Flying Feline

The Squee Diaries Ch 11. The Magic Room Part 1

A room can be described as having four walls, a window or two, some furnishings, a door, but when it’s the foster room, there’s an additional something contained in the space that only kittens can create.

The door opens, but with effort because the kittens are HUNGRY and anxiously pushing their way OUT of the door as you try to open it inwards. They explode in a flood of fur and frantic limbs, while a few tiny cries punctuate the silence. Once freed, they turn around to scramble right back IN to the room because that’s where the food has magically appeared. They gulp, lick and maybe growl a bit, as they take in the nutrients that give them their robust physique. The energy they draw inside, radiates outwardly, refilling the room with a “buzz” that’s palpable.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie, Petey and the gang.

Any humans in the room may not consciously be aware, but they too are being energized by the kittens as they enjoy their meal. The energy amps up as the kittens wash their faces and ready themselves for playtime. They race around the room, increasing the sensation. They leap and we might laugh, surprised at how high they fly. They fall off the bed and get right back up. They fight over a toy until it’s shredded to bits. Meanwhile the room reflects all this energy to those in it making the space become somehow alive itself.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How high can you fly?

Then quiet. It’s time for rest. The kittens sleep in huddled puddles, purring on a heated blanket. We might rest with them, too. Our energy, abated. The room exhales, but still vibrates from the life inside it.

The foster room is like no other. I may have other cats in my home, but this space is sacred. It’s magical. I always feel refreshed after being around these precious lives in this special place.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. After breakfast Mel washes up before getting ready for playtime.

But one by one I know the kittens will have to leave, to be adopted and go to their “forever homes.” The magical room will fall silent until it is filled again. I dread entering the foster room when it’s empty. It feels sad and lost without its infant inhabitants. I’ve begun to notice that the kittens realize it, too. As a few kittens leave, the remaining ones fall silent, play a bit less, are a bit more tentative. They know something happened, but maybe aren’t sure what. Will their siblings return? Did something bad befall them? The routine has changed, too. Everything feels so confusing. The energy is less. Perhaps we’re all dreading what will come—the empty room.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our nightly ritual-the kittens on their human cat bed.

Last week Barney and Willow were adopted. Then, on Sunday, four more kittens left us for their homes. It was like ripping off a bandage and this one hurt more than most others. Perhaps I’m greedy for the love I got from them and just wanted more. Perhaps I was addicted to the joy I could depend on no matter how bad my day was.

All I know is the magic room is changing again and this time I dread opening the door.

…to be continued…

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PRODUCT REVIEW and MYSTERY: The Case of the Neko Flies String

Your cats are bored. They get into fights. They bite your ankles or the just lay around with a glazed look in their eyes. They're little hunters with nothing to hunt (unless you let them outside, but please don't do that!). Can you imagine not having an outlet for your deepest desires? To be crass, that would really stink.

I try to have play time with my cats every night, but getting them to chase after a toy can be daunting because my cats are either 2 years old or 12 years old or older. What would I use that appeals to all of them?

Some cats are “air hunters” while others prefer to stalk prey at the ground level, so I'd need a toy that works well dragged on the floor, mimicking the movements of a bug, and something I could gently whip back and forth to get my air hunters to jump.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan is the consummate high-flyer when Neko Flies are around.

Usually I've solved this problem by having more than one toy in my arsenal. I still believe that you should offer options for your cats, from small balls to faux mice and catnip laden toys. That said, I can only hold so many toys in my hand at one time and I needed something that covered all the bases. At last I've found a series of interactive toys that gets cats off their big behinds and turns the lights back on in their eyes. I give you, Neko Flies!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel inspects mysterious package.

Unlike many wand toys I've used in the past, Neko Flies feel well made. Their clear plastic rod has a comfortable rubber grip. At the opposite end of the grip is a clip with a charming braided green and black cord that's attached to a variety of “Lures” that resemble and move like real bugs or mice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey grabs her Kattiepede.

Ellen, the creator of Neko Flies, underscored the importance of creating unique, carefully crafted (some elements are done by hand) toys that are as safe as possible for cats. She told me they constantly look for ways to improve their product, from finding ways to use less glue (they already only use a few drops), to finding thicker material for the wings of their Kragonfly cat toy as well as for better ways to anchor the loop into the toy so it doesn't pull free when cats tug on it. Ellen seems almost obsessed with designing toys that truly appeal to cats and are not just a collection of feathers glued to a string or that utilize materials that are so cheap they fall apart after one use.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?!

It was tempting to write the world's shortest review by stating: I LOVE NEKO FLIES. Rather, my CATS love Neko Flies.

But then something happened…

One of the cats bit the green and black cord, severing one-third off it, along with the Kragonfly. I took the fly away so they wouldn't eat it, thinking I would just trim the end of the cord and reattach the Fly to it. In the meantime, since I was cooking dinner and trying to play with the cats at the same time, I would just have them chase after the string, without the toy attached because they seemed to like it just fine.

Ahhh…hindsight is 20-20 vision, as they say.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love at first bite.

