Not on My Watch: Purebred in Pain

WARNING: THERE IS A SLIGHTLY GROSS PHOTO BELOW BUT I PUT A SCREEN OVER THE WORST PART.

I couldn't sleep. I got up at 5:30 AM. I kept thinking about the cat I met yesterday afternoon. I kept having flashbacks to what I'd seen done to him and I couldn't stop worrying.

In all my years of rescue I've only saved a blue-eyed cat a handful of times. I've NEVER rescued a purebred nor even been around them. Yesterday I saw a post from a fellow rescuer who had found an ad on Craigslist about a "FREE" Purebred Persian Cat. I didn't give it much thought, knowing the cat would get scooped up. Purebreds always go fast, but something nagged at me about this ad.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My first look at the Persian's matted coat.

I remembered I'd had an application from someone looking for a cat like this so I sent her an email and told her about him. She jumped at the chance to adopt him sight unseen. Feeling a bit nervous about that I asked her to foster him with the intention of adopting him one day. I didn't know what condition he was in and I was worried that I'd get stuck with a cat, too. The rescuer who initially posted the info told me she was going to go get the cat that afternoon and could bring him to the foster/adopter's home.

It was all happening so fast I didn't have much time to think. It seemed like we had a possible match. All I had to do was some paperwork, right?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. What lies beneath I'm not sure I want to know.

A few hours later I got a call from the rescuer. She said the cat was severely matted. That the owner said he couldn't be handled, especially touched on his back or tail. If we touched him he would bite. The rescuer was worried about getting the cat cleaned up without someone getting hurt. She also told me that these people paid $1000.00 for the cat but then took it to a mobile spay/neuter van to get it neutered! It's not that they did something to save money, but that cat should have been vetted BEFORE it was SOLD for $1000.00. There was NO paperwork on the cat, nothing. The breeder was not known. All she knew was the cat was a mess.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Just the beginning…

She asked me if I had clippers. I did, but I've rarely ever used them. She didn't want to bring the cat to a groomer. It was already almost 5 PM so most places were closing up. She didn't want to bring the cat to the foster home smelling as bad as he did. His back end was FILTHY and matted. The owner reported she'd had him combed out just a few weeks ago so it shouldn't be that bad, but could I help?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Honestly, the best boy ever.

You know the saying; “In for a dime, in for a dollar.” So I replied that of course she could bring the cat to me and we'd get him cleaned up.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

If I could so so without fear of reprisal, I would write a LONG LONG RANT full of expletives about what I think about the people who had this cat, especially after what I saw last night. What they did was the definition of benign neglect and it was clear just moments after I saw the cat.

So last night my spare foster room turned into Robin's Grooming Palace, staffed by an awkward cat rescuer and a tough cookie rescuer who knew her way around a clipper (and you can guess which one I was).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

The rescuer let the cat out of the carrier. WOW. He had me at the first look into his sapphire blue eyes. I've never seen such a striking cat, even with his messy coat. He had NO fear of me at all. He came over and wanted to be petted. He purred right away. I touched his back, not remembering to stay away from it and he just arched his back a little bit under my hand. Shit. I was in love with this little Flame Point Persian.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. We almost filled this bag with clippings.

The rescuer and I talked about what to do. She wanted to wrap him like a burrito in a towel, then try to clip the filth off his rear end. I obliged, not knowing what else to do. I held him tight and he struggled a lot. He cried. I asked her to stop. We decided to remove the mats on the rest of his body and leave the sensitive back end for later. We realized his fur was so badly matted that he needed a “Lion Cut.” This is not something easily done especially with a cat you don't know. Half-jokingly I told the rescuer I didn't have health insurance and this cat could not bite me. I tried not to worry about that and focused on being calm.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

The minute we started shaving the mats off the cat, I barely had to scruff him. He didn't fuss once the painful mats starting to come off. It was clear he'd been shaved before and just sat half in and half out of the sink on a blanket. He smelled like someone dumped a gallon of cheap cologne over him to mask the smell of his soiled behind. I angrily assumed that the same cheap scent had an alcohol base that probably was causing this poor little cat even more pain that I first realized.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

The rescuer kept running the clipper carefully up and down the cat's back. I could smell the blades getting hot so we turned it off and gave the cat a break. He was still calm and friendly. I think he understood that we were helping him or the fact that the painful mats that were on his back were now gone. No wonder he didn't like being touched there! His skin was being pulled tight across his back from the matted fur. Who would do such a thing to such a Prince of a cat? I guess his former owners would.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Despicable.

Rescuers often say, “I hate people.” This is one reason why. The thing is we don't hate people because there are just as many, if not more, people who do great things for their animals, but the assholes really make us go crazy. We can't legally do much to these people other than get the cat away from them and put him somewhere safe where this will never happen again. The fact that these people have 2 other pets and a kid is worrisome, as well, but I never met them and do not know who they are. It's probably a good thing because I would be too tempted to cause them more than just a modicum of pain.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Are you my new Mother?

The grooming took TWO HOURS.

I had to hold the cat in all sorts of odd positions. He barely fussed until we had to clip under his front legs and his rear end. His front legs had lost some mobility because the fur was so badly matted under his legs. It was horrible to realize he couldn't even move around and if it had gone much longer, walking would have been very difficult.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. At last…clean at last.

The back end was the WORST. This part of the grooming was very painful. The rescuer went very very carefully, but the more fur she clipped away, the more she revealed the horrific truth-that the matted fur had caused the cat's urine to absorb into the fur and scald the skin beneath it. The area began to ooze. Clearly, many layers of skin had sloughed off. It had to hurt like bloody Hell, but the cat remained relatively calm.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Taking care of business.

With arms aching, covered in cat hair, we put the cat into the counter and I rinsed his back end with a bottle of sterile saline, fearing anything else would burn him. I was stunned that he let me do it. He seemed to like it. I blotted his back end and THAT hurt so I stopped right away. A few seconds later, he was on the floor walking around, checking things out like nothing had ever happened.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Not a bad job, but can't wait for it to grow back.

I knew he needed to see a Vet, but we both felt it could wait until this morning. I'm not sure if this is something that will require antibiotics or if we'll leave it to heal on its own, now that the area is clean and he can void without hurting himself further. My fear is that he may need surgery because he has such bad damage to his rectum or scrotum or both. I wouldn't even want the vet to take his temperature right now-that's how bad it is.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

And yet…this cat was amazing. He was outgoing, friendly, curious. He purred easily. He didn't try to hide. He still smelled from that awful crap that was put on him, but with the mats gone he looked simply adorable with his new hairdo. His fur was soft. I was mesmerized. All I could think of was how I was going to keep this cat, knowing full well I couldn't. I had to let go. He needed to get to his foster home.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. And you wonder why I'm in love with this cat?

We finally got to his foster home around 8 PM. His new mom was thrilled with him. She'd turned up the heat, had a heated bed cover and soft blanket for him so he would be comfortable. She opened the cat carrier and he came out and said hello to her. He was perfectly at ease in this strange home. Finally able to move around he began grooming himself. What was surprising is the way he bent over his tummy, split his back legs wide apart and licked at his back end. His big head and petal-like tongue made him look all the more comical, but it was joy watching him finally be able to clean himself. I'm sure it was driving him crazy to not be able to stay clean and now he finally had that chance.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Cartoon character or cat?

We're working on a name for the cat. We may go with Romeo or Luigi. Right now it doesn't matter what we call him, we need to get him healthy and that's where you join this rescue tale.

My non-profit, 501©3 cat rescue, Kitten Associates is in DIRE need of funds. We needed them before we helped this cat and I was just about to do a fundraiser for the 3 other kitties we rescued in Georgia last week! I will do a formal fundraiser with loads of info for you, but for now, because I have to leave for the vet in 30 minutes, I'm asking PLEASE HELP US NOW. WE NEED HELP MORE THAN EVER. The holiday fundraising was a complete BUST. The five Clementine kittens have cost us A LOT more money than we anticipated with their constant battle with eye infections (meds alone cost $56/TUBE and we've used 4 tubes already) and upper respiratory tract infections.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Glamour Puss looking cranky but he's VERY SWEET.

