These are the stories of my life, rescuing, socializing, and standing up for the rights of cats everywhere. It’s an amazing journey, one of inner and outer tribulation and triumph, of heartache and hope. As I struggle to make ends meet, get my Non-Profit cat rescue off the ground and simply find my way in the world; I extend my hand out and ask you to join me in my dream of finding a home for every cat and to stop the insanity of euthanizing adoptable animals as a way of population control.
And I do all that while caring for my own 8 cats who leave me somewhat cranky and perpetually Covered in Cat Hair.
It’s 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.
©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.
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.
©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.
©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.
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.
©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.
©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.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. You guys are amazing! THANK YOU!
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.
©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.
©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.
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.
©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.
©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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
©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.
©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.
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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.”
©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….
©2014 Kitten Associates. Winnie looks lovingly at her mom, Laney.
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.
©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?
©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.
©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.”
©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.
[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.]
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!
©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!
Like so many others around the world who are in shock and mourning the loss of the brilliantly talented Robin Williams, his death reawakens discussions about mental illness, depression and suicide. As a suicide survivor and as someone who has battled serious bouts of depression, I decided to step out from behind the curtain and share some thoughts.
The other day I was talking to my partner, Sam. I was telling him how grateful I was that I got to be alive. That it really IS a miracle that out of all the people who lived before me and who had to survive and have children, that one day two people would find each other and I would get to be a product of that union. The odds blow my mind when I think about it long enough. What reason do I have to ever be sad or sorry to be blessed to watch a sun rise, to walk on my own two legs (I’m not handicapped), to breathe without being plugged into a machine. I can take delight in getting a hug or finding I did have one cookie left when I really wanted one. I may be nearly broke. I might lose my home, but in the scheme of things I have so much to be grateful for simply because I was born and I get to experience all this juicy, wonderful and terrible stuff called life.
This is not a story about blindly being happy or that there can be no reason for feeing brokenhearted and depressed. It’s a reminder to all of us to yank our head out of our ass. To stop being consumed by being a consumer. To stop tap, tap, tapping on the phone keyboard ‘til our eyes burn. To quit beating ourselves up because we're too fat, too thin, too old, too this or that and start a path towards being gentle and loving with ourselves and others in a real and open way.
There are so many issues, so many concerns, so many fears, yet if you could clear those things away for a moment and take a step back and look around, you’re pretty fucking lucky to just be alive and maybe in all of that there is the seed of joy, ready to blossom.
I’ve been to the dark place many times. I’ve come very close to taking my own life more often than I’d care to say. In 1999 on a hot summer day in June, my father blew his brains out in my brother’s old room. He’d had many trials over his life and dark days, too, but in those days seeing a therapist or taking medication wasn’t a thing a “man” did. My father was a great provider for his family. He loved us yet scared us with his temper, but in the end he was a guilt-ridden, frustrated man who so wanted to be happy but couldn’t find a way to stop feeling bad about what he didn’t achieve. Because of that he was blind to seeing what he DID accomplish. He could never let go of having to prove something and as a result could never feel good about himself. It was a demon that he couldn’t shake. He was so creative and far ahead of his time that it still pains me to think about it. If he could only have seen what I saw in him.
©1970 Judith Feminella. Daddy going on another business trip with me and my brother at his side.
I wonder if that is true of Robin Williams? I can’t speak about this man’s life. I have lots of questions like everyone else. I think about how I want to feel jealous of my friends when I see them having success. I think they have it all and I have nothing. I think I’m not good enough because they have more than I do. I think about Robin Williams, a comedic genius with money, fame, access to whoever or whatever he wanted. He didn’t have to worry about how to pay the bills or if he had enough Likes on Facebook. He “had it all” by our standards, yet look at how things ended for him? He may have felt like his life was some sort of living Hell that was so painful the only solution left was to leave this mortal coil.
I know how depression feels like impossibly tight blinders. We can’t be reasoned out of not wanting to hurt ourselves in those dark moments. For myself what I have learned was I made a promise to my Mother that if I ever felt that badly I could sound the alarm and she would help me simply get to the next minute. If I could get to one minute, surely I could get to two and soon after that the darkness would slowly begin to wane. I could always depend on my feelings changing. Nothing is solid. I can just take another breath and another and I can get there even if I’m still wobbly for a long time after. The sky will be blue again. That’s a guarantee.
My mother died 8 years ago Friday. I don’t have her to go to when the dark times come, but I have all of you and I can’t tell you how many times your love has kept my fingers typing along, telling another story, when I thought so little of myself that I didn’t want to go on any more. I also don't feel so dark all the time. The more I focus on being grateful and in helping others, the less I feel bad about myself.
