Continued from Chapter 1.
Instead of freaking out, I sat for a moment and thought about it. What did I need to bring with me? Maybe there was someone who could also help and advise me. I called our vet at the Cat Clinic and asked if there was anyone on staff who could possibly bottle-feed a kitten if my mama-cat rejected him. They put me on hold for a few minutes then told me to call Christine. She would be glad to help. GLAD TO HELP? Really? I didn’t have to make 100 phone calls? I didn’t have to beg for favors? All I had to do was keep the kitten alive for 24 hours and she could pick him up the following day. Even though I was woefully stiff, I got up and started to put together a kit of things for the kitten, energized by knowing that a Vet tech, no less, had my back. This was going to work!
Sam drove us to the Fire Station, while I went over in my head what I’d do once I saw the kitten. First, see if it was warm enough then give it a small amount of warmed goat milk. I had some in a baby bottle and in a syringe, covered by a portable heating pad so it would stay warm. I had a cat carrier with a warm blanket. I brought a flea comb but then realized he would be too young to treat with any flea products so he’d have to get a bath-which I still fear doing to little guys.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Our first look at Wallace.
Once we arrived at the Station we were greeted by the Dispatcher who called for Lt. K. to bring us the kitten. She arrived moments later carrying an old blue milk crate with a towel inside it. I couldn’t see anything more than that at first, but as she placed the crate down, I saw a little kitten's head covered by a towel. The kitten started to cry. I saw stripes. It was a little silver tabby.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. After giving Wallace some goat milk he was so hungry he licked some of the drops off Sam's hand.
I lifted the kitten from the towel. I could feel dirt on his coat from being inside the wall. He was crying, very thin, but definitely about 3 weeks old-the same age as the kittens I was fostering, but half the weight. I checked him quickly for fleas while Sam held him. I didn’t even realize it but four other firemen had joined us and were watching my every move. As I continued to examine the kitten, one of them asked if it was a boy or girl. I took a look and I was certain it was a boy. They were delighted by that and amazed how I could tell the difference. Sexing kittens is not too difficult at that age, but they had never done it before. I realized how odd it was to be rescuing a kitten from people who spend their life doing rescue. We were giving back to our community and were honoring what they did every day by assisting them when they needed us. I felt really proud at that moment.
Wallace had a runny eye and continued to cry. I fumbled around and got a syringe of milk ready. Not even caring that I was the center of attention, I focused on being gentle, carefully urging the kitten to drink. I’d failed completely with Fio. He never took any nourishment no matter how much we tried. Wallace was quite different. He greedily slurped at the formula to everyone’s amazement. I quickly got two cc’s into him, which is not nearly enough, but I didn’t want to drop his body temperature and put him into shock since I didn’t know when he’d last had food. Clearly it had been a long time. I wanted to get him home, warmed up and fed again, but then I remembered…had he been voided?
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel heard Wally's cries and ran over to be near him. How I wish I could have put them together, but I couldn't risk anyone getting sick or harmed.
I asked if they had helped void the kitten and they hadn’t, not clear on what I was asking. Panicked I asked for warm, wet paper towels ASAP. Of course they responded like lightning, and moments later I was gently stimulating Wallace’s genitals and rear end to get him to void. Sure enough we got some pale yellow urine out of him. The color was a good sign. Darker urine would have indicated dehydration or possible other problems. With at least some urine out of him and some food in him, he was stable enough for us to get him home.
The firemen thanked us and I promised to give them updates. It was such a strange situation. There I was, possibly seen as a true cat rescuer for maybe the first time in my life. I knew what to do. I got the job done. I asked, in parting, if I provided them with a kit of information and supplies on how to care for kittens would they make use of if and they eagerly agreed. They’d even share it with their other stations so in the future perhaps any kittens discovered would get better care until a rescue could be called upon. I felt like the seed of an idea was born at that moment that would allow Kitten Associates to be more involved with our community and would help save more lives. I’d even make up a kit for our Newtown Fire Dept, too, but first we had to get Wallace home.
As Sam was reaching the car, I realized I forgot my purse and turned to get it. Lt. Katherine was there holding it in her outstretched hand. I thanked her and smiled awkwardly, then turned back to the car. I almost ran into who I assumed was the Captain as I turned. He asked me a few questions about the kitten and if I thought he would be all right. The Captain was clean cut, muscular, with richly toned skin. His uniform was pressed and spotless. Seeing him made me realize I rarely ever see men doing rescue, let alone one who was so handsome. I'd been so wrapped up in Wallace, it never occurred to me to take a moment to enjoy the thrill of being near so much testosterone (excluding Lt. K, of course!).
I told the Captain I'd keep them updated and he thanked me for helping them. I looked up and one of the fire trucks was pulling out of the bay. Some of the folks who had been with us moments earlier were on the rig. I raised my hand to wave, feeling a tickle of delight when they waved back. For those few seconds, I was part of the team.
Wallace cried as Sam drove along the highway. I took the tiny kitten out of his carrier and held him. He squirmed and wriggled, then got very quiet. I flashed back to Fio, how he would be so vibrant, then nearly dead after he was fed. I knew Wallace had a very big day and had just been fed so I tried not to be upset when he seemed to pass out in my arms. He was just tired. Let him be.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The little guy purred for us right away.
We got home and checked Wallace for fleas. I didn’t find any or any flea dirt. His ears looked good. I opened his mouth. He had a few baby teeth and no visible sores. Another good sign that he might be fairly healthy, other than very thin.
Sam and I discussed putting him with Celeste. I was still very fearful of being the sole caregiver for this kitten after just losing Fio, so we decided to try. We brought Wally to Celeste. He was crying. She saw him, sniffed then backed off, growling. I tried to pet her and pet Wally but she was far too angry to give it a chance. Even if with a scent swap she accepted him, I’d have to stay up all night out of fear she could turn on him and kill him. We decided to not risk it, but instead pull an all-nighter to make sure he was fed when he needed it.
One of our Facebook friends shared a link with me to Kitten-Rescue (thank you JodiAnn!). This web site is not fancy but wow they have great, simply prepared info on kitten care. I’d read other books about it and frankly they fell very short. This one gave me the info that I couldn’t find elsewhere-a clear cut amount of formula to give the kitten and WHEN. It’s 8cc per ounce of kitten. Since we could only guess at Wally’s age, it looked like some time around every 4 to 5 hours we should feed him. Void him first, then feed, then wait 15 minutes then void again, then a warm place to sleep.
