Dee reads my blog (Thank you, Dee!). She bugged her friend, Angi to give Chloe a foster home since Angi lives in Connecticut, has cats and LOVES cats enough to take on one more (and she's also an awesome artist). Dee already fosters cats and knows that Angi would do a great job so she used whatever secret powers she has to urge Angi to give Chloe a home until she's ready to go to her forever home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Chloe. Feeling scared was not a surprise, but what happened next certainly was.
I would call this “finding a foster home in a haystack,” because I thought there is NO WAY we're going to be able to find a LONG-TERM foster home for Chloe. Color me surprised.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little self-soothing foot bath before she explores the room any further.
Angi is awesome. She's vivacious and cute with a funky-cool haircut and an easy going attitude. I did a home visit to make sure she had a good space for Chloe to pass the next few months, recover from her abuse and to lose a bit of weight (she's already lost a pound). Angi had a perfect space-a guest room in the corner of her home that overlooks her yard. It's a far cry from the bathroom where Chloe has been staying with Katherine and it's almost as big as the entire living room where Chloe once lived with her former guardian.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Katherine brings out Chloe's favorite brush.
Everything went well with the home visit and today Katherine and I delivered Chloe to Angi's home.
Chloe didn't protest too much in the car, but Katherine and I both worried what she'd do when she got out of her cat carrier. Would she completely revert to being aggressive with Angi? Would she try to bite her? Would she growl and lash out?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe's FAVORITE-Cat Grass!
We covered her cat carrier and rushed her into Angi's house, before Angi's three cats knew what we were up to. We got the room set up with Chloe's things while Chloe watched us from the safety of her crate.
Then came the big moment-opening the door.
We all took a collective deep breath as Katherine opened the crate. Out walked Chloe, planting her face directly into a small container of cat grass. Content to munch on her favorite treat, we all relaxed. At least Chloe wasn't going to charge us, guns blazing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Or is Chloe's favorite thing being brushed?
Chloe, energized from her treat, surprised us by getting up and casually began to examine her new home. She rubbed her face onto Angi's outstretched hand, the table, the edge of the cat carrier. She rubbed up against ME, which at first scared, then delighted me, leaving me sitting there with my mouth hanging open like an idiot.
Chloe continued exploring the room. She didn't go very fast or very far. She had to take a break and sit down every so often, but she wasn't hiding. She was simply curious. So far, so good.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy Buddha-kitty!
Katherine got Chloe's favorite brush out and that put a smile onto this kitty's face. Chloe loved being brushed and it helped her relax.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Reaching up to be brushed. More, please!
Chloe got a bit irritated from all the attention. Perhaps it was a bit too much, too soon. She gave Katherine and Angi a “love bite,” but nothing worse. Katherine stopped brushing Chloe and decided it was time to go over the instructions for taking care of her with Angi.
Katherine and I left Angi's, feeling happy and hopeful that Chloe would finally have a chance to flower.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little love from Katherine.
A few hours later, Angi wrote that she was have a bit of hard time getting BACK into the room with Chloe and that Chloe attacked her ankles. I guess I shouldn't have made a joke about the boots, but then I realized maybe someone had kicked Chloe and that's why she was upset? When we let her out of the cat carrier, we were all sitting on the floor, which made us less intimidating. Now what was Angi going to do?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A few skritches from Aunt Angi.
Angi took it in stride. She knows this is going to be a long process and now Chloe will have to learn to trust her, too. She's prepared to give Chloe every chance, if Chloe will just allow her into the room once in awhile so she can water her plants.
When I first met Chloe and assessed her for rescue, I had serious concerns that her behavior would change any time soon-that I'd be putting my friend, Katherine into a tough situation because ultimately Katherine would be responsible for this cat's future. I was clear with Katherine that right now Chloe was not adoptable, but I had a glimmer of faith that this cat COULD turn around. We just didn't know if it would take months or years to do so. In cat rescue it's rare to have the luxury of time when there are so many other cats who are just as deserving and who also need help. It's a constant dilemma.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe's back is finally free from mats
The good thing about smaller rescues is that sometimes they can take that time. They aren't faced with the crushing demand big shelters get for space-not that they aren't always busy, but it's not as severe. Even here I've been able to hold cats for over a year when necessary. Is it the best thing to do? No. For those cats, I'd guess they'd beg to differ.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe knows there's a treat on Katherine's leg, but will she try to reach it?
Chloe has made some astounding changes, almost overnight. Katherine has worked tirelessly to offer Chloe everything she can think of to enrich Chloe's life and give Chloe a good reason to bond with Katherine. Katherine tried all sorts of grain-free treats, different types of canned and dry food. Two days ago Katherine brought Chloe an offering of cat grass-something none of us had thought to try. Within moments Chloe was greedily chomping the grass. She was having SO MUCH FUN that Katherine was able to brush away Chloe's matted fur. Chloe was too happy to care about being brushed and the mats came out easily.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Treat gone! Cat on lap-almost!
Katherine persisted, always giving Chloe space and passed only short periods of time in the room with her.
©2013 Katherine Reid. First pets-no growling or hissing, too!
Once Katherine began to pet Chloe, a new cat shyly emerged, one who may have been beaten down, or simply ignored for so long that she gave up, we'll never really know. What we do know is that Chloe is blossoming, instead of retreating. This cat has the heart of a warrior, this chubby siamese mix, and so does her foster mom.
©2013 Katherine Reid.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Katherine tried a number of different brush types on Chloe until she reacted positively. Look a the HUGE change in Chloe's expression.
Katherine and I are cut from the same cloth. We NEVER want to give up on ANY CAT and Chloe was no different. We couldn't know she would begin to trust again, but when I saw that glimmer of joy the moment I met her, fleeting though it was, I had a feeling we needed to try and I'm so grateful that Katherine agreed.