I’m so terribly sad that Robin Williams choice was to take his life. I know if he had reached out to any one of his fans, his friends, his family, they would have gone to his side. I wish Robin could have taken another breath, given it another minute. At some point there will be good days again. You have to have faith in that. If you can just open your eyes and let a tiny sliver of this beautiful world reach your heart you wouldn’t ever feel the need to leave it all behind. There really IS so much wonder around all of us it’s a terrible shame how easy it is to forget that.
Unrestricted Image Creative Commons: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA
I wish I could have said some of these things to my Father and I wish someone could have said them to Robin Williams, too.
And to all of you, my friends, thank you for being there. To those who suffer the dark days, please, please remember to have faith in that next breath and that soon your feelings will change. Reach out to friends and family for help or call any number of suicide prevention hotlines. People care about each other and want to help each other. You DO matter. Let someone help you. Then, when you feel you can, go outside and look around. Find a gem in a newly formed leaf or really enjoy the sweet smell of the air before it rains. Don’t take your life for granted and throw it down the drain. Relish it. Love it. Be joyful. Live.
It’s been a tough month since we took on ALL the cats from one home in town in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. The woman said she someone gave her a cat we call Laney and she never got around to getting her spayed. Fast forward 3 years and there were 13 cats roaming around her yard, all offspring of this one cat or her "old enough" kittens. Many more than the ones we were able to account for “disappeared” or were flat out killed by wildlife or died from never getting vet care. Laney's own daughter Winnie was the latest in a long line of pregnant offspring, but she would get the care she needed, unlike the others.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mother, Laney (left) and her daughter, Winnie (right)
Their miserable life ended on July 1 when we took them into our rescue. Kitten Associates is “full-up” with other cats and kittens but because our foster mom, Moe was willing to make room, we decided to take on the risk. It’s very hard to turn your back when you know something terrible could befall little kittens and their parents. It meant a big challenge for us because we haven’t had any adoptions this summer and what little interest we’ve had hasn’t panned out. Trying to find the funds to feed all these cats plus the dozen plus more I have in my home is difficult, but it must be done. We are devoted to ending their misery by providing for their well-being for however long that means. We treated their flea infestations and took them to the vet over and over again. Two of the kittens, Jasper and Julep, were chronically sick to the point of us fearing we would lose them, but they recovered and for now they are doing well.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney has got to be due soon!
Meanwhile, Celeste, our friendly stray who was dumped and pregnant in a nearby town to my home in Connecticut is ready to be spayed. Her kittens are already vetted now that they’re 12 weeks old. Astro, Hubble, Twinkle-Twinkle and Little Star are delightful. They’ve grown like weeds and are full of love and joy, but they’re outgrowing the small blue bathroom and it’s tough to keep them in such a small space. We let them out of their room for a run down the hallway a few times every day. They love to race back and forth after pom poms, spring toys and pretty much anything else they can get their paws on until they get so tired they lay flat on the floor having no further desire to run around until they recharge their battery with a nap. I can’t believe they’re getting so big already. Seems like only a week or two ago that I watched them being born. Sometimes I imagine little Fiorello, their sibling who died a day after he was born, running around with the others, finally getting to live the full life he deserved.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Celeste getting ready for the next part of her journey.
Mia, who came to us from northern Georgia, and her kittens are doing well, too. Although it was the right choice to bring Mia to my home in Connecticut to be fostered with her kittens, it was also the wrong choice to make. Mia and I haven’t bonded. She always hisses at me when I come near her. I’ve snuck a few pets in but she recoils fearfully. If I’d left her behind and only transported her kittens to my home leaving Moe continue to work with her, the 13 cats we just rescued wouldn’t have had a space to live and we would have had to leave them behind to fend for themselves.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. A little bit of everything going on here.
Mia’s kittens are a riot and the two who were most shy are starting to warm up to me. They’re all getting to be too big, which always makes me worry, but I have to have faith it will work out and they’ll find their homes soon regardless of how big they are now.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Who is the most beautiful one of all?
Wallace, our little brat, has had a few setbacks, but has also made some great progress. Wallace, who was rescued by the Danbury, CT Fire Department when they broke him out of a wall, needed to be bottle fed for many weeks. With Nina, a Great Dane, as his only animal friend, Wallace didn’t learn his “kitty manners” and became fearful and aggressive with humans. I was shocked this happened to Wallace and felt like blaming his foster mom for not doing a good job, but after doing some research it was clear that Wallace needed the company of other kittens to help him learn how to be a proper kitty—to not bite hard, to not be aggressive. He couldn’t learn this from humans so he returned to my home for what I call “Kitten Bootcamp.”
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Hubble (left) and Astro (right) growing like weeds.
It wasn’t easy to make the choice but after careful consideration I put Wallace with Mia’s kittens instead of Celeste's even though her kittens were the same age as Wallace. They were already vetted and were less likely to cause Wallace to get sick and vice versa. They were older and bigger and could also handle Wallace’s rough play-behavior. I worried that Wallace would get hurt especially after seeing how Mia's kitten Woody reacted to meeting his new friend.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Little Star at 10 weeks.
