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Cat Camp NYC. Love at First Sight.

 

It’s impossible to describe a whirlwind, but I’ll do my best. There’s a blizzard churning outside my window so maybe that will inspire me. I’m just back from the very first ever Cat Camp NYC and I’m trying to piece things back together in my mind. For a cat-writer, cat-lover, cat-parent, Cat Camp NYC was a tasty morsel of all the things that make my heart go pitter-patter.

 

Cat Camp Sign R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson.

Cat Camp NYC, conceived by Christina Ha, owner of Meow Parlour and the Meow Parlour Patisserie, had a hunch that with the explosion of cat images, blogs, TV shows and movies that a symposium on the east coast, of all things cat, would be well received.

She was right.

With full disclosure I have to add, or is it brag or is it sing to the heavens, that yours truly was invited to be one of the Speakers at this year’s event. My task was to hostess a storytelling hour focusing on heartfelt cat rescue tales. According to the schedule, I’d be going right before The Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy’s VIP Meet and Greet. Be still my heart! What a thrill and honor to be included with such a respected cat behaviorist.

Lounge Sign R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Okay, so maybe they forgot to make a sign for the Lounge schedule. They did a nice job considering.

Okay, but that was Sunday and Cat Camp NYC was a two-day event.

Saturday

It was bitter cold but a crystal clear day. We’d gotten a few inches of snow the day before, but the sidewalks were thankfully well-groomed. With my face half-hidden by my scarf and my hands about to break off from the cold even though they were in my pockets, I was happy to finally arrive at the Metropolitan Pavilion on west 18th street a few minutes before the event opened.

Cat Camp Badge 1000

Security stopped me, but I proudly told them I was a Speaker and then suddenly I was welcomed into a group where I could have only dreamed of being a member years ago. I was greeted by a friendly volunteer who got me a Speaker badge and showed me where I could stow my things. The room was abuzz with last minute activity of the many vendors setting up their wares. I told myself I wasn’t going to spend all my money on items for the cats, but I also doubted I’d keep that promise.

It was lovely to walk the show before it got crowded. The exhibitor space was large and well lit. Off to one side were banks of tables topped with small black cages. In each cage was a cat available for adoption. I wondered if I should have had a table there for my rescue, Kitten Associates and our cats, but I also realized the stress from traveling would be awful coming from Sandy Hook, CT.

Tommy R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson.Tommy Boy. See him in action HERE.

I was glad to see that some of the cats were seniors or special needs cats. As I walked past each cage I silently prayed that by the end of the show all the cats would be adopted.

I met a cat named Tommy Boy, an FIV+ cat with the burden of also having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-the heart condition that eventually took the life or our dearest foster cat, Jackson Galaxy. Though it can be managed and the medications aren’t costly, HCM is eventually fatal. Tommy Boy was clearly a big, love-bug, just like Jackson was. He had no problems head-butting my fingers through the cage. Tommy needs to find a forever home ASAP so he can purr and relax with a loving family. To adopt or inquire about Tommy see his listing on Kitty Kind's web site.

 

Cone of Shame Robin LR

The lure of knowing there were cool things to see and learn about was too much. The show opened and the crowds were starting to enter. I got my photo taken with a giant cone of shame on thanks to Worlds Best Cat Litter (who also later donated some litter to my rescue-Thanks, Scott!). I began to see some of my cat lady friends, like Tamar from IHaveCat and Joanne from The Tiniest Tiger, who had a table displaying all her lovely cat-themed products for humans.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Tamar, from IHaveCat.

 

I decided it was a good time to do a Live Facebook video where I’d do a quick tour of the show hall. Things went pretty smoothly until I entered the cat adoption area. Just as I panned right, a guy stood in front of me. He bent over to get a better look at one of the cats when his behind popped out of his pants! FAIL! Plumber’s butt? After that I thought it might be wiser to stick to taking photos.

 

Robin and Brandy R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson. My new BFF, Brandy, who adopts senior cats and I think adopted one at the show!

 

In addition to the cat products and adoptable cats there were two tracks of Speakers ranging from Hannah Shaw, the Kitten Lady, Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther to VIP meet and greets with Lil Bub. There was so much going on it was tough to decide what to do or see-a good problem to have, but I also felt like I wanted a chance to see everything and not miss a beat.

 

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Hannah Shaw, Kitten Lady., gave an inspiring lecture on neonatal kitten care.

I learned some interesting things about neonatal kittens from Hannah, who I had the good fortune to speak with one on one. We traded some tips and I was thankful she's open minded and interested in learning as much as she can. Years ago I caught myself becoming arrogant about what I thought I knew about cat care and that was a huge mistake. You can’t learn enough because there’s always something else to discover-whether it’s the hard way or by having a support network you can go to when times get tough and the unexpected occurs. With all of the Kitten Lady’s fame, she's still humble and approachable. She’s already opened the door to inspiring others to foster the tiniest, frailest foster cats and I can see her doing even more amazing things in the future.

Kate B and Robin 2017
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Kate Benjamin looking adorable as usual!

I also attended Kate Benjamin’s Feline Design presentation, which to me is like watching a porno because after she gave us the story of her fascinating background before launching Hauspanther (which, by the way I designed the logo for!), she started showing photo after photo of gloriously designed cat furniture. Oh be still my heart!

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Kate kicking butt.

 

And then there was Jackson Galaxy. As some of you know, four years ago, before he was a superstar and travelled with bodyguards, Jackson took me out for dinner. (It's three parts in case you missed it: Ch 1, Ch 2 and Ch 3. ) It remains one of the best nights of my life, certainly one I’ll never forget, but a lot had changed since I last saw him.

 

I lost 60 pounds and had to chop my hair off after an unfortunate magenta hair color fail. Would he even know me? Why would it matter? I should be happy to even see him and leave it at that.

Robin Jackson Vinci 2017
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Oh boy! Oh boy! I got my hug. Oh, and learn more about Jackson's charity the Jackson Galaxy Foundation.

What was sweet was when I did get to have a chance to have quick chat with him, he seemed a bit taken aback that I thought he wouldn’t remember me. From the hug I got I’d say we were good. From the photos one of my fans took of us, you can see in my expression that I am about to fly without an airplane I’m so happy. Jackson has a natural charisma and warmth that is off the charts. He also is adorable, but out of deep respect for his wife, Minoo, who is one of the most kind and compassionate people, that’s all I’m gonna say. It’s ok to enjoy someone’s company and just let that good feeling keep you going after you part and leave it at that.

Plus, I had stuff to buy so off I went!

Jamie Shelmen, a “moderately crazy cat lover” and artist who has a shop called The Dancing Cat penned a number of hilarious greeting cards and t-shirts. I couldn’t pass up grabbing as many cards as I could, along with a much coveted t-shirt (see photo below).

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. WOO!

I met with Mario from Square Paws and we had a great conversation. His cat trees are pure fantasy realized. His creative talent and architectural background give his pieces a sense of whimsy I have rarely ever seen. I told Mario about my dream to re-do our main foster room. About how all our cat trees fall apart because kittens are very hard on sisal and carpet covered cat trees. I told him about the theme of the room (secret for now!) and about how I wanted innovation beyond just a cat tree. The room isn’t very large. The cat tree has to work for kittens 8 weeks and older so it has to perform for cats of many different sizes up to adults. Mario seemed very interested in our project and I’m hoping this connection will be a great benefit to our foster cats one day.

Of all the ways Cat Camp NYC succeeded, the best part of it was the networking. You can’t really connect when you’re commenting on a social media post the way you can in person. I also enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends, like Cathi De Meo Marro, an artist and flutist who created some hilarious cat-themed paintings. Her business is called Cat-Hi.

I got great tips about our TNR, Waterbury Cats project from the NYC Feral Cat Initiative. and I learned about two documentaries about cat rescuers who do TNR. One is called Catnip Nation and the other is called The Cat Rescuers. Both projects highlight the importance of doing TNR in ways that aren’t upsetting to viewers. I was glad to know that they both felt that in effective storytelling they could help people not familiar with community cats learn that we need to do more and be more compassionate about their plight without shock tactics. I’ll have more about these projects and their fundraising in a future post.

Felted Cat Beds R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Distinctly Himalayan's crazy cat beds (the googly-eyed ones are for cats up to 15 lbs).

There was so much more to see like the Distinctly Himalayan felted cat beds or the hilarious tiny sombreros and faux hot sauce pouch catnip toys of Polydactyl Cats. That said, I would have liked to see even more vendors and I hope that if Cat Camp NYC continues that next year will be even bigger and better.

The only shortcoming was that the areas were only curtained off for the special presentations instead of being in a separate walled off space. It was very loud in the Metropolitan Pavilion and the flat screen in the lounge area needed to be about four times bigger so everyone could see the presentations better. That said, the presenters were high-caliber and the presentations were packed full of eager and interested cat people.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Ingrid King of the Conscious Cat (left) and moi (right).

 

As for my presentation, I was delighted to have some of my readers in attendance, along with Sydney, one of my adopters, who drove down from Connecticut to see me. We had a very lively group, but again, the noise level made having an intimate discussion a bit tough…and wouldn’t you know it, right in the middle of one of my stories, Jackson Galaxy enters the lounge, which I feared would distract everyone in my group (including ME!).

 

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©2017 Sam Moore. Trying to stay focused when you-know-who is right behind me-not in those cat pants though, behind her.

I focused on my tale and was really getting into the story when I got tapped on my shoulder. One of Jackson’s staff whispered to me that if I wanted my photo with Jackson to be used on our Kitten Associates promotions I could get that done but it had to be right now…right in the middle of my session!