I'd gotten into the habit of hiding the Neko Flies where the cats couldn't get at it to keep them from destroying it. These toys are SO ENTICING you can't leave them laying around. It's just not safe. Really. If only I had READ THE BOX the Neko Flies came in because I would have seen the WARNING on it. I didn't read the WARNING on their web site, either, which I'm sharing with you here:

Some cats become so enamored and hooked on NEKO FLIES that they have been known to try and get the toy off a shelf by themselves! This is an interactive toy for a human to play with the kitty, so keep your Neko flies tucked safely tucked away in a drawer or closet until you are ready to play with your cat again!

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[Neko Flies Lure is attached to a card with this warning printing on it. See? They told me so!]

“Neko Flies are designed as a toy for you and your cat to play with together. The lures at the end are designed to move in a lifelike way which is a great part of their appeal, even to cats who usually are not interested in toys or playing. However, these toys are not intended to be left with a cat to chew or destroy (as she would actual live prey). Once your cat manages to catch a toy you should praise her and then get her to release it right back to you by offering her a really tasty treat - doing a "bait-and-switch" the way you would with a human toddler or a dog who have gotten something you don't want them to possess. Because the Neko Flies lure toys are so enticing to cats, there is a warning that they should never be left anywhere your cat can get to them without your participation. This is a wand toy, not a chew toy! Neko Flies satisfy your cat's primal instinct to hunt and chase - but it is up to you to then protect the lures from your cat's instinct to "kill!"”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I turned my back on my cats to check on dinner. I didn't even leave them alone for more than a minute. I looked back and the green and black cord was one-third the length it had been. Clearly, one of the cats had chewed it off and possibly EATEN IT. In decades of being a cat-mom, this was the first time I ever had to worry that a cat ingested such a large part of a toy.

I searched the living room. I knew the culprits were either my tiny foster cat, Mabel or my big bruiser, the DOOD. I had a bad feeling it was DOOD because he's, well, not the sharpest pencil in the box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley goes nuts for Neko.

I couldn't find a thing. In a panic, I called Neko Chan, home to Neko Flies. Ellen, herself, called me back right away. We talked about what materials were used in the cord (polyester).I called the ER Vet and told them about what material I believe one of the cats ingested and they suggested I bring both cats down, spend $1500.00 per cat on endoscopy-that was IF they could get an internist to come to work late on a Sunday night. They also told me to get a cat to vomit is some sort of “holy grail” treatment because the chemicals they might use to make them vomit usually kills them.They told me to watch for the cat to become listless, vomit, not eat and if that happened to RUSH them in for EMERGENCY SURGERY because the cord could twist up in the intestines and basically KILL the cat.

OR…it might pass on its own…out the “other” end.

Great.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey prepares to pounce.

The next few days were absolute Hell on my nerves. I ripped apart the living room the next day and checked everywhere I could, but no string was found. I hovered over the DOOD and Mabel, but they ate as usual and seemed unaffected. Then I started to worry that maybe it wasn't them, but another cat. I have 9 cats running around! This was going to end badly, I just knew it.

Ellen checked in with me, hopeful I had good news, but there was no sign of the missing string. I thought maybe I was getting Alzheimer's and this was the first sign? I was so paranoid that I carried the remaining section of cord in my purse, in case I had to take one of the cats to the ER so they would know what to look for yet still…nothing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Joey enjoying their new toy..

Six WEEKS passed. I was getting breakfast ready for the kittens and I saw a GREEN ball with pale colored ball next to it on a paper towel on the counter. I asked Sam what it was and he said he found it when he was scooping the litter pan. I looked at it for a moment, then the alarms went off in my head. It was cat excrement with the STRING from the Neko Flies in it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah. Green Poo (and no ham).

Being the offspring of two scientists, I HAD to get a magnifying glass out and inspect the green stool. We feed our cats a raw diet so their stool is VERY pale, hard and dry. I teased apart the green ball and saw fibers. I put the section of string I had in my purse next to the questionable object and the color matched. Whoever ate the string passed, at least some of it out. Thank God.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Six weeks later, the green string is found.

Although I'll never know if that was ALL of the string, hopefully it was enough so that it won't adversely effect the cat who ate it (most likely the DOOD). I don't know if the raw diet slowed the process down since the cats don't pass much stool or if it helped. All I care about is that my cats are fine and my pocket still has a few bucks in it.

After all this would I still tell you to go out and buy Neko Flies. Absolutely, YES I would! I want you to know about my foolishness so that you truly appreciate the warning from NekoChan. Their toys are so enticing we must be careful in how we use them and our reward for that mindfulness is that our cats will get the exercise they need and have their hunting desire sated. I'm still using the Kattipede today and hope to add more Lures to my collection soon.

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If you'd like your very own Neko Flies: Foxifur Kittenator with Rod, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what's the weirdest thing your cat has eaten or just give me a good reason why you should win. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE FOXIFUR KITTENATOR with ROD. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA and CANADA (yay Canada!) only (sorry guys outside of those areas!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. DOOD.

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ (I can only hope there will not be any ER Vet visits!).