Thanks to one of our donors we had a big case of evaporated goat milk. Another donor sent us special nipples for the baby bottle and our friend Joanne McGonagle sent us a SnuggleKittie,™ a plush cat toy that comes with a battery operated heart beat. I’d had it on hand for months and now I could put it to use.
Sam held Wallace while I tried to bottle feed him. It just didn’t work well at all. I used the syringe and that was a bit messy but it got the job done. I gave him 7cc of milk and he seemed full. He was so thin I didn’t want to push it. I’d give him a few hours before feeding him more, but for now it was time to pee and get some sleep.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I honestly believe that without his SnuggleKittie™ Wallace never would have had any sort of comfortable time sleeping. He got as close as he could to the artificial heartbeat and fell fast asleep.
After we got Wallace cleaned up we put him back into the small cat carrier with his new plush buddy. I slipped a heated pad under the blanket in the carrier, but placed it so only half the space was warm in case he wanted to get off it. He didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He wanted OUT of the carrier and weakly stood up, crying with all his might. Sometimes he only opened his mouth, but no sound came out. I found it unnerving. Maybe he was getting weaker? I hoped to God I hadn’t messed it up and that he was too cold to be fed and was going to die.
Mabel ran over, jumped on the garbage can next to the counter where we had placed the cat carrier. She pawed at the cat carrier door, wanting to get at Wallace. Her mothering instincts were in high gear. Wallace saw her and tried to get at her, too. I so wanted to let her soothe little Wallace, but I had also just discovered that Mabel has ear mites so I couldn’t risk it-also if Wallace was sick, then Mabel would get sick or vice versa and all our other cats could get sick, too. I felt terrible so Sam and I took turns holding little Wallace and soothing him the best we could.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Feeding time was a bit messier than I imagined, but together Sam and I got the job done.
It was almost 10pm. Sam and I talked about what we’d do for the rest of the night. We worked out a plan then grabbed a quick bite to eat. I kept checking on Wallace. I had to make sure he was breathing-he was.
I slept fitfully between feedings and had bad dreams about Sam’s clients chasing us down and forcing us to hide in the bathroom to get away from them. I was holding Wally in my dream and we were hiding in the shower stall. When would these people leave us alone? In truth, Sam has been so busy with work it was a small miracle that he was willing to help with Wally. I hated to ask for more but between my back problems and this kitten in crisis I had no options.
Chapter 3 is next…where we find out how Wallace fared after his first night and what lies ahead for our latest foster kitten.
I’ve come to the understanding that doing cat rescue is more often based on gut instinct than rational thought. Is one better than the other; one more appropriate to doing rescue? I suppose being rational would leave less to chance, but I also think that something gets lost in being so very careful. Mistakes are made, but lessons follow. Perhaps that’s how I make sense of this next story about a fearless little kitten whose accidental separation from his mother may have also been his saving grace.
My back has been killing me over the past week. So much so that the pain flares up to the point where I have to catch my breath and to sit down after standing for a short time. I blame it on no exercise, sitting here at the computer for hours without getting up, and having too small of a bed with too many cats vying for the same small space. Waking up with pretzeled limbs is okay some days, but after chronic repetition, my body had to revolt.
After lots of ice, heat, ice came some small relief. I had a bad health scare two weeks ago, heading to Urgent Care, certain I was having a heart attack. Fortunately, it was a confluence of issues, one being a possible ulcer from taking too much naproxen to counteract constant headaches-again from sitting down at the computer, eye strain, poor position at the keys. The other was from lifting too many heavy objects (aka taking cats to the vet) which pulled on the joints on either side of my sternum. The resulting double-whammy caused severe chest pain.
Something had to give.
I made big sweeping changes. I quit gluten and sugar. I don’t sit at the keyboard for long periods of time. I had to stop pain killers, for now, to let my gut heal. When my back started to go out, I decided to treat it with ice and heat, no meds…some rest…go easy…hope for the best.
With all that I did start to feel quite a bit better, other than missing having cake or a big fat croissant.
My back was improving. I figured another day or two and I’d be okay. That’s when the phone rang. It was after 6pm and usually I don’t pick up calls on the Kitten Associates line that late in the day. I need to have time for myself and I have to make boundaries, but I did look at the Google Voice transcript of the call. Even though the transcription leaves a lot to be desired (e.g.,“police station” is transcribed to “please state one”), I did see three words that caught my eye: Kitten and Fire Department.
There were two messages one right after the other. I listened to them both. One was from an associate who does wildlife rehabilitation. She told me that I’d be getting a call from the local 24/7 Vet hospital about a kitten that had been trapped in a wall and needed help.
I’ve had a problem with this Vet hospital for a long time. They’ve taken advantage of us before, having people call us when they can’t afford care, putting the burden of the life or death of that animal on whether or not we can pay the bill. I’ve had words with them about this. We’re a small rescue. We paid $1200.00 for one cat that did not even belong to us AND they called us at 10 PM the night of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to put that life or death burden on us! What would we say-especially on THAT night? It wiped us out.
Here they are calling yet again, but this time for a tiny kitten they easily could have helped. At least they could have shown the Firemen how to feed and void the kitten. What would that have cost? The Fireman didn’t have to save the kitten. They did what they felt was the right thing to do. They pitched in. They didn’t charge anyone for their efforts. Why couldn’t this Vet give this kitten some support? No. They sent it away. Now it was on my rescue, with few resources, to take care of this fragile creature. Who know how many hours had passed since the kitten had been found? When did it eat last? Little ones need to be fed every few hours or even more often if they are neonatal. Every second wasted put the kitten at higher risk of dying.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Star looks on as her mom, Celeste feeds the rest of the family. Would Celeste accept a fifth kitten?
Did I really want to try bottle-feeding again so close to just losing and failing another? What if this one died, too? Could I stand the heartbreak; the shame of failure?
I called Lieutenant Katherine and spoke to her about the kitten. My heart was racing. What was I getting myself into? Time was of the essence. I couldn’t back out. My instincts told me to hurry along and not worry about the consequences.
Lt. K. told me the shift before hers had been on a call to a property where there were people living illegally. They reported hearing cries coming out of the inside of a wall. Since calling for help also meant they would be kicked out of their illegal squat, they weren’t particularly happy about calling the Fire Department. I’m not sure why they called. They could have opened up the wall on their own, but then what would they do? They might not have realized it was a tiny kitten crying. Perhaps they thought it was something wilder?
