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Cat Camp NYC. Love at First Sight.

 

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

 

Cat Camp Sign R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson.

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

She was right.

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

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

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

Saturday

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

Cat Camp Badge 1000

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cone of Shame Robin LR

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

Tamar and Robin 2017
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Tamar, from IHaveCat.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Kate Doing Preso R Olson
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Kate kicking butt.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. WOO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Robin GLowing A Marttila 1200
©2017 Andrew Marttila. Used with Permission. Um. Yeah, so don't say anything to me about the look on my face. You'd look like that too if you were standing next to Mr. Jackson.

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

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

Bub Sign R olson

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

I'm Speaking at Cat Camp NYC!

OMG! I'm so excited. There's finally a cat-centric event on the east coast! There'll be vendors with cool cat products, fun stuff for cat parents and adoptable cats. Celebucats like Lil' Bub will be there and the Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy will be there, too.

Cat Camp Logo

In addition, there will be really great presentations by Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther, Kathleen O'Malley of NYC Feral Cat Initiative, Hannah Shaw (Kitten Lady), Ingrid King of the Conscious Cat, Beth Adelman a noted author and Cat Behaviorist as well as... ME!

 

Yes! I will be part of the lineup hostessing a roundtable storytelling-hour about heartwarming cat rescue stories. And yes, you KNOW I can tell a good rescue story, but the question is, Should I bring tissues? I've never told my tales in public. It would not be good if I made people cry!

 

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The details for getting tickets (some of the VIP meet and greets are sold out already) can be found HERE. Cat Camp NYC is 11 AM to 8 PM Saturday, March 11 and 11 AM to 7 PM March 12th. The location at the Metropolitan Pavillion at 125 w 18th Street in NYC.

So fly your furry feline flag and come on down. Pop over to say HI if you see me and ask for a brand new Covered in Cat Hair bookmark. Yes! Fancy, right? I just designed them and have a bunch to give out. Maybe some day I'll have a publisher and my own book to mark.

 

I'll be posting updates and doing a LIVE Facebook broadcast from Cat Camp so keep an eye on my Facebook Page for news!

 

Over and out!

Suffering for Years. The Shocking Truth about Petunia. Part 2

Part 2 of 2. Read part 1 HERE.

An hour later Dr Larry came into the waiting room to escort me into the back to look at the x-rays. Before he could even point them out, I saw them. Petunia has a mass of stones inside her. One looked fairly large. While we could try a diet change to acidify her urine and dissolve the stones, the most humane thing to do is to surgically remove them as soon as possible. The diet change would take months and it might not work depending on what kind of stones she has. It must be incredibly painful, yet Petunia never acted like she was in pain. She always was ready for a pet or snuggle. She never licked at herself or squatted and left small pools of bloody urine, but she was very sick.

Dr. Larry asked me what I wanted to do-do the surgery or wait? He told me he'd do whatever needed to help, but all I could do was cry. I asked him the cost of the surgery and he told me it would be about $1500.00. He does these surgeries all the time (which is fodder for another post because WHY are so many animals getting stones in the first place?). Normally I wouldn't bat an eye and just say let's do it, but this time I was lost and scared. I HAD TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN and by God I would no matter what.

Petunia Olson stones copy
Bladder stones. Lots of them.

Dr. Larry patted me on the back and said not to cry. I didn't have the nuts to beg for a big discount. I had to be a grown up and figure it out. I would find a way, but some times it's just tough to struggle and struggle, then feel like you're starting to make positive changes, then WHAM!, another big bill. I know I'm not the only one who feels like that, but it's hard to keep your head up some times.

I told Dr. Larry that I needed some time to gather my thoughts. As I drove home, I flashed back over the decade of peeing issues we've dealt with. I was fed up. I can't list how many things were ruined by her because there were so many. I was sick and tired of trying to find a way to get the cycle to stop. I thought about how many times I wished Petunia would die so the rest of us could live in peace. I know it's wrong to think that way but that's how far I'd been pushed. But all that ill-will vanished, quickly replaced with shame when I looked over to Petunia as she sat in her carrier on the passenger seat. I stuck my index finger into one of the holes on the side so I could touch her face. She rubbed her cheek against my finger a few times, desperate for some love. I realized that Petunia must have been in pain for YEARS and even through all of that she still loved me. How could I be so heartless to her in return?