Chloe still has a long road ahead of her, but now that her mats are brushed away and her ears have finally been medicated, each day Chloe will feel more comfortable and confident.
©2013 Katherine Reid. This is the moment all rescuers live for. Thank you to Katherine for sharing it with all of us.
Animals in Distress is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. If you'd like to make a donation to help with Chloe's long-term care, you can use this LINK to their PayPal account. Thank you!
It's been almost two weeks since the grossly overweight and possibly abused kitty, Chloe, was removed from her home and placed under the care of Animals in Distress. For now, Chloe is staying with my friend, Katherine, who oversees intake of all the cats in the AID program and is a very savvy foster mom.
Chloe has had a peaceful few weeks and after only one incident I reported initially, Chloe has not lashed out at Katherine. In fact, Chloe is showing signs of relaxing and learning to trust again.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Hopefully this is one of the last photo you'll see of Chloe's back mats! Katherine is starting to remove them.
The first few days were the toughest. Chloe would not move, urinated and defecated on herself and barely ate. Katherine tried to clean her off, but was met with so much resistance that we all decided it was best to leave her alone. Katherine focused on offering Chloe a variety of grain-free dry food as her first attempt to get Chloe moving in the right direction.
Chloe took to one of the brands and began to eat. Katherine also offered Chloe some plain chicken baby food from a spoon, which encouraged Chloe to both regard Katherine in a positive way and to help Chloe want to interact, instead of withdraw.
Katherine had to move slowly and not do too much. It was easy to upset Chloe, so she did less, instead of overload her. With the guidance of our friend Wendy Christensen, cat behaviorist and author, she kept the pace to baby steps only.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Is that a smile I see?
Chloe began using her litter pan and eating more than a mouthful of food. With such an obese cat, we have to be careful NOT to restrict her food intake as much as IMPROVE her food, for now. Once she is stable, she will no longer be free-fed and will begin the process of eating grain-free canned food, in monitored amounts, until she can lose some weight.
Chloe also may have bad teeth and an ear infection-both issues will be dealt with as soon as we feel Chloe can be handled without it putting her into a panic. We're hoping that at least the ear issues may resolve, to some degree, with better food. Her body may be reacting to the grain in the food by making her ears get a build up of material. It's unlikely she has ear mites, but she WILL get the treatment as soon as it's safe to do so.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe's sweetness may be starting to emerge-and what a cute face she has!
This morning I got a note from Katherine that she had another small breakthrough. Last night she was able to brush Chloe's face, which she liked, and while she was brushing Chloe, Katherine managed to pick out a few of the mats on the cat's back (which she pulled out easily without causing any irritation to Chloe). As you can see in the photos, Chloe looks like she's almost smiling and for that, we are all very pleased and hopeful that Chloe's story will continue to be one filled with promise. I know we're all rooting for this kitty to make it through this difficult time.
Animals in Distress is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. If you'd like to make a donation to help with Chloe's long-term care, you can use this LINK to their PayPal account. Thank you!
©2013 Katherine Reid. Lucy, safe in her new foster home.
UPDATE: Shortly after Chloe was returned from the home, the former guardian called saying that Lucy HAD to go, too. Lucy has been placed with AID and is doing well. I've met this cat and she's VERY friendly and gets on well with other cats, too. If you live in CONNECTICUT and would like to know more about Lucy, please visit her PETFINDER PAGE!.
Chloe sits in the center of the living room. I can’t see her back legs from where I’m sitting, a few feet away. Her front legs are comically dwarfed, little white mitts, in comparison to the rest of her body.
It’s completely heartbreaking to look at her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Look, but don't touch.
I met Chloe last week after getting a number of calls from my Vet, the Animal Control Officer in town and a woman who is friends with Chloe’s guardian. The story I got was that the guardian, who I will call Dave, was calling our ACO and Vet to find out if he could get someone to come over to euthanize his cat.
Upon further discussion it was disclosed the Chloe had been biting people and that Dave, being basically house-bound and disabled, had to get rid of the cat because his caretaker was making a fuss about her.
Obviously there were other reasons why the caretaker wanted to end Chloe’s life, but I couldn’t know the reason until I learned more.
The ACO said she might have to put the cat down if it was a biter. She couldn’t be adopted if she was going to hurt a future adopter. Chloe was at least 10 years old, if not older, and the odds of finding her any home were slim to none, even if she was a Siamese under all that extra weight.
I offered to go to the home to assess the cat. We could hear stories about her, but I needed to see her for myself. I was told the cat was chubby, but I had no idea how grossly obese she was until I met her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chole's back fur is quite matted and I'm sure causing her some discomfort.
I visited Dave, along with his friend, Frances (not her real name). She’d met Chloe many times, but was hard pressed to describe her behavior to me, which I found very puzzling. Is the cat friendly or not? What’s the deal here?
I entered the small living room of the 1-bedroom apartment. Chloe was sitting on the top of the sofa. As I walked into the room and sat down on a nearby chair, she came over to say hello.
I let her settle down. She sat in the center of the room, commanding the space. She growled softly, which turned into a whine, then back to a growl. Her ears were not flat. Her tail didn’t whip up and down in anger. Her pupils were dilated. I made no move to touch her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. There IS a cat under there, somewhere.
I spoke with Dave and got some history on the cat. He’d gotten her a few years ago from a woman in Fairfield. Chloe supposedly slept on his chest and would tap him to get petted. That the day before three Missionaries had come to visit, all men, and she had been fine with them, so why was she so distressed by me?
We talked about food. He said he got really good food (not even close to good-in my opinion) for the cats, some sort of house brand dry and that was it. Clearly this cat was being given a huge bowl of food to snack on day and night. She could barely walk. I imagined that part of her fear was that she was too fat to flee, should I be a threat to her. She might also be in a lot of pain from carrying so much weight on her bones.