What I know is that the mother and siblings were nowhere to be seen. The firemen looked for them but were told she had probably left the crawl space she’d been hiding the kittens. One kitten was left behind-the one that was in the wall. He was very thin and crying for his mother. They discussed leaving him there to be found by his mother, but they felt the people living at the location could possibly harm the kitten. It was decided to remove the kitten and find him some help. They had no idea what to do for the kitten, other than keep it warm. They weren’t sure they should give it cow’s milk, which was all they had, so they opted not to give him anything.
I asked Lt. K. to tell me how big the kitten was. Was it’s umbilical cord still attached? From what I was told, that’s what I expected. Her reply surprised me. She said, no, that he was walking a little bit, that his eyes were open, but were blue. I asked if his ears were straight up and down and she replied no. From what she told me I figured we had a 2 to 3 week old kitten. Okay. I can do this. Bottle-feeding an older kitten isn’t so tough. I thought I could manage his care.
Chapter 2 is up next, where we finally meet the little kitten and try not to drool on the sexy firefighters.
You could describe him as just a big brown tabby cat with a white bib, cheeks and paws. You could assume that because he lost his home or simply got dumped and was found in the back of a Home Depot in northern Georgia, that he’s just another cat who needs a new home.
You’d be wrong.
©2014 William Mahone. Used with permission. www.WilliamMahonePhotography.com. The face that launched 1000 sighs…Big Daddy.
Big Daddy has a magnetic, certain-something that draws people to him. Maybe it’s his big head (from being neutered late in life) or maybe it’s the forlorn expression on his face. Maybe it’s that nothing seems to bother him (okay, other than dogs), but you can take this boy out on a leash and let him go for a walk.
Big Daddy’s been on TV and sat pretty as a picture on the Interviewer’s lap (okay, for most of the interview). Big Daddy has Presence, with a capital P—a BIG personality, too, and all who know him, as well as those who have only seen images of him or read his story have fallen for this big lug, including me.
In some ways, since my friend Warren Royal first trapped Big D., I’ve felt like a co-parent to this cat. I’ve advised Warren from day one on vet care, tests to run, and when Big Daddy got sick with a seemingly incurable upper respiratory tract infection, I was right there to help in any way I could. From afar I’ve come to love this cat as any of my own and I’ve been honored that I could help Big Daddy eventually find Angels of Assisi, a no-kill shelter in Virginia, to help Big Daddy find his forever home.
©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. Big Daddy, blind, back at the Vet.
It’s been a rough go. I wrote a post called Big Daddy's Next Journey is to the Angels. Even when I wrote it my fear of jinxing things flared up, but I ignored my urge to change the title. Never joke at death or maybe you’ll bring it on yourself. I thought it was a clever title since Big D was simply going to Angels of Assisi, but today those thoughts come back to haunt me as I hang my head and cry.
©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. Megan visits as Big Daddy recovers from his first bad scare at the Vet.
After Big D survived his initial challenge, Megan realized he wasn’t getting back to normal. During a test to check the fluid in his lungs for bacteria, the Vets at Virginia Tech discovered a mass. It was unexpected since no other tests had determined there was such a problem. The 4cm fleshly colored nasal mass had been what was causing Big Daddy’s breathing problems and inability to smell (resulting in a lack of appetite and a great deal of weight loss). The mass was removed, under sedation of course, using a strong jet of water that pushed the mass out, clearing Big Daddy’s passages.
Initially, we were all relieved, thinking perhaps Big Daddy’s worst days were behind him, but there was a lingering fear that this mass could also be cancerous. For some reason I didn’t think something like this in a 4-year old cat would be cancer, but if it was a polyp I seemed to recall they did grow back so at least this was going to be an ongoing issue for the cat.
©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. After the mass was removed, Big Daddy felt good enough to go for a walk and roll around on the warm concrete. You can see how much thinner he is here.
The good news was we knew the culprit so we could all take a moment and be happy that Big D didn’t need to be on any more antibiotics for a growth in his head. Now that he could breathe, Big D was right back to having a great appetite again and his vision has returned, too.
©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. Big Daddy, after being hospitalized in ICU.
I sent a care package of fun things to Big Daddy: some cat food, probiotics and a few toys including his favorite, a catnip banana. I imagined Big Daddy in his new home, which was going to be Warren’s office at Royal Bobbles. It’s a great space and Big Daddy would be the office kitty. Everyone was busy making preparations and getting more and more excited that Big Daddy would be there soon.
A few days ago, I got a call from Warren. When he calls me I know it’s trouble of some kind. My gut squeezed and I felt sick, but I was driving so I waited until I could stop to call him back. When I heard his voice I knew something was terribly wrong. I realized that the test on the mass from Big Daddy was due about now and I knew it was bad news before Warren even spoke.
“We’ve got Lymphoma.” was all Warren could say.
It was windy outside as I stood by my car. I wasn’t sure I was hearing him correctly so I asked again to be certain.
I did my best to hold back the tears. I was in a public place. I focused on helping give Warren advice about what to do next, knowing he needed me to be strong. I told him that cats can do very well on chemo and that even with FIV, Big Daddy could still have quality of life. I didn’t know how long, but I did know we shouldn’t give up on him right now.
Of course Warren agreed so we continued to speak for some time going over what we should do next. I offered to contact Dr. Gerald Post, who is one of the top Vet Oncologists in the country and who just happened to have seen our kitten, Fred last year. His 8000 sq ft facility, The Veterinary Cancer Center, was here in Connecticut. I told Warren that maybe I should bring Big D here for care, but there was no way Warren was going to part with him again. We decided to focus on finding out more about Big Daddy’s diagnosis. There are many kinds of lymphoma so we had to hope it was small T-cell and not large, which is typically more aggressive. We had to hope that perhaps with the removal of the mass that it meant with chemo we could buy some time for our boy.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you hear the word “cancer,” but you have to look at how the cat is doing clinically. Clinically speaking, Big Daddy is doing well. He went for a walk outside on a lead and got some sunshine. He’s eating well. He’s playing and purring. This is good.
Warren and I got to work finding resources and information. I spoke with Dr. Post who agreed to consult on Big Daddy’s case with the Vets at Virginia Tech, who first found the mass. We stayed hopeful that we could continue to provide top notch care for Big Daddy, as we do for all cats, but in truth that certain “something” about Big Daddy motivates us to go the distance.
