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What's Bugging Annie and How it Can Help Your Cat.

Over the past few years I’ve come to understand that it isn’t always possible to get a firm diagnosis of what's ailing a cat. It’s extremely frustrating and often ends up being very expensive, as well as potentially stressful on both the cat and the cat-mama/dad. The goal is to find balance between what could be garnered by such a test, the cost, and the stress. Personally, I want to go to the ends of the Earth for every cat, until it’s clear that the value of a test result does not change treatment. In my cat Gracie’s situation, we were told she either had cysts or cancer in her liver. The treatment would be the same, but sadly her time with us would be much shorter if it was cancer (which is was). She was too frail to risk a biopsy so we began palliative care, monitored by our vet, until she passed away.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Annie and Mr. Peabody take a lap break on yours truly.

What it means for Annie, is that right now we don’t know for certain what is causing her to be “unthrifty” (she’s thin, bony-thin even though she eats well and is hungry) and have non-regenerative anemia (she’s making new red blood cells but the tax on her from whatever is infecting her is so high that she can’t make enough red blood cells fast enough). Her white blood cell count is high (which means infection) and she has other wildly high or low values on her blood work, but the anemia and white cells are the most concerning.

The ultrasound has been done, but we don’t have enough funds to keep going with tests and Annie is nowhere near getting a diagnosis. Treatments have been started but they're only an educated guess on whether or not they’re what she ultimately needs.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Annie waiting for her ultrasound.

This is the assessment from the Ultrasound:

“Renal asymmetry with left kidney smaller with abnormal architecture compared to right- r/o congenital dysplasia vs other- both kidneys appear to be growing steadily with her increasing age, which is appropriate. Messenteric lymphadenopathy –r/o reactive (infectious, inflammatory) vs age-related vs less likely FIP, neoplasia, other.”

 

Annie Jones Internist Exam 12 15

We knew Annie’s kidneys were wonky but so far they’re working all right. The scary part of the assessment is some of the things that might be making Annie sick. Neoplasia is cancer. FIP is something no one ever wants to hear or read. It’s a fatal disease and in Annie’s case it would be the dry form, which we lost our dear Fred to four years ago. The disease that is so horrible I swore I would stop doing rescue if I ever had to face it again.

 

But what is more likely and treatable is if Annie has Bartonella (the bane of my rescue-existence because I see this all the time but it manifested very differently in the cases we’ve had before) or another infection.

 

Annie at NVS 12 15 16 exam
©2016 Robin AF Olson. You're going to shave my belly...AGAIN?

This is what our Board Certified Internist wrote on Annie’s discharge papers.

“Suspect infectious disease-Bartonella, Toxoplasma, tick-bourne illness, other… I suspect that Annie has an underlying infectious disease and that likely given her flea history and outdoor exposure that it is Bartonella, but toxoplasma and tick-bourne illness are possible as well. As we discussed, Bartonella testing is frustrating (note from Robin: Annie WAS tested in Sept and was +1, meaning no need for treatment at that time) and can be quite expensive. Therefore, we are going to empirically treat her for it. We are going to test her for toxo and tick-bourne (Robin note: later she was negative for tick-bourne illness like Anaplasma and Erhlichia).”

Annie Jones Discharge Notes 12 15

 

Here’s where things get dicey.

 

Normally we treat Bartonella for 4 weeks with Azithromax. It usually clears the infection, but our Internist said to put Annie on Zeniquin (Marbofloxacin) in addition to the Clavamox Annie is already getting. That’s two very strong antibiotics and in the case of Zeniquin it could be bad news.

 

Every time I have to treat a cat with a medication I'm not familiar with, I look it up on the internet. I read the manufacturer’s information sheet about the medication, noting the side effects so I’m prepared should I see the cat exhibit any odd symptoms.

 

I was sitting in bed, barely awake, when I realized I hadn’t looked up Zeniquin even though I’d already given Annie her first dose. I first read the sheet on my phone screen. What I read made my blood run cold.

Warning about marbofloxin

Clearly this is not something you give a cat unless you really have to AND clearly you are not supposed to give this to a KITTEN. Annie is 8 ½ months old.

I called the Internist and told her my concerns. I realize that with any medication there is a risk of side effects and if you need to kill a bacteria explosion you need to do something. I remember years ago I had to take antibiotics and one of the side effects was a black furry coating on the tongue! Thankfully I only got an upset stomach, but what could happen to Annie?

Cartilidge warning

We had a good conversation and it was very respectful. She assured me that this is a more effective way to treat Bartonella, but that if I wanted to go to what we’ve used in the past that was OK, too. I should discuss with Dr. Larry as he was already up to speed on Annie’s case and I agreed.

Last night I spoke with Dr. Larry and this is why I love him as my vet-he told me he’d never used Zeniquin on cats, period. Not that it was bad, I’m not saying that and neither is he, but he was not aware of that as a treatment for Bartonella. We talked further about the risks and he asked me to keep Annie on it until Monday, when he would call Zoetis and get information from them. If this WAS a better treatment we needed to know about it, but if it could put Annie in danger, we needed to know that, too. I am gathering facts before I flip out.

So I gave Annie a second dose, but with a heavy heart. I sat with the foster kittens for a few hours after the dosing. Annie seemed to be a bit perkier earlier in the day already. I’d given her an injection of Vitamin B12 and some iron-rich raw chicken liver.

I didn’t know if the medication or the iron boosters were helping her, but then she jumped off my lap and laid down on the floor. She chose a strange spot to sit, not really hiding, but not in her regular hang-out place. She cried a tiny cry, then got up and used the litter pan, peeing quickly then jumped out of the pan, laying down in another odd place. She seemed flat again and in pain.

 

I decided to give her another meal and she and the others ate every bite. She seemed a bit better after that, but I'm definitely not feeling very comfortable about all these medications. Tonight, when her next pill is due, I’m not sure I’m going to give it to her.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. A moment of levity in an otherwise troubling day.

