Part 1 of 2
Four years ago I wrote about my cat Petunia. It was a guilt-ridden confession about how I’d missed the signals that she wasn’t just a high-strung, territory-aggressive cat who urinated all over my house. Something else was causing her issues. I foolishly thought I discovered the root cause of her behavioral problems so I stopped looking for a health issue as the trigger. Up until that point I’d never given Petunia a fair shake because she drove me crazy, ruining everything in her path. She was urinating, marking and defecating everywhere. [If you want to read this post it’s HERE].
I thought her issues were due to having impacted anal glands and that her bad scent caused some of my other cats to go after her. She’d flip out, then I’d find something soiled. The cats never fought. They just charged her, but it was enough stress to cause her to inappropriately eliminate.
Once her glands were cleaned the attacks slowed, but never really stopped. Petunia saw Dr Larry, had her teeth cleaned and had some blood work done as recently as last summer. I was under the impression she was in good health and that her behavior issues were genetic and/or stress-based. I was very wrong.
When Petunia was young she had Struvite crystals in her urine. I knew this because her urine was pink, indicating blood. When we tested it we knew she had crystals so the simple answer was to feed her a prescription diet that would acidify her urine, dissolving the crystals (something I would never feed now).
©2011 Robin AF Olson. Petunia in a long-ago relaxed moment.
Petunia resolved her peeing issues for a time, but then I did more rescue and our cat-population began to increase. With each cat we adopted, Petunia lost a little bit more of her territory. First it was just that she stopped coming upstairs to bed. In a way I was relieved because it also meant I stopped finding urine on my 80-year old bedroom furniture.
But then her space, got even smaller. Though she stopped peeing on the banquette cushions in the kitchen (I finally had to remove them because they were so destroyed), she rarely ever entered the space to look out the window at the birds who were dancing around the feeders hung over the deck. The other cats enjoyed the view and one or two marked in this area most likely due to her marking first. Petunia made a huge mess and having that stop was yet another relief.
©2012 Robin AF Olson. The best spot in the house is also the bone of contention between the cats over who rules it.
With her space dwindling down to the living room, mostly all points behind the sofa, we knew we had to do more to help her. We’d tried all along, but with 10 cats it’s very difficult to single one out and only play with that cat and only spend time with that cat. The others were curious if we gave her attention; some took over play time, some attacked Petunia if we tried to play with her.
©2010 Robin AF Olson. Before we added Blitzen, Mabel and DOOD, Gracie and Petunia often snuggled in our bedroom. They no longer feel safe doing that.
There also was the complication that Petunia’s mother, Gracie lives here and from time to time Petunia still goes to her mother for comfort, so how am I to find a home for a 14-year old and a 12-year old cat?
I was certain this was the answer, but just as much sure that I’d never find a home for both cats. Gracie has an incurable skin condition.
Over the past year Petunia earned the nickname: PEE-tunia because she began peeing on the SOFA. No matter what we did she kept doing it until I finally got a static mat and that stopped the behavior. Well, really it just encouraged her to pee somewhere else, but it was on a cat bed I could cover with a wee-wee pad and that was something I could deal with.
Sam and I decided to make a concentrated effort to re-catify our living room, to help Petunia find her confidence, which Jackson Galaxy refers to as “cat mojo” (a term I quite like). I realized that with the addition of Blitzen, DOOD and Mabel into our family came the reduction in Petunia’s living space. I hadn’t seen Petunia come upstairs to bed in years. Her living area was getting smaller and smaller to just the few feet behind the sofa. She was too fearful to go far because the others would charge at her. We HAD to find a solution.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. BEFORE: Look for the towel to see the most prized spot in the house. There's a heated pad under the towel and it's next to the sunniest window in the house. SO how could we provide more optimal locations for more cats to enjoy this area? Also the cat trees on either side of the towel are perfect for sneak attacks so they had to be moved.
One night a few weeks ago we ripped apart the areas where the cats hang out the most. We moved cat trees, did a deep cleaning and set up one of our web cams to monitor the area when we weren’t around. We hoped we’d find out what was causing Petunia to avoid the litter pan when there were a few with in feet of where she was sleeping.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. You can see the static mat on the sofa where Petunia used to urinate. We added a litter pan right near the heated cat carrier where Petunia often hid but we don't believe she ever used it. The cat trees are in front of the favorite window. There aren't any where the ficus tree is because we had a cat tree there that went unused. It was moved to the favorite window area to increase vertical space.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. AFTER: The day after re-arranging the space there's a lineup of cats who want to use it. Notice, the three alpha cats are on it while Cricket, a lower cat doesn't get access right now. Petunia is in the cat carrier just off screen.
