Like so many others around the world who are in shock and mourning the loss of the brilliantly talented Robin Williams, his death reawakens discussions about mental illness, depression and suicide. As a suicide survivor and as someone who has battled serious bouts of depression, I decided to step out from behind the curtain and share some thoughts.
The other day I was talking to my partner, Sam. I was telling him how grateful I was that I got to be alive. That it really IS a miracle that out of all the people who lived before me and who had to survive and have children, that one day two people would find each other and I would get to be a product of that union. The odds blow my mind when I think about it long enough. What reason do I have to ever be sad or sorry to be blessed to watch a sun rise, to walk on my own two legs (I’m not handicapped), to breathe without being plugged into a machine. I can take delight in getting a hug or finding I did have one cookie left when I really wanted one. I may be nearly broke. I might lose my home, but in the scheme of things I have so much to be grateful for simply because I was born and I get to experience all this juicy, wonderful and terrible stuff called life.
This is not a story about blindly being happy or that there can be no reason for feeing brokenhearted and depressed. It’s a reminder to all of us to yank our head out of our ass. To stop being consumed by being a consumer. To stop tap, tap, tapping on the phone keyboard ‘til our eyes burn. To quit beating ourselves up because we're too fat, too thin, too old, too this or that and start a path towards being gentle and loving with ourselves and others in a real and open way.
There are so many issues, so many concerns, so many fears, yet if you could clear those things away for a moment and take a step back and look around, you’re pretty fucking lucky to just be alive and maybe in all of that there is the seed of joy, ready to blossom.
I’ve been to the dark place many times. I’ve come very close to taking my own life more often than I’d care to say. In 1999 on a hot summer day in June, my father blew his brains out in my brother’s old room. He’d had many trials over his life and dark days, too, but in those days seeing a therapist or taking medication wasn’t a thing a “man” did. My father was a great provider for his family. He loved us yet scared us with his temper, but in the end he was a guilt-ridden, frustrated man who so wanted to be happy but couldn’t find a way to stop feeling bad about what he didn’t achieve. Because of that he was blind to seeing what he DID accomplish. He could never let go of having to prove something and as a result could never feel good about himself. It was a demon that he couldn’t shake. He was so creative and far ahead of his time that it still pains me to think about it. If he could only have seen what I saw in him.
©1970 Judith Feminella. Daddy going on another business trip with me and my brother at his side.
I wonder if that is true of Robin Williams? I can’t speak about this man’s life. I have lots of questions like everyone else. I think about how I want to feel jealous of my friends when I see them having success. I think they have it all and I have nothing. I think I’m not good enough because they have more than I do. I think about Robin Williams, a comedic genius with money, fame, access to whoever or whatever he wanted. He didn’t have to worry about how to pay the bills or if he had enough Likes on Facebook. He “had it all” by our standards, yet look at how things ended for him? He may have felt like his life was some sort of living Hell that was so painful the only solution left was to leave this mortal coil.
I know how depression feels like impossibly tight blinders. We can’t be reasoned out of not wanting to hurt ourselves in those dark moments. For myself what I have learned was I made a promise to my Mother that if I ever felt that badly I could sound the alarm and she would help me simply get to the next minute. If I could get to one minute, surely I could get to two and soon after that the darkness would slowly begin to wane. I could always depend on my feelings changing. Nothing is solid. I can just take another breath and another and I can get there even if I’m still wobbly for a long time after. The sky will be blue again. That’s a guarantee.
My mother died 8 years ago Friday. I don’t have her to go to when the dark times come, but I have all of you and I can’t tell you how many times your love has kept my fingers typing along, telling another story, when I thought so little of myself that I didn’t want to go on any more. I also don't feel so dark all the time. The more I focus on being grateful and in helping others, the less I feel bad about myself.
I’m so terribly sad that Robin Williams choice was to take his life. I know if he had reached out to any one of his fans, his friends, his family, they would have gone to his side. I wish Robin could have taken another breath, given it another minute. At some point there will be good days again. You have to have faith in that. If you can just open your eyes and let a tiny sliver of this beautiful world reach your heart you wouldn’t ever feel the need to leave it all behind. There really IS so much wonder around all of us it’s a terrible shame how easy it is to forget that.
Unrestricted Image Creative Commons: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA
I wish I could have said some of these things to my Father and I wish someone could have said them to Robin Williams, too.
And to all of you, my friends, thank you for being there. To those who suffer the dark days, please, please remember to have faith in that next breath and that soon your feelings will change. Reach out to friends and family for help or call any number of suicide prevention hotlines. People care about each other and want to help each other. You DO matter. Let someone help you. Then, when you feel you can, go outside and look around. Find a gem in a newly formed leaf or really enjoy the sweet smell of the air before it rains. Don’t take your life for granted and throw it down the drain. Relish it. Love it. Be joyful. Live.
It’s been a tough month since we took on ALL the cats from one home in town in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. The woman said she someone gave her a cat we call Laney and she never got around to getting her spayed. Fast forward 3 years and there were 13 cats roaming around her yard, all offspring of this one cat or her "old enough" kittens. Many more than the ones we were able to account for “disappeared” or were flat out killed by wildlife or died from never getting vet care. Laney's own daughter Winnie was the latest in a long line of pregnant offspring, but she would get the care she needed, unlike the others.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mother, Laney (left) and her daughter, Winnie (right)
Their miserable life ended on July 1 when we took them into our rescue. Kitten Associates is “full-up” with other cats and kittens but because our foster mom, Moe was willing to make room, we decided to take on the risk. It’s very hard to turn your back when you know something terrible could befall little kittens and their parents. It meant a big challenge for us because we haven’t had any adoptions this summer and what little interest we’ve had hasn’t panned out. Trying to find the funds to feed all these cats plus the dozen plus more I have in my home is difficult, but it must be done. We are devoted to ending their misery by providing for their well-being for however long that means. We treated their flea infestations and took them to the vet over and over again. Two of the kittens, Jasper and Julep, were chronically sick to the point of us fearing we would lose them, but they recovered and for now they are doing well.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney has got to be due soon!
