15 Months Later. The Shocking Conclusion.

continued from Part One

A year later…just about June 2015

I just re-read the posts from last year. I’m glad I sat on it for so long because the lesson I’ve learned has ripened while Blitzen has become sick again, seemingly out of the blue.

Firstly, I’m working this year. I’m very grateful that my graphic design business is staying busy and I’ve got a small handful of clients and some very interesting work ranging from designing bobblehead carton graphics to re-designing a web site for a New York State agency.

I’ve had to cut back on blogging, as you know, but the good news is I'm starting to plan a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds so Covered in Cat Hair will be published as a series of rescue stories. Our first will focus on Freya! I also have plans for taking Kitten Associates to the “next level” so our rescues won’t be forgotten and we’ll continue to do what we do going forward in bigger and better ways.

Blitzen and the Turkey R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Blitzen ponders what to do about the monster-sized turkey on our deck.

Regarding Blitzen, further observation made me realize he does NOT have Feline Hyperesthesia. He never had enough signs to make me get him to the Vet. Last year I wrote about his thick, soft coat. Guess what? That was the culprit. Blitzen gets micro mats in his coat because it’s so very thick. They run along his back. If they get big enough he gets irritated. His back will ripple. He will sit up, alerted to the strange feeling, then run off and groom himself.

Once we started combing out his fur every few days, his symptoms stopped.

The more troubling problem has returned and with that, too, I’ve begun to see it in a different light. Blitzen’s had a relapse of the horrible ulcers and rash on his head and mouth. I assumed he could not have this happen again since we already dealt with tucking away all the loose pull cords from the window blinds. Less than two weeks ago, Blitzen was getting a checkup and he looked good, aside from a tiny pinprick-sized bloody spot on his head. Dr. Mary said he really needed a dental cleaning so I told her I’d make sure that happens soon. We did some blood work on him and it looked great.

What I didn’t realize is that the tiny wound was not from playing with Freya, it was the beginning of a serious allergic reaction forming on his face, in front of his ears. One day I looked over at him and saw a circular, scabby wound. It was about the size of a pencil eraser, maybe ¼” in diameter. I more carefully examined his head and realized the fur was gone and the skin was quite pink-a sign of an allergic reaction.

IMG 4205
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Notice how pink the skin is between his eye and ear.

I couldn’t get my mind around what was going on. I treated the wound, but it got a bit worse. Blitzen’s lower lip became swollen and I made an appointment with the Vet right away. I couldn’t sort out what he was getting into to cause this to happen so I made sure he only got his homemade raw food, nothing commercially prepared.

Yesterday we were due to go to the Vet, but I started to think about what they would do. They would give him steroids, which is a big no-no in my book or antibiotics, again another no-no when he wasn’t getting an infection. Honestly, what would they do other than those things or maybe add Benadryl, which didn’t seem to help the last time. I cancelled the appointment deciding to give it a few days.

Today I had a breakthrough, totally by accident. Our dopey cat DOOD was once again bothering our senior girl, Petunia. I got up to intervene when I saw Blitzen. He was jumping down from a table with a long gluey strand of saliva, cascading out of his mouth. I thought he was choking and called Sam to assist me with him.

IMG 4208
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Blitzen's not pouting. His lip is swollen.

He was all right. I syringed a small amount of water into Blitzen’s mouth to rinse out the over-production of spit. Sam and I returned to the scene of the grime and Sam called out that Blitzen must have been chewing on “the string.”

“What string?”

“The pull cord from the blind over here in the corner.”

We’d missed it. There was another pull cord that was very tough to get to, but somehow Blitzen had been chewing on it. It was brown-stained and wet. We stopped what we were doing and did another patrol around the house, tying up every low pull cord so this could NEVER happen again.

But there’s something important I’ve learned to ask myself when my cats get sick: “What is the underlying problem here? What is driving Blitzen to chew these cords?”

The answer was very simple. Blitzen needs his teeth cleaned. I already knew his gums were irritated and he has a funky tooth. I thought about what I’d do if I were Blitzen and sure as heck I’d find a way to soothe my gums and those thick pull cords would do the trick. Last year when I brought Blitzen to the Vet I’m pretty sure his gums were irritated but we felt it was due to the allergic reaction, not the other way around.

I called our Vet and moved his appointment up to Tuesday. I also told them that Dr. Mary should call me first. I knew if she saw him she’d possibly not want to do the sedation, but I feel very certain once we get his teeth taken care of everything else will fall into place. I bet this has been going on for over a year. Do I feel like a jerk, a bad cat-mama? YES!

As always, I hope that what I’ve learned/screwed up will help you avoid doing to your cat. Be a careful observer. If you don’t blog about your cats, then get a notepad and make some notes if it’s not an emergency situation. As Pam Johnson-Bennet taught me, “THINK LIKE A CAT.” It will make an enormous difference in your cat’s life.

DISCLAIMER: I would never assume I know more than my Vet so in the end I will respect Dr. Mary’s decision on wether or not she can go ahead with Blitzen’s dental even with sores on his lip and head. I would also remind all of you, which I’ve illustrated here, even with careful observation, you may be wrong and what you think is ailing your cat has yet to be known, diagnosed or understood. Try to stay open-minded and also, as great as the internet is, it’s not the be-all and end all for diagnosing your cat’s ailments.

Blitzs Belly R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. My sweet boy.

UPDATE: Since I finished writing this post Blitzen has made the trip to see Dr. Mary. She just called me. It was horrible news.

Blitzen had to have 4 teeth removed. He was also MISSING three teeth. They already had been reabsorbed into his gums. No wonder he was so focused on chewing the cords. Rubbing and gnawing them probably gave him the only relief for his VERY painful mouth.

