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.
The past month has been one of the worst of my life. Although I’ve witnessed the slow decline and eventual passing of my own senior cats, and all the fear and sadness that brings, I’ve never watched it happen to a mere kitten. It is so much worse because there’s the added tragedy of the full, long life that never got to be lived. The family I imagined coming to adopt him, never came to the door. The joy he’d have being loved and cherished for a lifetime, was taken away by a fatal disease.
Yesterday afternoon, Fred made his journey over the Rainbow Bridge.
The past month, I’ve had to face Fred’s decline, despite so many efforts to revive him, find an answer, at least keep him stable for a while longer. I’ve had to watch him as he lost use of his back legs. He could still get around after we made changes to his living space to make it easier on him to still have some freedom.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney often tried to get Fred to play, which I discouraged. Eventually, Barney realized his brother couldn't play with him any longer.
He became incontinent. Not surprisingly because he couldn’t get to the litter pan. We just made more adjustments and bought a lot of “wee-wee” pads. The goal was to keep him comfortable, hoping we’d get enough time for the test results to come back or to start another treatment.
I set up the web cam so I could watch him when I wasn’t in the room, but felt sick to my stomach every time I looked in on him. Seeing him struggling broke my heart. There was a time I saw him slip and fall off the pet stairs onto the floor. I raced up to the room to help him back up. He seemed so confused about how such things could happen to a once agile creature. I kissed him and told him to hang on that I would find a way to make it better.
I realized I was running out of things to hope for last week. I realized how ridiculous it was to find myself hoping Fred had lymphoma, instead of FIP. Both were fatal, but at least with lymphoma Fred could live longer, maybe over a year. It was crazy to hope that, at least, Fred wouldn’t lose use of his front legs, too, but eventually he did. He could sit up, but other than that, he didn’t move around. Sam and I took turns changing his position or location in the room. I’d place him on a bed in the sunshine and he’d groom himself, perked up by the joy of being in his favorite place.
Fred hadn’t eaten anything on his own over the past week, not even his favorite chicken treat. Sam and I fed him three times a day via a syringe. He struggled at first, but as the days passed, he just took his food without a fuss. Sam would hold him against his chest, shielded by a pad because Fred would often urinate when we held him up to feed him. We’d cheer him on when he peed because that meant his body was still functioning normally. A few times we even got him to poop, which caused us to be even happier. He still had some strength. It wasn’t time. We still had a chance.
I would focus on coming up with the tastiest, most nutritious, combinations I could put into the blender to make Fred enjoy his food. He would take a taste, then smack his mouth with his tongue. He’d look up at Sam with this silly, sweet expression and Sam would look down so lovingly at this little cat. I’d syringe a tiny bit more food into him and he’d swallow some and dribble some onto his fur. Between syringes of food, I’d carefully wipe Fred’s face with a paper towel I’d wetted with very warm water. I wanted to recreate the feeling of his mama washing his face. He seemed to like it and often purred.
When we finished feeding, there were the many medications, eye drops, bad things. I washed Fred again and we’d put him on a soft bed. We’d take turns brushing him, again, anything to help him feel clean and comfortable. Some times Barney would come over and lick Fred’s face, ears, or paws. Fred almost smiled at Barney’s attempts to connect with his brother.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred (front) and Barney (by the pillows).
I found I couldn’t focus on work or eat much. My only respite was sleep and I couldn’t get to sleep unless I was exhausted. I’d get a few hours, only to wake up as the first glow of sun peeked over the horizon. My gut would go back to its familiar ache. Should I look at the web cam? Is Fred still alive? Did he pass away over night?
Time was quickly running out for Fred. Tests kept coming in negative for lymphoma so for certain it was FIP. Fred’s condition got much worse on Tuesday night. We had to hold his head up to get him fed. He was much weaker. I’ve never seen a cat, while still alive, who was so very limp-everywhere. Fred couldn’t lift his head or lick his paw. He could flick his tail ever so slightly-and that’s how I knew it was time to change his wee wee pad, but that was it. After we fed Fred, got him cleaned up and on a fresh blanket, we left the room. I broke down in tears and said to Sam that it was time. He agreed. We were taking turns changing Fred’s position every hour and making sure he wasn’t urinating on himself. I was to call Dr Larry in the morning to make the appointment for that day. We couldn’t wait any more. Now my last hope was that we could end Fred’s life in a peaceful way and without pain or fear.
