I decided it was time to move foster kitties George, Bongo and Bunny-Boo Boo from Maria's house in Georgia to my house in Connecticut so we could get going on finding the cats forever homes. We rescued them FIVE MONTHS AGO and in that time I had hoped my other foster cats would have been adopted. With Kitten Season upon us, I have to crank things up a notch and hope we adopt out at least some of these foster cats before there are loads of kittens competing for adopters.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet George.
Most of the time I use a professional transport service to move our cats north. I really like PETS, LLC because they have been very trustworthy and prompt and their rates are reasonable. The only bad thing is the transports are usually filled with dogs. None of us love that the cats are with dogs, but the cat's discomfort only lasts for about a day's time (and they ARE in separate crates and some times even a separate walled off space from the dogs). The cats adjust and after they arrive here, within a very short amount of time, they are playing, eating and enjoying their new home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many gorgeous cats are in this photo? Answer: All of them!
But…Maria didn't want to put these cats on the transport. I understood her reservations and certainly didn't blame her one bit. In five months of fostering, the close bond Maria had with the cats made it even harder for her to let them go on a truck full of dogs. Our only other option was to ask our friends Izzy and Mark if they were going on any road trips to Florida any time soon.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Keep that pretty face clean, George.
Izzy and Mark LOVE cats. If you've read my blog before, you know they will do anything to help any animal and their home in Pennsylvania reflects their passion. They've shared photos of their bed-it's covered with cats. I've seen a photo of Izzy on her sofa, working, flanked by the couple's two dogs, with cats at her feet. When Izzy and Mark go on a vacation, the always offer to bring rescue cats back north with them and many rescues are very grateful for their generosity.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Helloooooo Bongo!
Though they had no plans to travel, Izzy and Mark offered to drive down to Georgia, then drive back to PA and meet us with the cats! Yes, that's something crazy people do (lucky for us)! Before I knew it, in the space of a day, a plan was hatched. Izzy and Mark would leave Wednesday morning and drive to just north of Maria's in Georgia. They would get a good night's sleep, then pick the cats up very early on Thursday. By Thursday night (last night) they'd get the cats to the Perkins near the state line of NY and PA where we would meet them and take the cats the rest of the way home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo is the spitting image of our former foster kitty, Charly!
Tuesday night, Coco fell ill. She had a fever and wasn't eating. I took her to see Dr. Mary the next morning. They ran some blood tests and re-ran her snap test to see if she had Feline Leukemia or FIV. Great.
Now what do I do? Do I tell Izzy and Mark to turn around and go home? What if Coco had something terrible? What if she was contagious? Sure, she wouldn't be in the same room as our new arrivals, but it's pretty much impossible for me to prevent transmitting disease as I go from one foster room to the next-even if I wash my hands and change clothes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Portrait of cuteness.
If I cancel the trip, it will be TWO MORE weeks before the PETS transport runs and then we're in mid-March.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. LOOK AT THAT TAIL!
I spoke with Maria and we realized we needed to just do this transport. It would be better for the cats and after having nine deathly ill foster cats here two years ago, I figured with any luck, I would be able to manage what was yet to come. Ha ha ha. I think it's funny, too…funny or foolish.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. White Lion or domestic house cat?
I spoke with Dr. Mary the next morning. Coco's blood work indicated her white blood count was very high, which was her body's response to a virus or bacterial issue. She wanted to put her on antibiotics. Normally, I would just do that, but now I'm much more conservative about using antibiotics and more prone to allow the body to defend itself. Coco had begun to eat and perk back up after we'd given her subcutaneous fluids the day before. The blood test results were from the day before, too. Just because her white blood count was high then, did not mean it was STILL elevated now. I decided to let Coco heal on her own and, of course, if she showed ANY signs of feeling poorly I would get her on the medication right away. She was still negative for Feline Leukemia and FIV, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Goofhead.
Now I just had to get ready for the new arrivals so I got to work cleaning the foster room. After that I made myself a sandwich for lunch. I'm including this boring detail because not long after that I got SICK. Needless to say, driving 100 miles each way to pick up three cats at 9:00 PM in the middle of the boonies of mid-state New York is NOT something you want to do with a stomach ache and little, if any, access to a bathroom.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Bunny. She'll feel better soon.
Izzy and Mark were running ahead of schedule AND the weather was about to take a turn from just cold to rain, sleet and snow mixed together. There was no way to back out of the pickup trip. I decided to take a nap and see if that would help any. Sam took a nap, too, since he was really tired and we were both going to do the run together (and hopefully not both GET the RUNS together since I made HIM a sandwich, too).
When I got up I felt just as awful as before, but now I also felt really groggy. I woke Sam up and had a difficult conversation with him. He had to do the run on his own. I just couldn't do it. I'd print out the directions, get him everyone's phone number and stay up in case he needed me for anything while on the road. I felt so terrible asking him to go alone, but he took it with a grain of salt while I stewed in my guilt.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh so delicate.