I'm going to add raw meaty bones to his diet once his mouth heals as coincidently, just today I learned how important they are to give your cat's teeth a cleaning. Currently, we only feed ground raw meat, bones and organs with some supplements. Our cats NEED to GNAW to strengthen their jaw muscles and keep those teeth strong. With Blitzen only being five years old, this is a terrible shock to me, leaving me feeling deeply ashamed he suffered for the past year and a half. If I don't right this ship he will have no teeth and that can't happen.

Lesson learned.

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15 Months in the Making, a Possible Breakthrough in What Ails Blitzen.

Fifteen months ago I wrote a piece that I never posted. I felt too much shame to dare allow anyone to read it. I’m going to share it with you now because I want to illustrate a few important points that I hope will help you if you're facing something similar in your life.

1. Things change. It’s the ONLY thing you can count on happening-ever. So. If you’re feeling bad, depressed, upset, this is not how you will feel forever. Why is this important to state? Because when you feel down, you never feel like you will ever be “up” again. Trust in this simple fact: that your feelings WILL change given some time. Perhaps you can get through dark days, as I struggle to work though this myself. (I do not mean to be glib or make light of the fact that there are people who have serious mental illness and need counseling and medical assistance to get through each day beyond simply trusting that their feelings will wax and wane over time).

2. The other point is regarding the next health crisis you have with your cat. I’ve recently experienced a very challenging health issue with my cat Blitzen, that was not possible to diagnose completely, which left me scratching my head, even today as I write this. The goal of this point is that there are times when giving it time is the best thing to do. Taking a step back is sometimes a good option (of course as long as it’s not a life threatening emergency).

From the dark corners of my heart, here is a portion of that post I didn’t want to share:

March 5, 2014

For the past 4 years I’ve worked very hard to get Kitten Associates off the ground. The first year I paid for many of the expenses out of my own pocket. I gave up opportunities to work a 9-5 job or to take on taxing freelance graphic design gigs at home because of the amount of time it takes to care for our rescue kittens 24/7/365.

6 2011 Mac
©2010 Robin AF Olson. MacGruber one of the kittens we rescued the year we opened for business.

I do not regret my choice, but over the past year I’ve only made $850.00 and I’ve lived off whatever money I had put aside for a rainy day. I don’t go anywhere on vacation. I can’t remember the last one I had. I think it was a few days in Maine in 2006. I don’t drink or smoke. I stay home. I care for the cats. I write stories that I hope entertain and educate all of you. I work on ways to keep Kitten Associates afloat (and that has gone well so far). My day ends around 12:30AM or later when I finish spending time with and feeding the kittens for the last time of the day.

I help many people find rescues or homes for their cats that I don’t even post about or help them find a way to live better with their cats when there’s a behavior issue.

I don’t get paid a dime for anything I do.

There are people who would say I’m a moron for the financial corner I’ve gotten myself into. There are those who would say I’m irresponsible for having any of my own cats because as of this moment, for the first time in years, I have a cat who needs medical attention and I have no way to provide it for him.

I am beyond mortified. I am heartbroken, angry, frustrated and I feel hopeless. I don’t understand why someone who works as hard as I do has nothing to show for it financially.

I’ve made some changes and am working on ways to get my income stream back. I’m pitching clients for work and I’ve cut back my hours with Kitten Associates (well, I try to cut it to only 5 days a week instead of 7 but I can NEVER cut back on cat/kitten care), but finding paying work won’t happen overnight.

A few months ago, my 3 year old cat, Blitzen started doing this funny thing with his paws. He’d lift the right, then the left. Something was bothering him so I took him to the Vet. She found he had a rodent ulcer on the side of his mouth and that his middle toes on his front paws were very slightly swollen. It appeared to be due to an allergic reaction to something—what that something was, would require a lot more testing.

©2013 Robin AF Olson. First signs of trouble.

We decided to go easy and try something simple-just some Benadryl. It seemed to help and he was doing all right. We gave him antibiotics for his mouth. I thought he was fine, but it came back. This time we opted for a very low dose of steroids, but within a few days Blitzen contracted a very nasty URI since his immune system was compromised and he began urinating all over the house and was aggressive to some of the cats. It was a side effect of the steroids.

©2013 Robin AF Olson. Bad reaction to steroids brought on behavioral problems.

I took him off the drugs and went back to square one. More Benadryl…for 3 weeks, then 2 weeks of clavamox (an antibiotic) and boy was he tough to pill. It didn’t cure the problem. In the meantime I tried to figure out if we were feeding him something or if he was getting into something that would cause this, but why ONLY Blitzen and not our other cats?

There was enough reduction in his paw pain and mouth for me to try some fish oil because our vet thought it might help. It didn’t. Now both sides of his mouth are swollen and tender. He’s depressed. Tonight he was seriously limping on his left paw. It broke my heart to see it. I had a very small amount of buprenex on hand so he’s resting now, but he needs to get to the vet ASAP. I can’t let my cat be in pain like this.

June 16, 2014

The next part of my post is a fundraiser, begging for help so I can raise the funds to get Blitzen vetted. I estimated it would cost about $1100.00.

After careful consideration I decided to scrap the idea. Instead I became determined to find the cause for Blitzen’s problems on my own. It had been going on for over 6 MONTHS. The paw-raising, the rodent ulcers, waxed and waned. I’d think he was okay then he’d get worse. I decided that his mid-day snack of grain-free canned food would stop. He’d only be on raw food. I knew that it was possible he was having a reaction to his food so now his snack would be raw, too.

Blitzen mouth sore
©2013 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Mary examining Blitzen's rodent ulcers.

The other thing Dr. Mary said was that it could be a seasonal allergy-which shocked me since he’d never had this problem before and six months had passed. She said we could do allergy testing, but something was nagging at me that this wasn’t the problem.