Sam and I also focused on spending more time talking to, sitting with, petting and grooming Petunia and that helped soothe her to a degree, but she was still anxious around the other cats. It also didn't stop her from defecating on the table just near the sofa.
I decided that after all these years, the last remaining option was to put her on anti-anxiety meds. I thought if she could better handle stress and the cats charging her, she’d stop acting like prey, racing off, which made some of the cats go crazy and chase after her. Poor Petunia would hide on the seat cushion on a chair under a table not far from her “safe zone” every time that happened. It happened so often I was afraid her life would be spent huddled on that chair.
What a terrible life.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. A few days after we moved all the cat beds, I saw this. It was the first time more than one cat was on any of the beds. The far left bed is where Gracie sleeps and when Petunia most often pees (yes, even one time ON Gracie).
It’s hard to describe how hopeless I’ve been feeling. I couldn’t re-home her. It was too late. I blame myself for adding so many cats to our home, but I thought it would be all right. The other cats are fine. It’s just Petunia who is so stressed by them.
Petunia had to see our vet before she was put on any medication. Dr. Larry insisted on doing a full CBC, a stool test and urinalysis before giving her anything. When I got the results my heart sank.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. We lower the lights during exams so Petunia will be more relaxed. On this visit it did not help at all.
Last week I took Petunia back to Dr. Larry’s for x-rays that might show us if she had stones. It was a lovely day, lots of bright sunshine, but I was struggling to hold back tears. I knew that if Petunia had stones, it would mean surgery and I asked myself how I was going to make that happen when I’m already struggling. It wasn’t a good feeling. I didn’t have an answer.
What do the x-rays show? Is there any hope for Petunia? Find out in part 2.
Cat behaviors are often misunderstood, but rarely, if ever, do they make national headlines as it did with a cat named Lux last March.
For Lux, the 4-year old, 11 lb (not 22 lb as reported elsewhere) black and white domestic medium haired cat, the question everyone wants answered is who's at fault for the cat going berserk after his tail was pulled by a 7-month old baby? The incident started an escalating chain reaction. Lux clawed the baby and the baby's father, Lee Palmer kicked Lux in the rear end, then grabbed his kid, his girlfriend Teresa Barker, and their dog as they fled into a back room, terrified at Lux's violent reaction after being struck. Instead of running away from Palmer, he flew sky-high into the red zone, screaming and charging at his family who were cowering on the other side of a locked door.
The result was a call to the Portland, Oregon 911 where they dispatched the Police to rescue the family from the now crazed cat.
©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Jackson Galaxy.
Once the news hit everyone had an opinion about Lux. Some said to put him down for striking a baby. Others said to put the family down for kicking the cat. In stories like this I like to believe that somewhere in the middle lies the truth, but there's only one person uniquely qualified to shed light on this situation.
From ABCNEWS the 911 audio tapes are heard.
I had the pleasure of speaking the Jackson about his experiences with Lux. What surprised me when I chatted with Jackson about this episode was that Jackson, who says it often takes him about 5 minutes to sort out a behavior problem, had a different experience with Lux. Jackson has never worked a case like this. It surprised him, stumped him, frustrated him to no end, but also Jackson discovered he had a great deal of love for this cat—the kind of love he has reserved for his own cats (which he hinted at offhandedly that perhaps Lux might be one day…or at least be a part of Lux's life going forward).
©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Jackson Galaxy meets Lux.
What is unprecedented about the episode: “911, My Cat’s Holding Me Hostage!” is that since it was after season five had finished shooting it took the combined efforts of Animal Planet, the MCFH production staff, local Vets, the Multnomah County Animal Shelter (where Lux had briefly been surrendered) and Jackson to work together to get this story on the air. It's important because “this episode will challenge everyone.” Which was why a full hour was dedicated to Lux. It may very well be My Cat From Hell's coming of age show, something Jackson is very proud of.
©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Jackson making a new friend in Lux.
When asked, Jackson couldn't say what the odds are that Lux will keep his home, even knowing that his family did their homework over the few weeks Jackson worked with them.
©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Aww..really? Does this look like a cat who would cause trouble? Okay…a lot of trouble? Sweet Lux.
Lux's story doesn't have a resolution yet, but his journey is what makes this episode of My Cat From Hell so groundbreaking because it unfolds in ways other shows have never been able to. We discover Lux as Jackson does.
Jackson reminds us that Lux was a bottle baby. Although there haven't been any studies about how the unbreakable bond with the human who cares for orphan kittens effects them as adults, many in rescue already know there's something different about them. Those cats tend to be cats, but “not quite cats.” Without other cats to learn from, these bottle babies have a confused perception of their world. Are they cats? Are they humans? Are they something in between? In Lux's case he has that bond with Teresa, but he also struggles with many behavior issues that Jackson is determined to get to the bottom of.