We all wished for Big Daddy to get lots of love and have a great life, however long that may be but then...
This lymphoma can be treated with radiation and chemo. It can give Big Daddy more days and GOOD days, which we want to focus on, but no matter what we do, Big Daddy’s days are numbered.
©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Best Friends Forever. Warren & Big Daddy.
What we know is this: Warren is packing his car and driving from his home in northern Georgia to Roanoke, VA TODAY to pick up Big Daddy. On Friday, Big Daddy has an appointment with Dr Terrance Hamilton, DVM, DACVIM-Oncology at Blue Pearl/Georgia Veterinary Services, the top vet hospital in the state. They have all the equipment and supportive services Big Daddy will need.
What we don’t know is how much his care will cost. We DO know Big D will need a consultation, most likely ultrasound, to find out where ELSE he may have cancer. They may need to do blood work or another x-ray or two. My rescue, Kitten Associates, is taking over the costs for Big Daddy's care as we have for so many other cats. That way we can provide for him so Warren, who has already spent thousands of his own money, can focus on providing loving care and not have to worry about being able to afford to pay for all of this. What it means to all of you, who gather to support Big Daddy, is that you can make a donation that is tax deductible.
1. Make sure your cats are spayed or neutered and that your friends and family do the same for their pets. If Big Daddy had been neutered at an appropriate time, he never would have gotten FIV, which put him into an extremely high-risk group for getting lymphoma.
2. Please share your love of this gentle giant with a donation towards his care. We’ve set up a special petcaring.com fundraiser and we hope that you’ll donate in honor of a big kitty you’ve loved or love, or donate the price of a good meal or cup of coffee to Big Daddy. He’s had a very tough life and he deserves the best we can give him.
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: “Big Daddy.” Our Tax ID number is: 27-3597652.
Our dreams for Big Daddy will never come to pass. His precious life will never be as long as any of us would want, but we have to focus on being happy. Happy that Big Daddy jumped into the trap, surprising Warren and starting a journey to his salvation. We have to be happy that Big Daddy is safe and loved and will get the care he needs.
©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Days after being trapped, we come to realize that this is not a feral cat at all, but a cat who just wants to be loved.
Big Daddy, you didn’t deserve this. You deserved a happy ending and with our best efforts you will get that. It won’t be the ending we had dreamed of and for that we are all deeply heartbroken.
We all get notices about cats and dogs needing rescue. Many of them are marked as “urgent.” It's great that we can get together and help spread the word, BUT there are millions of animals out there who are "safe" in a rescue and who still go unnoticed. Many of them are older, or not a fancy breed. They don't have a group of folks trying to help them get a forever home. What happens to them? They wait and wait and wait and the longer they wait, the more animals that same rescue has to turn away because their spaces are filled.
I came up with a fun way to help animals who are not in crisis (so your friends won't be upset hearing about them-which is a bonus) but who need help. It's totally free, just takes a minute of your time and could potentially save more animal's lives. Don't just do it today. Do it EVERY DAY and see how YOU can change the world for animals in need.
I call it:
Step One: Visit Petfinder
Petfinder's home page.
Step Two: “Search for a Pet.”
Do you want to help a dog, cat, bunny, goat, what? Choose Location (City & State) Animal Type, Breed, Age and Gender. It's even more effective if you choose a town in your state, since most of your friends will be able to share with their friends and be able to act on a local level! Hit the “FIND PETS” button.
I chose Chicago, IL, Cat, Maine Coon, Any Age and Male in my search.
Step Three: Review Search Results.
Which animal would you like to save. Pick one! I chose CHANDLER. He's 10 years old, a total cutie and needs to find his forever home.
Search results page. Notice there are over 1000 cats MATCHING MY CHOICE in the Chicago area alone who need homes. That means there are LOTS more than that who fit other descriptions!
Step Four: Tweet & Facebook-Share
Chose the Tweet and the Facebook icons to share with your friends!
The share buttons to choose to let your friends know about the cat you want to help.
Tweet & have fun with it. I added a few words to this Tweet before it went out.
Chandler shared on Facebook. I hope it helps him find his forever home soon!
This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Adopt-a-Cat 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.
continued from part one…
Mabel will seemingly materialize out of nowhere onto my lap when I watch TV. She does the same thing to Sam. She just appears, makes herself comfy and sits, purring her very subtle purr, with what looks like a smile on her face as she makes herself at home. Even if we adjust our position on the sofa she remains glued to us.
Mabel’s coloring is amazing. She’s almost split right down the back, brilliant orange tabby on the left and classic black tabby on the right. Her eyes are vivid green. Her toes are pink and black. Her paws are white with little freckles of color here and there. Every time I look at her I notice different colors and shapes. I find myself getting mesmerized as I pet her, the colors seem to ripple as my hand runs along her back.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Pretty patchwork.
Mabel has started to spoon with me at night and if she’s not doing that, she sleeps wedged between my pillow and Sam’s.
It’s not all perfect. Mabel some times causes issues and has peed here and there. I notice those things happening less and less as she secures her place in the cat-hierarchy of my home, but it may always be an issue. I ask myself if she would be happier in a home of her own, as I’ve done so many times over the past year.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meowing as she carries her precious pom-pom for all to see.
A few weeks ago I got an application from a very nice lady I will call Grace. She’s retired and lives in a spotless home with her husband who is fine with cats but not a fan the way she is. Grace has been mourning the loss of her cat for 2 years and is finally ready to adopt again. I asked Grace for a co-adopter because I could not risk Mabel losing her home for any reason and she agreed. Everything checked out, but I also knew that Mabel did not show very well. She always hid when strangers arrived so I suggested we consider fostering-to-adopt Mabel where she could give Mabel a proper “test drive” with the option of returning her if it didn’t work out.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen (left) with Mabel (right).
During this process I told Grace I wasn’t sure I could part with Mabel. I was honest with her. I need to make room for more cats. Keeping her isn’t an option. Grace and her adult daughter came over. Their energy was very calm. As they walked into the room, they saw Mabel. She didn’t race off, but allowed them to pet her and say hello. The daughter and I backed away and watched from afar because Mabel got nervous while Grace spent a few minutes getting to know her.