Meanwhile, Celeste, our friendly stray who was dumped and pregnant in a nearby town to my home in Connecticut is ready to be spayed. Her kittens are already vetted now that they’re 12 weeks old. Astro, Hubble, Twinkle-Twinkle and Little Star are delightful. They’ve grown like weeds and are full of love and joy, but they’re outgrowing the small blue bathroom and it’s tough to keep them in such a small space. We let them out of their room for a run down the hallway a few times every day. They love to race back and forth after pom poms, spring toys and pretty much anything else they can get their paws on until they get so tired they lay flat on the floor having no further desire to run around until they recharge their battery with a nap. I can’t believe they’re getting so big already. Seems like only a week or two ago that I watched them being born. Sometimes I imagine little Fiorello, their sibling who died a day after he was born, running around with the others, finally getting to live the full life he deserved.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Celeste getting ready for the next part of her journey.
Mia, who came to us from northern Georgia, and her kittens are doing well, too. Although it was the right choice to bring Mia to my home in Connecticut to be fostered with her kittens, it was also the wrong choice to make. Mia and I haven’t bonded. She always hisses at me when I come near her. I’ve snuck a few pets in but she recoils fearfully. If I’d left her behind and only transported her kittens to my home leaving Moe continue to work with her, the 13 cats we just rescued wouldn’t have had a space to live and we would have had to leave them behind to fend for themselves.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. A little bit of everything going on here.
Mia’s kittens are a riot and the two who were most shy are starting to warm up to me. They’re all getting to be too big, which always makes me worry, but I have to have faith it will work out and they’ll find their homes soon regardless of how big they are now.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Who is the most beautiful one of all?
Wallace, our little brat, has had a few setbacks, but has also made some great progress. Wallace, who was rescued by the Danbury, CT Fire Department when they broke him out of a wall, needed to be bottle fed for many weeks. With Nina, a Great Dane, as his only animal friend, Wallace didn’t learn his “kitty manners” and became fearful and aggressive with humans. I was shocked this happened to Wallace and felt like blaming his foster mom for not doing a good job, but after doing some research it was clear that Wallace needed the company of other kittens to help him learn how to be a proper kitty—to not bite hard, to not be aggressive. He couldn’t learn this from humans so he returned to my home for what I call “Kitten Bootcamp.”
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Hubble (left) and Astro (right) growing like weeds.
It wasn’t easy to make the choice but after careful consideration I put Wallace with Mia’s kittens instead of Celeste's even though her kittens were the same age as Wallace. They were already vetted and were less likely to cause Wallace to get sick and vice versa. They were older and bigger and could also handle Wallace’s rough play-behavior. I worried that Wallace would get hurt especially after seeing how Mia's kitten Woody reacted to meeting his new friend.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Little Star at 10 weeks.
It took a few days for the hissing and growling to subside. The once sweet Woody turned violent and unpleasant with all of us during those days. I was surprised since Woody has always been the most friendly and outgoing, but apparently he's also the most possessive of his humans.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Mia's son, Fernando. Just chillin'.
I didn’t think this test would work very quickly, if at all, but within a week I began to see big changes in Wallace. His initial anger was gone. He was no longer frustrated by not having an outlet for his pent up energy. He could chase and be chased. He could wrestle, jump, bite and burn off any excess energy he had. He’d come over to me when I entered the room and he’d PURR. He’d climb up on me and rub his face against my cheek. He couldn’t get close enough to me. I wanted to relax and enjoy it, but I was still very careful in how I handled him. I didn’t pet him a lot because I didn’t want to over-stimulate him and I wanted him to have positive reinforcement for his good behavior, too.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Ivy (left) and brother, Fernando (right).
He definitely seemed to have a point where it was too much and I didn’t want to get to that point. If he started to jump or nip I stopped giving him attention. He needs more work but he’s so much better and our little punk has gained over a pound! He no longer looks like an elf with his big ears and eyes. I miss the silly face he once had, but I’m glad to see him maturing normally and losing that scary-big belly that made us worry he had the wet form of FIP.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Sweet Greta.
Junebug and her sister Maggie are STILL waiting for their forever home. The once shy kitties are much calmer and living a great life with Jame and her family. They are our newest foster family and have helped the kitties overcome their fears. The cats are almost full grown and gorgeous. It pains me that only their brother Purrcee has been adopted. I hope their turn will come soon.
I had a chance to see them today when Sam and I visited them and showed Jame how to do claw trims, but it also left me feeling guilty that I haven't found their home yet.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. One of the weirdest photos I've ever taken.
And lastly there’s Winnie and Laney, our pregnant ladies. Two days ago Winnie gave birth to three kittens. Sadly, only one of them survived. The others were stillborn. Winnie didn’t have the best odds coming from a lousy environment, being very young-barely out of kittenhood herself, and her offspring were likely inbred. It just doesn’t add up to producing healthy, viable kittens.
©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Wallace makes friends with Fernando.
It's heartbreaking that the kittens didn’t make it. Tigger and Eeoyre deserved to have a long, wonderful life, but they never even took a breath. Their little sibling, Piglet is precious and pale, but is nursing well. Winnie is too young to understand the responsibility of being a mother. Maybe her hormones haven’t kicked in or there’s something wrong with Piglet. All we know is she’s not being a great mother. Unless she’s supervised she doesn’t feed Piglet consistently. She hasn’t abandoned the kitten so we don't think anything is wrong with him. She has gone over to the place where she gave birth and cried out. She's possibly mourning her losses. It's hard to say. We’re praying that she adjusts to motherhood soon and/or that her mother, Laney, finally gives birth and will accept an extra kitten to care for.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Winnie rests her head on a warmed rice-filled sock after her first day as a mom while Piglet enjoys his first day.