Sam and I discussed what we would do, how it would be done. I made a promise to Fred-no more Vet runs and that the Vet would come to us. Sick to my stomach, I made the call. Dr. Larry was out sick that day. My only option was to bring Fred to them and have Dr. Mary put Fred down. Sam and I discussed it and felt we could keep Fred going on more day, so we made the appointment for yesterday afternoon.
When you know your cat is going to die and you know when, you can’t focus on anything else going on in your life. Any other issues fall to the wayside. The irony is that through this past month, Sam and I have been working on refinancing our mortgage so we can stay in our home. I’ve been so sidetracked I ignored all the calls and paperwork. I even put off the Closing last week so we could watch over Fred. We managed to get everything taken care of and in the end it saved us a lot of money. We should have been happy since it’s been a constant worry for us for a long time, but we were both like zombies, signing papers, nodding yes or no to any questions our Lawyer had, hoping we’d just get it over with. We got the job done and raced home to be with Fred because we knew we had less than 24 hours to be with him.
The last twelve hours were spent with Fred. He was not left alone, even for a second. Around 10pm on Wednesday, we put or pajamas on and set ourselves up in the foster room with Fred and Barney. Fred was either on a cozy cat bed between us or on Sam's chest. We each were petting him or holding his little paws. They were starting to feel cooler and I wanted him to feel the warmth of my hand. We didn’t say much.
I thought Clark would be a good name for the next cat we rescue, then I caught myself. The next cat? Would there be one after this?
We tried to include Barney or play a little bit with him. He was somewhat curious about what was going on, but eventually settled down on a blanket near Fred, too. We formed a circle of loving kindness around Fred. His breathing was slower. He reacted to less and less. I started to hope that Fred would hang on because I didn’t know how the FIP would kill him. Would he suffocate and struggle? Would his heart just give out? I just wanted this one thing since I couldn’t have anything else. I couldn’t have Fred rebound or recover. At least he could die without pain.
Sam slept with Fred that last night. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t see him in such terrible condition for hours on end. I still got up at 4am and again at 7am to check on Fred and to clean him up because he was urinating on himself. Every time Fred peed we still cheered him on. “Good boy! Okay, let’s get you cleaned up. Oops! Here’s some more! Get another pad. Okay, good boy, Freddie!”
But this was it, the morning of the end. I did all the chores getting our other cats feed, watered, boxes cleaned out, so Sam could stay with Fred. I was so busted up that seeing him was killing me, too. I had to go back and face him because time was running out. We got the room cleaned up and got ourselves washed and dressed. Fred was very frail now. We both sat on either side of him, petting him, talking to him. Telling him we loved him. He was barely conscious. It was devastating.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sam holding Fred before we start feeding time. You can see how limp he is in Sam's arms.
It was a gray day. I was hoping for some last rays of sun for Fred, but it rained. Around 12:30pm, the clouds opened up and it started to pour. I saw Dr. Larry’s car come down the driveway and my heart sank. This was it. It was time. I got up to answer the door, but my legs felt weak. Dr. Larry and super-Deb said hello as they entered the house. My mouth opened to reply, but no words came out.
We went upstairs to the room where Sam was waiting with Fred. Dr. Larry was quiet, then sighed and looked at Fred. He and Deb got to work. I had to sign a form saying Fred hadn’t bitten anyone in 15 days and that I was giving my consent to have him euthanized. Dr. Larry talked about how tough cats are and that he could see Fred living a few more days even though he was barely alive. He said that Fred’s body condition looked really good because we’d been constantly feeding and cleaning him, but that, too, it was clear it was time for Fred to be helped to pass away.
I asked if Dr. Larry could take a look at Barney first. I was worried that Barney could get sick, too, because I’d heard that FIP can hit siblings since they have the same DNA. He and Deb examined Barney and felt he was okay, but we would keep a close eye on him going forward. He suggested we thoroughly scrub down the room and get rid of the cat trees and bedding, just to be safe. We couldn’t risk having an unhealthy environment since I still have three adult foster cats in my bathroom who would benefit being in a bigger space. Although I knew it meant more fundraising to replace all the cat furniture, I agreed it made sense.