I’d worked out a deal with my dear friend, Katherine from Animals in Distress. We would get the cat vetted, then re-assess her behavior at that time. We owed it to Chloe to give her a chance to stabilize her weight and behavior before making any other decisions about her future.
It’s one thing to deal with a feral cat, but a fearful cat is a different thing altogether.
Our choices were to either put Chloe down or give her a chance. Katherine and I chose to give her some time. The problem is we needed a foster home for Chloe and Katherine had to sacrifice the last precious space she has left in her home that doesn’t already have cats in it. It wasn’t ideal, but for now it’s all we had. No one would step up to take this cat and most of my fosters are sick and I know I’d have her with me forever and I just couldn’t do that to my cats. At least Katherine might be able to put Chloe into their shelter if she was ever well enough to go there.
A few days later, Chloe was taken to the Vet. I don’t know how they managed, but they did get blood work done and there was nothing indicating her thyroid was off, which could have caused her emotional issues, or that she was diabetic, which was surprising. I don’t know if the Vet looked at her teeth, but Chloe probably had some painful gums, at least, from all the junky food.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh dear, dear, Chloe.
Katherine brought Chloe home and placed her in a bathroom where she’d be living until we could get her settled. It’s unlikely we’d find her a foster home with her behavior issues, at least for now.
All Katherine was doing was trying to help Chloe feel more comfortable and clean. She called me, distressed, but laughing through her irritation. I felt so badly, but I hadn’t told Katherine anything other than the truth-the cat was NOT adoptable right now, but that we should at least try to give her a chance to blossom. These would be the worst days-hopefully better ones would follow.
I contacted my friend, Wendy Christensen, who is an award-winning author and illustrator. Her books include The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care. She's written for Cat Fancy, Kittens USA, Catnip, CatWatch, Natural Cat, and Natural Pet. Wendy is one of my go-to people when I have a cat behavior issue that stumps me. Because she’s not directly involved with Chloe, I knew she could offer me perspective without any bias one way or the other.
Wendy wrote me back, a very long email. She was very troubled by what she was told about Chloe. She said what I also feared, it’s very likely that Chloe has been abused.
Wendy wrote: “I would concur that she's probably been abused. What she needs more than anything else is peace and quiet and a calm, stable environment. She is just too stressed to deal with any human interaction right now. I know it sounds "cruel," but she needs to be left alone to get some of her confidence back, stabilize and heal for awhile. She needs to be alone so she can start to feel safe again.
Her size has clearly made it very hard for her to move about and escape whatever peril she was placed in. Escapability is primary for cats' mental health. She has felt (and still feels) utterly trapped and at the mercy of others -- possibly the worst thing a cat can experience. She is in a super-super-sensitive frame of mind. She doesn't need a lot of space, but she DOES need safety, peace, quiet, stability, and predictability.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. With pupils dilated with fear, Chloe readies herself to strike, but I can't help wanting to pet her and soothe her anxiety, regardless.
Of course, my first thought was, that the caretaker who hated this cat and wanted her put to sleep was responsible. What was he doing to her when no one was looking?
There’s no way to know if he ever even lifted a finger to Chloe, but it certainly makes sense. There’s no way to know that Dave wasn’t the one who harmed her either, but clearly something terrible happened to Chloe and now she needs us to understand that and give her the space she needs to heal.
And then there’s the other cat in the home, Lucy; Lucy who is so friendly and outgoing. What will become of her? We need to get her out of this place, too. It’s only a matter of time before she is so big she can’t walk either, or so sick from never being vetted that she dies.
Our first goal is to focus on Chloe and hope her sweet nature will emerge one day. I saw a flicker of that sweetness the first moment I met her. She’s suffering from crippling fear brought on by abuse.
I realize this is a long-shot, but if you live in the Wilton, CT area and have lots of experience working with cats, if you can provide a SEPARATE space in your home that’s quiet and safe and you’re willing to basically just keep Chloe fed, but otherwise left alone, please contact me: email@example.com
Chloe is going to need long-term care. If you’d like to make a donation to help Chloe, please donate via PayPal HERE. Animals in Distress is a 501(c) 3, non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Wendy has recently begun offering fee-based cat behavior consultations. If you're in need of her services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
Another resources for help with cat behavior issues, is Wendy's latest book: Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to do What You Want which was just published earlier this month.
We began the year with a rescue, going beyond our comfort zone by taking on an adult, instead of an easy-to-place kitten. The cat was a huge, white, “biscuit head” tom-cat from Henry County Care & Control. I saw his photo and saw something about him that made me take action. I named him Jackson Galaxy in honor of the Cat Daddy/Cat Behaviorist on Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell.”
©2012 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson was a miserable wreck when we first took him into Kitten Associates as our first rescue of 2012.
Jackson had a rough start. He frightened Maria but we realized later it was because he was in great pain. He had a terrible infection from his neutering and he needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and get him back on the road to good health. By the end of the month, Jackson was on the transport headed to Connecticut to find his forever home.
©2012 Bobby Stanford (inset). ©2012 Leesiateh.com. Miss Fluffy Pants shortly before being adopted.
Our friend and volunteer, Bobby Stanford, told me about two cats living outside a palette factory in McDonough, GA. They were living in poor conditions and in danger of being hit by any one of the numerous fork lifts that raced around the premises. One of the two cats, a dirty, thin tuxedo we named King Arthur, seemed to be missing his back paws. Completely horrified I decided we'd help him and the other cat on the premises, who we named Miss Fluffy Pants, because we worried she was pregnant.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). King's mama, Judy. King's journey has been quite amazing. I'll be doing a more in-depth update on him in January.