A few minutes after we got home I called Dr Larry's office and made the appointment for Petunia's surgery. There would be no waiting on this. It had gone on far too long already.

©2015 Robin AF Olson. Petunia was in so much pain and desperate to drain her bladder she ends up urinating on her own mother, who is in the spot where Petunia has been peeing the past few weeks.

Though I arrogantly thought we’d checked Petunia for everything last year, we hadn’t and she’s been suffering in silence, been called names and shunned because of her behavior. All it made me want to do was hold her and tell her how sorry I was for being such a moron. I recalled that when Petunia was very young she had struvite crystals in her bladder. We treated them with a special diet and within a year we started transitioning our cats off kibble, to canned food without grains, and finally to a raw diet. It never occurred to me that she could even GET stones again since she gets appropriate nutrition. It’s clear this may have been going on far before the transition and is only getting to a point of severity where we’re noticing it.

I am so ashamed. The only thing I can do to make it better is to get this surgery done ASAP and help Petunia get on the road to recovery. Perhaps she’ll never need to be on anti-anxiety medication but it’s also possible that her anxiety is the root cause. There’s something called FLUTD (Feline Urinary Tract Disease) that could be part of the problem and it's also VERY LIKELY related to a whole-host of issues Petunia may have called Pandora Syndrome.

Pandora Syndrome can be a combination of many factors—genetics, environment, stress and diet. The result can be IBD, dermatitis, cystitis and more. Once I read this article, I realized that because this might have genetic aspect we may never be able to “cure” Petunia entirely. Then the light bulb moment: Petunia’s mother Gracie must ALSO have it! It would answer the question as to why we have never found a treatment for Gracie’s mysterious miliary dermatitis.

Gracie in 2013 at Vet
©2013 Robin AF Olson. Gracie at one of her MANY vet visits.

I spent two years searching for and trying treatments on Gracie. I sought out different specialists, did tests and biopsies. Gracie's a lot like her daughter and tends to be high strung. We've been working with her every day and over the past year Gracie's become less and less fearful, but now is more clingy and demanding. Her skin is improving slightly. We got her to stop vomiting clumps of fur every day and she no longer “barbers” her fur. She needs more work to help her mojo return, but I think the fog is lifting off these mysteries. I'm not happy about what might be going on because it means these cats are just not able to handle the stress they feel and how to reduce that will continue to be one of the biggest challenges of my life.

While I have failed these cats, I also feel hopeful that we may finally have some light at the end of the tunnel. I know that someone out there will read this and will say “hey, that’s my cat!” too. Perhaps they’ll take their cat to the vet and discover there was more going on than imagined. Perhaps it will save a cat from being given up or let outside to fend for itself. I can only hope that baring my soul will help others, because I really hate myself right now.

So, to all of you who feel like they’re suffering with inappropriate elimination problems with their own cats, don’t make the same mistake I did. Even if you already took your cat to the vet and they found nothing, KEEP SEARCHING if you can't solve the problem. Do research online, talk to your friends who have cats, try to see the world through your cat's eyes and if you feel they are subjected to a lot of stress, there's a big clue to how to help them feel better.

Get your cat vetted again, if needed, or get a second opinion. Yes, it may be costly, but this is YOUR cat, YOUR responsibility. Your cat may be in a lot of pain and I can promise that your cat is not trying to get revenge or ruin your life. They’re not “BAD” cats. They’re communicating in the only language they know and it’s up to us to be better at translating their message.

I’m so sorry, Petunia, but I will make it right. I promise.

Your surgery is tomorrow.

2013 Sweet Petunia R Olson 475
©2013 Robin AF Olson. Petunia suffered in silence for a long time, but I truly think I've learned an important lesson.

Suffering for Years. The Shocking Truth about Petunia.