The Squee Diaries. Ch 10 Watch Me Soar

The kittens are 10 1/2 weeks old and today is the "big day." It's time for the boys to be neutered and Gracey to be spayed. Although it's vital this procedure be done, I dread it. I'd rather wait until the kittens are a few months old, but this is their best chance to be adopted, when they're still little. I could have done it even sooner than today, but I dragged it out as long as I dared. They're all at a good weight and the soft stool they suffered from for so long seems to have resolved by feeding them a raw diet. I think they're ready.

So while I put the kittens into their carriers and kiss their little faces, take a moment to enjoy this celebration of my dear kittens. To Stanley, the high-flyer, to Mel the comedian, to Gracey the tough-cookie, to Petey the rascal and to Joey the gentle soul, I honor your amazing journey; being fearless, taking delight in your ever-expanding world, and reminding me that joy can be found in the simplest of things. I love each one of you very much.

I present to you, my fearless flyers. Enjoy!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible ladder.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Put your paws in the air like you don't care.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible rope climbing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey is a big boy now.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Double dutch jumpers.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Put your hands up!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Pole-dancer Joe.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I got it! I got it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Extreme gotcha!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Going up!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lil' Gracey at 10 weeks.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible pony ride.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Beware the toilet-zombie!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wrong way Mel.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible recliner.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey at 10 weeks.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Marmalade mayhem.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie at 10 weeks.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Twist and shout!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Catch me when I fall.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey at 10 weeks.

If you'd like to catch up on The Squee Diaries, just visit these links:

Chapter One. We Are Born.

Chapter Two

Chapter Three. The Unbearable Cuteness of Kittens

Chapter Four. The Pitter Patter

Chapter Five. The Last Days of the Blue Bathtub

Chapter Six. Happy Family No More

Chapter Seven. Let the Good Times Roll

Chapter Eight. Paint the Town Brown

Chapter Nine. How Do I Love Thee?

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The Dreaded M.D.

“Is that kitten missing some of his fur?”

I looked over at Barney. He was playing with a toy held by a little girl who was taking part in our Kitties for Kids program. Barney was oblivious to the fact that the fur on his side looked like it had been wiped away. He wasn’t completely bald and with his white and orange coat, it was tough to see how much he was missing at a glance.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney's naked patch.

I took a closer look and it was clear that Barney was licking off his fur, not just on one side, but on both.

Shit.

I’d noticed the foster cats have been itchy for a few weeks or more, but not so much that it caused alarms to go off. They’ve been checked a few times for fleas, but we find nothing, not even flea dirt. Last year was a VERY bad year for fleas so it wouldn’t be surprising that there were some in the foster room.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Dr. Larry takes a look.

What to do?

I’ve had a lot of experience with Miliary Dermatitis. My cat Gracie suffers from it. M.D. is basically “I don’t know that the heck it is” but it’s some sort of skin issue. Many times it’s related to a stress reaction, food or a mite or flea bite. In Gracie’s case, after YEARS of doing tests, seeing specialists, trial and error, only homeopathy worked to reduce the problem and steroids resolved it for a few weeks. The problem with steroids is-it will end up killing Gracie over time so for me, giving her more wasn’t acceptable.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred seems fine.

Gracie is covered with scabs. She stopped “barbering” (chewing) her coat and no longer has bloody lesions, but her fur is not plush and her skin feels terrible. I’m looking into acupuncture, but other than that I feel as though I’ve tried it all.

I look at Barney and think about the MANY things that could be causing him to lick off his fur. I knew a trip to see Dr. Larry would probably be a waste of time, but I had to start there.

Dr. Larry agreed with me that it was most likely M.D. and made some suggestions. One startled me, but also inspired me. He said to let Barney be an indoor/outdoor cat. That the stimulation of being outside reduced the need to over-groom because the cat was having so much FUN!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Caught in the act.

What? I can’t let my cats outside!

Then I realized I have NOT been spending enough time with the kittens. Playtime is for five minutes here and five minutes there. I’ve been too busy to do more than that. I figured since I hear them running around they must be playing. There are five cats in the foster room after all.

I also thought about the Kitties for Kids program. Was the stress of meeting all these strangers getting to Barney? Thing is, he is the FIRST cat to go over to a new person and say hi! He’s very social. If he was upset by the visitors wouldn’t he be hiding instead of playing?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What the?!!!…the kittens are nursing on Willow!

What about diet?

Yes, that could be a factor. Since ALL the foster cats are scratching, something is making them itchy. The donations of food we’ve gotten lately is a mixed bag of canned, grain-free food. They get fed what I have on hand, not something consistent AND I’ve fed them a tuna based food recently for the first time. Did that set them off? Gracie seems to react to having fish.

The more I learn about cats, the more I sense that playtime is the key to more than we understand.

It reduces stress, stretches the muscles and the mind, it helps them have an outlet for their prey drive. If we simply shake a toy at them once in awhile, it’s just NOT enough. Their mind needs to be engaged if they stay indoors. I’ve seen Jackson get very nasty with the other cats when he’s clearly bored.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Liftoff during one of our Kitties for Kids visits.

