Four years ago it was rare to see an online plea to help a pet find a home. I’d been cranking away at my blog, wondering if anyone read it when a woman contacted me about her dire situation. She had an 18 pound orange maine coon and she was losing her home in a week. She’d tried asking friends and family to help, but no one stepped forward. She didn’t want to turn him into a shelter because in her heart she hoped her financial situation would improve enough so she could take her cat back. She just needed a long-term foster home.
Could I help her find a placement in Virginia for her beloved Cheese?
Our first glimpse of Cheese.
I’m in Connecticut. What could I do? I wrote a blog post and hoped for the best. What shocked all of us is that the very next day, Amy Sikes stepped up to take Cheese as a foster with the hope of returning him to his mom one day. It was a joyous time, knowing even from afar, a few words inspired someone enough to help save a cat’s life.
Amy contacted me for help and again I wrote another post. Kelly saw the story and reached out to me. Kelly understood that 10 year old cats just don’t magically find a home. She loved maine coons and felt she could give the kitty what he needed.
Kelly lives in New Hampshire, a far drive from Virginia. If the adoption didn't work out it would make a big mess. We had to hope for the best.
Amy and Kelly worked out the details and in good time Cheese found himself in a new forever home with growing boys and 2 squeaky papillons. It wasn’t a love match at first with the dogs, but Kelly knew to give it time and sure enough Cheese found his place. He even began to “chat” with everyone and quickly become the center of attention.
Kelly wasn’t done adding to her family. She ended up adopting our foster kitten, Buttons, then a year later a friend for Buttons named Penelope Possum because the youngsters vexed the big orange senior (it wasn’t a bad situation, but out of respect Kelly felt Cheese needed more chill time and less chasing-kitten time).
©Kelly Keating. Used with permission. Sweet Cheese.
I’ve become friends with Kelly over this time and she’s kept me posted about Cheese. It was always comforting to know he’d escaped being euthanized at a shelter and had been so loved and cared for.
When she got home she found Cheese laying still on the floor, that horrible kind of stillness that alerts one to the fact that there is no life left. Her son relayed that Cheese had stood up, cried out loudly, then died. Shocked and horrified, Kelly called me with the heartbreaking news.
We tried to make sense of what had happened. I knew from experience that cats with heart conditions, which are common in Maine Coons, can cause them to throw a clot and very quickly die. HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy had claimed the life of my cat Stanley and our dear cat, Jackson Galaxy just a few months ago. HCM is very tough to detect without doing an echocardiogram. An x-ray or EKG can only tell so much and Kelly’s vet hadn’t had any suspicions.
©Kelly Keating. Used with permission. The most handsome boy, Cheese.
To Kelly and her son, Liam, who I am told is devastated, to Kelly’s other sons and partner Dana, we join you in mourning the loss of a kitty who just wanted a forever home and was lucky enough to find it with all of you. I wish it had been for 10 more years.
To all of you who read this post, please visit our Facebook page and leave a message for Kelly and her family. She needs our support so very much.
Fly free sweet Cheese. You will be missed always.
Saturday morning I got a text message from Warren that made me burst into tears. It was bad news about a cat named Big Daddy, a hunk of man-cat Warren had trapped behind Home Depot near his house in northern Georgia a few months ago. At the time, we assumed the cat was feral, but within hours after being trapped it was clear this cat was the exact opposite. He was SO charming we ALL fell in love with him. I wrote about Big D’s adventure in the post: The Accidental Feral, Big Daddy.
©2014 William Mahone. Used with permission. www.WilliamMahonePhotography.com. The face that launched 1000 sighs…Big Daddy.
Soon after my post went up asking for a shelter to take on Big Daddy we were delighted that Angels of Assisi, of Roanoke, VA, offered to provide a placement for him until he was adopted. [You can check out that story here The Accidental Feral's Next Journey is with the Angels]
After only a few weeks of being with A of A, Big Daddy was adopted, but sadly, was returned due to his serious fear of dogs. We knew he'd find his home so he returned to the shelter to wait. As far as we knew, Big D was fine until the shocking news on Saturday.
My own vet, Dr. Larry, had never even heard of anything like that happening before and neither had I. Though technically it could be possible, it was not something that happened with any regularity and also proved how seriously ill Big Daddy was…
I posted a PawCircle for Big Daddy right away on our Facebook page and so began the flood of good wishes, prayers and loving messages from over 30,000 people from as far away as Australia and the UK.
It was up to Big Daddy’s compromised immune system as to whether or not he would survive once he was getting IV antibiotics and other supportive care.
©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Before Big Daddy got sick
I wanted to bargain with God to spare Big Daddy’s life. I promised I’d rescue more cats or be a better person…I was so busted up I couldn’t stop crying. For the next 24 hours I felt sick to my stomach with worry, hoping Warren wouldn’t update me or that he would, but only with good news.
Megan, Big Daddy’s foster mom at A of A relayed the story of how things unfolded. With her permission I’m sharing her words here with some minor edits:
Big Daddy first got sick last weekend, Chelsea and I saw him on Saturday April 26th and he had the typical URI symptoms - runny nose, sneezy, congested, a little lethargic. He was still in good spirits at that time, while he wasn’t coming to the front of his cage demanding love he was accepting when we reached in. He had been started on antibiotics at that point. Put a bowl of wet food in front of him and he chowed down. By Monday (April 28) he was getting worse – very congested, blowing snot, not eating. The vets changed up his meds at this point to guifasen cough tabs, clavamox, and some nasal drops to help with the congestion. On Wednesday (April 30) I brought him home to foster and help him recover, I have a very good track record with sick kittens and thought I’d give Big Daddy a try here. I was aware that because of his FIV he would have a harder time fighting this infection, but I had no idea what was in store for us over the next few days. … I was syringe feeding him (he was not eating on his own at all at this point), giving him his meds, nebulizing him twice a day, and keeping a humidifier running in his room all the time. He seemed stable Wednesday and Thursday, but Friday evening he began going downhill very quickly. He was wheezing and gasping for breath most of the night. As I was trying to syringe feed him Friday night he had started clenching his jaw so tight I was not able to wiggle the syringe in to feed him at all. At that point I started panicking, unsure what to do for him. I tried giving him subcutaneous fluids, but he was fighting so much that the needle wouldn’t stay in.