As it turns out, the trip was a quick one. Izzy and Mark were very tired and just wanted to get the cats to Sam and head home. They had been on the road for nearly fourteen hours by that point and still had three and a half more to go. Sam texted me saying he was turning right back around and would be home soon. By 11pm Sam called saying he was down the street. I thought; “Here goes nothing.” Then started praying this wasn't the stupidest idea I've ever had.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo wants to start the day with a belly rub.
We got the cats into the foster room. I had my first look at each one. George was calm, cool and collected. He let me hold him right away. I took one look at him and knew I was in trouble, suddenly realizing that to avoid “foster fail” I should rescue cats I'm NOT going to LIKE, yet here in my arms was my dear cat, Spencer's little twin brother. George has the same mostly white Norwegian Forest Cat body, the crazy spots of tabby, the biggest, fluffiest tail I have EVER SEEN, a plush coat and ruff AND he's a NICE CAT to boot.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The CRAZIEST tail I have ever seen!
Bongo hid behind the litter pan. Poor Bunny didn't even come out of the cat carrier. I knew to keep the room dark and quiet. I put out some food and left them to rest from their long trip. I set up an electric blanket for them in case they wanted to snuggle and I whispered goodnight to them and headed to bed…but first another trip to the bathroom. Ugh.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Bunny, it's going to be OKAY!
This morning George and Bongo came over to say hello. I saw Bongo's nerve-damaged leg curled tightly against his body as he walked towards me. He walks with a wobble, but he doesn't let that stop him. He came over and laid down on the floor next to me. He rolled over and showed me his belly. He got up and laid against my lap and purred deeply. Oh crap, another cat to fall in love with!
Bunny is still scared, but I know she'll come around. It hasn't even been 24-hours yet and we all need time to get used to all the changes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Doomed. I'm doomed!
What the Hell is wrong with me? The current group of foster cats has been here for FIVE MONTHS. They started out as kittens and now they’re young adults. Each day they grow a little less adoptable and each day I grow a little more concerned that I will never get them adopted.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow has blossomed into a lovely young lady.
I had lunch with Super-Deb yesterday and we got into a heated discussion about appropriate nutrition for cats. We were both respectful to each other, but I also felt like perhaps I was seen as being arrogant about my views about NO KIBBLE for cats, ever. It gave me pause. I would never want to be seen in that light.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred with Latte.
Deb surprised me by saying she feeds grain-free dry, along with grain-free canned and some raw. After all, Deb was one of the people who inspired me to look into feeding a raw diet for my cats so I assumed she was only feeding raw, too. She said she doesn’t claim to know everything about what is the perfect food for cats. What she feeds her cats is based on what she feels is acceptable. She does not find issue with grain-free kibble. Go figure.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow's pantaloons.
Deb reminded me that some cats live to be 20 years old on crappy dry food and little to no Vet care. I countered that some people live to be 100 and they smoke cigarettes every day, too, but it’s only SOME people, not MOST. What is the QUALITY of that cat’s life over the years versus a cat on a species appropriate diet? What is a daily smoker’s life like over 100 years? What is it about some cats who can live just fine on dry while so many others get seriously sickened to the point of dying? At least half of my cats had issues that were resolved once I put them on a raw/grain-free diet. Two of the issues would have eventually caused the cats to die.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow with her Cat Dancer®.
The jury is still out and perhaps we will never know what the perfect diet is for our cats, but in my book; garbage in is garbage out. Obligate carnivore cats need PROTEIN for energy, not a baked, extruded, blast-heated granule of grain and vegetable-based proteins and chemicals. It sounds disgusting even imagining it. Even if the dry food had animal protein how much nutrition is left in it after the massive amounts of processing are completed?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney (left) with Fred (right).
Then, the epiphany came into the diner astride a gleaming white horse. I realized the primary reason I’m not finding good adopters is because I need to find people who share the same passion about caring for their cats as I do. What I don't want are people who don’t treat their cat as, well, a cat; something to pet when it’s convenient-to provide care for rarely if, at all. People who easily assume a cat is “evil” if it doesn’t behave in the way the cat expected to—even if it’s against their nature. They don't look past the assumption that the cat is being evil and don't seek out WHY the cat is acting that way or ask their Vet. People who when given common sense information about appropriate nutrition stiffen their back and refuse to even listen. That is not my idea of a good adopter.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally Willow holds still long enough to get a photo of her.
Yes. I ask a lot. I realize that.
I don’t need people to be as cat-centric as I am. I’ve been working very hard to pry my mind open and give every possible adopter the benefit of the doubt when they want to adopt one of my foster cats. I try to keep expectations simple. I do my best to educate, to be respectful, but in the end there can be a parting of the ways and another potential adopter finds a cat elsewhere.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, now a refined ladycat.
To date, Coco has lost out on MANY applications. I went as far as I could with each one. I even went on a home visit. I loved the people, but their home wasn’t a good fit. I had very long conversations with Sam debating about what really mattered—the family or the condition of the home or both? In the end I knew Coco would have spent her life hiding under the bed if she lived there and I couldn’t let her go. There have been other homes that were really crazy-messy but there was so much love in the home that I knew the cat would be happy. I try really hard not to judge, but there's a lot of pressure to get it right. I don't get a second chance to find a better home once the cat leaves here.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I don't know what Willow is doing to Barney.