To Donate simply visit KITTEN ASSOCIATES DONATE PAGE and click on the DONATE TODAY icon. It takes you to PayPal where you can make your donation. Not using a fundraising web site like PetCaring or YouCaring allows us to get MORE of every dollar donated since those sites ask for YOU to pay a fee to them before you make your donation to us.

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If you'd like to mail us a check, checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates and mailed to: P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Our Tax ID number is: 27-3597652. Your donation is tax deductible. See your tax adviser for details.

Any funds not used to help this sweet Persian will go to helping out three kittens in Georgia or the other fosters in our rescue program. THANK YOU!

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Thank you for helping me!

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Off to the vet...

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Discarded Cats Diary Ch 5. Sherlock Olson to the Rescue.

I was sure Nanaimo and Linzer were going to be adopted first out of Mocha’s family because they were almost identical twin tuxedo kittens. They often had a surprised expression, which made them appear to be caught just before they got into mischief. They could be considered “double trouble” just by the way they looked, but after spending a few minutes with them, it was clear they were love bugs, too.

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©2013 Maria S. Nanny (left) and Linzy (right) just after rescue.

I admit that their name choice was probably the two worst cat names I’ve ever come up with, but in my defense, naniamo is a chocolate and vanilla baked treat. If my readers were all from Canada, they’d understand that and might even agree it wasn’t such a bad choice.

Okay, it was a bad choice.

Moving on…

Dr. Larry hooked me up with adopters who came to visit Nanny and Linzy, but it didn’t work out. They ended up taking home Marigold, who is now living in the lap of a very loving home.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Flyin' Linzy.

In no time, I got another great application from a family in Wilton, about 30 minutes drive from here. They’d lost their senior kitty after a long illness and were looking forward to adding two kittens into their home. Everything checked out, except for one little detail. I called the vet for a reference and they told me there was a second cat named Hudson listed on their records, but the last they’d seen him was August of 2013.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Tiger Teaser moustache.

Normally I’d jump all over that lack of detail on their application, but instead I decided to talk to the family when I saw them. There are plenty of times when a family takes on a pet when another family member is in trouble or they help out a neighbor and they don’t consider the pet to be part of the application. I made a mental note to ask about this cat once we did the home visit.

The home was lovely. We only met the mom and younger son. The husband was in the house, but was “busy” with something. Too busy to come out and say hello? That seemed odd. The daughter was away in college.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The Goof Troop.

We talked about where the cats would live. We talked about their cat who passed away. The son, who is 14, talked about the cat and how much he loved her. We talked for about 30 minutes and not ONE WORD about this other cat, Hudson. I finally asked about him and the woman teared up.

I was told that Hudson was a cat they adopted in 2013 who got outside and ran away. They supposedly did everything they could to get him back but he just wanted to get outside from the first day and they had a really hard time keeping him indoors. He’d been gone for 5 months, but the vet was never informed. The kid jumped in to agree with everything his mother was saying. My cat-rescue-senses went on alert. Was this simply crocodile tears or was she sincere? Was the kid told not to talk about the cat? Was that why he, too, acted as if Hudson had never existed until I pressed them about him?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzy?

I asked her for a photo of Hudson since my buddies at Animals in Distress (A.I.D.) are right down the street and I’d planned to go there to visit anyway. Maybe they could help. The woman changed the subject. Before she did that she’d described where she got the cat and I was pretty sure she was describing A.I.D. but I didn’t challenge her on it. I had some detective work to do.

We concluded the visit and left feeling like something was wrong, nice home, nice people, but something was off. My fears were confirmed a few minutes later at A.I.D. I asked the folks if they knew about a cat I’d just heard of. All I said was the name, Hudson, and they all stopped in their tracks and looked at me. Hudson was THEIR cat. He had lived in a basement his whole life until they rescued him and he’d NEVER been outside. There was no way that cat would want to get out. The Vet told ME that the family had vaccinated the cat for Feline Leukemia months after adopting him, which also gave me another clue that they were letting the cat outside on purpose because usually when there are NO OTHER CATS in the home, the vets don't vaccinate for FeLV.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti showin' off the belly.

After conversations with many of the volunteers, it was clear to me that something was up with this family. First, they lied a lot on their application, and then they lied about letting their cat outside. I’d heard that the husband did not like the litter pan smell and relegated the cat outside. I can’t confirm that, but what I could prove to be true made me very angry. Most rescues won’t adopt to homes where the cats are let outside. Here in Connecticut, it is JUST TOO DANGEROUS. They may have known to lie on their application to get the kittens. I knew for certain there was NO WAY they were going to get our cats. There were known coyotes in the part of Wilton where this person lived and A.I.D said 5 cats in the area had gone missing in the past few months. I didn’t need any more reasons to say no.

I expected to get a reply to my email turning down the application, but I never heard another word. I’m worried these folks will lie to get a cat who will just end up like all the others because they won’t keep the cat inside. I hate to vilify ANYONE. I really do, but I also will not tolerate being lied to to get a kitten.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzy?

Mocha and Pizzelle got adopted next and, again, I got another promising application for the twins. This one was from a Police Officer in a nearby town. He had a dog, two teenage sons and a wife. Very stable home life. Very nice family. Great vet reference. They came to visit the kittens and I have to say, for such BIG (I mean TALL) people, they were ALL VERY MELLOW. The kittens had fun with them and vice versa. It was one of the easiest adoptions I’ve ever done, though looking back it took a long time to find the right fit.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy family with happy kittens.

Their dog is a golden retriever who is elderly. I’m guessing the kittens are sleeping on him by now. The last update I got mentioned they were all doing great.

 

It all happened so quickly. In the space of less than a week, Marigold, Mocha, Pizzelle, Nanny and Linzy found their forever homes with wonderful families. For once, I didn’t cry. I was just happy the long dry spell was over and we were getting some kitties adopted again.

 

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©2013 Maria S. Mocha's kittens, Nanny, Linzy and Pizzelle the day of rescue. And to think these kittens would have perished if we didn't have Maria to foster them and all of you to help fund their rescue. Thank you for helping us do our life-saving work. Want to read this family's backstory? Just go HERE and HERE.

The discarded cats family was mostly spoken for now, with the exception of Biscotti. He remained on his own in the big foster room for the first few days after the adoptions. Being alone pushed Biscotti out of his shy zone and he became a lot friendlier without the other kittens around. Sam and I took turns sleeping with him so he wouldn’t cry from loneliness. I knew he needed friends and that the Clementine’s desperately needed the space, but I wasn’t sure how Biscotti would survive against 5 VERY outgoing, rambunctious kittens.

I also feared that although the Clementine's had been getting antibiotics and treatments for their upper respiratory tract infection that Biscotti could get sick. I asked myself what made the most sense: put Biscotti with other kittens to soothe his loneliness, but risk getting him sick? Or, keep him on his own and let him cry throughout the day?

I couldn't stand to see Biscotti be so sad, so I took a chance and put him with the Clementines.

Boy was that ever a stupid idea.

…to be continued.

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The Discarded Cats Diary. Ch 4.

continued from Chapter 3

I had a code phrase for Sam so he knew to go get Pizzelle. The mom was about to jump out of her skin and almost blew the surprise. Hanna was focused on Mocha we could have screamed there was a second cat coming and she would not have heard us. We finally got her to turn around as Sam uncovered the second cat carrier. Pizzelle jumped out and Hanna just looked at him. No jumping up and down. No screaming. Nothing.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzy flies for her fans.

Her mom and dad tried to get Hanna to understand what was going on. Hanna was chasing after Pizzelle as he was racing around the room. Mocha saw him and growled, then slunk off into a corner. The mom got upset and I told them this was normal and explained why, while in my head I was saying a prayer that both Mocha and the mom would calm down.