After another attempt at syringe feeding he got very agitated and started walking away from me… He got to the edge of the bed and walked off, not jumped, walked off the bed right into the floor. This is when I REALLY panicked and started to think maybe he couldn’t see, I had also noticed that he would sit with his face against a wall and paw at the wall.
Big Daddy first got sick last weekend, Chelsea and I saw him on Saturday April 26th and he had the typical URI symptoms - runny nose, sneezy, congested, a little lethargic. He was still in good spirits at that time, while he wasn’t coming to the front of his cage demanding love he was accepting when we reached in. He had been started on antibiotics at that point. Put a bowl of wet food in front of him and he chowed down. By Monday (April 28) he was getting worse – very congested, blowing snot, not eating. The vets changed up his meds at this point to guifasen cough tabs, clavamox, and some nasal drops to help with the congestion.
On Wednesday (April 30) I brought him home to foster and help him recover, I have a very good track record with sick kittens and thought I’d give Big Daddy a try here. I was aware that because of his FIV he would have a harder time fighting this infection, but I had no idea what was in store for us over the next few days. … I was syringe feeding him (he was not eating on his own at all at this point), giving him his meds, nebulizing him twice a day, and keeping a humidifier running in his room all the time.
He seemed stable Wednesday and Thursday, but Friday evening he began going downhill very quickly. He was wheezing and gasping for breath most of the night. As I was trying to syringe feed him Friday night he had started clenching his jaw so tight I was not able to wiggle the syringe in to feed him at all. At that point I started panicking, unsure what to do for him. I tried giving him subcutaneous fluids, but he was fighting so much that the needle wouldn’t stay in.
I slept in my guest bedroom with him Friday night, unsure if he would even make it through the night. Saturday morning I got him to the vet at Angels of Assisi with tears in my eyes because I was afraid there was nothing else we could do for our sweet boy, our fabulous veterinarian Dr. Raeann Foster immediately started working on Big Daddy in between paying clients.
He was started on oxygen via facemask; she gave him some steroids, and was planning on starting an IV to give him fluids. After describing how he walked off the bed and was staring at walls she tested his vision and confirmed that he was blind.
She believed that his brain had been oxygen deprived for so long and that’s what had led to the blindness. Obviously, with the blindness everything we tried to do was absolutely terrifying to him and he became very stressed and started lashing out at everyone who would touch him. Raeann (with the help of two great vet assistants!) was finally able to start an IV catheter so we could give him fluids.
We got him back on the oxygen, but he became very stressed and thrashed until he ripped out the IV. At this point Chelsea spoke with Warren to update him on Big Daddy’s status and let him know that we may lose him…Warren generously offered to sponsor Big Daddy’s care if we could/would get him to a full service clinic.
I high tailed it to Emergency Veterinary Services of Roanoke and they quickly took him from me to begin examining and working on him. The vet there updated me quickly and warned me that his prognosis was not good and that he could crash and go downhill very quickly. She told me the plan was to place him in an oxygen chamber where he would be able to get continuous oxygen to help him breathe better. When he was more relaxed they would start running blood work and get chest x-rays. They had to take everything very slowly as it didn’t take much to stress Big Daddy out and cause him to lash out at the staff. I left him in their very capable hands at this point. I called later that evening to check on him and was told that they’d been able to start an IV to give him fluids and antibiotics, had drawn some blood, and he was resting comfortably.
I called again late that night to check on him again and they’d been able to do all his blood work and x-rays, but did not have results yet. I tried to get some sleep Saturday night wondering if Big Daddy would make it. I called first thing Sunday morning for an update on him and was shocked to hear that he’d eaten a little on his own! The oxygen and fluids and antibiotics were working wonders! He seemed to be regaining some vision; he was more relaxed and very friendly with the staff taking care of him. She even told me that he was purring!
She told me that he was not out of the woods just yet, but that she was very happy with the progress he’d made over night. His blood work results were in – his WBC count was very elevated (Which was expected with an infection); his kidney enzymes were slightly elevated (possibly due to dehydration). His x-rays showed the he had a possible collapsed lung, which explained his difficulty breathing. She said they would begin trying to wean him off the oxygen then. So while he was not out of the woods, we became cautiously optimistic for a full recovery!
…I went to visit BD that evening at the Emergency Vet clinic and he was looking amazing, I could not believe this was the same cat I’d dropped off just 24 hours prior when he couldn’t breathe or see! He was now completely off oxygen, his vision was returning, he was eating on his own, he was purring and loving on the staff…
©2014 Megan Greer. Used with Permission. Big Daddy, down 3 pounds from being sick, got a visit from Megan at the ER Vet.
As the hours ticked by it seemed that Big Daddy was responding to treatment enough to leave the ER. By Monday he was back home with Megan, who would provide him with continued care and monitoring. With the good news spreading that Big D. was going to make it I think we all shared a sigh of relief and plenty of tears, but it also left us with more questions.
What was next for Big Daddy? How could he go back to A of A’s shelter after being so very sick and be exposed to other cats? If he couldn't be in the shelter where would he go? Could he stay in foster care for the time being…but how long could he stay there if it prevented the shelter from saving more lives?
Angels of Assisi has an Amazon WishList that includes some food for Big Daddy. If you'd like to send him a Get Well gift please visit THIS LINK. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A GIFT MESSAGE THAT YOUR GIFT IS FOR BIG DADDY (he likes Blue Buffalo and Spot's Stew and others).
Visit our FACEBOOK PAGE HERE to LIKE our page and Change your settings now.
Rescue is an exercise in loving, then letting go, whether the cat leaves to be adopted or passes away while in foster care. It’s a challenge we face and have to find a way to accept, but many times instead of finding peace with the loss, we’re left with scars on our heart. I think a cat rescuer’s heart must look pretty ratty between the effects of sadness and stress on it. It’s a wonder it functions at all and miraculous that we find a way to love again and again.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy a few days after rescue, already brewing the URI that would plague the kittens for months.