My final question stumped Jackson and gave our interview a moment of levity. I asked: “Where did the name Lux come from?” Jackson, who had been so focused and passionate about helping the cat overcome his behavior issues never thought to ask. He promised that if the show goes into a sixth season he'd be sure to find out.
My Cat From Hell: 911, My Cat’s Holding Me Hostage! airs Saturday, June 14th at 8pm EST on Animal Planet.
It's been almost two weeks since the grossly overweight and possibly abused kitty, Chloe, was removed from her home and placed under the care of Animals in Distress. For now, Chloe is staying with my friend, Katherine, who oversees intake of all the cats in the AID program and is a very savvy foster mom.
Chloe has had a peaceful few weeks and after only one incident I reported initially, Chloe has not lashed out at Katherine. In fact, Chloe is showing signs of relaxing and learning to trust again.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Hopefully this is one of the last photo you'll see of Chloe's back mats! Katherine is starting to remove them.
The first few days were the toughest. Chloe would not move, urinated and defecated on herself and barely ate. Katherine tried to clean her off, but was met with so much resistance that we all decided it was best to leave her alone. Katherine focused on offering Chloe a variety of grain-free dry food as her first attempt to get Chloe moving in the right direction.
Chloe took to one of the brands and began to eat. Katherine also offered Chloe some plain chicken baby food from a spoon, which encouraged Chloe to both regard Katherine in a positive way and to help Chloe want to interact, instead of withdraw.
Katherine had to move slowly and not do too much. It was easy to upset Chloe, so she did less, instead of overload her. With the guidance of our friend Wendy Christensen, cat behaviorist and author, she kept the pace to baby steps only.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Is that a smile I see?
Chloe began using her litter pan and eating more than a mouthful of food. With such an obese cat, we have to be careful NOT to restrict her food intake as much as IMPROVE her food, for now. Once she is stable, she will no longer be free-fed and will begin the process of eating grain-free canned food, in monitored amounts, until she can lose some weight.
Chloe also may have bad teeth and an ear infection-both issues will be dealt with as soon as we feel Chloe can be handled without it putting her into a panic. We're hoping that at least the ear issues may resolve, to some degree, with better food. Her body may be reacting to the grain in the food by making her ears get a build up of material. It's unlikely she has ear mites, but she WILL get the treatment as soon as it's safe to do so.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe's sweetness may be starting to emerge-and what a cute face she has!
This morning I got a note from Katherine that she had another small breakthrough. Last night she was able to brush Chloe's face, which she liked, and while she was brushing Chloe, Katherine managed to pick out a few of the mats on the cat's back (which she pulled out easily without causing any irritation to Chloe). As you can see in the photos, Chloe looks like she's almost smiling and for that, we are all very pleased and hopeful that Chloe's story will continue to be one filled with promise. I know we're all rooting for this kitty to make it through this difficult time.
Animals in Distress is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. If you'd like to make a donation to help with Chloe's long-term care, you can use this LINK to their PayPal account. Thank you!
©2013 Katherine Reid. Lucy, safe in her new foster home.
UPDATE: Shortly after Chloe was returned from the home, the former guardian called saying that Lucy HAD to go, too. Lucy has been placed with AID and is doing well. I've met this cat and she's VERY friendly and gets on well with other cats, too. If you live in CONNECTICUT and would like to know more about Lucy, please visit her PETFINDER PAGE!.
Chloe sits in the center of the living room. I can’t see her back legs from where I’m sitting, a few feet away. Her front legs are comically dwarfed, little white mitts, in comparison to the rest of her body.
It’s completely heartbreaking to look at her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Look, but don't touch.
I met Chloe last week after getting a number of calls from my Vet, the Animal Control Officer in town and a woman who is friends with Chloe’s guardian. The story I got was that the guardian, who I will call Dave, was calling our ACO and Vet to find out if he could get someone to come over to euthanize his cat.
Upon further discussion it was disclosed the Chloe had been biting people and that Dave, being basically house-bound and disabled, had to get rid of the cat because his caretaker was making a fuss about her.
Obviously there were other reasons why the caretaker wanted to end Chloe’s life, but I couldn’t know the reason until I learned more.
The ACO said she might have to put the cat down if it was a biter. She couldn’t be adopted if she was going to hurt a future adopter. Chloe was at least 10 years old, if not older, and the odds of finding her any home were slim to none, even if she was a Siamese under all that extra weight.
