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In a Perfectly Perfect World

I entered the foster room and was met by Laney, Winnie and Piglet. Their tails held high, their eyes bright with excitement. They crowded in close, rubbing up against my legs as I struggled to enter the room without dropping their food. It was time to have breakfast and they were eager to eat.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Winnie, Piglet and photobomb by Laney.

As I lowered the tray, covered with small mounds of chicken, they gathered in a circle, joined by shy-Lolli, and began to eat. It was just another breakfast, about their 485th, with me, but this one was different. It was their last breakfast together.

Last Meal R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Last breakfast.

I watched them eat, oblivious to what I knew was going to happen in a few hours. They lapped up every morsel as they quickly glanced over to their neighbor to see if they had any food left that could be snatched away. In moments the tray was clean, as if nothing had ever been on it in the first place. It was a metaphor whose meaning wasn’t lost on me.

I sat on the bed, in my usual spot near the right side. Winnie jumped up right away, as she often did, climbed into my lap and began washing her face. Laney took her place just in front of me and Piglet was off to my left. They were getting clean before settling down for a nap. The only sound was them purring away. All was right in the world, but wrong in my heart.

Piglet wrapped on Winnie R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Love-filled lap.


Winnie looked up at me, her sweet expression filled me with sorrow. I ran my hand along her back and she pressed against me. Her fur was soft and thick, no longer shabby and dirty from living a lousy life outside with no one to care for her. I wanted to hold onto this feeling of love, make it solid somehow, so I could have it with me whenever I needed it. In that moment I saw Winnie vanish, my lap empty, as if she never existed. I felt the pang of loss, the yearning, the familiar heartache that was to come. Our story together was ending, a real end this time, and her story was going to begin anew with someone else.


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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Used with permission. Winnie, pregnant, just before rescue.

Time felt more like a layer cake than a linear path. All at once I could see Winnie sitting in the grass in Georgia, fat with kittens inside her, the same sweet expression as she had now. I saw Winnie struggling with an upper respiratory tract infection last year and coming back home from a failed adoption in early February. I saw myself entering the room and the girls would not greet me. They would be gone and I probably would never see them again. All things were happening at once, the beginning, the end, the challenges, the happy moments.

As much as I wanted Winnie, especially, to stay with me forever, it was not fair for her to stay in a small room for the rest of her life. She and the girls always deserved more, better. I turned away great adopters who only wanted Laney and Piglet had a failed adoption by a poser-cat-person in NYC over a year ago. I struggled once I decided the girls HAD to stay together because who would adopt three cats?

Winnie Photobomb R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. The ever-silly, Winnie.

When I found an adopter, she was flakey, changing her mind over and over again. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt so I moved forward with the adoption. I wasn’t surprised when after barely a week, the girls adoption fell through, leaving me to drive to Boston and back in an afternoon to bring them back home.

After over a year I wondered if I was doing the wrong thing. Maybe I should let the girls go to a home on their own? Maybe I was stupid and greedy. I didn’t want them to leave. I liked having them here.

Win Pig on my Lap R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. No vacancy.

In March I got a two adoption applications for all three girls. I wanted to get excited about it but I couldn’t get my hopes up after what had already happened with them. It was a good thing I just went through the motions of processing their applications. Both adopters backed off-one after going back and forth with me for a MONTH, the other had a terrible vet reference.

Laney Winnie Photobomb R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Laney.

I began to feel remorse every time I entered the foster room. I felt so bad for the girls and for poor Jelly, who is still in a cage recovering from knee surgery. I felt so badly for his brother Lolli, who I doubt will ever be adopted because he’s too skittish. For the past five weeks, every Monday night, a couple came to visit Jelly and Lolli with the idea that if the boys warmed up to them (they did), they would adopt them. I was so excited that they might find a home, but even after hosting this couple when I had the worst Flu of my life, after answering a million questions, putting them in touch with my vet so they could be assured they understood why Jelly had to have surgery, I get a short email. “Bad news.” The woman’s dad brought over two kittens and they couldn’t say no (really?) and the adoption was off. I was devastated.

Laney Lolli Girls R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. On or near my lap, this wonderful family will be one I'll never forget.

The cats deserved more than to be in a small room day in and day out. They were bored and I didn’t blame them. We were all ready for a change, but I felt like hope was running out unless I did something.

I got another application for the girls-for all three. It wasn’t another out-of-state adopter. It wasn’t someone who had two dogs and a cat. It wasn’t someone who had a terrible vet reference.

It was from a couple who live IN Connecticut, in fact, about 30 minutes drive from my home. They live alone with no children. They had no other pets. Their cat passed away in March at the age of 19. They had room in their heart for a new cat and they wanted to help cats who were hard to adopt.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Too much love irks Winnie.

A few days ago Sam and I did a home visit. I loved their home. It wasn’t too big or too small. It was on the side of a hill surrounded by plants and trees. The home was immaculately clean and when I mentioned that Winnie would jump on their piano because she liked to be up high, they thought it was charming and said they didn’t care about furnishings. They just cared that the cats had each other to play with while they were away at work during the day. There were lots of big sunny windows. This was it. Now all I had to do was have them fall in love with the girls.

Win close up with Pig R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. I know. I played favorites, but I do love them all, just maybe not exactly equally.

I really liked this couple; Amy and her husband, Markel. The more we spoke, the more I liked them. I never had a weird pull at my gut telling me something was off. This time it was easy. They came to visit the girls for maybe 30 minutes. The girls were great with them and vice versa. It was the easiest adoption I’ve done in ages, though they’d have to come back and finalize the paperwork once they had things set up at their home, it was decided. The girls found their forever home and I had a few days go say my goodbyes.

Bye Bye Girls R Olson 475
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. I wish I could have told them it was going to be okay and that they'd understand this was all so they could have a great life.

I’ve fostered over 500 cats so far. Most of the time it’s not too difficult to say farewell, but the girls have been with me for so long that it was more like I was giving away my own cats, than I was adopting out foster cats. I knew if it went on any longer, Winnie would be staying with me. It wasn’t fair to my other cats or to Winnie. I didn’t want to break up Laney’s family any more than I already had. I had to continue on with the plan. I had to let go.