Laney is HUGE. I keep seeing photos of her and wonder how she walks and how many kittens she’s going to have. She’s been a mama many times before so we hope all her kittens will be big and thriving and maybe be willing to share their mom with Piglet if needed.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Piglet. 2 ounces. Resting on a gently warmed sock filled with rice.
Tonight is the night of the Super Moon. It's big and peachy in color. It's been giving me strange dreams. My gut says this is the night when Laney will give birth because we are pulled by the unseen forces of nature and the moon's tug on us is one of them. Everyone will be all right and Piglet will survive. It just HAS to be that way. It just HAS TO. We’ve lost two kittens to the Heavens. The price has been paid. I hope the ones yet to be born as well as little Piglet will be all right so we can focus on celebrating our new arrivals and starting their story with joy in our hearts instead of the sting of disappointment and sadness over more who don't make it.
UPDATE: The super moon didn't work its magic on Laney. No kittens yet. We're still waiting for her to give birth. Piglet went from 2 ounces to 2.5 ounces. Moe is supplementing his food with extra syringes of formula. All we can do now is cross our fingers, toes, paws, whatever we've got. It's up to Piglet and Winnie now.
Two years ago we rescued a kitty in Georgia we named King Arthur. I wanted him to have a regal name because he lived in squalid conditions with a deformity that robbed him of his back paws. He deserved a life of adoration and loving care after what he'd suffered and I was determined to find that for him.
©2012 Bobby Stanford. Our super-amazing cat transporter and friend, Bobby told us about King and the rest was history. (You can read King's story HERE.)
When a lady named Judith read my blog post about King, she decided to offer him a forever home with her and her two cats. She didn't care that she couldn't meet him before she adopted him. She knew she would make it work. She lives far from Georgia in New Hampshire, but her love was not deterred by distance.
Over the years King has had a number of serious health issues that almost took his life, but with Judy on his side, he had nothing to fear. Judy is one of those special people who not only provides a loving home, but makes certain her cats always get the best care and appropriate food, too.
©2014 Judy. A very happy and well-loved, King.
You see Judy's had experience with cats who needed help. In fact they were her first two cats, Sassy and Yasmin who share Judy's home with King. While most first time cat parents opt to adopt kittens or easy-to-love cats, Judy chose adult cats that had been victims of a hoarder who faced serious health and behavioral issues.
Judy learned a lot about cats because of Yasmin's many health issues. Yasmin had almost no fur when she was adopted. Her coat was ratty and short, but eventually it grew and grew, surprising everyone that she was a long haired cat. Yasmin became diabetic and Judy gave her insulin and monitored her care. She did the research and found out with a diet change she could put Yasmin into remission. She did right by her sweet kitty by changing her diet, which worked on lowing her blood sugar levels to within normal limits.
©2012 Robin AF Olson. Yasmin getting her belly brushed by Judy's sister.
Yasmin almost died during her spay surgery and had battles with URIs, dermatitis and painful dental problems, but she remained loving and affectionate throughout her challenges. I got to meet Yasmine when we brought King to his new home where she was completely at ease with us. I have a major soft spot for black and white long haired cats so when I met her I was instantly in love with her, too.
©2014 Judy. They ever lovely Yasmin.
I'm always very sad when another kitty crosses the Rainbow Bridge, but because she was part of our Kitten Associates family, it makes it even harder.
To our dear friend Judy and her family both furry and not, our deepest sympathies for your loss. Yasmin was a very special, very beautiful kitty who will add another star to the heavens. Fly free sweet girl. Fly free.
ResQwalk, an innovative iOS app that enables animal lovers to raise
money for animal rescues and shelters just by going for a walk, is now
available for iPhone (with plans to expand to Android in the near future). It's available for FREE through the App Store.
Our vision, said Bailey Schroeder CEO and Founder of ResQwalk, is to create a platform that makes giving easy. People don't always have time to volunteer with their local animal rescue, or the space to welcome a dog or cat into their home. Now, with ResQwalk, they have a fun, easy way to contribute to a great cause while doing something they're already doing-walking.
Being the President & Founder of Kitten Associates, a non-profit cat rescue, I was uniquely qualified because I use the app and my rescue benefits from it.
I downloaded the app for my old iPhone and gave it a test drive. The interface is very simple and straightforward and I had no problem setting it up. Sam and I went for a walk around the block. As we walked, ResQwalk followed along ticking off every step. I found myself obsessively checking our progress every few minutes, glad to see we were approaching the first mile mark. Because we weren't signed up to be a recipient rescue, we walked for our friends at Kitten Rescue in LA.
When you choose to complete your walk and send the results to ResQwalk HQ, you also have the option to Tweet or post your walk on Facebook. This certainly can get your friends to join you the next time you go, but they also know WHERE you are so if you're a celebrity or don't care for stalkers, be mindful about what you post. I shared my results because no one would believe that I actually went for a walk (I prefer sitting quietly-too bad there's not an app for sitting at the computer. I would so WIN that). Okay, it DOES make going for a walk fun because you know you're helping a rescue while you get the benefit of exercise.
I recently went for a walk when I was out of town on a mini-break and got to share the results on Facebook.
A few days later I signed up our rescue and fairly soon thereafter I discovered Kitten Associates (KA) was listed on the app. Some of our friends went for a walk and at the close of the first week we got our first donation. It was $1.48, but we barely had anyone walking for us. Also, it cost us NOTHING to get that donation, so that's a win for rescues who are constantly looking for ways to increase donations. All they have to do is work on recruiting folks to walk for them. (Hey! This week we got $4.81! Thank you, walkers!)