I offered to go to the home to assess the cat. We could hear stories about her, but I needed to see her for myself. I was told the cat was chubby, but I had no idea how grossly obese she was until I met her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chole's back fur is quite matted and I'm sure causing her some discomfort.
I visited Dave, along with his friend, Frances (not her real name). She’d met Chloe many times, but was hard pressed to describe her behavior to me, which I found very puzzling. Is the cat friendly or not? What’s the deal here?
I entered the small living room of the 1-bedroom apartment. Chloe was sitting on the top of the sofa. As I walked into the room and sat down on a nearby chair, she came over to say hello.
I let her settle down. She sat in the center of the room, commanding the space. She growled softly, which turned into a whine, then back to a growl. Her ears were not flat. Her tail didn’t whip up and down in anger. Her pupils were dilated. I made no move to touch her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. There IS a cat under there, somewhere.
I spoke with Dave and got some history on the cat. He’d gotten her a few years ago from a woman in Fairfield. Chloe supposedly slept on his chest and would tap him to get petted. That the day before three Missionaries had come to visit, all men, and she had been fine with them, so why was she so distressed by me?
We talked about food. He said he got really good food (not even close to good-in my opinion) for the cats, some sort of house brand dry and that was it. Clearly this cat was being given a huge bowl of food to snack on day and night. She could barely walk. I imagined that part of her fear was that she was too fat to flee, should I be a threat to her. She might also be in a lot of pain from carrying so much weight on her bones.
I’d worked out a deal with my dear friend, Katherine from Animals in Distress. We would get the cat vetted, then re-assess her behavior at that time. We owed it to Chloe to give her a chance to stabilize her weight and behavior before making any other decisions about her future.
It’s one thing to deal with a feral cat, but a fearful cat is a different thing altogether.
Our choices were to either put Chloe down or give her a chance. Katherine and I chose to give her some time. The problem is we needed a foster home for Chloe and Katherine had to sacrifice the last precious space she has left in her home that doesn’t already have cats in it. It wasn’t ideal, but for now it’s all we had. No one would step up to take this cat and most of my fosters are sick and I know I’d have her with me forever and I just couldn’t do that to my cats. At least Katherine might be able to put Chloe into their shelter if she was ever well enough to go there.
A few days later, Chloe was taken to the Vet. I don’t know how they managed, but they did get blood work done and there was nothing indicating her thyroid was off, which could have caused her emotional issues, or that she was diabetic, which was surprising. I don’t know if the Vet looked at her teeth, but Chloe probably had some painful gums, at least, from all the junky food.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh dear, dear, Chloe.
Katherine brought Chloe home and placed her in a bathroom where she’d be living until we could get her settled. It’s unlikely we’d find her a foster home with her behavior issues, at least for now.
All Katherine was doing was trying to help Chloe feel more comfortable and clean. She called me, distressed, but laughing through her irritation. I felt so badly, but I hadn’t told Katherine anything other than the truth-the cat was NOT adoptable right now, but that we should at least try to give her a chance to blossom. These would be the worst days-hopefully better ones would follow.
I contacted my friend, Wendy Christensen, who is an award-winning author and illustrator. Her books include The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care. She's written for Cat Fancy, Kittens USA, Catnip, CatWatch, Natural Cat, and Natural Pet. Wendy is one of my go-to people when I have a cat behavior issue that stumps me. Because she’s not directly involved with Chloe, I knew she could offer me perspective without any bias one way or the other.
Wendy wrote me back, a very long email. She was very troubled by what she was told about Chloe. She said what I also feared, it’s very likely that Chloe has been abused.
Wendy wrote: “I would concur that she's probably been abused. What she needs more than anything else is peace and quiet and a calm, stable environment. She is just too stressed to deal with any human interaction right now. I know it sounds "cruel," but she needs to be left alone to get some of her confidence back, stabilize and heal for awhile. She needs to be alone so she can start to feel safe again.
Her size has clearly made it very hard for her to move about and escape whatever peril she was placed in. Escapability is primary for cats' mental health. She has felt (and still feels) utterly trapped and at the mercy of others -- possibly the worst thing a cat can experience. She is in a super-super-sensitive frame of mind. She doesn't need a lot of space, but she DOES need safety, peace, quiet, stability, and predictability.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. With pupils dilated with fear, Chloe readies herself to strike, but I can't help wanting to pet her and soothe her anxiety, regardless.
Of course, my first thought was, that the caretaker who hated this cat and wanted her put to sleep was responsible. What was he doing to her when no one was looking?