Since antibiotics and steroids hadn’t worked I wanted to give Blitzen time for his body to recover from the medications he’d been on. I did not want to continue doing any tests, like skin scrapings or biopsies until I gave his body a chance to heal on its own.

And then came the day I saw something I’d seen, but not “seen.” Every morning Blitzen would go over to the blinds that hang over the kitchen window and chew on the cord that opened and closed the blinds. He’d gnaw on it. I wouldn’t encourage him to do it but it never clicked with me that it was anything other than benign behavior.

Blitzens Mouth R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Rodent ulcer on Blitzen's mouth.

That’s when I did a high-speed flashback over the past few months. Blitzen often chewed on the cords of the other blinds as well. The cord would rub on the corners of his mouth, right where the rodent ulcers appeared. Some of the other cats may have been chewing on the cords, too so swapping all that bacteria around made me wonder if between the irritation and the bacteria if THAT was the culprit.

I went on a mission to tie up and move ALL the cords on all the blinds all over the house. The following day I watched Blitzen as he struggled to get to the cords. Over a few days he stopped trying to get at them and some time after that I noticed that he stopped limping and his mouth sores began to go away.

The thing that also seemed to happen was that concurrent with his sores and limping I saw behavior that was indicative of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, the same disorder that Lux the Cat on My Cat From Hell was diagnosed with having.

In Blitzen’s case, IF he has it, it is VERY MILD. But during the worst of the limping and the sores, he’d also have these odd “fits” where seemingly out of the blue the fur over his back would ripple. Blitzen would jump up and race across the room in a frenzy. He’d stop for a moment and lick at himself quite furiously as if an imaginary creature was making his skin crawl.

Careful observation, even note taking is important when you’re trying to understand what’s going on with your cat. In Blitzen’s case, stopping his OCD chewing behavior MAY have helped lessen his other symptoms. I also made an effort to spend more time doing soothing behaviors, like gently brushing him, but not for so long that he became over-stimulated. He visits me while I’m writing and reaches up to be held. I will stop what I’m doing, pick him up and give him 5 or 10 minutes of cuddling and focused attention. It helps him relax.

Blitzen lives with 9 other cats. It’s important, especially for him that he doesn’t feel left out. I can SEE it on his face when we’re having playtime and he feels overshadowed by the DOOD or Mabel. He sits back and doesn’t take part but now that I’ve been helping him feel more important he started playing for the first time in a very long time.

IMG 6510

©2104 Robin AF Olson. Back at the Vet with Blitzen.

We recently weighed Blitzen and the other cats so we can track if any of them need more or less to eat. He’d gained a bit of weight but was still within normal limits. The thing that was more astounding to me was his coat. It was thicker, maybe even a bit longer. Instead of being hunched over he slept stretched out with his belly up in the air. He simply looks amazing.

I’m still watching Blitzen for signs of any of these issues returning. He’s had grain-free canned food and hasn’t had a reoccurrence of the rodent ulcers (so far knock wood). The other night I saw his back fur ripple and he looked like he was going to have another mysterious attack, so I distracted him quickly, then sat with him and gently petted him, soothing his anxiety. The attack stopped and he recovered very fast. Other than that his other changes have been just shy of amazing.

Now I wouldn’t suggest ignoring your Vet, but there may be situations where taking a step back and doing detective work pays off, as it did with Blitzen. He was never in danger of dying from anything we tried or didn’t try. I felt like I could give myself time to simply observe Blitzen because he’d recovered enough where he was not in pain and not limping.

What I DID avoid doing was going down a financial rabbit hole running test after test for something that most likely was a psychological problem that blossomed into a physical problem. By making changes in his environment and care he responded positively. He’s a much more stable cat now and clearly seems to be much happier.

As for the depression and anxiety I wrote about earlier in this post, I too am feeling much better these days. I AM getting some paying work and I’ve made some changes in my eating habits that I believe are helping me feel more cheerful and be able to take things in stride.

While I didn’t solve world peace, I found peace in my heart. I hope this helps you find your way there, too.


A year later…just about June 2015 Blitzen gets sick again, but what is causing his symptoms to return?

You won't believe what happened next. Find out in our conclusion coming up next!

That Which Doesn't Kill Us…Part 2

Jackson made it to the Vet without dying, but he cried pitifully once we entered the waiting room and were met by two big dogs. I blocked Jackson from seeing them as much as I could, fighting off the urge to grab the dogs and run them out of the building and release them into the parking lot while their owners ignored their interest in my cat.

One of the Techs took Jackson into the back room. This time I wasn't invited to join them. She came back out and we discussed Jackson's symptoms. We'd noticed he was a bit off and on over the past few days, but he'd maintained his good appetite until that day. He'd regurgitated his food after eating two days ago, but other than that he was just a bit more quiet than usual.

Jackson at Vet.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At the Vet, now would he survive the Exam?

That was it. Now we wait. We wait for two cats who are at some risk of having a really bad day. I asked after Spencer, but they hadn't gotten his blood work back yet, which would either allow them to do his surgery of have to postpone it. Sam drove us home. Neither of us spoke a word. I closed my eyes and tried to rest. I realize stress is a killer and I have to work on how I deal with situations like this. What I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

When we got home, as I walked in the door, I stepped on my stupid-jeans again, re-igniting my irritation. If it hadn't been such a cold day I would have yanked them off then and there. Instead, I got to work and focused on keeping myself busy. I kept looking at the clock, trying to imagine what was being done.

Shortly after 2PM Dr. Larry called me. He's just finished working on Spencer and wanted to give me his findings.