 

We don’t even know what it is wrong with Annie for certain, which makes this choice even harder. Maybe she doesn’t even need these antibiotics or maybe she really does and not giving it to her will make her get even more anemic..and that could be VERY VERY BAD.

 

Annie doesn’t need a transfusion, yet, but if she continues to go downhill she will.

All that remains is our sad little fundraiser. We didn’t make our goal and our accounts are in the dust. I’m praying for a holiday miracle that we can pull in another $500-$1000 (ideal) so that we can get Annie’s blood work updated and cover the costs of changing her medications if needed.

If Annie has a bad reaction to the current medications, we won’t be able to afford to take her to the Vet for care. That’s how bad off we are right now and it’s not a place I want to be in.

 

 

Please consider making a gift to help our little polydactyl calico.

 

Use these quick links:

To donate $5: https://www.paypal.me/kittenassociates/5

To donate $10: https://www.paypal.me/kittenassociates/10

To donate $25: https://www.paypal.me/kittenassociates/25

To donate whatever you wish: https://www.paypal.me/kittenassociates/

To mail a check, make it out to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Your gift is tax deductible. Kitten Associates is a 501c3 non-profit. Our EIN Tax ID is 27-3597692. Thank you for helping Annie!

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Annie hasn't sat up and looked comfortable for a long time. When she did, I couldn't believe what I saw. She's got a heart-shape on her chest!

My Secret Shame. Part 2 of 2

A YEAR PASSED with NO RESOLUTION. Many the cats were getting sick, of course, with the chronic upper respiratory that plagues many shelters. One cat had to be put down. At first I thought it was our girl, but I later found out it wasn’t. I knew very little about Tansy in those dark days. I only knew that the case wasn’t settled and to write back again in another month and another month and another month. I was never really sure she was alive since I didn't even have a photo to confirm they had her.

In late January of THIS YEAR, ONE YEAR AND SEVEN MONTHS after the animals were taken from Sue and almost THREE YEARS since the initial adoption, I got my monthly reply, but this one was different.

The ACO asked me, since they felt the case was nearing completion, did I want to foster Tansy until the case was over? I had to agree to return her to North Carolina if the Judge awarded her back to Sue. I promised I would follow the letter of the Law even if I didn’t agree with the verdict.

“When can we take Tansy out of there?” I asked.

”We’re open until 5PM today and from 10AM to 2PM tomorrow.” they replied.

I couldn't believe it! I wished I had superpowers so I could FLY to Animal Control and get her out. I started to consider making the 1000 mile drive, but first I wanted to make certain it was our girl. I asked for a photo of her to confirm we had the right cat. A few hours later, the photo below arrived in my inbox. There was Tansy, all grown up. A bit chubbier than she’d been when we last saw her, but it was still our girl. I was so happy to see her my mouth hurt from smiling so hard. They told me half the cats had become chronically sick at the shelter, but somehow Tansy had been spared. Thank God.

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©2013 ICAS&C. There she is-TANSY!

I called a friend of mine who used to run a shelter here in CT and who’d recently retired to North Carolina. I asked her to please go get Tansy and since she couldn’t foster her that I’d arrange to pay for the cost of boarding at a local Vet hospital if she could drop her off. It would mean more time in a cage, but we were almost out of the woods.

I made a silent promise that soon Tansy would NEVER be caged again. It was my chance to FINALLY do right by her, even though I may be getting a complete basket case of a cat. I’d figure it out later. Right now she needed to get OUT OF THERE.

The next morning at 10AM Tansy left the building, hopefully for the last time. An hour later I got more photos and a call. Tansy was at the Vet getting examined by the same Vet who had seen her while she was in custody. It's a very nice facility called Troutman Animal Hospital and the people there were really thrilled with their new furry client.

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©2013 ICAS&C. A second photo seals the deal. Yes, it's our girl.

Then the shocking news I would have never seen coming…Tansy was not emotionally crippled. In fact they were describing her as “a complete doll,” “stands up on her hind legs and reaches up to be held,” “we just LOVE HER she is so precious!”

I couldn’t believe my luck, nor did I deserve it, but I was so very grateful. I didn’t know if Tansy’s behavior was temporary and due to the long confinement or if that was her true nature.

I arranged for Tansy to be vetted and I set up her transport to Connecticut. I sent out some emails and was able to find Amanda Arthur from Paws and Claws rescue. She offered to drive Tansy 100 miles to the drop off location for the PETS transport. It was all working out so well. It should be an easy time for Tansy now, but there were more delays.

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©2013 Troutman Animal Hospital. Someone turned Tansy's laser beam eyes on at the Vet!

The weather tanked so we had to keep Tansy in North Carolina for three weeks. Over that time Ms Vicki, who works at Troutman, kept me abreast of Tansy’s latest antics. Vicki was in love with Tansy to the point of wanting to adopt her. Even if her husband was against the idea, preventing any thoughts of adopting Tansy; I couldn’t have let her go anyway. There would be vet checks and home visits for Tansy’s next-and last home if I had anything to do with it. I was thrilled that someone loved this cat so much that I heard her choke back tears of joy when I had to extend Tansy’s stay to a third week. It spoke highly of Vicki and of Tansy. Apparently, this was one great cat.

On February 1st at 9AM I sat in the parking lot at the Danbury Choice Hotel waiting for the PETS truck to arrive. It was bitter cold and I worried about Tansy handling the serious temperature shift. The driver opened the doors to the side of the truck as the families lined up to receive their newly adopted dogs. Tansy, as often happens, was the only cat on the truck. As I reached the front of the line, I asked for Tansy, knowing it would be the last time I said that name out loud.

She was huddled in the carrier, crying. I raced her over to my car and tried to take a quick look at her, but it was so cold I didn’t want to waste any time. I got the car started and headed for home. She was quiet and didn’t react much, just stared out the front of the carrier as I drove along I-84. I talked to her about her new home and I welcomed her to Connecticut, as I do with every foster cat who arrives from the south.