Last night the girls began their new story, their life with their new parents. Markel came to get the girls since Amy was delayed at work. He has a loud, deep voice, but the moment he loaded the girls into the car his voice turned falsetto. They were crying and scared. As he entered the car, he turned to the girls and said it was going to be okay, that they would be home soon.

©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. A few final moments with the girls.


Home. That's what this story has been about from day one; finding a home for sweet cats, neglected by uncaring people. It took a small team of dedicated volunteers, especially their rescuer, Moe, our intrepid foster mom in Georgia, to reach this joyful conclusion. The money spent, the sacrifices, the fearful times were worth it because we got what we dreamed of, placing three adult cats in a home together.


Their story with me has come to an end. It’s been a very long journey. All in all we saved 16 cats all because Laney was never spayed. I still have Jelly and Lolli left to find a home for. I know they'll be missing their mom, so I return to the foster room to comfort them, but in truth, they'll be comforting me.

A long, happy, loved life to my girls…forever in my heart.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Used with Permission. This is how I'll remember the girls and their amazing story.



©2016 Foster Mom Moe. Her lovely video in honor of Laney & family.

The Wonderful World of Gracie

Gracie aka, “Beanie,” or “Miss Bubbles” is gone, but instead of making all of you cry, yet again, I wanted to share some stories about her life and why she was so very special to us. Although you might not guess it from looking at her, Gracie was a very funny cat. She was also magnificent in her youth, truly a spectacle of fine flowing fluff. She was fearful, but lion-hearted. She was kind. I do not believe she ever hissed or growled at anyone. Super-Deb, our friend and Vet Tech at Dr. Larry’s called her, “A Lady” and remarked that you could do whatever you needed to do to her and she wouldn’t cause a fuss.

Gracie Petunia
©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama-Gracie with Petunia.

Gracie was my first “unwed mama-cat.” I’d only fostered one cat before she arrived and he was a foster fail named Spencer who became the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair. I didn’t quite know what to do with Gracie or her three kittens: Scooterpie, Annabelle and Petunia. Gracie was very skittish and didn’t exactly welcome my presence, so I gave her plenty of space and focused on socializing the kittens. I can’t say I really got to know Gracie very well during those days, but when it seemed as though she was never going to be adopted and I only had a cat or two at the time, I decided that she and her daughter Petunia could stay with me.

Ladies Napping
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Ladies nap.

Gracie was a great mama and when it was time for her to leave the confines of the foster room, Gracie hid a lot or ran off if Sam or I tried to come to her. Again, we gave her space to acclimate and in time she began to appear on our bed in the morning or sleep a bit closer to us when we watched TV in the living room.

The one thing Gracie loved was to be brushed. I used to call her a “Brush Whore” because she would probably have sold her soul to get brushed. All I had to do was ask Gracie; “Brush?” and she’d run over to me excited and ready to be groomed. She’d sit still as I got the clumps out of her thick ruff. She’d purr, but she had a very soft purr I could barely hear. Maybe she was too shy to let it rip. I didn’t care. I was just glad that I found something she enjoyed. Brushing Gracie was something we did every single day, over the last few months of her life. We did it after she had to be pilled or syringe-fed, so our encounter would always end pleasantly.

Brush Time R Olson
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Will work for brushing.


Gracie loved toy mice. She’d grab one, then sit motionless holding it in her mouth for what seemed to be an hour. I don’t know why she did that, but after a time she’d start to yeowl while continuing to hold onto the mouse. Maybe she was announcing her latest victory over the toy mouse population? I know she lived outdoors before she came to us so maybe she was reliving the good old days?

Work it Baby Work it
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Just plain weird.

One night Sam and I were in bed reading. We heard Gracie’s familiar yeowl and saw her running down the hallway into our bedroom with a toy mouse in her mouth. I looked up at her, amused at her silly antics, then went back to reading.

Gracie ran around the bed to Sam’s side. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Gracie throw the mouse up into the air. Sam, glued to his book didn’t pay any attention. Gracie was making odd sounds, really getting frantic over this toy.

Once again I saw the mouse fly up into the air but this time it landed on the bed between Sam’s legs. My primitive brain reacted to the sight first. Suddenly I found myself out of bed and halfway down the hallway as my modern brain caught up with the visual. I screamed:

“That’s NOT A TOY!!!!!”

There, in Sam’s lap was a dead mouse; A REAL MOUSE. There, was Gracie looking up at him as if to say; “What? What’s the matter? Can I get that back?”

This mornings breakfast
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. One morning I bent down with a plate full of food for Gracie and saw (right center belly up) she'd already had an appetizer!


Something happened to Gracie after she had a dental about eight years ago. She started to drool when she got brushed or petted for a long period of time. I nicknamed her Miss Bubbles because the drool always came out in perfect crystalline beads. Somehow they always ended up on my arm even though I tried to avoid the onslaught of saliva.

Sadly, it seems that her daughter Petunia also does this now and she drools so much it’s like turning on a faucet. As much as I love her it’s kinda gross to pet her for very long.

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. aka, Miss Bubbles.


Something else also appeared after Gracie’s dental, milliary dermatitis. I wrote about my struggles with her (HERE and HERE). I don’t know what caused it or why she had it. I know we could not get it to go away even with a clean, raw diet, even with two years of going to see dermatologists here and in New York, giving Gracie shots, pills, tests, biopsies. I couldn’t give her steroids because I knew at only 7 years of age she’d have a significantly shorter life. I was, however, able to stop her from barbering off her fur and vomiting the fur back up every day. She seemed comfortable and her skin improved enough so she stopped feeling itchy.

ACK R Olson
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Noooooo!

Part of helping Gracie feel comfortable required giving her a bath a few times a week. Though she was not a fan of her bath time, she was a pretty good sport. I even took her to Dr. Larry’s because Super-Deb could give Gracie a “spa day” of grooming and bathing to help soothe her crusty skin. I was always so proud of Gracie because Super-Deb always said she was a good girl and easy to bathe.

I never learned the root cause of Gracie’s condition, but I do know that it lead to one cancerous lesion that we had removed many years ago. Looking back I believe that was the culprit in what eventually caused Gracie’s premature demise. And yes, I do believe 14 years is too young for a cat to pass away, especially because not three months ago Gracie seemed to be in such fine form. But I promised happy stories so let me think of another.