I was contacted by Edward at ResQwalk about creating custom badges for both our uses and I thought that was a very helpful idea. This is not a one-sided operation. I truly felt as though they DO want to help rescues however they can and they were easy to work with.
The only thing that ruffled my feathers a little bit was that the app was designed around taking your dog for a walk. If you don't have a dog, as is in my case, just go for a walk! I even did a test walk when I did some shopping because the local Target store seems so big that I figured I must walk a decent distance. What surprised me was at the end of my walk was that ResQwalk reported I didn't walk far enough for it to count! I felt a bit embarrassed, but hey, I tried.
And to those deep-pocketed pet brands out there-this is a great way to get some positive name recognition by sponsoring the weekly pot of money! Take heed!
After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. In this case I will be reimbursed for writing this review, though I only write reviews about things I honestly like. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.
It’s never easy to care for a cat when they fall ill. Regardless of your resources or skills, managing your own heart is probably the toughest part of seeing your dear companion weaken and eventually die. Perhaps it’s a blessing that cats live the moment. They don’t ponder the “what ifs” about their life or fret over the bad choices they’ve made. If they’re breathing and on the right side of the grass, it’s all good.
Sadly, we often know what lies ahead and that’s why it’s so difficult on us. It’s why I’ve found myself crying when I’m out running errands and I have a few moments to myself. A mournful song plays on the stereo and I think about what is yet to come for a very special cat named Big Daddy and my heart breaks.
©2014 Warren Royal. Our first glimpse of Big Daddy.
I’ve followed Big Daddy’s journey from just after the moment his caretaker and BFF, Warren trapped him, to the long phone calls over the past few days discussing what should be done next for him—relieve his suffering from aggressive nasal cancer or find a way to fight the battle anew.
What began as a near-death scare a few months ago, going temporarily blind and having a lung collapse, was only the beginning of what has been one heartbreak after another for this soulful looking creature. For a young cat like Big Daddy, hearing the word “cancer” was a devastating blow even though Big D has plugged along as best he could whatever came his way. He’s just “that kind” of cat.
Last week's CT Scan. The dark area between Big Daddy's eyes is clear sinus and the gray area that is similar to the black is the mass located.
But Big Daddy didn’t know this. He couldn’t breathe very easily and his sense of smell was so weak he lost his taste for his favorite food. He still played, not as joyfully, but he didn’t let the mass completely stop his love for life. Warren knew that if something wasn’t done, Big Daddy’s time was almost up.
©2014 Warren Royal. Warren & Big Daddy.
Warren and I had a long talk about giving him radiation. The truth is it may only be palliative. It’s not a cure. Big Daddy has terminal cancer. The question we don’t know the answer to is when he will die and how long we can put it off and keep him happy and comfortable in the meantime.
We reached out to professionals. Warren spoke with a radiologist who said that nasal cancer responds very well to radiation and, “knock wood” so far she’s never seen it NOT reduce the size of the mass. Dr. Gerald Post, our oncologist Vet who worked with Fred, also weighed in and agreed that Big Daddy’s treatment should be radiation along with chemo. The chemo would stop the spread of the cancer to his GI tract and the radiation would reduce the mass. It would mean 5 days in a row of radiation for Big Daddy and some discomfort, but the hope would be in a few weeks time, that Big Daddy would no longer be struggling to breathe and his vision would remain intact.
Warren’s only concern is quality of life for Big Daddy. He does not want him to suffer. Warren gave up on going to important business trips to stay home and make sure Big Daddy got to his Vet appointments and so he could continue to provide care. For a professed former dog lover, Warren’s tune has certainly changed. I have rarely ever seen anyone so dedicated to providing the right care, whatever that may mean, for a cat.
©2014 Warren Royal. Taking a break to catch his breath.
We’ve “gone to the well” a few times very recently, asking for donations to help Big Daddy keep going. No one wants to ask for help but the truth is, Vet care is expensive, especially when you’re dealing with cancer.
Warren’s company, Royal Bobbles, produces custom bobbleheads. While he’s been busy researching and caring for Big Daddy, he and his team have been creating a Big Daddy bobblehead. The final design has just been approved and the exciting news is that EVERYONE who donates $50.00 (either as a sole donation OR if you’ve donated a few dollars in our last fundraiser and donate again to reach that $50.00 mark) will get a Big Daddy bobblehead of their own. It’s a special Thank You gift Warren wants as many folks as possible to have. They will start shipping in 90 days.
©2014 Warren Royal. Some special one-on-one time.
Our starting point for the matching funds challenge will be when the YouCaring fundraiser reaches $500.00 total.Thank you SO MUCH, Chris! You’re part of the team making a big difference in Big Daddy’s life.
You can donate via Big Daddy’s fundraiser below OR you can also call in a credit card to Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners at 404-459-0903 OR mail a check to them at: 455 Abernathy Road NE, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. MAKE SURE you put “For Big Daddy/KittenAssociates” on the note section of the check so they know to add your donation to the account.
Because we know what Big Daddy faces we choose to do something about it. Although the day to day struggle to not lose faith remains a big challenge, I’m proud to say that Warren will slay dragons for Big D. That much is clear. What else is clear is that Big Daddy is a Hell of a lucky cat, even with the darkest days yet to come. He could have been lost to us so long ago…alone…dead…behind that Home Depot where Warren first discovered him. Because of that I try to take some comfort in the joy that we all get to know a truly special cat through Warren’s photos and updates, instead.
Let’s try to be like Big Daddy. In this moment, everything is all right. That's what matters.