I finally found a great adopter. He and his family came over a few times. Each time there was a reason why they couldn’t do the adoption right then and there. I gave him the benefit of the doubt knowing he would adopt her after the Holidays were over. He finally got back to me and because his daughter didn’t do some mysterious chore she couldn’t have the cat. I wasted two months on this.
I found another good candidate and was about to do the home visit when the former applicant contacted me and asked if Coco was still available and could they adopt her that weekend? My gut instincts said no way so I moved on.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fabulous Fred.
Saturday Coco might FINALLY be getting adopted except that the woman who was going to adopt her called a few hours ago and said her father has had a serious health issue and she was going out of town for ten days at least. Could I hold Coco? Oh dear..not again. [note: and as of this writing Coco has just come back from the Vet. She's SICK with a mysterious “Fever of Unknown Origin”]
There have been many other setbacks with adopters wanting the cats, coming to visit, leaving empty handed, then contacting me later to see how the cats are doing but they don’t want to adopt them! It's not completely my fault, but I want to do better.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I still haven't gotten even one application for Latte.
After the Shooting in Sandy Hook and the launch of our Kitties for Kids program I didn’t push too hard to move the cats out. It would be tough to have a program involving cats if all the cats were gone so I lost more time there.
Tomorrow my friends Izzy and Mark are driving to Georgia to pick up Maria’s foster cats: Bongo, George and Bunny Boo-Boo. I’ll meet them late Thursday night in Pennsylvania to bring the cats to Connecticut. While my house is already full, I’m bringing these guys here. They’ve been waiting for four months to come up and start the process of finding their forever homes and with Kitten Season upon us I have to get things going.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney-chomp.
There is a great temptation to not be so strict, to bend the rules, let the cats go to homes where they will go outside to roam freely, where there is no Vet reference, let alone a good one, where it just doesn’t matter what they get fed as long as there’s food. I could get the cats homes in a heartbeat if that was the case…
…and I’d never be able to live with myself.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and Latte wrestle.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred with favorite toy.
Note: Before you even go there, if you free-feed your cat kibble, that’s YOUR choice. I’m not suggesting you’re a bad person if this is what you do. Everyone does the best they can with what they have and as I said, there are some cats who are fine on kibble and nothing more. If you read this blog, odds are you really care a lot about your cat. Be assured I would never want to offend any of you. That's never my intention.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow with cool slow motion tail blur.
I AM, however, suggesting that you feed on a timed schedule-twice or three times a day, tops and NOT leave a bowl of food out all day and night. This is true for MOST, not ALL cats. There are always situations where cats need access to food all the time. I can only think of a senior cat who doesn't eat much as an example but I'm sure there are others. Free-feeding can easily cause your cat to become obese and diabetic. Just that small change could mean a lot to your cat even if that's the only adjustment you make to feeding him or her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Fred.
It’s easy to associate food with love. You can still love your cat more than anyone or anything in the world, but you don’t have to show it by overfeeding them. Love your cat with pets, with lots of play time and environmental stimulation. Keep the bowl empty unless it's time for breakfast or dinner.
As someone who does rescue, I know that every cat who gets dumped off at a shelter is evaluated for adoptability. At far too many shelters, being over the age of 8 is all it takes to be euthanized immediately if there are space issues in the facility. The health of the cat is a major factor as well. If the cat is diabetic it stands VERY LITTLE chance of getting out alive. The stigma and possible expense associated with providing care to a diabetic cat turns off most adopters. They imagine it's too tough to do-who wants to give their cat a shot every day? Who wants to monitor the cat's blood sugar? Who has time to learn proper treatment for a cat they don't know?
©2013 Heritage Humane Society. Jibbit is approx. 15 years old, is a male manx and is currently diabetic.
Jibbit and Sunshine are cats who score very low on the adoptability scale at first glance. They are seniors-Jibbit is about 15 years old and Sunshine is about 11 years old. Both cats are diabetic.
©2013 Heritage Humane Society. Sunshine is approx. 11 years old, is a female silver tabby and is currently diabetic.
Our friend Amy Sikes, who fosters kitties and who also offers up a portion of the proceeds of her sales of Avon products to my rescue, Kitten Associates, was contacted by her Vet. Her Vet is the same Vet HHS uses. He asked if Amy could foster Jibbit and Sunshine, but Amy said no because she works full-time and is also a Grad student. How could she give the cats insulin every 12 hours on her hectic schedule?
©2013 Amy Sikes. Sunshine and Jibbit, (the Laser Cat!).
Amy saw photos of the cats and her heart melted. I told her about Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN) and they quickly offered to assist Amy by providing testing tools and guidance about caring for the cats. Amy had faith it would work out and said YES to taking the cats into foster care.
©2013 Amy Sikes. Jibbit. Cute little guy!
