A Little Love Goes a Long Way for Chloe

Chloe’s been living with foster mom, Angi for six weeks. The fact that she’s in the same home is in and of itself a wonderful thing. With her aggression issues, Chloe could easily have been sent back to Animals in Distress and possibly been deemed unadoptable, leaving her to possibly face a grim future. Her former "guardian" had called around to the local Vets asking for a house call to euthanize the cat. Thankfully, though they are not bound by law to do so, all the Vets he contacted would not do a “convenience-euthansia,” especially for a cat they had never seen before. How did they know the cat wasn't aggressive due to an underlying illness? I was dismayed to learn that my own Vet said there are some Vets who will do anything for a buck. Sadly, cats are still considered personal property, which means that said property can be disposed of at the owner's discretion. Luckily for Chloe she has a few Guardian Angels looking out for her, especially her foster mom, Angi who has stuck by Chloe through thick (and we’re working on thin).

Since this is Angi’s story, then some of the words should be her own. Here are some excerpts from emails discussing Chloe’s ever-improving progress. We last left off with Chloe starting her life at Angi’s house and Angi having to protect herself from Chloe’s attacks as she entered the room. Angi had to have a cardboard shield in front of her just to get near Chloe. She could have become fearful and given up, but Angi kept at it, slowly gaining Chloe’s trust. After two weeks, I got this email:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Chloe, relaxed and enjoying her toys.

April 21

“Chloe let me pet her, brush her, and play with her a bit with her catnip carrot. She purred throughout nearly the entire exchange, rolled around playfully, even, and I think I have identified her "pay attention to me" meyow over the "I'm gonna get you!" war-cry yowl.

She's still a bit nippy, I utilized the catnip carrot & brush a lot to give my fingers a little distance, but she's not as determined with the nipping as she was when she took that chunk out of my foot!”

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April 25

“Baby gate is going well. Rudie's popped in to be a minor nuisance a few times, but only minor. Some hissing, but everyone's keeping their distance. I have to pick up Chloe's food to prevent the oranges [note from Robin: two of Angi’s cats are called “the oranges”] from scarfing everything up (they're sort of garbage disposals!).

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Rudie checking out Chloe's room. Should he jump the baby gate or not?

Chloe meowed around mid-morning, and I decided to try something. I put the baby gate in the hallway, and closed off the other bedroom. If she got up to the gate, she'd just about be able to see me working at the desk but not able to come in, and would have access to about half the hallway, and the bathroom. She roamed the bathroom a bit, and then there was a bit of hissing with Rudie and she retreated back into the guest room. Figuring it might be just a bit too much too soon, I put the baby gate back in that doorway.”

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May 6

“I'm actually starting to suspect she'll love anyone that plays with her a few times a day, as well as offers scritches. I really do think that being able to interact via some cat toys was key to her getting her "frustrations" out. Really, I think she was starved for quality interaction for a long time.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Bring on the skritches.

I've been opening up the "baby gate" area to include the hallway and my office, but she's not really taking me up on it that much, not after the initial interest. The other day she wandered out, spent a little time in the office with me (I put a pillow out for her, but she left after spending a few minutes hissing at Smudge (who was up in the cat-basket at desk-top level) and retreated to her room - I've been trying to put some of "her stuff" in the hallway to help her explorations, but it hasn't helped so much so far.”

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The next morning

“hah! I wrote this this morning & didn't send it immediately because I got distracted, and Chloe just wandered into the office while I was talking on the phone! She's on a cushion behind me! Rosie is in the basket, and they're both minding their own business.…”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. A happy kitty thanks to foster mom-Angi.

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May 14

“Chloe is doing even more amazingly awesomely. So much so that I'm not taking so many pics & video anymore because it's losing the "OMG!" factor.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. While working, Angi looks down and sees Chloe, reaching up to get her attention!

I've opened up her room during the day and while I'm awake & around, she has the run of the house. She's stayed upstairs except for the one time she chased Rudie halfway down the stairs (I'm sorry, but it's crazy how fast she can move when she wants to), and will sometimes follow me around the house, if I leave the office to go make lunch or something. I can even "call her" and she'll come. I've got some low-laying cushions on the floor in my office, and she'll hang out while I work, just like the other cats (who tend to stay up high, on my desk, shelves, etc…). She's found some peace with Rudie & Rosie, which is good, but also not so good, as she no longer chases Rudie away from her food when he goes into her room (really, she scared the bejesus out of him on a few occasions early on, even leaping off the bed to chase him out of the room!). I'm tapering off leaving food out for her because of that.”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Completely vulnerable with her belly up, Chloe lays on the sofa and watches TV with Angi. Is this love?

“…Chloe's even come up on the couch while I watch TV, or gone up there while I'm working in the office. The Oranges will keep some distance if I'm watching TV, but will sit on the back of the couch or on the other side of me. Even the nibbles are fading, and are even more "affectionate" than ever, and not mean. I can pick her up (slowly and supportively, as she's still so big!), pet her without worrying about my approach. She even lets me pet her kinda "roughly," I really don't feel like I have to be careful around her at all.”

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May 25

“… the landmarks are getting smaller now that she's so much more normalized, but I thought this was worth mentioning:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. She's just a cat, doing regular cat things. That this happened is far from regular.

Today, very briefly, I caught Chloe playing by herself. She was in the office with me while I was drawing. There's a cushion I have on the floor that she likes, I keep it near my computer chair. There was one of those furry mousies half underneath it. She pawed at it to get it out from under the cushion, and then played with it for a bit. It was only for maybe 30 seconds, and she stopped by the time I got to the camera. But still. A sign of a much happier cat.”

Looking Back

When I met Chloe back in March I couldn’t even touch her. She was ready to attack me with whatever she had, claws or no claws. If I hadn’t seen her behave normally and confidently before she went into defense mode, I would have been hard pressed to even consider giving her a chance. In that glimmer of sweetness, I saw hope and we had to try to help her. I’m so very glad I stepped in to assess Chloe because if her former “owner” had his way, Chloe would have been dead by now. Instead, Chloe is finding out what it’s like to live a life without abuse or neglect, a life that has richness, love and companionship.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Friends at last. Way to go Angi & Chloe!