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©2017 Andrew Marttila. Used with Permission. Um. Yeah, so don't say anything to me about the look on my face. You'd look like that too if you were standing next to Mr. Jackson.

I quickly excused myself and what was kind of funny was his assistant introduced me to Jackson (not realizing I knew him) so I extended my hand with a smirk on my face and said; “how do you do.” Jackson rolled his eyes ever so slightly, then put his arm around me (:::Swoon:::). He asked me which camera to look at for the photo (there were a few photographers clicking away) and I stupidly replied “who gives a sh_t” because by then I figured he must have been completely wiped out by book signings, meet and greets, getting his photo taken with a zillion people already and traveling from Los Angeles. I hoped he didn’t get offended. By then I was pretty delirious, too. It’s not my fault that I was an idiot. Okay it was my fault! I had my story to get back to telling-which I did, seconds later, even though I wish I could have grabbed his hand and run out of the building.

I didn’t get a chance to see much of Lil Bub. Though I love her dearly and think so highly of her dad, Mike, I also didn’t want to take up time for those who had never seen her before. Bub had her own table of goodies at the show which always make me smile. I finally got to see the Bublehead box I designed for her. Looked great! I also found out there are some new Bub plushies coming out and I’ll have more info on them soon.

Bub Sign R olson

There was a lot more going on at Cat Camp, but I was so weary by the end of Sunday that I was glad Sam had driven to the city to see my presentation and could drive us home safely while I slumped in the passenger seat. With the daylight savings time change that weekend, the traveling, walking a zillion miles and the excitement of seeing my friends I was ready to pass out.

Line for Jackson ROlson
©2017 Robin AF Olson. The line to get into Jackson's keynote address went around the entire event space.

 

Cat Camp NYC was a well laid out, well planned event. I wish it had been in an even bigger space yet somehow magically a quieter one. I had so much fun, but I hated leaving my friends so soon. Cat Camp NYC is like going on a first date with “the one.” It’s thrilling to feel connected to someone you have so much in common with that it just feels "right." When it’s time to part you feel sad, wishing it could go on forever, but you know that all good things must come to an end eventually. Maybe you'll meet again soon and that's what keeps your heart beating.

 

I hope Ms. Ha will decide to launch Cat Camp NYC in 2018 because I will be there with my cat ears on and ready to rock.

Robin Cathi Jodi TIRED R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Cathi De Meo Marro (left) myself (center), the Healthy Pet Coach, Jodi Ziskin (right). Very pooped after an exciting weekend!

Just One Person. How to Save the Lives of Shelter Cats.

Many years ago when I was first fostering, I’d heard about conditions cats and dogs face in the southern United States at overcrowded municipal shelters. At the time I didn’t want to know any details. I kept my eyes to the ground and just fostered a few kittens here or maybe an entire family, but never too many to feel overwhelmed. I was protecting myself from a heartbreaking truth that I was convinced I couldn’t do anything about because I was just one person. Fostering a few kittens meant giving back to my community and helping cats. I didn’t have to find them homes, my “boss” did that. I didn’t have to get too attached because I only had the kittens for a week or two.

In fact, there were times when I could have learned more about terrible conditions right here in my own state when the rescue I volunteered for helped out with a hoarder, but I couldn’t handle it. I told them not to tell me or “I’d lose it.”

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Clyde is an adult with very sad eyes who was pulled from a Georgia kill-shelter because Joan knew he was doomed. He turned out to be FIV positive, but is a sweet cat. He has been neutered and given his vaccines. This VERY lucky adult may even have a home waiting for him thanks to Joan!

Because I write this blog, invariably someone will see my words and it will effect them, which in turn will end up changing my life, too. That’s how I finally gained the courage to open my eyes to the plight of cats and kittens in the south-one person who already knew about the horrors contacted me, asking me to help. She ended up being one of our most important volunteers, our first foster home and the key to beginning to make a difference in the lives of cats from the south.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Polly is a tuxedo polydactyl who very sweet. She is due to be spayed soon, but otherwise is fully vetted and healthy. Please contact Joan to inquire about adopting this cutie.

 

The horrors these days, with Facebook abuzz with pleas for help, seems almost trivial because it’s not a secret: overcrowded shelters euthanize cats and kittens, even ones just born, to make space. Most don’t get more than a day or two to get out via a rescue or adoption. Since kittens get sick so quickly, with their lack of a mature immune system, often they are the first to die. It makes me cry to even write about it, even after all these years of facing the ugly truth that if people don’t spay or neuter their pets, this will continue on and on.

 

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. These kittens had runny eyes and were pulled in the nick of time right before the shelter killed 21 other cats and kittens. Without a foster home these kittens wouldn't have made it.

Even though my rescue is small, we’ve made a difference in more than 500 cats' lives by directly rescuing them from shelters or by networking online to help others. It’s like emptying the ocean with a spoon, but it’s something-and for those cats it means everything.

 

That’s why when someone else, who is “just one person,” reaches out for help to rescue cats in need, I will try to do something and that’s the case for my friend, Joan Flores.

 

Joan is based in Chattanooga, TN and has been helping dogs and cats for as long as I’ve known her. Even though Joan is admittedly flat out exhausted and trying to step back from doing rescue so she can work on rebuilding her business (which took a big hit earlier this year), she can’t let animals die without trying to do something, anything to help.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Happy and safe and no more sniffles, thanks to Joan.

 

Joan recently contacted me telling me the bad news-that this “kitten season” is one of the worst anyone can recall. Every week cats and kittens are being put down for no good reason other than there’s no place to put them all.

 

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. This little one, her mother and the rest of her family were put down before 8AM, before Joan had a chance to beg for their lives. She had no open foster home for them. That's all it would have taken to save them. This post is dedicated to these little angels.

I realize that this scary and sad news might make you want to tuck your head under the blanket, but I’m going to ask you to try to be brave with me, with Joan, with our foster mom, Moe, with Bobby, Warren, Mary Jo, Kendra, Jame, Dorian, Katherine, Connie, Connie S., Adrienne, Amy and SO MANY MORE “just one person” who is trying to make a difference by fostering cats and kittens. If you add up all the cats each of us has fostered, you’re starting to look at some very impressive figures. Be just one, of many and join us.

Right now Joan is in DIRE need of foster homes in Chattanooga, TN area AND pretty much anywhere in central Georgia. I need foster homes HERE in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT. It doesn’t take much to foster but it will keep those cats from dying. Will you be sad when they leave? Sure. But I would much rather be sad that they left me and went to their forever home, then left a shelter in a black plastic bag never having known love or joy.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. The Redemption 5 These kittens were given 24 hours by a shelter (basically because they were messy eaters and they don't want to clean up after them). Thanks to Joan, they are safe but need funds to help with their care. BTW Bath tubs are the BEST place to raise kittens under 8 weeks!

Also, Joan is desperately trying to raise funds to provide surgery for a very pretty Siamese kitty named Amara, who, along with her little scruffy kitten, were destined to be put down. Thanks to Joan, they are safe, but Amara’s eye is in bad shape and she needs surgery.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Amara and son. They tried optical ointments for Amara, but sadly her eye is too damaged to save. It's painful and she needs to have it surgically removed-after which time Amara and her kitten will be available for adoption. See Joan for details (contact info is below).

 

This is not easy or fun to write about, but I'm so passionate about this topic that I truly hope you’ll take a leap of faith and open your home to Joan, our rescue, or ANY rescue in your hometown. Try fostering. Save a life, or two, or four. You’ll feel blessed to be around tiny creatures who have no sadness in their hearts. You’ll find your smile seeing them thrive-even on your worst day. You will make a pledge to be brave, for them, for the little ones who have no hope to live without you.

 

 

Let’s Save Some Lives!

 

Chattanooga, TN area and Georgia friends: Please contact Joan Flores at mcnewappraisals@gmail.com if you’d like to know more about the kittens posted here for adoption or if you’d like to offer assistance by being a foster home.

Please contact ME if you live in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT at info@kittenassociates.org if you’re interested in fostering for us!

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Don't make them wait for a rescue. Foster today!

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Adopt us, too! Contact Joan for details.

2014: The Year in Review

January

The year began with our litter of chronically sick orange kittens nicknamed The Clementines. They’d arrived from Kentucky, months before, supposedly after being in quarantine, they arrived to my home covered in fleas and with bad eye infections. A kitten named Sherbert got so sick we thought he’d lose his eye. What I couldn’t have known then was that 2014 ended up being “The Year of the Vet Visit” with so many sick and injured cats. What I thought was a lot of vet runs in January was nothing compared to what happened throughout the year.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. The Clementines.

Our black, white and gray foster cats, Mochachino and her son, Pizzelle fond their forever home together with an outstanding family here in Newtown. Soon after that, Mocha’s other sons, Nanny and Linzer found their home together, too.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mocha finally getting some rest now that her kittens are safe after being rescued from being sealed up inside a tiny cat carrier, left in the street in the hot summer sun of Atlanta for a few days. It's a miracle they survived.

It left Biscotti on his own so I let the Clementines share his room. Of course Biscotti got the eye infection from the Clems so it was back to the vet and weeks of terramycin eye ointment (it was on national shortage so the only way to get it was to have it compounded at a pharmacy for $60 a tube-we went through over half a dozen of them).

Sweet Biscotti R A F Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Biscotti, rescued out of a hot metal dumpster, burned, to this gorgeous, friendly creature.