Amy reports: “These two furbabies truly are sweet cats I've ever met! Jibbit is a love-bug who wants to sit next to you and get petted while he purrs his wonderful purr. Sunshine is a little more reserved, but once she gets to know you, she'll come over to give your hand head-butts and cheek-rubs and purr happily for you. She also gives hugs when you pick her up!”
©2013 Amy Sikes. Jibbit is a love bug.
Amy has a big heart and with all she has on her plate, she graciously opened her home to these two kitties. I asked her if they might go into remission now that they are both on an appropriate diet-which consists of affordable gluten free cat food.
©2013 Amy Sikes. Sunshine give hugs.
What Jibbit and Sunshine need is one more person to have faith in them. Faith in the fact that because both these cats are very affectionate, that whatever extra needs to be done for them is worth the effort for all the love they'd give back in return. Cats are living longer lives and Sunshine could still live another ten years. Jibbit could sail along for too, but if he doesn't, even that's okay. Doesn't he deserves his last years knowing love?
Jibbit and Sunshine may be safe from being euthanized, but Amy can't give them a home for very long. It's not fair to her OR to the cats (she has another handful of foster cats to care for, too). These two need a HOME; a place where their new family won't give up on them regardless of what the future holds. It's possible that both cats will only need good food and no more injections one day soon. In the meantime, DCIN can provide guidance and possibly more than that, like testing equipment (contact them for details). I've cared for a diabetic cat in the past and it's not difficult when the cats are good-natured, as are these two kitties.
©2013 Amy Sikes. Who doesn't need a little Sunshine in their life?
What's wonderful about this story is that these cats have people out there supporting them. DCIN, HHS, HHS's Vet, Amy and myself have their backs. Now we just need ONE MORE PERSON to join our group and make this rescue turn into an adoption.
TRANSPORT OUT OF STATE CAN BE ARRANGED.
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Nineteen Top Cat Bloggers have been selected as World’s Best Cat Litter™ Catvocates and I'm glad to be counted as one of them. As a Catvocate I'll be sharing new product news and giveaways—and who doesn't love FREE CAT LITTER?
In the coming days, I'll be revealing details about the top secret NEW SCENT that will be added to World's Best lineup and offering up a fun giveaway. I can't give you more details than that just yet so stay tuned!
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen was just a baby when we started using World's Best Cat Litter. You can read about my year-long test & review as well as see more pix of baby Blitzen and Bob Dole HERE.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A week ago we rushed Oliver to the vet. This is the last photo I have of him.
Barely a week ago I learned that my nephew Ryan's cat, Oliver was having difficulty breathing. I saw Oliver's x-ray and it was clear something was terribly wrong. At the time I hoped that perhaps Lasix would move what looked like fluid out of Oliver's chest cavity. I thought back to my experiences with Jackson, his scary x-ray showing an enlarged heart and fluid in his lungs. Oliver's lungs were white on x-ray, meaning they were fluid filled or that there was a mass in his chest. I really hoped we weren't too late and that we could do something to help Oliver.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver was one of the most mellow cats you'd ever meet.
After a long discussion with Ryan we decided to take him to see one of my Vets the next day. That night I barely slept I was so filled with fear. The Vet who had examined Oliver told Ryan to “prepare for the end.” They didn't do blood work, they didn't go into what they thought was going on with his cat or if there were any treatment options available.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. He has the same “rub my belly” attitude our cats Nicky and Nora have-and that makes sense since Oliver is their “uncle.”
Ryan has been around animals his entire life. He has an excellent rapport with cats, in particular. He can hold the most fearful kitten who will melt in his arms. Now that Ryan is almost 20 years old, he's ready and eager to take on the responsibility for his cat's well being and I was proud to be able to offer him advice and help him see that many times there ARE options in addition to simply letting his cat pass away.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Taz, who was waiting for Oliver at the Bridge, gives Oliver a friendly sniff.
The following afternoon we met with Super-Deb and Dr. Mary. They were both really terrific with Ryan-not that they aren't always that way, but in this instance, when it was vital that Ryan learn that getting a second opinion could be worthwhile. It also helped him see that Dr. Mary and Super-Deb were both doing everything they could to give Ryan options for Oliver.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Santa's Goofheads: Ryan and Oliver.
Dr. Mary is so cheerful that even when she told Ryan the bad news that Oliver clearly had a large, firm mass in his chest, that it was pushing his organs out of their normal position, that it still seemed like we could help him. Oliver probably didn't have long to live-maybe months. Seeing a Vet Oncologist could help or Ryan could try steroids which may reduce the mass enough to keep Oliver comfortable longer.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver is no sure he liked what he got for Christmas.
Looking at Oliver on the exam table with his big, pleading green eyes, it was tough to see he was sick at all. He was bright and sweet as ever. Oliver was 14 and was one of the most easy-going and friendly cats I've ever met. I always found it amusing to tell people that Oliver is the "Uncle" of two of our cats, Nick and Nora. In fact, Nicky and Oliver are very much two peas in a pod.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovey-eyes! We love you, Oliver!