Wallace has been in foster care for the past few weeks and from all the reports I got it sounded like he was doing well. The next step in his journey were to put him with Celeste and her kittens because as an orphan, Wallace hasn't learned his kitty manners yet and we don't want him to be adversely effected by only being around humans and his Great Dane friend, Nina.
At least that was the plan...
I brought Celeste's four kittens to the Vet for their first vaccination. After they had their exam they would meet Wallace for the first time. If I could mingle the smell of the kittens with Wallace's perhaps Celeste would be more inclined to accept him as one of her own. She wasn't at the Vet so this was a good time for me to be sneaky.
Except there was a problem...
Christine's young adult daughter brought Wallace into the exam room. I took one look at him and knew something was off. She reported that Wallace was being "violent" and that he really needed some help. As she spoke I could see him writhing in her hands, nipping at her fingers. She handed him to me and I realized his belly was enormous. I could feel the anxiety building in my chest. What the heck was I going to DO with this kitten? Did he have FIP? Violent? Last I saw Wallace he was purring, affectionate and now he was thrashing around in my hands. I needed to talk to the Vet about this.
We went over Wallace's condition. His fur was thin. Near the back of his ears he barely has any fur. I imagined Nina over grooming him and him suffering at the end of her big tongue. Was he held captive? Did she groom him too much? Why did he feel so DIRTY? What little coat he had was coarse. I started to worry that maybe he was really sick or had a skin disease at least.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. First look after returning from his foster home.
I knew I couldn't risk putting him with Celeste's kittens, but now what would I do with him? Where would I put him? I had no more spaces for foster kittens left.
My heart sank. This is a critical time for Wallace. If we don't get him to be socialized he won't be adoptable. I decided to put him in our master bathroom. It's a small space but it was all I had left. I put a cat tree and some bedding in the room and Wallace already had his "mobile bachelor pad" (cat carrier with his blanket and stuffed bear friend). I let Wallace out of his carrier so I could observe him and he came at me swiping and hissing. He seemed more furious than scared. I tried to pick him up but he struggled and made odd sounds. I put him down. He was so weak he could barely stand. When he did walk, his belly was so big he wobbled...and this is an eight week old kitten. He should have full use of his limbs by now.
I'm caring for two rooms of kittens, overseeing care of six sick cats in Georgia and now Wallace needs socialization. I'm also trying to work to make a living as a graphic designer, promote Kitten Associates so we can keep the doors open and keep writing my blog (and beg for Petties votes!). I was already staying up until 3AM just to make sure I was spending enough time with the kittens after trying to get some work done during the day. There never seems to be enough space to get anything done with calls, emails and texts always coming in. How the Hell was I going to get Wallace into a good place mentally and what if he had Feline Leukemia or FIV?
I spent hours with him. First coaxing him to come to me with chicken baby food. He came right over and ate while he sat on my lap. We had play time until he was so tired he wanted to nap. Within a day he was not aggressive with me, but he definitely needed help understanding that hands were not for biting. He also began to relax around me and even ran out of his little bachelor pad to greet me on the second morning. There I saw the little guy I'd remembered. There was that little sweetness in him that mixed with how odd he looks adds up to a kitten with the power to melt the coldest heart.
Later that morning we were off to another Vet. This time we visited Dr Mary. I decided if Wallace would test negative for FIV and FeLV, then he could be with Mia, instead of Celeste. Her kittens are much bigger but they have been vetted already so they are at less risk of getting sick or making Wallace sick. I would crate Wallace if I wasn't in the room due to his small size (I want him to be safe from harm) and let him out to be with the kittens for as long as I could every day. Hopefully the interactions would help him learn about not biting and not attacking but it would take some time.
©2014 Robin AF Olson. With Dr. Mary.
It was Friday morning and we were the only clients. Everyone in the office had to come see Wallace, coo over him, tell him they loved him and basically fuss over him. He was hilarious. He'd be sweet, then reach out and slap someone in the face or nip but not bite their hands. They kissed his big belly and talked baby talk to him, while he looked at them with those big owl eyes. We let him run around the exam room. I'd brought a toy with me so he was chasing after it. Dr. Mary did her exam while she chatted away, telling me that basically he was fine just the way he was, though she couldn't sort out what was going on with his strange striped coat. She was mesmerized by him as she tried to listen to his heart. He wriggled around so the intrepid Vet Tech (and friend of mine) Super-Deb helped keep him still so they could finish up. Deb had no problem holding him up by his front legs and talking to him as though he could understand her words. She'd quickly stretch him out so his belly was exposed, then kiss his belly over and over until he wanted to be put down.
©2014 Robin AF Olson.
©2014 Super Deb. In da bachelor pad.
Super-Deb asked me if I like her to foster Wallace for a few days-just over the weekend. He could meet her maine coon kitties and her beloved doggie, Jayne. They'd get his kitten bootcamp started and I could pick him up on Monday. If it had been anyone else I would have said no, but with Deb, I knew he would be in good hands AND it gave me a little time to get his crate set up for when he returns.
The other thing I realized is that it wasn't the foster mom's fault that Wallace was so fractious. He really needs to be with other cats, BUT I also do wonder if they were using their hands as a toy. That's a big no-no especially with kittens who can't understand if a hand is a toy or a hand is for petting. When Wallace grows up we don't want him to be confused about that because a ten pound cat going after your fingers is not my idea of a good time.
I've had a few updates about Wallace already. It seems he's having a blast at Super-Deb's house but hasn't had much interaction with Deb's pets yet. Last night he tucked himself in around 10pm when he got into his bachelor pad to go to sleep for the night. Deb was a bit miffed since she wanted him to hang out with her, but Wallace has to recharge his cuteness so he can continue to melt hearts wherever he goes.
It's Monday now and I was supposed to pick up Wallace, except for the fact that Super-Deb has a mad crush on him and asked to keep him until I get back from a quick out-of-town trip I'm going on for two days. I just hope I can get him back when I return.