In the past few years Gracie overcame a lot. She stopped being so shy and began to seek out attention. It was marvelous to see her blossom, but it also unleashed a bit of a devil. You see, if we didn’t get up early enough to get her breakfast started she would quietly enter our bedroom, then stand up on her hind legs and drag her front paws, claws out, down the bedroom door. This would not only damage the door (because it’s a cheap piece of crap), but she would push the door shut which would flip out the cats who were on either side of the door.

Prettiest Pouff
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Sunny days.

I knew if I got up I was training her that I’d react to her antics, but if I didn’t get up one of the other cats might flip out or need to get out to use the litter pan and there isn’t one in our bedroom.

Gracie often made me grumble as she sat defiantly near the door. If she was Simon’s Cat I’d expect her to point at her open mouth wanting to be fed. I guess I should be glad that unlike Simon’s Cat, Gracie couldn’t mange to bring a baseball bat into the bedroom.

Gracie always had her way.


Gracie’s latest crazy thing was to sit on the kitchen table every morning and cry to get her goat milk/pro biotic drink. Her meow was very raspy and, well, not very delightful. She sounded like a really old cantankerous lady who only knew how to complain. I’d tell Gracie to shush and that I’d get her her drink right away. I think that looking back on this, too, I should have realized she might have been self-soothing her belly. If she had cancer back then it might have been starting to bleed and perhaps the cool drink and the goat milk comforted her. I know that cats hide illness very well and I’d say she did a really good job keeping the wool over my eyes for way too long.

She loved that drink. It gave her a milk moustache.

Sunny Side Up copy
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Belly good belly.


Gracie had a feather-fetish. If there were feathers attached to a toy instead of chasing them she would lick them. She’d lick and lick and lick as if she was grooming herself after a meal. I never let her have the feathers for too long for fear she’d ingest them. Even on her last days I gave her a catnip carrot that was crowned with green feathers instead of leaves. I knew she was still Gracie because she still licked the feathers.

Princess Bubbles
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Fluff fantasy, the Princess of Pouff.

After Gracie passed away and before we had her privately cremated, Sam and I wrapped her in a gorgeous new turquoise blue fleece blanket. I added a photo of us, to which we each wrote Gracie a special message. The final piece was Gracie’s catnip carrot. I slipped it between her front paws so she would always have it with her. I didn’t want Gracie to be wanting for anything even as she embarked on her next journey to the Rainbow Bridge.

Gracie brought us a lot of joy over the twelve years we had together. When I think of her I try not to think of the dark days. It’s not easy, but I know that in time I’ll only smile when I hear her name or look at a photo of her. Right now my heart is still raw from grief, but I’d do it all over again if it meant having those sunny days back, too.

Mother and Daughter R Olson
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Petunia and Gracie watching the birdies.

©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Turn up the volume!

Not on My Watch: Purebred in Pain


I couldn't sleep. I got up at 5:30 AM. I kept thinking about the cat I met yesterday afternoon. I kept having flashbacks to what I'd seen done to him and I couldn't stop worrying.

In all my years of rescue I've only saved a blue-eyed cat a handful of times. I've NEVER rescued a purebred nor even been around them. Yesterday I saw a post from a fellow rescuer who had found an ad on Craigslist about a "FREE" Purebred Persian Cat. I didn't give it much thought, knowing the cat would get scooped up. Purebreds always go fast, but something nagged at me about this ad.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My first look at the Persian's matted coat.

I remembered I'd had an application from someone looking for a cat like this so I sent her an email and told her about him. She jumped at the chance to adopt him sight unseen. Feeling a bit nervous about that I asked her to foster him with the intention of adopting him one day. I didn't know what condition he was in and I was worried that I'd get stuck with a cat, too. The rescuer who initially posted the info told me she was going to go get the cat that afternoon and could bring him to the foster/adopter's home.

It was all happening so fast I didn't have much time to think. It seemed like we had a possible match. All I had to do was some paperwork, right?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. What lies beneath I'm not sure I want to know.

A few hours later I got a call from the rescuer. She said the cat was severely matted. That the owner said he couldn't be handled, especially touched on his back or tail. If we touched him he would bite. The rescuer was worried about getting the cat cleaned up without someone getting hurt. She also told me that these people paid $1000.00 for the cat but then took it to a mobile spay/neuter van to get it neutered! It's not that they did something to save money, but that cat should have been vetted BEFORE it was SOLD for $1000.00. There was NO paperwork on the cat, nothing. The breeder was not known. All she knew was the cat was a mess.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Just the beginning…

She asked me if I had clippers. I did, but I've rarely ever used them. She didn't want to bring the cat to a groomer. It was already almost 5 PM so most places were closing up. She didn't want to bring the cat to the foster home smelling as bad as he did. His back end was FILTHY and matted. The owner reported she'd had him combed out just a few weeks ago so it shouldn't be that bad, but could I help?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Honestly, the best boy ever.

You know the saying; “In for a dime, in for a dollar.” So I replied that of course she could bring the cat to me and we'd get him cleaned up.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

If I could so so without fear of reprisal, I would write a LONG LONG RANT full of expletives about what I think about the people who had this cat, especially after what I saw last night. What they did was the definition of benign neglect and it was clear just moments after I saw the cat.

So last night my spare foster room turned into Robin's Grooming Palace, staffed by an awkward cat rescuer and a tough cookie rescuer who knew her way around a clipper (and you can guess which one I was).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

The rescuer let the cat out of the carrier. WOW. He had me at the first look into his sapphire blue eyes. I've never seen such a striking cat, even with his messy coat. He had NO fear of me at all. He came over and wanted to be petted. He purred right away. I touched his back, not remembering to stay away from it and he just arched his back a little bit under my hand. Shit. I was in love with this little Flame Point Persian.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. We almost filled this bag with clippings.