I was fostering a little orange tabby spitfire named Bobette, along with her two boys, the third had just been adopted. Bobette needed surgery to repair her luxated patella, so I sat in on the procedure and helped her in recovery and for the next few weeks while she healed.
February was a month of discovery. We learned that King's missing paws were due to a birth defect. He didn't need surgery or prosthetics. He could walk on carpeting, but who would adopt this cat? King began to clean himself and gain some weight. He loved being petted until Miss Fluffy Pants came to join him.
Miss FP was not pregnant. We thought the two cats were friends at the factory, but they were not happy to see each other. With some quick thinking and the donation of a cat tree, Miss FP could sit high up, away from King and both cats relaxed into their new foster home.
©2011 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette with one of her kittens while at the kill shelter and after surgery in Sam's loving arms.
We also learned the Miss FP was FIV+ which we knew would put a roadblock in our ability to find her a good forever home. With her taking up valuable foster care space I got to work trying to figure out what to do for her that didn't mean putting her in a sanctuary.
We were heartbroken to learn that after some behavior issues gave us a clue to trouble, Dr. Larry diagnosed Sam's cat, Nicky with Chronic Renal Failure. We began giving him sub Q fluids every few days and began to learn more about this condition and ways we could lengthen his life.
Jackson arrived in Connecticut and was placed with my friends at Animals in Distress, but fell ill after arriving there. They thought it was a mild upper respiratory infection and in time he was feeling better. By the second week of February, Jackson found his forever home with a loving family. We were all delighted.
©2011 Maria S. (inset) ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Two of Bobette's boys, Jakey & Teddy.
Bobette continued her recovery, but was still limping. I had to separate her from her boys because she hissed and growled every time she saw them. The boys, Jakey & Teddy had a blast hanging out with my cats while I continued to try to find them a great home.
The saying is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but this March was the opposite; quiet for a few weeks, then things started to go crazy.
Bobette had the staples taken out of her leg and due to a problem with the bandage removal she ended up biting my hand so badly I had to see a Doctor.
I found a blueish growth on my cat Gracie's abdomen. She had a dental done and had the cyst removed. It ended up being an Apocrine Gland Carcinoma, but was considered to be completely excised and of no further concern.
Jakey & Teddy were adopted together and Bobette was glad to see them leave.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy.
On March 26th, a few days before my birthday, Jackson Galaxy emailed me and asked me out to lunch (which ended up being dinner). It was one of the best days of my life, but that wasn't all that happened. That night in the frigid cold in nearby Trumbull, CT, six mostly black kittens were born to a gray mama named April. I didn't realize it at the time, but they would be my next foster family.
The next day, still buzzing from my visit with Jackson, I was honored by Freekibble.com with a donation of a full palette of Halo® canned cat food! The press came to document the event and I started to wonder if the foster cats would eat it (they loved it!).
The Worst Birthday Ever was followed by picking up April and meeting her mostly all black female kittens for the first time. Three kittens were polydactyl and there was no way I was going to be able to tell most of them apart for the next eight weeks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April and her kittens.
I rescued a senior cat named Leo who was an adorable long haired tuxedo. The poor cat was forced to live outside on scraps when his owner's wife had a baby. I begged my friend Katherine to take him into Animals in Distress if I paid the Vet bill. We worked something out and Leo was saved. A few months later, Leo and a second cat found an amazing home with a family I found for them here in town. They are doing GREAT.
A missing cat alert showed up in email with a very familiar name, Amberly. One of my former foster cats was MISSING and the family didn't have the nerve to tell me. I leapt into action. Thank GOODNESS Katherine has good instincts and lived nearby the family. By the next DAY Katherine found Amberly and the family promised to work harder to keep her inside.
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, all grown up with siblings Choco and ChiChi (inset).
Maria contacted me about a tortie mom cat we named Cami and five kittens in her neighbors yard. She was very worried about them so I told her to find a place to put them and we'd take them on. By the time Maria got back to the home, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. We named the surviving kittens Coco, ChiChi and Choco.
On May 1st a shelter called AnimalKind in upstate New York suffered the total loss of their facility after a small fire caused the sprinkler system to flood the 3-story building. Through my contacts a pet product companies I was able to provide them with palettes of food and litter. Later in 2012 I visited their facility and met with their Director, Katrin Hecker. You can read about my visit HERE.
I travelled to New Jersey to attend Bottle Baby Bootcamp at Tabby's Place. The timing was great because the black kittens needed help since poor April was having a tough time feeding all the kittens. I worried the littlest one wouldn't make it, but Cutie Pie surprised me and began to do well. I named her sisters Sabrina, Bon Bon, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia (in honor of my friend, JaneA's cat Dahlia who had recently passed away).
Then a crazy thing happened.
JaneA came to visit us and instead of falling in love with her cat's namesake, she threw me a curveball, clearly falling in love with our little spitfire, Bobette. She adopted her the next morning before she left for her home in Maine. It was a one of the happiest adoptions I'd ever done.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her girl, Bobette (who she later named, Kissy)
By the end of the month there was more somber news. Jackson the cat lost his home and was being returned. Since I had space I offered to take him back since AID was full up.
June will forever be a tough month for me since it's the anniversary of my Father's passing and of my favorite cat's passing. I hoped that this June would not be under such a dark cloud but it was not meant to be.
Thankfully it wasn't all bad news. After months of searching, begging, dealing, I was able to get Miss Fluffy Pants transferred to Good Mews in Marietta, Georgia.
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is still looking for her forever home! You can visit her Petfinder page HERE
Maria, our cat-magnet, rescued a cat from a tree. She named her Willow and we added her to our group of rescues in Georgia. Meanwhile, I got a curious email from a lady in New Hampshire inquiring about King. She had a fully carpeted home. She had two cats. Did I think King might be happy with her?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me, Jill Delzer (center) and Ingrid King (far right). Inset: Joanne McGonagle, Me with Gracie the cat.