By the end of the month, after many discussions and visits, Minnie, our lovely mama-kitty got the chance to move out of her former foster home where she was being frightened by other members of the household and other cats in the home. I couldn’t move her fast enough and luckily I found a quiet place with Susan and her hubby, Barry. The challenge for me was that Susan was pregnant and would it be a wise choice to have Minnie be part of a family with their first baby on the way? Susan wasn’t sure that Minnie was her forever-kitty, too, after still mourning the loss of her previous cat a few years prior, so the plan was to foster Minnie for a few weeks and see how it would go. The first goal was that Minnie had gotten a bad allergic reaction to something in her former foster home and if she couldn’t heal from it, then Susan would have a harder time if Minnie needed a great deal of care. It wasn’t because Susan wouldn’t provide the care, it was just really bad timing and I didn't think it was fair for her to have a sick cat and be pregnant. I worried that Minnie would become unhappy with a new baby, but there was something really special about this couple and they were determined that it would work out well so I gave it a chance.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Minnie, with scratches from other cats and sores on her face from some sort of allergic or stress reaction.

February

If February is the month of Love then it was no surprise when I got a call about a cat named Popcorn who would make me gush. He was listed on Craigslist-which is a dangerous way to find a cat a new home. A rescuer offered to take him from his family who had not provided care for him and as a purebred Himalayan Flame Point, not being groomed is not an option.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Two hours of grooming and this cat just let us do what we had to do.

I had a potential adopter for Popcorn so I worked it out for the cat to go straight to this woman’s home, do the adoption and call it a day.

But the cat’s coat was in horrific shape. The rescuer called me asking if I had clippers and that could she stop by and trim the cat before she took him to his home. I had clippers so she came to my home first.

The end.

Okay, maybe not the end. Popcorn was in such bad shape the matted fur had trapped urine from escaping very far so his behind was always wet and his skin was literally melting off his back end. It must have hurt SO BADLY and also been the reason why his former jerk-owners sprayed Axe body spray on him because he smelled terrible.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Mr. Cranky just after being groomed.

Two hours later, after a miserable time trimming him, this cat never hissed or bit me. After he was shaved he looked so adorable that between his china-blue eyes and silly expression I fell in love. I knew Popcorn would need serious vet care and though we did bring him to his new home, I told the woman to bring him to the vet the next day so she could use our discount. When she balked at being able to afford ANY charges, I realized I had to get this cat back. At the vet I made her realize he was better off with me until he was healthy. She couldn’t lift him to get him cleaned and every day his rear end needed to be medicated. It was just “for now,” right?

March

We renamed the cat, Fluff Daddy, even though it was only supposed to be his nickname, the name stuck. Fluff had lots of health issues, but nothing severe. He was so easy-going I let him leave confinement to hang out with my cats. Even though he’s half the size of my guys, he doesn’t take crap from any of them. I’d never had a purebred cat in my life, ever, and it seemed everything he did was unusual and fascinating. He also loved the foster kittens so I started to think that maybe he should be our rescue mascot.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Fluffzilla.

The Clementines were still sick. I started to wonder if they’d be with us for eternity. They were all so lovely, I wasn’t sad they were still here, but it also wasn’t fair to them to be here for so long. Biscotti also struggled with the repeating eye infection, too. It was endlessly frustrating.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. I will never forget you, Jackson.

On March 27, 2014 I got the call I’d been dreading. Mickey, the devoted and loving mama to Jackson Galaxy, a cat I’d rescued from Georgia, called. Jackson almost died a few times from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Mickey had been the needle-in-the-haystack adopter who wasn’t phased to adopt a cat she knew wouldn’t live for many years. After a year and a few months together, Jackson cried out in pain. He was rushed to the vet, but there was nothing more to be done and he was released from this world surrounded by love, even his Vet cried. Jackson who had always been fussy at our vet, loved his new vet and had charmed everyone there and they were all so saddened by his passing. Jackson was one of the most special cats I’d ever known and to this day I get a lump in my throat when I think about him.

April

Biscotti got adopted twice in April, once to the WRONG family and at last to the perfect family, a super-smart-talented-writer named Amanda, came all the way to Newtown from Massachusetts and fell in love. Biscotti was smitten, too. It was one of the most perfect adoptions we’d ever done.

Then the call from Susan, they wanted to make it official. Minnie was adopted, too!

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©2014 Warren Royal. Maggie (grooming) and Junie (center orange) were part of a 5-cat rescue. Two of the cats went to another group and my rescue, Kitten Associates, took the remaining three cats.

The Clementines started to find their families, Maggie, Junie and Purrcee, from Georgia arrived and began finding their homes, too.
We took in a semi-feral mom named Mia and she gave birth to five kittens, Mickey named one of them Woody Jackson in honor of her sweet boy Jackson.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mia and family.

May

Our first pregnant rescue was a gorgeous chocolate point Siamese named Celeste. She was dumped outside and a good Samaritan found her and asked for help. She was willing to cover the cat’s vet care and would even adopt the mom after she was done weaning her kittens. I felt it was a great fit and I was eager to see kittens being born.

Celeste outside
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Pregnant and dumped by her family, Celeste needed rescue right away.

On May 13th, just days after Celeste arrived, she gave birth to five kittens. I could tell right away that something was wrong with one of the kittens. I also realized I was in way over my head when I tried to get that kitten to nurse on Celeste, who never ignored her kitten, so I thought if I could get him to latch on he’d be okay. I tried to feed the little guy, but he was much smaller than the others. I named him Fiorello and I stayed with him all night, keeping him warm and urging him to eat, but he would not. I think we all knew he wasn’t going to make it and by the next morning he was gone. In grief, Celeste reacted by furiously scratching all the litter out of her pan. She growled and hissed at me and for a few days I knew she was mourning the loss.

Thankfully the other kittens, Twinkle-Twinkle, Little Star, Astro and Hubble were doing well.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Celeste with Fiorello.

June

When the Danbury Fire Department got a call about a weird sound in a wall, they responded. They had to break a hole into a concrete basement wall where they discovered a tiny kitten. With no mother or siblings to be found they took the cat to a vet for help. They vet wouldn’t help unless the care was paid for so they called me.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Wallace.

Enter Wallace, the tiny tabby who needed to be bottle fed. After losing Fiorello, I didn’t want to bottle feed again. Lucky for all of us Chris, a Vet tech offered to help. She and her Great Dane, Nina became Wallace’s new family until he was weaned.

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©2014 Christine C. Wallace with surrogate mom, Nina, the Great Dane.

July

A crazy month. Our foster mom, Moe told me about neighbors who had a cat that never got spayed. She’d had at LEAST 4 litters in three years, probably more than that. Kittens were dead in their yard or sick. None were getting vet care. I told Moe I didn’t want to add more cats to our program but I couldn’t say no. One by one, Moe got the cats. Six of them were older kittens, covered in fleas, really sick. There was the first mama, Laney and her daughter, Winnie and they were both pregnant. We had a few other of the older cats vetted, then began the arduous task of vetting everyone else while we waited for the kittens to be born.

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©2014 Foster mom Moe. The J's, the first group of 15 cats we took from ONE family's yard just because they didn't spay their female cat.

Meanwhile Celeste’s kittens were weaned and were spayed/neutered. I had to cancel Celeste’s appointment because she was in heat, which ended up being a temporary blessing.

I gotcha mayhem Robin AF Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Hubble (far left), Twinkle, Astro and Star (far right).

August

Winnie has her first litter. Two kittens-one was stillborn, one was very tiny and pale. She was named Piglet but we didn’t think she’d survive because Winnie wasn’t interested in caring for her offspring. Being so young herself, we understood her reluctance to nurse her baby. We also knew she was mourning, too.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney and Piglet.

Thankfully for Piglet, his grandmother, Laney, began to care for him. As she did, Winnie took interest. Both cats mothered Piglet and a week later when Laney had six healthy fat kittens, her first concern remained that little Piglet got the best care.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney (left) and her daughter Winnie (right) with all their kittens.

Minnie’s mom, Susan gave birth to a son, Henry. I held my breath, waiting for bad news that Minnie would have to go, but it never came.
Instead I got photos of Minnie, sitting next to the baby, seemingly protecting him while he laid in his mother’s arms. Susan reported that Minnie was fantastic with the baby and that she was already telling her newborn son that he should be gentle with Minnie and love her like a sister.

Susan Henry Minnie
©2014 Susan Whalen. With son Henry at her side, Minnie, completely relaxed keeps her family company.

September

If I knew then what I know now I would have moved to the North Pole.

In late August, kitten Twinkle got her leg stuck in such a way that she panicked, then ended up breaking a tiny bone in her leg to get free. She caused everything I’d stacked on top of the washer and dryer to fall to the floor as we heard one of the kittens screaming. I didn’t know which kitten it was until I looked at her and she cried, trying to stand, but fell over. It was late at night and I rushed her to our Emergency Vet. They wanted $5000 to fix it with 75% up front. I didn’t have it.

Before surgery
©2014 Robin AF Olson.

At 3AM, after I got home from the Vet, asking them to get her stable until the next morning and give her pain meds, I started a fundraiser hoping we’d get enough to get us half way there. I honestly didn’t know what I would do if we couldn’t raise the funds.

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In less than 24 hrs we had the full amount. I’d never raised that sort of money, ever. I made a tearful, kind of embarrassing video thanking everyone for knocking one out of the park for Twink. She made a full recovery after being on cage rest and in a cast for over a month.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. With daddy Sam.

Ten days later, more screaming, but from a different foster room. I am sick to say our web cam captured what happened. At the time all I knew was to run upstairs and find out who got hurt. It took all of a second to know it was Fernando because all I saw when I looked at his face was that one of his eyes was covered in blood.