And now it's time to enjoy this very special video featuring Wallace!
©2014 Robin AF Olson.
In truth, I felt like the ugly girl who didn’t get invited to the Prom. I understand that I won’t always win things I enter, but I knew in my heart I’d really tried to get enough votes. I’d also been feeling sorry for myself that I wasn’t reaching a big enough audience for all the hard work I put into my blog posts. Many of my friends have well over 50,000 Facebook fans so how could I compete with that? I have just over 12,000 on Facebook. My reach is just too small.
I realized that I shouldn't compare my work to what anyone else does. Not that I’m so special or awesome, but because if I focus on what others are doing, then it takes away from what I’m doing. I may perceive they have greater success than I do based on their fan base, but that’s their path, not mine and I want to be happy for my friend's success, not be a petty (pardon the pun) whiner. Although I may not have superstar status, I truly believe I have built something a lot better. I get a lot of LOVE from all of you and that is not only VERY HUMBLING, but it’s kept me going these 8 years I’ve been blogging. There have been many dark days and if I didn't have your friendship, I would be lost.
I looked over the finalist list and something struck me. It didn’t look “right.” I know the players and many of their names were absent. Some of the nominees puzzled me. As the next few days passed, I heard from more and more people that some folks got nominations but they NEVER ASKED FOR VOTES. Some got nominated for things they didn’t ASK to be nominated for. A blog post that was two years old, not promoted, won over another blog post from the same blogger that WAS promoted. Something wasn’t right.
I respectfully penned a letter to the folks at Dogtime and asked if something was possibly wrong. The reply shocked me. They indicated they were looking into the voting and would let me know what they found out. They could have said everything was fine as is but they didn’t. I respected them for that.
My partner, Sam told me he’d been able to vote twice in one day (which you should not be able to do). Sam does a lot of coding and he told me that something as minor as a comma in the wrong place in the code could completely destroy how a program functions. I asked him what he would have done if it happened to his website. He said it would be a tough situation to handle and if they didn’t keep good records there might never be a solution.
A few nights ago emails went out to the finalists indicating a complete list of finalists would be announced that night. Everyone held their breath waiting for the news. Would they lose their nomination or get more? In an unheard of move, supposedly due to a computer error, many of the finalists either lost their nomination or were moved to other categories. In some cases, a shocking surprise…
What made me fall over in my chair was that we got a SECOND nomination.
But then there was the realization that if we had gotten a finalist slot, then someone else lost theirs. I don’t have a record of the first list of finalists, but I know there are many people out there who are very upset. Some of them didn’t ask for votes once, let alone daily, as I did, yet they are still angry.
I get it. It’s humiliating to broadcast you're a finalist for an award, only to have it stripped away later. I would never want to win something by causing anyone else to suffer so this win is a double-edged sword. My rescue NEEDS the donations badly. We have more cats in our program than we’ve ever had before. Earning an award also helps fuel ME to keep writing stories that inspire and entertain. I don’t get a salary for what I do. I make a few dollars once in a blue moon doing a review, but geez, my car is 13 years old and I live month to month most of the time. This award means a lot to me personally.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Wallace is one of 26 reasons why I really hope we can WIN the Petties!
Karen Nichols summed it up best. I was standing behind her at an awards show a few years ago. She’d just won two awards and I had only reached finalist status. I teased her about winning two awards, acting petulant for not winning and she turned to me and laughed and said, “Hey, it’s an award for CAT BLOGS!”
However it shakes out there will be winners and losers. Does Dogtime need to be hung out to dry? No. They could have made an effort to letting the former finalists down more gently from what I heard and by the way, I NEVER WAS NOTIFIED THAT I WAS A FINALIST. My friends told me.
For someone who was initially robbed of their nomination I'm relieved that I was given a fair chance because of the re-count. Would it be fair that I don’t get the chance I worked for because the others, who didn’t do anything still deserve that slot? It's tough to answer because of all the hurt feelings on both sides.
I don’t have the perfect solution for this kerfuffle, but I'm very grateful to ALL of YOU for voting every day and for believing in what I do…because…
FUNNIEST BLOG OR BLOGGER: Texts From Mittens
BEST CAT BLOG: THE TINIEST TIGER
BEST OVERALL PET BLOG: THE CONSCIOUS CAT
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
How many of you have had cats “find” you? You’re minding your own business and a skinny, sad little waif shows up at your patio door looking for something to eat or you’re doing yard work and hear kittens crying. A cat has given birth under your shed.
There are countless ways you might find a cat or vice versa, but what do you do next? You’ve got to help them!
First things First. Is the cat Friendly or Feral?
Do you think the cat is a lost house-cat or a wild child? Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference. In this insightful article, Alley Cat Allies shares some great tips on how to make the determination The short answer is, if they come over to you and want to be petted, you know it’s a friendly stray. In a future post we’ll talk about what to do if the cat is feral. For now we’ll focus on friendly cats.
A few weeks ago Sam spotted an unfamiliar cat outside on our deck so we began the process of finding out if he needed our help.
First, if the cat is NOT BADLY INJURED OR SERIOUSLY ILL* you MUST find out if this is someone else’s cat. It doesn’t matter if the cat appears to be in poor condition, very thin, dirty or not seriously injured. It may have lost its home a long time ago and it may still have a family looking for it. Call your local animal control and report a FOUND cat. Do not simply call them and ask them to take the cat away. Many municipalities do not take found cats and if they do they might euthanize the animal. What they might be able to do is scan the found cat for a microchip. Ask if they can help you with that. If they can’t do the scan, most vets can at least do that. If you can handle the cat and get it to a vet, finding that it has a chip may allow you to reunite it with its family.