Dr. Mary felt that Oliver was very stable, but needed to start treatment as soon as it could be arranged. I was grateful we didn't have to put Oliver down and truly thrilled that Ryan felt empowered to do something for his cat.
The next day we were hit with a blizzard and 36" of snow carpeted our town. Ryan began making plans for Oliver, but couldn't get him to a Vet for a few more days. He thought about it and decided to start Oliver on steroids once the roads were open again in the hope that Oliver would have more time.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Ryan demonstrates the vertical belly rub maneuver.
Oliver started the steroids two days ago. I don't know if they helped or if they were started too late. I only know that very late last night Ryan's mom picked Oliver up and shortly after that Oliver passed away peacefully. It may have been that Oliver's aorta ruptured when he was lifted. Ryan and I had discussed not picking him up because we didn't want to put pressure on his chest. Maybe being picked up had nothing to do with anything. Maybe he was already dying and his mom lifted him to give him comfort in his last moments? I don't know. I'm not blaming anyone. All I know is within a few minutes Oliver slipped away from us and went to the Rainbow Bridge.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver with my scarf. Looks nice on him.
It all seems to have happened so suddenly, but most likely Oliver was sick for a long time. We all know cats are great at hiding illness and Oliver did what Nature dictates. It's just tough to lose another great, big, orange kitty with a heart of gold.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. A big orange tabby; the best gift ever.
To Ryan, his mom and everyone who loved Oliver, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Oliver was definitely one of the good ones and we will miss him very much.
Fly free, sweet angel. Tell Taz, Bob, Stanley, Squeegee, Sasha, Blue, Chanel and Tugger we send our love and will see them again one day.
I’ve often written about the challenges I've faced letting go of a foster cat. My “go to” answer when someone asks me how I can bear the pain of saying goodbye is; “I’d rather cry because they left me and went to a good home than they died alone at a Kill shelter or on the streets, afraid and unloved.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson napping, as always.
Since I’ve fostered hundreds of cats over the years, I’ve grown a little callus on my heart. Perhaps it helps me not “lose it” in front of adopters and be able to let go of all the wonderful cats when the time comes.
I don’t always cry when my fosters leave. Sometimes I find that I’m even happy about it. But Jackson was another story all together and frankly it’s taken almost the three weeks since he left to feel okay about him being gone.
Neither Sam nor I had any idea just how much we loved Jackson until it was time to put him into the cat carrier and tuck him into his new family’s car. I looked at Jackson one last time. He looked straight ahead, out through the windshield. His eyes were bright with excitement and perhaps some concern. I whispered; “I love you” one last time and shut the door to the car. I wished everyone a safe trip—a 5 hour trip to northern Vermont where Jackson would be “retiring.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I tried to smile and wave goodbye, but the corners of my mouth weakened into a painful grimace. I turned quickly and walked into the house and immediately burst into racking sobs.
Sam held me as I said I wished Jackson didn’t have to go and that I wanted to run outside and tell them to bring him back. I knew Sam wasn’t always Jackson’s biggest fan since Jackson would charge Sam’s “baby” Nicky, causing Nicky to pee outside of the litter pan. Yet here Sam was with tears rolling down his cheeks, too. Sam has NEVER cried when a cat left us and here he was nodding in agreement. He wanted Jackson back, too. I stopped sobbing and shrieked; “Why didn’t you tell me that before? We could have kept him!”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Morning pills. (the brown lumps in the Flavor Doh)
Who knew that this demanding cat had left such an impact on our hearts? Jackson woke me up EVERY morning by meowing loudly. Some mornings it was REALLY early. I had to get up or he’d cause a ruckus with the other cats. I tried to ignore him for days on end but every day the result was so bad that I’d rather just get up, get him his morning pills and start the day.
Jackson would yowl the second we turned out the lights to go to bed. I wouldn’t get up because I didn’t want to train him that I’d give him attention if he cried. I tried giving him a late night snack before bed but it didn’t seem to help.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Dangerously close to my office chair, Jackson just wanted to be near me.
Every morning while I was trying to work, Jackson would sit next to my chair and rub me and cry until I gave him some attention-which I always did. Thing is, he would also upset some of the other cats and want to take their place on the cat beds in my office or he’d start bugging me every two seconds. I realized I needed to play with him so I started doing play sessions in the morning before I got to work.
Jackson was a riot chasing his favorite little pom poms across the floor. He also loved da Bird, but after he jumped up to catch it I stopped playing with it. I was too worried that I’d give Jackson a heart attack.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The boy with his sparkle pom pom.
Jackson was almost constantly meowing and almost constantly hungry. He gained five pounds in the year he was with us. Being a BIG cat he could be that size, but in truth the snacks had to be cut back some for his heart’s sake.
As much as I encouraged him, Jackson never sat on my lap and rarely sat on the sofa next to me. I believe someone trained him not to get on the furniture so he would always be in the room, but never close enough to be a lap cat. He also tried to sleep on the bed with us, but that didn’t go over well with the other cats so he stayed downstairs until morning. It wasn't fair that he had to struggle to fit in.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I bought Jackson a fancy cat bed, but he preferred sleeping in a cardboard cat food tray.