There’s no way to know if he ever even lifted a finger to Chloe, but it certainly makes sense. There’s no way to know that Dave wasn’t the one who harmed her either, but clearly something terrible happened to Chloe and now she needs us to understand that and give her the space she needs to heal.
And then there’s the other cat in the home, Lucy; Lucy who is so friendly and outgoing. What will become of her? We need to get her out of this place, too. It’s only a matter of time before she is so big she can’t walk either, or so sick from never being vetted that she dies.
Our first goal is to focus on Chloe and hope her sweet nature will emerge one day. I saw a flicker of that sweetness the first moment I met her. She’s suffering from crippling fear brought on by abuse.
I realize this is a long-shot, but if you live in the Wilton, CT area and have lots of experience working with cats, if you can provide a SEPARATE space in your home that’s quiet and safe and you’re willing to basically just keep Chloe fed, but otherwise left alone, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chloe is going to need long-term care. If you’d like to make a donation to help Chloe, please donate via PayPal HERE. Animals in Distress is a 501(c) 3, non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Wendy has recently begun offering fee-based cat behavior consultations. If you're in need of her services, please contact email@example.com for details
Another resources for help with cat behavior issues, is Wendy's latest book: Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to do What You Want which was just published earlier this month.
This post is dedicated to all the good people out there who love our foster cat, Jackson Galaxy. Without your love and support it would have been very difficult to provide the high level of care Jackson required to diagnose that he was suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-the most common and often fatal heart ailment that effects cats.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson is comfortable at last. In one of his favorite spots-a cardboard canned cat food tray near the kitchen.
While we will always do whatever it takes to help our foster cats, the funds in our bank account were at an all time low. We begged and borrowed (no stealing, though!) and got Jackson the help he needed. Once you heard there was a crisis, many of you jumped in to help fill our coffers so we could make sure Jackson got what he needed.
I'm pleased to let you know, knock wood, that Jackson is doing well. He's responded to treatment and he's easy to pill (so far!). There's more down the road, more tests, adjustment of medications, but right now Jackson's comfortable, chatty, eating well and happy (okay he has a few eye-boogies, but I'll clean them off next time he gets pilled).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Enjoy this update on our Jackson. It may have a sad start, but I know you'll enjoy the new footage of Jackson in action.
I'm truly grateful for every prayer, good wish and virtual hug. I know Jackson is, too.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I brought Jackson home three weeks ago, on the heels of Bobette, our former foster, being adopted (and who's doing marvelously well with her new mama, JaneA Kelley of Paws & Effect).
Jackson wasn't interested in being confined to “his room” from the get go. He was ready to meet everyone and get himself settled. After just two days to decompress, I followed his lead and let him out of his room. He'd already been vetted, tested, in a home-not a shelter. I thought it would be all right to give it a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My sad foster kitty, Jackson Galaxy, a few days after he arrived.
I had the Feliway diffuser plugged in and all the cats had already been on Spirit Essences for a few weeks. I expected hissing and difficulty and was ready to calmly move Jackson back to his room if problems arose.
But they didn't…at least not right away.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson LOVES raw food.
Jackson began to vocalize, a lot. His powerful meow carried throughout the house. Some of my cats reacted to it, but mostly they just ignored it. After Bobette and her attacks on any cat who came close to her I think they were ready for anything but Jackson just walked around with his tail up in the air, yowling. He didn't bother with any of the cats. A few tried to give him a quick sniff when he passed by, but he gave them a look which told them to back off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Ever elegant, Jaks points his paw as he has his morning bath.
I took some time to get to know Jackson. He's a tall cat with a big “Biscuit Head” from being neutered late in life. He weighs almost 14 pounds, but he's lean. He's quick to purr or “burble” when I pet him. He loves to give head butts, but he's not big on being held and so far he's not a lap cat. In some ways he's a bit like a dog-he likes to follow me around the house. He likes to be near the action, but I could tell he was looking for a place to call his own within my home. With 8 resident cats that was not an easy thing to do.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Handsome settling in on the cat tree.
I tried to find a balance between allowing Jackson his freedom to roam around and to give my own cats some peace and quiet. I knew that having a new cat in the house would cause problems and it did. Nicky unleashed a torrent of urine all over the house. Even though he had no contact with Jackson, it didn't matter. He was distressed and displeased. Again I had to search for balance while my cats worked out what to make of this stranger in white.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. High four.
Each night I “tucked” Jackson into his room, but after an hour or two he'd start to yowl and bang on the door to get out. I tried to tough it out. If he made a fuss and I got up, I'd be training him to make a fuss so I would get up. Instead, I didn't sleep.
I didn't get much sleep for two weeks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feeling blue.