Hanna finally realized both cats were hers, but I think she was so overwhelmed and distracted it hadn't really sunk in enough for her to react to it. She loved being able to pet the cats and play with them, talking to them and clearly thrilled that the cats liked her as much as she liked them. Pizzelle had her attention and she was playing with him and petting him as he checked out his new home.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Stand up if you're adopted!

We talked about feeding the cats, then Hanna asked when the cats could come out of the basement and sleep with her. Her mom quickly shut her down, saying no, that no way would the cats sleep with her. They were dirty, carried disease, etc. I just about grabbed the cats and took them out of there when I heard her say that. I did my best to let her know that one of the most wonderful things about having cats is sleeping with them and that they would make more noise and keep Hanna awake if she DIDN’T allow them to sleep with her. Hanna was happy to have me on her side, but I had to tread lightly.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Such comedians! I posted this photo on Facebook last week, just for fun. It got over 37,000 views! Who knew our foster kittens would be so famous?

Mom came up with all sorts of reasons why it was bad, but in the end I got her to agree to at least giving it a chance or maybe letting them sleep with her a few nights a week. I couldn’t imagine this little girl having her first cats and not be able to cuddle with them at night. The problem was her mom feared they’d scratch her face or hurt her while she slept. Steven seemed more relaxed about it. I hoped that they would let them some day. I had to have faith that in time it wouldn’t be a problem, especially as Hanna got older.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. No! I'll get the toy. You stay put!

Meanwhile, Mocha was angry and upset. Hanna was playing with Pizzelle, who was completely at ease. I kept close to Mocha, fearing she’d lash out. I suggested that we do the paperwork and let them decompress for a few minutes. The mom stayed behind, which gave me pause. She was already uptight and fearful. I hoped it wouldn’t affect Mocha and amplify her distress.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mocha. I hoped she would stop lashing out and go back to her sweet self soon.

Things began to calm down between the cats, who were busy getting petted or running over to the big sliding glass door to the back yard. A few dried leaves scattered across the grass and the cats were dazzled by the movement. I knew they'd be spending hours looking out the window watching the birds and squirrels. They were calming down and Mocha's tail went back up and she stopped growling.

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©2013 Maria S. Looking back to last summer. Mocha not long after rescue. Exhausted from being trapped inside a cat carrier with her 3 kittens, she finally gets some rest in the safety of Maria's home. Read more about their backstory right HERE and HERE.

It was time to leave the cats. I did so with a heavy heart, but with a hopeful heart, too. Mocha and Pizzelle would want for nothing and little Hanna had two new best friends who would be a big part of her life. It was hard to believe, looking back, that this was the same cat and kitten (along with two others) who were discarded,-trapped in a cat carrier and dumped in a cul-de-sac. No note to where they came from or any information about them. They were left to die in the August heat in Georgia without food, water or shade. Their future as black cats in the south, was bleak.

I guess it goes to prove that black cats can be lucky after all.

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The Discarded Cats Diary. Ch 3.

It’s been a long dry spell between adoptions. I got to the point last year where I considered opening up our policies just so I could approve an application. It goes against my grain to even consider for a moment that I wouldn’t get every foster cat the best home possible, that I’d just give up and let them go “wherever.”

To understand me, you have to know The Pretzel Story.

When I was 10, my Mother took me and my brother on an outing. The goal was to pack a picnic lunch, then go somewhere scenic. We lived in a small town in Minnesota, so it had to be somewhere local, but new to us. She chose the Elk River Nuclear Power Plant, right next to the Elk River so we could have a view of the river and see the big fancy power plant. Just thinking about it now gives me the chills. It also may explain the funny mole on my thigh.

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©1972 J. Feminella. Me, my brother and Mother the same year we did the trip to Elk River. Sadly, I have no access to the 140 photo albums my Mother left after she died. This is one of the few photos I have of my childhood from about that time.

Just as she was pulling out of the driveway, my mother stopped the car and turned to me. My brother had the prime seat up front and had also turned to me, but he was sporting his all too familiar holier-than-thou look on his face while I was left to sulk in the back. She said; “Robin, I packed a bag of pretzels. It’s with our lunch right next to you. Whatever I do, whatever I say, do NOT give us any pretzels until we get to Elk River.”

Honestly, you’d think my own mother knew what she was getting herself into by saying that to me. Did she forget that I lived to please her? That I was an obedient child? As the oldest kid I was the responsible one while my brother got away with murder.

I nodded, then replied, okay, in my sullen-relegated-to-the-back-seat voice and off we went.

About 20 minutes later, my mother asked me for a pretzel. I said no. She laughed then said; “Robin, really, it’s okay, give me a pretzel.”

I thought it was a test. Based on her orders, my somewhat scientific mind urged me to deny her request.

“Robin. Ignore what I said before. Open the bag of pretzels.”

I parroted back to her her own words about not doing it, no matter what she said or did, which of course infuriated her.

Meanwhile, my jerky brother jumped in to further ruffle my feathers: “Yeah, MOTHER SAID! Give us the pretzels!”

My brother and I were always at odds with each other so I battled back with: “NO! You told me NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR SAY. No pretzels! So NO!”

“Robin. I’m going to stop the car if you don’t give me the pretzels.”

Dizzy with power, I called her on it. She was bluffing. “YOU told me not to. No.”
She was fuming mad, but in the end, no pretzels.

I also NEVER heard the end of it. NEVER. Even years later. Okay, after my mother died, yes, I heard the end of it, but you know what I mean.

This is why I don’t do more adoptions. Pretzels.

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Right around Christmas I started to get application after application. Some folks wanted kittens as gifts, which is a big no-no for me, but what I did is come up with something to appease their needs. I offered a plush cat toy and a gift certificate. This won over a few people, but some adopted elsewhere or dropped off the map. I kept at it until I met Steven, who lives here in Sandy Hook.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Pizzelle, Nanny & Mocha want to know WHO will be adopted next.

Steven is an engineer for IBM. This guy is smart, focused, serious. He also loves cats. His daughter Hanna has been begging for a cat for two years. Hanna is 7. Steven provided me with a very detailed application. He said his wife travelled a lot so that we’d have to work partly around her schedule. Steven would oversee the adoption and she would visit the kittens and approve his selection if they passed muster and were approved. Steven included an article celebrating him as the Employee of the Month. I read it.

Then it didn’t matter what else happened because I was going to give him whatever cat or cats he wanted.

Little Hanna went to Sandy Hook Elementary and was in First Grade. Steven heard the shots that fateful morning and ran into the building to protect a classroom full of students. He’s one of the unsung heroes of a national tragedy. Out of respect, I did not ask him about this, but I DID decide fork over as many “pretzels” as he wanted.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti is amazed at Pizzelle's high-flying chops.

His application was excellent. The home visit was great, but they lacked in having anything for the cats. Since it was a surprise (this one time I agreed it was okay to give a cat as a gift) for Hanna, everything had to be bought and hidden away. I gave Steven loads of links, told him what to buy and he responded by getting everything you can imagine-and the BEST of the BEST for his new cats.

Steven came to visit the kittens. I had a feeling he would like Nanaimo and Linzer, the tuxedo twins. They showed well and he played with them to no end. He was charmed by Pizzelle who had MANY pending applications already. I was reluctant to let him go, but then again, due to the circumstances I agreed he could be adopted, but…who would go with him? Steven was open to having two cats. That left either Biscotti or splitting up the twins, which I was loathe to do.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzer, Biscotti and Nanny (right). But really who can tell the twins apart. Good thing Biscotti has white on his face.

What I hadn’t noticed was that Steven was drawn to Mocha. After visiting with the kitties for about 30 minutes I asked him if he felt any bond to the cats. He caught me off guard by choosing the cat I thought would be the last one adopted. He chose Mocha and Pizzelle to go together!

I was shocked, but it was a fine match. Mother and son, together always. How lovely…but…mom had to approve, too.

That’s when I got my hackles up and I wanted to get my bag of pretzels back.

