.

The thing is I didn't do anything. It was all Kendra's doing. She followed her heart and had faith in Maggie. Maggie had gotten a lot of love and support while with her foster families and I know that started her on the right path, but Kendra was the final piece of the puzzle. In all honesty, this reminds me to be more open-minded when choosing adopters for our foster cats and I hope it reminds all of you that when you're ready to add to your family to always consider adopting an adult. This story isn't about a miracle after all. It's about trusting your instincts and taking joy in the outcome.

Happy life, Maggie. Happy life, all.

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©2014 Kendra Friedman. Life is good.

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Catification. The Review & Interview with Jackson Galaxy & Kate Benjamin

In May 2011 the first episode of My Cat From Hell aired on Animal Planet. That moment heralded a new age for cats. It created a paradigm shift from calling people “cat owners” to “cat guardians”— where behavior issues of cats no longer fell solely with the cat but more often with their human's misconceptions. What had been explored brilliantly in print years before by other cat behaviorists failed to reach the ever-growing audience of frustrated cat parents, who were giving up their cats to shelters in record numbers. Nothing made an impact on cat guardians the way a television program could-if it was done well.

Enter the eye-poppingly tattooed Jackson Galaxy. When he took the stage we were mesmerized. He was charismatic, a colorful peacock with a disarming understanding of how cats tick. He showed the world just how deeply misunderstood cats really were and it broke our hearts to realize how wrong we’d been to vilify our cats.

In each episode we witnessed one cat after another emerge from of the confines of their chrysalis into a beautiful, confident creature. It touched anyone who shared their home with cats. We learned that if we were to truly love our cats then we must understand their needs. This is the season of the Cat and a new book, Catification is just what they’ve been waiting for us to read.

CatificationBook


Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!)

teams up the savvy cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy with his My Cat From Hell design-darling Kate Benjamin, (who is also the guru of the deliciously cat-centric product mecca, hauspanther.com) to create the must-read book for every cat lover.

KateBenjamin PhotoCredit JohnBurchamPhotography DO NOT CROP

© John Burcham Photography. Used with permission from the author. Kate Benjamin in her studio.

Catification goes far beyond a simple well-designed full-color book of clever ways to enrich your cat’s environment. It’s also a concise guide to cat behavior. The reader will learn how to both identify what type of personality their cat has and how to create a space appropriate for that cat. Using clever, easy-to-remember terms Galaxy makes it simple for us to decode how our cat sees the world. Is she a Mojito or a Napoleon? Is another cat in the home a Wallflower? As we begin to answer these questions (there's even a worksheet starting on pg 38 to guide you) we learn how to create positive changes appropriate for any cat.

The most significant message in this book is that it’s important to see the world through a cat’s eyes to create a harmonious environment that the cat guardian would enjoy adding to their home. Through Galaxy’s skilled descriptions and Benjamin’s tasteful design choices we begin to see how empowering our cats through an enriched environment is the only way to go.

Catification is not about hanging shelves on the wall, and to fans of MCFH, building a “super highway” for your cat. It’s about helping your cat find their Mojo, a term Galaxy coined that refers to helping cats find their confidence in their space and being able to be their best selves. Do you really want your cat to be the cat that always hides under the bed?

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©Kate Benjamin. Used with permission from the author. One of Kate's kitties enjoying her catio.

What was apparent right away from the clean and elegant design is that this book was going to be a breeze to read and understand regardless of whether you just adopted your first cat or if you’re like me and have more cats than you care to reveal in a blog post.

I was fortunate to be able to spend a few minutes with Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy (whose comments I’ve included, but paraphrased in some instances) and later with Kate Benjamin (who wrote direct replies to my questions and are shared verbatim) where we discussed where the term “Catification” came from along with a few other surprises. I asked each author many of the same questions for a point of comparison.

THE INTERVIEWS

CICH: Where did the term “Catifcation” come from?

KB: Catification is the term that Jackson started using on his show when discussing aspects of cat behavior that have to do with environmental enrichment. As you know, Jackson’s expertise is in understanding what the cats need and mine is in understanding how to meet those needs in a way that pleases the cat guardians. Catification is where our worlds overlap. We now define Catification as “The art of designing your home to meet the needs of your cat without sacrificing your own sense of style.”

JG: “I made it up.” Galaxy chuckles. That said, the word, inspired by years of working the cat behavior clients, was what became the key term to developing the book project.

Galaxy doesn’t feel comfortable making generalizations about cats. His analogy that cats come “from the same cloud, but all are catflakes” rang true. They all have different needs and those needs change over the course of their life, making one of the underlying themes of Catfication to recognize each cat’s unique needs and partner that with a flexible and scalable environment.

Galaxy asked me if I recalled that Moen faucet commercial where the couple comes to the office of their designer and places an elegant faucet on his desk then says, “Build our home around this.” It’s the same sort of Designer/Client approach with cats, only this time you're the designer and your cats are the clients.

2. CICH: Describe the “ah ha” moment when you realized that cats needed more than a carpeted “kitty condo” or corrugated scratching pad to enhance their environment.