Then I started to wonder if Jackson was sick or that something happened to him in his last home. He didn't care to be touched on his side and would warn me to stop with a nip to my hand. At rest, the rise and fall of his chest looked odd, not smooth and fluid but hitched. Jacks eyes were a bit runny-one stuck closed on and off for a day. He was still eating well, but seemed down. I knew I'd have to run him to see Dr. Larry. My guess-list of what was bothering Jackson was growing. Did he have HCM? Upper Respiratory? Allergy? Heart or lungworms? He's from the south. It's possible.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Kiss-face.
And then the fights began. I didn't see them, but I heard them. One by one, Jackson was asserting himself with my cats, letting them know he was the boss. Each confrontation lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to change the hierarchy of the cats for good.
None of the cats were injured, but there were plenty of clumps of fur on the rugs-none of it was Jackson's. This surprised me because I'd heard that Jackson was picked on, which was why he was surrendered. Perhaps he'd had enough from being picked on before or the family wasn't up front with what really happened. My cats gave him a wide berth, but as each day passes I see him sitting calmly in close proximity to one or more of the cats and the fighting stopped almost as soon as it began.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Life is so tough here in foster care. Don't let me keep you up, Jacks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Burrito-boy.
Jackson's coat feels a lot better and his feline acne is almost gone. He actually enjoys it when I clean his chin. When I'm done cleaning him off, I lean down and he gives me a few head butts, purring loudly. Jackson's had some rough days. There are times when I reach out to pet him that he shrinks back in fear and runs off. I think someone must have hit him, which makes me sad and more protective of him than ever. When I think about all the care that goes into raising kittens so they never react like that to being petted, I wonder what sort of hellish life this cat may have had.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This big guy just wants some love.
If you're interested in adopting Jackson, visit Kitten Associates Adopt Page and fill out a Pre Adoption Application. Also, please read our Adoption Policies regarding diet, declawing and more. Jackson's forever family should live within or in one of the states surrounding Connecticut-United States of America. For the right adopter, we're open to discussing an adoption that's further out of state, but use your good judgement regarding appropriate distance. As an extra treat, Mr. Jackson Galaxy has graciously offered a 15 minute consult to the person or family who adopts this marvelous kitty.
We're also still looking for a great home for King. We've had NO applications for him and he's been with us for six months. King LOVES people, cats and dogs. He just needs to live with carpeting so he can get around. King was born without his hind paws, but is quite mobile and playful. He just can't “do” hardwood floors.
Nikki Moustaki, pet lifestyle expert, writer and fundraiser came up with a fun idea that that's helping feed cats and dogs throughout the country. Her campaign is called The Pet Postcard Project.
At it's heart, the program is very simple. Create a pet postcard and mail it to Nikki before June 30, 2012. For every 2500 postcards she receives, our generous friends at FreeKibble.com will donate 10,000 “meals” of nutritious Halo Spot's Stew cat food to this month's shelter, The Stray Cat Alliance -based in Los Angeles, CA!
This is just one of the thousands of postcards Nikki has received.
This is where it gets a little bit more interesting…
Jackson Galaxy, star of the hit Animal Planet show, “My Cat From Hell” and passionate advocate and “Cat Daddy” for cats everywhere, has offered to sweeten the pot to encourage all of you to send in a postcard or two (or more!).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Here's one of my post cards memorializing my cat Bob as an Angel in Heaven. Nikki asks that “MAKE SURE THE WORDS YOU WRITE ARE EITHER FUNNY, PROFOUND, OR HEARTWARMING.”
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, our mascot, with his copy of Cat Daddy.
You can also visit The Pet Postcard Project on Facebook for the latest updates and hopefully news on the winners!
Now go, be creative and help feed cats in need!
Poor Jackson Galaxy the foster cat. Late last year I rescued this big lug from a Kill Shelter in McDonough, Georgia. He had no hope of rescue since it was so close to Christmas and many rescues couldn't take another adult, but once I saw him I had to save his life. There was something about him, his great size, but sweet vibe that told me this was a kitty who needed to be spared being euthanized.
Fortunately, my friend Katherine from Animals in Distress (AID)said they would take him into their shelter, since I had my hands full. It worked out beautifully and Jackson arrived in January of this year. You can read all about it HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The most tranquil and Buddha-like Jackson.
I also told Jackson Galaxy, the swanky Cat Daddy from Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell,” about this apple-head Tom cat. He felt the same vibe and wanted to lend a helping hand. He offered to provide a FREE 15 minute consultation with whoever adopted the cat. I was delighted!