Mom wanted black cats to match her outfits so she wouldn’t have cat hair showing on her clothes or the furniture. Mom is a busy executive and does not want to have anything to do with feeding the cats or cleaning the litter pan. Mom is scared of being scratched.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mocha, a truly adorable, sweet, playful kitty…and her fur matches the furniture?

Normally every red flag I’ve got in my gut would be waving furiously, but Steven was so grand and his daughter so sweet, that I simply had to do this adoption. My hope was that with time and education, mom would come around. She couldn’t believe me that our cats really don’t shed. One of the benefits of the raw diet is that cats don’t get hairballs or shed much at all. The coat length-long or short haired-doesn’t matter. I literally tried to pull some fur off one of the cats and it just doesn’t come out.

The big day arrived. I was honored to be able to bring Pizzelle and Mocha to their new home and witness this little girl’s dream come true. The night before, Steven sent me a photo of Hanna next to the gigantic cat tree they got for her new cats. I was bummed they told her she was getting cats, but found out they only told her she was getting Mocha. She was really happy about that, so much so that she said she HAD to keep Mocha's name and would not change it. The surprise was that Pizzelle would be joining her, so we worked out a plan to bring him out after Mocha had already come into the house.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. 'Zellie poses for the camera.

We got Mocha settled. Hanna was delighted. She was more subdued than I expected but was following Mocha around the room as she sniffed and inspected everything in her new home. At my suggestion, Mocha and Pizzelle would be in a big finished basement for the first week as to not overwhelm them with having free reign of the house.

Mocha did GREAT. She was happy, interested in everyone, tail up, but I was worried. Just after we loaded Mocha into her carrier, before we left our house for Steven's, she started growling. It reminded me of how she behaved shortly after she arrived off the transport. For the first week she was furious with the kittens-hissing, growling, lashing out at them. I was faced with the realization that it could happen again with Pizzelle in their new home. The short drive was enough to make her forget her own offspring and she’d be fighting and angry in front of her new family. I had to diffuse the situation. The mom might not understand and want us to take Mocha back, but first we had to surprise Hanna with her second cat. I hoped Mocha wouldn't charge Pizzelle the second she saw him.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mocha was just as playful as the kittens. She's just a big kitten, herself.

Is this adoption going to stick or is it all going to fall apart if Mocha can't calm down fast? Stay tuned for the conclusion in Chapter 4 airing in a few hours.

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Tennesse Hoarding Case Great News and Why We Kicked Ass

Last week I wrote a post about dozens of cats and dogs discovered at an abandoned home in Tennessee. I asked for your help, not only to raise funds but to spread the word so we had a chance to find rescues, especially for these cats who really were in dire need. Marion Animal Resource Connection, a small, 5013c located in the rural Marion county, TN area was the only group to respond at first. They coordinated efforts as other rescues stepped in to help out after we posted the news about this situation.

With YOUR HELP, this is what the friends of Covered in Cat Hair were able to accomplish:

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MARC raised about $1000.00. 60% of that came from Covered in Cat Hair friends!

Because we helped raise the money, MARC could pay for 31 cats to be vetted. This made it VERY EASY for other rescues like Catoosa Citizens for Animal Care to take MANY of the cats. Since they didn't have to cover the vet costs, all they have to do is provide food and love until those cats get adopted. They wouldn't have KNOWN about this situation if it wasn't for all of you sharing our blog post!

Because April, the Founder of MARC placed 2 cats who need socializing into a barn placement (where they will be confined for a few months while their new mom works with them and they'll have a home even if they don't become friendly) and a few others found homes right away that leaves only 5 CATS LEFT at the home, that still need to be trapped, vetted and put into rescue or be adopted.

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Considering 50 plus animals have been rescued, vetted and found safe haven for in the past few weeks, this is really amazing news.

And YOU GUYS, KICKED ASS. This story would NOT have had such a happy ending if you hadn't made a donation or shared a blog post. This part of TN is very rural with limited resources. So THANK YOU EVERYONE for helping make this tragedy turn into something we can all feel proud of being part of.

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MARC needs about $200.00 to finish up vetting the last 5 cats. If you'd like to help them there's still time to be part of this happy story. GO HERE TO DONATE.

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The Shocking Case of What Ails Minnie

I sat in my car, in the dark, cold night and started up the engine. It rumbled to life as I grabbed the gear shift and slowly put the car into reverse. Shifting into first gear, I eased the car down the steep driveway of Susan and Barry's home. I'd just left Minnie in their bedroom and my mind was in playback mode, going over the last few hours and imagining what would yet come to pass.

I was fit to be tied.

Minnie is the mom to our most miraculous, stunning, kittens, Lil' Gracey, Confetti Joe, Jellybean Mel, Yukon Stan and Precious Pete. Minnie, who'd starved on the streets in Bridgeport, CT, then given birth, then got such a bad infection she almost died, had struggled enough in her short life. My only goals for her once in my care were to fatten her up and get her a wonderful home as she recovered from her difficult life.

As most of her kittens found their forever homes, Minnie found a new foster home right down the street from my house. I was thrilled to let Minnie go because it meant she'd have more space to live and the love of a family and their two children, one of whom, a young girl, had a gentle and affectionate regard for Minnie right away.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie.

While Minnie passed the days in her foster home, I searched for her forever family. Months passed. I checked in on Minnie once in awhile, but didn't worry about anything, figuring if there was a problem, I'd find out.

At first it was little things, like I'd heard Minnie had some fights with one of the family's two cats, but they seemed to be working it out. Minnie had long tired of the small bathroom that was her initial home, so she was allowed full run of the house. Since she was going to be there, potentially, a long time I thought it was fine.

Last week I got an email saying Minnie had a cut over her eye that didn't seem to be healing. I went over and took a look, brought some calendula cream (a plant-based antibiotic cream) and treated her. I assumed she'd been scratched. Clearly she was not the aggressor. Minnie was also behaving fearfully. I assumed, again, it was due to the cats, but I also knew that the 12 yr old boy in the home did NOT like Minnie and told me she'd scratched him. I asked him what he did to provoke her, but all I got was an innocent shrug as he repeatedly told me how much he hated her.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Dr. Mary examines the injuries on Minnie's face.

As fate would have it, I got another email about the same time Minnie's problems were starting. This one was from a woman named Susan. She'd seen some news about Kitten Associates and wanted to let me know how proud she was of our work and she also told me about her boy, Duke, her beloved kitty who had died after struggling with heart issues for years, not long ago. Devastated by his death, she and her husband felt having another cat wasn't in the cards. I could tell her heart was broken, so I told her to come over and visit the kittens, just to cheer her up, no strings. No bothering her to adopt from us. That was all.

You can guess what happened next. They came over and fell in love with Buttercup, one of the "Clementines" orange foster kittens. Further surprises came shortly after that. Susan was pregnant. When they asked about possibly adopting Buttercup I had to say no. I couldn't let her go to a home with no other pets. Buttercup NEEDS that emotional support from her siblings and with a baby on the way, would little Buttercup be mature enough to handle this life-change?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Injuries all over her face. What happened to you, Minnie?

Normally I would have just tabled the conversation, but I REALLY LIKED this couple. They were truly devoted to their last cat. They were respectful to my wishes about finding them a good match based on the cat and their life, not just picking a cute kitten. I thought about it a lot, then I realized that Minnie might be a good choice. She was grown, cute, and was able to get out of the way of any child and had a very mellow vibe about her. At the same time I was discovering that Minnie might be getting beaten up, so I told Susan about her story. Susan read some of my blog posts about Minnie's tough life and fell in love. We decided to take it slowly. Susan and Barry had never met Minnie and they didn't want to go to her foster home and meet her while she was scared. I agreed to do a home visit and bring Minnie to them. They'd foster her for a few weeks, then either they'd adopt or we'd take Minnie back. It felt right, so that's what we did.

I picked up Minnie last night, but first she had to be cajoled out from her finding place-inside the box spring of a bed. This is not a good sign, when there were plenty of places to relax all over the house. Why was this cat away from all the other rooms and hiding in a box spring? I didn't have time to ponder it since I had to get to Susan's.