Then it hit me. TANSY SPENT ONE YEAR AND SEVEN MONTHS in a cage in a shelter. Alone, scared, wondering what she did wrong. If I had only brought her here in the first place, she never would have had to suffer. As I imagined her sad life, the tide of salty tears I'd held back for so long, broke free. I sobbed as I drove because I was so happy I finally had this cat in my custody and now she would never be caged again. My own suffering was almost over-though my shame would never fade. I finally had her away from that terrible place and now I could spend my time focusing on giving her the best life I could possibly provide.

It was the least I could do. This was the second time I’d saved her life from a Kill Shelter. I was determined to never put her in harm’s way again.

When I got home I brought her to her room. It’s my guest bathroom/laundry room. It’s not a huge space but it has a window that overlooks the woods. It has a cat tree and two scratchers. There are new toys waiting for her and fresh food (much BETTER FOOD) and water. I even had a heated blanket out for her to snuggle on. I wanted her to have everything she needed.

I set the carrier on the floor and opened the door. She walked out of the crate and looked around. She’s a very small cat. I expected her to be much larger. She seemed immediately at ease and came over to me to say hello.

She reached up to me so I lifted her into my arms. She licked the tears off my cheek and head butted me, then began purring. As I held her, Tansy’s old life melted away and my joy in finally holding her was complete.

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©2013 Robin A.F Olson. One of the best moments of my life-seeing Mabel happy, safe and OUT of a CAGE.

That day was the beginning of her new life. I honored it by giving her a new name.

Looking into her sparkling emerald eyes, I whispered to her; “Welcome home, MabelBaby. Welcome home. Your long journey is over. I promise. No more cages. Never again.”

But how did Mabel do once she was out of the cage? Did she remain friendly or turn into a fiend? Mable had a few surprises left up her tabby patterned sleeves that no one saw coming…

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3.13.13-UPDATE: The Verdict is in. Mabel was awarded to Animal Control. I'm allowed to begin the process of putting her up for adoption if I wish. My next challenge, one I hope you will join me in, is to help the remaining cats get out of the kill shelter in North Carolina before it’s too late. Stay tuned for details and thank you for sticking with me on my ever-so-bumpy-journey.

My Secret Shame. Part 1 of 2

I’ve been skulking around, carrying a shameful secret in my heart for almost three years. Only a very few trusted friends knew what was going on. For legal reasons I couldn’t say anything online about what was happening until there was a verdict in the court case. Yes, COURT CASE.

I suffered in silence, but I deserved it. It was part of the penance I had to pay for what I did.

Simply put, I made a terrible judgement error. I trusted a stranger when I should have been more careful. Although I consider myself to be a responsible person, I trust others too easily. When I take something on, I do it to the best of my ability. If I fail, I take the blame. I hold my head up and apologize and do my best to make it right again.

Because of my actions, a cat suffered in a most unfair and despicable way. I know that even now going public with my story may risk serious backlash from the other person involved in this horror. She will rain down on me, make untrue accusations, she will whine and twist her words. She may even do more than that, but I don’t care about her feelings after what she's allowed to happen.

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In July of 2010, we opened the doors to my Non-Profit rescue group, Kitten Associates. We were still getting things sorted out, building our web site, setting up the foster room, sorting out what cats we rescue and how we would find them good homes. I already had almost a decade of fostering and working with other cat rescues, so this was a natural next step. I was scared. I was excited. I hoped I could help make a positive difference for cats and the people they live with. This was a big test for me.

At that time this blog, Covered in Cat Hair, had been going for over 4 years. I had a growing readership and my stories about rescue life were going very well. I leveraged my readership to help me get the word out on cats at kill shelters in the southern US who needed rescue. It was working to make a difference and continues to be an exciting part of what I do.

I’d already rescued cats from a few Georiga shelters in the past so when I heard about a calico mama and her two, cow-patterned kittens, who needed to get “busted out,” I jumped at the chance to help.

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©2010 Maria S. Cali-Mama our first rescued cat, just after her spay surgery. She is mama to Pattycake and Moonpie.

For years I had it drilled into my head that adopting out adults from a foster home is really tough and keeps one from rescuing more kittens. People don’t make an effort to go to a private home, by appointment only, to see an adult. In other words, don’t rescue mom-cats, just take on orphan kittens.

I was worried about what to do with this cat, who we called Cali-mama, but just after I broke the news that we were taking on our first rescues, one of my readers contacted me saying she wanted to adopt the mom before we'd even gotten Cali OUT of the shelter!

I was over-the-moon happy. It didn’t occur to me to have her fill out an adoption application. We spoke on the phone at great length and shared many emails. I was so relieved she wanted this cat that I didn’t even charge her an adoption fee or ask her to sign an adoption contract! Yes, I was STUPID.

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©2010 Maria S. Cali and her daughter, Pattycake.

Within two weeks, we had the cat fully vetted, since the kittens were already weaned, and our friend, Bobby, drove her to her new home in North Carolina. Cali-mama was our first adoption.

Then everything went to Hell.

Bobby told me he didn’t like the look of the woman. The first warning sign – she wouldn’t let him drop the cat off to her at home. Though he offered many times, she wanted to meet him a few miles away-and this is after he just drove a few hundred miles with the cat - what was a few more? He said there was something about her he didn’t feel comfortable about and he wished he’d kept the cat, instead of let her go. When he told me that I feared we'd made a terrible mistake, but it was too late.

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©2010 HCC&C. From my original post announcing that Cali had been adopted.

I got a few updates telling me that the cat was renamed Tansy. She was doing okay but a bit uncomfortable with the dog. She’d tried to get out of the house a few times, but seemed to be calming down. I didn’t worry about Tansy. It sounded like she was adjusting, so I continued on with rescuing more cats.

In June of 2011, almost a YEAR later, I got a call from the adopter. She was very upset.

I asked her to tell me what happened. She went into a long rant, saying all sorts of things about the Home Owner’s Association saying that there was a stench coming from inside her home that could be smelled outside her home. It that was so bad they eventually called Animal Control. She said she was getting vilified and it was unfair; that there was some sort of pond causing the odor, not her house.