There wasn’t anything else I could do to put off what was to come next. It was time to let Fred go. Dr. Larry explained that we had to be calm because Fred’s veins were compromised by the steroids and that the needle might blow out a vein and that we had to not get upset. Sam was still sitting on the bed next to Fred so he lifted the cat bed with Fred on it into his lap. I gave Fred a few kisses and moved aside to hold his front paw while Dr. Larry slipped the first needle into his vein. Dr. Larry fussed over the placement, but the vein held. Fred didn’t even react to the sting of the needle. Fred was already so far gone that when he passed, none of us even saw him go.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred's last night. Sam held him for hours.
I kissed Fred a few more times and told him I was sorry and how much I loved him. Deb carried him out in her arms. He was still on his comfy cat bed. She said she didn’t want us to see her put him in the black plastic bag and I agreed I didn’t want to see that either.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, sweet Fred. We will love you and miss you, always.
I closed the door and came close to fainting. I was crying so hard I couldn’t stand. I willed myself to go back to the foster room, which had so often been a place of joy, to find Sam on the bed, weeping.
I sat on the bed, in the same place I’d spent the better part of the last day, but now we were on the other side of this journey, the side where the questions are answered and where the real pain begins.
A loud rumble of thunder traveled through the house. I said to Sam; “that was Fred. He’s on his way to be with the children and they’re celebrating his arrival.” He looked at me through tear-filled eyes and nodded “yes.”
You’re in the foster room on the floor above my office catching the last few rays of sunshine as you rest in the little cubby on the cat tree. I imagine your respirations, too fast for normal, a bit shallow. Your tail lays limply, instead of flicking back and forth. You’ve been sick with something for months and it’s robbed you of the use of your back legs and now your front are gone, too. We’ve done so many tests on you, with most of them coming up negative or normal, only to find a hint of the horror you may be facing is FIP after all. Feline Infectious Peritonitis—a fatal disease.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred catching the last rays of sunshine.
I’ve never fought so hard to save a cat’s life. I’ve never reached out to so many Veterinarians, Specialists, anyone who might be able to help you. I’ve never worked so hard to raise money to make sure we have whatever we need, so we can provide for you—no matter what the cost.
I’ve been anxiously waiting for each result, praying it wasn’t FIP. There were MANY tests that said there was NO WAY it could be what we feared most, but one did point a bloody finger…a very high protein level in your spinal fluid…and that may be the only clue we ever get from science. The rest of the clues are witnessed in your weakening physical condition.
You’re just a baby, Fred. You’re only 10 months old. I know we lost your siblings, Pebbles and Bam-Bam a few days after they were born, but I never thought you or your brother, Barney were at risk, too. Please tell me if I did something wrong-or made you get sick! Did I cause you too much stress? Did one of the other foster cats in your room expose you to something that they were immune to? I didn’t think I waited too long to get you to the Vet, but maybe we were too slow to do tests, fearing the costs? I feel like I’ve let you down, Fred and I hate myself for that. I will never forgive myself for your death and I know you’re going to die. I'm so VERY SORRY, Fred. I know it won’t be much longer now.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our Fred.
The treatment we hoped would work has done nothing other than make you gag when I give it to you. The steroids don’t make you hungry or feel any better. I keep thinking that I can’t give up on you. I just can’t, but now I see you barely able to sit up and I think, why am I doing this to you? Is it fair to let you be this way? You’re still “Fred,” in so many ways, but now I’m faced with the worst thing I will ever deal with and that is choosing when to end your life.
It’s so against what I have devoted my life to-saving lives, not taking them. I know that if you were in a shelter, they would have put you down a long time ago. I know if you were still living in that terrible place where we rescued your mom, you’d have died a long time ago there, too. You can’t expect to live in filth with little or no food and no vet care and survive very long. I know that you’ve probably lived with me longer than you would have lived anywhere else-even if you’d been adopted because I doubt anyone would not go to work so they could stay home and syringe-feed a kitten or spend thousands of dollars in Vet care for a possibly hopeless situation, so maybe that’s the meaning of this journey?
You didn’t get adopted months ago, when you had an adopter come see you because you were supposed to stay with me. I just don’t want to know what my lesson is in all of this because if it’s that cat rescue means euthanizing cats, I honestly don’t know if I am capable of doing that.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney fussing over his brother, trying to get him to play again.
I love watching kittens take their first steps and be part of introducing them to the world, but if it means I have to take the life of a precious kitten before he even has the chance to see his first birthday, I just don’t know if I have what it takes.