In the case of “the Clementines,” our six, once skin-and-bones, flea-covered kittens from Kentucky, my heart was truly tested. At first it was stressed from worry. The kittens arrived covered in fleas, then got sick over and over again with an eye infection that wouldn’t quit. Then I fell in love with their silly antics as they began to blossom from little squirts to young adults. I dreaded the time when they would be adopted. They'd been here far too long.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango and sister, Mandy, together always.
Our original six kittens, after many many months, were finally well enough to be find their homes. Quickly after being posted on Petfinder first Marigold, then her sisters Blossom and Buttercup were adopted. I was happy to see them find their place in the world, but secretly feared the day when their big brother Mango would find his place, too.
Mango is the biggest of the litter. He’s dopey, friendly, a bit too nippy when he’s bored. He’s always been courageous and ready to bust out of his foster room and dash down the stairs. In seconds he makes it all the way to the basement, tail up, ready for adventure, driving me crazy in the process.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A world full of adventures awaits Biscotti and buddy, Mango.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Late night laptime.
It wasn’t so bad that he got out, but it was a pain in the neck to have to retrieve him all the time. He got into a little game with me where he’d run out of the room, dash down the hallway into my bedroom. He’d run over to a plant and chew on the leaves. I’d get him off the plant and he’d sit comfortably in my arms with his front paws crossed over each other as I carried him back to the foster room.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fluff and Mango's game time.
Once Fluff Daddy was here, they developed a new game. Fluff would wait outside the door and as Mango made his escape, Fluff would trill and call out, chasing after him. They’d head into the master bathroom and Mango would run into the shower stall, even if it was wet from recently being used. He’d wait a minute or two while Fluff burbled after him, then he’d race out, right into my arms and I’d carry him back to his room once again.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet and silly Mandy.
After some time I decide to just let him out, get the food put down, then go get him. My favorite part of the game was watching him run down the hallway. His little butt would wiggle back and forth as he so proudly pranced along, enjoying his little game, waiting for me to come get him. He never struggled to get out of my arms, even at nine pounds he was never too big to be held.
Mango definitely was a “keeper” in my book, but I knew I just couldn’t do that. He deserved a home. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The final sniff.
A few days ago, a very nice lady named Ann Marie came over with her mom, Dotty. These two ladies love cats. Ann Marie has an apartment in her parent’s home so when Ann Marie had to go to work, her mom and dad would be with the kittens. I loved the idea of Mango having that much attention, but I also knew he needed a buddy. Mango is a real cat-cat.
Ann Marie agreed saying she’d often had two cats and would welcome the chance to adopt one of Mango’s siblings. As she and her mother played with the kittens, I could tell her choice would be Mandarin.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Mango!
Mandy was the smallest of the litter, the most dainty, the polar opposite to big thug Mango. Her eyes are almond shaped, not as round as her brother’s, which gives her a very sweet, girly-girl look (and was one of the few ways I could tell the cats apart when they were little kittens). Mandy is often rather quiet, but loveable. She surprised me by fetching one particular, ratty toy. If I threw it she would either return it to me or she would leap high into the air, catching the toy with her front paws. She looked like an outfielder at a baseball game. I’d never seen anything like it.
I knew Ann Marie and her mom (who is so gentle with my own cats that when she sat with the two most skittish cats, they didn’t run off.) were falling for the two kittens. It was not long before we were doing the paperwork and I was kissing each kitten and loading them into their cat carriers.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Handsome.
Then the all-too familiar feeling…rip, rip, rip goes my heart.
After the kittens left for their new home and I returned to the foster room it felt completely empty even though two cats remained. Biscotti and Bert, the last of the Clementines, looked up at me clearly confused about what was going on. Mango, the master of mayhem, was gone. His story with me had reached the final chapter. I wouldn’t need a “kitten plow” to enter the room any more, nor would I see his little round butt shake its way down the hall ever again.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Baby Mango hit with URI, didn't stop him from being adorable.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. With their new mama, Ann Marie and her mama, Dotty.
Goodbye babies. Have a wonderful life.
Visit our FACEBOOK PAGE HERE to LIKE our page and Change your settings now.
Species appropriate nutrition for cats is a passion of mine and I take it so seriously that when I opened my non-profit cat rescue, Kitten Associates, I created a “no kibble” policy for all our foster cats. After years of studying nutrition, understanding that cats are obligate carnivores (they get their energy from PROTEIN not carbohydrates), it just made sense to not feed them anything that was over-processed, heated beyond recognition, utilizing source proteins that weren’t up to snuff.
I’ve seen the change good nutrition makes in my own cat’s health and my dream is to help people make better choices so their cats will benefit. It’s clear that the folks at Weruva, makers of “People food for Pets,” also shares my passion. All you have to do is pop open a 3.2 oz. or 6.0 oz. can or rip open a 3 oz. pouch to see what good cat food looks like.
There are recognizable pieces of meat or fish. It’s 80% water. Why? Because cat’s origins are traced back to the deserts of Iran where water was not readily available. It’s not natural for a cat to drink water from a bowl because their thirst drive is so low. In fact, cats evolved to obtain their hydration through the prey they consume so the modern cat of today must get moisture from their food or they can have kidney issues and a whole host of other problems. Weruva’s mid-priced line of cat food, great for cats young and old, is called Cats in the Kitchen and provides appropriate moisture along with tasty morsels of meat or sustainable fish. It’s a go-to cat food in my home.
Cats in the Kitchen utilizes novel proteins like lamb or turkey and the flavors have some of the most creative names I’ve ever heard, like “Funk in the Trunk” or “Double Dip.” What I like best is that I don’t have to worry about there being extra ingredients that may cause health issues in many cats. This food is Grain-free, GMO, Carrageenan, Starch and MSG free and looks so delicious you’d be tempted to put it on a cracker and try it yourself.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Kitten Associates foster kittens Junebug, Purrcee & Maggie Mae gobble up Weruva's Fowl Ball-turkey and chicken recipe. Feeding hint: elevate your cat's dish and make sure it's flat. That way your cat will have a more comfortable time eating. Whiskers rubbing on the side of a bowl can be uncomfortable.