Another Emergency Visit, another few thousand dollars later, Fernando’s eyelid was ripped in three. When I viewed the footage of the accident I cried. He had been upside down, wrestling with Wallace. Somehow his eyelid caught on the metal “finger” of a dog crate divider I had stored out of harm’s way. At least that’s what I had thought. It’s in the dump now.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. At the Vet for his final checkup after ripping his eyelid in three.

So now I had a cat with stitches and cone-of-shame and another in a cage with a cast. What’s next? I shouldn’t have thought about it, but then came the call that changed my life. A little kitten was at the Emergency Vet. She was messed up but the family couldn’t afford care for her. My friends at Animals in Distress had already told the Vet the couple could sign the kitten over to them, but then where would it go? I offered to go there since I live nearby to take photos and help do yet another fundraiser. They asked me if I’d foster the cat and I said no way I had too much going on.

Sweet Dreams R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. The first look at Freya. She was too tired to even worry that she was almost euthanized due to the rareness of and difficulty to repair her birth defects.

When I got to the vet the couple told me the Vet said the kitten had a 10% chance to live. That she had a rare birth defect called Atresia Ani and that only surgery would save her life, but it would be $5000.00. I asked the cat’s name. They said “Freya.” She was so tiny, almost pure white with an odd thumbprint of tabby on her forehead. The vets decided to give the kitten a few days to get bigger before they tried the surgery. She weighed just over a pound. Since it was “only a few days” sucker-me said yes, I would take her, not knowing her care would end up almost shutting down my rescue for the rest of the year.

October

Though the month got off to a happy start, with Kitten Associates winning the Dogtime Pettie Award for Best Cause Blog, things turned dark quickly.

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Celeste needed to be spayed, but I was overwhelmed with caring for Freya. I got an air mattress and basically slept on the floor with Freya every night. Celeste was at another foster home so I had room for Freya. I was so tired from all the cats who needed extra vet runs and care that I was having a breakdown. One of my friends said she’d take Celeste to be spayed so I could get a bit of rest.

Celeste got spayed, but no one at the vet told me they had a very hard time with her. They never told me she was 10 years old, not 2. They didn’t tell me her uterus was full of cysts and that those cysts would have caused her to be in heat 365/7/24. I only learned all that after the early morning call from her foster home saying something was wrong.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson.

Although I got Celeste to the vet within the hour, she died. I was devastated. Celeste’s blood wouldn’t clot. It might have been caused by severe stress, it might be hereditary, it might be from being so much older than we thought. We’d never know the real reason, but the kittens all had to be tested to make sure their blood clotted normally (all did).

After that day we made changes so that all our mama-cats get pre-op bloodwork and any other tests they might need. If they are fractious then our vets know to give them a day to relax and to call us if there are problems. As we all grieved this loss, I also continued to worry about Freya because it was a challenge to get her good nutrition without it adding to the stool that was slowly filling up her abdomen. Would a foolish mistake about her diet end up killing her?

Having Freya for a few days turned into two weeks, which turned into six weeks, which made it impossible for me to deal with finding adopters for our cats, work to make a living and write a blog post or two. I was making up my own idea of what a good diet would be for a kitten who could only pass less then a pea-sized stool out of her vagina. Every two weeks we did x-rays to see how Freya was doing and her intestines were getting more and more filled with dangerous stool.

Then just as October was coming to a close, worse news. Big Daddy, the charming, dearly loved cat had died due to complications from lymphoma. I’d been part of Big Daddy’s team, first finding him a rescue to take him after his daddy Warren trapped him and got him ready to be adopted. Having FIV meant it would be tough to find Big Daddy a home, but after reading my blog, Angels of Assisi in Virginia offered to foster him and find him a forever home.

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In the end, Big Daddy returned to Warren after it was discovered that Big Daddy had lymphoma. Warren had been missing his big buddy and with such a serious health issue it was decided it would be best for him to return to Georgia. Warren took Big Daddy to oncologists and researched treatments to get Big Daddy the best care possible. For a time Big Daddy did well, but other days were very tough. As with most cancers, it’s hard to know where it spreads until it’s too late.

Big Daddy’s life was not lived in vain. He still has a fan club and mission, through his devoted dad, Warren, to help remove the stigma of cats with FIV and provide education and awareness about this disease.

November

I was certain I was going to have a breakdown from nonstop stress, I somehow manage to pack up Freya and all our things and head to Boston where Freya would finally get her surgery. I felt like it was very possible these were her last days because even at three pounds, she was still small. The surgery was VERY RARE and had many risks. What I never expected was that Dr. Pavletic knew after a few minutes that she was still too small and he wanted to wait until January. After a hair-raising 4 hour drive to Boston, I had to turn around and go back home barely after I’d arrived. Part of me was wrecked by the news and the other part was relieved. I wanted Freya to have the best chance to survive, but I also knew the longer we waited, the more likely the stool build up would get worse.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Pavletic decides it's too soon to do surgery after examining Freya.

Sometimes I think I should never answer the phone. A friend contacted me about a cat his wife had found near the side of the road the night before. They asked me if I could help them with it since they weren’t sure what to do. I told them we could take the cat to my vet and we’d do an exam. I didn’t think it would cost more than $200. What I didn’t know was that the cat was very old, emaciated and VERY SICK.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. A very sick, skinny lady in ICU/Isolation.

So began the next rescue-odyssey. We needed a name for the cat right away so Betsy, who works for my Vet, blurted out “Saturday?!” At that point I didn’t even know if the cat would live so I said okay.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Erich, Saturday's foster dad, holding Saturday after she'd survived three weeks in intensive care and was finally stable.

For the next week, every day I expected the Vet to call and tell me the cat had died. I’ve rarely seen a cat in such poor shape live. She was a bag of bones, hunched over, snorting and coughing. Not eating. Three weeks passed and somehow, some way, Saturday got better and again, a bit better. She needed a tremendous amount of care and it cost over $3500.00. She still needs a dental to clean her teeth now that she’s stable and has gained a few pounds. The hope is to raise the funds for her teeth, then find her a sweet place to retire. We call her “Lady Saturday” now as she’s so regal and fine and sweet-tempered. She was one of our best transformations-a work in progress.

December

I honestly don’t know how I made it to December. I didn’t have a day off, certainly no vacation of any kind, really no break from anything. All the foster cats were huge because I hadn’t been quickly processing applications. Frankly, I just gave up. The kitties were safe and well fed and loved, but I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything. I knew that 2015 would have to be the year of saying NO and creating a better space to take time for my life and to just have some peace, but before I could do that, Freya’s bi-weekly x-rays told us that it was time to go to surgery. We wouldn't make it to January after all. With the holidays upon us we had to act quickly.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Our last night before the big surgery.

On December 9th Freya and I left once again for Boston, this time through a Nor’easter that pounded New England and made the drive a dangerous nightmare. All I wanted was to rest the night we arrived, but I was so worried about surgery the next day, rest never came.

On December 10th, Dr. Pavletic proved once again that he is a genius. He performed Freya’s surgery in just under two hours. She did well and was coming out of her sedation. He was ready to release Freya that night but I insisted she stay, shocked that she could go home so soon. It was the first of up to three more surgeries, but it would be months before we knew how Freya would really do. Would she be incontinent for the rest of her life? Would she handle more surgeries? It was wait and see. At least now, finally, she had a chance to pass the stool that had been trapped inside her for months.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Just after surgery, Freya is already back on her paws.

So here we are on the evening of the last day of 2014. It was a very tough, draining year. I won’t label it a “bad” year because I learned a lot and I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished. Though due to chronic illnesses of the kittens and lack of adoptions we only helped 64 cats this year, but we also created awareness about Atresia Ani, which is helping to save the lives of other cats with this very rare birth defect. We’ve also just been awarded one of the Top 50 Pet Rescues of 2014 by Entirely Pets, which is pretty darn cool considering we’re a tiny rescue.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Jasmine, Junipurr (upper cat tree) with Josh (center) and Jules (below) just a day before three of them broke with bad eye infections and a URI.

Midnight, December 31, 2014 arrives and what am I doing? I’m putting terramycin in the eyes of a sick orange tabby bringing the year to some sort of strange perfect closure.

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If you'd like to read more about any of these cats, simply use the SEARCH box to the right and enter the name of the cat. You should find a list of posts related to each one.

The Accidental Feral. Big Daddy's Next Journey is to the Angels

Big Daddy needed to find a needle in a haystack. That needle was a rescue or adoption. Being FIV positive made Big D's chances of finding a placement any time soon a long shot, but what Big Daddy had going for him was all of you—his angels. Angels who read my blog post THE ACCIDENTAL FERAL and didn't sit on their hands, they did something about it. They shared his story. The talked about him. The news spread..and then…

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©2014 Warren Royal. Big Daddy doing what he does best.

Within a few days an email arrived from a woman named Chelsea. I could tell from her words she was very upbeat and interested in Big Daddy, not just pie in the sky dreams of wishing she could adopt him. She'd known other cats like Big D and knew she could take him into her shelter. She and her peers love difficult to place cats and they work very hard to find them great homes. They aren't spooked by FIV. They know Big Daddy can be with other cats and people. They can find him a home.

Chelsea's the Foster Coordinator for Angels of Assisi and it's in Roanoke, Virginia, about a 6 hour drive from northern Georgia, where Warren and his wife, Terri are currently fostering Big Daddy. Since I've had a few unfortunate experiences transporting cats to rescue groups I'm not familiar with, I began to ask around to find out more about A of A and make CERTAIN they were legitimate. Why? Here is just one reason.