It took a few days for the hissing and growling to subside. The once sweet Woody turned violent and unpleasant with all of us during those days. I was surprised since Woody has always been the most friendly and outgoing, but apparently he's also the most possessive of his humans.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Mia's son, Fernando. Just chillin'.
I didn’t think this test would work very quickly, if at all, but within a week I began to see big changes in Wallace. His initial anger was gone. He was no longer frustrated by not having an outlet for his pent up energy. He could chase and be chased. He could wrestle, jump, bite and burn off any excess energy he had. He’d come over to me when I entered the room and he’d PURR. He’d climb up on me and rub his face against my cheek. He couldn’t get close enough to me. I wanted to relax and enjoy it, but I was still very careful in how I handled him. I didn’t pet him a lot because I didn’t want to over-stimulate him and I wanted him to have positive reinforcement for his good behavior, too.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Ivy (left) and brother, Fernando (right).
He definitely seemed to have a point where it was too much and I didn’t want to get to that point. If he started to jump or nip I stopped giving him attention. He needs more work but he’s so much better and our little punk has gained over a pound! He no longer looks like an elf with his big ears and eyes. I miss the silly face he once had, but I’m glad to see him maturing normally and losing that scary-big belly that made us worry he had the wet form of FIP.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Sweet Greta.
Junebug and her sister Maggie are STILL waiting for their forever home. The once shy kitties are much calmer and living a great life with Jame and her family. They are our newest foster family and have helped the kitties overcome their fears. The cats are almost full grown and gorgeous. It pains me that only their brother Purrcee has been adopted. I hope their turn will come soon.
I had a chance to see them today when Sam and I visited them and showed Jame how to do claw trims, but it also left me feeling guilty that I haven't found their home yet.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. One of the weirdest photos I've ever taken.
And lastly there’s Winnie and Laney, our pregnant ladies. Two days ago Winnie gave birth to three kittens. Sadly, only one of them survived. The others were stillborn. Winnie didn’t have the best odds coming from a lousy environment, being very young-barely out of kittenhood herself, and her offspring were likely inbred. It just doesn’t add up to producing healthy, viable kittens.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Wallace makes friends with Fernando.
It's heartbreaking that the kittens didn’t make it. Tigger and Eeoyre deserved to have a long, wonderful life, but they never even took a breath. Their little sibling, Piglet is precious and pale, but is nursing well. Winnie is too young to understand the responsibility of being a mother. Maybe her hormones haven’t kicked in or there’s something wrong with Piglet. All we know is she’s not being a great mother. Unless she’s supervised she doesn’t feed Piglet consistently. She hasn’t abandoned the kitten so we don't think anything is wrong with him. She has gone over to the place where she gave birth and cried out. She's possibly mourning her losses. It's hard to say. We’re praying that she adjusts to motherhood soon and/or that her mother, Laney, finally gives birth and will accept an extra kitten to care for.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Winnie rests her head on a warmed rice-filled sock after her first day as a mom while Piglet enjoys his first day.
Laney is HUGE. I keep seeing photos of her and wonder how she walks and how many kittens she’s going to have. She’s been a mama many times before so we hope all her kittens will be big and thriving and maybe be willing to share their mom with Piglet if needed.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Piglet. 2 ounces. Resting on a gently warmed sock filled with rice.
Tonight is the night of the Super Moon. It's big and peachy in color. It's been giving me strange dreams. My gut says this is the night when Laney will give birth because we are pulled by the unseen forces of nature and the moon's tug on us is one of them. Everyone will be all right and Piglet will survive. It just HAS to be that way. It just HAS TO. We’ve lost two kittens to the Heavens. The price has been paid. I hope the ones yet to be born as well as little Piglet will be all right so we can focus on celebrating our new arrivals and starting their story with joy in our hearts instead of the sting of disappointment and sadness over more who don't make it.
UPDATE: The super moon didn't work its magic on Laney. No kittens yet. We're still waiting for her to give birth. Piglet went from 2 ounces to 2.5 ounces. Moe is supplementing his food with extra syringes of formula. All we can do now is cross our fingers, toes, paws, whatever we've got. It's up to Piglet and Winnie now.
Two years ago we rescued a kitty in Georgia we named King Arthur. I wanted him to have a regal name because he lived in squalid conditions with a deformity that robbed him of his back paws. He deserved a life of adoration and loving care after what he'd suffered and I was determined to find that for him.
©2012 Bobby Stanford. Our super-amazing cat transporter and friend, Bobby told us about King and the rest was history. (You can read King's story HERE.)