Normally, what you do is change ONE thing and see if it works. If that doesn't work, then go on to the next thing. Because Barney is so young and should NOT be having this issue, I’m going to do a few things and hope that one of them is the answer.

I’ll start with an application of Revolution®. I like it better than some other flea treatments and it does affect mites and internal parasites, too. I realize it could make things worse, but Barney’s skin is fine. There are no open lesions. He does NOT have ringworm.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Coco shows how it's done.

I’ve already started ramping up playtime. I got a new Da Bird donated to us. It REALLY tires the cats out as long as I don’t let the cats catch the toy. If so, they destroy it in about 2 seconds. What I do is basically make them go nuts for at least 15 minutes. After the cats slow down or start to lay down instead of chase the toy, I start up with ANOTHER toy. I use a Cat Dancer and Rainbow CatCharmer or a laser pointer or both. I throw balls around, mouse toys, Kong® Cat Kickaroos. I want to see the cats get to the point of just about falling over they’re so tired. I’ll even open up my old iPad and play Game for Cats for them to further stimulate their minds. If I see Barney lick at himself I distract him with more playtime.

Lastly I’ve simplified their diet. Ideally I would feed them raw but that’s not in the budget. I’m cutting out fish and only giving them chicken/turkey. It’s very high quality grain-free canned food and I’m feeding them more often so they’re less stressed when they get their food. I noticed they were gulping at their meal the other day so clearly they need more to eat and more often.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Entertained by his Kong Cat Kickaroo.

The hope is that one or more of these things will work and Barney will stop licking off his fur. The fear is that he won’t and this will be a chronic problem for him. I’m also thinking about letting him run the whole house instead of just the foster room. The extra space might do him good.

Last night I let him out for a few minutes and he was terrified, so for now I’ll go more slowly and only open up smaller areas at a time.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor sweetie.

What is ailing Barney and making the others itchy? Is it dry skin or is Kitties for Kids going to have to be shelved? I can’t say right now. All I know is that I need to find an answer fast before Barney makes this into an OCD-like reaction that will require heavy-duty meds for years to come.

In my heart I feel like the key to keeping Barney healthy is more playtime, not just for him, but for ALL of our cats.

2012 The Year of Heartbreak and Hope Part 2

July

July was even more difficult on us than June. Maria had taken in two more kittens from her neighbor who were very sick. A buff tabby named Tater Tot was the most ill. The Vet told us it was the “wet” form of FIP which is fatal. His sister, Latte was struggling with a terrible upper respiratory infection. Maria took time off from work to care for the cats around the clock. Neither of us slept much. I researched alternative treatments, testing, anything I could think of while we expected that Tater wouldn't be with us for much longer.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our amazing survivor-Tater Tot.

Because Maria is so good at what she does, she noticed that Tater had tapeworms. We ran more tests. His belly was big and round from the tapeworms, giardia and what was almost pneumonia. Once we started treatment he began to show improvement. It took a few weeks but we were very happy to take FIP off the table as we saw Tater eat on his own and gain weight.

King arrived in my home for a few days. He was quite the charmer, but he wasn't meant to be here for very long. Sam and I drove King to New Hampshire, to his new home where his mom, Judy was waiting to adopt him. I loved this home for him and this good woman and her sister. I never thought King had a chance and here he was 1400 miles from the palette factory in a safe, loving environment.

Two of my dear friends adopted Sabrina and Cutie Pie. Their mom, April, found a home in Brooklyn, NY and their sister Bon Bon was adopted in June.

August

We took on another pregnant mama named Winnie and got a new foster home here in CT. Donna and her husband, Paul are great foster parents. Winnie had five amazing kittens on 8.10.12 named Buttons, Bandit, Honeydew, Charly and Pinkie.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama, Winnie (inset) waiting to see Dr. Chris. Buttons flying high while Honeydew and sister, Bandit look on.

I took another fistful of Xanax and flew to Topeka, Kansas to tour the Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center. I tiptoed through the “dark side,” but made some good friends and learned a lot more about pet food ingredients.

Something horrible happened to my cat Spencer. He stopped eating and hid. X-rays showed a strange mass in his sinus. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. It turned out to be a false alarm which added many more gray hairs to my head.

September

I was honored to be chosen as one of five members of the Animal Control Advisory Panel, overseeing the operations of our brand new town's Animal Control facility here in Newtown, CT. We had our first meeting and I was delighted to be nominated as Co-Chair of the committee.

Just as I was about to get inundated with kitties from Maria and Cyndie, I found a foster home for two of the remaining black kitties and the final one, Hello Dahlia, was adopted. We got the word that Miss Fluffy Pants found a GREAT forever home and Coco, Chichi, Choco, Tater Tot, Latte, Fred & Barney, and Willow arrived!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (inset) the DOOD resting in his cage while his mysterious back injury slowly healed and a few months later enjoying the new cat tree in my office.

Chichi and Choco got adopted right away into a great home.

