Robin Olson's blog

Yeah, I (try to) SLEEP Next to This Guy!

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I have to face the truth. My cat is insane!

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CONNECTICUT SENIOR IN DIRE NEED OF HER LAST LOVING HOME.

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This is Melody. Apparently, after living for 19 years with her family, when they moved away, instead of taking her with them, they abandoned her in the hallway of their apartment building. What are the last days of this animal's life going to be like? Living in a shelter where she will never be adopted and die without the love of a family? What family would take her when her days are coming to an end?

Melody needs the compassion of a special person who can be there for a cat who doesn't have a long life left to share. Melody has no known health issues. All she needs is a warm bed and love.

Right now Melody's staying at Animals in Distress. 203-762-2006. Here's Melody's posting and here's the main web site for Animals in Distress if you'd like to get more information on Melody. Anyone who can open their home to this special kitty is a SAINT in my book and right now Melody's going to need divine intervention to get her a wonderful, last, loving home. I hope she finds it soon. She deserves to know love, again, before it's too late.

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Not On My Watch/Foster Cat Journal: Huggy Update

It's already been a week since Huggy "Mama" Bear left for her new home. Where did the time go! Just last week it was August, I swear!

Huggy has been renamed. I'm a bit sad about this change. Normally it doesn't bother me that cats have new names in their new home, but Huggy was such a special kitty, it would have been nice to leave things as they were. Her new name is, Holly. Nice name and gee, I guess only a few letters away from her old one.

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Oh yeah, we're cool now that we're adopted and all! I am not sure who took this photo. Either I did or Ryan, my nephew. Hmmm.

As you may recall, Huggy, er, Holly and the boys all went to the same home. I drove Dash (renamed, Dash!) and Snuggles (renamed, Turk) to their new home last Thursday night. I HAD to clear the house to make room for two more fosters, so I offered to do a late night drop off. The one thing I didn't figure on was, yeah, it was DARK outside at 8:30pm! No one has house numbers and all the mailboxes are on ONE side of the street, not both, so even with GPS there was no way to figure out which house was #8! Of course, stupid me, I forget to bring the phone number of the new owner! I had to spend $150,000.00 (maybe I'm exaggerating a tiny bit) to call Directory (Rip off) Assistance only to find out that NO ONE WAS HOME!

So we sat there in the car and waited awhile. Sure enough, I recognized the car and like a good stalker, followed them into their driveway once I had them in my sights.

I felt badly bringing the kittens over so late at night, but the Dad, Chris was really nice about it. He unlocked the door and we entered his home. His son was wearing his Boy Scouts uniform. Looked really cute. His pants needed to be hemmed. I have no idea why I would notice that, but I did. I guess it made him cuter. Anyway, Chris called out to Huggy saying she had been sleeping with him and his wife and was doing well.

Huggy was NO WHERE to be seen! Chris called and called to no avail. Huggy had vaporized into thin air.

I felt a bit uncomfortable about all the fussing to find Huggy. I didn't want to stress her out and I didn't want Chris to feel bad that I wasn't going to see her. Then, as I stood at the bottom of the stairs, I saw Huggy RACE down the stairs from the second floor where Chris had been looking for her. She FLEW right past me. She was hunkered down LOW, scared out of her wits. The house was big and wasn't packed with stuff so sounds really carried. I could see why Huggy/Holly would be frightened.

Resigned to not getting to say hello, I asked if there was a small room to put the boys into and Chris just said to let them out and to first show them the litter pan. He walked us into another room and there it sat, the one thing I did NOT want to see!!!!!...one of those monstrous "automatic" poop scooper litter pans. As Chris blithely lowered Snuggles/Turk into the pan I told him that those pans have the highest rate of causing inappropriate elimination of any box. Kittens can also get hurt in them. Well, Chris was havin' none of that. Saying Huggy was using it (what choice did she have?) and it was fine. (ok, call me when the cats start peeing all over the house). Also, there was only ONE pan for all THREE cats. Hmmm...

I realized that this was the FIRST home visit I've ever been on. I had to wonder how many other adopters I'd be rudely telling to ditch their litter pan setup or more? I shudder to wonder.