Spencer's mouth was a MESS, his gums were like “hamburger meat.” Spencer needed two molars removed which were very difficult to get out. The other teeth looked remarkably good. I need to insert a note here that I've recently learned that the theory about WHY cat's teeth are SO BAD is because they no longer gnaw on food as they would if they were killing a mouse or chewing on a bone. They can't crunch dry food and canned is too soft. Since their teeth have no real pressure on them the blood supply is reduced, hence poor oral health. To solve this if you're like me, you'd give the cats raw chicken necks, wings or turkey necks or wings to give them something to sink their teeth into. NOT COOKED with brittle bones-just rinsed with cold water and served raw.

Dr. Larry removed the small wart on the back of Spencer's leg (that I discovered as I was loading him into his cat carrier that morning).

He removed the ugly black growth on Spencer's left ear and sent it out to be biopsied. He DID NOT remove the growth INSIDE Spencer's right ear-why? IT SHRANK. It was TOO SMALL to excise without a scope and a laser…

…and Dr. Larry didn't feel comfortable taking it now. We'll keep an eye on it instead.

The good news was that Spencer's blood work was “very good,” ”nothing remarkable.” Considering Spencer is about eleven years old, having good blood work results is something to be proud of-Go Raw Diet!

Dr. Larry offered to give Spencer a shot of Convenia to which I adamantly opposed. He doesn't like it for oral issues anyway so I'm to give Spencer Clindamycin for the next two weeks as well as give him pain meds for a few days. Spencer is to get cage rest and wear “the cone of shame” until “he doesn't need to any more.”

I HATE CONE OF SHAME, but not as much as Spencer does!

By 6PM Spencer was ready to come home, but what of Jackson? I hadn't had any update. I didn't even know if he was ALIVE. When we reached the Clinic the first thing we asked was; “Do we have one or two cats to bring home tonight?”

The answer was TWO.

Okay, good start. They brought Jackson out. He was sitting up, meowing loudly. He looked GOOD, perky, ready to go HOME. Dr. Mary did his examination and talked about how she worked hard not to upset Jackson, which also meant she couldn't do many tests other than an examination and get his temperature. She gave Jackson more lasix to help move the fluid out of his lungs and around his heart. Jackson sounded VERY WET when he coughed and I'd already spoken with Dr. Larry about changing the dose, but he wanted to wait. Cats don't do that well on diuretics so adding more has to be done very soberly and thoughtfully.

After the injection, Jackson took a big pee, then perked up. Because his lungs are really wet and they could be breeding bacteria, she also gave him antibiotics (which I will continue for two weeks). We discussed changing Jackson's meds and will work something out there. For now he was to go HOME, get something in his belly and see how he does.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feel beter, Jackson Galaxy!

The one thing they wanted to add was something quite surprising-JACKSON MAY BE HEARING IMPAIRED OR DEAF!

It would answer the question of why he yowls just as we go to bed each night. He can't hear where we went off to and wonders where we've gone. He may be causing fights with the other cats because he can't hear their cues/warnings to get away. I said we'd observe him and report back. My goodness Jackson's certainly keeping me on my toes.

They brought Spencer out and he was growling a little bit, clearly whacked out on painkillers. They forgot to give me the cone of shame and I silently hoped he wouldn't pick on his stitches. Ears can bleed a lot and if he messed with the stitches I'd have to get one on him right away. He can get very crabby. Having to cage rest him for a few days would be asking too much of him already.

I had my boys back home and I hoped they were changed for the better. It was back to watch and wait to find out if they'd benefited some long term positive results. I had a better idea of what I was dealing with and they both survived the day.

I made the right call about Jackson. Who knew how bad his condition would have become if we hadn't acted so quickly? Jackson probably would have drowned in his own fluids. I guess it wasn't so crazy to run him to the Vet because he missed a single meal.

Spencer in the Pen.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer in his pen with Blitzen wondering what's going on.

Once home, I was finally able to take off my annoying jeans and toss them into the laundry. Next stop the dry cleaners to get the dammed things hemmed up or maybe dig out some duct tape to do the job?

But what happened once Spencer was back home? Did he blow his stitches out and bleed all over my ancient oriental rug? What about Jackson? Did he relapse? Is he really deaf?

Stay tuned for part three!

Celebrating National Hairball Awareness Day 2012

Mona_Lisa Cat Hair.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F Olson (photoshop goofiness only). What if the Mona Lisa was Covered in Cat Hair? Leonardo would have been dismayed having to paint in all that extra detail, but maybe he would have invented the first lint roller?

Let's face it, even I, the self-proclaimed High Priestess of Covered in Cat Hair, am not a fan of having to buy lint roller brush refills by the case, just so I can wear black. Loving cats means being covered in cat hair. It's a given.

But what can your cat do to get rid of all that excess fur if he can't use a lint roller on himself? Try as they might, the best they can manage is to lick it off and they NEVER get all of it-which is why we go around saying cute things like “In my house cat hair is a condiment.” Yecch. What's worse is they often throw up a jam-packed fur-sausage at some point, days or weeks later, usually in the middle of the night when you're trying to sleep! Double-yecch.

Whos that new cat.jpg
©2009 Robin A.F Olson. How many cats are in this photo? Even Nicky isn't certain.

The sad truth is that what once was simply gross or somewhat entertaining (if your nasty mother-in-law or ex-boyfriend-to-be stepped on a newly minted, wet hairball barefoot), belies a potentially serious health issue. Could this be the first sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease or worse…Lymphoma? Studies are showing a strong link between cats vomiting out hairballs and illness caused by an inappropriate diet!

©2009 Robin A.F Olson. Recycle your cat fur. In the spring the birdies love to line their nests with cat fur. I put my “fur mains” into a suet feeder and the birds can help themselves (and entertain my cats who are watching through the window).