One morning, the DOOD couldn't get up and walk and was in terrible pain, growling or crying if we touched him. We did x-rays that showed nothing and began talking about taking DOOD to a neurologist or starting him on steroids. It took six long weeks, most of it forced cage rest, before he was well enough to walk again without pain. I think he fell down the spiral staircase to get into the basement where we store food for our feral cat, but we'll never really know what happened.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson getting oxygen before we raced him to the Emergency Vet and Intensive Care (inset). Jackson at home feeling better.

Jackson fell ill with a temp of 105.1°F. We put him on antibiotics and waited two weeks to do a re-check. At his re-check, since Jackson did NOT like to be messed with, we had to sedate him to get a good x-ray. I didn't like the way his chest looked when he breathed. That day Jackson went into heart failure from the effects of sedation and we almost lost him. He had undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and was in poor condition. The next day Jackson was supposed to be adopted. Instead, Jackson fought for his life in intensive care at an emergency Vet. We took Jackson home later that night, unsure of how much longer we'd have with him.

With Maria having space in her home open, we took on a kitty named Bongo who has nerve damage to his front leg. It had been a Hell of a month, but we kept on.

October

Opal went to a sanctuary and is doing well. She is becoming more friendly each day and she may one day be put up for adoption.

There was troubling news about King. He'd been struggling with chronic, severe and frankly bizarre ear infections. He had to have surgery, loads of daily cleanings, antibiotics. The other cats in the home weren't too sure about him. King faced losing his ears and his home, but his mom never gave up on him.

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©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo (inset) with Bongo (left) and George (right)-who are all ready to be adopted! Email info@kittenassociates.org for more info.

I rescued a knockout silver tabby Maine coon mix named Nico from a kill shelter in Georgia because I knew I could find him a home and I wasn't going to let him die.

Maria found a kitten in a parking lot she named, Bunny Boo Boo that she rescued on her own and we took on another cat whose former mom was going to lose her home if the landlord found out she rescued a cat from the parking lot nearby. We named him George and he and Bongo and Bunny Boo Boo are great friends.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hurricane Sandy, no power for almost a week-just a bad flashback to the year before when we got nailed at almost the same time by “Snowmageddon.”

Hurricane Sandy killed the power and made life HELL for a week making a mess of my home in Sandy Hook, CT.

November

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You are deeply missed, sweet girl.

More vet runs, some of Winnie's kittens found forever homes, but all that didn't matter after learning the shocking news that Bobette, who was now named, Kissy, had passed away shortly after surgery to remove the same leg we'd tried so hard to save. JaneA drove five hours to be with us over Thanksgiving so we could all mourn together. I had a breakdown, sobbing uncontrollably, saying I wished I could make it better or could have done something different. JaneA comforted me when I really wanted to comfort her. I'd rescued Kissy over a year before and suffered when three of her kittens died a few days after rescue from a kill shelter. Here it was just over a year after I'd saved her life. I'd never worked so hard or for such a long time to make a cat's life pain free and happy and now she was lost to us forever.

December

Nico arrived and was adopted a few weeks later. The rest of Winnie's family found their forever homes. There were lots of inquiries about adopting kittens since the Holidays were approaching. Tater Tot, in a surprising twist, got adopted instead of Willow, who the family had come to meet. Willow, Fred & Barney and Latte were still with us waiting for their forever homes.

I got good news that King overcame his severe ear issues and was finally settling in with his new family. The other kitties were slowly accepting him and King was finding his place. His mom is the sort of adopter I always wish for-after a very rocky start, loads of vet bills and difficulties, she kept on. She never complained. She was completely devoted. My only hope is that her reward is enjoying the love of a very dear cat and hopefully a much easier future.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our mascot of Covered in Cat Hair and my baby, Spencer before and after surgery.

Spencer had a very challenging dental cleaning where he lost two more teeth and surgery to remove a mass from one ear and another from inside the other. I prepared myself for bad news, but the shock came as the test results indicated it was an apocrin gland cyst with “no content”-meaning NO CANCER.

Sam and I cleared out the garage of recycling one bright sunny morning. After we were done we went to Panera Bread to have a late breakfast. While we were sitting there we saw police cars racing past. I knew something bad had happened and a few minutes later I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which you can read more about HERE and HERE.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My home town will never be the same again. The school is a few miles from my home.

Wanting to reach out and help heal the broken hearts in our town, I created “Kitties for Kids” a kitten-therapy for the children, first responders and residents of Newtown, CT. We were featured on national television news and major news outlets online. We got loads of donations of plush toys and the first children and parents began to arrive to visit our kitties.

Although we had no Christmas and sent out no card (for the first time in my adult life), the joy of knowing I was helping people and the overwhelming honor of so many people reaching out to us was my gift.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. We will never forget and find a way to heal our hearts.

As the year draws to a close, we have saved over 60 lives by networking, rescuing, fostering…and many of those cats were tough to place. I also helped people keep their cats by offering them suggestions on how to work with their cat's behavior and health issues. I even covered the Vet bill of a few cats in dire need so they would keep their homes, too.

It's been quite a challenging and painful year. I realize that 2013 may be no easier. All I can do is hope that I'll be better able to handle what is yet to come and that for the cats out there who need me, that I'll have the resources to help them when the time comes.

Happy 2013 to All!