Litter pan blunders aside, they are super nice people and I just heard that after a day Holly (see, I can remember things!) began to recognize the boys and all three are back to their lovey-dovey selves.

Hopefully, I'll get more updates on the kitties in the coming months. It's funny how anticlimactic the entire farewell was. The boys found the litter pan, then Dash ran off (dashed off?) to explore. I waved to the boys, knowing I'd already loaded them with kisses before I left my house and called out to Huggy (she was STILL Huggy then so there!) hoping one day I would get to see her again.

So we're done. Three lives that surely would have ended in a Kill shelter in Georgia, to three lives that get to be lived fully, with two happy children and two parents who will give them all the love and good things every cat deserves.

Yes, these cats definitely won the Lottery. That's for sure.

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$75 Million Dollars to One Smart Cookie

Okay, so I didn't do a write up about the Feline Forum yet, but in lieu of proper review, here's a tidbit to tide you over from a brochure I picked up at the Conference:

I'd like you all to check out Alliance for Contraception in Dogs & Cats. Their mission is to find a non-surgical solution to humanely control cat and dog populations around the world. Imagine, a simple shot, given to a puppy in a third world country where Vets are in short supply and funds to pay for neutering are nil. Imagine a way to control feral cat colonies in a way that's safe and less stressful for all concerned, also, the money saved by not having to pay for surgeries could be used for educational programs or to put towards emergency medical costs.

Instead of imagining all of this, there is already a product being used in male dogs under 10 months old called, EsterilSol™/Neutersol® (who comes up with these names!). I hate to tell you that this, but the drug is delivered via a shot directly into each testicle. Over time, the testicle withers away. Boohoo. Bye bye teste! (Sorry to my male reader/s!) I kind of wish I had this shot for a few of my ex-boyfriends! Also, I'd like to see them try to do this to a cat! Yeah. I knew I shoulda got those Kevlar lined, elbow length gloves I saw at the Feline Forum! (it's not FDA approved for cats just yet, by the way)

Thanks to Dr. Michelson, who is SUPER RICH and is a great advocate for finding a solution to the troubling problem of pet overpopulation, he's put up $75 MILLION BUCKS in grants and prizes to the first "entity to provide a single dose sterilant for male and female cats and dogs." If you're a super genius, visit Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology for more info.

Maybe you're not an uber genius, but you want your shelter or rescue organization to support the efforts of ACC&D. They're looking for folks to join their worthy cause. You can find out how you can help by visiting HERE.

Imagine...no more need for KILL SHELTERS, followed by no more OVERCROWDED shelters...followed by?? What do you think will happen to the pet population if there one day IS single dose sterilization product for cats and dogs? No more shelters at all??

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Fun Playing Cat Behaviorist

This is part of a conversation I just had with a person who's frustrated by her friend's cat peeing all over the house she shares with her.

ME: Tell me about the cat. How old is it, where does it live, are there other animals in the house? Any recent changes?

HER: The cat is 1 1/2 years old, neutered, lives in a condo. Lived there his entire life. Lives with another cat, about the same age. They get along fine. Owner got deployed to AFRICA for a year. Left a month ago.

ME: How long has the cat been peeing out of the box? Where? On the wall or on the floor?

HER: He's peed all over since he was a KITTEN. Now it is WORSE. Since his "mom" went to Africa. He pees on the sofa, bed, floor, counters and right in front of us on the table. He DOES use the litter pan, too. Oh yeah, and there's another new cat in the condo, but it stays in a separate room.

ME: Wow, that's a lot of peeing, but you're only NOW dealing with the problem? Did you take him to the Vet?

HER: Yes.

ME: When?

HER: Last YEAR, I think. He had blood in his urine.

ME: Last YEAR? Was there a diagnosis? Any treatment?

HER: I don't know. I don't think so. I think he was ok.

ME: Um...well blood in the urine isn't really OK, by any stretch. You need to get this cat to a Vet NOW.

HER: Okay, but I have to contact his owner and find out who the Vet is and see if that's what she wants to do.

ME: Sigh.