It’s quiet with Jackson gone. Nicky rarely pees outside the box. The spraying is almost non-existent. It’s better for the cats that Jackson is not here, but it’s not better for me. I loved that damn cat and the stress of the first week of being separated from him was brutal.
I was really worried Jackson wouldn’t make the trip to Vermont alive, but he did. Once he was in his new home, some of the pipes burst and his family was up most of the night getting it fixed. Jackson didn’t get his medication that night and was off his medications and off his food for about three days after that. I tried not to be a pest, but I was frequently emailing Mickey, his new mom, and trying to get her to let us come get Jackson if he wasn’t eating or getting his much needed medication.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. At home on my office chair.
Jackson could die if he’s off his meds for a long time and I wasn’t about to let that happen. Sam and I started to plan a trip to Vermont, at least mentally prepare, but Mickey’s emails assured us Jackson was slowly acclimating and starting to eat and take his pills.
I backed off and hoped for the best. I wanted to beat myself up about letting Jackson go. After all I’d made a commitment to him and now he’s living somewhere else. In my heart he belonged to me. I slayed dragons for this cat, but I realized as with every foster cat; what is best for them is most important.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The last photo I took of Jackson, napping on a heated cat bed.
It was best for Jackson to have loads of attention and less stress and that’s the home I found for him.
I’ve gotten some updates about Jackson from Mickey. She writes and tells me that Jackson no longer hides, but spends his day with her beau, Offie. Offie has become quite fond of Jackson and the two enjoy each other’s company.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Normally we don't send our foster cats to their new home with so much stuff, but Jackson was an exception.
A favorite pastime is watching movies together. Jackson has a special cat bed that matches his fur so he’s almost invisible as he snuggles in it while his mom and dad watch a movie. Jackson’s been given special places in the house with soft bedding and a special place to eat. Jax met some of the couple’s friends and I’ve heard he’s always talking to Mickey, telling her about his day.
©2013 Offie. Jackson doing well in his new home in Vermont.
Though I’m truly happy for Jackson and his new family, I will always miss that big lug, those big cheeks, getting a headbutt in the morning. His story could have ended a year ago at the sting of a needle in Georgia at a shelter that didn’t have room for him, but he was lucky. I saw in those pale green eyes a long lost friend who needed to come home. I’m just sad that the home wasn’t meant to be mine.
A Valentine's Day card from Jackson..the last words cut off “will you be mine?”
Almost a year ago I saw three photos of you in an email from a kill shelter in Georgia. In one of them someone was holding you up under your front legs, while you stood on your back ones. It was clear you were a big cat, with a big “biscuit head,” but there was something so sad about your expression that touched my heart. Perhaps you had given up and for a two-year old cat to feel that way, just wasn’t right. Even though I don’t often take on adult cats, I had to save your life.
©2012 Betsy Merchant. My first glimpse of Jackson.
I named you in honor of my hero, the Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, whose hit TV Show, “My Cat From Hell” had me glued to my television every Saturday night. When I named you I had no idea a few months later I'd be having dinner with the man himself. In a way, Mr. Galaxy is your Kitty Godfather.
There were a few bumps in the road. You weren’t neutered. After we did get you neutered, you got a terrible infection from the surgery and we had to do an emergency procedure to save your life again.
I pulled a favor with my friend Katherine and got you a placement with her shelter. You got sick after you arrived. We all thought you had a cold. Looking back on it I wonder if it was something else we’d discover more about later.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After arriving at Animals in Distress, Jackson took ill.
In a month you found your forever home. We were all so very happy. Your namesake, Jackson Galaxy the Cat Daddy was delighted by the news. Our joy was short lived because in barely a few months, you came back to the shelter. The family said you were getting picked on by their other cats so they gave you to a family member, but shortly thereafter her husband died and that caused another round of problems. They were really sad to let you go, but they felt it was “for the best.”
I felt you needed to come here and be with me until we could find you another home. I counted it up and you’d lived in seven places in the past six months. The last place I wanted you to be was back at the shelter. You needed a break, a home and lots of attention.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This silly side of Jackson emerges.
You didn’t have an easy time being here. With eight other cats you had to find your place in the hierarchy. You attacked some of my cats while they slept. Some of them started urinating all over the house, clearly angered with the new cat in their midst. I yelled at you. I hated you. I hated myself for taking you on but there was also something about you that made me smile. You loved the people you were with and were happy to greet every visitor. I was sad you were having a tough time in an already crowded home. We all suffered.
Then you got sick and we found out about your bad heart and that you were really three to five years old, not two, and that you might not live to be six. After that day I let a lot of my anger go. I accepted you as my own and struggled to figure out how we could all get along.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My beautiful boy.