The rescuer and I talked about what to do. She wanted to wrap him like a burrito in a towel, then try to clip the filth off his rear end. I obliged, not knowing what else to do. I held him tight and he struggled a lot. He cried. I asked her to stop. We decided to remove the mats on the rest of his body and leave the sensitive back end for later. We realized his fur was so badly matted that he needed a “Lion Cut.” This is not something easily done especially with a cat you don't know. Half-jokingly I told the rescuer I didn't have health insurance and this cat could not bite me. I tried not to worry about that and focused on being calm.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

The minute we started shaving the mats off the cat, I barely had to scruff him. He didn't fuss once the painful mats starting to come off. It was clear he'd been shaved before and just sat half in and half out of the sink on a blanket. He smelled like someone dumped a gallon of cheap cologne over him to mask the smell of his soiled behind. I angrily assumed that the same cheap scent had an alcohol base that probably was causing this poor little cat even more pain that I first realized.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

The rescuer kept running the clipper carefully up and down the cat's back. I could smell the blades getting hot so we turned it off and gave the cat a break. He was still calm and friendly. I think he understood that we were helping him or the fact that the painful mats that were on his back were now gone. No wonder he didn't like being touched there! His skin was being pulled tight across his back from the matted fur. Who would do such a thing to such a Prince of a cat? I guess his former owners would.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Despicable.

Rescuers often say, “I hate people.” This is one reason why. The thing is we don't hate people because there are just as many, if not more, people who do great things for their animals, but the assholes really make us go crazy. We can't legally do much to these people other than get the cat away from them and put him somewhere safe where this will never happen again. The fact that these people have 2 other pets and a kid is worrisome, as well, but I never met them and do not know who they are. It's probably a good thing because I would be too tempted to cause them more than just a modicum of pain.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Are you my new Mother?

The grooming took TWO HOURS.

I had to hold the cat in all sorts of odd positions. He barely fussed until we had to clip under his front legs and his rear end. His front legs had lost some mobility because the fur was so badly matted under his legs. It was horrible to realize he couldn't even move around and if it had gone much longer, walking would have been very difficult.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. At last…clean at last.

The back end was the WORST. This part of the grooming was very painful. The rescuer went very very carefully, but the more fur she clipped away, the more she revealed the horrific truth-that the matted fur had caused the cat's urine to absorb into the fur and scald the skin beneath it. The area began to ooze. Clearly, many layers of skin had sloughed off. It had to hurt like bloody Hell, but the cat remained relatively calm.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Taking care of business.

With arms aching, covered in cat hair, we put the cat into the counter and I rinsed his back end with a bottle of sterile saline, fearing anything else would burn him. I was stunned that he let me do it. He seemed to like it. I blotted his back end and THAT hurt so I stopped right away. A few seconds later, he was on the floor walking around, checking things out like nothing had ever happened.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Not a bad job, but can't wait for it to grow back.

I knew he needed to see a Vet, but we both felt it could wait until this morning. I'm not sure if this is something that will require antibiotics or if we'll leave it to heal on its own, now that the area is clean and he can void without hurting himself further. My fear is that he may need surgery because he has such bad damage to his rectum or scrotum or both. I wouldn't even want the vet to take his temperature right now-that's how bad it is.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

And yet…this cat was amazing. He was outgoing, friendly, curious. He purred easily. He didn't try to hide. He still smelled from that awful crap that was put on him, but with the mats gone he looked simply adorable with his new hairdo. His fur was soft. I was mesmerized. All I could think of was how I was going to keep this cat, knowing full well I couldn't. I had to let go. He needed to get to his foster home.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. And you wonder why I'm in love with this cat?

We finally got to his foster home around 8 PM. His new mom was thrilled with him. She'd turned up the heat, had a heated bed cover and soft blanket for him so he would be comfortable. She opened the cat carrier and he came out and said hello to her. He was perfectly at ease in this strange home. Finally able to move around he began grooming himself. What was surprising is the way he bent over his tummy, split his back legs wide apart and licked at his back end. His big head and petal-like tongue made him look all the more comical, but it was joy watching him finally be able to clean himself. I'm sure it was driving him crazy to not be able to stay clean and now he finally had that chance.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Cartoon character or cat?

We're working on a name for the cat. We may go with Romeo or Luigi. Right now it doesn't matter what we call him, we need to get him healthy and that's where you join this rescue tale.

My non-profit, 501©3 cat rescue, Kitten Associates is in DIRE need of funds. We needed them before we helped this cat and I was just about to do a fundraiser for the 3 other kitties we rescued in Georgia last week! I will do a formal fundraiser with loads of info for you, but for now, because I have to leave for the vet in 30 minutes, I'm asking PLEASE HELP US NOW. WE NEED HELP MORE THAN EVER. The holiday fundraising was a complete BUST. The five Clementine kittens have cost us A LOT more money than we anticipated with their constant battle with eye infections (meds alone cost $56/TUBE and we've used 4 tubes already) and upper respiratory tract infections.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Glamour Puss looking cranky but he's VERY SWEET.

To Donate simply visit KITTEN ASSOCIATES DONATE PAGE and click on the DONATE TODAY icon. It takes you to PayPal where you can make your donation. Not using a fundraising web site like PetCaring or YouCaring allows us to get MORE of every dollar donated since those sites ask for YOU to pay a fee to them before you make your donation to us.

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If you'd like to mail us a check, checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates and mailed to: P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Our Tax ID number is: 27-3597652. Your donation is tax deductible. See your tax adviser for details.

Any funds not used to help this sweet Persian will go to helping out three kittens in Georgia or the other fosters in our rescue program. THANK YOU!

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Thank you for helping me!

Sharing is caring so please share socially on FB and Twitter!

Off to the vet...

Maybe It Was Meant to Be?

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©2012 Maria S. Our first glimpse of Willow-stuck up in a tree.

Almost a year has passed since our-Maria rescued a stray kitty out of a maple tree. We didn't know her story, only that she was probably dumped and a pit bull saw her and chased her up the tree. Maria had quite the time getting her down, but from the very first moments, we knew that Willow was going to be a special kitty. (read more about Willow's rescue HERE).

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) and ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow's transformation.

From day one, Willow was very sick with some sort of upper respiratory tract infection. She was thin. Her coat was ragged, but Willow was very easy-going and friendly. In fact, Maria soon realized she could put a harness on Willow and take her for walks and even jokingly put a baby doll dress on her. Willow was fine with whatever came her way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow enjoying the sunshine…

We tried many rounds of antibiotics to cure Willow's sneezes and runny eyes. They worked for a time, but she would get sick again and again. We tried 60 days of doxycycline, only for it to return. Willow had been in our program for over six months with no real idea of what was ailing her. I finally decided to try to test her for Bartonella this bast January.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. …and the view of the woods.