We were all very surprised that Mabel was so welcoming to these new people. Normally that would seal the deal for me. I begged a delay starting the foster period by letting them know Mabel was due for a Vet visit before she went anywhere. Her Rabies vaccine was expired and I had a slight concern Mabel had a heart problem I wanted to get checked out so we waited another few days while I kept thinking about if I could really do this or not.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. To scone or not to scone?
The vet visit surprised me. They did an x-ray and EKG, then had everything reviewed by a radiologist. They reported back that Mabel’s heart and lungs looked good, but…they found what was described as a genetic deformity of some of her vertebrae. I’d noticed she didn’t jump very high and that was the reason. She might have some arthritis in her spine as she ages, but other than that she was cleared to go into foster care, then be adopted. I wondered if her spine damage was not from genetics but from sitting in a cage for two years with little space to move around.
I still wasn’t sure I could do the adoption, so once again I dragged my feet, coming up with all sorts of stupid reasons why I couldn’t get back to Grace. I thought about it and talked to Sam about it repeatedly…so much so that I could not think straight any longer. I thought, YES! I need to do this. It’s a good home. Mabel likes her, but will Mabel be lonely all by herself?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting bored with her early days of confinement in the blue bathroom, Mabel lets me know she needs OUT of quarantine (which happened shortly thereafter).
Grace. Grace was the BIG DEAL. I didn’t want to hurt her and I was well on my way to doing that, but do I give up Mabel to not hurt Grace?
I spent a good part of that day crying. Grace had emailed me and called me. I needed to get back to her. I could not let this go any longer. I would have rather done pretty much anything else, like walk on hot coals or do my taxes over and over again, but I had to decide.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweetly dreaming, Mabel's clearly found her home.
Except it wasn’t fine.
I couldn’t do it.
The thought of leaving her there made me cry. Something inside me was screaming; “Noooooooooooooo!”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel, Nora, Blitzen (tail), Gracie, Fluffy Daddy and the DOOD enjoy the morning sun.
Come Hell or high water I had to call Grace and beg her forgiveness. I contacted a few rescue friends and I found a terrific cat for Grace to consider adopting. I offered to reimburse Grace for any out-of-pocket expenses she had. I repeatedly told her I’d let her have any cat she wanted in our program except for Mabel. She was so gracious and understanding. She told me not to get upset about it, that in truth she worried that Mabel would miss her kitty-friends and maybe it was for the best. She'd become attached to Mabel and really wanted to give her a home, but only Mabel, no other cat. She didn’t want my help or to know about other cats. I told her I’d go to the ends of the Earth for her, whatever she wanted. She thanked me and said again not to worry about it, but that right now she needed time to sort out her feelings. She’d let me know if she wanted to look at another cat. Between many tears I told her how very sorry I was and I apologized for taking so long to get back to her.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Making a place for herself in bed, right between me and Sam.
After I hung up the phone I cried again. I felt so badly about all of this. I wish Grace could have let me make it up to her. Maybe some day she will. I’m surprised she didn’t let me “have it” with a volley of nasty comments. I deserved it, but at least I’d been honest, telling her I wasn’t sure I could do the adoption when I first met her. In my heart I wanted to do the right thing, but I had no idea what that was because I had been over-thinking it for months.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Zzzzzz.
I sat with Sam on the sofa and cried until I had no tears left, telling him what happened with the call to Grace. He nodded his head and gave me a hug. He’d told me to take Mabel off Petfinder earlier in the day and now he was smiling at me with that “I told you so” look on his face.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel sleeps in HER bed on my Mother's recliner.
A few feet away from us in HER bed that sits on my Mother’s old recliner was Mabel. She was fast asleep with her belly half-turned upwards and her front paws curled delicately by her cheeks. There was a sweet smile playing across her mouth. Mabel had no idea how important this afternoon had been and what it meant to her remaining days. From being dumped at a kill shelter in Georgia, to a rescue, to a hoarder, to another kill shelter in North Carolina, imprisoned for 2 years, and finally after 4 years Mabel landed where she should have been all along.
Welcome Home, Mabel. We love you.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the first photos of Mabel after she arrived. One look at her face and I knew I as a goner.
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It's been a year since Mabel made her BIG ESCAPE out of a Kill Shelter, then home of a HOARDER, then from a SECOND KILL SHELTER and finally to my home to be fostered. In some ways she’s like many of the adult foster cats we've had. I expect it to take a long time for her to find her new forever home after her adjustment period is over. We don’t have a shelter or do many adoption events and that’s usually the best way to get adults into homes. In other ways, how Mabel got here and my reluctance to let her go is unique.
©2010 Foster Mom Moe. Used with Permission. Mabel, called Cali-Mama back then, just after being spayed.
Mabel, along with her two kittens, Moonpie and Pattycake, were our first rescues under the Kitten Associates banner. Everything back then was so nerve-wracking because I’d only ever fostered kittens before under the guidance of another rescue. I never had to take on the responsibility for paying for their care or screening applicants, let alone sorting out what vet care they required or how to know they’d be good candidates for adoption. Mabel and family were in Georgia, too, which added to the difficulty in sorting out what the next steps for her would be as well as who would help me accomplish those things from 1000 miles away.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Moonpie (left) and sister Pattycake (right). Mabel's kittens.
I’d had it drilled into my head by my former “boss” at another rescue that adult cats should be avoided. “Just focus on the kittens.” I didn’t agree with that but I admit that taking on Mabel made me nervous. She was barely a year old, but I was so accustomed to fostering 6-8 week old kittens that she might as well have been 10 years old. It left me feeling anxious about finding her a new home, but I couldn’t let her die in animal control where euthanasia rates are 98%. It wasn’t fair that she and her kittens should die. I couldn’t take the kittens and leave her behind either, as some rescues do. It wasn’t right.
What surprised me was that before the kittens were even put up for adoption, I got an email from someone in North Carolina who wanted to adopt Mabel. The woman had read my blog post about her and seen her photos. I had a long email volley with her about Mabel and talked on the phone a few times. I had a good feeling about her, but my error, one I will regret forever, was that I never asked her to fill out an application. I trusted her without checking on her background. I never called the Vet for a reference. It’s all it would have taken for me to find out she was a hoarder, but I didn’t do that. I sent Mabel off to her doom with a smile on my face, believing she was going to a good home.