In less than a few weeks a family stepped forward to adopt Jackson. They had other cats and a dog. There was some concern about how he would get along with everyone, but since Jacks did so well at the shelter, not picking fights or bothering with the other cats, that they gave him a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The image that started this journey. How could you say NO to that cat?
Sadly, I don't know all the details, but the basics are that the other cats picked on and attacked Jackson. Jackson didn't cause any trouble at all. He didn't love the dog, but he didn't fight. He tried to stay clear of the cats, but they were violent with him. Eventually the family gave him to their Mother-in-Law since she had no pets. Jackson did fine with her, but then her husband died.
The Mother-in-Law visited her family often and brought Jackson with her. This constant upheaval caused the other cats to continue to attack Jackson. The woman was between a rock and a hard place-either she stop seeing her family, leave Jackson alone or give Jackson back to AID.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The Return of Jackson Galaxy.
I know that the family had a very tough time letting Jackson go and I know they ALL cried about it. They shouldn't be vilified for their choice. Jackson was very dear to them, but with the problems with the other cats, they decided it would be best to let him go.
I think there's a point at which people have made up their minds and you can't tell them to try to re-introduce Jackson or to not travel with him and get him a pet sitter; to work it out differently so Jackson wouldn't lose his home. The point was passed before we had a chance to intervene and on Friday, Jackson was brought back to the shelter.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Investigating his new home.
As fate would have it, AID was beyond full up, but they HAD to take Jackson. I felt responsible and tried to figure out what I was going to do, but Bobette was here taking up the only space I could use for Jackson. It just worked out beautifully that JaneA Kelley adopted Bobette while Jackson waited in a cage at the shelter for space to open up here. He only had to wait a few days.
I brought Jackson home yesterday afternoon and got him settled. My home is the fifth home Jackson's lived in in as many months. He is a bit anxious. He wants OUT of his foster room, but I need to give him and my own cats time to adjust to Bobette being gone and to the new arrival.
Jackson's coat is in terrible condition. It's dry and feels tacky. He must have been fed junk. His eyes are a bit runny and he has feline acne, which I'm already treating homeopathically and with diet. I've been brushing him a lot and trying to soothe his fears. He seems ready to meet my cats and just hang out, but I fear he will break with an upper respiratory infection from all the stress he's been under, so I have to wait a few more days.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Simply, Jackson. Visit his Petfinder Ad HERE
Jackson will be fine here until we get a great home for him. He's very likable and loving and meows like mad when he gets lonely. I hope he and my cats become friends. He deserves to have a good experience with other cats.
Jackson's very lucky. He not only has me and Katherine looking out for him, but Jackson Galaxy, the man himself, is also this cat's Guardian Angel. Mr. Galaxy took a liking to this big Buddha of a cat and is dedicated to helping us find our boy a great forever home.
With so many people on his side, I just know that one day the REAL forever family for Jackson Galaxy the cat will find him. Until then I get to say I'm living with Jackson Galaxy! How cool is that?
If you're interested in adopting Jackson, visit Kitten Associates Adopt Page and fill out a Pre Adoption Application. Though we prefer adopting within the United States and the area in or around Connecticut, for the right adopter, we're open to discussing an adoption that is further out of state.
If fans of Jackson Galaxy, the punk-abilly “Cat Daddy,” who stars in Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” weren’t already swooning over his “catuitive” techniques; Galaxy’s first book, “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean,” would push them into catastic bliss.
His story, which runs a breezy-to-read 300 or so pages, is not your typical tale of how a cat changed a human’s life. It’s a tag team relationship that spans thirteen years—many of which, for Jackson, are overshadowed by his intake of a dizzying array and quantity of illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription medications. And there’s his cat, an owner-surrendered white and gray shorthair with a broken pelvis named Benny who acts as both witness and muse (though more often he plays the part of a Gremlin, flipping off Galaxy’s initially arrogant assessments of his non-human-friendly behaviors).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. For the first time in his life, Spencer wishes he could read.
I had a chance to speak with Mr. Galaxy a few days before his book hit the store shelves. Ready with my questions, I waited nervously for him to call, wondering if it would matter that due to a snafu, I hadn’t gotten an advance copy of his book to read! As in our previous conversations and sole “4-hours-I’ll-never-forget-dinner,” within 30 seconds of our conversation beginning, I was unable to maintain my professional distance and conduct the 10 minute interview (which somehow went for 30 minutes).
Instead, Jackson clearly wanted to tease me, to charm me and to lay down the law. All fun and games aside, there’s a churning passion in this man’s heart that’s simply electrifying. His book, “Cat Daddy,” serves up his passion on a brilliant platter, but be careful, there’s a Petri dish on top, incubating a lifetime of pain. Galaxy repeatedly falls flat-faced onto the floor from a near overdose of drugs. You wonder how someone so decidedly “over-sensitive” to the world around him, who works so hard to cocoon himself from feeling, is ever going to survive, but somehow he does and then some.