Weruva uses the same cuts of meat humans can eat, some in interesting combinations like Turkey and Pumpkin (great choice to soothe your cat’s digestive issues) or chicken and beef. These combinations help satisfy the most picky eaters, though my cats love the simple “Chicken Frick ‘A Zee,” which is shredded chicken in broth. [helpful hint: I like to microwave the food for a few seconds because it helps release the aroma which will make the most finicky cat eat heartily.]
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Maggie shows me how much she liked her dinner.
If you’d like to learn more about Weruva, Cats in the Kitchen or their other lines of cat and dog food, please visit their web site or LIKE them on Facebook and let them know Covered in Cat Hair sent you!
This post is sponsored by Weruva. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Weruva as a part of the BlogPaws Blogger Network, but CoveredinCatHair.com only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Weruva is not responsible for the content of this article.
It’s been a week since Biscotti arrived in his new foster-to-adopt home. There were plenty of bumps in the road between his foster mom, Mary Lou, fretting she had cat allergies and her not being sure he would come out of his shell and have a happy life. As the days passed I got updates that Biscotti truly was a brave little lion. He was hiding less, and snuggling more. He loved his new dad, Greg and Graham the 17 yr old high school student with movie star looks. I got a few photos of Biscotti as he began to blossom. I could see the sweet but slightly scared look on his face, the one I knew so well. I could see him struggling, but overcoming his fears. I was so proud of him.
It’s been a week since Biscotti arrived in his new foster-to-adopt home. There were plenty of bumps in the road between his foster mom, Mary Lou, fretting she had cat allergies and her not being sure he would come out of his shell and have a happy life.
As the days passed I got updates that Biscotti truly was a brave little lion. He was hiding less, and snuggling more. He loved his new dad, Greg and Graham the 17 yr old high school student with movie star looks. I got a few photos of Biscotti as he began to blossom. I could see the sweet but slightly scared look on his face, the one I knew so well. I could see him struggling, but overcoming his fears. I was so proud of him.
In a few days, Mary Lou is supposed to go to see her allergist and there I had hoped she would be able to put her fears of allergies to rest or be able to find a way to enjoy living with Biscotti without any discomfort. She’d even mentioned that perhaps it had nothing to do with the cat, but perhaps something else, especially this time of year with all the pollens coming out, that were causing her eyes to feel dried out and itchy.
Biscotti hoping this is his forever home.
Then an email this afternoon telling me how beautiful Biscotti is and in the next breath how he needs to come back tonight, if possible. That Mary Lou’s reaction to him prevents her from even going in the room where he’s staying. She won't even wait until Monday or try any product I suggested that will neutralize his dander. I even suggested to wait a bit longer because some times you can get used to a cat, but…I didn’t know how badly she was doing. I imagine sniffles and for all I know she’s having an anaphylactic reaction.
But she does want a cat. Just not Biscotti.
As always I try to find answers and be helpful but I was also suspicious that something else was going on. I gave her some options for some breed-specific rescues and now I’m sitting here waiting for her to get home so I can go get our cat back.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.
I’m sad Biscotti lost his home, but I’m glad to have him come back. I know he’s had a good challenge and it will help me understand what sort of home would be good for him going forward and I’m PROUD of him for being such a brave boy.
Something just didn’t feel right once we arrived at the house. Mary Lou was rather stiff and made a quick frowny-face at me as if she was pretending to feel badly. Her son greeted us and gave us the same uncomfortable look as if there was more going on to this than we could know. Sam and I entered the room where I’d last seen Biscotti. He was sitting on the floor, looking a bit confused, but didn’t run off.
The room was rather a surprising mess compared to the utter perfection I'd seen a few days before and right away something bothered my throat. I don’t know what was causing it, but there was something in the room that was really irritating me. As Mary Lou gave us her feedback about how Biscotti was doing, telling us of his charming antics, while I politely nodded, I really just wanted to get the Hell out of there. My throat was really bothering me, but Mary Lou seemed fine. I think she was trying to be nice about giving Biscotti back but I couldn’t help but feel that something else was going on.
Mary Lou is still going to her Doctor on Monday. I don’t know why she couldn’t wait a few days, but she can’t. She gave me back the food I bought and Biscotti’s cat bed along with a few toys. Biscotti had hidden under a table. I scooped him out. He felt a lot heavier and was clearly afraid. I gently put him back in the cat carrier and he began to cry. Mary Lou seemed unfazed.
Sam and I made a beeline out of the house. Mary Lou said she was sorry to which I replied it was fine. I’d rather bring him back and my gut told me not to try to fix the situation-just get out.
©2014Robin A.F. Olson.
It took a few hours for my throat to feel better. I decided to email Mary Lou and let her know, in case it would help her going forward. I told her I was not trying to get her to take Biscotti back, but that she should be aware something is going on in that room if two other people had allergic reactions. Her one word reply left me feeling flat: “WOW!”
©2014Robin A.F. Olson.
I brought Biscotti back to his old buddies, the Clementine-kittens. There was a lot of sniffing and Biscotti hid right away. I checked in on him a bit later and he came out of hiding, but he definitely had a setback. He was not as friendly as he was just last week and he was clearly confused and upset. He didn’t eat well, but I know that will change. He felt a lot heavier so he must have had some good meals.
As the Clementines ran around the room playing, Biscotti sat on the bookcase away from the activity as he did before. He watches the world go by and wishes he could take part, but something in his heart hasn’t ripened enough yet where he feels like he can.
I know my little lion-heart will get there. It’s just a bump in the road.
Back to the drawing board for you Biscotti. We’ll find you the home you were really meant to have, not the one that gave up on you at the drop of a hat.
Visit our FACEBOOK PAGE HERE to LIKE our page and Change your settings now.