In short, feed your cat an appropriate diet and watch the hairballs disappear. This means, at least a grain free canned food that's high in protein and low in carbs. Ideally you should feed your cat a raw diet. If you do, not only will you rarely ever see your cat struggling to blast out a hairball, their coat will shine, feel like silk and their poo won't smell any more-BONUS! Visit our friends over at Feline Nutrition Education Society for more information on species appropriate diet for your cat.

Da Fur.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. All this fur only took about an 30 minutes to get off my cats and I could have easily gotten a lot more off a few of them.

The fine folks at FURminator® (say that five times fast) suggest that you brush your cat to prevent hairballs. I think that's part of the solution, but I suggest you try feeding an appropriate diet and monitor the changes. Where I find brushing is the most important aspect of caring for your cat is it gives you an opportunity to develop a deeper bond with them. In general, myself included, I don't think we spend enough one on one time with our cats. Brushing them is a great way to not only get rid of the excess fur, but it's a way for you to show love for your cat without giving them fattening treats.

After a stress filled day, skip the Appletini and kick back with your cat. Give her some loving attention and you'll be rewarded with a purring, confident, happy cat.

Jackson and Teddy.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Yes, we were so goal oriented we made TWO Fur-lebrities. Teddy especially liked Jackson Galaxy.

The sweet thing about Furminator's deShedding solutions is that they have a Long Hair deShedding Edge and a Short Hair deShedding Edge. Originally, they had ONE tool and it did NOT work on long hairs at all. In fact it was terrible, but it worked GREAT on short haired cats. Now that they've modified their design, long haired cats can benefit, too. I was supplied with a Long Hair deShedding Edge to use on my super pouffy cats: Spencer, the DOOD and Blitzen and they all enjoyed it (though the DOOD got so excited I had to stop brushing him or he would have taken off my hand at the wrist) These tools are NOT for removing mats, but they ARE for getting the undercoat thinned out without stripping the top coat (though be careful not to overdo it and cause a bald patch!). My favorite is to use both my long haired and short haired tools in the spring or fall when the cats shed their winter coat or summer coat, respectively and it doesn't hurt that these tools are beautifully designed and come in awesome colors.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Didn't you just KNOW this was going to happen?

And then there was the creation of our Angelina Jolie made out of cat fur. As you know, FURminator invited us to have some fun creating a Fur-Lebrity out of cat fur and enter it into a contest that celebrated National Hairball Awareness Day. [See all the behind-the-scenes images of how we created Angelina Meowy on a previous post I wrote] HERE. My friend Irene and I worked very long hours for a week to create her and we were very honored to be chosen as one of the five finalists. Though we did not win first prize, we had a blast and I learned that you can do a lot with cat fur, which gives me more reason to keep brushing my cats.

In fact, I've been so inspired I may start making a life-sized Fur-Lebrity. I'm thinking I would enjoy re-creating Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Of course I'd have to MEET HIM and do some very careful studies, take measurements of his body, so I would get it right. Anyone know his agent?

My sister cat-bloggers have gone over this topic more eloquently than I have and in more detail. Click on, “See More Fur-lebrities Here.” to view a blogroll of other blogs who are participating in National Hairball Awareness Day and who have taken the time to put together some fabulous tips for you .


Happy? National Hairball Awareness Day!



After careful consideration, from time to time I write a product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO compensation for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am usually supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

Silly Snowy Saturday

As the three to five inches of snowfall turns into more like ten, let's take a break from stories about sick cats or cats who need a rescue and just have a laugh. I certainly could use one.


The cats aren't allowed in the Pantry. I guess the DOOD forgot the rule and decided he wanted to get into the shipping container where I stashed my last box of Raspberry Whippets.

You realize he thinks I can't see him, right? Oh yeah, the DOOD is feeling better, isn't he? Yes, he is!

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The Cookie Thief, aka, the DOOD.

Next up, I share a few moments with Spencer, Blitzen, Justin and the DOOD as they investigate their new cat tree (which was just donated to us!)

new cat tree.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. SBlitzen and Justin/Snowball.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, Blitzen and the DOOD.

Other than the fact that we're trapped in the house, things are looking up. Bobette is more energetic than ever and it's only two more days until her bandages come OFF. I can't WAIT (and hopefully I'll be able to get out of the driveway by then).

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In trying to work more with my cat's social issues, one sign of things going in the right direction is seeing just about every cat in the house, on or near the bed. Sure, it's cold and I don't have the heat cranked. The only thing to warm up the room is a weak space heater and fluffy comforters on the bed, which act like a cat-magnet. There's little room for humans, but it's worth sleeping scrunched up to see them back on the bed.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I'm sorry the video is so dark. Any attempt to lighten it up makes the image fall apart. Below is a still showing most of the crew.

Enjoy this little slice-of-life…

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (Left to Right) Spencer, Gracie the dark blob in the front, to her right is Blitzen, then to his left and near the foot of the bed are Nicky & Nora. It's tough to see but the DOOD is behind Nora in a big cat bed on the storage chest at the front of the human bed. Petunia (unseen in photo) is to DOOD's left. All that's missing is Cricket and he has never come into the bedroom in his life. Maybe one day he will. Yes, that's a cow on the TV and a siamese cat TV lamp on the Art Deco vanity on the right.

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2011: The Year of the Orange Tabby

I started to write a “Year in Review,” thinking I could get through it with some effort. A lot of things happened in 2011, but many of them were just too heartbreaking to look back upon in much detail. Today I write as a brokenhearted, tired rescuer with a very bleak outlook for 2012. I've decided that too many years have passed where I've been near broke and exhausted. 2012 is going to be better, damn it! I'm overdue for a wonderful year and for things to finally get better on the economic front.


It wasn't all bad news, like any year, there were some highlights. I'm very glad to say, that even though I had some very long term fosters here, which cut back my ability to take in more rescues, my group, Kitten Associates (KA) adopted out quite a few kitties and by the power of the inter-web-net and this little blog, in total we helped save the lives of over 70 cats!