Part 1 of 2

Four years ago I wrote about my cat Petunia. It was a guilt-ridden confession about how I’d missed the signals that she wasn’t just a high-strung, territory-aggressive cat who urinated all over my house. Something else was causing her issues. I foolishly thought I discovered the root cause of her behavioral problems so I stopped looking for a health issue as the trigger. Up until that point I’d never given Petunia a fair shake because she drove me crazy, ruining everything in her path. She was urinating, marking and defecating everywhere. [If you want to read this post it’s HERE].

I thought her issues were due to having impacted anal glands and that her bad scent caused some of my other cats to go after her. She’d flip out, then I’d find something soiled. The cats never fought. They just charged her, but it was enough stress to cause her to inappropriately eliminate.

Once her glands were cleaned the attacks slowed, but never really stopped. Petunia saw Dr Larry, had her teeth cleaned and had some blood work done as recently as last summer. I was under the impression she was in good health and that her behavior issues were genetic and/or stress-based. I was very wrong.

When Petunia was young she had Struvite crystals in her urine. I knew this because her urine was pink, indicating blood. When we tested it we knew she had crystals so the simple answer was to feed her a prescription diet that would acidify her urine, dissolving the crystals (something I would never feed now).

Tunie
©2011 Robin AF Olson. Petunia in a long-ago relaxed moment.

Petunia resolved her peeing issues for a time, but then I did more rescue and our cat-population began to increase. With each cat we adopted, Petunia lost a little bit more of her territory. First it was just that she stopped coming upstairs to bed. In a way I was relieved because it also meant I stopped finding urine on my 80-year old bedroom furniture.

But then her space, got even smaller. Though she stopped peeing on the banquette cushions in the kitchen (I finally had to remove them because they were so destroyed), she rarely ever entered the space to look out the window at the birds who were dancing around the feeders hung over the deck. The other cats enjoyed the view and one or two marked in this area most likely due to her marking first. Petunia made a huge mess and having that stop was yet another relief.

Four Cats on Tree 2012
©2012 Robin AF Olson. The best spot in the house is also the bone of contention between the cats over who rules it.

With her space dwindling down to the living room, mostly all points behind the sofa, we knew we had to do more to help her. We’d tried all along, but with 10 cats it’s very difficult to single one out and only play with that cat and only spend time with that cat. The others were curious if we gave her attention; some took over play time, some attacked Petunia if we tried to play with her.

I tearfully confessed to one of my friends that I needed help. I had re-visit the idea of re-homing Petunia. It wasn’t fair to her, but with her issues and age, it would be VERY difficult to find a new family who was willing to believe that she wouldn’t soil their home, too.

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©2010 Robin AF Olson. Before we added Blitzen, Mabel and DOOD, Gracie and Petunia often snuggled in our bedroom. They no longer feel safe doing that.

There also was the complication that Petunia’s mother, Gracie lives here and from time to time Petunia still goes to her mother for comfort, so how am I to find a home for a 14-year old and a 12-year old cat?

I was certain this was the answer, but just as much sure that I’d never find a home for both cats. Gracie has an incurable skin condition.

I had to find a solution here, so it was back to the drawing board.

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Over the past year Petunia earned the nickname: PEE-tunia because she began peeing on the SOFA. No matter what we did she kept doing it until I finally got a static mat and that stopped the behavior. Well, really it just encouraged her to pee somewhere else, but it was on a cat bed I could cover with a wee-wee pad and that was something I could deal with.

Sam and I decided to make a concentrated effort to re-catify our living room, to help Petunia find her confidence, which Jackson Galaxy refers to as “cat mojo(a term I quite like). I realized that with the addition of Blitzen, DOOD and Mabel into our family came the reduction in Petunia’s living space. I hadn’t seen Petunia come upstairs to bed in years. Her living area was getting smaller and smaller to just the few feet behind the sofa. She was too fearful to go far because the others would charge at her. We HAD to find a solution.