Mabel could have gotten sick and died in the filth she was trapped in, but she didn’t. After a year someone reported this woman to Animal Control. They seized all the 22 cats and 1 dog (I was only told this person had 1 cat and 1 dog). What’s even more shocking was that she called ME to complain. I was expected to come to HER rescue. I told her flat out not to talk to me any further, that Mabel was OUR cat and that I would do everything I could to get her back. I told her to get a lawyer. I was furious. She was stunned that I had no compassion for her situation, yet another red flag that maybe she was a few fries short of a Happy Meal. How could her home smell so badly that people could smell it from the OUTSIDE? She tried to make it sound like she was a victim when she had done nothing but LIE to me.
Video still of the Summons sent to the woman who was charged with Animal Cruelty.
That began a painful, humiliating journey lasting nearly 2 YEARS. I called Animal Control right away so they knew someone would take at least one of the cats back. They couldn’t tell me details, but confirmed the situation at the home was ghastly. They grilled me about my rescue and in so many words chastised me for being so gullible (hey, I deserved it).
I could check in with them and they’d let me know when, if ever, I could take Mabel back.
Every month thereafter I wrote to Animal Control asking if Mabel was free to come to us. Every month they said the owner was taking it to another Judge, fighting to get her dog back, which were a package deal, so the cats, who she gave up on, were stuck until the entire case was settled. Meanwhile, I didn’t even KNOW if Mabel was ALIVE because they never seemed to have time to verify that the cat I was trying to get back was still there.
©2012 Iredell Animal Control. Used with Permission. My first confirmation Mabel was alive after 2 years.
Every month I wrote and every month when I saw they’d replied I felt sick to my stomach, wondering if this was the time they’d tell me she was gone. There are so many illnesses that can run through a municipal animal control and only so much vet care they can provide. It means a quick death to most animals because they don’t let them recover. It’s too costly and they can quickly spread disease. In this case, the fact that these animals belonged to the Court also meant if they got sick, they could not be euthanized unless it was an incurable illness, but once the case was resolved, any cats that were the property of animal control did not have long to live. During the two years I found out that one cat had to be put down, but I never was sure if it was or wasn’t Mabel.
But somehow, though she did get sick while caged for all those months, Mabel recovered. Finally, one day in late January of 2013, I got the email I was hoping for. The case was decided. She’d lost custody of all of her animals. Mabel was free to be released into my care and when did I want to come get her? [The answer was YES because that very next morning I had a friend in the area who could sign her out.]
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. First time NOT in a cage and probably first time with catnip, too.
Mabel finally arrived in Connecticut in February of 2013. What shocked me about her was that she seemed unscathed by what she suffered. Right away she was affectionate. So unaccustomed to being petted, that when I ran my hand over her back her tailed pouffed out. She let me rub her belly. She purred right away. Her only fear seems to be the sound of someone walking in hard-soled shoes across the floor. I wonder if it was the sound she heard of the ACO coming to get the next victim to be put down to make space for more.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel makes herself at home just about anywhere.
Over the past year Mabel’s almost been adopted a few times, but I’ve been so overprotective of her that I’ve had to say no when push came to shove. The homes were all GREAT, but they lacked something, too. I didn’t see love in their eyes for her. I didn’t know if Mabel would be happy alone and every home would have had her as the only pet. I found myself trying very hard to move forward with each adoption and finish the process, often taking it way too far before I put the brakes on, leaving MANY people very angry at me.
I’m not proud of this and in my own defense, I was feeling very mixed up. As a rescuer, every cat I take on I love. I love them, but I admit to having a little barrier there, too. It’s just enough so that when the time comes I can part with that cat without falling to pieces. It’s too much pain if I don’t have that little wall and I have to think about my own mental health and the stress on me. I can’t save more if I’m a wreck.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. This is when I know fighting to save her life (again) for two years was worth it.
I also feel that I’m being irresponsible if I take on any more cats and declare them as my own. I have very good friends who have more than 20 cats. They provide them with loving care in a nice home. They manage that but I do NOT want to take that on. I have had over 20 cats, but most were rescue kittens. That’s fine for me, but to be a cat-mama to that many, plus extra foster cats, too? No. I need to have at least some of my home be set aside for humans and to not take on too much.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel fetches!
So there's my problem in a nutshell. The barrier I put up with Mabel was being worn away. I’d watch Mabel run across the room with her precious pom-pom in her mouth. Mabel is a freak about pom-poms and even fetches them from time to time. She somehow manages to meow while she holds the pom-pom, too. Her chubby butt wiggles left and right as she races across the floor with her tail held high, proud to have her sparkling possession. It makes me laugh, while at the same time I cringe inside. She was really getting under my skin. What the heck was I going to do?
Can I let her be adopted after all she's been through or will I find relief in knowing I finally have the perfect forever home for her? Find out in the NEXT POST!
On March 31, 2014 my rescue was blessed to gain 5 new foster kittens when their mom, Mia gave birth. It's been such a hectic kitten season, with calls and emails coming in almost daily, that I haven't had a chance to properly introduce you to Mia or our little wards.
Dirty, scared, pregnant. We didn't know if we could even help Mia or if she was feral or worse, sick with Feline Leukemia. Thankfully Mia wasn't sick and was not aggressive so we could get her out of danger.
“Mama-Mia” delivered quite the wild combination of kittens. It was if we had almost one in every color combination there were so many variants. Instead of trying to give them a group name, I asked a few dear friends to each name a kitten. Their names are as varied as the kittens are.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Under the sink, about to POP!
Without further adieu, here is our family.
Mia came out of a VERY dangerous situation. She was living off scraps at an apartment complex. A woman was feeding her, but she knew the management of the facility was going to put out poison to get rid of all the strays. When we got the call, we knew she might not be very friendly and she might be very pregnant. We can't provide for a feral mom cat with our limited space for fostering, but if she was a cat we could work with we decided we HAD to do something.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mia checks out her new foster mom.
Mia was a filthy mess, but relatively healthy. Being a long-haired cat and me being a sucker for long-haired cats made it a lot easier for me to say yes to taking her on. Our Foster Mom, Moe only had Mia for a few days before she went into labor. We feared she would prematurely deliver because she was so stressed being trapped, transported and around humans she didn't know. We also expected some of the kittens to not make it. Thankfully every one got through the first few weeks and are still doing quite well.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. March 31, 2014. Happy Birth Day kittens!
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Proud mama feels safe under the bathroom sink in the cabinet. It's never been said our rescue isn't flexible about keeping our mamas happy.