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©2014 Lori D'Angelo. I just realized the origins of Lori's last name most likely described a person who was "angelic." Come on...tell me you don't believe in fate now!

One of our readers named Lori, offered to go to A of A and, just like a spy, took lots of photos covertly so she could report back to us. Okay, she didn't have to do that as I'm sure no one would have minded. She let us know that the place looked good to her and she'd been there years back and found it to be a good place back then, as well. Another friend of Covered in Cat Hair named Tori, told me they had a good reputation and she gave me more info about what good community outreach they have and how she felt it would be a good place for Big Daddy, too.

Angels has the best animal photos I've seen in a long time. Their Blog and Facebook pages are well done and active. I asked Warren to do some checking, too and by total coincidence he discovered a new client of his has a BIG location in Roanoke AND they'd love to meet Warren if he was in the area…then he finds out his client adopted a cat from Angels!

I was relieved Chelsea was understanding and helpful about all our questions and concerns, because I think she understands what dangers lie out there if you are not careful about where you place a cat.

The decision was made. Big Daddy will be leaving Warren and family this weekend. Warren is personally driving him to Angels to make absolutely certain it's a good placement for him.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Best friends forever.

Big D has blossomed since he was first trapped. Almost daily Warren has sent me a photo of Big Daddy looking more and more relaxed and content. I almost begged Warren to keep this big boy, but after many long conversations with his wife, he couldn't sort out how to make it happen with the cats he already has. I know Warren's saved so many cats over the years…

…but I have a feeling that saying goodbye to Big Daddy will be his toughest. I hope you'll join me in telling Warren how proud you are of him and thanking everyone at Angels of Assisi for their offer to help.

I'll cross my fingers that in the coming days we'll get the best news-that Big Daddy has found his forever home, but for now I'll be happy that Big Daddy is with the Angels.

The Accidental Feral. Big Daddy.

Northern Georgia’s had a rough winter. With snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures that vastly skew from what’s considered normal, the feral cat population has had an even tougher time surviving.

These cats are not accustomed to the colder temps and may not be as successful as their northern counterparts in finding adequate shelter. Their coats may not be as thick and their struggle to have a full belly leaves them even more vulnerable.

For a lucky few cats there’s Warren and his wife, Terri, who I’ve written about in the past. They get out there and trap, neuter, and some times return the feral cats they trap. They help the pregnant cats and the kittens find homes. They are very passionate about their rescues and have even hoped to open their own sanctuary one day.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Big Daddy the day after being trapped.

It’s not unusual for Warren to stay up late at night, watching a trap, hoping the cat will enter it so he can get it properly taken care of. Most of the time the process is straightforward. The cats are vetted, spayed or neutered, given some time to recover, then he brings them back to their colony where he and his wife will make sure they get fed.

That’s why when Warren noticed a big tabby, limping, clearly injured, who also looked a heck of a lot like one of the kittens Warren rescued (read about Dexter’s amazing and scary journey HERE), he knew he had to trap him and get him to a vet. The problem was, what could he do for this kitty, AFTER getting vetted? Surely it would be difficult to treat a fractious cat, which could mean Warren could get hurt or the cat might not recover from his injury if he couldn’t get him medicated or change bandages.

First things first…get the cat trapped.

Warren got his supplies ready and opened up the trap. He saw the cat who he called, Big Daddy, not far away, watching him. As soon as Warren opened a can of food, in a flash, there was Big Daddy by his side, pushing Warren away so he could get at the tempting morsels. Shocked, Warren carefully, lured the cat into the trap, fearful he could be harmed at any moment if the cat was separated from his food for too long. Clearly the cat was starving and didn’t care if he was in a cage or not.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Getting fueled up (again!).

Warren quietly closed the trap door and rushed Big Daddy to the Vet. Big Daddy wasn’t thrilled to be in the car but there was something odd about him. For a feral cat, he wasn’t crouched into a tight ball. He wasn’t hissing. He wasn’t struggling to break free from the trap. He was just eating.

The plan was to leave Big Daddy with the Vet for a few days while Warren was here in New York City at a trade show. I was with Warren when the call came in on the cat. He had an abscess from a bite wound, but they felt it would heal. Against Warren’s orders they gave him Convenia, assuming that since the cat was feral it was the best they could do, [even though Convenia is NOT for bite wounds but because it’s injectable and there are no pills, people tend to use it so they don’t have to pill their cat. The problem is-once injected it stays in the body for MONTHS. If there’s an allergic reaction you can’t get it out of the body. It’s really only good for certain bacterial issues regarding the SKIN. Using it after a dental or for some other reason is not safe and contra-indicated.]

They went ahead an ear-tipped him even though Warren said not to because he wasn’t sure the cat might not be feral. When we found that out we were both very angry. If Big Daddy ended up being a cat we could socialize, then ear-tipping him could further reduce his chances for adoption.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. What a face!

They neutered him and vaccinated him. They snap tested him and discovered he was positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. We weren’t surprised, but it meant that letting him back outside was not an option, but now what would we do with him? Warren feared he might have to euthanize the cat if he couldn’t go back to the colony or if he was too fractious to find a forever home.

Warren came home and discovered his hunch was right. Big Daddy wasn’t feral, but how friendly was he? Did he have behavior problems? If so, how severe were they? When Warren approached Big D’s crate, Big Daddy stepped forward and seemed interested in sniffing Warren’s hand. Worried he would get bitten, Warren cautiously offered the back of his hand. Big Daddy head-butted it.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Waiting for the next part of his journey to begin.

Warren slowly petted the cat. He seemed to like it and immediately began to purr. This poor cat, who Warren knew had to have been outside for a year or more, hadn’t forgotten the love he’d known from humans. He was willing to trust again, right away, which surprised us all.

©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission.

Over the past few weeks, Warren and Terri have been working with Big Daddy, assessing his behavior to see if he’d qualify to be adopted. Big D nipped at Warren a few times, but Terri said he never nipped her. Why? Turns out Warren needed to learn that Big Daddy didn’t care for being petted like he was a dog—oops! (Warren admitted to not realizing that right away since he’d known dogs most of his life). Once Warren made a slight change in how he petted Big D the nipping stopped.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Loves that brush.

Big Daddy’s met a few other cats. He’s interested, but neutral. A further test revealed another surprise-Big Daddy LOVES to be brushed!

©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission.

Big D’s leg is healing nicely and he’s relatively content in his big crate in the garage, but yearns to be out of it and in Warren’s house. Sadly, Warren’s other cats won’t welcome a newcomer and ultimately Big Daddy needs a home of his own.

This very sweet, affectionate, gentle giant weighs 15 pounds and is about 4 years old. He's physically he’s a large kitty. Aside from having FIV, his health is good. He does not have issues with his gums, teeth or digestion, which can happen to FIV cats. With a GOOD DIET and I mean NO DRY FOOD, low carb, grain-free canned food or better yet, dehydrated raw or really any raw diet, he will do well.

©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission.

There are Vets who vilify cats with FIV and say they can’t be with non-FIV cats, but in my own experience with my cat, Bob, he was with not only my 7 cats, but countless kittens and none of them ever got sick. Bob would have had to BITE them so seriously his teeth would have had to sink into flesh to transmit the disease. Yet, there is a vet who just said she felt it was passed through a litter pan, which defies logic.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Meeting Murphy.

The bottom line is Big Daddy is no feral cat. He's a big, sweet, super-cute, kitty who just wants to give and get love—who can be a friend to other cats. He's a cat who got dealt a tough hand now that he has FIV, but that doesn't mean he can't have a forever home. This accidental feral needs a forever home and we’re hoping that maybe it’s yours.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. What a cutie pie!

Warren definitely has Big Daddy’s back. Because he cares for him so much Warren will cover transportation costs to an approved home or non-profit, no-kill rescue group or shelter. He will also TAKE BIG DADDY BACK, should the adoption or rescue placement not work out. Ideally this home will be in northern Georgia, but if it’s anywhere along the east coast of the USA, we can get Big Daddy to your door. If you live outside the east coast, let’s talk.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Big Daddy with our Rescuer-Daddy, Warren.

If you’re a non-profit, no kill rescue and would like to take Big Daddy on and find him a forever home, Big Daddy will come with a $250.00 sponsorship and he’s already completely vetted.

If you’d like to adopt Big Daddy, go to our rescue group, Kitten Associates, and fill out a Pre Adoption Application and I will forward them to Warren.

If you have any questions or are with a rescue and can help Big Daddy find his home, just email me at info@kittenassociates.org.

Please share this socially if you believe, as I do, that Big Daddy deserves a great home. Thank you!

2012 The Year of Heartbreak and Hope Part 1

January

We began the year with a rescue, going beyond our comfort zone by taking on an adult, instead of an easy-to-place kitten. The cat was a huge, white, “biscuit head” tom-cat from Henry County Care & Control. I saw his photo and saw something about him that made me take action. I named him Jackson Galaxy in honor of the Cat Daddy/Cat Behaviorist on Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell.”

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©2012 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson was a miserable wreck when we first took him into Kitten Associates as our first rescue of 2012.

Jackson had a rough start. He frightened Maria but we realized later it was because he was in great pain. He had a terrible infection from his neutering and he needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and get him back on the road to good health. By the end of the month, Jackson was on the transport headed to Connecticut to find his forever home.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford (inset). ©2012 Leesiateh.com. Miss Fluffy Pants shortly before being adopted.