When I arrived, we talked about Minnie possibly being attacked by other cats and probably having spent the past few months being afraid. That she HAD to give Minnie some time, maybe longer than we thought, to blossom again.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A startling discovery-eosinophilic plaque.

I let Minnie out of her crate and she began exploring the bedroom where we were going to let Minnie start her new life. Her tail was up. She didn't run and hide. She came over to Susan and rubbed up on her. She did the same to me as she energetically moved around the room exploring all the furniture and rugs. I took out a catnip banana and she went crazy over it. The fearful cat I'd seen not even an hour ago was gone.

As Susan and I sat on the floor, petting Minnie, Susan felt something odd. I took a look and in the low light of the room I could see an open, bloody wound on Minnie's left shoulder. I couldn't get a great look at it, but the more I looked at her, the more scratches I saw on her face and neck. I was really pissed. What kind of foster home lets a cat get THIS bad and doesn't NOTICE IT? How MUCH had Minnie been suffering these past months when I was foolishly thinking she was doing just fine-even hoping her foster family would adopt her.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Wondering what all this means and how it happened.

It was clear Minnie needed to see a Vet. I called right then and there and got an appointment for this morning. There is no way I was prepared for what we were about to find out. I spent a good part of the drive home guessing at what the vet bill was going to be, especially if we had to stitch up that wound or if we found more problems, like an abscess.

This morning, I got an email from Susan saying Minnie was scratching a lot. This had to mean she had fleas! Minnie was cleared of them months ago…in fact she never HAD THEM but we treated her just in case. Now what was I going to do? Susan is pregnant. Minnie had been in her bedroom! Fleas? Chemical agents to remove them? What was Susan going to say about this? Was I going to have to take Minnie home with me? Where in the world would I put her?

Frankly, I was pretty miserable this morning. I was angry and worried and scared we couldn't cover the vet bill. Fundraising over the holidays was a total bust. The account is scary-low, but if I'm careful we can limp a long.

Susan was right on time. She reported that Minnie wasn't hiding, she was playing eating, using her litter pan, happy to hang out, but itchy. Indeed, Minnie was quite calm in the exam room, too with her tail up, curious, happy, not stressed at all.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie while she was here with us this past summer.

I told Susan my fears about fleas and she took it well. I'd packed up every flea treatment I had and was ready to give Minnie some topical flea treatment, but the exam had to confirm it first. Good thing I waited.

Dr. Mary did the exam. As always she was sweet with Minnie and ever so careful with her. Minnie responded in kind, keeping calm and letting Dr. Mary do her thing. As Dr. Mary turned Minnie, I saw the wound on her side. As Dr. Mary spoke, in unison we said the same thing. "Eosinophilic plaque!"

This was likely a LESION caused by stress that lowered her immune system, followed by an allergic reaction to something. It all became clear. Minnie was having a reaction to being fed DRY CAT FOOD!

I'd seen it the week before but was told Minnie didn't eat it, even though the bowl of kibble probably sat there all day long. Even though I provided her food. Even though I checked to make sure they didn't need more and was told she was getting it…there is it..she's so itchy from the junk that she's scratching herself raw.

She hadn't been fighting. She didn't have fleas or mites. Susan said she'd been drinking a lot of water, another indicator to me she was given dry food. If I see my cats drink water, I know they are likely SICK. Raw food has enough moisture-and, in the wild, cats get moisture from their prey, not by drinking.

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©2014 Susan W. Minnie the first night in her new foster home.

Poor Minnie. If this had kept going, she really would have been a mess. As it is, it will take awhile for her to recover. Not being stressed out will REALLY help and so will a belly full of good, appropriate food. Susan understands what has to be done, but other than good food and love, there's nothing more to do other than keep an eye on it and make sure she's getting better.

While at the Vet, Susan remarked many times over how cute and sweet Minnie was, how easy going, how different she was than their old cat, Duke, who fussed and hated being at the Vet. Susan had a gleam in her eye when she spoke about Minnie, even though she's not making any declarations about her future. I have a sneaking suspicion that Minnie may not be in foster care much longer. I like this couple. I like their home. I like seeing Minnie with them. It feels right and in the end, that's all that matters.

I hope it's a match for life, but right now baby steps...

…speaking of baby steps…I have a new foster kitten coming. Some of you may already know him, but for months, behind-the-scenes, since I first saw his face, a little cutie pie is coming to Connecticut.

Wait! Isn't my home already stuffed to the gills with foster cats? Actually, no.

In the past week, FIVE CATS HAVE BEEN ADOPTED! And that story, my friends, will be the focus of my next blog post.

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Tennessee Hoarding Case and How You Can Help Save Lives

An anonymous tip to the Marion Animal Resource Connection, a small, new 5013c located in the rural Marion county, TN area, alerted April Bowden, MARC's Founder, to the possibility of a hoarding situation. While the sheriff's department can respond, there is no animal shelter or animal control in the county, therefore no one to take animals and humanely house them. MARC does not have a facility and is solely foster based. (April started MARC when she moved to Marion county from Knoxville, TN and was upset by the conditions of the animals in the county.)

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One of the sweet survivors hoping to be freed from filthy conditions soon.

April enlisted the help of Sgt. Cox with the Marion county Sheriff's department and they went to the property where they found 17 dogs on short chains and in wire dogs crates outside and 30+/- cats. Two of the dogs had died inside their crates. The weather was about to turn very cold, with an expected low of 5 degrees.

The local fire department offered temporary space for the dogs overnight and then Humane Educational Society out of Chattanooga, TN was able to take the 15 dogs but has not been able to assist with the cats.

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Volunteers have gone back to the property and were able to get cats in carriers and also trap cats yesterday. There were 23 cats taken and about 10 remain on the property that will be trapped later this week.

They must get them all out before the bank secures the house and removes the cats.

The cats are friendly but shy and scared due to all the activity. They are young cats, most appear to be between 8-12 months of age. There are all different colors, dilute calico, half face torti, torti with orange bib, two Russian blue grey males, white with blue eyes, tabbies, including a marble tabby with orange eyes, a tuxedo, grey/white, solid black, a fluffy orange tabby, etc.

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MARC needs help with funding the vetting for these cats. The cats are being vetted for $40 (which is really inexpensive!) per cat - FVCRP, rabies, spay/neuter, and combo tests.

They also need adopters who are willing to give these sweet cats a home. AND THEY STILL NEED Placement/Rescue for approximately 20 more cats.

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How You Can Help

Like MARC on Facebook and help them Share messages as this urgent situation unfolds.

DONATE. For $40 you just helped save the life of one cat! Bargain! GO HERE TO DONATE.

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RESCUE. If you're with a cat rescue or humane society and would like to help. Transport can be provided and cats will be vetted prior to you getting them! How easy is that? TENNESSEE AND SURROUNDING STATES please step up! If you're further away, no worries. We CAN get the cats to you!

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Freshly trapped, very hungry, friendly but scared, these kitties are going to get vetted so they'll be ready for their new homes or rescue placements soon!

ADOPT. I've provided some photos of some of the cats. There are plenty more. Fill out an Adoption application and someone from MARC will be in touch with you. You can pretty much get any cat in any color you want.

HELP DRIVE CATS TO THE VET or SHUTTLE THEM TO RESCUES IF YOU LIVE IN THE AREA.

TEXT APRIL BOWDEN: 423 240 3915 if you'd like to help or donate supplies or A SPACE TO TEMPORARILY HOUSE THE CATS or HOUSE even SOME OF THE CATS. THEY HAVE FEW RESOURCES. ALL HELP IS APPRECIATED.

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Together we have done MANY amazing things, helping cats down the road or thousands of miles away. Sharing is Caring. Please help me get the word out about this sad situation.

Let's WIN ONE for the Cats!