Dear Fred-I love you so much. You were so charming and carefree. You amazed me at how high you could jump and how much you loved to chase those feather toys. I’ve known you since the day you were born and I’ve looked out for you all these months.
I know I can’t fix what’s wrong with you. I can syringe-feed you, try to keep you clean and dry, since you can’t make it to the litter pan any more. I can brush you and speak sweetly, encourage you to be strong, while I try to be as gentle with you as I can.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I will never forget you, Fred. I know that one day we will do something very special in your honor because of the big impact you made on all of our lives. I hope your journey to the Rainbow Bridge is as beautiful as I can make it and that one day I will see you again.
Robin (and your daddy, Sam, too)
I watch you sleep, curled up against the chill of the evening air. Your eyes closed, a serene smile plays upon your mouth. Your chest rises and falls in a peaceful rhythm. For you, with a full belly and a soft place to lie, all is good in the world.
You stretch out a dainty paw with jellybean toes painted pink and black. The colors dance across your feet in a playful pattern that makes me want to giggle. I want to stick my index finger between those little nibblets and tickle you, but I don’t want to disturb your rest.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer.
A gentle breeze caresses your ear. You flick it back and forth, trying to shake off the curious feeling. You rise slightly and your emerald eyes lazily open. Realizing it’s nothing to be alarmed of, your body softens, exhaling deeply you return to your dreams.
I know I shouldn’t do it, but I reach out to pet you. At first it reawakens you, but within moments you relax under my touch. Your fur sends shivers up my fingers, it’s so soft and silky. I can barely feel the ripples of your ribs and spine as I run my hand down your back. You turn over exposing your belly to me. I can’t resist tracing a few fingers between your front legs for a moment, knowing full well I might lose my hand if I pet you there much longer.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen and the DOOD without a care in the world.
I watch you sleep, exposed, vulnerable, but safe. It makes me profoundly happy to know I can provide this haven for you and in return you fill the dark places in my heart with sunshine. I marvel at my good luck in this perfect, golden moment.
In you, my little cat, I find peace and my true self. I find a pure, simple love that just is, that nourishes me; that I cannot live without.
You are my cat.
You are love.
I've been keeping some really exciting news under wraps. It would have been good enough to tell you that the Walker Art Center's (WAC) Internet Cat Video Festival is coming back bigger and better to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, August 28, 2013 at 7pm and that the crowds are expected to top 13,000 cat lovers from around the globe, but..there's more!
I'm deeply honored to be part of WAC's group of cat-centric writers, entertainers and cat behaviorists who will be reviewing thousands of videos, with one goal-to tease out top contenders in nine different CATegories. Winning entries get the coveted Golden Kitty (statuette, not a real cat!).
To enter your favorite videos fill out the Internet Cat Video Festival Nomination Form.
Tickets are only $10.00 and are selling fast so don’t miss out. Rumor has it there are going to be some VERY AWESOME CELEBU-CAT GUESTS!
Order by phone at 800.514.3849
If you can't come to the Festival, you can still get a COOL t-shirt (Spencer not included!). ORDER HERE.
You can get more details or sign up to let them know you'll be attending the event via the Internet Cat Video Festival's Facebook page. To find out what other cool things WAC has up their sleeve pop over to their Facebook page. (hint: one of them is specially designed MINI-GOLF COURSE!)
Let me know if you'll be attending the Internet Cat Video Festival and we'll have a special Covered in Cat Hair club gathering! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you in August in St. Paul, Minnesota!
I just heard from Lisa, our friend at SPCA of Wake County in Raleigh, NC. She gave me an update on the 9 cats (an additional 3 cats went to another rescue) they rescued from Iredell Animals Services last week. If you recall, these cats were subjected to being caged for 2 YEARS due to an animal cruelty investigation and subsequent court case. Once the cats were free to go, they still faced being euthanized because many have minor health issues and some are senior-aged.
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha enjoying life out of a cage.
SPCA Wake County didn't balk at taking on these cats. They didn't pick out the prettiest ones or easiest to adopt-they TOOK THEM ALL and my hat is off to them for their good deed.
From Lisa's email, this is what we have learned:
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Brian, still a bit scared, but slowly coming out of his shell.
“Benson, Brian, Cougar and Tabitha are the first ones available for adoption. You can see their photos and listings at www.spcawake.org/adopt by clicking on the "view cats available for adoption" icon and scrolling through the alphabetical list. Attached is a photo of Tabitha and Cougar lounging in one of our communal cat rooms.