That's not too shabby considering we did the hands-on rescues basically with just a small group of people, placed the cats by teaming up with our “sister” shelter Animals in Distress or via KA and we got the word out about many other cats in need by depending on THOUSANDS of folks who read this blog and who jumped in to help spread the word. It made a difference and it WORKED. We did some AMAZING things!

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©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control. Cow mama and her babies just before rescue.

There was our “cow mama” from Henry County Care & Control who no one would rescue regardless of our pleas for help. While other mamas and their babies got out, she did not. I didn't have many resources, but at the last minute, in the middle of the night, I got a name of someone named Jennifer H. at Humane Society if Forsyth County in Cumming, GA. We worked out the logistics and the next morning, at the very last second before the family was to be put down, they were busted out. Today they are all doing well and have been adopted into loving homes.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Big boy with hand model, Lauren from Dr Larry's office.

We went to bat for two giant kitties who were dumped off at my Vet's office. Within a few days, they were adopted by someone who had two big kitties just like the two who were dumped. Her cats had passed away and the day she got the call about them was the anniversary of one of the cat's passing away. She knew it was kismet and they were adopted.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control. Sweet mama who gave birth to a kitten with a deformed leg.

Another mama had a kitten with a club foot who could barely walk. We loved this family so much we figured waving money around would help get them a rescue. Though it wasn't the sole reason for their rescue (they ARE an adorable family!), we raised $500.00 IN ONE DAY to cover the costs to remove the misshapen leg. This family was placed with a no-kill shelter and some were adopted into good homes, but sadly Prince William needs MORE SURGERY to correct his other damaged leg. If you can help this little guy out, please consider making a donation to his ongoing care! You can read about him and donate HERE. This poor guy has been in foster care for most of this YEAR! Let's get him the help he needs.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control.

Some of the mamas we blogged about who all got rescued.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control.

All these kitties are safe now.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control.

We got the word out on a number of families in crisis. Every single one was rescued by a no-kill shelter or rescue group. We are so grateful that by helping get the word out, the rescues who do have the facility and resources to help, find out about these families and jump in to do their part. Our hat is off to these groups.

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©2011 Bobby. Bella and Barney

Who can forget, Bella & Barney, the toilet flushing cat! It was through our massive push to get the word out on these cats that King Street Cats heard about their plight and offered to take them in just 48 hours after the story broke. I've never had a story shared and re-tweeted so many times. This proves that through a simple click of a mouse, we can help save lives. These cats were facing being given up to a kill-shelter and now they are safe and sound waiting for their forever home.

©2011 Warren Royal. Buddy, what a love.

I loved the story about Buddy and his journey as an FIV+ stray into the home of our good friends, Warren & Terri royal, who rescued him and found him safe haven with a no-kill shelter. Buddy found his forever home, along with another FIV+ kitty. They are best friends.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control. Basil and Nigel just before being rescued by KA.

Basil & Nigel, just two big lugs, looking' for love. Their bellies were scalded by urine from being confined in a cage for who knows how long. They both tipped the scales at well over 25 pounds. Being somewhat timid on top of that, made their rescue a miracle in the making. Somehow I was able to get enough favors pulled and folks interested in their story to help make a dream come true. Basil and Nigel have slimmed down to just about 20 pounds each and are doing well in foster care. Basil is still very timid, but if he can overcome this his foster family indicated that they would like to adopt the boys one day soon.

©2010 Amy Sikes. CHEESE!

Cheese. A great name for a sweet cat whose owner gave him up, thinking it was temporary, then realizing in a few months it had to be for good. She lost her home and job and couldn't take Cheese back. One of our friends, Amy Sikes, fostered Cheese until another one of our readers offered to adopt him. Cheese was transported from Virginia to New Hampshire where he lives with a few Papillons, who he finds annoying, but he's gracious about it as long as they stay out of his food bowl.

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©2011 Maria S. Muddles & Cuddles.

Muddles & Cuddles were rescued by our foster mom-Maria. She took them from a neighbor who wasn't particularly interested in SPAYING her cats or providing them with even basic care. It was a very tough choice for Maria to risk taking on adult cats when she has her own cats to care for, so we jumped in and helped her with them. They made their way to CT and to AID where they both found great homes.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Phil!

Phil was five years old and a huge cat. It took all of FIVE days after he arrived in Connecticut to find him a GREAT forever home with a retired couple who has another cat named Tiger. Phil and Tiger quirky became best friends. His family is thrilled and so are we. Phil has a new name, they call him Big Poppy after a baseball player on the Red Sox.

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©2011 Maria S. Amberly and her family. Our most amazing rescue yet.

Amberly and her family's rescue was a miracle. This amazing family had the most beautiful copper eyes I've ever seen. Each kitten was sweet and Amberly was a doll. She was a skinny wreck when she first arrived and a stunning beauty when she left for her forever home. Amberly's journey is like so many others, but the mark this family left on my heart will be there forever. Amberly and her five kittens are ALL in great homes together. Amberly went with her son, Jack. Periwinkle and BlueBelle, the prettiest kittens I've ever had went together and Truffles and Blaze found their home together, too. This was one wonderful family and Maria is amazing for doing what it took to find Amberly's kittens before it was too late. You can read more about them HERE.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Peri & Blue with their new family.


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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blue, Jack and Peri-you are sorely missed.

Amelia and Noelle (a kitten injured when she was discovered under the hood of a car in 2010) came to CT and were placed in a great home, together thanks to our friends at AID!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Amelia just moments after arriving in CT.