 

Chloe was willing to give us a chance, too, even if perhaps we didn’t show well when we first met her. It just goes to prove that with patience and a lot of work, every cat can blossom in time.

 

Go Team Chloe!

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If you'd like to catch up on Chloe's story from the beginning you can check out these posts:

1. http://coveredincathair.com/content/we-owe-it-chloe

2. http://coveredincathair.com/content/what-we-live-chloe-update

3. http://coveredincathair.com/content/baby-steps-chloe

4. http://coveredincathair.com/content/chloes-big-adventure

All photos and email-quotes Used with Permission.

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Crazy Cat Ladies No More

Crazy Cat Ladies. In many circles that expression is not meant kindly. It connotates instability, excess (too many cats, obsessively talking about cats), wearing sweatshirts with cutesy embroidered artwork of kittens chasing after balls of yarn. We're probably fat. We're far from “cool.” We have no relationship as meaningful as the one we have with our cats. We're probably not married, maybe never even had a boyfriend.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The cat ladies dinner. Between everyone at the table we had or cared for (we counted ferals) 85 cats!

Not any more.

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Tamar from IHaveCat and Angie from CatLadyLand and moi.

Today I'm retiring the phrase: Crazy Cat Lady. It's been dying slow death and it's time to strike it from the dictionary and replace it with something appropriate.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ever-smiling Angie with kitten.

Last week I attended BlogPaws 2013, a conference for pet bloggers. I'll be doing a write up about my trip, my 90-minute session about our Kitties for Kids program and may even dish a bit of dirt, but today my focus is on the real reason why I go to these conferences-it's to spend time with my friends, who happen to write about cats and who love and protect them with the same passion I do.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our dear friend, Kate from Hauspanther couldn't make it to BlogPaws so we got together and created the Cat Lounge for her.

When I was a kid I had a younger brother. We didn't get along very well, nor do we, today, which is why I used “had” referring to him. Our family moved around a lot and I was constantly uprooted and lonely. Making new friends was tough and it seemed that just as I made a friend, we'd move away and I would never see them again.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Deb from Zee & Zoey sharing a flirty smile (and wearing cat-ear tiaras!)

My Mother never had women friends. She had some interesting male friends, ones whom I'm not sure what their real relationship to my Mother really was. There was the Chief of Police, one of the officers in the Fire Department and another guy who worked doing construction who was like an uncle to me. I never had a role model for how to be friends with women. Women were always creatures you could not trust and who you were in competition with for the cute guys.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA of Paws & Effect with Sir Disco

My “best” friend in high school went behind my back and stole my boyfriend away from me (he returned a few weeks later claiming she smelled like wet cardboard..and I later dumped him). She claimed I should “move on because David loved her now”…some friend.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Tamar, Angie and Debbie from Glogirly

I wrote off being close to women. I just didn't know how to do it…

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Elegant Coco-and yes, she's dressed up. Coco has no problem wearing an oufit or prancing around. She's VERY well cared for, stable and loved. This little cornish rex has one of the biggest personalities I've ever met. Coco has style (and so does her mom, Teri!)

…until I started to do cat rescue and write my blog.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid of the Conscious Cat with a kitten.

What would happen if you met someone who shared your interests? You'd have a good reason to be friendly, at least. But what happened if you hardly even knew this person, but it didn't matter because for some unspoken reason, they felt you were worth the effort to get to know, warts and all and you felt the same way about them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid, the birthday girl, with Bernadette of The Creative Cat and ANGIE!

There's something magical about the cat ladies. Most of us compete for the same awards. Most of us compete for the same “eyeballs” on our blog or friends on Facebook. While there can be blips of mildly hissy behavior, all in all, those issues aren't issues. We have our own angle, our own stories. We can support each other without losing our readership. We can even be dismayed (to say the least) when a newcomer hits the scene and starts winning “our” awards. Our revenge—we reluctantly make an effort to make friends with her then find out she's too nice for us to hate and instead of shunning her, we adore her (you know who your are, Debbie G.!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Janniss of Sparkle the Designer Cat and Tamar get photographed by ANGIE at the welcome banquet at BlogPaws 2013

Where else do people retract their claws and extend a hand in friendship? Getting together with my ladies feels close to a sacred gathering where I'm accepted and accepting. Where even if I lose out on an award, I can still find a smile and hug for the winner, who is also a friend of mine. We're in this together. We're trying to raise awareness about cat wellness, behavior problems, nutrition. We make you laugh about your cat. And some (yours truly) make you cry about cats. Whatever we do, it's done with a deep and abiding love and devotion to our cats, not in an obsessive way, not in an unhealthy way, in a rational, clever, compassionate way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not a party until someone gets a tattoo. Here's Ingrid flashing her calf while big boy Disco photobombs the shot.

Felina Domina means “Cat Lady” in latin. It rolls elegantly off the tongue. It gives us an air of class and refinement-that we deserve. Sure, we wear cat ear headbands or tiny tiaras, but that's only because we celebrate who we are, without apology. We cherish the bond we have with our cats and we love to share that joy with other like-minded women AND MEN.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Teri of Curlz & Swirls with her girl, Coco.

Many of the Genus: Species: Feline Domina ARE married or are in long-term relationships. Most of us are in good shape mentally and physically. Many of us have friendly relationships with lots of people. We hold down jobs. We help others live better lives with their cats.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Teri and her boy, Disco Noferno. I LOVE THIS CAT. He's completely hilarious.

Feline Domina is about friendship and support. Holding your friend's hand when times get tough or helping your friend laugh after there have been too many tears. Realizing we are in this together, whatever “this” may be. We're glued together by our love for cats and we take great joy in that fact.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Winners of the Nose-to-Nose Awards: Karen of Mousebreath with ANGIE! and Debbie

I honor my ladies with this post. Your friendship means the world to me and without it I am a sad, lonely person. I love each of you and take great delight in your successes and I share your sad days, too. There are few things better than the comfort of sisterhood and I will never take it for granted.