KB: A long time ago, even before I started writing about cat products, I began experimenting in my own home, building wall-climbing structures for my cats to expand their territory and keep them active. I think it was just a natural instinct for me to build things for my cats, maybe because of my background in interior design. I always felt that it was important to create in environment that is interesting for my cats but also attractive to me.

JG: Jackson Galaxy understood early on that cats needed more than just a cat bed by a sunny window to help them become the “best version of themselves they can be.” He admits for somewhat selfish reasons that he’s tired of hearing excuses about why some cat guardians can’t be more understanding of what their cats need. Case in point, when he has to give “homework” to one of his clients and the first request is to add a litter pan to a socially significant part of the home. “People would rather have their cat pee on their drapes than put a litter pan into their living room.”

That frustration gave birth to the idea of catification. It asked a simple question. How would he find a common ground that allowed for a litter pan to be placed wherever it was best for the cat while balancing the aesthetic and practical needs of the family? Galaxy wants to hold cat lovers “feet to the fire” he’s so passionate about this topic. He urges us to remove barriers that leave their cat unable to blossom and be their best cat-self.

SisalRamp1

Used with permission from the author. Example of a simple way to catify a space.

3. CICH: Why not just let cats go outside to get enrichment?

KB: I’m an advocate for keeping cats indoors simply because there are too many dangers for them outside. A lot of people think it’s unnatural to keep a cat inside, but with some simple changes to your home, cats can live full, rich lives indoors and you won’t have to worry about what they may encounter if they go outside.

JG: Whether cats are allowed outdoors is a hot-button topic. Galaxy plainly replied that “It’s your call, but you gotta know the risks because you don’t want to compromise.” In essence, though most people understand the inherent risks to cats living outdoors they simply make excuses to not make changes so their cat can be just as happy indoors as outdoors. One of the goals of Catification is to show everyone that “catifying” a space can be painless and there’s no reason not to do it since it doesn’t mean a costly change if someone is on a limited budget.

4. CICH:“Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!)” contains a number of real-world examples of how to enrich your cat’s environment. How many people submitted their stories and photos to you, hoping to earn a place in your book and which one stood out the most to you and why.

KB: Jackson and I have received hundreds of submissions from cat guardians all around the world, and we love seeing every one of them! We chose examples for this book that we felt would inspire others to see the possibilities for their own homes, even if they don’t have a lot of money or advanced skills. Simple projects like the table leg scratcher from Lucio Castro in Brooklyn (page 168) stand out to me just because it is so functional and elegant. It shows that anyone cat do this and do it in a way that doesn’t look like a crazy cat lady!

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Used with permission from the author. Page 168. Table leg scratcher.

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Used with permission from the author. Page 168. Table leg scratcher in use.

5. CICH: Would you say one of the goals of your book is to change people’s perspective to better understand how their cat views the world? If so, are there any other goals you set for yourself and which one was the most important.

KB: Absolutely, Catification seeks to help cat guardians see the world through the eyes of their cat. We want people to understand that they are the interior designer and their cat is the client. The designer needs to know the client’s preferences and come up with a plan to accommodate those preferences. We also want to get cat guardians excited about the possibilities of Catification and what it can do for their cats. It’s really a lot of fun to come up with a plan, implement it, and then watch the cats as they explore and use their new feature. We hope people will be inspired to do more and more.

JG: Galaxy wants to empower cat guardians so they can embrace the possibility of deepening the bond they share with their cats. It’s extremely gratifying to make changes to a cat’s environment and see him/her come out of their shell for the first time. The love people have for their cats is never in question, but through catification those cats can experience a dramatic shift in their day to day life.

His hopes are that readers “get it.” That they don’t suffer from “paralysis by analysis.” In other words, they don’t get mired down by feeling like they have to create a perfect space then get overwhelmed by options. In truth, they should focus on building a flexible “skeleton” where their design can change over time because their cats needs will change over time, too.

6. CICH: You’ve curated examples of catification from around the world on your web site hauspanther.com, but was there one that just blew you away because of its creative solution, regardless of cost or time spent in creating it?

KB: I think the most impressive examples of fully integrated Catification come from Japan, where architects have built entire houses with the cat features designed in from the beginning. The end result is a seamless and elegant environment that appears to work beautifully for both the resident cats and humans.

7. CICH: What would you do to your own home to make it a masterpiece of Catification or have you already achieved it?

KB: I don’t think that Catification is ever complete; it’s an ongoing process. I’ve added some great features to my home including a large enclosed catio with climbing shelves and perches (featured on page 228), but now that I’ve watched the cats use the space, I see where I can expand their superhighway and add other features. The same goes for inside, I’ve added pieces here and there, like the shelves over my desk featured on page 128, but now I have some bigger projects I’d like to tackle that connect everything together. Wait until you see what I have planned for the bedroom!

Page128

Used with permission from the author. Detail of Kate's office from page 128.

8. CICH: What would you suggest to people who have handicapped or senior cats and who want to catify their home but are concerned about their cats falling off shelves?