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©2010 Maria S. One of the last photos we'd see of Cali for the next two years.

Pressing for more details, I finally got my answer. When I heard it I felt like throwing up, then passing out, as the blood went out of my head, into my toes. WHAT HAD I DONE?! When I had a second to process her words I wanted to reach through the phone line to let’s just say do something really bad involving causing this person a lot of PAIN, but I said nothing at first. I was too stunned to talk.

She was either a hoarder or really damn close to being one. Unbeknownst to me, she didn’t have two dogs and a cat or two, she had 24 cats and two dogs. If I’d done ANY sort of reference check I probably would have found out there was a problem, but I didn’t do that.

What happened next literally took a piece out of my heart.

Animal Control took ALL OF THE ANIMALS into custody.

This person, who I will call Sue (not her real name), tried to convince me she was a victim and that I should help her get her animals back.

Shaking, I told her that it was my responsibility to provide care to Tansy. That I would do whatever it takes to get her back and that I was sorry, but that I felt I should no longer speak to her any more and I suggested she see a Lawyer. If Animal Control seized the animals, clearly something was missing from her story.

I was able to find out where Tansy had been taken, so I immediately began calling and emailing them to get more information.

I found out the that conditions in the home were terrible. They would not say more than that for legal reasons. They said they would not euthanize any of the animals unless they became seriously ill, so Tansy had a chance to get out alive.

Humiliated, I had to tell the Director of Animal Control about my terrible error adopting out this cat to Sue. I couldn’t even give her a microchip number because we hadn’t started doing chips then. I had a few photos and luckily they matched one of the cats in custody. They took down my information and were a bit terse about dealing with me. I deserved it, but at least they knew I would be there for this cat, with bells on, if I could only get her back.

And then the wait began. The fear left me breathless each time I emailed Animal Control to ask for an update. I didn’t want them to forget me. I feared if I waited too long I’d miss my chance to get this poor cat back, so I just kept contacting them, hoping for good news.

I thought about Tansy’s life—living in a tiny cage with no sunshine or fresh air, most likely living near barking dogs - what torture for her. It would be a few weeks before the case would be heard, but certainly it wasn’t a long enough time for being back in a kill shelter to do any harm to her, right?

But Sue wanted a fight so she got one. The case dragged on. It went to a higher court. There were delays and more delays. MONTHS passed. Each time I had to contact Animal Control for an update, my heart sank when I saw they’d replied. Were they going to tell me I was too late or worse, that she went back to Sue?

In part two, the wait continues, as does the fear that I will never get Tansy back alive.

The Heart of a Lioness: The Fire at Animalkind part two

There’s a certain quality only a rare few people have. It’s a magnetic kind of energy that radiates from within, but can be felt by others. At times it smolders, belying the real power it can unleash, while other times there is no ignoring it. When that person enters a room, the airwaves seem to change and become electrified.

One such person is Katrin Hecker, the Director of Animalkind. She’s tall and tan with brilliant blonde hair. She’s from Germany and has an unmistakable accent even after living here for decades. She’s not shy about who she is, where she’s from or what her passions are. Upon first glance she might come off as a bit distant or cool, but talk to her a few times and you’ll sense her great heart.

Katrin operates in a no-nonsense manner especially when there's so much to get done. Since losing Aninalkind's building after their sprinkler system destroyed the interior (You can read more about that HERE), she has more than a lot on her plate.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Katrin Hecker with the latest arrivals.

Katrin is creative, a painter way back when. She lived in New York City with her husband, but after too many years in the hustle and bustle, decided to move north to the small riverside town of Hudson, NY. They bought an old church and set up their first home. Katrin wasn’t sure what she wanted to focus her attention on, maybe design or get deeper into painting.

One day she realized she’d seen quite a few cats walking around town. Her first thought was how sweet it was, seeing them dash down an alley or pass by her front door. She imagined she was living in a town that loved and cared for their cats as a community, otherwise why would there be so many of them roaming around?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Panogram of one side of the temporary headquarters at the Warren Inn. Click to see a large size of this photo.

 

It didn’t take long for her to realize that those cats were very thin, their coats ragged; some were injured or pregnant. Clearly none of them were being cared for and there was no rescue facility or group in the town to help them.

 

Katrin rescued a black cat off the street and took it to the Vet. Her husband didn’t mind as long as she didn’t get out of hand and take in all the cats she saw. Katrin found a few more cats that needed help. They were all black. Mischievously motivated or just plain brass, Katrin took in a total of eight black cats. She hid them away in one room, where she’d set up as her painting studio, knowing her husband wouldn’t enter the space. She let one or two out at a time and her husband never noticed they had more than just a few cats until one night when it was very cold and the power went out.

The wood stove was the only source of heat. One by one, the cats showed up to warm themselves by the fire. The cats were out of the “bag.” Katrin’s husband was shocked, thinking he’d gone mad seeing eight nearly identical cats appear out of the woodwork, but she made no apologies. There was a serious problem in this town and something had to be done.

By 2000, Animalkind came into existence and ever since it’s had a symbiotic relationship with the community. Katrin told me that she can’t be like other rescues and say no all the time when someone asks for help. She described some of the locals, who are down on their luck, struggling and just want to help a stray or their own cat. She finds a way to say yes, even if it means loading up her home with cats or reaching out to the community to help her help the cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Doors to the former surgical suite where they did all their spay/neuters.

Even at the clearly worst point of her life, with heartbreaking family problems, including illness and brain injuries to contend with and the loss of Animalkind’s headquarters, she still has to help the cats. She could have given up and walked away after the building was gutted. She could have walked away after her own home was badly flooded after Hurricane Irene badly damaged all the homes in her neighborhood.

With all that’s on her plate she finds a way to get up every day and figure out how she’s going to put the pieces of Animalkind back together again and how she’s going to get those poor cats out of their cages and into their new space as soon as possible.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Watching my step.