Before Clean up
©2015 Robin AF Olson. BEFORE: Look for the towel to see the most prized spot in the house. There's a heated pad under the towel and it's next to the sunniest window in the house. SO how could we provide more optimal locations for more cats to enjoy this area? Also the cat trees on either side of the towel are perfect for sneak attacks so they had to be moved.

One night a few weeks ago we ripped apart the areas where the cats hang out the most. We moved cat trees, did a deep cleaning and set up one of our web cams to monitor the area when we weren’t around. We hoped we’d find out what was causing Petunia to avoid the litter pan when there were a few with in feet of where she was sleeping.

Living Room 3500 R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. You can see the static mat on the sofa where Petunia used to urinate. We added a litter pan right near the heated cat carrier where Petunia often hid but we don't believe she ever used it. The cat trees are in front of the favorite window. There aren't any where the ficus tree is because we had a cat tree there that went unused. It was moved to the favorite window area to increase vertical space.

Every day we patrolled the area, particularly behind the sofa. This is the only place where Petunia pees-and when she does it’s A LOT of urine and it really smells bad. I should have known by that smell that something was wrong, but no alarm bells went off. I just grumbled, cleaned it up and looked around to see if I should move a litter pan closer or make another change that would help Petunia feel safer.

AFter on Cat Trees R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. AFTER: The day after re-arranging the space there's a lineup of cats who want to use it. Notice, the three alpha cats are on it while Cricket, a lower cat doesn't get access right now. Petunia is in the cat carrier just off screen.

Sam and I also focused on spending more time talking to, sitting with, petting and grooming Petunia and that helped soothe her to a degree, but she was still anxious around the other cats. It also didn't stop her from defecating on the table just near the sofa.

I decided that after all these years, the last remaining option was to put her on anti-anxiety meds. I thought if she could better handle stress and the cats charging her, she’d stop acting like prey, racing off, which made some of the cats go crazy and chase after her. Poor Petunia would hide on the seat cushion on a chair under a table not far from her “safe zone” every time that happened. It happened so often I was afraid her life would be spent huddled on that chair.

What a terrible life.

Lineup R Olson 650
©2015 Robin AF Olson. A few days after we moved all the cat beds, I saw this. It was the first time more than one cat was on any of the beds. The far left bed is where Gracie sleeps and when Petunia most often pees (yes, even one time ON Gracie).

It’s hard to describe how hopeless I’ve been feeling. I couldn’t re-home her. It was too late. I blame myself for adding so many cats to our home, but I thought it would be all right. The other cats are fine. It’s just Petunia who is so stressed by them.

Petunia had to see our vet before she was put on any medication. Dr. Larry insisted on doing a full CBC, a stool test and urinalysis before giving her anything. When I got the results my heart sank.

While Petunia’s blood work was “Fantastic” (chalk it up to years of being on a raw diet) and her anal glands were fine as is and did not need to be expressed, her urinalysis was another issue altogether. Her urine had blood in it. Keep in mind that doing urinalysis with a needle (cystocentesis) often causes a small amount of blood in the urine, but she had far more than normal. She also had VERY elevated phosphorous and ammonia levels (remember how BAD her urine smelled?). It was an indicator that Petunia might have stones in her bladder.

At Vet 3 15 15 R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. We lower the lights during exams so Petunia will be more relaxed. On this visit it did not help at all.

Last week I took Petunia back to Dr. Larry’s for x-rays that might show us if she had stones. It was a lovely day, lots of bright sunshine, but I was struggling to hold back tears. I knew that if Petunia had stones, it would mean surgery and I asked myself how I was going to make that happen when I’m already struggling. It wasn’t a good feeling. I didn’t have an answer.

What do the x-rays show? Is there any hope for Petunia? Find out in part 2.

Jackson Galaxy Hits One Out of the Park with Lux Episode

[While I try to stay clear of all the juicy details there IS a spoiler alert in this post so be forewarned if you haven't seen My Cat From Hell: 911, My Cat’s Holding Me Hostage!]

Jackson Galaxy's Biggest Challenge Yet. Lux the Cat.

Who hasn't had a bad day with their cat, but how many of you felt like you had to call 911 as a result?