KB: Senior cats or cats with mobility issues do require special consideration. Definitely make sure that any surface they are climbing on has a non-slip covering, like a sisal rug remnant or rubber-backed floor mat, to give them better traction. Make sure that climbing shelves are nice and wide and you can even add a little railing on the edge. Ramps are very useful in households with senior cats or cats with mobility issues. We show you how to make a simple cat ramp on page 183 using just a board and some sisal rope. This ramp can be used to help cats climb up to places where they can no longer jump. The sisal rope gives them plenty of traction and serves double duty as a scratcher.

SisalRamp3

Used with permission from the author. Lovely, clear photography enhances the “how to” section of the book.

9. CICH (Only asked KB): How many cats do you have and how has catifying their space changed their inter-relationships or relationship with you?
KB: I live with my boyfriend and 11 cats in our 1,100 sq ft condo. The features we’ve added, like the catio and the climbing areas, really expand the space and give everyone a way to spread out so they’re not all fighting over the same spot. It’s interesting how some of them have their favorite spots, while others just want to be wherever we are. I can’t imagine living without cats, it would be very lonely and boring!

10. (Only asked JG): You combined homes when you married your wife Minoo. How did catification come in to play to help ease cat to cat and cat to dog introductions and did you do any planning before joining homes to how you’d set up cat superhighways?

JG: Galaxy related that it’s an ongoing process for everyone and that just because he’s the Cat Daddy doesn’t mean things are all “rainbows and unicorns.” He mentioned the recent loss of his cat, Chuppy and described him as being the “corrections officer” keeping the others in line. He wasn’t necessarily the “alpha cat,” but he made sure things ran smoothly. After his passing Galaxy describes the chaos that ensued and that he and Minoo are still adjusting and adding routes throughout their home and removing any dead ends near litter pans. Right now he doesn’t feel he has the luxury of imagining what it could be, but is focused on “building by necessity.”

I asked him about special needs and senior cats and how to catify for them. Galaxy hinted about there being more focus on that coming up in another project, but was hesitant to tell me more. He did offer that things like rails for shelves, or ramps that gently rise have to be factored in for some cats. Seniors need more horizontal catification, but he added his 23-yr old cat Velouria still wants to get on the table and he made sure there was a way for her to do that safely.

Cover


Catification

is 304 pages in paperback and other formats and is available NOW. You can find ordering options HERE. List price is about $12.90 depending on format.

You can catch Jackson and Kate in person on their Book Tour, too! There are still a few stops left.

GIVEAWAY

ONE LUCKY PERSON will WIN A FREE COPY OF CATIFICATION (and MAYBE it will even be autographed if I can get it done when I see the authors in a few days). At least you’ll get a book. Open to residents of USA only. To enter simply LIKE our FACEBOOK PAGE, then LEAVE a comment HERE. One comment per person. Duplicates will be eliminated. Tell me WHY you need Catification and best, funniest, most clever, subject to my choice will win a copy of the book. DEADLINE IS OCTOBER 24, 2014 2:22PM EST.

Not a Moment too Soon. Saturday's Story.

One of my friends texted me Friday night. His wife found a cat wandering, thin, weak in the middle of the road. They are big animal lovers so it wasn't a surprise she ran to the cat's aide.

They hadn't seen the cat before, unlike many others who have come and gone through their yard this summer. They asked their friends and neighbors if anyone was missing their cat, meanwhile they were wondering what to do for her until they could find her family. I stepped in to offer help and guidance not realizing what that would mean until later.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. You can't really see it but she is VERY thin. You can easily feel all her bones, yet she still manages to purr for us.

I had planned to bring them some food and take photos of the kitty, but they told me she had a cough. I didn't want to chance it with her being sick so I offered to pay for the vet exam if they took her down the road to my vet, Dr. Larry's office. I didn't think it would be a big issue, but little did I know the kitty would be in far worse condition than I expected.

 

The kitty is a female. Betty, who runs the front desk at Dr. Larry's named her Saturday since we had to have a name for her records. We joked about what an odd choice it was for a name, but the laughs didn't last long. Once I got a good look at the cat my heart sank. She was thin, dirty. You could tell she felt cold from the effects of starving for who knows how long. My friends said she hadn't eaten over the night and only slept. She had a frailness about her I'd seen before in older cats that gave me pause.

 

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Saturday.

We ended up doing blood work and it surprised us that she was in better shape than we feared. Clearly she had issues from being seriously dehydrated but most of her functions were ok and she did not have Feline Leukemia or FIV, which is great news. Dr. Larry's partner, Dr. Mary, did the exam. She thought the kitty might be 10 years old or possibly even older. Her teeth are a mess but intact. She had a crust over her nostrils which we assumed to be an upper respiratory tract infection and along with it an odd snort/cough. These were things we could treat so I started to feel more hopeful as my friend and his wife bantered about talking about how they could not keep this cat, but yet she matched their dogs (my joke) and was sweet and was a girl in an otherwise all male household (the wife's reason to keep her).