Woody got his name from our dear friend, Mickey. If you've read my posts in the past, you know she was the mom to our beloved cat, Jackson Galaxy. Jackson died a few days before Woody was born. Mickey wanted to honor both her dear cat AND the artist, Woody Jackson, who painted the famous cows you see on the cartons of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Woody's fur looks like cow hide). Mickey works with artists and lives in Vermont. Ben & Jerry's is a big part of their community.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Woody a few days old.
Woody is growing into the perfect namesake for Mickey's cat. He's got sass. He's silly. He loves people and he's only a few weeks old.
Foster Mom Moe named our dilute calico Ivy. She's sweet and charming and her face will melt the coldest heart. She's a mama's girl and a little spitfire. There has yet to be a photo of her that doesn't make me smile or laugh. Whoever adopts her will be very lucky.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Ivy and the giant pom pom.
Fernando was my choice. Of course if his mom is Mama-Mia, he had to be named after an ABBA song. 'Nando is a real card with stylish white markings on his black coat.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Fernando heard the drums..and it woke him up.
He should be called "heartbreaker" because he's got such charm and an easy demeanor that everyone loves him. Look at that face. What's not to love?
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Will you accept this cutie?
Snickers was named by another dear friend of ours, Chris C., in honor of her soul-cat of the same name. Chris loves black and white kitties and has two of her own. She's also a really really cool person if you ever get the chance to meet her when she's not busy ruling the world or watching The Bachelor and cracking jokes about it with me.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Woody and Snickers share a nap.
Torties are adorable, but I have to say that Greta is one of the cutest I've ever seen. We asked our uber-cat-mama & friend Ingrid King, who has two famous torties, Allegra and Ruby to choose the name for this kitten. I think it suits her perfectly because Greta is a little lady and will one day grow into a great beauty.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Who's going to be a little troublemaker?
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. A mother's job is never done.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Moe isn't going to give up on Mia. There have been some trying days but our goal is to get Mia to trust again and find her place with a new family one day.
We have food donated and some toys, so we just need funds for vetting. These funds won't be enough to cover any emergencies, medicine or anything fancy but if we have the basics covered, it will make a big difference!
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mia's amazing family. Can you help get them to the next part of their journey? They need to be vetted soon!
To maximize every contribution (instead of directing you to a fundraising site where THEY TAKE A CUT of every donation), we’re asking you simply go to KittenAssociates.org and press the Donate button which will take you directly to PayPal (who also takes a small fee). Once we reach our target, I will update this post and end the fundraiser. Make sure you BOOKMARK this post so you can see our 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. Our Tax ID number is: 27-3597652. Your donation is tax deductible. See your tax adviser for details.
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Ivy says please let your friends know that if everyone donates the price of a cup of coffee, it will add up to a wonderful donation. Personally, I also think Ivy has had enough coffee (joking! no caffeine for cats!).
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Biscotti, our former foster has a new job title now that he's adopted. He also has a new name. Qubit. Q lives with Amanda, who is a very cool science writer. Since his adoption, Amanda has let me know how well Q has done since his arrival. After an evening of uncertainly, Q cautiously explored his new home. There were no other kitties to scare him and Amanda and her boyfriend were there to let him know everything was going to be okay.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
Qubit responded quickly. Instead of being fearful, our little lion continued to explore. He slept on the bed with his mom right away. He sits in her office as she works on her next book. She gave me a synopsis and it sounds REALLY FASCINATING. I can't wait to read it.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
Now that Amanda has a proper Muse I suspect this next book will be her best yet. I also believe that this is the best home for our sweet tux based on the reports I'm getting. Q adores Amanda and the love is mutual. It was from the moment they met. I could tell it was going to be a match by how he responded to her and how gentle she was while interacting with him. Her eyes sparkled as she looked at him.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
Amanda's loving care is helping Q continue his journey to grow and gain confidence in the world around him. Q is no longer a tiny kitten thrown away in the trash. He's no longer scared of people or what's around the next corner. I wonder what the person who heartlessly threw him away last summer would ever guess their “trash” was such a treasure.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
This is the best part of doing rescue-seeing my former foster thrive in his forever home.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
©2014 Amanda Gefter.
If you want to check out Amanad's book, “Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn”, visit her web site!
I didn’t give up on #3, but I noticed an alarming new trend. While trying to feed him, he would fuss and fight, then after a very little bit of formula he would totally collapse. I was afraid that feeding him was killing him, but how could that be? I’m sure someone out there knows what I did wrong. He wasn’t swallowing much but I didn’t see anything come out of his nose. I cursed myself for not getting that bulb syringe. I had to make due with what I had. I tried to clear his nose, his mouth. I tried to tell him not to give up, choking back the words. He was so weak and frail. We backed off on how much to feed him and thought maybe just a few drops more often would work.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Although it looks like he's nursing, #3 was resting his head on Celeste's abdomen.
The vet said it could be her being stressed out so I thought it was a good time for me to take a break. I was so stressed out myself that I was about to fall apart if I didn’t get some sleep.
It was 5pm. #3 had lived a day. I was exhausted. I told Sam I needed to rest-just for an hour or so. #3 was with Celeste. If he wasn’t going to make it I wanted him to be with his family. He’d already nearly died on me three times that day already.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. So small compared to his siblings, #3 rests.
I didn’t sleep. I was too worried. I lay in bed going over in my mind about how much to feed him next, how to make it better for him. I got up at a bit after 6pm. I was woozy and scared. What I would see when I opened the door to the blue bathroom where Celeste was caring for her family? I tried to brace myself, hoping I'd see him finally nursing.
I called out to Celeste before I opened the door to let her know it was me. The first thing I noticed when I entered the room was she’d dumped out about half the litter pan across the room. She was rather messy but this was much worse that normal. I took a deep breath and looked down into the tub searching for the kitten. There was #3 snuggled up against the blanket near Celeste’s tail. At first he looked so peaceful, but then my stomach did a flip flop. As I sank to my knees, I knew it before I touched him. He was still; the kind of still that means all life is gone. I touched him. His body was hard.
Celeste’s panting and high respirations had resolved. I then realized that she had to know her kitten was going to die and that’s why she was so upset. I told her I was sorry as I lifted #3’s body and placed him away from her and the others, not sure what to do next…where to put him or what to put him into? I had to tell Sam but he was on the stupid phone with a stupid client. I wept hard, my chest heaving with raking sobs. #3 was as dear to me as any of my own cats. I paced around the house not sure what to do. I had to let everyone know what happened so I sat down and wrote emails and posts while trying to make sense of something so senseless.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. .