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The Clementines. Now We are Five.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. This is how I start my morning kitten feeding ritual with the Clementines, the ½ dozen orange cuties I rescued from a kill shelter in Kentucky last October. I count heads. I have to count them because for the life of me, I can barely tell them apart. Okay, one is buff color, so she is easy to spot, but the others, my GOD, other than all black cats, these are the toughest cats to tell apart. If you look carefully they ALL have the same “ring” of darker orange around their chests. They have the same number of rings around their legs, in the same place. Their faces are VERY similar, too, with only slight variations. Now that Mandarin, Blossom and Bert have popped their ID collars off, it’s definitely a challenge. The only one I know for certain is Bert because the poor kitten is chronically SICK.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the very few photos of ALL the kittens together.

So I count heads. If I have 6, then that means Mango didn’t bust out of the room, which he often does. That cat FLIES over the barrier on the staircase, down the stairs, across the living room, then down the spiral staircase into Sam’s office in less than 3 seconds. He finds it very amusing. He has no fear of the other cats. They all follow him trying to sort out if he’s a threat. He just swings his rear end from left to right, his tail swishing back and forth with big boy pride. Yes, Mango is HUGE. He's the biggest of the litter, the chattiest, and has quite the personality. I admit I have a mad crush on him and just this evening, as I was retouching photos of the kittens, I realized he looks a lot like my boy, Bob, the cat we lost a few years ago to cancer.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Woe is Mango.

What’s curious to me is that I had initially named the kitten Bud-almost Bob. I wonder if on some level I had a sense that Bob had returned, but surely he wouldn’t look at all like his former self. What are the rules of reincarnation? I have no idea. I just know that the name Bud wasn’t quite right so I chose the name Mango. Though it still takes me a moment, I can tell Mango from the others because of his size and because he often stands on his hind legs on the bathroom counter and reaches up for me, asking to be held. I wish he wouldn't do that. I just makes me love him all the more.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Bert and Mandy, the two sickest of the litter.

It’s been over 3 months since the Clementines arrived. They should have been long since adopted by now, but their eye infection and upper respiratory infections continue to wax and wane (you can read more about their struggles HERE and HERE. Many of the kittens are doing really well and some of them are FINALLY ready to be adopted. Mandarin, the smallest of the litter, still struggles with the sneezes and poor, poor Bert. He almost lost his right eye, then we saved it, then the infection went into the left eye. Now it goes back and forth with no end in sight (pardon the pun).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Bert, still smilin' even though his eye infection has gone on for months.

I finally was able to do a more sensitive test on his tears to find out what the heck Bert’s got. After a week-long wait there were NO RESULTS. This tells us whatever is going on is not too bad, but it could be chronic. It also means its time to bite the bullet and put him on antibiotics, which I have been fighting to do for a long time. If his issue was viral, then what’s the point? Luckily, Dr. Mary is fascinated with eye issues and has done research and chatted with many other vets about Bert’s situation. Instead of going to a specialist right now, she got a rather good number of vets to agree that we need to try the dreaded Doxycycline for 3 weeks and see how it goes. For those of you who have never used it, Doxy is VERY acidic. It can literally burn the esophagus and cause something called strictures-basically a swelling that makes it VERY TOUGH for cats to swallow food and it's very painful. To “cure” the problem it costs about $6000.00 in repeated endoscopic treatments. How do I know this?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttercup.

Because we did it to a kitten named CaraMelle, by accident, and it took about 6 MONTHS to find out what was wrong, then treat it. Meanwhile her growth was severely stunted and she spent weeks vomiting and miserable while I tended to her round-the-clock.

If you have to give Doxy, make sure you get it compounded into a liquid AND make certain you follow that with a syringe of water-a few mLs should work fine.

We’re going to treat Bert and one other kitten, whichever seems to need it. We’re also going to move the most healthy kittens into a new foster home (or different room in my house) so they can’t repeatedly infect each other. Do I like doing this? No. One of the pleasures of my day is spending time with the Clementines and I hate to break them apart, but as always, it's not about ME. It's about what is best for them (especially after their application checks out and it turns out that they are friends with Dr. Larry).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy, Mango & Bert.

I know from doing this hundreds of times over the past few years that I have to continue to let these foster cats go when I find a great home. I can’t always have 22 cats in my house. It’s very stressful on both myself, Sam and our cats (who have also gotten sick from the Clementines). When that right home comes along, I owe it to the kittens to jump on it.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The fairest one of all…

On Wednesday I made the first “jump.” One of the kittens found her forever home and though I was sad to start separating the kittens, it was time. When someone says to me; “HELL, YES THAT’S MY KITTEN” after seeing the kitten for the first time, I know I’d be a fool to say no to them.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango.

What was curious was that they came over twice to find their kitten. The first time, the family, a great mom and dad and their daughters, didn’t connect to any of Mochachino’s kittens. They had hoped to adopt one of them, but something was missing. I could tell while they were here, but they weren’t ready to say it wasn’t a match. I urged them to go home and think about it and a day later they said they were going to go back to the drawing board. In my heart, I realized I knew which kitten would be a better choice. It would either be Marigold or Mandarin. There was just something about those 2 girls that felt right.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango is clearly offended by his cat toy.

When the family came to visit again, I put Mandy and Mari into a pen without the other Clementines so the family wouldn’t be overloaded by all 6 kittens racing around. I lifted Marigold out of the pen and the mom looked at her and swooned. Marigold sat calmly in her arms and purred while Mandy played with a toy. I didn’t have to ask if they wanted Mari, because it was clear that this was their kitten. I eventually brought ALL the Clementines out of their room and even though it’s tough to tell them apart, the family KNEW their girl. Over and over they picked her out of the crowd. There was no question that Mari would be the first kitten adopted. Little Marigold, who never got very sick, who never caused any trouble, was going home. The quiet little kitten who watched play time more than she took part, would be heading off to a loving home where she’d meet her new kitty and human friends.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Thanks to the folks at Tiger Teasers for sending us a donation of their toys. The kittens LOVE them so much they growl during playtime-a sure sign they are guarding their coveted "resource!"

I ended up bringing Mari to her family and spent a few hours with them, going over every tip I could think of, getting her set up, then making sure she was settling in well. The other cats in the home knew she was in the room and were frantically scratching at the door, demanding to know who was in there. Her new family understood to take the introduction slowly and Mari’s new mom already told me that Mari would be moved out of the office at night and would sleep in her room so she wouldn’t be alone.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. They never tire of their Teaser!

Later that night, I got a few text messages from the family, along with a few photos and a very funny video of Mari sitting on her new dad’s shoulder. She was purring and licking his ear. He was almost giggling. I can tell Mari is going to have a great life and continue to know lots of love. It’s what I hope for for all my foster cats.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mari and her mama, Suzy.

The next morning I counted heads: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…then realized there was no 6. The kittens realized it, too. For once Mango didn’t bust out the door and run down the stairs. He was very chatty. The others were very subdued. They ate their food quickly as they always do, but something was different with them. They knew their sister was gone and perhaps they were wondering who would be next.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The little orange family starts to find their forever homes.

I wondered that, too as I started to imagine the day when I have to say goodbye to the next Clementine. They are dear, dear kittens, so very affectionate and joyful. To spend time with them is a gift I cherish and greedily I wish it would last and last, but as always there are more kittens waiting in the wings and I have to make room for them soon.

It’s time to do more rescues.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mari finds comfort in the arms of her new sister.

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5 Cat Blogs to Read in 2014.

Holy moley! Did you see the news? Covered in Cat Hair was chosen as one of the 5 Cat Blogs to read in 2014 on Answers.com!

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I'm so thrilled to start the year off with good news AND to be included with such a fine group of writers. It's truly an honor and I'm so grateful. The only problems is…now I have to live up to this acknowledgment! Oops. I better get to writing.

Speaking of stories..stay tuned. We have some more good news. One of our kittens has been adopted and is already in her new home, but which one is it? Find out, along with some awesome photos of the kitten with her siblings enjoying their last afternoon together.

And if you're in the mood to read right away, make sure you visit the other Cat Blogs listed in Ingrid King's post:

Vox Felina

The Tiniest Tiger

The Creative Cat

The Conscious Cat

Don't forget, too, that Ingrid's Answer posts also cover all sorts of cat-related questions, so it's definitely another great resource!