And for the first time in many years, I took a fistful of Xanax and boarded a plane headed to Salt Lake City where Sam and I were Speakers at BlogPaws 2012. I was up for two awards that I did not win, but I had so much fun and made a great new friend. In those few days I was re-energized enough to keep doing rescue work once I got home.
Maria removed another cat from her neighbor (with his consent)- who NEVER spays or neuters his cats. Maria has tried repeatedly to get the cats taken care of but he just puts it off and his cats get pregnant. A nine month old kitten named Opal, who had become almost feral, was pregnant. Our new foster mom, Cyndie offered to take her in and help her along. Sadly, the stress of being in a home pushed Opal in to premature labor. Four kittens were born, but after extensive attempts to save their lives, only two survived. She named them Fred & Barney. We had their siblings Pebbles and Bam Bam cremated and their little wooden urn is here with me placed next to my cat, Bob's ashes.
Every day whether it be via email, a phone call or on Facebook, I get notified of cats and kittens in dire need of rescue. Some are owner-abandoned, some are found on the street wandering, seriously injured. Others are listed on Craigslist because they have behavioral issues or the family is moving and “can’t take them” or mysterious allergies pop up so the cat has to go. If they don’t get any help they will go to the shelter---and we all know what that implies---they may be euthanized.
This is a letter to all those cats.
Dear Cat ID# Unknown,
My heart is very heavy. I took it upon myself to open my home to helping cats like you. Cats who are hunkered down at the back of a stainless steel cage, with dilated pupils, cowering in fear. Cats who are too old to care and just sit, staring in their litter pan, hoping the smell of their own excrement will offer them a sliver of comfort in a place that is not their home. They are confused, lost, scared, hopeless. Some have newborn kittens clinging to them for nourishment and who are trying to protect them from the sounds of the shelter, the barking dogs, the smells of cleaning fluids and untouched cat food.
©2012 Maria S. George's guardian lives in a very bad part of town and had taken him off the streets knowing full well she would get evicted for having a cat. She was also in hiding from an abusive relationship and was risking her own safety if she got evicted. My rescue group, Kitten Associates took him on because his next stop was going to be the kill shelter or being turned back to the streets.
I want to save your life, but I can’t. I’m so very sorry. I see your photo and you look like a perfectly nice kitty. You don’t deserve to sit there, waiting to die. I wish I knew something I could do to help you. There isn’t enough time in the day to send out pleas to everyone I know for every cat I discover who needs help.
I don’t want to be cliché and say, “If I had the space and money, I would save all of you,” because I don’t think that’s even possible to do by just one person. I have to measure what I can do versus what is needed. If I take too many, I am no help to anyone. As it is, my home is ruined from my own cats suffering from stress from a constant flow of incoming and outgoing cats, but it’s just urine-ruined floors. If that’s the price I pay to save lives, then so be it.
©2012 Bobby Stanford. 10 yr old Helmet was brought to the shelter. The owners were warned the cat would be euthanized if they surrendered him. Being over 10 years old he had no chance. I sent out a plea on Facebook and within a day we had three adopters interested. This is a rare WIN. There are so many requests for help on Facebook cats like Helmet get overlooked.
I’m not saying you’re not worth it, because you are. You are SO worth it. You are worth making a fuss over-every single one of you. You’re a sentient being. You forgive and forget. You can move on with little or no remorse. You are so much better than I can ever be, but I don’t have a way to help you so I have to delete this email or ignore this post on Facebook.
Even though I try not to see you, I do. Each time I “pass” on helping another one of you, it puts a little tear in my heart, which is already in tattered shreds.
©2012 Bobby Stanford. Helmet, now named, Grayson, with his new, devoted family. I'm told he is doing really well and is already requesting belly rubs.
I feel so badly I can’t do more, but I aspire to, at least, but it’s getting harder and harder to know about all of you because this year is the worst I can remember in a long time. I know that mamas and their kittens are dying in record numbers this summer and into the autumn and that pains me in a way that nothing can make right again. I can’t stand seeing elderly cats given up by their families who turn a cold shoulder to them at a time when those cats should be cherished even more.
©2012 Bobby Stanford. This lovely pregnant cat was living outside in a very dangerous part of town. The owners of the apartment complex wanted her dumped at the heart stick kill shelter where she would die before her kittens were born.
What ever happened to “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” No…you are disposable. I will never understand how anyone can think that of you.
©2012 Jennifer N. Another miracle rescue-Anastasia was offered a loving foster home ONE HOUR after I asked for help. This is another rare WIN for a sweet cat who deserves the best we can give her.
No other rescues stepped forward to help you. They’re in the same bind. No one came to adopt you. You’re going to die today. I can’t do a damn thing about it other than cry and hate that we, as a society, decided euthanasia is the answer to overcrowded shelters.
©2012 Jennifer N. Anastasia's due to give birth any time now. Thank goodness she's safe.
I recently learned that in Italy it’s against the law to euthanize a cat. The community has decided to take cat care on as a group. Everyone pitches in to help the cats. There are sanctuaries and adoptions and some cats just live outside without a home, but they are cared for and cared about.
Why can’t we do this, too? Because we’re selfish and don’t want cats ruining our plants or peeing on the front door. Or we don’t want to deal with spending a few extra dollars to put out food for the strays or ferals because then it becomes a bigger problem. We’d rather the cats just die, as long as we don’t see it happening, so we can focus on what WE want and what WE NEED, who cares about them?
©2012 Betsy Merchant. Three days ago I learned about this kitty and MANY others at Henry County Care and Control. I wanted to help him but I didn't have time. Why would a cat like that have to be put down? It never makes sense.