Sam got off the phone and joined me upstairs. He was as devastated as I was. We sat with #3 and I said he needs a name. Sam suggested Tre since the kitten was #3, but I said I wanted something special. The name Fiorello popped into my head. In Italian it means, Little Flower. As I said the name, Sam nodded solemnly in agreement.
We both petted and kissed Fiorello goodbye. He laid on his side, his front legs pressed together as in prayer. His fur was so soft. I marveled as his sweet face. I carefully placed him in the pink blanket that featured happy green frogs on it. I’d used it to cover him when he was under my shirt. The vet was closed so I brought him to the room where we do our mediation and placed him in front of our Shambhala shrine. I lit a candle for him then closed the door behind me. I’d bring him to the vet in the morning to be cremated, garnering me another little tin box for my sad collection. For now I needed to sob, to rant, to hate, to mourn.
I gave myself a few hours to attend to other matters. I was too upset to sleep, but I realized I hadn’t eaten in two days so Sam and I got take out. It was a good meal. We've been eating too much rice pasta for too long so we splurged. It helped revive me somewhat, but my heart was broken.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fiorello and mama.
What surprised me was what I did next. I could have gone to bed, but it occurred to me that I hadn’t paid our Georgia Peaches kittens or Bert a visit since this all happened. They’d been fed, of course, but had no interaction with me since Sam had taken that on.
I entered the room and they raced over to the bed, next to where I was standing. They were all meowing furiously at me. Maybe they wondered where I'd been. I sat down and they rubbed up on me, then excitedly ran around the room, energized by my appearance. Bert stood on my belly and rubbed his face onto my cheek. I felt joy seeing them and some relief. They had long since grown past a fragile age and were now healthy, vigorous and happy. In that moment, I realized the same thing that broke my heart would also help heal it.
Although my starfish necklace remains where I left it, I know one day I'll be ready to wear it again and along with it the mantle of resilience and determination all rescuers require to continue saving more lives.
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Continued from Chapter 1…
Another hour passed. Celeste tried to rest a bit and kept fussing with and licking the kittens. She was clearly going to care for them, which was a great relief. There was always the chance she’d abandon them if I scared her or if she was a young, new mom. I didn’t know if she had delivered the last kitten or not so I paid close attention to the time.
It didn’t take very long before the fifth kitten arrived. At first glance I though the kitten was black, too, but as it was cleaned and dried I saw stripes-a little tabby. Since cats can have multiple partners, it explained the different colors of kittens. I made a joke about her being a slutty.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The fifth kitten is born.
That’s as much detail as I can remember about the births because after that began a 24-hr fight to save #3’s life. Between exhaustion, fear and anger I’m not sure how much I want to remember about what happened next.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. While the first two kittens are dry and looking for a nipple, #3 is still wet and needing care.
I reached out to everyone I could. I asked a lot of questions. I took advice. I tried this and that, but I knew I was in over my head. I felt like a moron. Why take this on? Why not just rescue kittens that are already born and not have to go through this. I got some formula into the kitten but I wasn’t sure how much or how often to feed. Every person I asked gave me a different answer. It was infuriating.
A few hours later I had a moment of success. #3 latched onto a nipple. I was so happy. I thought maybe we were out of the woods. I got it on video, but he only latched on for a few seconds. After numerous attempts to get him to latch on throughout the next day, he never did it again.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Screen capture from the vide of #3 nursing. Sadly it was only for a few seconds.
I stayed up with him all night. I put him into my shirt. I’d heard if you put him between “the girls” he would be warmer. It seemed to soothe him. Maybe it was my heartbeat. As I sat in the bathroom with him under my shirt and a blanket over us. I tried to keep the faith as I sat on a cushion leaning my head against the wall, resting my eyes, trying to hang on for his sake. I was so sleepy, but I couldn’t leave him alone. I imagined how he'd look as a full grown cat, white with gray polka dots. Running up to me, his tail held high. I would say to him “Remember when you were born, how sick you were? I can't believe how big you are now.” More than anything, I wanted that day to come. He squirmed and squeaked, then raked his tiny claws against my flesh. Even in such poor condition this newborn still had sharp claws. Maybe it meant he was a fighter?
By 3AM I felt it would be ok to take a nap for an hour. I put #3 back with his family, then reached down and took off my necklace. It was a gift from my friend Connie, who also does cat rescue. It’s a cotton thread chain with some beads and a tiny starfish, a symbol rescuers relate to due to the story that goes along with it. The story has taken many forms but is basically that of a person throwing starfish stranded on a beach back into the ocean. The beach is covered with them and this one person can't possibly get them all into the water before they die. Another person asks the rescuer why bother if you can't save them all. What difference would it make? The rescuer replied; “Because it makes a difference to that one I can rescue.”
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. While the other kittens nurse, #3 does not. Though I tried over and over again, he wouldn't take to any of the nipples.
Sam stepped in to help out as he could. He asked me what to do and I replied I didn’t know. I was so brain-dead and scared and angry. I’d asked, pleaded for the vet to come...to just show me I’m feeding the kitten the right away or to let me come there, but they just said to keep him warm and fed. I felt abandoned. I asked so many people for help, offered to pay them to come help, but no one could do a thing. I was on my own and for all the things I do to help to not be able to count on anyone was something that I don’t know I can forgive.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Celeste never gave up on her son.
Around 6 AM I tried to feed #3, but he went limp on me afterwards. Limp like dead limp...no breathing...nothing. I furiously rubbed him, as his mother might do with her tongue. I turned him upside down foolishly thinking he’d aspirated the formula. I sat there and cried. I looked at Celeste with her other kittens and said “now we are four.”
I looked down and #3 moved. He was still alive. I put him back into my shirt and after a time he recovered and was wiggling around. I probably did something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. I put him with his mom. She licked the formula off him. I got her away from the other kittens and put #3 with her all by himself. This is it. No competition. Celeste seemed to understand and sat with him, touching him with her paw, giving him a lick. He wouldn’t latch on. I hoped maybe after a day or two he would get the hang of it, IF he had the time. At that point I was very worried he had any chance to survive.
This story concludes with a final chapter, coming up next.
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