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2013 in the Rear View Mirror

Grab a cup of coffee and kick back for a few minutes. Let's take a look back on 2013.

January

Without a doubt Jackson Galaxy, our charming, pain in the ass, dearly beloved foster cat getting adopted was the surprise of the dawning of 2013. Jackson, who suffers from HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy), was never expected to find a forever home with anyone other than Sam and myself and when Mickey and Offie offered to bring him to northern Vermont to join them in “retirement” we knew it was the right thing to do.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Jackson.

Inasmuch as we love Jackson, living with so many cats here was too much stress on his heart. He would be the solo cat, get all the attention and his new protector might just be his lady-Vet, a good friend of his new family, who is overseeing his care.

Jackson did great with his new family and he often sent us notes. A few months ago we got a very sad update that Jackson’s heart was getting worse and that his lady-Vet was concerned that his life will now be measured in months instead of years. We were very busted up about it, but I’m glad to report that so far, with new medication, Jackson is still doing all right and celebrated his first Christmas with his family.

February

As February arrived so did a little fireball named Tansy. She was our first adoption and our worst adoption. We foolishly trusted someone from far away and she turned out to be a hoarder. Tansy was taken into animal control in North Carolina and sat in a cage for the better part of TWO YEARS, while a few of her companions sickened from upper respiratory and had to be euthanized. After monthly calls and emails, begging to get our cat back, I got the news that Tansy was ours again. To celebrate her new life, we gave her a new name: Mabel-Baby. Mabel arrived, immediately ready to explore, make new friends and live her life to the fullest.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel-Baby.

Mabel’s had a few chances to be adopted since she arrived, but we’re being extremely picky about her new home. She’s also charmed us so much that perhaps we’re dragging our feet a bit more than we should, but we aren’t going to make any more mistakes about where she lives or who she lives with.

March

Our Kitties for Kids program was slowing down, but news of it had reached the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association. They contacted us to say they were going to award our kittens the “Pet of the Year” award for their service to the people of Newtown after the heartbreaking tragedy here in 2012. Not only that, but U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal was going to give us a Certificate of Special Recognition by the State of Connecticut for our efforts, as well.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

April

In early April we attended the CVMA ceremony. It was one of the crowning achievements of our non-profit’s work, but sadly our joy was short-lived. Something had been “off” with foster kitten, Fred. We’d been running him back and forth to the Vet. We’d rule in, then rule out FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). We begged for donations, which thank goodness, we were able to get. We saw more and more Vets and did more and more tests, while Fred slowly, cruelly lost the use of his back legs, then front…after trying every treatment and doing every test we were left with the heartbreak that Fred did have FIP after all.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson & Katherine Reid. Chloe before and after the first week in foster care-learning to trust.

Chloe is a senior Siamese mix whose owner wanted her euthanized for being a bite risk. As a last resort I was contacted about taking her on. I knew I couldn’t take her into our program but I offered to observe her and see if we could find a way to help her. That cat hated me, to this day she still hisses and growls at me, but Chloe, declawed, fat, neglected and very likely abused, still earned my affection. I cut a deal with Katherine from Animals in Distress. We’d partner to help Chloe and thanks to this blog and Dee D., one of our readers, she pointed us to Angi our uber-foster-mom who said she could give Chloe a long-term foster home and help her find her confidence and learn to trust under her care. None of us would have believed how this story would end if we hadn’t seen it ourselves.

May

We had to let Fred go on May 9, 2013. He was held by Sam as we talked to him while his passed away. It was the first time I’ve ever had to put one of our fosters down. He was only 10-months old. I wrote about Fred’s last days many times. In one post, titled: Dear Fred, I wrote him a letter, giving myself an outlet to share all the love I had for him. I wrote it the day before he died. I told him that he was no longer a foster kitten and that Sam and I had formally done the paperwork and we were adopting him as our own, even though his time with us would be short.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Fred.

After Fred died, his brother Barney went into mourning. We knew he needed new friends in his life and that’s when he got to meet Bongo, Bunny Boo-Boo and George, who we’d rescued from Georgia in late 2012. It took a week or so but it was pretty clear that Barney, who’d been licking some of his fur off, had known his brother was ill far before we did. Barney’s issues started months before we knew about Fred and his hyper-grooming stopped not long after Fred passed away.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo (left) with George. Not related these two cuties got adopted together.

I decided that the foster cats I had would be our last. I couldn’t rescue any more cats. I just couldn’t face any more death. I needed time to heal. I even thought about closing Kitten Associates for good.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Celebrating Ingrid King's birthday at BlogPaws with all our super-awesome cat lady friends.

Near the end of the month, I travelled to Virginia to attend BlogPaws. I was one of the first Presenters and I did a 90 minute talk about our Kitties for Kids program. I didn’t know if I had the courage to do the talk, knowing full well that Fred had been our mascot and that the last slide was in dedication to him. As happens so often in my blog posts, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We all cried, but being with my friends renewed my passion for saving more lives. I couldn't give up. The cats needed me.

June

The rains came in a deluge and so did the calls to help cats. A cat, from a terrible part of another town, gave birth to 5 kittens on the sidewalk, then moved them to a window well to hide them. I got the call to help and at first I said I wasn’t sure I could do it…okay maybe for a few weeks I’d foster, but that was it. Then I was told that if we didn’t get them they might drown and by the way, all the kittens were orange and white..just like Fred.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A few days after rescue, Lil' Gracey has some lunch.

I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Minnie and her kittens came to live with us just as we got our new Dropcam set up that I nicknamed: SqueeTV. The kittens were a great joy to me. One of them, in particular, looked a lot like Fred. I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow he had sent this family to me.

The Dogtime Pettie Awards nominations came out. Though I was sad not to be nominated for Best Cat Blog, I was stunned to find out that “Dear Fred” had been nominated for Best Blog Post. Now Fred’s legacy would live on. I couldn’t have been more honored.

July

Minnie was a great mom, but she never had a good appetite. Something was wrong with her and it became clear one morning when I entered the foster room to find it covered with vomit. Minnie was growling, trying to attack her kittens. Shocked, I raced her to the vet. It was touch and go for a few weeks. She had a massive infection, bordering on septic. My heart sank as I feared we’d lose another cat…and what would it mean for her 5 week old kittens?

It meant I was going to be their new mom.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie's kittens growing fast.

Minnie had to be separated from her kittens after that day. Although I tried to reintroduce her to them, she wanted nothing to do with them. The shocking change from loving, protective Mother, to harpy was heartbreaking. The kittens, confused, lost, scared, turned to me and though I was worried I’d do something wrong, we all began to find a new rhythm to our time together.

And then there was BarkAid.

August

Bongo and George had found a great forever home. Bunny and Barney kept each other company while I got to work preparing for a big fundraiser called BarkAid. In the history of names, I think BarkAid was one of the hardest to promote. We do CAT rescue, it’s called BarkAid. They take over a salon and do haircuts for PEOPLE, not DOGS, then donate what they make to a local rescue. I had my hands full trying to scramble to get the 26 ft long banner produced to hang over our town’s main drag, while I was writing press releases, cleaning up kitten vomit, worrying about Minnie, trying to find homes for Barney and Bunny and wondering if any of this was going to work.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I was wiped out, but BarkAid was a success for us. After spending about $1300.00 in advertising and fees related to BarkAid, we still came up with another $1000.00 to put in the bank. We had the second highest number of haircuts of the past two years of the program!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama-Mochachino, exhausted after rescue and two cans of food, finally takes a break in the safety of her foster home with Maria.