We have to realize that millions of cats will die this year because we’re too lazy to get off our asses and really FIX this problem. It’s not an important issue compared to the economy, people losing their homes, losing their jobs, etc. There will always be another reason that is “more important” to focus on even though we COULD focus on this AND work on those other issues, too.
©2012 Betsy Merchant. I found out that they're putting cats down daily. This photo was haunting me, like so many others. I stopped what I was doing and begged a favor. As of this afternoon, THIS CAT IS BEING RESCUED by Kitten Associates and Animals in Distress, but I couldn't help the other 15 or more who don't have a chance.
©2012 Betsy Merchant. Three days ago I learned about this kitty and MANY others at Henry County Care and Control. I loved this cat's face. What a serene and beautiful cat. This post is dedicated to her and the thousands like her who didn't make it. She was euthanized two days ago because there wasn't enough room in the shelter.
I’m so very sorry, kitty. Rest in Peace. Fly free.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April.
The weeks have flown by in a heartbeat. The kittens just celebrated their eighth week birthday. All six have survived those precarious first weeks and are now spending their day either napping or running around playing with wild abandon. I moved them into Bobette's old room so they have lots of space to explore and a big sunny window where they can watch the birds or see a stray bee buzz by.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The girls.
It's a happy time for them and relief for me. The kittens have been weaned. It went so easily and perfectly. They've also done great with their litter pan technique. Knock wood, these kittens have been a complete dream to foster. I can't remember the last time I didn't have to worry about loose stools or runny noses.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting ready to meet Dr. Chris.
It is, however, a sad time, too. It's time for April, the kittens mama, to go on to the next chapter of her life—a journey she has to make on her own. She's been a GREAT mama-one of the best ever. April constantly burbles and meows to the kittens, maybe telling them to be careful or “watch out!” She's always on the alert, making sure the kittens are safe. I hate taking her away from them, but I know it must be done. April is shockingly thin and needs time to recover and get strong. She can't do that with the kittens around. I can't risk them nursing on her any longer. She needs to be spayed, then go to Animals in Distress where they will work on finding her a forever home.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie Patootie and Belly Holiday after their Vet visit.
In the time we've spent together, April has blossomed. She no longer hisses at me, but seeks out attention. She enjoys being petted and sitting nearby. I hope she gets a wonderful home, with people who will cherish her. She has a goodness and sweetness that's palpable.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Belly and the ball.
The kittens, too, are just about ready. All that remains is that they need to be spayed. They had their first FVRCP vaccine and first visit with Dr. Mixon. The kittens did amazingly well and didn't give him much trouble at all.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie's big mitt.
Dr. Mixon examined the three polydactyl kitten's paws. He suggested that the extra toes be declawed. I was against it until he explained that those claws, being on such short toes, would never be able to be sharpened. If that couldn't be done, the claw would simply grow and eventually grow INTO the kitten's paw pad and cause a nasty infection. This just happened to my own cat, Gracie and she's not even polydactyl. I would never want that to happen to any other cat-even if the adopter promised to trim the claws every week. With them being so young and Dr. Mixon using a laser it would be the least painful to do it now. Next week it will be done, but I feel more than terrible about it because I believe that in one case the entire toe is going to come off because it is so very tiny, it's more of a claw growing out of the paw, then out of a toe.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Looks like a reference photo for a Picasso painting!
Thanks to my friend, Katherine at AID, one of her foster families offered to take April so she could recover in their home before she gets spayed. I thought it was a good idea since normally I'd have to crate April to keep the kittens off her and that wouldn't be very easy on her. It's best to say our farewells now.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Relaxing without a care in the world.
What I didn't expect was that this foster family offered to adopt one of the kittens, too, even though they are currently fostering some of the cutest kittens I've ever seen! The family is from England and black cats are good luck there. They had a black kitty many years ago and they miss her dearly. When they heard about my kittens they asked if they could give one a home because they understand how difficult it is to place black kittens.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Between a pillow and a hard egg?
What made me appreciate them even more was that they wanted the kitten that would have the toughest time to find a home. They didn't want one of the polydactyl kittens, they wanted a simple, black kitten. That's it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Black Beauty.
I met with the Mom of the family four weeks ago and she fell in love with a kitten. She said her children wanted to name it, “Bon Bon.” I said we could give the kitten that name, but didn't push her to adopt that particular kitten. It was too soon to take her anyway.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April's eyes are full of hope that her forever home will find her soon.
On Thursday she returned to take April home and to choose her kitten. She brought her daughter, who was very sweet with all the kittens. She understood the importance of giving the kitten a home who others might overlook. Sure enough Bon Bon came over to them and honestly if I had other kittens that might have been considered more adoptable, they still would have chosen her.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bon Bon with her new mama.
I made special arrangements for them to take Bon Bon before her spay, which will also allow her to be with her mother awhile longer and vice versa. The family reported back to me already that both Bon Bon and April are doing well. April's being shy, but they know she'll come around in time. She's eating very well and eating a lot of food so this is great news. One day I hope to see April again, but this time looking plump and resplendent, the days of difficulty long past.
My heart aches. I've grown to love Bobette and April and Bon Bon, but I must make room for more. There are four kittens in South Carolina who need help. Four more to love. My heart is ready to be re-fueled. This is the life of a cat rescuer, the constant tug of sadness mixed with simple, profound love.
(Farewells in Part 2.)
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten wants to eat your brains!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie Patootie's showing her secret white belly button.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina mugs for the camera.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hi Five..or is that six?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Attack of the 50ft Kitten!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is how we do it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten searches for the next victim.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cute break with Cutie!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Okay one more cute break with Black Beauty.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible hang glider.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. One-eyed flying machine.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Engaging telekinesis in 3…2…1.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Mousey with Hello Dahlia.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina in a tangle.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Belly Holiday firing super-cute rays into your heart.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Anatomy of flight.