Leroy, Max and Jethro all turned out to be intact. They will be neutered tomorrow and available for adoption starting on Friday.
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Cougar, tail up, happy again!
Tori had a cyst on her chin and we're waiting for lab results before we put her up for adoption.
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha (back) and Cougra (front) relax in their comfortable new shelter. All they need is to be adopted!
All nine cats have done just fine with us so far and I'm so glad we've been able to help them by giving them a high-volume adoption center to call home until the right people come along.”
200 Petfinder Lane
Raleigh, NC 27603
I'd like to write a meaningful update about Fred, but the truth is I've become incapacitated by this horrific situation. Words are very hard for me to come by. I'm focused on providing round-the-clock care for Fred, for arranging his next test or Vet appointment and for finding a way to pay for it all.
I'm sick to my stomach. I can barely function. I have visions of having to euthanize a 10-month old KITTEN because I can't find an answer to what has been slowly robbing him of his neurological function. The more tests we do, the less we learn. Most of the tests show us nothing. Everything is normal, but Fred is far from it. We rule things out, then rule them back in.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I've cried a river of tears and had to force myself to go into the foster room-a place that once only meant joy to me-to witness seeing my dear foster kitten wobble across the room, trying not to fall over, but flopping to the floor if he tries to go too far. He is reluctant or unable to eat, so Sam and I have to zip him into a “cat bag” so I can syringe feed him every day and give him his meds-which may or may not do a thing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
The tests were supposed to happen today, but will occur tomorrow, instead. Today we opted to do a bile acid test, in the hopes that Fred has a very rare condition called a Portosystemic Shunt. Fred does not have all the symptoms, but the symptoms can vary. Fred's neurologist felt it was worth investigating and it IS treatable if it's causing the problems.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
They wanted to look again, with a second ultrasound, at Fred's mesenteric lymph nodes. Once “plump” they are now normal. This is good news, right? Not really because now they're seeing a faint “glow” around his kidneys which could mean LYMPHOMA, but of course it's not definitive. Nothing seems to be at this point.
Tomorrow, April 23rd, they will do an MRI of Fred's brain. If they see encephalitis (swelling) it can indicate FIP. They could see brain degeneration due to roundworm infestation or a brain tumor. They will take some of his spinal fluid and look for cells in it. If there are more than 5, that's a problem. If the protein levels are above 25 it will mean it's more likely FIP. If those tests are normal they will look again at the fluid to see if there is toxoplasmosis or cryptococcous-even though his blood showed no signs of it-they can some times find it in the spinal fluid. Those two things we CAN treat for and cure, but lymphoma and FIP are a death sentence for Fred.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
So we wait. We may learn things tomorrow or we may be stumped. We may never know what is happening so we'll do what most vets do-give Fred steroids and hope the inflammation reduces and he gets some function back in his limbs, that he has better quality of life for some amount of time. I got Polyprenil Immunostimulant from Sass & Sass. It's the ONLY drug known to POSSIBLY, in some very few cases, give cats with the dry form of FIP a greater chance to live longer and more comfortably. Some cats have lived over a year with the therapy and one cat has lived over 5 years.
Excuse my rambling, awful post. I'm in a very bad place, terrified, hoping that somehow, some way, Fred gets a miracle and we can cure him. It feels very unlikely right now, but foolish me, I will hold onto the few strands of hope I have left.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
Fred's vet bill is ENORMOUS and pushing over $6000.00 to date. Kitten Associates is a small rescue. We don't have big benefactors. We don't have a load of money in the bank. I only ask for help when we REALLY need it-and we REALLY NEED IT. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee-that's GREAT-you can donate via this LINK. We're not greedy. It all adds up to help Fred. You can use the widget, below to make a donation or mail us a check made out to: "Kitten Associates" and mail it to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.
We're a 501(c )3 non-profit so your donation is even tax deductible.
and a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has so graciously donated and shared our fundraiser!
Twelve cats I reported about a week ago who were caged for TWO YEARS at Iredell Animal Services due to a legal dispute, had their dream come true today. EVERY SINGLE CAT HAS A RESCUE. ALL OF THE CATS ARE SAFE AND SOUND. NONE OF THEM WERE EUTHANIZED!