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©2013 Debbie Glovatsky. JaneA and me. This is what sisterhood is all about.

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©2013 Debbie Glovatsky. My dear, Ingrid.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My hotel room full of cat ladies!

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©2013 Debbie Glovatsky. Happy Birthday to Ingrid from all her cat lady pals.

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The Other Side

The past month has been one of the worst of my life. Although I’ve witnessed the slow decline and eventual passing of my own senior cats, and all the fear and sadness that brings, I’ve never watched it happen to a mere kitten. It is so much worse because there’s the added tragedy of the full, long life that never got to be lived. The family I imagined coming to adopt him, never came to the door. The joy he’d have being loved and cherished for a lifetime, was taken away by a fatal disease.

Yesterday afternoon, Fred made his journey over the Rainbow Bridge.

The past month, I’ve had to face Fred’s decline, despite so many efforts to revive him, find an answer, at least keep him stable for a while longer. I’ve had to watch him as he lost use of his back legs. He could still get around after we made changes to his living space to make it easier on him to still have some freedom.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney often tried to get Fred to play, which I discouraged. Eventually, Barney realized his brother couldn't play with him any longer.

He became incontinent. Not surprisingly because he couldn’t get to the litter pan. We just made more adjustments and bought a lot of “wee-wee” pads. The goal was to keep him comfortable, hoping we’d get enough time for the test results to come back or to start another treatment.

I set up the web cam so I could watch him when I wasn’t in the room, but felt sick to my stomach every time I looked in on him. Seeing him struggling broke my heart. There was a time I saw him slip and fall off the pet stairs onto the floor. I raced up to the room to help him back up. He seemed so confused about how such things could happen to a once agile creature. I kissed him and told him to hang on that I would find a way to make it better.

I realized I was running out of things to hope for last week. I realized how ridiculous it was to find myself hoping Fred had lymphoma, instead of FIP. Both were fatal, but at least with lymphoma Fred could live longer, maybe over a year. It was crazy to hope that, at least, Fred wouldn’t lose use of his front legs, too, but eventually he did. He could sit up, but other than that, he didn’t move around. Sam and I took turns changing his position or location in the room. I’d place him on a bed in the sunshine and he’d groom himself, perked up by the joy of being in his favorite place.

Fred hadn’t eaten anything on his own over the past week, not even his favorite chicken treat. Sam and I fed him three times a day via a syringe. He struggled at first, but as the days passed, he just took his food without a fuss. Sam would hold him against his chest, shielded by a pad because Fred would often urinate when we held him up to feed him. We’d cheer him on when he peed because that meant his body was still functioning normally. A few times we even got him to poop, which caused us to be even happier. He still had some strength. It wasn’t time. We still had a chance.

I would focus on coming up with the tastiest, most nutritious, combinations I could put into the blender to make Fred enjoy his food. He would take a taste, then smack his mouth with his tongue. He’d look up at Sam with this silly, sweet expression and Sam would look down so lovingly at this little cat. I’d syringe a tiny bit more food into him and he’d swallow some and dribble some onto his fur. Between syringes of food, I’d carefully wipe Fred’s face with a paper towel I’d wetted with very warm water. I wanted to recreate the feeling of his mama washing his face. He seemed to like it and often purred.

When we finished feeding, there were the many medications, eye drops, bad things. I washed Fred again and we’d put him on a soft bed. We’d take turns brushing him, again, anything to help him feel clean and comfortable. Some times Barney would come over and lick Fred’s face, ears, or paws. Fred almost smiled at Barney’s attempts to connect with his brother.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred (front) and Barney (by the pillows).

I found I couldn’t focus on work or eat much. My only respite was sleep and I couldn’t get to sleep unless I was exhausted. I’d get a few hours, only to wake up as the first glow of sun peeked over the horizon. My gut would go back to its familiar ache. Should I look at the web cam? Is Fred still alive? Did he pass away over night?

Eventually I’d work up the courage to look and I’d see him in his bed, so very still. I’d race into the room to find him still with us. I hate to say that some times I wished maybe he’d have left us over night and it would just be over and done. I kept reminding myself that the other side of this means how I live my life without Fred, knowing he is gone. The sheer Hell of watching him fade away would be over, but a new Hell-one of grief and remorse would take its place.

Time was quickly running out for Fred. Tests kept coming in negative for lymphoma so for certain it was FIP. Fred’s condition got much worse on Tuesday night. We had to hold his head up to get him fed. He was much weaker. I’ve never seen a cat, while still alive, who was so very limp-everywhere. Fred couldn’t lift his head or lick his paw. He could flick his tail ever so slightly-and that’s how I knew it was time to change his wee wee pad, but that was it. After we fed Fred, got him cleaned up and on a fresh blanket, we left the room. I broke down in tears and said to Sam that it was time. He agreed. We were taking turns changing Fred’s position every hour and making sure he wasn’t urinating on himself. I was to call Dr Larry in the morning to make the appointment for that day. We couldn’t wait any more. Now my last hope was that we could end Fred’s life in a peaceful way and without pain or fear.

Sam and I discussed what we would do, how it would be done. I made a promise to Fred-no more Vet runs and that the Vet would come to us. Sick to my stomach, I made the call. Dr. Larry was out sick that day. My only option was to bring Fred to them and have Dr. Mary put Fred down. Sam and I discussed it and felt we could keep Fred going on more day, so we made the appointment for yesterday afternoon.

When you know your cat is going to die and you know when, you can’t focus on anything else going on in your life. Any other issues fall to the wayside. The irony is that through this past month, Sam and I have been working on refinancing our mortgage so we can stay in our home. I’ve been so sidetracked I ignored all the calls and paperwork. I even put off the Closing last week so we could watch over Fred. We managed to get everything taken care of and in the end it saved us a lot of money. We should have been happy since it’s been a constant worry for us for a long time, but we were both like zombies, signing papers, nodding yes or no to any questions our Lawyer had, hoping we’d just get it over with. We got the job done and raced home to be with Fred because we knew we had less than 24 hours to be with him.