The kittens are having a grand time and didn't want to stop having fun, but their joy was tempered with some sadness. In part two I'll fill you in on what happened after play time was over.
Poor Jackson Galaxy the foster cat. Late last year I rescued this big lug from a Kill Shelter in McDonough, Georgia. He had no hope of rescue since it was so close to Christmas and many rescues couldn't take another adult, but once I saw him I had to save his life. There was something about him, his great size, but sweet vibe that told me this was a kitty who needed to be spared being euthanized.
Fortunately, my friend Katherine from Animals in Distress (AID)said they would take him into their shelter, since I had my hands full. It worked out beautifully and Jackson arrived in January of this year. You can read all about it HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The most tranquil and Buddha-like Jackson.
I also told Jackson Galaxy, the swanky Cat Daddy from Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell,” about this apple-head Tom cat. He felt the same vibe and wanted to lend a helping hand. He offered to provide a FREE 15 minute consultation with whoever adopted the cat. I was delighted!
In less than a few weeks a family stepped forward to adopt Jackson. They had other cats and a dog. There was some concern about how he would get along with everyone, but since Jacks did so well at the shelter, not picking fights or bothering with the other cats, that they gave him a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The image that started this journey. How could you say NO to that cat?
Sadly, I don't know all the details, but the basics are that the other cats picked on and attacked Jackson. Jackson didn't cause any trouble at all. He didn't love the dog, but he didn't fight. He tried to stay clear of the cats, but they were violent with him. Eventually the family gave him to their Mother-in-Law since she had no pets. Jackson did fine with her, but then her husband died.
The Mother-in-Law visited her family often and brought Jackson with her. This constant upheaval caused the other cats to continue to attack Jackson. The woman was between a rock and a hard place-either she stop seeing her family, leave Jackson alone or give Jackson back to AID.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The Return of Jackson Galaxy.
I know that the family had a very tough time letting Jackson go and I know they ALL cried about it. They shouldn't be vilified for their choice. Jackson was very dear to them, but with the problems with the other cats, they decided it would be best to let him go.
I think there's a point at which people have made up their minds and you can't tell them to try to re-introduce Jackson or to not travel with him and get him a pet sitter; to work it out differently so Jackson wouldn't lose his home. The point was passed before we had a chance to intervene and on Friday, Jackson was brought back to the shelter.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Investigating his new home.
As fate would have it, AID was beyond full up, but they HAD to take Jackson. I felt responsible and tried to figure out what I was going to do, but Bobette was here taking up the only space I could use for Jackson. It just worked out beautifully that JaneA Kelley adopted Bobette while Jackson waited in a cage at the shelter for space to open up here. He only had to wait a few days.
I brought Jackson home yesterday afternoon and got him settled. My home is the fifth home Jackson's lived in in as many months. He is a bit anxious. He wants OUT of his foster room, but I need to give him and my own cats time to adjust to Bobette being gone and to the new arrival.
Jackson's coat is in terrible condition. It's dry and feels tacky. He must have been fed junk. His eyes are a bit runny and he has feline acne, which I'm already treating homeopathically and with diet. I've been brushing him a lot and trying to soothe his fears. He seems ready to meet my cats and just hang out, but I fear he will break with an upper respiratory infection from all the stress he's been under, so I have to wait a few more days.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Simply, Jackson. Visit his Petfinder Ad HERE
Jackson will be fine here until we get a great home for him. He's very likable and loving and meows like mad when he gets lonely. I hope he and my cats become friends. He deserves to have a good experience with other cats.
Jackson's very lucky. He not only has me and Katherine looking out for him, but Jackson Galaxy, the man himself, is also this cat's Guardian Angel. Mr. Galaxy took a liking to this big Buddha of a cat and is dedicated to helping us find our boy a great forever home.
With so many people on his side, I just know that one day the REAL forever family for Jackson Galaxy the cat will find him. Until then I get to say I'm living with Jackson Galaxy! How cool is that?
If you're interested in adopting Jackson, visit Kitten Associates Adopt Page and fill out a Pre Adoption Application. Though we prefer adopting within the United States and the area in or around Connecticut, for the right adopter, we're open to discussing an adoption that is further out of state.
“Some others I've seen might never be mean
Might never be cross or try to be boss
But they wouldn't do
For nobody else gave me the thrill
With all your faults I love you still
It had to be you”*
What transpired over the past few days has left me a bit tongue tied. Perhaps it's a bit too soon to try to make sense of it all, but the news I have to share is so surprising, I couldn't wait to begin writing.
Barely four days ago, I said to my friend, JaneA Kelley, who's the well known “Mama, Webmaster & Chief Cat Slave” of the blog Paws and Effect: A blog by cats for cats and their people , that she should come to Connecticut to visit my foster kittens. JaneA immediately agreed and suggested she was available that weekend and did I want to get together then? The kittens are old enough to be adopted and since one of them is named after one of JaneA's cats, I thought the timing could work out (if I did a massive “hide the piles of paper” cleaning ASAP). The kitten I really wanted her to meet is named Dahlia. You can read about the cat she's named in honor of by clicking the following link, “Farewell, Sweet Dahlia”.
Although I did have some plans “penciled in” for the weekend it was something JaneA said to me that made me clear the decks so we could get together. She said she'd love to meet the kittens, but she really wanted to meet Bobette!