Dr. Mary felt maybe she could go after getting SubQ fluids but ideally she should be on an IV. We talked about what was best for the sweet old kitty and I said we should do what's right, not what is the cheapest solution so we opted to transfer Saturday over to Newtown Veterinary Specialists (where I feel I should have my own room I've been there so often over the past few months).

 

We got Saturday settled at NVS and I got the estimate for her treatment. It was $1700.00 for about 36 hours of care. Dr. Mary had said we didn't need that much time so I pushed back and asked for a revised estimate. Here I was with a cat I knew nothing about, an older cat when I run a mostly kitten rescue. I was in over my head and I knew it wouldn't take much to drain our accounts for a cat that wasn't really ours. She might have a family out there looking for her. She might have been cruelly dumped. I guess it didn't really matter because Saturday needed help and my rescue was the only one who could provide the funds to make that happen if we used what I'd set aside to finally fix our foster room to help her.

 

Estimate
This estimate of a bit over $1000. will be low. It was for only one day of care and Saturday is going to need 2 at least.

Saturday's been at NVS for a full day. She's still not eating. Her blood work is about the same, though in some areas she is a bit better. The red flag in her case is the fact that she won't eat. The Vets fear there is an underlying problem, like a cancer in her sinuses or cancer elsewhere. We'd have to do a very expensive CT scan to find it and then we have to look at how do we pay for these things and in the end does it make any difference for Saturday?

If any of you have read my stories before you know I am not one to give up on a cat. Right now we're giving her more time to be on the IV and I hope and pray she will eat on her own. They don't think she has an upper respiratory tract infection and that the crust we saw yesterday was not related to that, but something worse.

All I know is I want to continue to provide for this sweet girl. It's not right that she was cold, alone and starving when she should have a warm, love-filled life.

Face 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. In good hands.

Ways you can help Saturday

Call NVS and make a donation directly to Saturday'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 Saturday, 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 Saturday we will set aside for other kitties who need help.

Pray or send good thoughts to Saturday. She needs all of our love.

Sleeping 475 b
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. She was so tired she fell asleep while we waited for her blood test results to come back.

You Are My Everything

Dear Friends of Covered in Cat Hair,

The past two months have been grueling, as you have seen from my blog posts. If it wasn’t Twinkle-Twinkle breaking her leg or Fernando ripping his eyelid in three places, it was the death of a colleague or the passing of beloved foster cat.

Over that time, too, I had to ask and ask again for donations, gifts of cat food and towels for our little Freya, the kitten with the rare birth defect or funds to help Laney and Winnie's kittens-especially sweet Piglet. You NEVER let me down no matter how many times I regretfully had to “go to the well again” and ask for a few dollars or few cans of cat food more. If I could, I’d call each one of you or visit your home and give all of you a hug and tell you how very grateful I am for your never-wavering support.

Attending to her Kittens R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Celeste tends to her kittens while they wait for their checkup at the Vet last May.

Most people have a family they turn to when times get tough. My parents are long gone and I don’t have much family left, certainly not any who frets about me or who I can turn to (other than Sam). I’m very lucky to have a new family made up of a few close friends and I have a family in all of you.

At first, writing stories about my life doing cat rescue was something I needed to do for myself, but over the nearly nine years of writing, it has become much more than that. It's a two-way street. You share with me as much as I share with you. I’ve read all your comments and taken joy in all the photos you share with us on Facebook of all your dear cats. It really makes me happy to know we’re all in this together and we all care about each other.

Freya mid Bath R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Freya.

Thank you, everyone for caring about my little rescue kitties and for caring about me and Sam and our resident cats, too. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone in my grief, that you have lost dear friends, too and that you may struggle as much or far more than I do. You remind me that my lessons have helped you, helped your cat maybe live a better life. It's my way of giving back for all that I receive from all of you.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have some more cheerful news for you soon and I’m planning a few fun giveaways coming up as yet another way to show my appreciation for sticking with me on this rollercoaster journey doing cat rescue.

You are my everything and without all of you, I just don’t know how I’d survive.

With sincere appreciation & love,

Robin

Piggie 10 5 14 650
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Piglet's growing fast into a lovely young lady.

Calling All Angels. The Passing of Celeste.

It’s hard to hold your head up high as a cat rescuer when you feel like you completely failed and in that error, an animal died because of it. It’s one thing to make a mistake on your taxes—sure it sucks, you might pay a fine or owe more than you should, but it’s not life or death.

Cleaning Kitten R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Celeste giving birth May 13, 2014. Twinkle-Twinkle and Little Star were her first two born to a live audience on our web cam.

I’ve already had one experience this year feeling like I failed when Celeste’s kitten, Fiorello died. He only lived a day and though I tried, I’m not an experienced bottle-feeder. There was no time to even FIND someone to help me and because I wasn’t completely prepared and I didn’t even have all the tools that might have helped him. After he died, I took my starfish pendant off. Prior to that day I’d rarely been without it. It’s my rescue totem. I thought perhaps I could put it back on one day, but that day has not come. With what happened a few days ago I wonder if I ever WILL be able to wear it again.