Due to a mixup, I never found out that the test was a STRONG POSITIVE until MARCH! Once we knew, we began treatment and she got better right away.

Of course, I couldn't easily put Willow up for adoption if she was sick, but between cycles of her illness it seemed she was fine so I processed LOTS of applications and even went on a few home visits, but NOTHING EVER PANNED OUT.


I wonder if on some cosmic level I had to figure out what was truly ailing Willow before she could find her forever home because I was baffled at how many adoptions on her fell through.


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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A tender moment with Fred.

I got an application from a gentleman named, Matthew. He's young and married and has a nice home north of here. I did a Vet check and it panned out. He was very sweet when he talked about his cats and I really liked him.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow has tortie-patterned paws-you can just see it here.


We were about to do the adoption when I found out about Willow having Bartonella.

I knew that telling an adopter about a cat being sick could have them give up on her. Many folks will just think they're getting a terminally sick cat and move on to another rescue. I worried that Matthew would not want Willow but he just asked me if it was contagious and I said no. I didn't hear from him for a day or two and finally he wrote that if I could medicate Willow and keep her here, that he would be happy to adopt her after her medication was done-which would be another month.


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©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. On the way to her new home, Willow's journey is almost complete.

Willow is such a sweet cat. She's become the mother-figure to all the other fosters. They adore her and cling to her and she calmly reassures them as she grooms them. I didn't mind having her for awhile longer.

The day finally arrived to bring Willow to Matthew. I was very sad because Willow is a "top 10" sort of cat. She simply had no unwanted habits, she was always friendly to everyone and affectionate. She was silly and seemed to always be happy and she is so very lovely to look at-with her crazy, undefinable patterning and colors. I loved her dearly and definitely would be missing her a great deal-and I worried that Fred & Barney would, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Back seat driver!

We got Willow packed up. I had all sorts of toys, food, a scratcher, catnip, a cat bed-everything I could think of to get Willow off on a good start. I even brought extra toys for her two new kitty friends. She didn't want to be in her cat carrier, so I let her out. She panted a bit, out of fear and excitement, but eventually she just sat on top of her cat carrier and watched the world go by. What a GREAT cat!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is so cool she can even travel in the car in style.

We got Willow settled and she immediately started to PLAY in her new room! She didn't hide or run off. She rubbed her face on the furnishings, marking her new space with her scent. She went over to Matthew to get some pets. She seemed completely cheerful, as ever. Meanwhile, Roo, one of her new friends, was sitting outside the door, wondering what was going on.


I'd gone over how to do cat to cat introductions with Matthew and we started right away. I opened the door so Roo could see Willow and vice versa. They saw each other, but there was no negative reaction of any kind. A good sign-but I closed the door while things were still good and Willow resumed playing.


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©2013 Matthew R. Willow, in her new home eats while her new sister, Roo, eats on the other side of the door.

I didn't want to leave Willow, but as it always goes, I have to do it. I have to do it so I can help more cats. I gave her a kiss on the “M” on her forehead, her silky soft fur brushed my lips. I told her I loved her one last time. With a heavy heart I went home wishing she could have stayed with us. I crossed my fingers and said a silent prayer that I hoped I'd made a good choice for Willow and that she would have a lifetime of happiness with her new family.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our last moments with Willow before it was time to head to her new home.


The thing is, how could I not adopt Willow to Matthew? He's an Arborist, after all!


A zillion photos of George, and oh yeah the other foster cats arrive, too

I'm in deep doo-doo. It's not even that I have SEVENTEEN CATS in my house right now, it's that I've met foster kitty, George!


I decided it was time to move foster kitties George, Bongo and Bunny-Boo Boo from Maria's house in Georgia to my house in Connecticut so we could get going on finding the cats forever homes. We rescued them FIVE MONTHS AGO and in that time I had hoped my other foster cats would have been adopted. With Kitten Season upon us, I have to crank things up a notch and hope we adopt out at least some of these foster cats before there are loads of kittens competing for adopters.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet George.

Most of the time I use a professional transport service to move our cats north. I really like PETS, LLC because they have been very trustworthy and prompt and their rates are reasonable. The only bad thing is the transports are usually filled with dogs. None of us love that the cats are with dogs, but the cat's discomfort only lasts for about a day's time (and they ARE in separate crates and some times even a separate walled off space from the dogs). The cats adjust and after they arrive here, within a very short amount of time, they are playing, eating and enjoying their new home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many gorgeous cats are in this photo? Answer: All of them!

But…Maria didn't want to put these cats on the transport. I understood her reservations and certainly didn't blame her one bit. In five months of fostering, the close bond Maria had with the cats made it even harder for her to let them go on a truck full of dogs. Our only other option was to ask our friends Izzy and Mark if they were going on any road trips to Florida any time soon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Keep that pretty face clean, George.

Izzy and Mark LOVE cats. If you've read my blog before, you know they will do anything to help any animal and their home in Pennsylvania reflects their passion. They've shared photos of their bed-it's covered with cats. I've seen a photo of Izzy on her sofa, working, flanked by the couple's two dogs, with cats at her feet. When Izzy and Mark go on a vacation, the always offer to bring rescue cats back north with them and many rescues are very grateful for their generosity.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Helloooooo Bongo!

Though they had no plans to travel, Izzy and Mark offered to drive down to Georgia, then drive back to PA and meet us with the cats! Yes, that's something crazy people do (lucky for us)! Before I knew it, in the space of a day, a plan was hatched. Izzy and Mark would leave Wednesday morning and drive to just north of Maria's in Georgia. They would get a good night's sleep, then pick the cats up very early on Thursday. By Thursday night (last night) they'd get the cats to the Perkins near the state line of NY and PA where we would meet them and take the cats the rest of the way home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo is the spitting image of our former foster kitty, Charly!

Tuesday night, Coco fell ill. She had a fever and wasn't eating. I took her to see Dr. Mary the next morning. They ran some blood tests and re-ran her snap test to see if she had Feline Leukemia or FIV. Great.

Now what do I do? Do I tell Izzy and Mark to turn around and go home? What if Coco had something terrible? What if she was contagious? Sure, she wouldn't be in the same room as our new arrivals, but it's pretty much impossible for me to prevent transmitting disease as I go from one foster room to the next-even if I wash my hands and change clothes.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Portrait of cuteness.