Some cats are born with a special sweetness about them. They don’t hiss, fight or bite. They don’t spitefully urinate on the wall. They're often overlooked because they might be shy or reserved, but it doesn’t mean there doesn’t beat the heart of a lion within their chest. Biscotti, who was literally thrown into a hot metal dumpster, burned and left to die when he was barely 3 weeks old, is one of those specially sweet creatures. Though painfully shy, since Biscotti arrived with his surrogate mother Mocha and her kittens Pizzelle, Lyndsay and Nanny last fall, he has slowly undergone a transformation.
Some cats are born with a special sweetness about them. They don’t hiss, fight or bite. They don’t spitefully urinate on the wall. They're often overlooked because they might be shy or reserved, but it doesn’t mean there doesn’t beat the heart of a lion within their chest.
Biscotti, who was literally thrown into a hot metal dumpster, burned and left to die when he was barely 3 weeks old, is one of those specially sweet creatures. Though painfully shy, since Biscotti arrived with his surrogate mother Mocha and her kittens Pizzelle, Lyndsay and Nanny last fall, he has slowly undergone a transformation.
©2013 Betsy Merchant. First glimpse of Biscotti right after rescue out of a dumpster.
Biscotti tries to overcome his fear. I don’t know what sort of Hell he suffered before he was thrown away, but it must have been very bad. The little tuxedo is not shy of being petted, in fact he enjoys it. Since he’s not “head shy” I don’t think he was hit, but something caused him to turn inward and retreat any time he is stressed. He hides away and only after a long time will he come out and explore the strangers in his room. If I pick him up around strangers, he’ll tighten himself into a ball. I can put him on anyone’s lap and he will stay in his little ball shape with a very sad look on his face.
His fragile nature is a magnet for compassionate people. Everyone feels badly for him and they all feel the desire to help him overcome his fear, but in the end they always opt for the more social cat to adopt. I don’t blame them, but I see what they don’t. He’s a little lion.
©2013 Foster Mama. Biscotti with his new mom, Mocha and step-brother Pizzelle.
When it’s just me in the room, Biscotti will come over to me, tail up in the air, ready to sit on my chest and get petted. If the Clementines weren’t so demanding of my lap-space, he’d be right there, too, but he’s too shy to push the others away to get what he wants. I try to give all of them some of my time and sooner or later Biscotti makes his way up on my lap where he’ll get as much love as he wants.
Over the months he’s really come out of his shell. I know he’ll be a great companion, but whoever adopts him will have to have faith that what I’ve seen, they will see, too. It’s just there’s no guarantee WHEN it will happen and the home has to be the right one. It has to be a CALM home. No little screaming kids. No late night parties. He needs a stable environment with people who understand cats and understand they have a diamond in the rough. The payoff won’t be instant gratification, it will be in knowing they had a hand in helping this poor creature find his confidence and in doing so, he’ll find his happiness and they will have an amazing companion in return.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti at 8 months old looking out into the woods of western Connecticut, a million miles away from the dumpster in Georgia where he was abandoned.
Just a few days after Blossom and Buttercup were adopted, I got a call from Mary Lou. She was in love with Biscotti’s photos on Petfinder and wanted to meet him right away. We had a long chat and she sounded great, but hadn’t even filled out an adoption application. I had a very good feeling about her, but was a bit worried there would be something in the application that would prevent me from moving forward.
I’m usually very slow processing applications. I HATE to deal with them. I am very sorry to anyone who has adopted from us or tried to. I do the best I can but having to have confrontations and talk to strangers is not my idea of a good time. One day I’ll have volunteers help me with this but right now I’m on my own.
©2013 Betsy Merchant (inset) and ©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A fragile kitten grows into a handsome, loving young adult.
In this case, because I had a good feeling and the application was good, the very next day Sam and I did the home visit and right after that they came over here to meet Biscotti. It went well, but as expected, the Clementines were all over the couple and I knew it would be hard to overlook them for the shy, motionless cat who was sitting under the cat tree.
I put Biscotti in Mary Lou’s lap. He looked very forlorn but sat there quietly as Mary Lou cooed over him. Her husband smiled at him but couldn’t help but be charmed by Mango. I didn’t push the subject, giving them plenty of time to consider their options. I was told that there was another rescue pressuring them to take THEIR cat. I’d heard of those tactics before, saying someone else wanted the cat and if they didn’t act fast they’d lose out. I never do that. If it’s meant to be, it is. I am not in the “business” of moving cats into okay homes. This is non-negotiable for me and I was rather disgusted that another rescue was pushing by constantly calling and texting Mary Lou.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti often poses for the camera making getting a good photo of him rather easy.
They had to think about it and I thought maybe it wasn’t going to happen but the next day I got a call that surprised me. Mary Lou had an allergic reaction while she was here. Her mom is allergic but she didn’t think she was. She was concerned about adopting ANY cat if it meant falling in love with it, then having to give it back. I was, too. She didn’t know what to do about it so I suggested she foster Biscotti for two weeks. If he made her sick, then I’d take him right back. If he didn’t and it was a match, then we’d do the adoption. She liked the idea so a few days later I brought Biscotti to her home.
I knew Biscotti would be terrified so I brought a hooded cat bed that smelled like him with me. Mary Lou and I got everything set up in his new room, which was a very sunny living room with large windows and so very well appointed. I looked for hiding places and was glad to see we only really had to change one thing and the rest of the space was clear. My hope was that I’d guide Biscotti into the cat bed and he’d use that for his safe place until he felt he could explore his new home.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Who wants to kiss that face? I do!
I’m really glad I brought the bed because that’s right where he went when I took him out of his cat carrier. He curled up in the bed, glad to be in the dark. I petted him and he loosened up a bit, but I knew he was very scared. I didn’t know if being the only pet in the family would be good or bad for him. My hope was that with the attention of a loving family focused on him that he would shine, but there was a long way to go before that happened.
I anxiously waited for news on how he was doing and feared he’d stop eating and completely fall apart. But Biscotti’s lion-heart rose to the challenge. He ate that first night and used his litter pan. After a few days he was coming out of his hiding places to get pets and get to know his new family. I heard they are all madly in love with him and look forward to him coming out of his shell more, but he’s already playing and I take that as a very good sign.
©2014 Mary Lou H. Biscotti under cover in his new foster home.