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The highlight of my year was winning the 2011 Dogtime Media Pettie Award for Best Cat Blog. I wish you could have seen my reaction when I won. I was dumbfounded-completely shocked and thrilled. Some times I think I sit here in my jammies and talk to myself, but apparently I was wrong about that (maybe somewhat wrong about that). If I haven't said it enough times, let me say it again-THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR MY BLOG. It really means a lot to me to get some recognition for my efforts. I get so much love and concern from all of you already, this was an amazing bonus and I am deeply grateful for it.

Clare and Sally just had to be rescued! Look at those faces! I thought they were Siamese. Little did I know they were snowshoes-a breed I've never even heard of! I brought them north and AID had no problem finding them a great home-which only lasted a few days. The girls came back to the shelter and found an even BETTER home with a new family just as quickly. Their only failing-they let their child rename the cats. Meet Pillow and Rainbow!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Clare and Sally.

Oh Bob. My dear, Bob.

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©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob a few years ago, looking magnificent as always. Rest in Peace my Angel.

We had real heartache this year, too. First, we lost our dearest boy, Bob Dole to lymphoma. His death was a long, slow process. He passed at home with both Sam and I petting him and talking to him to ease his journey. Through Bob's life I learned many things about good feline nutrition and learning to let go of being afraid of seeing Bob die and taking some joy that his passing was beautiful. I never wanted Bob to leave us and today I still miss him terribly. My heart is broken.

Not long after Bob died, I rescued an orange mama cat and her six kittens in his honor. Bobette was sick, but it wasn't right away that we understood what was going on. A week after the rescue, three of her six kittens died within hours of each other, before we could even give any of them a proper name. Maria named them Sammy, Rocky and Red. They were cremated. Their ashes are with Maria while I care for the remaining family.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Bobette and her family at the shelter.

Bobette's secret pain was that she was hit by a car or abused to the point of it moving her kneecap far out of position. On a scale of 1 to 4 she's a 4-meaning BAD. I see her limp and stretch out her leg to try to get the kneecap in place, but it won't go unless she has surgery. Thankfully, our generous Vet, Dr. Mixon, has offered to do the procedure for $100.00, instead of $2500.00!!!!


As we wait for Bobette's surgery date, one of her boys, little Teddy Boo, was adopted last night.


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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Teddy with his new mom and dad.

Another orange tabby had good news, too. Rocco, who I rescued in 2010, was returned. It just wasn't working out. Through the twists and turns of fate and timing, I ended up finding a wonderful home for Rocco, one I hope and believe will be his FOREVER home. Rocco spent his first Christmas with his new family, just a day after he was adopted.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rocco on his mom's winter coat just before he got adopted.

I love black and white cats, but in 2011 it seemed to be the Year of the Orange kitty. MacGruber, who I rescued in 2010, found his forever home, along with Polly Picklepuss in 2011. They are doing GREAT with their family. Every update is happier than the last. Both cats love life and are happy in their home. I miss Macky-G very much. He was a marvelous kitty and best buddy to my cat, Blitzen.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. MacGruber. One awesome cat.

Mazie, Polly, Cara & Chester-some of the sickest cats I've ever had. Cara was chronically ill to the point where I thought she would die. Mazie got an infection and soaring high temperature that almost took her life, too. For months and months I worried, ran to the Vet, gave them one prescription drug after another. They got better, they got worse, they were with me for almost a year. One by one they slowly got well enough to be adopted and one by one they left for their new homes.

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. The last time I hope to ever see Mazie in a cage. She and her family are all doing great in their forever homes.

Chester was renamed, Boris and has a big pet family he adores. Polly is with MacGruber and Cara was adopted by her Guardian Angel, Connie.

Mazie, who ended up being with us for FOURTEEN MONTHS was adopted A FEW DAYS AGO. We're still adjusting to her being gone. It was a tough farewell.


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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie on her rag bed the night before she left us.


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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Triple trouble!

We had a White Christmas this year after the arrival of four white kitties we nicknamed the Angel Babies. One of the four, Princess, was just adopted a week ago. She is doing fantastic and loves her two other kitty friends. She's even sleeping with them! We're still hoping her brothers find their homes soon. They are awesome, lovey-dovey cats and if you know what I mean when I say, they are like The Borg, you'll understand what kind of crazy cats they are…one mind…three bodies.

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©2011 Chris from Greengirlz Pet Photography. Christmas Kitties!


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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet little Hannah.

Hannah and Macy were rescued off the streets in Bridgeport, CT. Hannah was so tiny and sick we thought she would die. After being bottle-fed by one of our volunteers and a lot of love and care, both Hannah and Macy recovered. They were also the first kittens I observed being spayed!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Macy.


To end the year on a high note, Hannah and Macy were adopted THIS MORNING!


And lastly there's the DOOD. This kitten came from Cheshire, CT. I thought he'd be a quick kitty to find a home for so I took him into my rescue group. the DOOD turned out to test POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia-which shocked me completely. I refused to accept the test result and two days later he tested NEGATIVE. Even with that, he HAD to be quarantined for TWO MONTHS to make certain he did not have the disease. Thankfully, DOOD's test was NEGATIVE and he was allowed to meet our other cats. He and Blitzen are buddies who love to wrestle and groom each other.

After all that time here, I'd been working with him, to calm down his aggression towards people. I found out his former owner's kid kicked him and chased him around the house. I was filled with rage when they admitted the truth. They asked how he was doing and I never replied. They don't deserve to know what happened to their cat. Thank goodness I got him or he would have been put down by now for being aggressive.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ryan meets the DOOD.

You can see he's a sweet cat (okay, some times) in this video featuring my nephew, Ryan. You can also see he went from a little kitten to an eight month old MONSTER, tipping the scaled (over) at THIRTEEN POUNDS!!!! He is going to be a HUGE CAT one day.