Cat behaviors are often misunderstood, but rarely, if ever, do they make national headlines as it did with a cat named Lux last March.

For Lux, the 4-year old, 11 lb (not 22 lb as reported elsewhere) black and white domestic medium haired cat, the question everyone wants answered is who's at fault for the cat going berserk after his tail was pulled by a 7-month old baby? The incident started an escalating chain reaction. Lux clawed the baby and the baby's father, Lee Palmer kicked Lux in the rear end, then grabbed his kid, his girlfriend Teresa Barker, and their dog as they fled into a back room, terrified at Lux's violent reaction after being struck. Instead of running away from Palmer, he flew sky-high into the red zone, screaming and charging at his family who were cowering on the other side of a locked door.

The result was a call to the Portland, Oregon 911 where they dispatched the Police to rescue the family from the now crazed cat.

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©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Jackson Galaxy.

Once the news hit everyone had an opinion about Lux. Some said to put him down for striking a baby. Others said to put the family down for kicking the cat. In stories like this I like to believe that somewhere in the middle lies the truth, but there's only one person uniquely qualified to shed light on this situation.

Cat behaviorist extraordinaire Jackson Galaxy, star of the hit show My Cat From Hell, heard about Lux and even though shooting for his fifth season had just wrapped, Jackson felt it was important not only to offer his services but to capture Lux's story on film so the truth could come out for the world to see.

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From ABCNEWS the 911 audio tapes are heard.

I had the pleasure of speaking the Jackson about his experiences with Lux. What surprised me when I chatted with Jackson about this episode was that Jackson, who says it often takes him about 5 minutes to sort out a behavior problem, had a different experience with Lux. Jackson has never worked a case like this. It surprised him, stumped him, frustrated him to no end, but also Jackson discovered he had a great deal of love for this cat—the kind of love he has reserved for his own cats (which he hinted at offhandedly that perhaps Lux might be one day…or at least be a part of Lux's life going forward).

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©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Jackson Galaxy meets Lux.

What is unprecedented about the episode: “911, My Cat’s Holding Me Hostage!” is that since it was after season five had finished shooting it took the combined efforts of Animal Planet, the MCFH production staff, local Vets, the Multnomah County Animal Shelter (where Lux had briefly been surrendered) and Jackson to work together to get this story on the air. It's important because “this episode will challenge everyone.” Which was why a full hour was dedicated to Lux. It may very well be My Cat From Hell's coming of age show, something Jackson is very proud of.

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©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Jackson making a new friend in Lux.

When asked, Jackson couldn't say what the odds are that Lux will keep his home, even knowing that his family did their homework over the few weeks Jackson worked with them.

The homework itself evolved in ways we haven't seen in previous episodes. It wasn't "tie it up in a bow" sort of pretty resolution. It's important that viewers understand that not all behavior issues are so simple to decode. “We condense 35 hours of shooting into a 22 minute episode. Life is messy, resolutions are messy.”

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©2014 Animal Planet. Used with permission. Aww..really? Does this look like a cat who would cause trouble? Okay…a lot of trouble? Sweet Lux.

Lux's story doesn't have a resolution yet, but his journey is what makes this episode of My Cat From Hell so groundbreaking because it unfolds in ways other shows have never been able to. We discover Lux as Jackson does.

Jackson reminds us that Lux was a bottle baby. Although there haven't been any studies about how the unbreakable bond with the human who cares for orphan kittens effects them as adults, many in rescue already know there's something different about them. Those cats tend to be cats, but “not quite cats.” Without other cats to learn from, these bottle babies have a confused perception of their world. Are they cats? Are they humans? Are they something in between? In Lux's case he has that bond with Teresa, but he also struggles with many behavior issues that Jackson is determined to get to the bottom of.

When Lux terrified his family it was an isolated incident “in his life,” as Jackson attests, but that didn't mean he hadn't had issues prior to his family's 911 call. Lux suffers from a myriad of problems: overstimulation, redirected aggression, play aggression, you name it. I asked if Lux had been to the Vet and Jackson replied that not only had Lux been to the Vet, he'd been MANY TIMES. “We spent a ton of money on him and looked at every last angle.” There was passion in Jackson's voice as he continued; “There is something in his body that's betraying him.” And if anyone can figure out what it is, Jackson can.