Celeste is dead. My sweet foster mama of 5 is gone. Forever. When she died, between the shock and grief all I could think about was how I must have made a mistake and SHE paid for it with her life. I didn’t feel I deserved to do rescue any more. I thought it was time to stop. I was getting a sign that I just didn’t have the chops and I should LISTEN to that and not be arrogant by pointing a finger at the Vet who did the spay surgery or the foster home who didn’t realize she was in bad shape after the surgery was over. I missed something and now I’d have the rest of my life to reflect on how stupid I am.

Celeste R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The ever-lovely Celeste.

Celeste went in for a routine spay surgery. In fact I had to put off her appointment over and over again because some of our foster kittens were having accidents and I was finding myself at NVS (our emergency Vet) at least once or twice a week. I also needed to separate Celeste from her kittens so her mammary glands could dry out before spay and that took two weeks. From my goal of July, here it was the end of September and I finally had everything ready so she could not only get her surgery, but finally GO TO HER FOREVER HOME.

The woman who first took Celeste off the streets after she was dumped and pregnant had wanted Celeste to return to her one day. I’d kept in touch with her all summer and she was very understanding about the constant delays. The latest plan was to do the spay, give Celeste a few days to recover and by the end of the week, Celeste would go home.

But things didn't go as planned.

Celeste survived the surgery and there was nothing to suggest she was in any trouble after the procedure was completed. Before I picked her up the morning after her spay to bring her to her foster home they tried to give her a shot for pain, but she was so fractious they couldn’t do it and decided they could only release her as is. When I dropped her off at her foster home I was concerned when I saw her leave her cat carrier. She wobbled badly as if she was STILL sedated. I called the vet and the tech said she was just in pain and I could come back and get the painkiller if needed. I thought I’d wait the night to see how she was doing and go back. I’d just driven 50 miles to pick her up and deliver her and it was only 10 AM and I wasn’t up for driving any more. I’d been taking care of little Freya around-the-clock for 2 weeks at that time and I was grossly sleep deprived. Looking back I wish I had taken Celeste right back to the vet, but I didn’t. I told the foster family to let me know if anything was off and to call me right away if they thought something was wrong. They checked in that night and said she was sore but seemed okay.

Hugging no 3 R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Celeste holds Fiorello who lived only a day.

At 7 AM I got a call. They were worried about Celeste. I was there by 7:15 AM. When I saw Celeste I thought she was dead. When I ran my hand along her side as she laid so very still on the floor. She was cold. She was cold in a way that told me she was dying.

She lifted her head and cried softly. I gently lifted her and quickly put her into the cat carrier on a thick warm towel. I raced to NVS, calling them on the way, telling them Celeste was critical so they would be ready when I arrived. I talked to Celeste. She was so limp she slid along inside the carrier as if all her strength had run out. I told her she was a great mama. I told her I loved her and her kittens were doing really well. I told her to hang on that I was going to get her help and I prayed I was right.

It was a cold, slate gray, rainy morning. I parked in the handicapped parking space, grabbed the carrier and was in the building a few seconds later, not caring that I was breaking the law. A tech ran out and took Celeste from me. That was the last time I saw her alive.

Celeste Before James R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The last good photo of Celeste after her kittens were weaned. She looked so radiant.

I’ve been to NVS so many times in the past month that just about everyone there knows me. The ladies at the front desk were very comforting as they handed me tissue after tissue. I knew Celeste was dying and I was pretty sure I was too late. I paced back and forth, waiting for Dr. Berube, the Critical Care specialist, to let me know what was going on. I’d told the tech to spare no expense, to not bother to give me an estimate and to focus on helping Celeste. Time was running out.

About 30 minutes later Dr. B. came out to talk to me. She was very calm and matter-of-fact, but told me that Celeste’s blood couldn’t clot and that they could try a blood transfusion, but that also her temp was critically low and they were having a hard time getting blood for a CBC because she was so cold. A tech interrupted us and I knew it was bad news. Dr. B left and returned a few minutes later. She told me that Celeste’s heart had stopped. That they were doing CPR. She told me some options of what they could do. I felt all the blood leave my face. My legs felt weak. I asked her to help me because I couldn’t think any more. I told her that money wasn’t a worry and that IF there was something heroic to do it because she was a young cat, but the tech returned only moments later and I could tell from the look on her face that our options had run out.

Lunch on Mom R Olson copy
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Giving life on so many levels.

I asked Dr. B. to take me to Celeste. She was surrounded by the staff. One was squeezing a pump to breathe for Celeste and the other was rubbing her chest. I told them thank you but it was okay to stop. They stopped, bowing their heads in unison as we all knew that Celeste was already long gone. Some moved away and went about other tasks. I asked them to extubate Celeste. She didn’t need a tube down her throat any more. They detached all the equipment, only her back leg still had a blue bandage wrapped around it. Beth, one of the techs, and Dr. B talked to me. I’m not sure what Dr. B said. I was in shock. I heard words like “clotting disorder” and “internal bleeding,” but I can’t even be sure. All I knew was the once playful, silly, sometimes cranky, always beautiful Celeste was dead and it was my fault.