I'd hoped to announce that the DOOD was going to be living here with us, for good, but due to issues with our other cats, that may not be possible. We're going to give it a few more weeks and see how things shake out. I may have to just move away with the DOOD so we can stay together. Considering how my love life was this year, I may not be making much of a joke with that statement.

What about 2012?

• Bobette will get her surgery and hopefully she'll be walking normally by March.

• Somehow I will find a way to pay my bills.

• I'm going to re-design Covered in Cat Hair so it's easier to follow stories and stay in touch. Plus, this web site design is years old. Like anything else, it needs a facelift!

• I'm going to take a few days off. I don't know how. I don't know when, but I am in DIRE need of a holiday. I haven't had a trip away from home, other than for business for years. I think 2012 has to allow some healing time for me, just so I can stay strong and do more rescues.

• I may start rescuing from one of the most notorious and horrible kill shelters-the dreaded AC&C in New York City. Rescuing from here is not for the faint of heart, but they need all the help they can get.

• Take a deep breath and try to prepare for what we will soon find out about our cat, Nicky. Does he have lymphoma and are we on the start of another painful journey?

• And Bob. Well there's news about him, too. We've found a way for Bob to live on and I will be sharing that joyous news with you soon.

As ever-stay tuned…and Happy New Year.

Giving Thanks

A life spent with as many cats as I have, is not always easy. Often it's disappointing or irritating. There's one thing after another that needs to be cleaned or fed, fights broken up, nerves soothed. The fine red lines that run across my body, are a written history from years of being foolishly close to razor sharp claws.

But then there are those moments, those perfect jewels of bliss. Watching a chubby kitten sleeping contentedly with a full belly and no fearful dreams to disturb his slumber, makes up for the scars.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The DOOD.

The difficulty of the day is lost in soft fur and soothing purrs; in being covered by cats. Their ease is mine. We rest as one. Tomorrow will come along and push me around, but that's okay. I have this moment, this fine moment.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Nicky...what will we find out about you next week? Do you really have lymphoma? Please do not let it be so.

After a stifling loss a few months ago, my heart is still quite heavy. I'm thankful to the ones still with me for reminding me that I must continue to love, for their sake, if not my own. Perhaps they're teaching me not to close down, not to give up. I'll try to listen as best I can.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen, my little “foster fail.”

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know how much longer I'll have a roof over my head. I'm grateful for what I've had for so many years. I'm greedy, though. I want it to keep going on as it has, my little house, full of purring cats.

I'm thankful for my friends, even the kinds that don't purr; the ones who I can talk to, spend time with, whose presence comforts me simply by knowing they're out there.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Gracie.

I'm thankful to Sam for not giving up, for putting up with someone who is probably semi-feral, at best, who wasn't taught about love or given much of it, but who tries in her way to make up for her failings.

I'm grateful I'm not alone; that my words are read and that sometimes they help make someone else's life better. It means so much to me to know I make a difference, maybe one that is not measured in history books, but in my own heart. I know I've done some good to make up for some of the bad; and I hope the former will outweigh the latter in time.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, now 10 years old. My boy.

My wish to all of you is that you take a moment to really look around at your family, at your life. Drop all the little worries you might have about the turkey being overcooked or that you forgot to buy cranberry sauce. Look into the eyes of those you love and savor that moment. You have a precious life and you are loved. Today is about appreciating what we have-try not to be in such a hurry. I don't want you to miss the good stuff that's right in front of you.


Happy Thanksgiving.


2013 UPDATE: Nicky did not end up having lymphoma, but he does have a mass in his spleen (not cancerous) and he has renal disease, so that means his kidneys are failing. His dad, Sam, has been giving Nicky fluids every other day since this post was written. Nicky gained a little bit of weight and has been doing fairly well-another reason for us to be thankful on this special day.

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Fist Fight Friday

It began simply enough. I was trying to take some photos of Mazie. She's taken to sleeping in the little basket that hangs off the cat tree. Most of the cats are too heavy for it. Nicky tried it once but the results were less than stellar (in his me the results were hysterical!). I need to update Mazie's photo for Petfinder. She's been here for almost a YEAR! We gotta get her a forever home!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Umm...yes you are!

As I photographed Mazie, Spencer and the DOOD had to investigate. Mazie, content to literally hang out, wasn't bothered. I snapped a few photos, then noticed that Spencer and the DOOD were getting into a playfight.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellow Mazie in her hanging bed-basket.

Of course I had to capture the antics as long as no one was getting hurt and the fighting was kept to gentle bitch-slapping and not claws out and ready to rumble

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. You can tell it's Spencer by the overabundance of pouff.

What was almost as amusing as Spencer and the DOOD going at it was the fact that Mazie continued to sit there, unfazed by the the ruckus. Blitzen lurked in the background. He was probably smart to avoid getting into the middle of it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Three cats, one cat tree. Now that's a good use of a cat tree!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer and the DOOD begin warming up. Mazie just sits there.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The only thing missing is the sound of Spencer snorting while he tries to breathe and smack the DOOD at the same time. Blitzen's on the left. See him?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie? Are you just gonna sit there? I guess so.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Gotcha!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Gotcha big honkin' tail! (Hi Mazie! Still sittin' there!)

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer's got that fed up look on his face (so does Mazie, it seems). This won't last much longer.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shot looking UP from underside the second level of the cat tree. DOOD!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, the mascot of CiCH declares playtime is over. Time for the napping phase of the day to begin (again). I hope the DOOD leaves him alone! Mazie is STILL in the basket!

Beauty Break: Blitzen

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Blitzen at 1 1/2 years old.

While I am over-the-moon-thrilled that Covered in Cat Hair is a FINALIST in the Petties 2011 as the Best Social Integration Blog and BEST CAT Blog, I had to stop celebrating for a moment and pay homage to my own rescue (aka, foster fail) boy, Blitzen.

Isn't he handsome?


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