©2005 Dr. Jean Hofve DVM. Used with permission. Benny near the window in Jackson's former Boulder, Colorado apartment.
The cure for what ails Galaxy walks on four, albeit one gimpy, legs. Benny’s a physically and emotionally broken cat who gets under Jackson’s skin and who metaphorically rips him to shreds until he learns how to feel again. Galaxy finds in Benny the key to unlocking both their inner demons though the transformation doesn’t happen overnight. His endless dedication to solving the mystery that is Benny, supercedes any need for a drink, a smoke, a snort.
What’s curious is that Galaxy stated he didn’t experience “Bobby Brady fireworks” when he realized his emotional over-sensitivity was exactly what was needed to help him get into the heads of the cats at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, where Galaxy worked in the early 1990’s. One night, during a violent thunderstorm, the cats began to literally scream in fear. He was a rocker, dammit, and his band Pope of the Circus Gods was going to hit it big some day. What was he doing testing his theories on how to help soothe the cats anxiety during such extreme stress when he could be writing the next hit single?
Yet Galaxy told me that after the storm passed, exhausted, he slumped against the wall of the cat room, soaked to the skin from the leaky ceiling, and realized he was surrounded by cats who were no longer panicked from the storm. Instead of bliss, it’s resignation. He sighed and said; “Shit. You’re a fool not to notice a defining part of your life.”
From “Cat Daddy”:
“Despite the sweaty layer of pharmaceutical shrinkwrap that muted my physical, spiritual and psychological self, I forced myself to read, to study, to observe, to learn. Despite what I didn’t want to be, something was growing.”
Galaxy’s words are unvarnished, sharp-witted and equally sharp-tongued— especially when he talks about being chided for euthanizing animals. After he explains why it’s reprehensible to vilify someone for purposely ending the life of a shelter animal just to ease overcrowding he writes:
“The job had to get done, and I would do it, but I would do everything in my power to change the necessity at its source: I would commit to spreading a strong message about spaying and neutering…”
Can I get a Hallelujah here?
There are other equally important messages in “Cat Daddy.” One such message touches on the importance of feeding a species appropriate diet (and you know how I feel about that-right on Mr. Jackson!), as well as sprinkled throughout the book there are helpful cat behavior tips. My only pet peeve is that I would have loved to see the tips grouped together at the END of the book. Galaxy’s story is one I want to sit down and read without the distraction of a specially formatted callout begging me to read it before I get back to the story. In fact, I read the book a second time, ignoring the tips and the tale landed a stronger punch.
©2005-ish Jackson Galaxy. Sweet Benny.
If you share a passion for cats and are confused about how to co-exist appropriately with them, this book, though not specifically a cat behavior guide, lends a friendly hand. In a way it’s like reading two books in one because you also get to hold tight as you bear witness to Mr. Jackson’s Wild Ride.
When I asked him about his growing celebrity he laughed it off. He has “no patience for what he sees—entitled celebrity B.S.” Sure, he’d like to spoil himself by maybe flying First Class” or buying five pairs of glasses but doing anything beyond that—even buying his first house seems “too big to think about right now.”
I found it ironic that Jackson wrote that his father, grandfather and brother were all salesmen, but he was not. I think Galaxy missed what seemed obvious to me after reading “Cat Daddy.” That he’s the best salesman in his entire family. He’s sold millions of fans who watch his show or read his book on the idea that cats are not little people in cat suits, who think and act just like humans and should be treated accordingly.
After a decade of addiction, once truly clean and sober, ready for a fresh start, Galaxy writes about a turning point with his cat, Benny: “I began to approach him as the cat he was, not as a differently shaped human, and he responded.”
Jackson Galaxy just celebrated his ninth year “sober-versary.” I asked him if the stress of the book tour and 62-day shooting schedule of MCFH Season Three was going to push him into old (bad) habits. He said the all too familiar quote about the idle hands being the Devil’s workshop and that these days the only thing he does other than work is eat, sleep and feed the animals. Staying busy keeps him out of trouble and so far he’s still very thankful and humbled by what’s happened so far, which was clearly evident during our interview when he described just how amazed he feels about this journey.
Wow, indeed, Jackson. You’ve come a long way, Cat Daddy.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cricket, my former feral feline, thinks “Cat Daddy” is worth making his own as he adds his scent to the spine.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. The review above is based on my opinion only. Your results may vary. Read with a box of tissues nearby.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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 .
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.