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Bobette? You mean the cat who's been here in foster care for six months and three months before that in Georgia in foster care? The one who I've never gotten even ONE application to adopt? Bobette who was named after my dearly departed cat, Bob Dole? The same Bobette who has struggled to get along with my eight cats, who suffered through losing three of her six kittens and who had to recover from a very difficult and painful surgery to correct her Patellar lunation?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I didn't want to press the subject of WHY she wanted to meet Bobette. I knew the reason, but couldn't imagine saying the word, ADOPT. Bobette is an amazing cat. She has a great personality, is smart, silly and sweet, but she's had difficulty adjusting to living with my cats and has charged and hissed at them on a daily basis. I know that it's partly due to my own inability to properly introduce Bobette to the crew and, over the past few weeks, Bobette, on her own, has been slowly carving a place for herself and the attacks have reduced in number and intensity. I was resigned to having a very difficult to place adult cat on my hands-one that should probably be an only cat, but…I HATE thinking that ANY cat has to be an only cat. Again, I look to the Cat Guaridan for why multiple cat households have failures. It's not black and white, but there are MANY cats out there who get labeled as having to be “only cats,” but who would probably be just fine with one or two other cats IF they had the time to adjust and be introduced.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA is making some sort of secret code gesture or Vulcan Salute FAIL. Meanwhile I'm trying to look awesome-FAIL.
I warned JaneA that she'd have to sleep in the foster room with the kittens and she was almost giddy about the idea. I forget I'm around kittens all the time, but for many other people it's a special event. We sorted out the details and JaneA arrived Saturday afternoon with her bags and two bottles of wine. Clearly she was prepared to have some fun!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette tries to use the power of her mind to melt the window pane.
I ushered JaneA into my home, introducing her to my cats. I'd left Bobette sitting in the kitchen. She was mesmerized by a weird looking squirrel who was missing half his tail. He was focused on eating bird seed on the deck railing while she sat frozen, her butt wiggling every so often in anticipation. I could tell Bobette was saying a kitty prayer that the glass in the window frame would melt so she could bust through it and bite the rest of the squirrel's tail off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA and Bobette get to know each other.
I asked JaneA if she wanted to meet Bobette and she perked up and looked around. I brought her over to Bobette. She called to her and Bobette stood up and ran over to her side! In that moment, I witnessed love at first sight; as if two halves, separated for years, had finally come back together.
I didn't say a word. This was the look I hope to see in all my adopters, but it didn't add up. JaneA could provide a home for any cat. She didn't have to drive for five hours just to meet this one, but what I didn't know was that JaneA had been following Bobette's story from the first days we rescued her out of the Henry County kill shelter. From afar, JaneA had a gut feeling that this was her cat, but at the time she couldn't add to her kitty family and then after the tragic loss of Dahlia the timing just wasn't right.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with a squirmy Bobette.
JaneA, Sam and I caught up on recent events. JaneA's blog just got nominated for a BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Award for Best Meow Blog! Of course I'd be glad if she won, but only if I don't win, first! Although we're both nominated for the same category, the pressure is off since it's a Juried award and we don't have to beg for votes. This time it feels like we're already both winners since we're Finalists. The rest is gravy…or 5,000 meals of cat food from FreeKibble.com, which is part of the award to the Winner.
JaneA met the kittens and the big moment of her meeting her cat's namesake, was a huge letdown. The kittens were a bit nervous having both myself and JaneA in the room. When I picked up Hello Dahlia to bring her to JaneA, the kitten freaked out and ran off. The heartwarming moment, the tears never came to pass. It was fine by JaneA. She knew that the kittens would have a far easier time being adopted. It appeared that JaneA was thinking about something else—a little spitfire named Bobette.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette has such a sweet face and her eyes are really that bright shade of green.
We went out for some nice FRIED FOOD for dinner, followed by a sickly huge waffle cone full of ice cream. It was fun to have another cat lady to hang out with and the time flew by. Soon it was time to get JaneA settled into the foster room. We made up the bed while the kittens ran around. JaneA laid on the bed, hanging off it so she could get closer to April without scaring her. I wished JaneA good luck trying to sleep in a room full of kittens. I closed the door and said a little prayer hoping it would go all right. The few times I've napped with the kittens I was terrified I'd roll onto one and kill it. I guess I'd have to hope for the best.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful brat.
The next morning, I asked JaneA how she slept as we prepared to make a pot of coffee. “I slept like a baby!” was her surprising reply. Apparently the kittens settled down and went to sleep as she did the same. Being around kittens was truly good for her soul…but…what about Bobette?
I didn't want to push JaneA into doing anything she wasn't ready to do, but as the time drew near for JaneA to return to Maine, I coyly asked her how she felt about Bobette. She said she loved her already. We discussed how it might work and our concerns that Bobette might not be a great fit in her home. I knew that of anyone who could possibly adopt Bobette, this was one person who understood the importance of a proper introduction, knew how to do it and was willing to take the time to do it right. I told JaneA that we could do the adoption on a trial basis and that I would ALWAYS take her back if it didn't work out.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A few last pets for my foster sweetheart.
JaneA sat on the floor and called to Bobette. She asked Bobette if she wanted to go home with her. Bobette responded by rubbing against JaneA's knees, her arms and pressed her face against her hand, clearly saying, “yes.” I had to fight back the tears it was such a beautiful sight.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her cat, Bobette.
We signed the contract and I pulled together some of Bobette's favorite toys and some cans of food. I didn't have time to take “farewell photos” or even say more than goodbye and kiss her quickly on the head as JaneA placed her into the cat carrier. It all happened in a heartbeat. As we waved goodbye to JaneA and her newest family member, I turned away, hot tears trailing down my cheeks.
I was so very happy, yet so sad to see little Bobette go.
My phone rang. It was Katherine from Animals in Distress. Did I have space to take in another cat? I laughed at the irony of the timing, then asked her what she needed help with. Her words cut into my heart...
“Jackson Galaxy just got returned to the Shelter. His adoption fell through.”
*"It Had to Be You" is a popular song written by Isham Jones, with lyrics by Gus Kahn, and was first published in 1924.