The last twelve hours were spent with Fred. He was not left alone, even for a second. Around 10pm on Wednesday, we put or pajamas on and set ourselves up in the foster room with Fred and Barney. Fred was either on a cozy cat bed between us or on Sam's chest. We each were petting him or holding his little paws. They were starting to feel cooler and I wanted him to feel the warmth of my hand. We didn’t say much.

Trying to lighten the mood a little I blurted out, “tell me a story.” and Sam began reciting bits of Dr. Seuss books he read to his daughter 30 years ago. “Look what we found in the park, in the dark! We will take him home, we will call him Clark. He will live at our house; he will grow and grow! Will our mother like this? We don't know.”

I thought Clark would be a good name for the next cat we rescue, then I caught myself. The next cat? Would there be one after this?

We tried to include Barney or play a little bit with him. He was somewhat curious about what was going on, but eventually settled down on a blanket near Fred, too. We formed a circle of loving kindness around Fred. His breathing was slower. He reacted to less and less. I started to hope that Fred would hang on because I didn’t know how the FIP would kill him. Would he suffocate and struggle? Would his heart just give out? I just wanted this one thing since I couldn’t have anything else. I couldn’t have Fred rebound or recover. At least he could die without pain.

Sam slept with Fred that last night. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t see him in such terrible condition for hours on end. I still got up at 4am and again at 7am to check on Fred and to clean him up because he was urinating on himself. Every time Fred peed we still cheered him on. “Good boy! Okay, let’s get you cleaned up. Oops! Here’s some more! Get another pad. Okay, good boy, Freddie!”

But this was it, the morning of the end. I did all the chores getting our other cats feed, watered, boxes cleaned out, so Sam could stay with Fred. I was so busted up that seeing him was killing me, too. I had to go back and face him because time was running out. We got the room cleaned up and got ourselves washed and dressed. Fred was very frail now. We both sat on either side of him, petting him, talking to him. Telling him we loved him. He was barely conscious. It was devastating.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sam holding Fred before we start feeding time. You can see how limp he is in Sam's arms.

It was a gray day. I was hoping for some last rays of sun for Fred, but it rained. Around 12:30pm, the clouds opened up and it started to pour. I saw Dr. Larry’s car come down the driveway and my heart sank. This was it. It was time. I got up to answer the door, but my legs felt weak. Dr. Larry and super-Deb said hello as they entered the house. My mouth opened to reply, but no words came out.

We went upstairs to the room where Sam was waiting with Fred. Dr. Larry was quiet, then sighed and looked at Fred. He and Deb got to work. I had to sign a form saying Fred hadn’t bitten anyone in 15 days and that I was giving my consent to have him euthanized. Dr. Larry talked about how tough cats are and that he could see Fred living a few more days even though he was barely alive. He said that Fred’s body condition looked really good because we’d been constantly feeding and cleaning him, but that, too, it was clear it was time for Fred to be helped to pass away.

I asked if Dr. Larry could take a look at Barney first. I was worried that Barney could get sick, too, because I’d heard that FIP can hit siblings since they have the same DNA. He and Deb examined Barney and felt he was okay, but we would keep a close eye on him going forward. He suggested we thoroughly scrub down the room and get rid of the cat trees and bedding, just to be safe. We couldn’t risk having an unhealthy environment since I still have three adult foster cats in my bathroom who would benefit being in a bigger space. Although I knew it meant more fundraising to replace all the cat furniture, I agreed it made sense.

There wasn’t anything else I could do to put off what was to come next. It was time to let Fred go. Dr. Larry explained that we had to be calm because Fred’s veins were compromised by the steroids and that the needle might blow out a vein and that we had to not get upset. Sam was still sitting on the bed next to Fred so he lifted the cat bed with Fred on it into his lap. I gave Fred a few kisses and moved aside to hold his front paw while Dr. Larry slipped the first needle into his vein. Dr. Larry fussed over the placement, but the vein held. Fred didn’t even react to the sting of the needle. Fred was already so far gone that when he passed, none of us even saw him go.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred's last night. Sam held him for hours.

Dr. Larry listened to his chest and there were no more signs of life. He said, “okay, it’s done.” as I burst into racking sobs. Some how I had enough strength to remember one last thing as I cried. I had cut sections of green and white ribbons, which are the colors that are associated with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I tried to tie a bow around Fred’s neck, but my fingers didn’t work. It took five tries but I finally got it done. Fred was our Mascot for Kitties for Kids. He made so many kids happy. Super Deb remarked, now all the children who were killed will know Fred when he arrives in Heaven and I agreed.

I kissed Fred a few more times and told him I was sorry and how much I loved him. Deb carried him out in her arms. He was still on his comfy cat bed. She said she didn’t want us to see her put him in the black plastic bag and I agreed I didn’t want to see that either.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, sweet Fred. We will love you and miss you, always.

I closed the door and came close to fainting. I was crying so hard I couldn’t stand. I willed myself to go back to the foster room, which had so often been a place of joy, to find Sam on the bed, weeping.

I sat on the bed, in the same place I’d spent the better part of the last day, but now we were on the other side of this journey, the side where the questions are answered and where the real pain begins.

A loud rumble of thunder traveled through the house. I said to Sam; “that was Fred. He’s on his way to be with the children and they’re celebrating his arrival.” He looked at me through tear-filled eyes and nodded “yes.”

Dear Fred.

Dear Fred,

You’re in the foster room on the floor above my office catching the last few rays of sunshine as you rest in the little cubby on the cat tree. I imagine your respirations, too fast for normal, a bit shallow. Your tail lays limply, instead of flicking back and forth. You’ve been sick with something for months and it’s robbed you of the use of your back legs and now your front are gone, too. We’ve done so many tests on you, with most of them coming up negative or normal, only to find a hint of the horror you may be facing is FIP after all. Feline Infectious Peritonitis—a fatal disease.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred catching the last rays of sunshine.