Katrin led me through the front door of what was once a building filled with the sounds of volunteers working away, answering calls, scooping litter pans, feeding the cats; who were living freely in large open group areas. It was eerily silent now. I had to watch my step because the floors were stripped to the bone, covered with debris. The HVAC vents snaked across the floors having fallen from the mounts on the ceiling. The cheerily painted sheet rock was gone. All that remained were exposed studs and wiring, the shell of what must have been a glorious Victorian home. I stood there. The heartache of loss was palpable.

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©2007 Animalkind. Before the damage.

As we picked our way around the first floor, Katrin described each room. We passed the Adoptions area, then climbed to the second floor to see where their grand surgical suite was located. There are French doors separating the spaces, but no longer any walls on either side of the doors. A few stainless steel surgical tables and other equipment were shoved into a corner, dirty, but still usable. However, most of what had once been there was long gone.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the damage. The only thing that's recognizable is the teal bench.

It was a warm summer day and as we climbed the stairs you could feel the temperature rise slightly, along with the humidity. The third floor held a secret—one that couldn’t be helped. This is where the contagious cats lived...the ones with ringworm. Even though they weren’t supposed to have animals in the building, they had no choice. It was keep them safe or let them go. It’s not as though any rescue would knowingly take cats with ringworm and there was no way Katrin was going to put them down, either.

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©2007 Animalkind. Cats lounging before the disaster.

They did the best they could. The cats had the basics and no more. It was only for now. It would get better soon, but the building had no electricity and without screens on the windows, the windows could only be opened a very tiny bit. Most of the cats were flat from the heat but not in any danger at all.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting.

Katrin told me about their plans for the room as I looked around imagining how it would appear with fresh paint, new cat trees, comfy chairs. It was an enormous space with large windows overlooking the street on one side and an overgrown yard on the other. They received a generous grant to re-do the yard into a perfect cat habitat so cats could go outdoors and still be within a closed space. They were going to put in benches and lots of plants and cute statutes of cats playing. It was going to be so wonderful, if only it could happen soon.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A skinny little lady comes over to greet us.

And truly, that was the problem.

“Soon” seemed to be defined as “not any time soon.” You tell that to a room full of cats who are desperate for things to get back to normal.

 

The final part of my story introduces you to one amazing little kitten and shares some last-minute updates, promising news and more. Stay tuned...

BREAKING NEWS: Happy Birth Day. Our first Kitten is Born!

Very early this morning, Cyndie, our new foster mama in Georgia emailed me to let me know that Opal, our latest rescued kitty had given birth to her first kitten! We weren't expecting kittens for a few more weeks because the Vet indicated that she wasn't quite ready yet. Hopefully the kittens aren't being born prematurely, but only time will tell.

Maria, had today off, thank goodness, so she was able to get over to Cyndie's house and help out. Cyndie has a pet sitting business and had to take care of her client's. Maria will stay at Cyndie's to make sure everything goes all right. It's been about 10 hours since the first kitten was born and the Vet said she could go 12 hours between delivering the next kitten. In the video below you can see Opal's side wiggling. I think we have another kitten to meet very soon!


©2012 Maria S. Watch Opal's side move!

Maria is in constant communication with our Vet. I know most folks who have witnessed this process just say to “let nature take its course” and not worry, but I'm 1000 miles away so I'm worrying! Maria couldn't get Opal to feed her kitten so she supplemented the little one right away. Cyndie fed the kitten a few times as well and the kitten is warm and sleeping comfortably now. I'm so grateful to have two capable women caring for Opal. I wouldn't have a clue what to do!

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©2012 Maria. S. Happy Birthday little one!

Our first kitten is white and peach colored and seems to be ok, but is only 2.4 oz-which is a little bit small. We're going to hold off on naming any of them until everyone is born. Right now it's watch and wait, while poor Maria is starving. I gotta find a way to get her some food delivered! I think it's going to be a long day.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Maria to the Rescue

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©2012 Maria S. Chased up a tree by a Pit Bull, this kitty needed help-and FAST!

In the past week Maria, our amazing foster mom in Georgia, has kept running into cats who need a helping hand. My rescue, Kitten Associates, has offered to help take on every cat she's found so far. All but one of these cats came from the SAME property. To date we've rescued 5 kittens and one adult. Though we have few resources, we're making room. Somehow it will all sort out. We can't and won't look away when a cat needs us.

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©2012 Maria S. Maria-super-cat-lady to the rescue!

When Maria contacted me about a cat who was up a tree and needed rescue, I couldn't believe it. It seems this year more than any I can remember, there are cats coming out of the woodwork-and now are they raining down from above? There are so many kittens that are turning up alone on a neighbor's front steps-even my own cousin found one in her yard, lost and sick-so covered with ticks he almost died. Thankfully she was able to get him the care he needed in time and he will be going to a rescue in eastern CT today.


©2012 Maria S. & Robin A.F. Olson. You MUST listen to the voiceover on this cute video of Maria saving little Willow.

We had to act quickly. Maria, with the aid of her neighbor, whose voice over on the video below is quite amusing, managed to get the kitty down without too much trouble. Sadly, it was very clear that this kitty was sick. Flea covered, dirty, with a runny nose and tearing eyes. The cat kept gulping, a reflex from having too much mucus in her sinuses.

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©2012 Maria S. It looks like Willow is telling Maria she's scared.

We couldn't know if this was someone's cat. She was very friendly so she'd known humans, but where was her family? If she had one, why did they let her get so sick? Why was she so thin?

Maria looked at the cat's abdomen. Her nipples were a bit swollen. One expressed a tiny bit of milk. As Maria was relaying this information to me we both realized this could be another “Amberly”-a found friendly stray who had kittens in the area. Finding Amberly's kittens was truly a miracle, but could we do it again?

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©2012 Maria S. Getting some much needed rest.