It’s been a very long road, Jackson, and not an easy one, but during the past six months I have come to love you, just as I love my other cats. I love your chatty nature. Your meow is hilarious. You talk to me all the time and some times you talk too much—especially at 3 AM. You wake me up every single morning, wanting your pill and your breakfast. You head-butt me while you stand on the bathroom counter, while I’m sitting on the throne “doing my business.” You love those tiny pom-pom toys and it makes me laugh when I see you chasing after them. Your feline acne and poor body condition is improved. At 15.10 pounds you’ve gained five pounds since last year. You’re a fine specimen of snow-white male-catlyness with sexy-beast-pale-lime-green eyes. They make me swoon.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson visits Dr Mary and Super-Deb for his checkup before leaving Connecticut.
You vex me as much as you charm me. Though I’ll never know what sort of lousy life you had before, I’m determined whatever you have left will be the best I can provide. I ache for you that some of the cats won’t accept you and I see how you feel like an outsider. Sometimes I wish I had you all to myself. I cherish you so very much.
But now, my friend, it’s time for us to say goodbye. You’ll never get the attention you deserve here and that’s not fair to you. You need to be the star of the show and get all the love and attention. You need less stress so your heart will keep beating. I think you’ll be very happy and I hope this will be the best, last place you will ever live.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's 7:30AM and my alarm goes off. It's white and furry and named Jackson.
I’ve been crying every time I think of you leaving. I know I will probably never see you again, unless it’s in a photo. I’m usually okay with that, but this time I think about how I know you’re going to die and I won’t be there with you to help you pass. I can’t protect you any more, but I have to have faith that your new mom will take over my reins with the same passion. It’s just that as annoying as you can be, you also have such a huge, magnetic personality that I can’t help but love you and dread you not being in my daily life.
It will be very quiet and boring here without you. You’re one very special cat who I had the honor of fostering and who I will never forget.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My boy. Life saved. Home secured. At last.
Have a great life, Jax. We’ve had quite a run together and I will miss you more than words can express.
Your foster mom, Robin
©2013 Ryan Feminella.
Here are their details. If you can help and are with a rescue group, shelter or want to adopt, please contact:
Coordinator: Michelle Moore Smith-Blowers Animal Adoption 39 Patria Rd
South Windsor, CT 06074 (860) 528-2178
8 years old (estimated)
Male long-haired bluepoint, 2-paw declawed
Neutered. Has Blue eyes
Combo tested on 1/22/13 negative
Always been indoors only
Can be picked up and held
Kneads and solicits pets. Very quiet and withdrawn
Bloodwork done with normal results approx 8.5 pounds but bony also anemic
Had rabies and distemper vaccines on 1/22/13
Litterbox used every time. Fur is dull and matted due to lack of care and probability of poor diet due to elderly owner
Ears clean vet clinic administered Revolution®.
Lynx point siamese, long-haired
All info same as Hansel. Loves her brother.
Please help me SPREAD THE WORD about these lovely, big sweethearts! Thank you!
Annette is a lady who lives in Pennsylvania. She saw me on TV when I was interviewed about our “Kitties for Kids” program. Even though there are rescues nearby, she called me for help. She has three cats who are NOT spayed or neutered. Now she has TWO litters of kittens; one of six kittens and one of seven! Can I help?
©2013 Caitlin S. The mama with her 8-week old kittens.
It would be easy to vilify her, but when the “deed” is done there's no point. I didn’t think I could do anything. I couldn’t take them and assumed, as always, no other rescues would jump in to take them either. Annette doesn’t have a computer, so I looked up local rescues and gave her their information and suggested she contact them. I asked her if the kittens had gotten any vet care. Her answer was, NO, no money, no vet.
I started to worry. The eight-week old litter really needed to get vaccinated and get de-wormed, etc. My head started to spin. I told Annette it was a long shot, but I’d post about her request on Facebook, adding that without a photo of cute kittens it would be tough to get help.
©2013 Caitlin S. Mama.
Within ONE DAY of asking for help to get the word out that we needed a foster home, my intrepid, beloved, Facebook-friends got to work and found Caitlin. Caitlin lives in Pennsylvania, not too far from Annette and she was eager to help. She and I sorted out the details. I emailed her a list of what to do for the kittens. She contacted all her friends who are with rescues and had vet care lined up at a low cost clinic.
Before I even asked her, Caitlin realized she HAD to get the mama cat spayed, too, so she drove a few hours to Annette’s and took one of the families: a mom and her six kittens. Mama will go back to Annette after she is spayed, but at least this way it’s DONE and we no longer have to worry about more kittens being born.
©2013 Caitlin S.
The second mama and litter of two-week old kittens will also be taken care of in a few weeks when the kittens are old enough to be weaned. This was too good to be true.
©2013 Caitlin S.
My initial reaction was to push away her words. I didn’t do the driving or offer my home. I just stitched together the team who could save more lives. It didn’t seem like it was deserved, but when I thought about it I realized those kittens would have not had a chance at a decent life if I hadn’t made an effort on their behalf—not to mention Annette’s home was going to be overrun with inbred cats VERY SOON if nothing was done.
©2013 Caitlin S.
Though I don’t get paid for good deeds and my bank doesn’t care about anything other than that I can cover the mortgage payments, it was enough to help me dry my tears and keep going a little bit longer.