If I cancel the trip, it will be TWO MORE weeks before the PETS transport runs and then we're in mid-March.

I just had to hope that Coco would not be sick for long while visions of not only her, but the other four fosters getting sick...then the disease spreading throughout the house to ALL the cats swirled through my mind.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. LOOK AT THAT TAIL!

I spoke with Maria and we realized we needed to just do this transport. It would be better for the cats and after having nine deathly ill foster cats here two years ago, I figured with any luck, I would be able to manage what was yet to come. Ha ha ha. I think it's funny, too…funny or foolish.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. White Lion or domestic house cat?

I spoke with Dr. Mary the next morning. Coco's blood work indicated her white blood count was very high, which was her body's response to a virus or bacterial issue. She wanted to put her on antibiotics. Normally, I would just do that, but now I'm much more conservative about using antibiotics and more prone to allow the body to defend itself. Coco had begun to eat and perk back up after we'd given her subcutaneous fluids the day before. The blood test results were from the day before, too. Just because her white blood count was high then, did not mean it was STILL elevated now. I decided to let Coco heal on her own and, of course, if she showed ANY signs of feeling poorly I would get her on the medication right away. She was still negative for Feline Leukemia and FIV, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Goofhead.

Now I just had to get ready for the new arrivals so I got to work cleaning the foster room. After that I made myself a sandwich for lunch. I'm including this boring detail because not long after that I got SICK. Needless to say, driving 100 miles each way to pick up three cats at 9:00 PM in the middle of the boonies of mid-state New York is NOT something you want to do with a stomach ache and little, if any, access to a bathroom.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Bunny. She'll feel better soon.

Izzy and Mark were running ahead of schedule AND the weather was about to take a turn from just cold to rain, sleet and snow mixed together. There was no way to back out of the pickup trip. I decided to take a nap and see if that would help any. Sam took a nap, too, since he was really tired and we were both going to do the run together (and hopefully not both GET the RUNS together since I made HIM a sandwich, too).

When I got up I felt just as awful as before, but now I also felt really groggy. I woke Sam up and had a difficult conversation with him. He had to do the run on his own. I just couldn't do it. I'd print out the directions, get him everyone's phone number and stay up in case he needed me for anything while on the road. I felt so terrible asking him to go alone, but he took it with a grain of salt while I stewed in my guilt.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh so delicate.

As it turns out, the trip was a quick one. Izzy and Mark were very tired and just wanted to get the cats to Sam and head home. They had been on the road for nearly fourteen hours by that point and still had three and a half more to go. Sam texted me saying he was turning right back around and would be home soon. By 11pm Sam called saying he was down the street. I thought; “Here goes nothing.” Then started praying this wasn't the stupidest idea I've ever had.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo wants to start the day with a belly rub.

We got the cats into the foster room. I had my first look at each one. George was calm, cool and collected. He let me hold him right away. I took one look at him and knew I was in trouble, suddenly realizing that to avoid “foster fail” I should rescue cats I'm NOT going to LIKE, yet here in my arms was my dear cat, Spencer's little twin brother. George has the same mostly white Norwegian Forest Cat body, the crazy spots of tabby, the biggest, fluffiest tail I have EVER SEEN, a plush coat and ruff AND he's a NICE CAT to boot.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The CRAZIEST tail I have ever seen!

Bongo hid behind the litter pan. Poor Bunny didn't even come out of the cat carrier. I knew to keep the room dark and quiet. I put out some food and left them to rest from their long trip. I set up an electric blanket for them in case they wanted to snuggle and I whispered goodnight to them and headed to bed…but first another trip to the bathroom. Ugh.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Bunny, it's going to be OKAY!

This morning George and Bongo came over to say hello. I saw Bongo's nerve-damaged leg curled tightly against his body as he walked towards me. He walks with a wobble, but he doesn't let that stop him. He came over and laid down on the floor next to me. He rolled over and showed me his belly. He got up and laid against my lap and purred deeply. Oh crap, another cat to fall in love with!

Bunny is still scared, but I know she'll come around. It hasn't even been 24-hours yet and we all need time to get used to all the changes.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Doomed. I'm doomed!

I need to MOVE fast and get these cats adopted. I'm going to have to walk a fine line between being friendly and emotionally distant or I'm going to have nine cats again…or ten…oh crap! I'm doomed.

The Unbearable Cuteness of (little) Beings

I can't take it.

Two of Winnie's kittens are here. The others are with their foster mom in a neighboring town, waiting to be spayed/neutered in two weeks. Because Charly and Buttons had their procedures last week, they're ready to find their forever homes.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttons (left) and Charly (right).

The problem is they're so cute I can't stand the idea of them leaving.

To make matters worse they're great kittens. I don't know what foster mom Donna does, but whatever it is, these kittens are warm, loving, gentle and sweet.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

The first night they were here their little bodies shook with fear. They were scared in their new environment without their mama, Winnie, to look after them. I stayed with them for a long while, petting them, giving them treats, comforting them. They responded by purring and leaning into my hands.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I always feel guilty about separating the kittens from their mama, but it must be done. Winnie was spayed. She has a home with Donna. She's had at least three litters of kittens-three litters too many. She's done her time. It's time for her to recover and enjoy life without the burden of pregnancy in a home that will treat her with compassion and respect (and lots of love, too).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Charly thinking so hard his tongue came out.

Charly and Buttons have only been here for a few days, but if I could I'd spend day and night with them. I'm a sucker for long haired cats and it's rare that I ever get any to foster. In a way that's probably a good thing or I fear I'd have a zillion more “foster fail” cats and many fewer adoptions.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I keep torturing myself. Who would be good enough to adopt these kittens?

Within an hour of posting the kittens on Petfinder, I had 4 offers to adopt them. As with all our foster kittens, I'll be careful to review each application and hopefully will find someone amazing. All I know is, whoever adopts these cats is going to be VERY LUCKY.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

My fear is that they won't get enough attention, that they will lose their sweetness if handled roughly. Am I saying our adopters do that? Certainly not, but once out of Donna's loving care, then mine, what will become of them?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I always have to push aside my fears when doing adoptions. There has to be a point where I let go. It's unbearable to look into their eyes and feel myself getting lost in their adorable faces. I struggle to turn away. I make myself think about my cats-the cats I made a commitment to who depend on me and need my love. I want to make excuses as to why these kittens can't be adopted just yet so I can have more time with them, but that's foolish, too. That's not how you run a cat rescue.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I savor their sweetness, their silly antics, their awkward movements not yet refined into that of a graceful adult. Their adult coats haven't come in yet and they have spiky hairs along their backs that indicate just how long their coats will be one day.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Buttons.