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The Metacam Debate

You may have noticed by now that I'm not a Vet, but I play one on my web site. Part of being a good pet owner is being responsible for maintaining my cat's good health. I don't follow Doctors orders blindly. In fact, I constantly ask if there's another way to look at a prognosis or another way to treat a problem, or a way to have prevented it in the first place.

A serious subject I've noticed that's painfully lacking is the element of proper nutrition and it's health effects on our cats. Time and time again, I've been told to get this "Prescription Diet" because it has the word "prescription" in it and can only be gotten at my Vet, so therefore it must be good, even if it's DRY food, full of grains and lacking in decent source protein. Even though my cat's health problems might have been solved by feeding my cat a raw diet or grain-free canned diet, that's much more nutritious and doesn't tamper with their digestion and throw them into cycles of illness, inflammation of the liver, pancreas, stomach, etc...give them diabetes and crystals in their urine. Are Vet's reading the labels on this stuff or enjoying too many perks from the sales staff of all those "specialty" diets?

I want my Vet to know MORE about nutrition and sell high quality, species appropriate food in his Clinic, not heaping bags of dry diets.

I'm also peeved about the Metacam debate. As I've ranted previously, there are many in our community who feel using Metacam in small doses is perfectly fine, even though Metacam is "for dogs only." Cats don't mix well with NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). In fact "NSAIDs decrease production of substances that protect the stomach and GI tract from the acid and reduce blood flow to the area. This can cause ulceration and perforation of the stomach or intestines. NSAIDs also decrease the blood flow to the kidneys causing damage and renal failure."*

I've spoken with three Vets. One at Mill Plain Vet in Danbury, CT, Dr. Whitney at VREC in Norwalk, CT and Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, which, if you watch Animal Cops, yes, it's THAT hospital, which is part of the ASPCA in NYC.
Each Vet told me their concerns about using Metacam. Two of the three just won't use it in cats and have never seen a good outcome using it. Dr. Murray shared her concerns with me regarding giving Bob metacam after he fell over 16 feet off my deck and needed something for the pain. Bob's ALT was sky high at over 700, yet he was given Metacam. Then, I read this in an email from Dr. Murray:

"If you read the insert it clearly says " Do not give in cats" and it has caused renal failure in a number of cats after just one dose. You should also know that NSAIDs in general are contraindicated with liver disease."

Bob may not have liver disease, but clearly something is causing his high ALT, so why give him this stuff? Another web site declares that
Metacam Kills! Maybe not all of this is true information, maybe only half of it is? Maybe only two cases? The thing is, even if ONE is true then something is going on here. I know someone who's using Metacam for long term pain management in their cat, but the dose is ONE DROP and Bob got far more than that i his first, of two doses.

So now I'm going to sit here and wait. Next week I'll pay to have another blood test done to check's Bob's ALT AND to check his kidney function. I shouldn't have to do this and I shouldn't have to worry that I've done something irreversible to my cat, but I'm stuck. I've done the deed. Yes, I will say Bob seemed much happier after the Metacam, but was that happiness to be short lived?

I still have the damn bottle of this stuff on my desk. The purple box is lying their taunting me. I want to stomp on it. I think I will. I wish there WAS a safe NSAID for cats and I just read that now Metacam IS supposedly "safe" as an injectable, but I believe it's only for use in post surgery pain relief, certainly not for every day pain management or even for a short course treatment.[note: after this post went live, Dr. Murray cautioned me again, noting that even after ONE INJECTION, Metacam can cause renal failure, so referring to metacam, in any form, as being "safe" would not be accurate.]

Dr. Murray and a few others have suggested using buprenorphine, a semi-synthetic opiate, also called Buprenex. Dr. Murray told me that it's " a mild narcotic that can be given under the tongue (it absorbs from the oral mucosa and the kitty dose is usually only about 0.1 ml so a tiny volume which is nice too)." This is a much safer alternative, but does it answer every cat's health needs when they are in pain? I can't say. My guess is probably not.

One day there will be a truly safe NSAID or something equivalent to help cats who are in pain. For now, please, read the label, ask your Vet when the meds say "for dogs only" and push back if they say not to worry about it. There IS cause for worry, not panic. There IS cause to ASK QUESTIONS. It can save your beloved pet's life.