Our friend and volunteer, Bobby Stanford, told me about two cats living outside a palette factory in McDonough, GA. They were living in poor conditions and in danger of being hit by any one of the numerous fork lifts that raced around the premises. One of the two cats, a dirty, thin tuxedo we named King Arthur, seemed to be missing his back paws. Completely horrified I decided we'd help him and the other cat on the premises, who we named Miss Fluffy Pants, because we worried she was pregnant.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset). King's mama, Judy. King's journey has been quite amazing. I'll be doing a more in-depth update on him in January.

I was fostering a little orange tabby spitfire named Bobette, along with her two boys, the third had just been adopted. Bobette needed surgery to repair her luxated patella, so I sat in on the procedure and helped her in recovery and for the next few weeks while she healed.

February

February was a month of discovery. We learned that King's missing paws were due to a birth defect. He didn't need surgery or prosthetics. He could walk on carpeting, but who would adopt this cat? King began to clean himself and gain some weight. He loved being petted until Miss Fluffy Pants came to join him.

Miss FP was not pregnant. We thought the two cats were friends at the factory, but they were not happy to see each other. With some quick thinking and the donation of a cat tree, Miss FP could sit high up, away from King and both cats relaxed into their new foster home.

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©2011 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette with one of her kittens while at the kill shelter and after surgery in Sam's loving arms.

We also learned the Miss FP was FIV+ which we knew would put a roadblock in our ability to find her a good forever home. With her taking up valuable foster care space I got to work trying to figure out what to do for her that didn't mean putting her in a sanctuary.

We were heartbroken to learn that after some behavior issues gave us a clue to trouble, Dr. Larry diagnosed Sam's cat, Nicky with Chronic Renal Failure. We began giving him sub Q fluids every few days and began to learn more about this condition and ways we could lengthen his life.

Jackson arrived in Connecticut and was placed with my friends at Animals in Distress, but fell ill after arriving there. They thought it was a mild upper respiratory infection and in time he was feeling better. By the second week of February, Jackson found his forever home with a loving family. We were all delighted.

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©2011 Maria S. (inset) ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Two of Bobette's boys, Jakey & Teddy.

Bobette continued her recovery, but was still limping. I had to separate her from her boys because she hissed and growled every time she saw them. The boys, Jakey & Teddy had a blast hanging out with my cats while I continued to try to find them a great home.

March

The saying is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but this March was the opposite; quiet for a few weeks, then things started to go crazy.

Bobette had the staples taken out of her leg and due to a problem with the bandage removal she ended up biting my hand so badly I had to see a Doctor.

I found a blueish growth on my cat Gracie's abdomen. She had a dental done and had the cyst removed. It ended up being an Apocrine Gland Carcinoma, but was considered to be completely excised and of no further concern.

Jakey & Teddy were adopted together and Bobette was glad to see them leave.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy.

On March 26th, a few days before my birthday, Jackson Galaxy emailed me and asked me out to lunch (which ended up being dinner). It was one of the best days of my life, but that wasn't all that happened. That night in the frigid cold in nearby Trumbull, CT, six mostly black kittens were born to a gray mama named April. I didn't realize it at the time, but they would be my next foster family.

The next day, still buzzing from my visit with Jackson, I was honored by Freekibble.com with a donation of a full palette of Halo® canned cat food! The press came to document the event and I started to wonder if the foster cats would eat it (they loved it!).

April

The Worst Birthday Ever was followed by picking up April and meeting her mostly all black female kittens for the first time. Three kittens were polydactyl and there was no way I was going to be able to tell most of them apart for the next eight weeks.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April and her kittens.

I rescued a senior cat named Leo who was an adorable long haired tuxedo. The poor cat was forced to live outside on scraps when his owner's wife had a baby. I begged my friend Katherine to take him into Animals in Distress if I paid the Vet bill. We worked something out and Leo was saved. A few months later, Leo and a second cat found an amazing home with a family I found for them here in town. They are doing GREAT.

A missing cat alert showed up in email with a very familiar name, Amberly. One of my former foster cats was MISSING and the family didn't have the nerve to tell me. I leapt into action. Thank GOODNESS Katherine has good instincts and lived nearby the family. By the next DAY Katherine found Amberly and the family promised to work harder to keep her inside.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, all grown up with siblings Choco and ChiChi (inset).

Maria contacted me about a tortie mom cat we named Cami and five kittens in her neighbors yard. She was very worried about them so I told her to find a place to put them and we'd take them on. By the time Maria got back to the home, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. We named the surviving kittens Coco, ChiChi and Choco.

May

On May 1st a shelter called AnimalKind in upstate New York suffered the total loss of their facility after a small fire caused the sprinkler system to flood the 3-story building. Through my contacts a pet product companies I was able to provide them with palettes of food and litter. Later in 2012 I visited their facility and met with their Director, Katrin Hecker. You can read about my visit HERE.

I travelled to New Jersey to attend Bottle Baby Bootcamp at Tabby's Place. The timing was great because the black kittens needed help since poor April was having a tough time feeding all the kittens. I worried the littlest one wouldn't make it, but Cutie Pie surprised me and began to do well. I named her sisters Sabrina, Bon Bon, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia (in honor of my friend, JaneA's cat Dahlia who had recently passed away).

Then a crazy thing happened.

JaneA came to visit us and instead of falling in love with her cat's namesake, she threw me a curveball, clearly falling in love with our little spitfire, Bobette. She adopted her the next morning before she left for her home in Maine. It was a one of the happiest adoptions I'd ever done.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her girl, Bobette (who she later named, Kissy)

By the end of the month there was more somber news. Jackson the cat lost his home and was being returned. Since I had space I offered to take him back since AID was full up.

June

June will forever be a tough month for me since it's the anniversary of my Father's passing and of my favorite cat's passing. I hoped that this June would not be under such a dark cloud but it was not meant to be.

Thankfully it wasn't all bad news. After months of searching, begging, dealing, I was able to get Miss Fluffy Pants transferred to Good Mews in Marietta, Georgia.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is still looking for her forever home! You can visit her Petfinder page HERE

Maria, our cat-magnet, rescued a cat from a tree. She named her Willow and we added her to our group of rescues in Georgia. Meanwhile, I got a curious email from a lady in New Hampshire inquiring about King. She had a fully carpeted home. She had two cats. Did I think King might be happy with her?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me, Jill Delzer (center) and Ingrid King (far right). Inset: Joanne McGonagle, Me with Gracie the cat.

And for the first time in many years, I took a fistful of Xanax and boarded a plane headed to Salt Lake City where Sam and I were Speakers at BlogPaws 2012. I was up for two awards that I did not win, but I had so much fun and made a great new friend. In those few days I was re-energized enough to keep doing rescue work once I got home.

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©2012 Cyndie Tweedy (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred & Barney and Barney at six months. The boys are still looking for their forever home! Visit their Petfinder page HEREand HERE

Maria removed another cat from her neighbor (with his consent)- who NEVER spays or neuters his cats. Maria has tried repeatedly to get the cats taken care of but he just puts it off and his cats get pregnant. A nine month old kitten named Opal, who had become almost feral, was pregnant. Our new foster mom, Cyndie offered to take her in and help her along. Sadly, the stress of being in a home pushed Opal in to premature labor. Four kittens were born, but after extensive attempts to save their lives, only two survived. She named them Fred & Barney. We had their siblings Pebbles and Bam Bam cremated and their little wooden urn is here with me placed next to my cat, Bob's ashes.

Stay Tuned! 2012 has more surprises in store and some so shocking their effects rippled throughout the world in the final part of this post.

Bob Dole. The First Anniversary.

Grief: a 5-letter word that describes a facet of human emotion triggered by the loss of a loved one. How long grief lasts or how powerful its’ effects can’t be measured. For some, a loss is understandable, expected, perhaps only bittersweet. It’s a gentle feeling often accompanied by saying things like; “they’re in a better place” or “they’re no longer suffering.”

For me, after the loss of my cat Bob Dole, the grief comes in fierce waves; arriving not on tidal terms, but seemingly random ones that knock me to my knees. I don’t think Bob’s in a better place. Being with me was better. Now he’s just gone.

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob.

Bob died a year ago today after suffering from multiple forms of cancer which ravaged his FIV+ body. He died at home, with his family at his side. After he passed I went into a deep depression. Bob was my last living link to my Mother and now that was gone.

Bob had amazing charisma. Everyone recognized it when they met him. The second they heard his name was Bob Dole, they laughed, charmed by his silly name. Once they spent even a few moments with him, I could see the look on their face soften to one of utter adoration.

Bob was the kind of cat you just loved the second you met him. The cat purred all the time—this goofy, burbly, purr. Bob's last purr was a few hours before he died. I happened to have recorded the sound. I don't have the nerve to listen to it again, but I hope one day I can hear it and not be devastated.

Bob was in charge of all the cats and kept power until the last few months of his life. Bob was fearless from living for years outdoors, some of those on his own as a stray. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Bob wasn't neutered until he was well into adulthood. Though I am adamant that cats be spayed or neutered, I'm secretly glad there are probably baby Bob's out there somewhere.

Bob seemed more like a human wearing an orange long-haired coat, than he was a cat.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's favorite spot in the sun.

Grief grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you hard. It wakes you up or it makes you want to sleep until the feeling passes. Sadly, the feeling doesn’t really pass. It lies dormant, catching you off guard at odd times like on the first nice spring day when normally I’d put out the deck chairs and cushions so Bob would have a place to relax outside. I didn’t go out on the deck other than to fill the bird feeders. With Bob gone no one went out on the deck this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to set up the deck furniture. I didn’t want to set out the lime green cushions that reminded me of the color of Bob’s eyes. If I did that I knew I’d keep looking for him to appear, spread out on the chair, clearly loving life, not bothered to even look up if a bird flew right over his head.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Near the end, ravaged by ringworm, Bob was still beautiful to me.