My final question stumped Jackson and gave our interview a moment of levity. I asked: “Where did the name Lux come from?” Jackson, who had been so focused and passionate about helping the cat overcome his behavior issues never thought to ask. He promised that if the show goes into a sixth season he'd be sure to find out.

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My Cat From Hell: 911, My Cat’s Holding Me Hostage! airs Saturday, June 14th at 8pm EST on Animal Planet.

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#TeamCatMojo & the Return of Jackson Galaxy

Breaking News!

The one and only Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, has a new WEEKLY web video series, called Cat Mojo that delivers cat-centric tips, stories and more. The series launches TODAY, Dec., 9, 2013 and is sure to become an instant hit. Jackson's teamed up with the Animalist network to bring you his new show which hints at sharing stories about more than just cats! Make sure you check out the trailer to give you a taste of what's to come.

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Jackson is finally going to tell us what Cat Mojo really means. Watch his new series to find out!

You can check out the trailer here and make sure you subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

Can't wait? The first episode just aired! You can check out right here!

Go #TeamCatMojo !

Missing You.

I’ve often written about the challenges I've faced letting go of a foster cat. My “go to” answer when someone asks me how I can bear the pain of saying goodbye is; “I’d rather cry because they left me and went to a good home than they died alone at a Kill shelter or on the streets, afraid and unloved.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson napping, as always.

Since I’ve fostered hundreds of cats over the years, I’ve grown a little callus on my heart. Perhaps it helps me not “lose it” in front of adopters and be able to let go of all the wonderful cats when the time comes.

I don’t always cry when my fosters leave. Sometimes I find that I’m even happy about it. But Jackson was another story all together and frankly it’s taken almost the three weeks since he left to feel okay about him being gone.

Neither Sam nor I had any idea just how much we loved Jackson until it was time to put him into the cat carrier and tuck him into his new family’s car. I looked at Jackson one last time. He looked straight ahead, out through the windshield. His eyes were bright with excitement and perhaps some concern. I whispered; “I love you” one last time and shut the door to the car. I wished everyone a safe trip—a 5 hour trip to northern Vermont where Jackson would be “retiring.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I tried to smile and wave goodbye, but the corners of my mouth weakened into a painful grimace. I turned quickly and walked into the house and immediately burst into racking sobs.

Sam held me as I said I wished Jackson didn’t have to go and that I wanted to run outside and tell them to bring him back. I knew Sam wasn’t always Jackson’s biggest fan since Jackson would charge Sam’s “baby” Nicky, causing Nicky to pee outside of the litter pan. Yet here Sam was with tears rolling down his cheeks, too. Sam has NEVER cried when a cat left us and here he was nodding in agreement. He wanted Jackson back, too. I stopped sobbing and shrieked; “Why didn’t you tell me that before? We could have kept him!”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Morning pills. (the brown lumps in the Flavor Doh)

Who knew that this demanding cat had left such an impact on our hearts? Jackson woke me up EVERY morning by meowing loudly. Some mornings it was REALLY early. I had to get up or he’d cause a ruckus with the other cats. I tried to ignore him for days on end but every day the result was so bad that I’d rather just get up, get him his morning pills and start the day.

Jackson would yowl the second we turned out the lights to go to bed. I wouldn’t get up because I didn’t want to train him that I’d give him attention if he cried. I tried giving him a late night snack before bed but it didn’t seem to help.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Dangerously close to my office chair, Jackson just wanted to be near me.

Every morning while I was trying to work, Jackson would sit next to my chair and rub me and cry until I gave him some attention-which I always did. Thing is, he would also upset some of the other cats and want to take their place on the cat beds in my office or he’d start bugging me every two seconds. I realized I needed to play with him so I started doing play sessions in the morning before I got to work.