Poor Boots is lost in New Milford, CT.
Also, put flyers around your neighborhood and post photos and information on social media. In some states there are state-specific lost and found web sites for pets. Take a moment to search for those, too. You might be surprised at what you find. Here's a group dedicated to finding lost pets in northwestern CT.
Keep your eyes peeled for signs in your town from folks looking for their lost cat. It might be the one you found!
If you can’t find their family, as you’re reaching out to get help from a rescue or shelter, be prepared to at least provide fresh food and water for the cat. Shelter is helpful especially if it’s very cold or hot where you live. A plastic storage bin turned on its side in a safe location without the lid works fine to keep the cat out of the elements. Add bedding but make sure to bag it and sanitize wash it after you’re done using it.
This is a special area where we feed our feral kitty, Bronte. A few weeks ago we noticed she had a new friend with her.
Next, go on petfinder.com and do a search for shelters and rescues in your area. Call and email each one that handles cats.
• Describe the cat as best you can. Is it a specific breed? Is it Long or short haired? What Color is it? Boy or girl or you can’t tell. Is it injured or pregnant? If it’s a kitten or kittens describe if their eyes are open yet, if they are blue, if their ears are perky or flat, if they can walk on their own or just wobble. The more you can tell the rescue, the better they will know what they’re dealing with and be able to figure out if they can help that animal.
Less than a day after posting this photo on Facebook a woman contacted me and said it might be the missing kitty, Boots. I contacted his family and they still need better images as they are not sure this is their boy, so I'm working on that right now. If it's not Boots, then this kitty is headed to our vet.
•Provide CLEAR photos of the cat’s face and body. Try to estimate age. Older cats lose muscle mass and have noticeable tooth wear and tear.
• Be willing to foster the found cat in your home for a short period of time. The space can be a spare room or bathroom, but do not let the new cat mix with your existing pets until that cat is completely vetted and treat the cat for fleas before you bring it inside unless they are less than 8 week old kittens. They'll need a bath if that's the case.
• If you can afford it, offer to provide whatever you can to make it easier on the rescue. Rescues often survive from day to day. They get calls all the time from people who need help but only want to dump a problem on them without being part of the rescue. THE MORE YOU CAN DO TO HELP MAKE IT EASY FOR A RESUCE TO SAY YES, DO IT BECAUSE IT WILL HELP YOU GET THE CAT A PLACEMENT.
• Offer a donation towards the care of the cat and you can get the cat its initial vetting. Have it tested for FIV and Feline Leukemia, have it de-wormed and de-flea’d and give him or her a Rabies vaccination. If the cat is intact, you can take it to a low cost clinic. You can find them listed by using the Petsmart & ASPCA locator below: The clinic can do the testing and vaccinations while the cat is being fixed usually all for under $100.00.
If you don’t have a low cost clinic in your area, talk to your own vet or call a local vet. Some will give a “good Samaritan” discount for services. Providing vet care for the cat will make most rescues take notice, because it's rarely ever done. You just saved them not only money, but time.
• Offer to transport the cat to their foster home or facility.
Let’s save some lives!
Keep this post handy because some day you just might need it!
*IF THE CAT IS SERIOUSLY ILL OR INJURED TAKE IT TO A VET RIGHT AWAY. THEY OFTEN KNOW LOCAL RESCUES WHO CAN ASSIST YOU WITH PROVIDING CARE IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO. In some towns they DO ALLOW ANIMAL CONTROL TO HELP WITH INJURED CATS, too. It's worth a call to find out.
This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about DIY month, but Covered in Cat Hair only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.
The kittens were born under the hot southern sun to two mothers who were barely out of kittenhood themselves. The mamas had a human family who fed them, but that’s about all they did. They never bothered to spay their cats or neuter the males for whatever excuse made it seem as though it’s all right to not provide care because that’s what people do…or rather don’t do in this part of the country.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. I can't believe this kitten was so depressed he was lying on the thorns of a rose bush!
We’ve seen this story played out so many times, in so many places. Intact cats left to breed out-of-control, leaving their offspring to meet a terrible fate. These cats are often reduced to being part of the food chain, instead of becoming beloved family members, which is a terrible truth that most rescuers fight with all they’ve got.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. You can see it in the photo but this kitten, like all the others, is very thin.
One white kitten doesn’t make it past a few days, while the others are mercilessly spared, or is it a good thing they survived? Their fate was to immediately become tempting morsels for anything that could catch them, bite them, slowly drain the life out of them. While somehow the roaming foxes didn’t get to them, the parasites had a field day.
It’s likely their mama passed roundworms and probably tapeworms into them during nursing. Being outdoors, of course the fleas were next to enjoy their bounty. Add to that the only food the kittens had after they were done nursing was cheap greasy kibble that was rotting under the blazing sun, covered with hungry flies.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. A mama already. We need to help her stop having more kittens.
Slowly but surely whatever vitality they might have had was slowly being eroded away. In time, if no one intervened, Mother Nature’s clean up crew would take care of them (but I don’t dare describe this any further as any kind-hearted cat lover would be devastated by reading about it).
I’m so angry and sick and tired of this story. It’s unfair, “fixable” (pardon the pun), but for some reason the people who mindlessly leave their animals intact have no concern about what happens after their cats have kittens. What drives me INSANE is not only do these people IGNORE their cats basic needs, but when it’s CLEAR that the littlest kittens are COVERED in FLEAS. Don’t they notice? Don’t they see their eyes running? Don’t they feel that they’re basically skin and bones when they reach down to pet them?
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. How do you NOT notice this kitten is sick?
Of the eight kittens in this person’s yard, two already “ran away.” The six that were left didn’t have much time left before it was their turn to magically disappear into a horrific ending.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. Worst shape of all the kittens. If he went much longer with the amount of fleas he had on him he'd be dead.