Fred and the Fabulous Flyin' Felines

It's been a long. lousy week. Time to kick back and enjoy the antics of Fred and friends as they fly through the air or walk like a zombie. Either way it's what the doctor ordered-no bad news, no rush to rescue, just plain fun.

Enjoy.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jet Propulsion engaged!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte leaps.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney makes a mad dash.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred tries it on tippy-toes.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred & Tater's first ballroom dance class.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Holding on for dear life.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred weird, Tater nuts.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beware of Zombies! (check out Barney in the background!)

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I stand on your head!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie-Latte, beware! (could be a Halloween beverage at Starbucks?)

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Look at Tater's expression! He's like that in a number of photos. (rear left)

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte liftoff.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Please don't fart.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My Precious!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. OMG!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. And stretch, 1, 2, 3…

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a flying' Fred!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zero gravity.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater in disbelief.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeeee!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater attempts liftoff but is foiled by big belly.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Flying's fun, but now it's time to nap.

Sweet dreams fearless flyers!

Moving Forward While Looking Back

I’m compelled to move forward, as a Buddhist might say, as a pebble in the stream. The water pushes me and I am unable to resist the force. I may get caught up against larger rocks or deeper pools along the way, but the water continues to flow around me, urging me onward, freeing me for a time until I get caught up again.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney growing up fast.

After Kissy’s passing a few days ago, I felt stuck, unwilling to go on. I’ve felt the same way after other cats have died and even more so when I lost my parents. It seemed cruel to me that the sun still rose in the sky and that everyone else went about their business. I wanted the world to stop spinning and mourn, as I did; to pay respect by simply standing still. Moving on meant the pain would soften; the memories begin to fade. I never want to forget, but it’s inevitable that I can’t stay in this place forever.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte, no longer a skittish kitten, but a stunning lady.

Earlier this week, before the tragic news, I realized I needed to update the photos of my foster kittens for Petfinder. Although I’ve gotten plenty of applications, most are for just one of the kittens and many are not a good match. I risk the kittens growing into young cats. The bigger they get, the longer it will take for me to find them forever homes. A few of them are already six months old. Time is running out.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater's big eyes are now his trademark. He never seems to blink and he always makes me laugh with his silly antics and constant chattering.

Tater Tot & Latte

Tater and Latte, along with Willow and Coco were all getting sick or not resolving their upper respiratory tract infection. I had a DNA test called a PCR done on a swab taken from Tater’s mouth. As you may recall, the test came back positive for Mycoplasma, which explained a lot of his issues and made the course of treatment more clear.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Latte.

For the past month I’ve been doling out antibiotics to each of the six foster kittens since they share the same room. Each day, twice a day they get their pill, then get their meal. They’re to the point where they know to come to me to get their pill so it’s gone a lot easier than I feared. Having to pill cats 360 times over the course of the month went from a nightmare to routine. Perhaps I'm finally learning something?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater looks on as Fred reaches for the stars.

Tater is doing much better. His sinuses have dried up. I don’t hear him sneeze. He isn’t breathing as loud.

Latte was never as sick as her brother Tater and is doing just fine. Her once dark coat is getting lighter and her true Tortie colors are beginning to glow. She’s overcoming her shyness and focuses on having fun, instead of hiding.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Willow is getting fluffier every day!

Willow

Willow, too, was deeply affected by the same health issues and she seems to be resolving them, but she’s still having sneezing attacks. I believe she’ll be on the antibiotics much longer than the others. Overall she’s doing very well. She’s charming and dainty and loves to play fetch. I can’t figure out why I don’t have a list of adopters for her. She’s very lovely and sweet.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred in a somber moment between chasing after toys.

Fred & Barney

The boys are growing up fast. They’re rough and tumble and enjoying each day. Fred was sick for a short while but the antibiotics cleared up his issues, too. These days Fred loves to jump high into the air after his Cat Dancer toy (which keep needing to be replaced he’s so hard on them!)

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and the lavender ball.

Barney is more of a mellow fellow and a dash sweeter. They were both sick with roundworms, but that’s been treated and they’re doing great.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Librarian-Coco.

Coco

The older Coco gets, the prettier her coloring. Her eyes are blue and peach. Her points are getting a bit darker orange. She was once fairly skittish and now she’s more outgoing and friendly. She’s right there with Fred, enjoying leaping high after toys. She initially had some symptoms, runny eyes and nose, but that seems to be resolved, too.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bored by the string toy, Coco would rather jump after her “prey.”

I’m glad they’re all doing well, but they need to move on to their forever homes. With Hurricane Sandy shutting us down for a week, followed by the big snowstorm; add the economic woes to the mix and it doesn’t look good for anyone getting adopted soon.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Super Stretch!

In the meantime, we’re doing okay. I’ll write a separate update on Jackson and Winnie’s crew later. I’m grateful there aren’t (knock wood) any crises with the cats, but I know things will change. Hopefully I’ll have time to gather my strength before it does.

I'm pushing back against the tide. I want to stay put in my grief for a little while longer, but I know the water will always urge me along.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

Of Flying Felines and Fond Farewells Part 1 of 2

Fantastic flying felines and zombie kittens! SQUEE ALERT!