With adoptions, nothing is ever certain. It’ll be another 10 days before the foster agreement comes to an end and Mary Lou and her family have to decide. Even if Biscotti has to come back, he will be that much stronger and ready to take on more. He’s a brave little fellow and no matter what, I will always have his back.
…and then the phone rang again. It was Mary Lou. “I think I'm allergic to Biscotti.”
…to be continued…
Of the six Clementine-kittens only one has been adopted. Marigold found her forever family while her brothers and sisters continued to wait. The Clems had been with me for over SIX MONTHS when Mari left us. The delay was mostly due to a reoccurring eye infection/upper respiratory tract infection. Though not seriously ill, I couldn’t let them be adopted until I had a better understanding on whether or not this was going to be a chronic condition. It wasn’t fair to adopters.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy, Blossom, Bert and Mango (I can FINALLY tell them apart!)
The reason Mari got adopted was that she had been one of the most healthy of the litter and I’d just started a new treatment that we thought would resolve her issues. She seemed to do well so I believed I could move on with adopting out the others, but I was wrong. Buttercup got the eye infection again and Bert looked like he was getting it back, too.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Vampire Buttercup!
In March, one of our vets suggested we test the kittens for Bartonella. I almost slapped myself in the head when he said that. Of all the treatments and tests we’d never done that one and it made PERFECT sense. Bartonella is transmitted by fleas and the Clems were COVERED with them when we got them off transport. No wonder the kittens were never 100% well—especially Bert, who early on got hit the worst. I chose to test Bert for that reason and wasn’t surprised at the result.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Rock Star Pose with Mandy (left), Blossom (center), Mango (right).
A week later the results came in. Bert was a STRONG positive for bartonella. This was great news because it’s treatable, but the bad news was for Buttercup and Blossom, who were on the cusp of being adopted by Ellen and her family. Sadly Ellen has to be extremely careful about her health and after a long talk with her Doctor and Vet they decided it would be safer for the kittens to get their treatment here, THEN finalize the adoption.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Silly Mandy with her “Precious” toy. She is obsessed with it.
I could not argue that point, in fact, I wanted them to stay with me. Why have the first few weeks of an adoption include their new mom having to medicate them for 3 weeks? Also, bartonella, also called Cat Scratch Fever, IS contagious to humans and from what I’ve heard from a Vet that caught it, it’s a very painful infection.
The medication cost $235.00 for the 6 Clems and Biscotti, who I decided to treat at the advice of our Vet. I almost fell over at the cost. This litter of kittens was one of the most expensive to care for to date. Some times it amazes me just how expensive it is to care for a few kittens. It can really add up fast when they get sick.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Bert and Mango want MOMMY while Blossom jumps down to rub against my legs
The risk of making the adopters wait was that the adopter could give up on doing the adoption and the girls would lose their home. There was nothing I could do expect hope for the best and that the family would still want the “kittens” now that their kittenhood is long past them. The “kittens” are huge, too, eating me out of house and home. I have to feed them at least 10, 5 oz cans of food a DAY. I can barely keep up with demand. I’m used to feeding a few little kittens, not the equivalent of 6 more adults who are pushing 8 pounds each (their brothers will be 9 pounds any second now). I really needed to get these cats placed before I ran out of money to care for them.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy and the faux-sniff.
Ellen and I volleyed emails and photos, making sure our connection wasn’t lost. She watched SqueeTV , our webcam, with her boys all the time so she could keep up on how the kittens were doing. I could tell she was anxious to get the girls and was willing to wait the extra time to be able to finalize the adoption. I was very relieved.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti, always in the background with Blossom and Mango.
Finally on April 6th, Sam and I drove the girls to their new home, which is a block away from Long Island Sound. It was one of the first really sunny spring days so it was a very enjoyable drive to Westport, CT. The girls were a bit fussy in the car, but surprisingly Blossom got out of her carrier and sat in my lap, purring, watching the traffic go by. Buttercup was a bit more reserved but the trip wasn’t very long, so I don’t think she was too stressed.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy and Buttercup.
After over a month wait, the girls got to meet their new family. Ellen was making sure everything was set in the kitchen where the girls would start off their new life. We took away a few items that might cause problems, then let the girls out. Blossom fared better, but both girls were very scared. The room was big and bright with lots of windows for bird watching. I knew they would be happy, but I knew it would take time.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Blossom, Buttercup and you-know-who watch Mango fly.
As we filled out the paperwork the girls began to explore a little bit. We gave them a snack and they both ate, which was a good sign. The neighbor’s cat, who looked like their dad, walked past the front window but the girls didn’t notice. I warned the family that the girls might flip out if they saw the cat again and that they could start peeing in the kitchen. I silently prayed there’d be no problems. The girls were very easy going and sweet. I hoped they’d get a kick out of seeing another cat.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. NOT photoshopped! Mandy (left), Blossom (center), Mango (right), Biscotti pose for the camera (for once!).
©2014 Ellen Gleicher. Used with Permission. The girls together in their new home.
I’m glad the girls get to stay together, because I always prefer litters to be split into pairs if possible. Now I had 3 kittens left from this family: Mango, Bert and Mandy.
But what of Biscotti, the shy kitty who always got overlooked? He’d moved in with the Clementines after his surrogate mom, Mocha, and her kittens were all adopted. I worried that Biscotti, who hides and seems to be completely mortified when new people arrive, would never find his place. The Clems are outgoing, fearless. I will find them homes, but I had my doubts about what was in store for the little tuxedo until a few days when I got a fateful call.
…to be continued.
Visit our FACEBOOK PAGE HERE to LIKE our page and Change your settings now!
“Running on empty.” That’s how I’d describe the last month or so. Kitten Season is here and in full swing with no end in sight. All my rescue friends are reporting they are inundated with pregnant cats. I'm stunned since I thought we had a tough winter and didn't expect things to ramp up so fast. Meanwhile, Kitten Associates is slowly but surely growing into what I’d call a “real” rescue. We have a new foster home, another on the way. We have some other folks who can help foster from time to time, expanding our efforts to five homes and mine being the sixth. Because we can extend our efforts, I’m willing to forgo the “break” from rescue I was hoping to take (after 4 years of NO break) and plunge headlong into the craziness of the season. There’s SO MUCH to tell you I have to break it up into separate stories that cover a total of 20 cats!