I’ve never fought so hard to save a cat’s life. I’ve never reached out to so many Veterinarians, Specialists, anyone who might be able to help you. I’ve never worked so hard to raise money to make sure we have whatever we need, so we can provide for you—no matter what the cost.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for each result, praying it wasn’t FIP. There were MANY tests that said there was NO WAY it could be what we feared most, but one did point a bloody finger…a very high protein level in your spinal fluid…and that may be the only clue we ever get from science. The rest of the clues are witnessed in your weakening physical condition.

You’re just a baby, Fred. You’re only 10 months old. I know we lost your siblings, Pebbles and Bam-Bam a few days after they were born, but I never thought you or your brother, Barney were at risk, too. Please tell me if I did something wrong-or made you get sick! Did I cause you too much stress? Did one of the other foster cats in your room expose you to something that they were immune to? I didn’t think I waited too long to get you to the Vet, but maybe we were too slow to do tests, fearing the costs? I feel like I’ve let you down, Fred and I hate myself for that. I will never forgive myself for your death and I know you’re going to die. I'm so VERY SORRY, Fred. I know it won’t be much longer now.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our Fred.

The treatment we hoped would work has done nothing other than make you gag when I give it to you. The steroids don’t make you hungry or feel any better. I keep thinking that I can’t give up on you. I just can’t, but now I see you barely able to sit up and I think, why am I doing this to you? Is it fair to let you be this way? You’re still “Fred,” in so many ways, but now I’m faced with the worst thing I will ever deal with and that is choosing when to end your life.

It’s so against what I have devoted my life to-saving lives, not taking them. I know that if you were in a shelter, they would have put you down a long time ago. I know if you were still living in that terrible place where we rescued your mom, you’d have died a long time ago there, too. You can’t expect to live in filth with little or no food and no vet care and survive very long. I know that you’ve probably lived with me longer than you would have lived anywhere else-even if you’d been adopted because I doubt anyone would not go to work so they could stay home and syringe-feed a kitten or spend thousands of dollars in Vet care for a possibly hopeless situation, so maybe that’s the meaning of this journey?

You didn’t get adopted months ago, when you had an adopter come see you because you were supposed to stay with me. I just don’t want to know what my lesson is in all of this because if it’s that cat rescue means euthanizing cats, I honestly don’t know if I am capable of doing that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney fussing over his brother, trying to get him to play again.

I love watching kittens take their first steps and be part of introducing them to the world, but if it means I have to take the life of a precious kitten before he even has the chance to see his first birthday, I just don’t know if I have what it takes.

Dear Fred-I love you so much. You were so charming and carefree. You amazed me at how high you could jump and how much you loved to chase those feather toys. I’ve known you since the day you were born and I’ve looked out for you all these months.

I know I can’t fix what’s wrong with you. I can syringe-feed you, try to keep you clean and dry, since you can’t make it to the litter pan any more. I can brush you and speak sweetly, encourage you to be strong, while I try to be as gentle with you as I can.

I have one last offering for you, sweet Fred. Today you’re getting adopted. Sam and I are adopting you into our family. The contract is signed. You belong to us. Our goal is to find a forever home for every one of our foster cats, even if forever is only going to last another day. I can’t cure your FIP, but I can give you a loving home until your last breath leaves your body.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I will never forget you, Fred. I know that one day we will do something very special in your honor because of the big impact you made on all of our lives. I hope your journey to the Rainbow Bridge is as beautiful as I can make it and that one day I will see you again.

Love always,
Robin (and your daddy, Sam, too)

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You are Love.

I watch you sleep, curled up against the chill of the evening air. Your eyes closed, a serene smile plays upon your mouth. Your chest rises and falls in a peaceful rhythm. For you, with a full belly and a soft place to lie, all is good in the world.

You stretch out a dainty paw with jellybean toes painted pink and black. The colors dance across your feet in a playful pattern that makes me want to giggle. I want to stick my index finger between those little nibblets and tickle you, but I don’t want to disturb your rest.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer.

A gentle breeze caresses your ear. You flick it back and forth, trying to shake off the curious feeling. You rise slightly and your emerald eyes lazily open. Realizing it’s nothing to be alarmed of, your body softens, exhaling deeply you return to your dreams.

I know I shouldn’t do it, but I reach out to pet you. At first it reawakens you, but within moments you relax under my touch. Your fur sends shivers up my fingers, it’s so soft and silky. I can barely feel the ripples of your ribs and spine as I run my hand down your back. You turn over exposing your belly to me. I can’t resist tracing a few fingers between your front legs for a moment, knowing full well I might lose my hand if I pet you there much longer.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen and the DOOD without a care in the world.

I watch you sleep, exposed, vulnerable, but safe. It makes me profoundly happy to know I can provide this haven for you and in return you fill the dark places in my heart with sunshine. I marvel at my good luck in this perfect, golden moment.

In you, my little cat, I find peace and my true self. I find a pure, simple love that just is, that nourishes me; that I cannot live without.

You are my cat.

You are love.

Here Comes da Judge-the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival!

I've been keeping some really exciting news under wraps. It would have been good enough to tell you that the Walker Art Center's (WAC) Internet Cat Video Festival is coming back bigger and better to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, August 28, 2013 at 7pm and that the crowds are expected to top 13,000 cat lovers from around the globe, but..there's more!

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I'm thrilled to announce that I will be one of the Juror's of this year's show!

I'm deeply honored to be part of WAC's group of cat-centric writers, entertainers and cat behaviorists who will be reviewing thousands of videos, with one goal-to tease out top contenders in nine different CATegories. Winning entries get the coveted Golden Kitty (statuette, not a real cat!).

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ENTER YOUR FAVORITE VIDEO NOW!