(Farewells in Part 2.)

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten wants to eat your brains!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie Patootie's showing her secret white belly button.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina mugs for the camera.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hi Five..or is that six?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Attack of the 50ft Kitten!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is how we do it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten searches for the next victim.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cute break with Cutie!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Okay one more cute break with Black Beauty.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible hang glider.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. One-eyed flying machine.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Engaging telekinesis in 3…2…1.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Mousey with Hello Dahlia.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina in a tangle.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Belly Holiday firing super-cute rays into your heart.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Anatomy of flight.

The kittens are having a grand time and didn't want to stop having fun, but their joy was tempered with some sadness. In part two I'll fill you in on what happened after play time was over.

Happy (Orange) New Year!

There's nothing better than to start the New Year off with a few cute photos of our sweet foster kitties; “Bob's Pumpkin Patch.” As you may know, one of our babies, little Teddy, was adopted just two days ago. These are the last photos of him before he went to his new home.

Instead of a long blog post, I hope you'll enjoy this photographic peek into my life with foster kitties.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The boys with mama-Bobette (on far left), who often is confused for being a kitten, herself.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Thanks to the generosity of one of our readers, last night Bobette's surgery was PAID FOR IN FULL! Thank you so very much! I can't wait for Bobette to be out of pain and walking normally.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Teddy. What a sweetheart. I miss him very much!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The ever-gorgeous, Jakey! Pose for the camera!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mikey is always meowing. Wah! Wah! Wah!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Okay, not always whining. Here he is again, looking a bit more somber.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly high! Weeeee! (nice belly)

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I love all the stripey tails!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama and Teddy.

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©2011 Maria S. You've come a long way, babies!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Growing up to be big boys Teddy (left), Mikey (center) and Jakey (right).

Foster Cat Math Part Two: The Pumpkin Patch Arrives

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©2011 Maria S. Bobette and family etting ready to leave for Connecticut.

I can't believe it's been over a week since the Pumpkin Patch family arrived from Maria's home in Georgia. This time of year, it's always more hectic and I had much to do before this family arrived. Even after picking the family up off the transport, the boys only had an hour break before I packed them up and brought them to my rescue group's Home for the Holidays Adoption Event! (I left mama, Bobette home to rest. She was very cranky with the boys and I thought some alone time would do her good).

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©2011 Maria S. The transport awaits.

The planning and setup for Adoption Events always leaves me knackered. Someday I hope to have volunteers able to help me get these things done. My car isn't very big, but it seems as though there's an endless supply of “stuff” that has to be crammed into it. Things need to be packed, washed, organized, then I have to figure out how many cats there are plus how many crates needed, plus where is this all going to go and how is it going to get to Choice Pet Supply where the event is being held?

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Would you adopt me?

Irene is my right hand woman. She shows up. She helps. She fills up her car with whatever I ask. She jumps in and chats people up and tries to get us a few sales or donations. Sam will load up his car, too and help us get the tough things set up, then he scampers off to work on his own projects. I end up having to design flyers, send out notices to the newspapers-the online ones, the printed ones. Then the flyers have to be hung up around town, if I can get away long enough to do that. There's just an amazing amount of work to be done. Meanwhile, there are cats to care for and all their paperwork to fill out, what vaccination they need, getting them to the vet, vetting potential adopters. No wonder I always seem to be stressed out and feeling like I don't have enough time in the day.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie!

We got some applications and I met with folks who had emailed me about stopping by to visit the kittens. It was all going well when all of a sudden, I heard one of the Angel Babies furiously meowing and scratching at the plastic tray bottom of their crate. As I lifted the cover off the back of their cage, my nostrils were violated by a powerfully nauseating smell. Then, I saw it-diarrhea! Ugh.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bananas are good fun.

Irene and I quickly started to clean up the mess. Thankfully the poop wasn't on the bedding in the cage so the cleaning wasn't difficult. The smell, however, was not going away. I had a small litter pan ready to go. It was too soon into the event to offer it to the kittens, or so I thought. If one of the kittens had the runs, I figured I'd better give them the litter pan. Seconds after I placed the pan in the cage, two of the kittens started digging around in the litter. At first I thought they were just bored and playing with it, but after a few minutes it was clear that another kitten had to let it rip-and so he did.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Jakey the sneak-attack biter!

I truly believe that the U.S. Government should use mooshie cat poop smell as chemical warfare. There is no way troops wouldn't be quickly offended by the stank and run for the hills! Did we manage to clear the store? YES! It was great at keeping the crowds down. Just what we needed.

The orange boys did fine. They were bouncing around, having fun. They laid on each other and the three of them started grooming each other. It was so cute that it made everyone forget the lingering stench, as they crowded around the cage, “ooo-ing and ahh-ing.”

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello! This is Teddy or Mikey. I think it's Teddy.

People would ask me questions about the boys, but like the white kitties, I couldn't tell the orange kitties apart (I am starting to a week later, though).