I had Maria take the cat to the Vet. We'd sort everything out later. The Vet did the exam. The cat, who we named Willow (thanks to a suggestion by our friend Judy), just rolled over and wanted to be loved. She didn't care about being sick, she just wanted to be petted. This kitty was so darling we all fell in love with her on the spot.

The Vet didn't feel she was pregnant and if she had kittens she was mostly dried up to the point that they are probably weaned by now. Sadly, we have no idea where Willow came from, but the following day Maria did put a harness on the little cat and walked her around the area, hoping Willow would lead her to her family. None were found.


©2012 Maria S. Willow loves the Vet!

Maria also asked around the neighborhood, but no one had seen the cat before. Willow was either lost or dumped. Whatever happened to her, we'll keep her safe and hopefully in time she will recover from her illness. She's been too stuffed up to smell her food so Maria has syringe fed her for a few days. This morning she's starting to improve enough to eat some on her own. She's still rolling over to get belly rubs. Whoever had her must have been kind to her at some point.

I hope Maria doesn't find any more cats who need help. We're really full up and funds are low-even with the awesome amount of donations we just got in. We have to be careful so we'll have enough for everyone as their need arises.

 

Then Maria contacted me again…the little kitten she saw at the neighbor's house where we just helped 5 cats, is about nine months old now and is pregnant. Can we help her too? All I could say is; “We'll find a way…”

 

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©2012 Maria S. Another unsprayed female, barely a kitten herself, needs our help, too.

P.S. Maria gave me the OK to show her to all of you in her PJs. She was glad she wore the ones with the kitties on them.

The Hot Potato Rescue of Miss Muriel

Two weeks ago I got a call from one of the Vets we work with in Georgia. She told me that a couple brought a very sweet stray cat to be examined because she appeared to be pregnant and the couple couldn't give her, or her unborn kittens, a home. I took one look at the photo of this sweet calico and knew I had to help her.

The problem was-where would she be fostered and if she was pregnant, that meant having to make a very difficult decision-do we have her spayed, aborting her offspring or let her give birth to the kittens? If she had the kittens it would mean she'd have to stay in GA for at least 10 more weeks which is a lot to ask a foster to take on.

Maria was full up with King and Miss FP and I didn't have a lot of options. Maria hit the phones and emails and I did the same. I started to devise a plan to drive to Georgia to pick up the cat and bring her back to Connecticut as soon as she would be legally allowed to travel out-of-state. She could give birth here. I just didn't feel right about taking her babies. In all the years I've done rescue, I've spayed or neutered every single cat. I figured if she had a few kittens it wouldn't tip the balance since it's not going to change cat overpopulation problems this one time. (At the time I thought that Jakey & Teddy would be leaving for their forever home so I had the space to take her on.)

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It's hard to describe trying to rescue a cat when you get “maybe” or ”if she is or if she is not” answers to if they can help. It's as if the cat was a hot potato, and no one wanted to hold onto it for too long or they feared getting burned. Helping a pregnant adult is tougher than helping kittens. Everyone wants to rescue a kitten, but finding a pregnant cat a rescue? That's a lot to take on. Pregnant cats can't be around other cats and after they give birth their kittens are very susceptible to disease. This is why Humane Societies and big shelters keep their pregnant cats off-site in a foster home if they can-sadly many of these cats end up being put to sleep because of how fragile these families are. If the mom needs emergency care or the kittens…the vet bill can go through the roof.

I can't tell you how many different plans Maria and I came up with-but there were a lot. It all revolved around this cat being ready to deliver in a few weeks.

Maria found a temporary foster home for the cat and a possible rescue IF she was pregnant. We got the cat back to the Vet and the vet said that MAYBE she WASN'T pregnant after all! We offered to pay for an ultrasound or X-rays but were told if she wasn't far enough along that we couldn't know for certain. Her mammary glands were not as swollen as they were before so it's possible she was in “heat” not pregnant…and maybe she needed to be fed a bit less?!

So now what do we do? Where is this cat going to go?

If she was not pregnant, I couldn't take her. She's between 4 and 5 years old. Though VERY friendly, she's not a cat I can place because I don't have a shelter and she'd have to be here for a VERY LONG TIME, tying up valuable space I can use for kittens. What other options did I have?

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I knew it was a long shot, but I contacted my friend, Jennifer H. who is in charge of intake at the Humane Society of Forsyth County. I knew I needed to make it as easy for her to say “YES!” as possible so I devised a plan.

I offered to pay for the cat's vetting-her vaccinations, her spay and arrange transport to their location which is over 70 miles from where the cat is now. They would have to find her a home, but they get the adoption fee so it offset some of the costs for her care. I crossed my fingers and waited. Everyone else I asked either didn't get back to me or couldn't take her on. This HAD to work.

Jennifer wrote me back saying they were re-doing the floors at the shelter and couldn't take the cat right now, BUT could we wait a few weeks? If so, she could take the cat.

YES!!!!

I checked with the foster mom and she said it was all right with her!

Sounds easy, right? I literally cranked on this for almost a week before things were worked out. It was totally worth it to help this cat even though I will never enjoy meeting her in person.

I need to do a mini-fundraiser for Muriel. Our funds are stretched this time of year so even this little fundraiser will really help a lot! Your donation, as always, is tax deductible and any funds not used for Muriel will go to help other cats in our program. My non-profit, Kitten Associates, provides the funding for these rescues.

Muriel has been in foster care long enough for us to feel safe that it's okay to have her spayed tomorrow. In a few weeks she'll be headed north. I'm very grateful to HSFC for offering to help-especially after they just took four kitties out of Henry Co. Care & Control just before they were due to be euthanized.

Another one saved, so many more to go…hopefully Miss Muriel will find her forever home soon-with that sweet face, I think it's almost a given.

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If you live in Georgia or neighboring states and have fallen in love with Muriel and want to know how you can adopt her, just contact me (until the second week of March-afterwards HFSC should have her). You can reach me at info @ coveredincathair.com (remove spaces before emailing).

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.

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©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.

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©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.

Missing Mazie.