Did you create an awesome award-winning-worthy cat video or did you see one you just can't stop watching? There's still a TEENIE BIT OF TIME LEFT to NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE VIDEOS! The deadline is MAY 1st!

To enter your favorite videos fill out the Internet Cat Video Festival Nomination Form.

UPDATE: THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JUNE 1, 2013!

Get Tickets for the Internet Cat Film Festival 2013

Tickets are only $10.00 and are selling fast so don’t miss out. Rumor has it there are going to be some VERY AWESOME CELEBU-CAT GUESTS!

Purchase tickets online at mnstatefair.org or via this LINK

Order by phone at 800.514.3849

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If you can't come to the Festival, you can still get a COOL t-shirt (Spencer not included!). ORDER HERE.

You can get more details or sign up to let them know you'll be attending the event via the Internet Cat Video Festival's Facebook page. To find out what other cool things WAC has up their sleeve pop over to their Facebook page. (hint: one of them is specially designed MINI-GOLF COURSE!)

Let me know if you'll be attending the Internet Cat Video Festival and we'll have a special Covered in Cat Hair club gathering! You can email me at info@coveredincathair.com

See you in August in St. Paul, Minnesota!

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Freedom for the Iredell County Cats

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I just heard from Lisa, our friend at SPCA of Wake County in Raleigh, NC. She gave me an update on the 9 cats (an additional 3 cats went to another rescue) they rescued from Iredell Animals Services last week. If you recall, these cats were subjected to being caged for 2 YEARS due to an animal cruelty investigation and subsequent court case. Once the cats were free to go, they still faced being euthanized because many have minor health issues and some are senior-aged.

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha enjoying life out of a cage.

SPCA Wake County didn't balk at taking on these cats. They didn't pick out the prettiest ones or easiest to adopt-they TOOK THEM ALL and my hat is off to them for their good deed.

From Lisa's email, this is what we have learned:

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Brian, still a bit scared, but slowly coming out of his shell.

“Benson, Brian, Cougar and Tabitha are the first ones available for adoption. You can see their photos and listings at www.spcawake.org/adopt by clicking on the "view cats available for adoption" icon and scrolling through the alphabetical list. Attached is a photo of Tabitha and Cougar lounging in one of our communal cat rooms.

Leroy, Max and Jethro all turned out to be intact. They will be neutered tomorrow and available for adoption starting on Friday.

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Cougar, tail up, happy again!

Tori had a cyst on her chin and we're waiting for lab results before we put her up for adoption.

Red Boy is a real trooper. Of his ten front claws, seven of them were grown into his paw pads. Ouch! It was quite extreme to say the least. He had surgery yesterday and after one more week of cage rest and an e-collar he should be cleared for adoption.

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha (back) and Cougra (front) relax in their comfortable new shelter. All they need is to be adopted!

All nine cats have done just fine with us so far and I'm so glad we've been able to help them by giving them a high-volume adoption center to call home until the right people come along.”

These cats have waited a long time. Our last act should be to make sure they all find good homes. If you'd like to adopt any of these kitties, please call or visit SPCA of Wake County.

LOCATION:

200 Petfinder Lane

Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 772-2326

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The Brink

I'd like to write a meaningful update about Fred, but the truth is I've become incapacitated by this horrific situation. Words are very hard for me to come by. I'm focused on providing round-the-clock care for Fred, for arranging his next test or Vet appointment and for finding a way to pay for it all.

I'm sick to my stomach. I can barely function. I have visions of having to euthanize a 10-month old KITTEN because I can't find an answer to what has been slowly robbing him of his neurological function. The more tests we do, the less we learn. Most of the tests show us nothing. Everything is normal, but Fred is far from it. We rule things out, then rule them back in.

The Vets scratch their heads and say that if Fred has the dry form of FIP, the only way to really know it for sure is POST-MORTEM.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I've cried a river of tears and had to force myself to go into the foster room-a place that once only meant joy to me-to witness seeing my dear foster kitten wobble across the room, trying not to fall over, but flopping to the floor if he tries to go too far. He is reluctant or unable to eat, so Sam and I have to zip him into a “cat bag” so I can syringe feed him every day and give him his meds-which may or may not do a thing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

I cry as I force the liquid nourishment into Fred's mouth. He is frustrated and angry. I am trying to be gentle, loving, sweet, not miss his mouth and squirt the warm fluid all over us. I tell him he's a good boy, that I love him. I tell him I'm so sorry all the time. I hate that he tries to run away from me when he sees me or Sam. He thinks we're going to give him the painful eye drops again or shove a pill down his throat. It MUST be done to keep Fred stable enough for the last tests we can do: an MRI and a spinal tap to test his spinal fluid.

 

The tests were supposed to happen today, but will occur tomorrow, instead. Today we opted to do a bile acid test, in the hopes that Fred has a very rare condition called a Portosystemic Shunt. Fred does not have all the symptoms, but the symptoms can vary. Fred's neurologist felt it was worth investigating and it IS treatable if it's causing the problems.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

They wanted to look again, with a second ultrasound, at Fred's mesenteric lymph nodes. Once “plump” they are now normal. This is good news, right? Not really because now they're seeing a faint “glow” around his kidneys which could mean LYMPHOMA, but of course it's not definitive. Nothing seems to be at this point.

Tomorrow, April 23rd, they will do an MRI of Fred's brain. If they see encephalitis (swelling) it can indicate FIP. They could see brain degeneration due to roundworm infestation or a brain tumor. They will take some of his spinal fluid and look for cells in it. If there are more than 5, that's a problem. If the protein levels are above 25 it will mean it's more likely FIP. If those tests are normal they will look again at the fluid to see if there is toxoplasmosis or cryptococcous-even though his blood showed no signs of it-they can some times find it in the spinal fluid. Those two things we CAN treat for and cure, but lymphoma and FIP are a death sentence for Fred.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

So we wait. We may learn things tomorrow or we may be stumped. We may never know what is happening so we'll do what most vets do-give Fred steroids and hope the inflammation reduces and he gets some function back in his limbs, that he has better quality of life for some amount of time. I got Polyprenil Immunostimulant from Sass & Sass. It's the ONLY drug known to POSSIBLY, in some very few cases, give cats with the dry form of FIP a greater chance to live longer and more comfortably. Some cats have lived over a year with the therapy and one cat has lived over 5 years.