I'd like to add a special "Thank You" to Dr. Louise Murray for her helpful suggestions and for sharing her wisdom with me, so I can share it with all of you. If you'd like to know more about Dr. Murray, you can visit her web site: Vet Confidential or follow her on Twitter: VetLouiseMurray

*NSAID

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Reason #371 Why to Keep Your Cat Indoors

[Warning: this post will contain foul language]

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I just read an article posted in the PSPCA about a 19 year old kid who decided it would be fun to duct tape up a helpless kitty and dump it in his neighbors yard. Thankfully, the neighbor took action and got it to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention (rather late for preventing in this case, eh?) of Cruelty to Animals where she was sedated so the tape could be removed.

Calling her, Sticky, the folks at PSPCA have not been able to find this kitty's owner, so she will be put up for adoption now that her health is no longer threatened and she has recovered well. Needless to say, here is yet another reason NOT to let your cat outdoors! There ARE crazy fuckers out there! Here is also another reason why I think that not only should this piece-of-shit scum bag get the 2 years in prison and $1000.00 fine he's eligible for, but he should also be stripped down and duct tapped and tossed into a stranger's yard, too! They should wait until it's raining and about 37 degrees and while they're at it, maybe they should also, accidently, of course, forget that they dropped him in someone's yard who has lots of BIG, ANGRY, HUNGRY, DOGS!

Anyone want to go on a road trip to Philly with me? Make sure to bring some tape with you.

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Not On My Watch/Foster Cat Journal: There's No Place Like Home

Six weeks ago, I was moved by a plea to help save a Mama cat who was notorious for "hugging" her kittens. She was called, Huggy and she and her two offspring were slated to be euthanized in a few days if no one stepped forward to help her.

At first, I thought we had an interested family in Indiana, so I started to put together a plan to help transport the cats to them, but it fell through. The person in Indiana never stepped up or even let us know she had changed her mind. Already involved, I felt it would be wrong to throw my hands up, say I did my bit and walk away. I just couldn't.

Many of you know what happened next: with what seemed like endless emails, questions, fears and hope, between myself, Winging Cat Rescue, Kat5 and a handful of helpers, we were able to rescue this mama and her babies, along with quite a few others.

I never did this before. I never pulled a cat from a kill shelter close by, let alone from 1000 miles away. I know many people frown on doing this, especially if the cat isn't even purebred and there are so many that need help right here in Connecticut. She's just an average domestic short haired cat, but a life is a life and I was in too far to turn back. Huggy's life was no less precious or less worth saving than any other cat.

I was told Huggy was friendly, but really, how could I know? I had no idea how old this cat was and without a shelter, how was I ever going to find her a home once she got here? Who adopts adult cats? I feared I would have her until, at least, the end of the year or longer. Something inside me said, yes, I need to do this, no matter what it takes. I need to make it right for these animals.

When Huggy arrived, there were plenty of problems. First, she had evidence of having had fleas. She had bad ear mites. Her chin was full of feline acne from eating out of a plastic bowl. She was thin. Her coat was rough and yellowed. Her kittens were odd looking and not that friendly. She was in much worse condition than I expected.

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Huggy, day one.

Huggy also became seriously ill with mastitis, then had to be separated from her boys for two weeks, given meds twice a day and lots of rest. It was very difficult, but she never complained. She was easy to pill, she ate her food right up. She loved to lay on my lap, then attack my leg, letting me know she was still young and wanted play time, too. Only 1 1/2 years old, Huggy has a lot of energy and more and more as each day passed and she got stronger and gained her weight back.

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Feeling Huggy's boobs.

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Huggy showing Snuggles the ropes (pardon the pun)

Two weeks ago, Huggy was adopted, but it wasn't until today, that I finally got the OK from the Vet to let her go to her family. It's about as close to a magical experience as I think I'll ever get; seeing so many changes in this once tired, mama cat. Her coat is soft and clean, her chin is almost completely healed, her ear mites and fleas are long gone and her mastitis has resolved. She gained 1.50 POUNDS since she got here. She's at ten pounds now.