When our foster mom, Moe was driving home from work and she saw kittens running around in this person’s yard. She stopped and quickly realized these kittens needed help ASAP.
Moe had just finished fostering Mia and her kittens and was taking a much needed break. I had taken Mia and family, plus I have Celeste and her 4 kittens plus Wallace, our Fire Dept rescue kitten AND Junebug and MaggieMae. To say that I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. I did not want to take on any more cats for the next few months, but when I heard about what was going on, then saw the photos, I couldn’t turn my back on this situation.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. Can I give you my fleas?
Moe reported that there are 6 kittens and 5 adults (very young) who need at least vetting if not more. I have a great fear that as a small rescue this puts us over our limit for what we can care for, but I don’t know what else I can do other than take it one day at a time and hope this all works out. I’m glad she wants to take on this responsibility and I’ve assured her that anything she needs-I’ve got her back.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. Lovely lady. We hope she's not pregnant. Can any rescues in GA lend a hand?
But now I need someone to have my back, too. Taking on six more mouths to feed, plus vetting the adults is going to be expensive. We’ve already done the initial vetting and all the kittens have very bad flea infestation, worms, ear mites and more. Thankfully they tested negative for FIV and Feline Leukemia, but they have a long road ahead. I can’t even use the word: recovery because they have never known good health. Perhaps this long journey will lead to a rebirth of sorts into the beautiful animals they were meant to be from the day they were born.
Here’s the plan:
Our goal is to get everyone healthy. If we can find a local rescue to take them after they’re vetted, great. If we are fortunate to get a new foster home here in Newtown OR if we start doing some adoptions (very slow this time of year), then I’ll bring the kittens here (which I would prefer doing).
We’re also going to work with the family to get their adult cats vetted as soon as possible. There are low cost clinics we can work with. We know if we ask these folks to pay for this service they will find a reason to say no, so we want to get the cats taken care of on our dime. Moe has a tough task balancing her own desire to rip these folks a “new one,” with the need to focus on caring for the cats. She can’t upset these people so she’ll be respectful and get the cats vetted as soon as she can using funds my rescue, Kitten Associates will provide for her.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. No more fleas on meet! By the way, this is a VERY SWEET kitten.
I estimate it will cost at least $140/cat to be vetted (if they have bartonella). This doesn’t include food, litter and toys, which adds a lot since they eat 8, 5 oz cans of food every day. We’re at roughly 1600.00 for all the kittens AND the adults to get vetted. I just spent $400.00 on food, toys and initial vetting.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. This is no existence for a kitten.
smile.amazon.com – use it to shop and we’ll get a small donation that’s banked to our account every time you shop for anyone or any thing on amazon.com
KA amazon wishlist: our wishlist shipping address helps our Connecticut based fosters, but we can't add our Georgia location to our list. The BEST way you can help is by purchasing a Gift Card for amazon.com so we can buy what the kittens need and ship it directly to foster mom, Moe. If you’d like to direct how the gift card is used, just leave a note when you purchase the gift card in the gift note area and we’ll take care of it. WE REALLY NEED GIFT CARDS TO BUY FOOD!!!
Donate through our Facebook App that’s on the left side our KA Facebook page
Visit our PetCaring Fundraiser Page where we’ll share photos and updates
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. Please add a note on your check: “Neglected Kittens”.
We realize there are zillions of cats whose stories are online who need help and we’d all be broke if we made a donation to each one of them. The other way you can make a difference that doesn’t cost a dime is to simply SHARE this post socially with your cat-loving friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Your donation is tax deductible in the U.S.A., but see your tax advisor for how to claim a deduction and how it applies to your tax situation. Our Tax ID EIN is 27-3597692.
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. First car ride, of course, is to the Vet.
Next is to get the buff kitty’s blood work done and test them for bartonella and get their first vaccinations done. We need to do this ASAP! Stay tuned to Covered in Cat Hair on Facebook for updates.
Thank you for being part of our life saving efforts!
©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. It's going to get better from this moment forward. Welcome to our rescue little ones. We've got your back.
(Catch up on this story by reading this post first.)
Mia. What to do? Do I transport her to my home in Connecticut or leave her with her foster mom, Moe in Georgia. That has been the question plaguing me for the past few weeks.
I asked all of you to offer your thoughts on this matter and I appreciate that so many of you took time to share your experiences with me. It confirms my own confusion, simply by reading all your comments. Your vote is almost evenly split between leaving Mia behind and keeping her with her kittens.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Transport heading north. Have a safe trip!
I decided what to do well before I wrote my post. I decided it would be better for Mia to stay behind, but as the days passed and Moe sent me photos of the kittens with their mom, my opinion began to waffle. I knew that whatever I did there would be at least a facet of the decision that ends up being a “bad” choice. Whatever comes to pass it will be a learning experience. We hope for the good outcome and fear the bad.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mia and Greta.
I also realized that although Mia would be alone, it would be different if she was alone here. Sam and I are home all day and can spend time with her. Moe is not. I was concerned that Mia would regress out of being along for so many hours per day. Coming here Mia will not be alone, but in a few weeks IF things go well, we may have enough kittens adopted out to where we CAN begin the one on one work…but that's a big IF. I'll be working with her every day while her kittens have fun in their new, much bigger space, but I may not get too far until she's alone.
Early next week we're getting a second HD Dropcam. This one will be in Mia & Family's room. I'll be posting a link to view it on our Facebook Page, but for now you'll be able to see them via SqueeTV Ch 1 starting late tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 6/28, EST). The camera will be off until the kitties arrive.
Thank you all for your help and for sharing this journey with me. I've got my fingers crossed that I made the right choice and no matter what happens, I'll be sharing the story of what happens next right here.