Excuse my rambling, awful post. I'm in a very bad place, terrified, hoping that somehow, some way, Fred gets a miracle and we can cure him. It feels very unlikely right now, but foolish me, I will hold onto the few strands of hope I have left.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

I have vowed to do what's right for Fred, regardless of what that may mean. If Fred has to die, he will die at home with his brother, Sam and I by his side, if we have anything to say about it. If he can have ANY CHANCE to LIVE, I will make sure he has it.

 

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Fred's vet bill is ENORMOUS and pushing over $6000.00 to date. Kitten Associates is a small rescue. We don't have big benefactors. We don't have a load of money in the bank. I only ask for help when we REALLY need it-and we REALLY NEED IT. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee-that's GREAT-you can donate via this LINK. We're not greedy. It all adds up to help Fred. You can use the widget, below to make a donation or mail us a check made out to: "Kitten Associates" and mail it to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.

We're a 501(c )3 non-profit so your donation is even tax deductible.

and a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has so graciously donated and shared our fundraiser!

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And Then There Were None-Miracle for 12 Kitties Caged for 2 Years

BEHOLD A MIRACLE

Twelve cats I reported about a week ago who were caged for TWO YEARS at Iredell Animal Services due to a legal dispute, had their dream come true today. EVERY SINGLE CAT HAS A RESCUE. ALL OF THE CATS ARE SAFE AND SOUND. NONE OF THEM WERE EUTHANIZED!

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A HUGE, THANK YOU TO the SPCA OF WAKE COUNTY for being so receptive to my email asking for help that they got to work putting together the necessary planning to take on NINE of the TWELVE CATS (the others were taken by another rescue).

Please visit their FACEBOOK PAGE and tell them THANK YOU from Covered in Cat Hair and LIKE THEIR PAGE!

If you feel so inclined MAKE A DONATION in honor of these cats so that SPCA of Wake County can continue to help cats like these in the future.

SPCA of WAKE COUNTY-YOU ROCK. You took on all the cats. You didn't “cherry pick” out the “good” ones. You're helping them all.

IF YOU LIVE IN OR NEAR RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, stop by SPCA of Wake County and ADOPT ONE OF THESE KITTIES! They've had a Hell of a long ride and deserve loving homes. If you know of anyone looking to adopt, send them to SPCA of Wake County!

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It's a happy day for these deserving cats.

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Brian is aNeutered male, short haired white/orange tabby. He's a LARGE cat. Good appetite! Brian is good with other cats, but is a little shy. Not aggressive at all with cats or people, just nervous. Would probably come out of his "shell" once in a calm and quiet home. Does have eye and nose drainage. Has upper resp. issues.

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Poor Brian! He sits in his cat litter pan because the scent of it is his only comfort. Brain looks depressed or angry, but he's a nice kitty. He's emotionally exhausted from the stress of living in a cage for so long. Can you love this big lug?

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Cougar A135997

Cougar is a short haired female (underbelly indicates possibly spayed). Good temperament. Possible slight upper resp. symptoms.

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Rarely do black cats have a happy ending once their in a shelter. Cougar is a nice cat who just needs a break.

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Jethro A136013

Intact male, 3-5 years of age. Medium haired Tabby/White. Temperament was very good, but in last few months has been slightly temperamental (they believe once out of "caged" environment temperament will once again improve). Possible slight upper resp. issues, but overall seems healthy!

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Look at that FACE! Jethro is asking you to bust him out of that cage. He's so handsome and friendly, I'm sure he would make a great addition to any home.

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Max A136007

Intact male, short haired gray/white. Very friendly. Seems ok with other cats. Cat is slim, but not too underweight. Cat has good appetite. Slight upper resp. issues. Owner had as 10 years of age, would not guess that old in age.

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What do you think? I think Max wants to play and have fun! What pretty eyes, too!

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Red Boy

Medium haired, neutered male orange tabby. Approx 7 years old. Cat is overweight and has a great appetite! Very friendly with other cats and with people. Have not noticed any eye or nose discharge, but still possible to have slight upper respiratory issues. Teeth are yellowing and are "worn".

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Red Boy is an older kitty. Those of you who know this blog well, will notice that he looks too much like my guy, Bob Dole. Red Boy is too adorable to stay in a cage any longer.

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Samuel A136002

Neutered/Male, Medium haired Orange Tabby/White. Approx 5 years old. Cat is friendly, but VERY nervous. Not aggressive. I believe once out of a "caged" environment will be an independent calm and happy cat. Weight is good. Possible slight upper resp. issues.

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Sammy looks so scared, but what a knockout! He's another cat who will blossom once he's safely out of the shelter.

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Suzie A136003

Medium/Long haired, dilute calico/tortie markings. Approx 3 years old. Very friendly with people, but does not like being scruffed. Would do best as an only cat (seems to be agitated by other cats). Cat seems to "talk" instead of meow! Loving girl. Does have issue with hair balls, but I believe once in a home and groomed regularly will improve. Possible slight upper resp. issues. [Note from Robin: I find it tough to agree that the cat needs to be an only cat. She should be evaluated in less stressful environment. She can probably get on with other cats if introduced properly.]

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I don't have to convince anyone that Suzie needs to be rescued. Look at her!

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Tori A136006

Short haired, black/white cat. Has some dental issues. Very friendly and seems ok with other cats. Good body weight, but poor hair coat (dull coat). Has slight upper respiratory issues.

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Sweet Tori. It's easy to overlook a cat who might have some minor health issues, but none of them are her fault. With good food and some vet care, this kitty could be your best friend.