A black mama cat and her 3 kittens were zipped up into a cat carrier and dumped in a cul-de-sac on a very hot summer day. Trapped, screaming, clawing to get out, after more than a day, a good Samaritan contacted our mama-Maria to help rescue the family. With nowhere but the kill shelter to go to, I told Maria if she could foster, we’d take them on. The kittens were twin tuxedoes and a little gray and white sibling. Not long after they got settled, we got contacted by another rescuer in the area about helping with one little tuxedo kitten she found in a DUMPSTER, burned on the paws and nose. We had the resources to help him but it meant risking putting him with this mama and her kittens. Would they accept him? Would they sicken him or vice versa? We took a few days to think about it, but in the end, little Biscotti entered our program and our hearts. The family accepted him and no one got sick.

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©2013 Betsy Merchant. Our first glimpse of Biscotti after being rescued.

September

I hit a fairly shocking low point in early September. I was so depressed I scared even myself. The grind of the past 9 months had taken a toll on me. On a lark, moments after I found out that Lil’ Bub, the internet’s alien-cat, was going to be in New Jersey at a book signing, I called the book store and asked if I could get a press pass. They gave me the green light. I grabbed my friend Irene and we went to the store. This may sound overly dramatic, but in that moment it truly WAS amazing what happened next.

Meeting Lil’ Bub saved my life.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I lub Bub.

That cat has magical powers, I swear. Being with her makes you want to cry with joy. The low I’d had in my heart broke apart. I was reminded of the love have for cats, for my friends and I was going to be able to face another day.

Then, the Dogtime Petties are announced via video online. When my category came up, I held my breath. When they announced Covered in Cat Hair as the winner, I started screaming. Sam thought I was being murdered. I ran into the living room and started jumping up and down. I pulled something in my leg and could barely walk for 3 days afterwards, but…I won…FRED WON. Fred had the memorial I had wished and wished for and it meant $1000.00 for Kitten Associates.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Selfie with mah-Pettie.

As I watched the rest of the ceremony, my dear friend, Ingrid King won for Best Overall Pet Blog. This woman is a force to be reckoned with and though I wasn’t surprised she won, it suddenly hit me that her donation of $1000.00 was ALSO coming to Kitten Associates! AT LAST I could stop worrying so much about keeping our doors open…for awhile…

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Best photo of 2013. Chloe let's Angi have it because I got too close with the camera.

The good news didn’t stop there. After months of rehabilitation, Chloe lost a few pounds and was deemed ready to be adopted. Within a few short weeks, we found Pam, who ended up being Chloe’s new mom. They had a tough first few days. Chloe bit Pam badly, but after some time, Chloe began to trust and quickly started a love-fest with Pam’s husband, sleeping next to him and clearly favoring him over Pam. But Pam wasn’t bothered. She kept at it and last I heard Chloe is doing great, meets new people and doesn’t bite any more and loves everyone-except me.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lolly.

Since we had money in the bank, I rescued two flea-covered, skinny siblings, Lolly & Clark. I didn’t stop there when 6 orange tabby kittens, nicknamed “the Clementines” landed on death row in a Kentucky municipal pound. They were at risk of being killed. I offered money, whatever I could think of, to get a local rescue to take these cuties on. No one stepped forward. I got worried. Someone in KY offered to foster the cats for us, so with great trepidation, I said YES. We’d just gotten a brand new foster home so I thought we’d have the space.

October

What was I thinking?

The Clementines were sick right off the transport and they were COVERED in FLEAS. Not one or two but hundreds. It was a huge mess. Our new foster mom, Jeannie, kicked butt. She HATES fleas and knows how to get rid of them. We bathed all the kittens and got them set up, but with their chronic health problems, I ended up taking them back from her and taking on the roll of their caretaker just days after Lolly & Clark found their forever home. It meant my house was loaded with cats and I was terrified about a flea outbreak. Whatever free time I had was gone.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The Clementines before we rescued them. The little dilute was not part of their litter and WAS rescued by another group.

My cat Blitzen got sick with a mysterious allergic reaction and rodent ulcer on his mouth. I had to put him on steroids which kicked back his immune system and he caught the upper respiratory that the Clementine’s were fighting. I basically had a house full of sick cats. The days were a blur of Vet runs, medicating, worrying. Little Sherbert’s left eye was so bad we couldn’t even SEE his eye any more. We worked tirelessly to get these cats back on their paws while some of my own cats started to get the sniffles.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Robin and Grumpy Cat.

I took one evening off to travel to NYC to attend the Friskies where I met Grumpy Cat. Of course my camera crapped out on me while I was holding her but my iPhone worked well enough to capture the moment. Did meeting Grumpy Cat change my life? No. I felt bad for her, in truth. Everyone was handling her. No one seemed to be looking out for her the way Mike Bridavsky does with Lil’ Bub.

I also got to meet Will Braden, filmmaker and cat-daddy who creates the Henri le Chat Noir videos. Will is a sweetheart. We had a great conversation about how he does his videos (you can’t direct a cat, you have to go with their natural instincts) and we talked about art school (since we both went to one) and just about how weird it is for him to have a slice of fame and fortune. He is clearly humbled by it and somewhat amused. I hope celebrity doesn’t get to his head. So far, so good.

November

I was stunned when our former foster, Willow got returned. She’d had flea bite dermatitis, her fur looked terrible, she was thin. She was stress-peeing in the new home and her owner was getting divorced. It was just too much for him and I was glad to have her back. Willow was reunited with Barney, who’d been with us over a year by then. They went right back to being best friends and when David, a police officer from Danbury, saw Willow on Petfinder, then met Barney, he realized he wanted them both to be part of his family.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney & Willow reunited at last.

Willow blossomed again and Barney had a new mom. David sent me a video of Willow grooming Barney as he sat there, clearly loved, clearly happy, after losing his brother, his other siblings at birth, and his own mom, he had family again and I couldn’t be happier with how it worked out.

Minnie was still waiting for her forever home, but we found a lovely foster home with Barbara and her family, so Minnie was doing well, getting chubby and loving life. She's gained about SIX POUNDS since we rescued her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie, still waiting for her forever home.

Bunny Boo-Boo finally found her home, too, with one of our friends who lives in the Boston area. They’d been looking for a very long time to add a cat to their family, which included a shy orange tabby named Sunny. Sunny & Bunny. Who didn’t see this coming?

December

The Clementines still battle being sick. Mocha and family arrived and Confetti Joe & Lil’ Gracey, two of Minnie’s kittens were still here. Their siblings had found great homes months ago. I added it up. I had 22 cats in my house. I tried not to be freaked out. I have the space, but the resources and the time are another thing all together. I kept wondering..where are the adopters and WHEN can I put the Clementines on Petfinder? They’d had a bad reaction to a vaccination. I had to wait weeks longer than normal to get them spayed/neutered. They still had a runny eye here and there and in the meantime they were blowing out of their room they were so BIG.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Sherbert. These kittens wax and wane with their upper respiratory infections.

In addition to the usual holiday “to do’s” we had to plan what we’d do to honor the first year anniversary of the Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We decided to re-open our Kitties for Kids program for a few weeks. Even though Sam and I were both exhausted, we knew we had to give back and offer to help those in need. If we lost another Christmas, so be it.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Downtown Sandy Hook, CT on December 14, 2013.

The day came on soft paws. It snowed. The press stayed away. No one needed Kitties for Kids. We shed some tears and lit a candle. We knew life is too short as it is and to remember to cherish whatever we have for as long as we have it.

As 2013 draws to a close, I can take some pride in announcing that although there was great heartbreak, there were also some great milestones. The most important is in the numbers. How many lives did we save this year?

Last year we saved 60 lives.

I count saved lives as: literally rescued and brought into our program and cats we’ve found other rescue placements for by networking. We can’t track every “save” we’ve done by networking, but this year we’ve help at least: 94 CATS!

And what’s in store for 2014?

Here are some hints…

Big Changes for Covered in Cat Hair.

New Rescues will be Announced (VERY SOON)

A Few Lucky Kittens FINALLY Get Their Forever Home! (EVEN SOONER)

Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me, who cries with me and laughs with and sometimes AT me! I couldn’t do this without all of you by my side. Look what we’ve done. Let’s drink a toast to the good stuff of 2013 and say a gentle farewell to the difficult days.

Happy 2014 to Us All!

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