Mazie went to her new home on Christmas Eve. I tried to think of it as a gift to her, a forever home, one that she'd been waiting for for so very long. She'd been with me for fourteen months. The least I could do is send her off to the best home possible since she'd been waiting for so long. This was not an easy adoption on a number of levels. I struggle with my decision because it's difficult to have faith in how the future will play out, but hopefully some day I'll look back on this and be glad about the choices I made.

I have to consider the options. In all the time Mazie was here, she had only one other application from a 65 year old retiree. While I'm sure the home was fine, Mazie would have been the only cat in a quiet home. Somehow it seemed unfair that she would have such a solitary life. I always imagined Mazie playing with kids and having lots of fun. She has a lot of energy and would thrive in an active home. I held out, hoping that a family would come along one day.

I got an email a few weeks ago from a woman who said her daughters fell in love with Mazie. They realized that little kittens got homes easily and were very sad that Mazie was still waiting for hers to come along. They wanted her to come and live with them so they could give her lots of love and be their kitty. I got a lump in my throat when I read that. Maybe this was what I was waiting for?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen (top), the DOOD (middle) and Mazie (in the basket)

The girls are 4 and 7. I usually don't adopt out to families if there are children under 5 in the home-especially if kittens are involved. Yes, there are always exceptions to this policy and I felt that since the girl was nearing the age of 5 in a few months, that I'd give them a chance. I would know if it was okay to move forward once I met them.

The woman was just divorced and had custody of the children only half time. This gave me some relief. Mazie would have alone time with the Mom and some peace and quiet. Perhaps it was the perfect blend?

The home itself was neat as a pin, a sweet three-bedroom cottage style house built in the early 1900's. I loved it. There was even a white picket fence wrapping the front yard. I saw the two girls as I walked down the path towards their front door. They were standing in the doorway, their faces pressed against the glass. Then they started bouncing up and down. I couldn't help but smile.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nap time before the adopters come over.

That was the last time I could hear anything for the next 30 minutes.

The woman came to the door and greeted me. She was very friendly, but seemed a bit stressed. The girls said a quick hello, then started fighting and screaming, tossing seat cushions at each other, then yelling some more at a pitch that was so high and so loud I thought my ear drums were going to split. Their mother was mortified. She said how the girls had been great all day, but now they, perhaps were overtired or hungry. Whatever the real reason was, the girls were just hyper. My ears started to ring and I think I heard every other word that was said. In a way it was funny, here was the mom telling the girls to be good angels and them ignoring her. For once it seemed it was easier to have young cats running around breaking things, than live with these two kids. There was no getting through to them-even threatening them that they could never meet Mazie if they didn't cut it out. The best they would do was stop for a few seconds, then think of some other way to torment each other (and us).


©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My first goodbye to Mazie.

I liked the Mom. She had a good job and would be home a lot. I knew Mazie would be fine with her, but with those kids? I just didn't know. I did, however, know two things: kids get tired eventually AND kids grow up. I had my first kitten when I was just four years old. Whose to say these girls shouldn't have a similar experience? I didn't see them as being violent to an animal. I saw typical sibling rivalry and I guessed they were revved up because someone new was in the house.

Their mom was not a pushover. I knew she would be responsible and make sure Mazie was safe, but how would Mazie handle this? There was only one way to find out.

I invited them to come over the next morning.

I thought that perhaps the girls would be different in my home. At first, they were much quieter, especially when they realized Mazie would run off if they got too loud. Mazie didn't seem to care for them, keeping a safe distance. I told the girls to sit on the floor and let Mazie come to them. She did, but very hesitantly. The girls would try to grab at her, unable to hold back their enthusiasm. I supposed they expected her to be friendlier, and I did, too, but clearly Mazie was getting crankier, the longer they were there.


©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen and the DOOD say goodbye, too.

I didn't want to be close-minded and just say no. This was their first time with Mazie and vice versa. Perhaps they would all learn to adjust and become really good friends?

I took the girls upstairs to meet the kittens while Sam stayed with their Mom and Mazie. I wanted Sam to observe things so I could have his opinion. He's a dad, after all, with a full grown daughter. I depend on him to see things or understand things I could not.

The girls were little turds. Sorry to say that, but the older one was shockingly critical about there being cat litter grains on the floor and that it smelled in the room. It did smell, but I had just cleaned out the pan and put in fresh litter and with it being cold outside I had the window tightly shut. I opened the window and she stopped complaining and went on to focus on something else that annoyed her. The younger one was a little drama-queen about the kittens scratching her (which I warned her about, but she still wanted to see the kittens and one of them did scratch her…at least that's what she claimed, with tears rolling down her cheeks and NO SIGN of anything on her leg, which you'd think had been amputated by a kitten, she was in such distress.). Am I a fan of kids? Yes, sometimes. I love my nephew, but he's family. Again, kids are kids. They can easily be egocentric and thoughtless. Did they just go through the trauma of having their parents split up? Yes. Were these girls going to do harm to Mazie? No. Would they annoy her? Yes, probably. Would I be terminally confused about what to do? Looks that way.

I didn't know what to do and I said as much to the Mom. I was able to get some feedback from Sam for a quick minute when the mom was dealing with the girls. He said that he saw the Mom with Mazie and that she was very sweet with the cat. That Mazie seemed to like her very much and was quite relaxed and content to be with her. He also said that although the girls were not being angels, that the excitement of having a new cat would wear off and that they'd soon go on to something else. That the Mom would really be Mazie's buddy and that Mazie could protect herself as well as find a place to hide if the girls got out of hand.

I asked the Mom what she wanted to do. She wanted to go ahead with the adoption and surprisingly, the girls did, too. They didn't whine about wanting the kittens. They wanted Mazie.

I said we could give it a try for a few weeks and see how it went. I had a lump in my throat. I realized I wouldn't want Mazie to go because she's well rooted in my heart, but I also had to remember that she will get a lot of attention, okay maybe too much, but she will be the Queen of her home, instead of one of the crowd.