Farewell Celeste R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Farewell beloved girl.

I held Celeste’s paw and said goodbye. I petted her as I told her how sorry I was for letting her down. I said I loved her again and many other things as I looked at her lifeless body, secretly praying that like on a TV show maybe her heart would miraculously start beating again and she would really be just fine after all. We’d all hug and smile and laugh, relieved that the nightmare was over. How I wish that had been the case.

Beth kept me company, handing me tissues. She talked to me about her cat and I told her about how great Celeste was as a mom and how I never rescued a seal point Siamese before. Everyone was very kind to me as I waited for Sam to arrive. I called Celeste’s foster mom and told her the bad news, sick to my stomach with fear that maybe they missed something and if we’d had more time maybe Celeste would still be alive. Maybe I didn’t tell them enough things to look for—again it was my fault. Maybe the vet killed her with a bad spay surgery so I called them and yelled, then hung up on them after screaming “She’s DEAD! What the F_ did you do to my cat?”

After weeks of sleep deprivation, not eating well, rushed design projects to complete so I could make something of a living, I had no gas in the tank. I was completely destroyed by this loss and what made matters worse was I could not forgive myself.

Getting bath from mom R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Star gets a bath from mama.

For the next two days I cried. I tried to sleep. I tried to understand what I did wrong and how I would never do it again. I focused on work, on caring for Freya and the other fosters. I couldn’t even talk to the Vet because Dr. Mille’s office was closed until Friday so I had to wait another day to talk to him. I didn’t even want to make the call because I felt so let down. Why let a cat leave the clinic when she might have not been doing so well in the first place? Maybe it WAS their fault?

It was my fault. Kitten Associates is MY rescue. It’s my mistake no matter what the truth turns out to be. I can’t describe how ashamed and angry I felt.

I finally got up the nerve to call to Dr. M.. I knew he was waiting for me to put blame on him so before I could do that he thoroughly went over the surgery and what he found. I learned a lot of things that shocked me deeply.

What I didn’t know was that Celeste was fractious at the Vet. So fractious they listened to her heart but that was all they could do before her surgery. It wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

Celeste Playing R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Celeste went crazy over her organic wool pom-poms. She went nuts over catnip, too.

Celeste’s surgery was more time consuming than normal because she was in heat. It’s not a life or death procedure if a cat’s in heat, but it takes longer and is more invasive. While Dr. Mille was doing the surgery he noticed a few things that surprised him. Celeste’s uterus showed clear signs of NOT being that of a young cat. I’d been told Celeste was 2 years old and never questioned it and since Dr. M. couldn’t do a careful exam, he didn’t see her worn teeth and yellowed build up of tartar. Opened up Dr. M. could see Celeste’s ovaries were full of cysts. This would cause Celeste to be in heat 24/7/365. The hormones would be coursing through her body. She’d have emotional issues. It could cause a whole host of problems which lead Dr. M to change the estimate of Celeste’s age to closer to 10 years old.

Celeste was nearly 10 years of age, but no one told me when I picked Celeste up after her spay.

The other shocker was the report from NVS and Dr. B. It said that they pulled some blood from Celeste’s abdomen. Her blood would not clot. If blood doesn’t clot, it’s fatal. You can do a blood transfusion and it buys time, but it’s not a cure. The root causes of the clotting disorder are many. Celeste could have had an underlying heart or liver condition. She could have had a very rare disorder called D.I.C. caused by her being so fractious and being spayed shortly afterwards or from having cancer or other issues or any combination of issues.

Or the clotting disorder could be genetic.

Then my heart truly sank. Celeste could have been a ticking time bomb all her life. If she’d been spayed at any other point, by any other Vet she still would have died. If the clotting disorder was more recently an issue, there still wasn’t a cure. Celeste’s death wasn’t anyone’s fault, not even mine, though if I’d known she was 10 I would have done pre-op blood work, but if we discovered she couldn’t be spayed, what would her life have been like being in heat forever?

Dr. M. was very gracious. He offered to help me develop a protocol for pre-screening cats when it’s time to spay them. He told me about a 6-month old kitten who was at a very big vet hospital getting neutered, where they had Board Certified surgeons who could have done something. They sedated the kitten and he died. He had a serious heart problem and the sedation killed him. Not even the brilliant surgeons could save him. He said things like this, though rare, can happen and that he was very sorry about Celeste. I realized he was not at fault and I finally had some peace knowing I could let some of my pain go.


©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. First catnip after kittens were weaned.

But then something occurred to me that made me feel sicker. I asked him about Celeste’s kittens. They’d been spayed and neutered and were fine, but could they have the clotting disorder, too? Dr. M. said they could and that they all need to be tested. I told him I’d set up an appointment later, but I’d heard enough. I needed to process this shocking news. After I hung up the phone I had another long crying jag.

It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t a total loser. We’d lost a great cat and that would never change. Hopefully if, God-forbid, her kittens have this disorder we will know and maybe they can still have a good life. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but we’ll do our best.