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A136001 Leroy

Short haired, gray/white cat. Slightly underweight. Very friendly. Has started to defecate outside of litter box in past couple months. I believe once out of a "caged" environment cat will return to using litter box. Fur is dull.

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This photo arrived distorted so I tried to fix it. Working on getting a replacement image.

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A136011 Journey

Journey is a senior-about 12 years old. She's a short haired, black/white cat. Cat has no teeth and has been on canned food only. Cat has upper respiratory issues. Cat appears to be losing weight and appears to have stopped grooming regularly. Poor fur coat. Cat is friendly and seems ok with other cats, but is "high energy". Possibly spayed.

This is the initial notes from the shelter. I personally had this cat for a week in my office. She was beyond kennel stressed, and just letting her out in my office to stretch was the best thing for her. She is absolutely hilarious! In the mornings she would greet me at the door, and proceed to stand on my desk in front of my computer screen and paw at me until we had our morning “hellos”. She would only then go and lay in her bed. Wonderfully loving and sweet cat!

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She's a SENIOR and a wreck. Of all the cats this one cuts me the deepest. I hope we can find a way to get her OUT. I know she can recover from her difficult time in a cage, but we need help to make it happen.

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A135995 Benson

Benson is an approximately 5 year old, neutered male tabby cat. He has URI issues with an unknown cause despite treatment. [Note from Robin: He may have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all he needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.] He is friendly to humans and is good around other cats. His left ear slouches, and we suspect that is from an old hematoma.

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This guy is a big, friendly dude. Sure he's a bit rough around the edges, but with a little polishing he'll be a treasure. He just wants to make friends and love his family.

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A136012 Tabitha

Tabitha is an approximately 5 year old female tabby cat. We suspect she is spayed due to her body condition, but we cannot be sure. She is friendly with humans and other cats. She has a chronic URI issue, with an unknown cause, despite medical treatment. [Note from Robin: she may also have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all she needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.]

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She's a sweet tabby who has not only suffered confinement, but illness. She CAN get better and it may take as little as getting out OUT of the shelter and into a loving home. Please don't overlook this little sweetie.

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Chloe's Big Adventure

Dee reads my blog (Thank you, Dee!). She bugged her friend, Angi to give Chloe a foster home since Angi lives in Connecticut, has cats and LOVES cats enough to take on one more (and she's also an awesome artist). Dee already fosters cats and knows that Angi would do a great job so she used whatever secret powers she has to urge Angi to give Chloe a home until she's ready to go to her forever home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Chloe. Feeling scared was not a surprise, but what happened next certainly was.

I would call this “finding a foster home in a haystack,” because I thought there is NO WAY we're going to be able to find a LONG-TERM foster home for Chloe. Color me surprised.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little self-soothing foot bath before she explores the room any further.

Angi is awesome. She's vivacious and cute with a funky-cool haircut and an easy going attitude. I did a home visit to make sure she had a good space for Chloe to pass the next few months, recover from her abuse and to lose a bit of weight (she's already lost a pound). Angi had a perfect space-a guest room in the corner of her home that overlooks her yard. It's a far cry from the bathroom where Chloe has been staying with Katherine and it's almost as big as the entire living room where Chloe once lived with her former guardian.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Katherine brings out Chloe's favorite brush.

Everything went well with the home visit and today Katherine and I delivered Chloe to Angi's home.

Chloe didn't protest too much in the car, but Katherine and I both worried what she'd do when she got out of her cat carrier. Would she completely revert to being aggressive with Angi? Would she try to bite her? Would she growl and lash out?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe's FAVORITE-Cat Grass!

We covered her cat carrier and rushed her into Angi's house, before Angi's three cats knew what we were up to. We got the room set up with Chloe's things while Chloe watched us from the safety of her crate.

Then came the big moment-opening the door.

We all took a collective deep breath as Katherine opened the crate. Out walked Chloe, planting her face directly into a small container of cat grass. Content to munch on her favorite treat, we all relaxed. At least Chloe wasn't going to charge us, guns blazing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Or is Chloe's favorite thing being brushed?

Chloe, energized from her treat, surprised us by getting up and casually began to examine her new home. She rubbed her face onto Angi's outstretched hand, the table, the edge of the cat carrier. She rubbed up against ME, which at first scared, then delighted me, leaving me sitting there with my mouth hanging open like an idiot.

Chloe continued exploring the room. She didn't go very fast or very far. She had to take a break and sit down every so often, but she wasn't hiding. She was simply curious. So far, so good.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy Buddha-kitty!

Katherine got Chloe's favorite brush out and that put a smile onto this kitty's face. Chloe loved being brushed and it helped her relax.

Hopefully she could trust that even in this new place, with the new smells, things would go on as they did before. She'd still get loved and cared for. It was going to be okay, right?

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Reaching up to be brushed. More, please!

Chloe got a bit irritated from all the attention. Perhaps it was a bit too much, too soon. She gave Katherine and Angi a “love bite,” but nothing worse. Katherine stopped brushing Chloe and decided it was time to go over the instructions for taking care of her with Angi.

 

Everything went surprisingly well. Since Chloe was settled, we bid Angi goodbye and good luck. I joked that Angi should invest in a pair of rattlesnake boots to protect her legs when she entered Chloe's room. I hoped I was wrong, but in a situation like this-and with Chloe losing Katherine, who knows what would happen next?

 

Katherine and I left Angi's, feeling happy and hopeful that Chloe would finally have a chance to flower.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little love from Katherine.

A few hours later, Angi wrote that she was have a bit of hard time getting BACK into the room with Chloe and that Chloe attacked her ankles. I guess I shouldn't have made a joke about the boots, but then I realized maybe someone had kicked Chloe and that's why she was upset? When we let her out of the cat carrier, we were all sitting on the floor, which made us less intimidating. Now what was Angi going to do?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A few skritches from Aunt Angi.

Angi took it in stride. She knows this is going to be a long process and now Chloe will have to learn to trust her, too. She's prepared to give Chloe every chance, if Chloe will just allow her into the room once in awhile so she can water her plants.

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