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This photo ran in The Newtown Bee, which was how Huggy's new family first found her.

Since she arrived, there hasn't been a day when being around Huggy wasn't a joy. She truly is a sweet, mellow, feisty, cute, loving, chatty lady. Her new family couldn't wait to come get her once I told them she was ready to go. She'll be living with a Mom and Dad, their son and daughter. She'll have a wonderful home and all the good food and love she'll ever need. Although part of me wants to cry at seeing her go, I am SO VERY HAPPY that we made it this far, so quickly, seemingly as though it was all meant to be, that I can only smile. I am so grateful for everyone's support, so lucky a great family came forward- understanding that adult cats have a hard time finding a home and so willing to give her AND her two boys a chance.

This is the most rewarding work I have ever done. Each and every home I find for each and every cat fills my heart to bursting. When people ask me how I do this? I can only answer, how can I not? It's worth all the effort by tenfold.

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Sleep deprived, just back from the Feline Forum, no makeup, but a GREAT a kitty in my arms; here's me giving out the hugs. (Photo by Ryan Feminella)

Huggy. You beat so many odds that I don't think there ARE odds for how lucky you are. From death's door to the lap of luxury. It doesn't get any better than this.

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It's time to say Good Bye, friend. (Photo by Ryan Feminella)

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Hugging Dash good bye. She'll be seeing him and Snuggles again in a few days. (Photo by Ryan Feminella)

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Huggy, with some members of her new family (used with permission).

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Feline Forum: Where Am I?

Okay. I'm human, last I checked. It's 1:18AM on my body clock and I just got in to my hotel room. I'm dead tired.

Today was the last day of the conference that passed by all too quickly. I learned lots, met some very wonderful people and reignited my passion to ramp things up and do even more to help cats.

I need to review my notes, so I can better share with you some of the things I learned. Since I'm traveling (FLYING!!!) back home tomorrow, it will end up being a day or two before I get my thoughts organized.

What I can tell you straight away is that PetSmart Charities deserves a HUGE round of applause for all they did to put together this conference. Not only were the topics and speakers fresh (literally and figuratively), but the scheduling, getting 600 of us fed, caffeinated and kept comfy was miraculous. They did a fantastic job! The days passed quickly and I wish this conference had lasted a week. The only thing they were missing was we didn't get a list of who was attending the conference. That would have been fantastic. I hope they provide that next time.

Yes, next time! When is the next Feline Forum? I can't wait!!

Feline Forum: Day One, Wild Blue Yonder

It was tough to leave home and to leave Bob, Huggy and Gracie, since they're ALL on meds of one sort ot another. Sam assured me he'd look after everyone and truly Bob did seem much better after...cough...giving him that damn metacam!

Last night began the final countdown to having to fly. I told myself over and over that this will pass by quickly. The flight isn't that long, just over 2 hours. Even if there's turbulence, it's normal. We aren't going to spin out of control and smash into the ground...well probably not (not to jinx here!). I MUST do this. I must get over my fear so I can really get out there and meet people, have fun, have adventures! Isn't that what life is all about?

So I stuffed down another Xanax in the middle of the night, when I woke up feeling the panic tickle my gut. When I woke up at 8am, the tightness was there but no where near where I expected it to be. I went through the motions of most every day, feed the cats, scoop the poop, give the pills out, get showered and dressed. I focused on only having to be at our Director's house by 10:30 and nothing more. So what if I was bringing suitcases with me??! That's when I realized I needed to take the full Xanax. I could feel myself getting ready to flip out. Normally, I would have been in the bathroom 50 times, had the burning squirts, not eaten, then taken a fist full of immodium to shut my arsehole down so I could just make it to the airport without stopping 15 times (which I actually had to DO once and I missed the flight---big surprise there, right?)

I was 8 minutes late and our Director busted my balls! I think she was kidding, then I think she wasn't. I said goodbye to Sam. Funny we never say; "I love you" any more and of course since this was life or death, the "I love you's" came out in full force.