Celeste outside
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Our first look at Celeste, pregnant and on her own, dumped by her family who didn't have use for her any longer.

I thought about Celeste, dumped, pregnant, with what I always assumed was her first or second litter. How many kittens had she delivered over her lifetime? Easily she could have had well over 100. Maybe they were out there somewhere with that same time bomb ticking away inside them? I would never know, but Celeste must have had a very difficult and pain-filled life.

Lessons Learned

Our two remaining mama-cats in Georgia will benefit from what I’ve learned. We’re going to be doing full CBCs, a PT/PTT blood coagulation test and x-rays to make certain that due to them having multiple litters of kittens that they, too, don’t have issues that would make their spay surgeries high-risk or fatal.

Sam said to me that as bad as this loss is that maybe it would save 1000 cat’s lives because of this painful lesson and that I would share this news with others. I would tell them that if they have purebred cats, to screen them for clotting ability before surgery. If they rescue, make sure they check the cat and do their own age assessment and for adult cats, talk to their Vet about if they should run a PT/PTT before spay surgeries. For myself, I need to do a much better job communicating to my foster home what the signs are if a cat is not doing well beyond “anything that seems odd.”

This morning I was in my car listening to my iPod through the car speakers. I was playing songs in alphabetical order and “Calling All Angels” started to play. I sang along as tears raced down my cheeks. Knowing I couldn’t have saved Celeste was a minor comfort, but the pain of her loss will always be with me.

Calling All Angels

Oh, a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
High above, you can hear the church bells start to ring
And as the heaviness, oh the heaviness, the body settles in
Somewhere you could hear, a mother sing

Then it's one foot then the other as you step out on the road
Step out on the road, how much weight, how much weight?
Then it's how long and how far and how many times
Oh, before it's too late?

Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
Walk me through this one, don't leave me alone
Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
We're trying, we're hoping, but we're not sure how

Oh, and every day you gaze upon the sunset
With such love and intensity
Why, it's ah, it's almost as if you crack the code
You'd finally understand what this all means

Oh, but if you could, do you think you would
Trade it all, all the pain and suffering?
Oh, but then you would've missed the beauty of
The light upon this earth and the sweetness of the leaving

Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
Walk me through this one, don't leave me alone
Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
We're trying, we're hoping, but we're not sure why

Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
Walk me through this one, walk me through this one
Don't leave me alone

Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
We're trying, we're hoping, we're hurting, we're loving
We're crying, we're calling
'Cause we're not sure how this goes*

SONGWRITER
JANE SIBERRY

*Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Fly Free Celeste R Olson copy
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly Free, sweet Celeste.

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WINNER BEST CAUSE BLOG. Kitten Associates!

WINNER BEST CAUSE BLOG 400

I'm completely shocked, honored and delighted to win the 2014 DogTime Media Pettie Award for Best Cause Blog! Thank you Dogtime Media and all our friends who voted for our little rescue Kitten Associates and who believe and support what we do.

We'd also like to Congratulate and Thank Ingrid King, who writes The Conscious Cat and Angie Holland Bailey, who writes Texts from Mittens, who also won in their categories. Part of their award is a $1000.00 donation to any rescue or shelter and they both chose Kitten Associates. This means that we will soon have $3000.00 in award donations we can put towards our rescue efforts.

More than any amount of money or trophy, this award means we're on the right track—that our efforts have meaning to all of you, even more than simply (though it is never really simple) saving lives. We work very hard at what we do and are devoted to the cats in our care. I love sharing stories of how rescue works and how although it's not always a happy ending, it is one filled with love.

Thank you to everyone who tirelessly voted for us. We can feel your love, big time!

For Freya. Bonus Part 3.

(continued from Part 1 and part 2)

I took Freya back to NVS for a checkup 48 hours ago. She had a new set of x-rays done, but sadly they didn’t show any improvement. The good news is she didn’t get worse, so at least she was considered to be in stable condition. Dr. Andrews and I discussed next steps. Once again we agreed that we should wait to do the surgery, instead of doing it that day. I asked about a goal weight or age for her and he said really that it was most likely too risky to wait long. Freya could get an infection in her urethra that could go into her bladder, then kidneys. Of course there was the constant concern about how much stool was inside her and the effect that had on her intestines. He told me he’d reached out to Dr. P. but hadn’t heard back yet so it was wait and see as to when the surgery would occur. I figured it would be a few more days, tops.

I was faced with going home and wondering how I could keep my schedule clear for the next week? weeks? When? Could I keep Freya comfortable? Could I find a way to exist and not lose my mind from the stress of worrying about her and from flat out being exhausted.

Freya mid Bath R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Freya, mid-bath.

