Robin Olson's blog

Foster Cat Journal: CallaLily Update

In August we took in five flea covered kittens and their sweet mama, Calli. They were quite the delight once they weren't full of fleas, of course!

Calli was a GREAT mama and a sweet, affectionate cat. I worried we would never find her a good home, but oddly enough she was adopted before her kittens! Emily, one of our CiCH members, decided it would be better to adopt an adult, since she understood that they are the toughest to place. She knew that although the kittens are cute, they don't stay "kitten-like" for very long. I wanted to give her a big hug for being so wise, but I just sat there and smiled as she decided, for sure, that Calli was her girl!

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Putting up with "the kids," as I remember her from a few months ago.

Renamed, Merly, and having gained a few pounds, our dear foster is doing well and enjoying her new home, after a few days of getting adjusted.

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Without a care in the world...

I LOVE to get updates on my fosters and this is no exception. Merly looks great and content. I couldn't have asked for more!

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Merly looks so happy and her coat looks GREAT!

As fate would have it, Emily has become a magnet for cats who need a helping hand. Not long after Merly arrived, this little boy showed up at her door. Unwilling to let him fend for himself, Emily jumped in and began feeding and caring for this friendly kitty. She named him Smudge, a fitting name for this curiously marked boy. He's going to be neutered very soon and get all his shots. Right now he lives outside, but soon and with any luck, he'll be introduced to Merly and the other kitties, in hopes that he will find a happy home. If not, we will step in and help Emily find a placement.

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Smudge, relaxed and with a full belly, thanks to Emily!

I think this illustrates how even though we think we find cats to give homes to, they seem to find us, just as often. Although it may have not been planned, I'm grateful that Emily was willing to open her home to "just one more," especially during these tough economic times.

Kudos to you, Emily! Keep up the good work!

What to Feed Fluffy-A Great Feline Nutrition Resource

Thanks to Super-Deb, knower of all things important and good for kitties, I can share with you the url of a great resource for anyone considering changing their cat's diet from crappy dry or questionable canned, to a RAW or better choice of grain-free canned.

The Feline Nutrition Education Society, in their own words: "Promote[s] awareness of the issues involved in feline nutrition and health, with an emphasis on specie-appropriate raw feeding for cats. We will educate people on the techniques, benefits and issues involved in raw feeding for cats, and advocate not feeding grain-based artificial foods to cats."

Provide information on feline nutrition and health.
Provide information on raw feeding for people new to the idea.

• Create awareness of feline nutrition and raw feeding through traditional outreach: ads, adoption booklets, media outreach/releases.

•Create awareness of feline nutrition and raw feeding through new media: internet, video, blogs, mobile, viral marketing.

•Inform and shape the current attitude towards feline nutrition and raw feeding with the general public by promoting the health benefits, safety, and ease of a raw diet.

•Inform and shape the current attitude towards feline nutrition and raw feeding within the veterinary and pet food industry by promoting the common sense health effects of raw feeding.

•Help to change how people (general public, veterinary, pet food industry) think of dry food for cats by providing information about its unhealthy effect on felines and its inappropriate use for obligate carnivores.

•Reward the commercial prepared raw food industry by increasing their customer base.

•Encourage "do it yourselfers" with information on how to make homemade raw food for cats.

•Create a national/international member organization for feline raw feeders and those interested in feline nutrition and health.

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Do I feed Raw? No. Did I? Yes! Did it make a big difference? YES, but...I did experience that "OMG I GAVE MY CAT FOOD POISONING" last year so I stopped, also it was ungodly expensive for me. Am I reconsidering feeding RAW. Hell, YES!

I'd pop over to FNES and check it out. Really looks to be an awesome resource!

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Crazy Day!

I got Gracie and Bob to see Dr. Larry today. Bob was due for his blood test re-check. This will tell me if his ALT is on the way DOWN and his liver function is improving. Also, it will tell me if his kidneys are still OK after the "metacam incident."

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My poor Gracie. She's biting the fur off her hind end and on her back. Every other day, she vomits up the small clumps of fur. Either she is SO stressed that she's self injuring or she is SO uncomfortable she is biting off her fur in frustration from being itchy. I can't tell. What I can tell you is that Gracie will now be on Amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The hope here is to help her to relax. If the stress goes away, maybe she will not pick at herself and her skin will clear up. Dr. Larry gave her a shot of Vetalog to keep her comfortable. She hasn't had a steroid in 10 months so I thought it would be safe. It's the only thing that clears up the dermatitis. That way she will stop itching and biting herself!

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The worst news is not really news. Dr. Larry said that Gracie, in a home with no other animals, would probably resolve her issues and be fine. I know she's a nervous nelly and I do my best to give her attention, but with 6 other cats, that's tough to do. In my heart, I agree. Gracie (and Petunia) would be happier in a home together with no other pets. Finding a home for a 6 and 9 yr old cat, not so easy to do-certainly not one that would have to be a FANTASTIC owner. I'd HAVE to do a home visit and deeper background check before I'd let them go, but the idea of seeing them leave that really kills me. I also feel like a failure.

It's not over yet. I'm going to keep trying to help Gracie feel better here. We'll try the meds for two months and see how she does. Maybe she just needs help coping for awhile and once she has some success she can go off the meds and stay here!

So with all that swirling around in my head, I'm trying to coordinate another transport of four kittens to CT from down south. It's been nutty and I seem to write an email, just as another arrives. Questions are many. Answers are hard to come by. I will be happy when this is wrapped up.

Then I get home from the Vet. No sooner than I get here, my Intern calls me into the kitchen. There's an injured hawk in a tree outside the house! Oh geez...we have a high wind advisory today, no wonder the hawk is hurt! So, for another few hours I was on the phone with our ACO, Carolee, someone from Wildlife in Crisis, a wildlife "guy" who comes to get the nutty animals out of your attic and such, and a raptor rehabilitator named Darlene, who was super nice and helpful.

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This little Broad Winged Hawk had some sort of eye injury. According to Darlene it looks to be an OLD injury (because it's dry). She said he would learn to adapt and shouldn't just perish from the injury, though I swear I think my intern wanted to climb a tree to get the hawk so we could get it to the Vet! I put some "oops it expired" pork on the deck and some ground beef, hoping he'd come eat, but no luck. After a few hours of hanging around, he left.

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I'm trying not to write that I'll "keep an eye peeled" looking for him, but I will keep an "eye out" for him...okay, I'll look out the window to see if he's in the yard. If I find him on the ground, I know how to capture him and get him some help. Meanwhile, where DID MY DAY GO? I have gotten nothing done. Wait, I'm finishing this...okay I got one thing done. Crap. I need more time, but I need a nap, first.

It was a crazy day! I'm emotionally drained and I didn't even tell you about the 3-day long fight Sam and I had, so I have a good excuse to rest now, and eat a cookie. I need a cookie.

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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