I packed up Mazie's bed and gave them a new cat scratcher, another cat bed, some treats, some raw food and a few toys. I knew they would get her more things, but I wanted her to have something familiar. I also wanted to tell Mazie to give it time; that it would be okay. I wanted to believe that, too.

Mazie's been gone for a few days. I keep looking for her or expecting to hear her meowing. I saw the DOOD in her favorite spot; a fabric basket that hangs off the cat tree. It made me sad that she wasn't in it.

The mom sent me a photo of Mazie with the girls. The girls are all smiles. Mazie looks miserable. I wanted to bust through their door and take her back, but it was only the first night.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie, relaxing in her new home.

A day later I got another photo. The girls went to be with their dad for a few days. I knew Mazie was getting a break from them. The photo shows Mazie laying on the bed in the sunshine, washing her face. She looks as happy as can be and no sign of any stress.

It would have been easy to say no to this adoption and just keep Mazie, but I didn't feel she would be in any danger. Kids grow up and things change. I think Mazie will have a comfortable life with occasional irritations, nothing any different then any of us experience from day to day. I'm not being glib, I'm just trying to keep myself from freaking out and running over to the house and taking Mazie back.

Let's give it some time and see how it goes.

Fingers and toes crossed.

Update: Just before I posted this story I got an update from Mazie's adopter. She wrote: “Mazie is doing overall very well. She loves the home and is seeming to acclimate very well. She loves to talk and run around the house at night and she tends to sleep during the day. The girls arrived back on Wednesday AM. They were very excited about seeing her again and tended to want to see her even if she was a little apprehensive because of all the noise and excitability. She has made some good progress since Wed AM and the girls have also been spoken to about the fact that if they cannot be calm around her and earn her trust that she may have to go back. I am using this for leverage and it seems to be working well.

I expect things to calm down over the next few weeks and I also think that Mazie will continue to gain confidence and trust in her surroundings. We love her so much she is a wonderful addition to our family :-)”

 

The Goodbye Girls

I don't want to go upstairs into the foster room. I dread opening the door and seeing only two kittens in the room when just an hour ago there were four...just two days ago there were six. This is what I've been waiting for-for the babies to be adopted, but this is the tough part of running a cat rescue; letting go.

Periwinkle & BlueBelle are adopted.

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©2011 Maria S. Little Blue, Rescued!

Periwinkle and BlueBelle got under my skin in a big way. First, I'm a sucker for a fluffy cat; the fluffier, the better. Second, look at their EYES! The color of a new penny, copper, but just around the pupil is a tiny thread of lime. It's amazing. I've never seen eyes this color. I believe it's because the cats were born under a tree and the colors of the earth seeped into their bodies just after they were born. Those eyes put me in a trance.

Blue TV.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovelier with each passing day, Blue.

They're both incredibly sweet. Blue reaches up to me on her hind legs. She wants to be held. She wants to lay on me and purr her musical purr. It's not a solid purr, rather it's got many off-key tones to it. It reminds me of Bob.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Those eyes!

They're so soft and velvety. It's that diet. Kill the grain and the coat goes insane. It's so soft it doesn't even feel like fur. As Blue lays against my cheek I can smell her. It's a slightly sweet smell. I like the feeling of her fur as it brushes against my nose.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blue and Blaze.

More than anything, these two want to be loved and give love and they don't fear what's around the corner. Periwinkle dashed out of the foster room this afternoon and met Nicky and Gracie who were napping on the bed. Peri just purred and went over to each one and say hello. No one hissed. Peri went over to Gracie and sat next to her. Peri could be Gracie's daughter. Damn. It just made me want to keep her all the more.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, Blue likes Harry Potter.

Why can't these cats be bad tempered? Why can't they bite me or hiss? Why do they have to be so pretty and affectionate? And of course, they love me so how do I give them up?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blue and Peri not long before their new family came to adopt them.

I did it for the children. The two girls who have dreamed of Peri and Blue since they met them at my last adoption event. The 12 year old, older sister, did a drawing for me of Peri and Blue. It shows her 9 year old sister dancing in a spotlight, as a ballerina, with BlueBelle at her feet. Off to the side, behind the curtain on the stage, is a self portrait with Peri sitting on a chair holding a sign in her paws that reads, "10." Peri is scoring the performance and felt it was top notch. I thought the drawing was, too.

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©2011 Nunes-Ranchy.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Baby Peri.

Stacey, the girl's mother, told me they were singing a song about Kitten Associates that they made up. When the girls met the kittens, they were enchanted. Peri and Blue would be the first cats they ever had. I couldn't help but think how lucky they were to start their love of cats by having two such great companions and how lucky the kittens were to have two doting young ladies be their new best friends.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. What an amazing transformation!

I thought back about my first cat, a kitten named Sarafina. She was pure white and had blue eyes. We moved out of state shortly after we got her and she was boarded at a Vet until we got unpacked from our move. Something happened to her and I was told she died. She never grew out of kittenshood and I never found out if that was really what happened to her. I was only 5 years old, yet it still haunts me that I never got to grow up with her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Who wouldn't love that face?

I can come up with all the reasons in the world why this is a good adoption, a good family who really cares about their cats. I know this is the right thing for the kittens, but I lost a little bit of my heart to them and I will certainly never forget them.

Princess Peri.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I have to focus on Truffles and Blaze. They need homes, too, and I need to make room. The Angel Babies will be here on Saturday. Four more kittens to fall in love with...four more kittens to find homes for. The familiar cycle begins again. My heart is heavy, but I know they'll help soften the edge of my sadness.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Peek-a-Boo! I see you!

To Blue and Peri, may you live a long life, full of love and joy, with a family who is devoted to your care and well being. I hope the sadness and confusion you feel today will fade into simple joy, looking out a new window onto a fresh, new world.

The One. Peri.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I love her peach colored toe.

You survived a very long journey and met a lot of wonderful people whose love sustained you. You're ready to be with a family you can call your own. It's time. Farewell my sweeties.

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