Jackson was a riot chasing his favorite little pom poms across the floor. He also loved da Bird, but after he jumped up to catch it I stopped playing with it. I was too worried that I’d give Jackson a heart attack.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The boy with his sparkle pom pom.

Jackson was almost constantly meowing and almost constantly hungry. He gained five pounds in the year he was with us. Being a BIG cat he could be that size, but in truth the snacks had to be cut back some for his heart’s sake.

As much as I encouraged him, Jackson never sat on my lap and rarely sat on the sofa next to me. I believe someone trained him not to get on the furniture so he would always be in the room, but never close enough to be a lap cat. He also tried to sleep on the bed with us, but that didn’t go over well with the other cats so he stayed downstairs until morning. It wasn't fair that he had to struggle to fit in.

I can think back about how annoying Jackson could be, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter to Sam, either. Jackson has an amazing charisma that reminded me of my dearly departed cat, Bob. With Jackson gone, the house feels EMPTY and there are 15 cats here.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I bought Jackson a fancy cat bed, but he preferred sleeping in a cardboard cat food tray.

It’s quiet with Jackson gone. Nicky rarely pees outside the box. The spraying is almost non-existent. It’s better for the cats that Jackson is not here, but it’s not better for me. I loved that damn cat and the stress of the first week of being separated from him was brutal.

I was really worried Jackson wouldn’t make the trip to Vermont alive, but he did. Once he was in his new home, some of the pipes burst and his family was up most of the night getting it fixed. Jackson didn’t get his medication that night and was off his medications and off his food for about three days after that. I tried not to be a pest, but I was frequently emailing Mickey, his new mom, and trying to get her to let us come get Jackson if he wasn’t eating or getting his much needed medication.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. At home on my office chair.

Jackson could die if he’s off his meds for a long time and I wasn’t about to let that happen. Sam and I started to plan a trip to Vermont, at least mentally prepare, but Mickey’s emails assured us Jackson was slowly acclimating and starting to eat and take his pills.

I backed off and hoped for the best. I wanted to beat myself up about letting Jackson go. After all I’d made a commitment to him and now he’s living somewhere else. In my heart he belonged to me. I slayed dragons for this cat, but I realized as with every foster cat; what is best for them is most important.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The last photo I took of Jackson, napping on a heated cat bed.

It was best for Jackson to have loads of attention and less stress and that’s the home I found for him.

I’ve gotten some updates about Jackson from Mickey. She writes and tells me that Jackson no longer hides, but spends his day with her beau, Offie. Offie has become quite fond of Jackson and the two enjoy each other’s company.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Normally we don't send our foster cats to their new home with so much stuff, but Jackson was an exception.

A favorite pastime is watching movies together. Jackson has a special cat bed that matches his fur so he’s almost invisible as he snuggles in it while his mom and dad watch a movie. Jackson’s been given special places in the house with soft bedding and a special place to eat. Jax met some of the couple’s friends and I’ve heard he’s always talking to Mickey, telling her about his day.

I asked Mickey if this was a love connection and she wrote back and said most definitely yes. The three of them are a family and have bonded and found joy in spending their days together.

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©2013 Offie. Jackson doing well in his new home in Vermont.

Though I’m truly happy for Jackson and his new family, I will always miss that big lug, those big cheeks, getting a headbutt in the morning. His story could have ended a year ago at the sting of a needle in Georgia at a shelter that didn’t have room for him, but he was lucky. I saw in those pale green eyes a long lost friend who needed to come home. I’m just sad that the home wasn’t meant to be mine.

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A Valentine's Day card from Jackson..the last words cut off “will you be mine?”

Dear Jackson, Love Always

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Almost a year ago I saw three photos of you in an email from a kill shelter in Georgia. In one of them someone was holding you up under your front legs, while you stood on your back ones. It was clear you were a big cat, with a big “biscuit head,” but there was something so sad about your expression that touched my heart. Perhaps you had given up and for a two-year old cat to feel that way, just wasn’t right. Even though I don’t often take on adult cats, I had to save your life.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. My first glimpse of Jackson.