One day that I will not witness…

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?

In some ways it feels like I have a secret lover. I look at Charly and Buttons and I forget my troubles for awhile. It's an escape from tension in the house, the cats misbehaving, the bills growing. All I have to do is have fun and love them, guide them with a gentle hand and make sure their tummies are full. They don't have behavioral issues or diseases to treat (knock wood). They don't irritate me as my own cats sometimes do. It's the first blush of love and I'm certainly hooked. I feel reluctant to leave them to tend to the other cats. It's like going back to my husband after a whirlwind affair.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cat toy photobomb.

Reality kicks in and I move on to other things. I know they're upstairs playing or napping or looking out the window as the dried autumn leaves flicker past the window on a gust of wind.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Little hunter.

I find myself longing for our next meeting and trying to think of an excuse to go check on them. I know our time is running out. Soon they'll be adopted and all I'll have are these photos and my memories.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Is my butt too heavy for this cat cube?

Once in awhile the door to my heart opens. Each time the hinges grow more stiff and it's harder to open the door. I know the pain of letting them in, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I get to be around little beings at the best time of their life. I get to enjoy all the good stuff for awhile and it will revive me until the next time it happens.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello!

These are the ones who remind me that my capacity for love is infinite. It doesn't run out when I feel heartbreak. It always comes back full, complete and profound.

the DOOD falls down, goes boom

It started around Saturday. the DOOD wasn't eating well. I didn't notice because Sam usually feeds the cats (while I feed the foster cats). With everything going on with Jackson, we didn't notice the DOOD wasn't moving around much, either-until we looked back on it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting to see Dr. Larry.

By Monday, I did notice that DOOD was staying put in one place for most of the day. He won't get up to eat, but would eat if I brought him his food. He wasn't running around, jumping on Blitzen or bulldozing his way to get a piece of chicken before the others could reach it. DOOD wasn't even climbing into my lap to lick my face as he does just about every evening.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I cooked broccoli. Yes, that's how I cure disease. Okay, maybe not, but I knew DOOD would get up if he smelled the vegetable cooking. He didn't get up. I brought him the bowl filled with his favorite thing in the world. He was very interested in it and got up. I encouraged him to climb down from the cat tree onto the floor. He did so, but he did it slowly. I knew something was wrong, but not sure what it was.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I saw DOOD take a few steps. I shot a quick video to document the problem. DOOD was limping very badly. He cried a little when he reached me. I tried to examine him after he had some broccoli, but he hissed, then nipped at my hand. He even growled.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Being a good boy with Dr. Larry and Super-Deb.

I felt the urge to panic, but fought it back. He's a very clumsy cat. When he runs, his back feet get out from under him all the time. When he wants to push the others out of the way to get a treat, he might overshoot where he's trying to jump and miss.

Recently he figured out there's a big covered bucket of kibble in the basement. It's for our feral cat, but he can pry the container open if he really tries. Sam found him inside the bucket gorging himself one night so he fortified access to the basement spiral staircase-then DOOD was injured a few days later.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, DOOD is high.

I fear DOOD fell down the spiral staircase.

I gave it a few days. DOOD seemed to act a bit brighter each day. Then yesterday morning the DOOD jumped onto the chair next to me. He began trembling from pain. I knew I was pushing my luck and called Dr. Larry. We had to wait until the afternoon, but we brought him in for an examination, blood work and x-rays.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Poor DOOD. He was very good with Dr. Larry and Super-Deb. He didn't make much of a fuss until Dr Larry touched the center of his spine-then he hissed and growled. I was very worried DOOD had a spinal cord injury, but then he wouldn't be able to walk, right? I also worried about an abscess that I missed finding. Something happened with Jackson because DOOD hissed at him and hid when Jackson was near him. Maybe there was a bite wound in DOOD's back?

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Dr. Larry took a long time reviewing the x-rays. I got more worried as each minute ticked by. He came back into the exam room and motioned for Sam and I to follow him to the back where we could see the x-rays. Dr. Larry sighed. I started to imagine very bad news.

“I just can't find anything wrong.”

Next, Dr. Larry went over the x-rays, pointing out how he'd look for signs of an abscess-little wisps or lines passing through the skin where gas/air pockets were forming around the wound. None were found. Vertebrae looked good-intact. We looked at DOOD's right front paw and it was fine. Then we saw DOOD's heart and I almost fainted. I realized Dr. Larry brought up Jackson's X-ray on the screen! Right???!! RIGHT!..whew…

The blood work was normal. DOOD's temp was a bit high, but that could have been caused by stress. Bottom line-this was probably a fairly bad soft tissue injury. Rest and pain meds-which are tough to come by for cats-was prescribed. The choice, buprenex and aspirin-yes aspirin, but only twice over the next 4 days, but I'm not sure I can give that to him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waitin' to feel better. (with Nicky in the background)

DOOD is home, laying on the bed. He doesn't move much and his eyes seem glued open. I'm sure he's tripping out on the buprenex. I'll give him the aspirin tonight. He's not eating unless I put extra treats on his food and he growls when he has to walk. DOOD must have really twisted his back, but good. I wish he could talk to me and tell me where it hurts.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zonked.

It's wait and see, like so many other health related problems with our cats. At least nothing is broken and DOOD does not require surgery. I hope that with some TLC and rest he'll be back to running around like a maniac.

Plus, my face needs a DOOD-special-bath.

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part four

Day six has drawn to a close. I can't sleep. My heart is broken. It's not that I even feel the need for it ever to be “repaired-” if such a thing is possible. While I was working on the story of my cats falling ill, another story began to form. Stories that follow along with a real person's life don't transpire in tidy little packages, so here I stop to inject something else before I get back to the mystery ailment.

Two nights ago I found a small, odd looking black growth on the edge of Spencer's right ear. In my foggy memory, I believe I saw it long ago, thought about running Spencer to the Vet, got sidetracked and forgot. There it was, this rubbery, creepy mass, well hidden by the dark fur along the cap of Spencer's head.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Back at the Vet for a second time.