Please visit their FACEBOOK PAGE and tell them THANK YOU from Covered in Cat Hair and LIKE THEIR PAGE!
If you feel so inclined MAKE A DONATION in honor of these cats so that SPCA of Wake County can continue to help cats like these in the future.
SPCA of WAKE COUNTY-YOU ROCK. You took on all the cats. You didn't “cherry pick” out the “good” ones. You're helping them all.
IF YOU LIVE IN OR NEAR RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, stop by SPCA of Wake County and ADOPT ONE OF THESE KITTIES! They've had a Hell of a long ride and deserve loving homes. If you know of anyone looking to adopt, send them to SPCA of Wake County!
Brian is aNeutered male, short haired white/orange tabby. He's a LARGE cat. Good appetite! Brian is good with other cats, but is a little shy. Not aggressive at all with cats or people, just nervous. Would probably come out of his "shell" once in a calm and quiet home. Does have eye and nose drainage. Has upper resp. issues.
Poor Brian! He sits in his cat litter pan because the scent of it is his only comfort. Brain looks depressed or angry, but he's a nice kitty. He's emotionally exhausted from the stress of living in a cage for so long. Can you love this big lug?
Cougar is a short haired female (underbelly indicates possibly spayed). Good temperament. Possible slight upper resp. symptoms.
Rarely do black cats have a happy ending once their in a shelter. Cougar is a nice cat who just needs a break.
Intact male, 3-5 years of age. Medium haired Tabby/White. Temperament was very good, but in last few months has been slightly temperamental (they believe once out of "caged" environment temperament will once again improve). Possible slight upper resp. issues, but overall seems healthy!
Look at that FACE! Jethro is asking you to bust him out of that cage. He's so handsome and friendly, I'm sure he would make a great addition to any home.
Intact male, short haired gray/white. Very friendly. Seems ok with other cats. Cat is slim, but not too underweight. Cat has good appetite. Slight upper resp. issues. Owner had as 10 years of age, would not guess that old in age.
What do you think? I think Max wants to play and have fun! What pretty eyes, too!
Medium haired, neutered male orange tabby. Approx 7 years old. Cat is overweight and has a great appetite! Very friendly with other cats and with people. Have not noticed any eye or nose discharge, but still possible to have slight upper respiratory issues. Teeth are yellowing and are "worn".
Red Boy is an older kitty. Those of you who know this blog well, will notice that he looks too much like my guy, Bob Dole. Red Boy is too adorable to stay in a cage any longer.
Neutered/Male, Medium haired Orange Tabby/White. Approx 5 years old. Cat is friendly, but VERY nervous. Not aggressive. I believe once out of a "caged" environment will be an independent calm and happy cat. Weight is good. Possible slight upper resp. issues.
Sammy looks so scared, but what a knockout! He's another cat who will blossom once he's safely out of the shelter.
Medium/Long haired, dilute calico/tortie markings. Approx 3 years old. Very friendly with people, but does not like being scruffed. Would do best as an only cat (seems to be agitated by other cats). Cat seems to "talk" instead of meow! Loving girl. Does have issue with hair balls, but I believe once in a home and groomed regularly will improve. Possible slight upper resp. issues. [Note from Robin: I find it tough to agree that the cat needs to be an only cat. She should be evaluated in less stressful environment. She can probably get on with other cats if introduced properly.]
I don't have to convince anyone that Suzie needs to be rescued. Look at her!
Short haired, black/white cat. Has some dental issues. Very friendly and seems ok with other cats. Good body weight, but poor hair coat (dull coat). Has slight upper respiratory issues.
Sweet Tori. It's easy to overlook a cat who might have some minor health issues, but none of them are her fault. With good food and some vet care, this kitty could be your best friend.
Short haired, gray/white cat. Slightly underweight. Very friendly. Has started to defecate outside of litter box in past couple months. I believe once out of a "caged" environment cat will return to using litter box. Fur is dull.
This photo arrived distorted so I tried to fix it. Working on getting a replacement image.
Journey is a senior-about 12 years old. She's a short haired, black/white cat. Cat has no teeth and has been on canned food only. Cat has upper respiratory issues. Cat appears to be losing weight and appears to have stopped grooming regularly. Poor fur coat. Cat is friendly and seems ok with other cats, but is "high energy". Possibly spayed.