As I get older, I find that there’s more grief in my life than love or happiness. Doing cat rescue there is so much grief over the loss of newborn kittens or knowing those cats you’re trying to rescue don’t make it out of the shelter alive. I know so many “cat people” that of course their cats pass away, too and I share in their loss.

Some of my friends have died. I don’t feel “that old” where my friends should pass away or get stricken with cancer (which triggers a whole other form of grief).

It’s been a year since Bob died. I honored him by rescuing an orange tabby cat I named Bobette, along with rescuing her six newborn kittens. Three of the kittens passed away within the first few days—a tragic loss after just losing Bob. The others did well and all the cats have since been adopted into great, loving homes.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Cat at animal control who would later become the beloved Kissy of Paws and Effect. Her surviving kittens, Jakey, Teddy & Mikey are about to celebrate their first birthday with their families.

My friend Warren, of Royal Bobbles, honored Bob by creating a custom “Bob-blehead” of him as a gift. It’s something I will always cherish.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shrine for Bob featuring the custom sculpted Bobblehead on the left.

I’d like to do something more to honor Bob. Perhaps I’ll start a special fund for him or rescue more orange tabby cats. I’d like to do something positive with all this pain, but it’s a struggle not to let depression take over.

The energy in the house just doesn’t feel “right” any more. I can’t explain it. It’s not as if I don’t have any cats. There was something I felt in my heart that’s gone. There’s a queer emptiness to the house. The places where I’d often find Bob are empty. I can’t get over the feeling of wishing he would come back or that I could see him again, in all his magnificent glory, when he was healthy and well.

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©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Not long after adopting him after my Mother passed away-Bob in his full glory.

Some people believe we see our loved ones again after we die. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know if that does happen that one day I will be covered in cat hair in heaven, too.

I miss you so much, Bob. I always will.

It's Good Mews for Miss Fluffy Pants Part 2 of 2

Not even a day passed and I got the confirmation. Good Mews would take MissFP into their Program and find her a forever home! Could we bring Miss FP to them in two days?

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©2012 Maria S. and Chris Cumpton (inset). Meet Macadamia. She was living at an apartment complex with 8 other cats. People where throwing rocks at them and one hit them with a tennis racket. If that wasn't bad enough, they were being poisoned. Mac was VERY lucky to be rescued from this awful place. Mac is NOT on Petfinder just yet, but if you CALL GOOD MEWS they can give you more info on this young lady. She's spayed and LOVES to be loved and sit on your lap. What more could you want?

On Saturday, Maria brought MissFP to Good Mews Animal Foundation in Marietta, Georgia. Little did I know how VERY lucky we all were that Good Mews offered us a placement. I had no idea that Good Mews has been in operation for over 24 years and is the oldest, cage-free, No-Kill cat shelter in Georgia. Since they opened their doors, Good Mews has placed over 6,500 cats into loving homes!

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©2012 Maria S.

Not only that, but Good Mews has special programs that help Seniors, called Golden Companions and another helps cats with special needs called HALO (Home at Last), which I found extraordinary. Not only do HALO cats get the extra care they need while at Good Mews, but Good Mews pays for the Vet Care of these cats AFTER they get adopted! On their web site it states:

“HALO cats are typically overlooked for adoption because of age, ongoing medical conditions or behavioral issues - the most common reasons beyond euthanasia at traditional animal shelters. Funds designated to this program help pay for the ongoing medical care of these cats while they wait for AND once they find their perfect home. ”

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©2012 Maria S. This is where Miss FP will go after her initial quarantine period is over until she's ready to join the other cats in the main room.

One very special kitty at Good Mews is named Tricky. She's a plump gray and white shorthair whose life has been far from easy. Tricky lived in a home with other cats and a couple. The man was a very bad person.

When his girlfriend told him to leave he got angry and in a fit of rage, shot and killed almost all the cats in the home with the exception of Tricky. Tricky survived but was paralyzed, losing all control of her hind legs and her bodily functions.

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©2012 Maria S. Meeting Tricky.

Most shelters would “humanely euthanize” Tricky because her care would be too taxing on the volunteers and who would ever adopt a cat who needs to be helped to evacuate her bowels twice a day?

Good Mews is NOT that kind of shelter. They did right by Tricky and not only gave her a place to live for the rest of her life if need be, but they help her do her thing, then they give her a bath every day, twice a day. She gets around just fine without her back legs-at least that's what she would tell you.

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©2012 Maria S. She may have been shot and is now paralyzed, but Tricky doesn't let anything get her down.

Tricky is so beloved she has her very own page on Facebook. If you're lucky, she'll accept your friend request!

Is she looking for a forever home? I'm not sure about that. Is there someone who would be able to provide for her and give her the special care she'd need every single day? I think there are some very special people out there who could give her what she needs and if that person is reading this blog post and Tricky captures your heart, please DO contact Good Mews and talk to them about her or offer to make a donation towards her care.

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©2012 Good Mews Animal Foundation. Bud is another cat who is overlooked at the shelter. They say: “Bud and his sister Taylor came to Good Mews when their family lost their home. Bud is one of the most beautiful cats you will ever see. He is a little shy right now, but will easily come around when he knows he has a loving family again. I guess if I lost the only home I had ever known, I would be a little wary too! He gets along great with other cats and is seeking a home with a family that loves him and some kitty friends to pal around with! Will you be the one to brighten Bud’s day?” Bud is a HALO cat! so his Vet care for life is included with his adoption (for qualified adopters). Here's his Petfinder listing.

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©2012 Good Mews Animal Foundation. No one wants Meryl. “Meryl is a very sweet girl that would really benefit from a forever home. Meryl is a bit on the overweight side and being in a home, her new family can help her maintain her weight. At the shelter we have to keep food out at all times so it is hard to keep Meryl on a diet. It is not healthy for cats to be overweight and we worry about Meryl.
Meryl has a playful side to her and enjoys running around the shelter and loves toys and the feather wand. ”

For a list of other available cats, visit Good Mews Petfinder Page

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©2012 Maria S. Maria & MissFP say farewell.

Maria visited with many of the cats looking for forever homes at Good Mews until it was time to help MissFP get settled into her new digs. For the first two weeks MissFP would have to reside in a cage, but it's spacious and light filled and rumors are that since MissFP didn't come from a municipal shelter or from the outdoors that her quarantine period might be shortened. In no time at all MissFP would be able to roam freely around the large main area where she'll be able to look out big windows, climb many different cat trees or simply lounge on a cat bed.

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©2012 Maria S. Getting settled in her new home.

I worried that MissFP would react badly to the new environment, but she was unfazed. Maria placed her into a cat bed and MissFP “made muffins”, then settled down. Maria even got her to eat, so it was a good sign that she was going to be okay. Before Maria left, she leaned down to kiss Miss FP good bye and Miss gave her a head butt as her way of saying “thank you for not giving up on me and for giving me a loving home. I'm ready to take the next part of my journey to find a forever home with these good people.”

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©2012 Maria S. Miss FP in her temporary quarantine space.

I'm usually the person who offers to take a cat in and help them find a home. This time I needed the help and I'm VERY GRATEFUL to Michelle and the staff at Good Mews for offering this placement to us.

Help me THANK Good Mews by visiting them on Facebook and let them know we appreciate what they do or, if you can, please consider donating to one of their many life-saving programs. MAKE SURE YOU MENTION COVERED IN CAT HAIR WHEN YOU DONATE. THERE'S A SPACE CALLED "OTHER" IN THE DONATION FORM WHERE YOU CAN ADD THAT INFORMATION. Here's a list of ways you can donate.

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©2012 Good Mews Animal Foundation. It's not fancy (yet), but one day this building will be Good Mews' new home after it gets refurbished.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP: Good Mews bought a building! It's just a shell right now, but their dream is to get it set up and ready to go by the end of 2013. Wish list items include gift cards for any amount for Lowes or Home Depot, gift cards so they can purchase bird feeders and seed, decorative benches for their new yard. The sooner they can open, the sooner Good Mews will be able to help 150 cats!

You don't need money to help! Do you live in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area? Do you know people there? Are you a landscaper? Do you KNOW one? Do you have gardening skills? Do you like to paint walls? Even if you can't offer a financial donation, they also need people to help do the work to get their facility completed. If your Church group could donate a weekend of time or if your softball team could spend a day helping, it could make all the difference.

Email Robbin if you'd like more information about volunteering. robbiny@fairgreen.com

If you like to go shopping, visit their Good Mews Cafe Press Store. All your purchases go to helping provide for their cats.

-----------------UPDATE------------------------

Michelle just contacted me and let me know that MissFP is doing well and is still giving headbutts to the volunteers and making muffins on her bed. We wish her good luck and that her forever family finds her very soon!

And…it looks like Clover had her first NEGATIVE test result for Feline Leukemia. It's not a “for sure“ yet, but crossing fingers, this kitty may have very good news soon!

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It's Good Mews for Miss Fluffy Pants Part 1 of 2

Just before Valentine's Day we took in a friendly stray kitty who was living outdoors at a Palette Factory in McDonough, GA. Our volunteer, Bobby, who alerted us to this kitty's plight, asked me to name her so the Vet could get her spayed and create her medical records. I called her Miss Fluffy Pants, thinking I'd change the name later, but the name stuck.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. MissFP at her former "home" at the Palette Factory.