At first I thought it was a tick, then realized there were two masses, one “tick sized” and the other much smaller. I knew this was something that Dr. Larry needed to take a look at so yesterday morning I took Spencer back to the Vet for the second time in less than a week.

Super Deb entered the exam room first. After working with Spencer the other day, she realized that he was calmer if we didn't cover him during procedures. She got to work taking his temperature and he was basically calm. He had no fever.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The growth was easily overlooked. Follow the left edge of Spencer's ear. Where the fur gets dark you'll see a tiny black area where there is no fur. That's the growth. It's just right of center of the photo.

She weighed him and he'd lost 4 ounces in five days. Not surprising, but a reminder to keep him eating as much as he wanted while he recovers from his illness. His fluffy rear end, which had become soiled yellow from having diarrhea, was looking cleaner. Perhaps he was feeling better?

Dr. Larry entered the room and I was relieved to see him now that he's back from his vacation. He's been my Vet for more years than I can remember. Though we may not always agree on things, he's open minded and in return I'm very respectful of him. We've had some difficult discussions about my choice to feed a raw diet to my cats. It's unfortunate that even now I have to be on the “down low” about it, but there is so much fear mongering going on about it that it's just easier not to talk about it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. She didn't even buy him dinner first! Spencer gets his temperature taken.

On this day we HAD to talk about it. He approached the topic carefully. I felt myself taking a step back, crossing my arms over my chest as he spoke. What is sickening my cats could have been caused by the raw food. Though rare, salmonella could be a culprit, yet we did NOT see any indications in the blood work to show us it was a possibility. It could be e.coli or other bacterial culprits. To really know for certain, Dr. Larry asked if we could get a stool sample on Spencer and run a PCR test on it. Though expensive, running over $200.00, the test would show us what was causing the diarrhea. If we could manage, he wanted a sample from Nicky, as well. Using that information we could get a better picture of what happened and how to NOT let it happen again-IF it's something we can control.

I said yes to the test and I told Dr. Larry that we stopped feeding raw the day the cats got sick. We've discussed how we prep the food and saw some minor things we can and will correct. We're going to throw out the litter pans and start anew. We've been feeding raw for many years and the cats have NEVER gotten sick, but in case we did something to cause this, we will find a way to do right by them.

Before we went too much further down this path we agreed it might still be something else and NOT the food.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least he's starting to eat again.

Then Dr. Larry examined Spencer's ear. He measured it and said it measured out larger then he expected. He didn't “like the look of it” and said we should remove it. He looked at Spencer's teeth and mentioned Spencer really needed a dental cleaning. I asked him to look into Spencer's ears because I noticed they appeared a bit dirty.

Spencer fussed and hissed angrily as Dr Larry looked into his ears. The right was dirty and irritated. Dr. Larry told me that some times cats can have an over production of a greasy residue in their ears. The ear gets dirty and very itchy. Certainly Spencer would need drops to get him feeling more comfortable.

Next, Dr. Larry looked at Spencer's left ear. As Spencer fussed, Dr. Larry adjusted the angle of the scope. He stopped for a second and removed the scope.

“There's another mass in Spencer's ear. It's very small, but I think we need to get in there and remove it.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Measuring the growth.

I felt a lump form in my throat. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I brought my cat to the Vet to look at this weird thing on his ear. Hopefully it was just a funky benign mole or something, but with the discovery of a second growth I knew what that could mean and I didn't know if I could get the words out to ask the question.

“Is this cancer? Does Spencer have CANCER?”

Dr. Larry has this serious expression I've seen too many times before. He had it when he examined Bob's belly and said it didn't feel right. It turned out Bob had a cancerous tumor engulfing half his liver. Dr. Larry never makes light of a diagnosis like this. Being conservative and I'm sure not wanting to upset me, he would only answer; “I don't like the look of this. It could be benign, but…”

He said if it was cancer that the rule of thumb would be to excise enough tissue to get a clean margin. It would mean removing Spencer's ear or ears. It was too much to imagine. I had to keep it together. I said if it was malignant, what was the point of cutting his ears off? His lovely little elfin ears…how could I do that to him? We didn't talk much beyond that. It was too soon to go down that road.

First Spencer had to get well and recover from whatever was causing his gastric issues. We'd schedule a dental and surgery for sometime near the end of the month. He wished me well and left to attend to the next patient. I put Spencer back into his cat carrier and went to the lobby to pay the bill, not sure I could get out of the clinic without bursting into tears.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My little pouff-waiting, wondering and scared.

Although I have no idea how I'm going to pay for this surgery, I will find a way. The overriding thought in my mind as I waited to hand over my credit card was; this can't be cancer. I just lost a cat to cancer 11 months ago. I just watched my dear Bob slowly die over the course of a horrible year. I can't go through that again.

I can't go through that with SPENCER. He's only 11 years old. He's the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair. He's my love, my dear friend.

I thought about what my lawyer said to me on the phone when we were talking about a car accident I was in two years ago. The case is either going to be settled or go to trial. He asked me my age, then told me the insurance company figures that based on my current age I have 29 more years to live which is how they will base my settlement offer. At first it really bothered me that there's a computer program that bets on how long I'll live. After we ended our conversation, I started to think maybe that was too many more years; more years of witnessing the pain and suffering of my dear cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the exam, Spencer sat in the window, trying to regain his composure after being poked and prodded.

Last night Spencer came over to me as I laid in bed. He did his little routine of laying on my arm, with his fluffy ruff in my face, purring loudly next to my ear. I tried to hold back, but I began to sob. I wondered how many more nights we would have together like this-where he is himself, not broken or wasting away. He is my beloved cat and together we have a simple joy that is deeply profound.

Spencer got up and walked to the end of the bed. I gave up trying to sleep, got up and went downstairs to my office and began to write. Between writing and tears I heard a sound. I turned to look and Spencer was there in his cat bed next to me. He was purring away like nothing was wrong.

I hope he's right.


The PCR test results are due in a day or two. I won't know about Spencer until we biopsy the mass towards the end of the month. The sliver lining has to do with a surprise adoption. Find out who it was and about their forever family in the next installment (unless something ELSE happens first).

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.

©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.

©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.

©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.

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


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.

©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…


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