This is the initial notes from the shelter. I personally had this cat for a week in my office. She was beyond kennel stressed, and just letting her out in my office to stretch was the best thing for her. She is absolutely hilarious! In the mornings she would greet me at the door, and proceed to stand on my desk in front of my computer screen and paw at me until we had our morning “hellos”. She would only then go and lay in her bed. Wonderfully loving and sweet cat!
She's a SENIOR and a wreck. Of all the cats this one cuts me the deepest. I hope we can find a way to get her OUT. I know she can recover from her difficult time in a cage, but we need help to make it happen.
Benson is an approximately 5 year old, neutered male tabby cat. He has URI issues with an unknown cause despite treatment. [Note from Robin: He may have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all he needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.] He is friendly to humans and is good around other cats. His left ear slouches, and we suspect that is from an old hematoma.
This guy is a big, friendly dude. Sure he's a bit rough around the edges, but with a little polishing he'll be a treasure. He just wants to make friends and love his family.
Tabitha is an approximately 5 year old female tabby cat. We suspect she is spayed due to her body condition, but we cannot be sure. She is friendly with humans and other cats. She has a chronic URI issue, with an unknown cause, despite medical treatment. [Note from Robin: she may also have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all she needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.]
She's a sweet tabby who has not only suffered confinement, but illness. She CAN get better and it may take as little as getting out OUT of the shelter and into a loving home. Please don't overlook this little sweetie.
Dee reads my blog (Thank you, Dee!). She bugged her friend, Angi to give Chloe a foster home since Angi lives in Connecticut, has cats and LOVES cats enough to take on one more (and she's also an awesome artist). Dee already fosters cats and knows that Angi would do a great job so she used whatever secret powers she has to urge Angi to give Chloe a home until she's ready to go to her forever home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Chloe. Feeling scared was not a surprise, but what happened next certainly was.
I would call this “finding a foster home in a haystack,” because I thought there is NO WAY we're going to be able to find a LONG-TERM foster home for Chloe. Color me surprised.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little self-soothing foot bath before she explores the room any further.
Angi is awesome. She's vivacious and cute with a funky-cool haircut and an easy going attitude. I did a home visit to make sure she had a good space for Chloe to pass the next few months, recover from her abuse and to lose a bit of weight (she's already lost a pound). Angi had a perfect space-a guest room in the corner of her home that overlooks her yard. It's a far cry from the bathroom where Chloe has been staying with Katherine and it's almost as big as the entire living room where Chloe once lived with her former guardian.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Katherine brings out Chloe's favorite brush.
Everything went well with the home visit and today Katherine and I delivered Chloe to Angi's home.
Chloe didn't protest too much in the car, but Katherine and I both worried what she'd do when she got out of her cat carrier. Would she completely revert to being aggressive with Angi? Would she try to bite her? Would she growl and lash out?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe's FAVORITE-Cat Grass!
We covered her cat carrier and rushed her into Angi's house, before Angi's three cats knew what we were up to. We got the room set up with Chloe's things while Chloe watched us from the safety of her crate.
Then came the big moment-opening the door.
We all took a collective deep breath as Katherine opened the crate. Out walked Chloe, planting her face directly into a small container of cat grass. Content to munch on her favorite treat, we all relaxed. At least Chloe wasn't going to charge us, guns blazing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Or is Chloe's favorite thing being brushed?
Chloe, energized from her treat, surprised us by getting up and casually began to examine her new home. She rubbed her face onto Angi's outstretched hand, the table, the edge of the cat carrier. She rubbed up against ME, which at first scared, then delighted me, leaving me sitting there with my mouth hanging open like an idiot.
Chloe continued exploring the room. She didn't go very fast or very far. She had to take a break and sit down every so often, but she wasn't hiding. She was simply curious. So far, so good.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy Buddha-kitty!
Katherine got Chloe's favorite brush out and that put a smile onto this kitty's face. Chloe loved being brushed and it helped her relax.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Reaching up to be brushed. More, please!
Chloe got a bit irritated from all the attention. Perhaps it was a bit too much, too soon. She gave Katherine and Angi a “love bite,” but nothing worse. Katherine stopped brushing Chloe and decided it was time to go over the instructions for taking care of her with Angi.
Katherine and I left Angi's, feeling happy and hopeful that Chloe would finally have a chance to flower.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little love from Katherine.