When a lady named Judith read my blog post about King, she decided to offer him a forever home with her and her two cats. She didn't care that she couldn't meet him before she adopted him. She knew she would make it work. She lives far from Georgia in New Hampshire, but her love was not deterred by distance.
Over the years King has had a number of serious health issues that almost took his life, but with Judy on his side, he had nothing to fear. Judy is one of those special people who not only provides a loving home, but makes certain her cats always get the best care and appropriate food, too.
©2014 Judy. A very happy and well-loved, King.
You see Judy's had experience with cats who needed help. In fact they were her first two cats, Sassy and Yasmin who share Judy's home with King. While most first time cat parents opt to adopt kittens or easy-to-love cats, Judy chose adult cats that had been victims of a hoarder who faced serious health and behavioral issues.
Judy learned a lot about cats because of Yasmin's many health issues. Yasmin had almost no fur when she was adopted. Her coat was ratty and short, but eventually it grew and grew, surprising everyone that she was a long haired cat. Yasmin became diabetic and Judy gave her insulin and monitored her care. She did the research and found out with a diet change she could put Yasmin into remission. She did right by her sweet kitty by changing her diet, which worked on lowing her blood sugar levels to within normal limits.
©2012 Robin AF Olson. Yasmin getting her belly brushed by Judy's sister.
Yasmin almost died during her spay surgery and had battles with URIs, dermatitis and painful dental problems, but she remained loving and affectionate throughout her challenges. I got to meet Yasmine when we brought King to his new home where she was completely at ease with us. I have a major soft spot for black and white long haired cats so when I met her I was instantly in love with her, too.
©2014 Judy. They ever lovely Yasmin.
I'm always very sad when another kitty crosses the Rainbow Bridge, but because she was part of our Kitten Associates family, it makes it even harder.
To our dear friend Judy and her family both furry and not, our deepest sympathies for your loss. Yasmin was a very special, very beautiful kitty who will add another star to the heavens. Fly free sweet girl. Fly free.
ResQwalk, an innovative iOS app that enables animal lovers to raise
money for animal rescues and shelters just by going for a walk, is now
available for iPhone (with plans to expand to Android in the near future). It's available for FREE through the App Store.
Our vision, said Bailey Schroeder CEO and Founder of ResQwalk, is to create a platform that makes giving easy. People don't always have time to volunteer with their local animal rescue, or the space to welcome a dog or cat into their home. Now, with ResQwalk, they have a fun, easy way to contribute to a great cause while doing something they're already doing-walking.
Being the President & Founder of Kitten Associates, a non-profit cat rescue, I was uniquely qualified because I use the app and my rescue benefits from it.
I downloaded the app for my old iPhone and gave it a test drive. The interface is very simple and straightforward and I had no problem setting it up. Sam and I went for a walk around the block. As we walked, ResQwalk followed along ticking off every step. I found myself obsessively checking our progress every few minutes, glad to see we were approaching the first mile mark. Because we weren't signed up to be a recipient rescue, we walked for our friends at Kitten Rescue in LA.
When you choose to complete your walk and send the results to ResQwalk HQ, you also have the option to Tweet or post your walk on Facebook. This certainly can get your friends to join you the next time you go, but they also know WHERE you are so if you're a celebrity or don't care for stalkers, be mindful about what you post. I shared my results because no one would believe that I actually went for a walk (I prefer sitting quietly-too bad there's not an app for sitting at the computer. I would so WIN that). Okay, it DOES make going for a walk fun because you know you're helping a rescue while you get the benefit of exercise.
I recently went for a walk when I was out of town on a mini-break and got to share the results on Facebook.
A few days later I signed up our rescue and fairly soon thereafter I discovered Kitten Associates (KA) was listed on the app. Some of our friends went for a walk and at the close of the first week we got our first donation. It was $1.48, but we barely had anyone walking for us. Also, it cost us NOTHING to get that donation, so that's a win for rescues who are constantly looking for ways to increase donations. All they have to do is work on recruiting folks to walk for them. (Hey! This week we got $4.81! Thank you, walkers!)
I was contacted by Edward at ResQwalk about creating custom badges for both our uses and I thought that was a very helpful idea. This is not a one-sided operation. I truly felt as though they DO want to help rescues however they can and they were easy to work with.
The only thing that ruffled my feathers a little bit was that the app was designed around taking your dog for a walk. If you don't have a dog, as is in my case, just go for a walk! I even did a test walk when I did some shopping because the local Target store seems so big that I figured I must walk a decent distance. What surprised me was at the end of my walk was that ResQwalk reported I didn't walk far enough for it to count! I felt a bit embarrassed, but hey, I tried.
And to those deep-pocketed pet brands out there-this is a great way to get some positive name recognition by sponsoring the weekly pot of money! Take heed!
After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. In this case I will be reimbursed for writing this review, though I only write reviews about things I honestly like. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.