We made it to Westchester, a TINY airport with only one? gate? There's no jetway. You walk up steps to get on the planes! So cute! Our Director packed, like, ah, a pair of underwear and I needed to check my bag for which she gave me grief. Then I found out our other Director had to check HER bag, so off we went to check bags. There was NO way my suitcase was going to fit on the overhead of an Embarer? TINY-ASS plane.

Time was passing quickly and we got through the security checkpoint and basically got right onto the plane-the plane with about 40 seats. Two seats down one side, one seat down the other. I sat by myself, heart racing, but bunghole was quiet. I hit my head sitting down. I'm 5'5"! This plane was so SMALL, the Flight Attendant had to change where some people sat to keep the weight distribution even!!!!!!! Oh yeah, this is gonna be great.

To late to turn back. I put on my sound reducing headphones, even if i couldn't have my iPhone on with music just yet. I took a deep breath as we taxied. No waiting at a small airport and whooooosh...off we went!

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Oh boy!!! I did NOT NOT NOT LIKE THIS!!!!!! I TOOK A DEEP BREATH and tried not to freak out. The Flight Attendant said we could put our many devices back on so I quickly turned my iPhone on, hit the iPod button and chose Beyonce who sang about "if you like it why didn't you put a ring on it," while I pretended to be one of the backup dancers. I tried to read "The Autobiography of a Fat Bride," by Laurie Notaro. She's awesome. Somehome between Laurie, the 1.5 Xanaxes? Xanai?, Beyonce singin' "oh oh oh"...I started to calm down.

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There was some turbulence, more than a few times, but it wasn't bad.I told myself that I'm living my life. I'm not hiding. I'm doing it. Yes, I feel uncomfortable, but it will be over, we will land, I will be fine. I even paid enough attention to really read my book, instead of stare at the pages. I didn't sit with my feet firmly on the floor, fearful that if I moved them, the plane would crash! No. I rocked out. I looked out the window. I saw Lake Erie, then the hazy outline of Chicago another thirty minutes later. I was doing it. It was almost done. I even saw my friend, Trevor's condo! It's got vertical stripes on it and it's downtown. You can see it from Mars, I think.

We began our descent and I got happier and happier, the closer to the ground we got. Wow. What a thrill. I actually made it!

Next, a quick trip to the Marriott, which shockingly did not live up to the FANCY photos of the rooms as I had hoped. It's more in line with a...err...dump, but it seems that the other half we're not in is nice-hence our cheap room rate, I'm guessing. It's $13 / day to get online! What a rip! My room is damp, BUT I have a door to get to the courtyard and the pools. It's kind of nice though I'm on the first floor so I have to remember not to prance (have I ever pranced?) around nekkid!Oh yeah, and every so often a PLANE almost LANDS on the hotel it's flying so LOW. I may have to be on Xanax daily. No way I'm gonna forget about flying for a few days!

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We had a quick bite in the "sports bar" at the hotel, which was greasy, had a gillion tv's all set to different channels and bad 1970's music playing. It was an A.D.D.-Sports-Freak-Heaven Needless to say, we didn't eat much and could not wait to leave. I'm seriously regretting I didn't get a rental car. There's little around here, other than a grocery store where I was lucky enough to pit stop so I could load up on crappy snacks to tide me over.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the Registration desk for the Feline Forum! Check in took less than 30 seconds. These gals are on the job! The Grand Ballroom, where the mixer was held, was quite Grand, indeed, filled with veggies and cheese and fruit and a few hundred people! I started to wonder if you totaled it up, how many cats all the folks in this room had saved...then, of course...how many had died, too. Sorry, but you know how it goes..you can save lots and you have to put down lots...well, we don't! But...just sayin'.

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So we made it. We were on time. Looks like a good group. Tomorrow classes start. I am ready to get some rest and kick it tomorrow. I met one of our CiCH friends tonight and that was very cool! Hope to make some new friends tomorrow and learn lots.

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By the way, Bob is doing well today, I'm told. I think he's out of the woods after his fall. Dr Whitney called and said his Thyroid levels were NORMAL. WHOOhoo! ALT will be rechecked in two weeks. Otherwise it's all good.

Ooo! I just found the room service menu! Will write more tomorrow! Good night!

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