You can read more MissFP's back story HERE, but the short version is, MissFP has FIV+ which basically turned this sweet kitty into a rescue-roadblock for us. My rescue, Kitten Associates, doesn't have a lot of resources and space in my one foster home in Georgia is at a minimum. If I couldn't find MissFP a home, she'd take the only space we had and prevent us from helping any more cats until we helped her. That meant saying no to the requests I got to help kittens who are being born in the thousands in the south.

I asked around and got a lot of “sorry, no's” then East Coast Maine Coon Rescue was willing to do a courtesy post about her, but we didn't get any applications. I asked other big shelters in Georgia and didn't even get a reply. FIV+ cats, though the virus is not easily spread from cat to cat (only through a deep, penetrating bite wound), makes them tough to adopt. Add to that MissFP is black-which especially in the south makes it even harder to find her a home.

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©2012 Maria S. Miss Fluffy Pants.

The goal, as it is with ALL our foster cats, was to figure out a way to get her to my home and hopefully find her a placement in Connecticut, but I was getting requests to help local kittens and I had to say yes. MissFP would have to wait and so would our other adult cat, King. Because King so easy going Maria allowed him to share space in her home with her resident cats and it wasn't a problem for him to remain there for longer than usual. MissFP spent her days in a bathroom behind a closed door while Maria was at work. It wasn't a great life for MissFP and I felt terrible about it.

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©2012 Maria S. A good sign ahead...

I kept looking for help or a home for MissFP. I did NOT want her to go to a sanctuary, never to have a forever home. MissFP loves people and is okay with other cats, but prefers humans. For a short time I thought we found a forever home right in Atlanta for MissFP, but the person backed out at the last minute-just hours before MissFP was going to be taken to her new home. We were all devastated. MissFP went back to her cat tree in the bathroom and I went back to scratching my head, feeling torn between resentment and anger at myself. I loved MissFP even if it was only from afar and I didn't care that she had FIV+, I just wanted her to have a loving home, but it just wasn't happening.

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©2012 Maria S. The interior at Good Mews.

I was resigned to the fact that MissFP was ours for a long time to come and many little kittens were never going to see the light of day because our foster space was full. That's just how it was. It wasn't MissFP's fault. Even if she wasn't in our Program, we'd still only be able to help one litter of kittens at a time.

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©2012 Maria S. How true.

I got an email from Michelle, one of the Board of Directors at Good Mews. She wondered if I could help her find a rescue or sanctuary to help a cat named Clover who was testing positive for Feline Leukemia. I did what I could and gave her some suggestions. For the heck of it I asked her if there was any way she could help me with MissFP. Her answer shocked me. She had to check with some of the staff, but she was pretty sure they COULD HELP US! She'd write me back to confirm. All I had to do was WAIT and hold my breath. Was this the answer we'd been searching for for so long?

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©2012 Maria S. I think they understand what Jackson Galaxy refers to when he talks about the importance of building a “cat superhighway.”

At the time I didn't know much about Good Mews, other than that they were one of the biggest cat rescues in Georgia and that they help rescues out of state, too. They have the manpower and sometimes they have the space to take on another cat to the 100 or so currently in residence.

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©2012 Maria S. The view from within.

After hearing rumors that another huge cat shelter in Georgia shut down intake due to having 150 kittens, I was flat out stunned that Good Mews would even consider taking on MissFP. Not only that, but they were just as careful about placing their cats as I was.

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©2012 Maria S. One of the cat's at Good Mews who's looking for a great home. This is HoneyBee on Petfinder!

I felt like I let MissFP down. It's a failure for us to not be able to find Miss FP a forever home, but it's always been difficult for us to place adults. Take Mazie for example. She was here for 14 months before she got her forever home. I know I shouldn't beat myself up, but I still feed badly. I'll never get to meet MissFP nor have the joy of meeting her new family. I will, however, be glad knowing that we have space in Maria's home for the 3 kittens she rescued last month. They'll no longer have to live in a ferret cage, but will have decent space to run and play.

Now if Good Mews would just call and tell me their answer is YES!

To be continued…

The Re-Birth of Bob Dole.

It's been almost eight months to the day that my beloved cat Bob Dole passed away. His death came slowly, from lymphoma and the return of a hepatic cancer that I thought had been surgically removed right after Christmas of 2010.

Bob's last year was bittersweet. His once magnificent coat was reduced to tattered ruin since he could not fight off a fungal infection because he also had FIV+ and his immune system was compromised. He grew thinner and weaker. The once boss of the household grew quieter and let others rule the roost. He ate less and less and even after months of chemo and other treatments, I had to syringe feed him. I knew nothing could save him, but I never stopped trying to give him another day…another good day. [You can read about Bob's last days-though it's a TISSUE WARNING multipart post, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE]

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. My most beautiful Bob at 16 pounds of pure pouffy perfection.

When Bob passed away I lost a dear companion and part of my heart, even though we'd only spent five years together. Bob used to be my Mother's cat. After she died in 2006, I took Bob in and his presence was so grand that even now it feels empty in the house without him.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. After a "lion cut" he looked so CUTE!

Bob was the greeter, the peacekeeper, the big love muffin and had the best purr I've ever heard. He had just the right amount of sass that just made everyone love him all the more. Whenever I said his name aloud, people's eyes would light up and they'd laugh. They asked funny questions about if Bob Dole, the cat, referred to himself in the third person as Bob Dole the former Vice President of the United States did (the answer was of course, yes).

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Welcome to mah belleh.

Even now it's very difficult for me to write about Bob, to look at photos of him, without crying. There will never be a new photo of Bob, his dazzling orange coat and lime green eyes sparkling with that “Puss in Boots” expression he gave me when he wanted a treat. Now his ashes lay inside a tin box I have in my living room. It sits next to some framed photos atop a glass shelf. When I can, I have a candle burning, too, in his honor, as if there was a chance I might forget him. He meant more to me than any cat I've known and will probably ever know again.

Shortly after Bob died, my friend and client, Warren Royal, contacted me. I've written about Warren and his wife Terri. These people have the biggest hearts and deepest love for cats. They've saved the lives of countless cats and taken a few of them into their home. They will stop at nothing to help a cat. You can read about them HERE and HERE.

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Warren's company is called Royal Bobbles,™a premium bobblehead manufacturing company specializing in exquisite historic figures. I've designed a few of their outer cartons for Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain, Smokey Bear and the cast of American Pickers. They also create custom bobbleheads to celebrate weddings or birthdays or to use as fundraisers.

Can you see where this story is going? I sure didn't-at first.

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©Royal Bobbles, Inc. Bob the bear?

Warren asked me if I'd like them to create a BOBblehead and of course I accepted right away. The process might take some time, he warned. They'd never done the likeness of a cat and said it would be tough to do, but they wanted to try. I was delighted to have a chance to memorialize my dear cat.

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©Royal Bobbles, Inc. Bob looking more cat like.

And so, over the past eight months, we've been working to get it right.

There was a sculptor in China who began working on a form. It was sad to realize that cats aren't pets in China and I don't want to write about what they do to them there. Memorializing a cat was certainly out of the norm so it took many trials and refinements, but eventually it got sorted out.

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©Royal Bobbles, Inc. Okay, clearly something is lost in translation. Is that a BOOB next to BOB?

I began to realize how difficult it would be to capture the sad-eyed look of Bob regardless of how many photos I sent for reference. Even though I had to ask for changes, I was impressed with the dedication Warren and his team had in making every detail just right. I didn't want to think about how much all of these revisions were costing him to get done and though I tried to love everything they did, even Warren would often write and say he didn't love it either and wanted to push back for more edits.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Say hello to Bob the Bobblehead.

A few weeks ago after Warren hired another artist to repaint our little BOBblehead, who did an outstanding job. We all agreed that Bob was finally done and a few days ago my BOBblehead arrived. When I opened the box I held my breath as I carefully unwrapped the base, then the bowl, then finally Bob. I held him in my hand and his little head jiggled back and forth. I looked at his face and though it would never be Bob, somehow his “Bobness” had been captured. I smiled as tears ran down my cheeks. If I couldn't have the real Bob, this would be a lovely way to memorialize him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nice pouffy tail there! (Bob is sitting on his flannel blankee)

I rearranged my shrine to Bob to make space for the new addition. I wondered what Bob, the cat would have thought about all this fuss. He probably would have said not to bother and that we're just being silly humans. That may be the case, but it's comforting to have the little guy here.

I know it took a lot of work and patience to get this done and I'm extremely grateful to Warren and his crew for their efforts. I just love my BOBblehead!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The shrine complete, with Bob's ashes in the blue tin to the right and the Maneki Neko candle my friend Irene made for me from her own bee's wax.

The sun just rose on another day. My fingers are cold from typing with the windows open. It's another day without Bob, yet in a way, Bob has returned. I hope this Bob will be with me always as a reminder of one very special cat, gone too soon.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Good night, Bob. Rest in Peace.

---------------------------------

This may be a bit odd, but I know there are some of you who have followed Bob's life story for many years and who have come to love him as I do. Though it was NEVER my intention to profit from this experience, I'd like you to know that if you'd like your own BOBblehead, to contact me at info@coveredincathair.com . Depending on how many orders we get will drive the per unit cost of the piece. The more orders, the lower the price. I will put everyone on a list and let you know in a week or so how much they would be and if you want to order one we'll figure something out.

If you want your very own Bobblehead of your cat, dog, friends, family or one of yourself, please DO visit Royal Bobbles and fill out a contact form and let them know Robin sent you! They do GREAT work and their prices are very reasonable.

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