That night Sam made us dinner. Rice pasta and sauce. I was grateful I didn’t have to cook. I was so hungry and tired. I just wanted to sit down and eat in peace, maybe watch a little bit of television to settle my nerves. I had about two bites of dinner, as I sat on the sofa holding my plate in my lap as we watched the truly moronic and cringe-worthy show, “Love Prison.” I was contemplating changing the channel when I saw my cat, DOOD, appear at my feet. He looked up at me and right away I knew what that look that meant —“I’m going to jump in your lap.” I couldn’t react fast enough to stop my stupid cat from jumping into my plate of pasta. I screamed as he slid across the plate, then jumped over my shoulder, running for his life. I let lose a psychotic rant about how I was SO F’ING SICK OF THE F’ING CATS! My legs were scratched. I felt two fingertips on my right hand begin to sting as if bees had just attacked me, then looked down to find he’d somehow sliced them open. But the worst sight was in my plate. Two big paw prints smashed into the food leaving some cat hair behind. Most days it wouldn’t be a big deal, but right then and there, my world had stopped spinning. I’m surprised I didn’t start foaming at the mouth I was so ANGRY and UPSET. If I had any wine I would have run to the liquor cabinet and slammed it down or better yet grabbed a bottle of vodka to quell my rage, but all I could do was cry and somehow try to pull myself together long enough to clean myself up.

DOOD in the Box R Olson 475
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Trouble, thy name is DOOD.

Sam put something together for me to eat on a clean plate, but it wasn’t much of anything. I lost my appetite as a monster of a headache crept between my temples. It was already almost 9pm. Why was I eating anyway? I knew it was too late to eat, but most days it seems that’s when we finally had time to take a break.

I finished my nightly rounds, getting the foster kittens fed and Fernando's eye medicated in a very sour mood. When I got to Freya's room I told her that I had to get some sleep. I was going to set the alarm for 6:30 AM instead of 4:30 AM. It was nearly midnight and though I’d worry about her, I had to sleep or it could be bad for me. She looked up at me with her periwinkle blue eyes and meowed. She understood. I gave her a kiss and said good night.

It was the first real sleep of longer than 4 hours I’ve had in weeks. Even after I got up at 6:30 AM, after 2 hours of feeding and playing with Freya, I went back to bed for a few more hours. I felt like a greedy bear on a winter’s day.

Changes need to be made. Freya would only be here a few more days. I could push through this difficult time, then re-focus on getting my fosters adopted and getting work done. I had to have faith I could keep Freya going and if not I felt I could spot when she was in trouble and get her help quickly. I needed to CALM DOWN and give myself more time to rest if needed. It would be all right.

Then Connie & Katherine called me and it changed everything.

The plan for Freya’s surgery was finally settled. Connie and Katherine were practically giddy when they spoke. Katherine urged Connie to tell me the GOOD NEWS. She asked me if I was sitting down. I told her I was, wondering what she was going to tell me. There is no way I saw this coming…

Freya is to stay in foster care for SIX MORE WEEKS. At that time Dr. Andrews and another surgeon are going to take Freya to Boston where Dr. P. will do the surgery at Angell Memorial. There will be THREE surgeries in total. The first two may occur relatively closely together. The third will happen some time later. The last surgery will be to remove what they expect to be some of Freya’s colon which will have become a megacolon.

After she recovers Freya will still be incontinent, but only with stool. Since she’ll be able to pass stool from a newly created opening, that means she won’t be leaking any more. She won’t be in pain. She will only drop a poo here and there, instead of leak and drip all over the floor and herself. She won't need to be bathed all the time. I know if we eventually put her on a raw diet, her poo won’t smell and she'll hardly go poo at all and when it comes out, it’s dry as dust. It won’t even leave a stain. But there’s a very long time between today and that “some day” and a lot of risky and difficult procedures she has to survive.


©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Freya washes her face and we all swoon.

It’s going to be a VERY LONG ROAD for Freya. I don’t know how long she’ll be in Boston or how many trips she’ll have to make. I know that Angell Memorial is living up to its name. They’re providing sanctuary and hope for Freya and they’re going to work with us on costs. The fine details are as yet to be revealed. One day I may ask all of you to help us with donations for her. Right now, in addition prayers and good wishes, I could really use some MORE towels! I also need some cat food and another little hut for Freya to sleep in (so I can get my laundry basket back). I’ll post those things on our Amazon.com Wishlist if you’d like to send Freya a little gift. Other than that, I'm going to ask that you think good thoughts for me, too. I’m 100% dedicated to Freya, but I need to do a better job finding balance. I’ve got 10 kittens and 2 adult cats to find homes for as soon as I can and another 14 in Georgia with Moe who need to get here soon to find their homes, too. I keep promising myself I’m going to take a break. I just hope this challenge doesn’t break me first.

Beautiful Freya R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Need a mountain to move? Freya knows just how to do it with that sweet face.

As for Freya, she hit the jackpot of all time. From a tiny, flea-covered kitten with a once hopelessly incurable birth defect who was born outdoors to a wild mother, to being the focus of many highly-skilled surgeons, a few very devoted rescuers and a worldwide group of fans, I’d say it doesn’t get much better than that. Freya is a magnet for love and compassion. She’s a great teacher and for that I’m truly grateful.

Of course this story will continue but for right now we can exhale until the next chapter arrives.

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