I named you in honor of my hero, the Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, whose hit TV Show, “My Cat From Hell” had me glued to my television every Saturday night. When I named you I had no idea a few months later I'd be having dinner with the man himself. In a way, Mr. Galaxy is your Kitty Godfather.

There were a few bumps in the road. You weren’t neutered. After we did get you neutered, you got a terrible infection from the surgery and we had to do an emergency procedure to save your life again.

I pulled a favor with my friend Katherine and got you a placement with her shelter. You got sick after you arrived. We all thought you had a cold. Looking back on it I wonder if it was something else we’d discover more about later.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After arriving at Animals in Distress, Jackson took ill.

In a month you found your forever home. We were all so very happy. Your namesake, Jackson Galaxy the Cat Daddy was delighted by the news. Our joy was short lived because in barely a few months, you came back to the shelter. The family said you were getting picked on by their other cats so they gave you to a family member, but shortly thereafter her husband died and that caused another round of problems. They were really sad to let you go, but they felt it was “for the best.”

I felt you needed to come here and be with me until we could find you another home. I counted it up and you’d lived in seven places in the past six months. The last place I wanted you to be was back at the shelter. You needed a break, a home and lots of attention.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This silly side of Jackson emerges.

You didn’t have an easy time being here. With eight other cats you had to find your place in the hierarchy. You attacked some of my cats while they slept. Some of them started urinating all over the house, clearly angered with the new cat in their midst. I yelled at you. I hated you. I hated myself for taking you on but there was also something about you that made me smile. You loved the people you were with and were happy to greet every visitor. I was sad you were having a tough time in an already crowded home. We all suffered.

Then you got sick and we found out about your bad heart and that you were really three to five years old, not two, and that you might not live to be six. After that day I let a lot of my anger go. I accepted you as my own and struggled to figure out how we could all get along.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My beautiful boy.

It’s been a very long road, Jackson, and not an easy one, but during the past six months I have come to love you, just as I love my other cats. I love your chatty nature. Your meow is hilarious. You talk to me all the time and some times you talk too much—especially at 3 AM. You wake me up every single morning, wanting your pill and your breakfast. You head-butt me while you stand on the bathroom counter, while I’m sitting on the throne “doing my business.” You love those tiny pom-pom toys and it makes me laugh when I see you chasing after them. Your feline acne and poor body condition is improved. At 15.10 pounds you’ve gained five pounds since last year. You’re a fine specimen of snow-white male-catlyness with sexy-beast-pale-lime-green eyes. They make me swoon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson visits Dr Mary and Super-Deb for his checkup before leaving Connecticut.

You vex me as much as you charm me. Though I’ll never know what sort of lousy life you had before, I’m determined whatever you have left will be the best I can provide. I ache for you that some of the cats won’t accept you and I see how you feel like an outsider. Sometimes I wish I had you all to myself. I cherish you so very much.

But now, my friend, it’s time for us to say goodbye. You’ll never get the attention you deserve here and that’s not fair to you. You need to be the star of the show and get all the love and attention. You need less stress so your heart will keep beating. I think you’ll be very happy and I hope this will be the best, last place you will ever live.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's 7:30AM and my alarm goes off. It's white and furry and named Jackson.

Today you’re getting adopted by a very nice lady who I can tell is going to love you just as much, if not more, than I do. You will live a pampered life, 1400 miles away from death row at the kill shelter and a million miles away from your painful past.

I’ve been crying every time I think of you leaving. I know I will probably never see you again, unless it’s in a photo. I’m usually okay with that, but this time I think about how I know you’re going to die and I won’t be there with you to help you pass. I can’t protect you any more, but I have to have faith that your new mom will take over my reins with the same passion. It’s just that as annoying as you can be, you also have such a huge, magnetic personality that I can’t help but love you and dread you not being in my daily life.

It will be very quiet and boring here without you. You’re one very special cat who I had the honor of fostering and who I will never forget.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My boy. Life saved. Home secured. At last.

Have a great life, Jax. We’ve had quite a run together and I will miss you more than words can express.

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Your foster mom, Robin

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©2013 Ryan Feminella.

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!

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