Meanwhile, poor Mazie sat forlornly in her cage. She growled a bit so we covered her up. I bravely stuck my hand into her cage and she started to purr. She forgave me from locking her in a cage by giving me her belly to rub. I felt very guilty about having her at the event, but she's GOT to find a forever home! She's been with us for a YEAR already and she's such an awesome cat!

I was grateful when 4pm came so we could pack up and get home. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep right then and there, but I knew that once we got back I'd have to feed the foster cats, make sure they were all right, then unload the cars and put things away.

I got the cats fed, but after that my body complained to the point where I just had to sit down for awhile. Unloading the cars could wait.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette a few moments after arriving.

I also wanted to spend some time with Bobette and the boys. I didn't have a chance to get to know them that morning, so now was the time.

I let the boys out of their carrier and Bobette looked at them and hissed. She's barely bigger than they are and at certain times I can't tell which one is the kitten and which is the mother. A few of kittens foolishly went over to their mom and she attacked them. I don't think she had her claws out, but the sound she made was one of pure rage. I made sure the boys were fine. They were scared, but ok. I got them all fed. I kept Bobette away from the kittens. I worried that she might attack me, as well, but she seemed relaxed around me or was it because I was feeding her?

What happened on the transport? Bobette was fine with the boys when she left Georgia, but now she was clearly not interested in having them near her at all.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette (far right) screams at her boys to get away.

The boys picked at their food, so did Bobette. They'd been eating dry food, softened with water, and I knew I'd have to break them of the habit; better now than never.

After they ate, the boys ran around. I called Bobette over to me. I was sitting on the bed. She came over and let me pet her. She climbed into my lap and got comfortable. I cautiously petted her. She relaxed until a kitten would come near her. As that happened, she'd alert, then growl. She'd lash out if the kitten dared to ignore her warning. I didn't want to lay there with an angry cat in my lap, but she went right back to relaxing and enjoyed my company. She even rolled over with her belly up in the air. I took a long look at her. She's very much got an Oriental Shorthair body with a classic orange tabby coat. She's long and lean with a wedge shaped head, dainty long legs and a long, delicate tail. I didn't see her limping, that would come later. Right now she was content-if I could just keep the boys away from her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeee!

I'd seen this behavior before, but never so severe. I wondered if I should crate Bobette, but with her painful leg issue, I realized that maybe it was her pain that was making her lash out? I asked Dr. Mixon, one of our Vets, about this and he said it might be typical behavior of the mother pushing the males out of the colony to keep the colony from having inbreeding issues or...well he wasn't sure. Even after almost a week, she's still aggressive towards them.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Da boyz.

The boys are doing well according to Dr. M. Mikey has a broken tail tip. We don't know when or how it happened, but it's already healed. Teddy was all right and Jakey was a nightmare getting his vaccines; what a screamer!

Bobette is another story. I see her jumping with some difficulty. She wants to play, but the boys get in her way and she gets angry. Some times she'll run around the room, clearly having fun, but after a few moments, she starts to limp very badly. Her drive to do more is hampered by what happened to her leg. She was in an accident of some kind and it's badly dislocated her kneecap. Dr. M rated it a 4 out of 4; 4 being the most severe. He feels he can correct the problem with surgery and that the patella (kneecap) shouldn't pop back out. I remembered when we first rescued Bobette that the folks at Henry County said they couldn't get her to eat for four days. Perhaps she'd just been hit by a car? Perhaps that had something to do with her inability to provide for her six kittens? I can't seem to let go that we lost three babies. I want to know why they died so we can prevent that from happening again. I know I'll never know why they're gone, but maybe the trauma their Mother suffered had something to do with it?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Lanky, lean and lovely-Bobette.

The surgery would cost $2500.00. I'm NOT going to ask for donations. What I really need is FOOD, LITTER and some NEW TOYS for this family and for the Angel Babies. I'll be setting up a ChipIn to ask for donations for our Food & Fun Fund soon. I have to wrap my head around what Dr Mixon told me the rescue price would be for the surgery, first.

Anyone want to guess?

He's going to charge us $100.00. That's not a typo. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! When he first told me, I thought I was going to cry. I knew we have no where NEAR $2500.00 in our bank account and I was guessing he'd charge us around $1500.00. When he said, $100.00 I asked him to make sure that's what he wanted and he said to just put the word out about his Practice and help folks get to know him. After the surgery is done early next year, I'll be writing more about Dr. Mixon and his practice. For now, I'm very grateful we have his services to depend on and that when we do have money, it will last us much longer. Dr. Mixon also doesn't charge us an exam fee for rescue cats as long as we don't take advantage of his time. We just keep it to a few hours a month. So far, it's worked great.

Without the burden of a huge Vet bill, I can focus on helping Bobette recover. She'll have to have three weeks of cage rest and three weeks of low activity. Instead of going to AID, which was the original plan, Bobette will have to stay here for awhile, until she's better.

This poor girl; she's barely a year old and what hell she's been through in such a short time. You know me, I'll do whatever I can to help her go from “Meh to MEOW!”

In the meantime, I have about 12 other kitties I need to find forever homes for!

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