A few hours later, Angi wrote that she was have a bit of hard time getting BACK into the room with Chloe and that Chloe attacked her ankles. I guess I shouldn't have made a joke about the boots, but then I realized maybe someone had kicked Chloe and that's why she was upset? When we let her out of the cat carrier, we were all sitting on the floor, which made us less intimidating. Now what was Angi going to do?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A few skritches from Aunt Angi.
Angi took it in stride. She knows this is going to be a long process and now Chloe will have to learn to trust her, too. She's prepared to give Chloe every chance, if Chloe will just allow her into the room once in awhile so she can water her plants.
©2012 Maria S. Our first glimpse of Willow-stuck up in a tree.
Almost a year has passed since our-Maria rescued a stray kitty out of a maple tree. We didn't know her story, only that she was probably dumped and a pit bull saw her and chased her up the tree. Maria had quite the time getting her down, but from the very first moments, we knew that Willow was going to be a special kitty. (read more about Willow's rescue HERE).
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow's transformation.
From day one, Willow was very sick with some sort of upper respiratory tract infection. She was thin. Her coat was ragged, but Willow was very easy-going and friendly. In fact, Maria soon realized she could put a harness on Willow and take her for walks and even jokingly put a baby doll dress on her. Willow was fine with whatever came her way.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow enjoying the sunshine…
We tried many rounds of antibiotics to cure Willow's sneezes and runny eyes. They worked for a time, but she would get sick again and again. We tried 60 days of doxycycline, only for it to return. Willow had been in our program for over six months with no real idea of what was ailing her. I finally decided to try to test her for Bartonella this bast January.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. …and the view of the woods.
Due to a mixup, I never found out that the test was a STRONG POSITIVE until MARCH! Once we knew, we began treatment and she got better right away.
Of course, I couldn't easily put Willow up for adoption if she was sick, but between cycles of her illness it seemed she was fine so I processed LOTS of applications and even went on a few home visits, but NOTHING EVER PANNED OUT.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A tender moment with Fred.
I got an application from a gentleman named, Matthew. He's young and married and has a nice home north of here. I did a Vet check and it panned out. He was very sweet when he talked about his cats and I really liked him.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow has tortie-patterned paws-you can just see it here.
I knew that telling an adopter about a cat being sick could have them give up on her. Many folks will just think they're getting a terminally sick cat and move on to another rescue. I worried that Matthew would not want Willow but he just asked me if it was contagious and I said no. I didn't hear from him for a day or two and finally he wrote that if I could medicate Willow and keep her here, that he would be happy to adopt her after her medication was done-which would be another month.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. On the way to her new home, Willow's journey is almost complete.
Willow is such a sweet cat. She's become the mother-figure to all the other fosters. They adore her and cling to her and she calmly reassures them as she grooms them. I didn't mind having her for awhile longer.
The day finally arrived to bring Willow to Matthew. I was very sad because Willow is a "top 10" sort of cat. She simply had no unwanted habits, she was always friendly to everyone and affectionate. She was silly and seemed to always be happy and she is so very lovely to look at-with her crazy, undefinable patterning and colors. I loved her dearly and definitely would be missing her a great deal-and I worried that Fred & Barney would, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Back seat driver!
We got Willow packed up. I had all sorts of toys, food, a scratcher, catnip, a cat bed-everything I could think of to get Willow off on a good start. I even brought extra toys for her two new kitty friends. She didn't want to be in her cat carrier, so I let her out. She panted a bit, out of fear and excitement, but eventually she just sat on top of her cat carrier and watched the world go by. What a GREAT cat!
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is so cool she can even travel in the car in style.
We got Willow settled and she immediately started to PLAY in her new room! She didn't hide or run off. She rubbed her face on the furnishings, marking her new space with her scent. She went over to Matthew to get some pets. She seemed completely cheerful, as ever. Meanwhile, Roo, one of her new friends, was sitting outside the door, wondering what was going on.
©2013 Matthew R. Willow, in her new home eats while her new sister, Roo, eats on the other side of the door.
I didn't want to leave Willow, but as it always goes, I have to do it. I have to do it so I can help more cats. I gave her a kiss on the “M” on her forehead, her silky soft fur brushed my lips. I told her I loved her one last time. With a heavy heart I went home wishing she could have stayed with us. I crossed my fingers and said a silent prayer that I hoped I'd made a good choice for Willow and that she would have a lifetime of happiness with her new family.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our last moments with Willow before it was time to head to her new home.