The other day, Caitlin sent me photos of the kittens. She said they were all well taken care of and had not been let outdoors. They were all very sweet and cute and she was happy to be able to foster them and would keep me updated to their progress. Caitlin is a dream come true for stepping up to help these kittens and I told her as much.
©2013 Caitlin S.
I’m slowly getting back on my feet. I found a place here in town that has counselors who can see me for free, if need be. I realize that my dark feelings will wax and wane but I have to be better at not beating myself up if I have to shut down for a few days. I don’t have resources to go away on a vacation, so I have to work out how to take a break and still keep things going on in my home. The cats always get fed, the litter pan always cleaned, but other than that I need to just stop, rest and recover my broken heart.
Knowing that this family is safe will do a lot to help me do that.
Digging out from the mental detritus of the past month has been tougher than I imagined. Last week, to be honest, I was suicidal. Not only was I at an all time low, feeling depressed and upset about the shooting, but the annoying run on “truthers” with their garbage being spread around the net really got to me. Adding to that sour mix was relentless anxiety about my seemingly never-ending financial failings—am I going to lose my home? How am I going to get through this year?
I couldn't focus on anything for more than a minute and I didn't want to work. I couldn't get up the energy to write. I wanted to sleep or watch movies to numb my pain between long crying jags.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Snow shadows.
This is not written to be dramatic or to get sympathy, it’s to share an experience, to dissect these feelings hoping to make sense of them, and possibly to help someone else if they’re feeling the same way.
Last week I gave up. For years I’ve struggled to get Kitten Associates off the ground and to find a way to do that AND write my precious blog AND somehow make a living. I’m very good at two out of the three, but where I fail is in making a living. I beat myself up about what I “should” do, which stops me from doing everything else. I try to give myself space to just do what I feel is best for me even if that means eating a lot of spaghetti and losing sleep over not being able to pay every bill on time. In my heart I feel close to being able to make a change for the better. I still have hopes of reaching my goal of better providing for myself through writing.
The post I wrote about the “truthers” pushed me into a very bad place and I also believe that the shooting affected me more deeply than I first thought.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
I will forever be from Sandy Hook where “that terrible tragedy took place.” I still see signs posted up in our town and neighboring towns wishing us love and support, but seeing them makes me cry. I can’t even afford to leave, whether it be for a weekend or for the rest of my life. I recognize there is little joy and only more sadness ahead, more creditors getting angry, more worries about how to keep things going without my home collapsing on my head from disrepair.
Perhaps I need to give up completely? I did little last week. I stayed away from my computer; did the least amount possible on Facebook. I stayed in the foster room with the kittens and either slept or watched terrible movies on Netflix. Sam stopped talking to me and I stopped talking to him. We both have problems, both at the same time. I need support from him that I don’t get and I’m guessing he felt the same way about not getting support from me.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. The last trip to Bulls Bridge with my Mother.
I missed my parents so badly that it made me sink deeper. If only I had one person I could go to, one person who really knew me, who could hold me for a while; tell me it’s going to be okay. One person who would make me a cup of tea, just as my mother often did, and who would let me talk about my worries and who would find a way to soothe my soul.
But I’m a big girl now and my parents are dead and other than Sam there’s no one close by I have that connection with and certainly no family any more. This is not a pity party. I’m just trying to sort things out as I always do.
In the worst moments I thought about what if I wasn’t here any more. Would it matter? I suppose only to me. I’d like to think I left a worthwhile legacy, but mostly I feel like a loser. I ask myself why I didn’t do the things I dreamed of-like to go Italy or get any of my book projects finally finished. Then I realize all this struggling and feeling bad doesn’t get me anywhere closer to any of those things. It leaves me feeling inert.
©1964 Judith Feminella. A somber moment or was depression already part of who I was?
The only thing that helped me begin turn this around was on Saturday when a mom and her daughters came to visit the kittens. I didn’t want to see them and, in fact, I thought about canceling the visit. I couldn’t imagine how I would be friendly and smile when all I wanted to do was lay down and cry some more.
But I had to do this-at least my drive to be a “good girl” was still intact. I made a commitment. I needed to keep it.
It took most of the visit, but by the time the family was leaving I had the first smile on my face I’d had in a long time.
Not long after that I spoke with Gene Rosen on the phone. Considering this man has had threats, someone hacked into his phone, changed his outgoing message and re-directed all his calls; Gene was defiant. In fact he sounded quite chipper. He wasn’t going to let those jerks get him down. He changed his number. The police are keeping an eye on him and are ready to make sure he stays safe.
A group set up a special page for Gene on Facebook called Gene Rosen is a Hero and We Support Him. Some are calling him “America’s Grandpa!”
I can learn a lot from Gene. He can take lemons and make lemonade. He remembers all the hugs he gets, the pats on the back and he knows he has the support of the world and won’t let a small group of pestiferous twits ruin his day.
to be continued…
Suicide is a VERY serious matter. I've lost three family members to suicide. If you're struggling or want to help someone who is seriously depressed, here are a few links to help you speak with the right people who can help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (there are options for deaf and hard of hearing by visiting their web site.)