First up, is a long overdue story of escape as winter slowly lets go of its grip in southern Georgia...
“Running on empty.” That’s how I’d describe the last month or so. Kitten Season is here and in full swing with no end in sight. All my rescue friends are reporting they are inundated with pregnant cats. I'm stunned since I thought we had a tough winter and didn't expect things to ramp up so fast.
Meanwhile, Kitten Associates is slowly but surely growing into what I’d call a “real” rescue. We have a new foster home, another on the way. We have some other folks who can help foster from time to time, expanding our efforts to five homes and mine being the sixth. Because we can extend our efforts, I’m willing to forgo the “break” from rescue I was hoping to take (after 4 years of NO break) and plunge headlong into the craziness of the season.
There’s SO MUCH to tell you I have to break it up into separate stories that cover a total of 20 cats!
First up, is a long overdue story of escape as winter slowly lets go of its grip in southern Georgia...
©2014 Warren Royal. Can you help me save some kitties? Which ones can you take? How about ALL?
For a colony of 12 feral cats, the sound of the dogs terrifies them as they do their best to hide from danger. They may skip the meal left out for them by a lady who owns the farm where they live. She does her best for them, but she doesn’t understand that to fully care for these cats, they need to be vetted-especially sterilized. She’s not a cat rescuer. She’s a kind soul who just wants to help these poor creatures and feeding them, in her mind, may be all that is required.
©2014 Warren Royal. The buff long haired cat is sick, with what we don't know but those crusty eyes look like a bad URI at least. I fear the worst for this baby. I hope he or she will be okay.
She may not even know where a vet IS in her part of the state. It’s probably too far away and she doesn’t have access to traps. She loves the cats, but in this case love is not enough. The cats hide in the barn, behind bales of hay, under the porch. The farm spreads across 40 acres and beyond that there isn’t much of anything, certainly no services for animals. The dogs can roam anywhere without fear of animal control. There just isn’t anyone to bother.
©2014 Warren Royal. What a handsome boy…which I later found out was a GIRL who we named JuneBug.
One by one, the cats began to fall prey to the dogs. The original number of 12 goes down to 7. The woman’s husband doesn’t fuss over the cats, but he does care that his wife is upset. They don’t have the resources to provide proper vet care for such a large number of cats or to work with them so they will no longer be feral and could be adopted. They don’t hang out on Facebook and get tips from rescuers in their area or have ever heard of Petfinder or Alley Cat Allies or any other resource that might make a difference. They do what they know to do. They feed the cats and hope for the best.
Something had to be done before all the cats were killed.
©2014 Warren Royal. Even though I had no idea if we could socialize these cats I could not say NO to this face!
As a small rescue, my group, Kitten Associates can get a lot done by working in partnership with others. When I heard about the cats, I wanted to do something. The cats weren’t fractious from what I was told. They were young, maybe a few months old and they’d had some contact with their caretaker, so possibly in time we could socialize them enough to help them find homes.
It’s not the dog’s fault that they weren’t cared for. They were surviving as best they could. I’m sure they’d never touch the cats if they had a decent meal, but they must have been in a very bad way to have to make those choices.
©2014 Warren Royal.After being trapped, three of the rescues head off to the vet. The dilute calicos are with Good Mews now.
Our friend Warren volunteered to drive 4 hours to get to the location and once he arrived he got to work quickly trapping 5 of the 7 remaining cats. On a Sunday, not near any familiar Vet, Warren spent a lot of money getting the kittens snap tested so we could accept them into our program. Our amazing foster in the area, who had asked me to take a break from fostering, decided she needed to help these kittens regardless of how tired she was. She got her foster space prepared for them, dropping the other things she hoped to accomplish for that day.
I contacted Good Mews Animal Foundation and asked for help. They stepped up and offered to take 2 of the kittens as long as they were friendly. It was a big risk because we were worried they’d need too much work. I told Warren that the friendliest cats should go to them. We would take the 3 timid long-haired cats (considering I'm a freak for the long hairs, I almost didn't care how much work they needed anyway) and Good Mews would get the sweet short haired calicos. The 2 remaining cats we would try to get as soon as possible, but for now getting most of the cats out was a big win for us all.
©2014 Foster Mama. Headed to our vet, then to their new temporary home. We have two girls and a boy.
Good Mews reported that the 2 kittens they received were very sweet and they didn’t have any concerns about finding them great homes. If it wasn’t for Good Mews, we would have had a problem, because our foster mom doesn’t have space that’s big enough for 5 cats.
©2014 Foster Mama. Lovely Purrcee, an artistic interpretation.
Now was the time to focus on continuing getting the vetting done on the cats, get them spayed/neutered, their vaccinations, de-worming. Maggie and Junie began to allow their foster mom to pet their bellies. Purrcee was a bit more shy but still not aggressive. He’d come around in time, so we could take a moment out to appreciate that things had gone so well.
Some time later I learned that the remaining 2 cats did not have to worry about being safe. Their caretaker was considering taking them into her home and getting them vetted. At about the same time, I heard the heartbreaking news that her husband, wanting to protect her and the cats, shot and killed the pack of feral dogs. I had no idea he would do that, because it just never occurs to me it could happen. Guns? Shooting dogs? I’m not even sure how to make sense of it.
©2014 Foster Mama. JuneBug makes me swoon.
I would have tried to do something to save their lives if I’d known, but in truth I had to wonder what sort of life they would have had without him intervening. I’m not sure there was any way for their story to end happily. Picked up by Animal Control they would be euthanized. They would not be suitable or safe to be around kids. I am not qualified to vilify this man for what he did. I AM “qualified,” however, to be busted up that any animal died. I sincerely mourn their passing.
©2014 Foster Mama. Maggie waits for a wonderful home now that she's safe.
©2014 Foster Mama. After a few weeks struggling with shyness, the kittens emerge to discover the delight of playing with toys.
Instead, thanks to a few very hard working, generous souls, these cats can begin their story with us. We pick up their tale as they complete their thousand-mile journey to Connecticut and into the home of Jame and her daughters Frances and Grace, where they will complete their socialization and begin the journey to find their forever homes.
To be continued…
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. We were able to save more lives because we have a new foster home with Jame and her family.
Another birthday has arrived and here I sit thinking about my life. I’m to an age where I feel like I’ve lived long enough to have learned a thing or two and I’m also at an age where I can’t take living another year for granted. There are things I wonder about; things I want to say that I want to have written down so they don’t make me itch at night.
I have questions that will go unanswered. I want to know WHY we suffer so very much in this life. Why are things such a struggle for most people? Why is there so much GREED and AGGRESSION when compassion and understanding, when brotherhood, friendship, love, could make this heaven on Earth?
It drives me nuts.
I see on the news something about a kid who is dying of cancer. Her mom asks for a few people to show up at the hospital and sing her Christmas carols. 10,000 people show up. They forgot about their own needs to help someone else. Or of course there’s “BatKid” the little boy who had a large part of San Francisco turn out to make his dreams come true for one very special day.
We marvel at the spectacle and we may even cry. We have the ability to create such beauty and MAGIC simply ignited by our common basic goodness.
What if we treated EVERYONE with the same desire to help them make their dreams come true? Not just a kid dying of cancer, but EVERYONE. Instead of worrying about what YOU get out of it, you focus on others. Then one day you find that your life is so much better because the same good intentions you have are mirrored right back at you. We can create this world right this very second, but many of us are too wrapped up, too busy, too afraid to try.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Yours truly with clown.
What makes it worse is that there are people who run monstrous corporations who knowingly create products that pollute, poison, ruin the world. Why do they have to put ingredients in our food that they KNOW will cause us to be ill and cause an epidemic of obesity? Yes, I DO blame food companies for putting sugar and gluten into food that doesn’t require it as a root cause for widespread ill health. Why base your model of business on GREED? Don’t you see what it’s done? You may be the “1%” and have all the money and more, but at what cost? How many millions of people will have terrible lives so you can spoil yourself with foolish rewards? Or prove you can run a “profitable” company to make others rich.
WHY is the answer to so many things to have CONFLICT? To wage war? Because someone has something YOU WANT..so YOU CAN HAVE SOMETHING, CONTROL SOMETHING, have POWER OVER OTHERS. Where does all that end up? How does that make your life and the lives of others better?
It has been said far more eloquently by far more people, but in my humble way I just want to know WHY it has to be like this. And WHY can’t we look at everyone we meet, or simply share a bus ride with, the same care and concern as we would our own children? We’re all in this together whether we want to admit it or not.
I’m challenging myself to be more open to others, with no boundaries, to open my heart to everyone I meet, to not be afraid to reach out, to judge less and be helpful more. I hope that you will join me or let me salute you if you're already doing this.
So, my birthday wish is really for all of you. I hope you have a wonderful life and help others do the same. Happy Birthday to you when that day arrives and happy everything else.
Cherish this day, this gift you have been given, because there are no guarantees you'll have another. Try, if you can, to remember how LUCKY you are to have this precious life and do something wonderful with it.
Today “Chapstick” celebrates reaching the second week of life. During that time there have been many struggles. After being thrown into a dumpster like a piece of meaningless garbage on a cold early spring afternoon, with a sibling kitten who didn’t survive, this poor little creature was lucky to have Guardian Angels on its side.
We’re fairly sure that Chapstick, whose given name has been changed to Miracle, is a girl. At her age and stunted size, it’s tough to tell, but for now we can think of her as a little girl who, so far has lived up to her name.
©2014 Jeannie Garrison. Our first glimpse of Miracle beside a tube of Chaptstick® to show just how small she was.
Miracle is finally bigger than the lip balm she was photographed next to and in the latest photos from her foster family Christal and Jonathan, you can see her limbs look thicker and more robust and her fur looks like it’s growing softer. In fact, Christal believes that Miracle may be a long haired cat. It’s another one of those things where it’s too soon to know for certain.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. The same age as her step-siblings, Miracle is dramatically smaller, indicating it's very likely she was born premature.
What we do know is last week Miracle was not doing well and Jonathan realized he hadn’t gotten her to pass stool for far too long. How he did this or how he KNEW to do this, is beyond my knowledge of neonatal kitten care, but Jonathan managed to give Miracle an enema with a small amount of mineral oil. He also fed some to the kitten to see if he could get her to function normally.
It worked. The next day Miracle passed very hard stool and after that she began to struggle less and thrive more.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. Able to sit up on her own.
Miracle doesn’t fight off attempts to feed her any longer. She goes for her bottle and is happy to latch on to her new stepmom-kitty a moment later. She’s eating like a champion and we hope this means the worst days are over for her.
Her step-siblings are about the same age as she is, but compared to her they are gargantuan. They are healthy, happy, thriving, as all kittens should be, growing lovelier every day.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. Miracle's eyes are opening, yet another good sign.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. The results of round-the-clock care are clear. Miracle IS living up to her name.
We just took a pregnant mom into Kitten Associates, my rescue, and she gave birth two days ago to five healthy kittens (more on that in a future post). I fear “kitten season” is going to be brutal this year, which shocks me because the winter was fairly harsh yet kittens are being born barely moments after the first day of Spring.
©2014 C. Peruzzi. She feels so good she accepts belly rubs now, too.
I still think about the person who put Miracle and her sibling in the garbage, assuming they would die fairly soon. I wonder if they regret what they did and feel badly about it. I wonder if they don’t sleep well realizing what a horrific thing they did. I wonder if they knew one of the kittens still lived and was possibly going to make it if they would be relieved or just not care. Sometimes I imagine telling them she’s still with us, but they don’t deserve any chance to feel relief. Every day that Miracle is loved and grows bigger and stronger is proof that her precious life DOES matter.
Plus, if I ever met the person who did this I would skip any updates and go straight to hurting them with all I've got.