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Not On My Watch: The Fate of the #SweetSuperheroes

I haven’t wanted to rescue any cats for a long time. In fact, I haven't been all that keen on rescuing cats ever again. Over the past 7 years, it’s taken too much of a toll on me in too many ways. Taking on Waverly, a filthy, pregnant cat and her two kittens into Kitten Associates was not in the plan. But after witnessing and working on the Waterbury Feral colony this past winter, I had to do something right to offset how difficult it was to see sick, pitiful looking cats racing through snow banks to get something to eat. I knew that vetting the ferals and providing food and shelter was the best we could provide. I got a handful of them off the property and into either a loving home or an open shelter where they had a chance to blossom, but there were another 40 cats left behind. Most were TNR’d (Trap, Neuter, Released), but it just never feels like it’s enough.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. February blizzard and the little calico who was so trap-savvy we could never get her trapped.

What’s odd is that this spring I’ve only gotten calls from people looking to adopt kittens, not any calls to help rescue them. March into April begins a usually very busy time rescuers refer to as “Kitten Season” here in the northeast. Due to a very warm January, followed by blizzards in February, it probably prevented any significant increase in the kitten population, which may be why my phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Waverly lived in a warehouse on the same property as the Waterbury Ferals. They manufacture pipes in the building and Waverly was covered with grime and she smelled so bad you could smell her across the room. Our Vet warned us she could not give birth because it would be too dangerous to the kittens. Thankfully, foster mom Linda, got her cleaned up enough right before the kittens arrived.

I’ve been busy working on other projects (and with the Kellogg's on Holly's case) and trying to get some things sorted out for Kitten Associates. Waverly is going to be spayed soon and soon we’ll be able to get to the bottom of her mysterious and distressing cough. She’ll get the dental cleaning and tooth extractions she’s in dire need of, along with her vaccinations and spay. After 14 weeks with us she’ll finally be ready to go to her forever home, along with, I hope, her daughters Willoughby and Weatherby (who are getting spayed today).

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. What a difference good food and love make. Waverly shines and her kittens are getting ready to be put up for adoption. Waverly should be ready soon after her kittens.

 

It’s been rather calm here, which I cherish. My day-to-day routine with cat care is manageable. So why, when I got a text from a rescue partner in the south, begging for help, did I feel I needed to make my life crazy again?

 

Perhaps I’ve gotten used to the cycle of summers being busy and winters being more peaceful. Perhaps the big foster room needs to hold new life, new possibility, now that it’s not needed for much.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. The goofy twosome, Andy and sister, Annie.

Annie and Andy have been living among my cats during the day, leaving poor Mia by herself. Mia has always done great with kittens so maybe she’s ready for new youngsters to teach how to be big kitties? It’s not ideal to have her share the room, but I’ll make sure any kittens are vaccinated and tested first. I can’t let Mia roam the house. She might vanish into the basement and we’ll never see her again. It’s too dangerous for her and she has everything she could want where she is, it’s just in a 130 sq feet space instead of 2000.

So Joan contacted me about kittens in Henry County, Georgia. I used to help them, along with my very trusted (and missed) foster mom, Moe, who lives in the area. Moe has “retired” from fostering, but we're still good friends. Without Moe, I can’t do much to help save lives in Georgia, so I haven’t even tried. In fact, it was Moe who alerted me to Huggy Mama and her kittens, who later became the inspiration to start my own non-profit rescue where I could help more southern cats.

But Joan reached out to me with a sickening, heartbreaking fact:

 

There are 60 kittens that need placement. It’s Sunday afternoon. They will be euthanized Monday morning (today).

 

 

That’s it. No more time. All other rescues or shelters in the area are loaded to the gills. They're seeing one of the worst summers ever in the south and no hope in sight. That’s why they’re reaching out to rescues in the northeast, praying someone can help.

 

 

Kittens are going to DIE.

 

Kittens who are friendly, healthy, adoptable. Kittens who have no idea they have less than 24-hours left to live. I can’t take 60 kittens into my rescue, but maybe if I take a few, someone else will take a few and it will add up to enough kittens being helped that they don’t put any of them down.

It means sticking my neck out. It means hoping that we’ll get enough donations to cover their care. It means hoping they don’t arrive full of parasites or disease that harms my own cats. It means all the things I face every time I say, “Yes” to a rescue.

I told Joan she needed to find me a foster home for the two-week quarantine period and she'd have to find a way to get the kittens to Connecticut. If she could do that, I'd consider helping, so she got to work.

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I also always ask Sam what he thinks about taking on more kittens because it effects him, too. I’m grateful he’s always of the same mindset: help anyone we can, however we can. He doesn’t look for “what’s in it for me.” He has a huge, compassionate heart and I’m lucky for that because if we take on a litter of kittens and one is sick, odds are I’ll have to medicate and/or vet each one and that can turn into a nightmare if he doesn’t help me.

Joan asked me what kind of kittens I wanted since there were so many to choose from (thank God she didn't send me photos of all of them). I said to please choose colorful cats since if I can get the most adoptable, friendly kittens, I can move them out fast and help take on more. I said please no black or gray (very sorry if that’s your favorite cat color), because they are the harder ones to place. I said I could take 6 kittens.

 

But then I thought about it more. I could really take 8. It would be a bit much to handle, but I could do it. It would literally save their lives, so I wrote her back and said I changed my mind and to get me 8 kittens.

 

She sent me photos…

…of the gray, black, gray and white, black and white kittens. Really?

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They are friendly and healthy (so far). So what if they’re not the easiest color to place? I believe there IS a home for every cat. Some just take longer to adopt out. These little ones are going to die.

If I say yes, they will live.

 

 

Can you imagine what that feels like? It’s both heartbreaking and thrilling twisted together into a big painful knot in my gut.

 

What could I say?

 

I said, “YES.” Of course I said YES!

 

So we’re rescuing 8 kittens.

 

So everything is going to cost times 8.

 

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And we are going to have to find probably 4 to 8 families to adopt them some day. That’s a lot for a little rescue, but I couldn’t turn them away.

But as most stories go, things change in ways we can’t predict.

As I was adjusting to the idea of 8 kittens coming here in a few weeks, Joan contacted me again. There was an error.

Error?

 

I immediately feared the kittens had been euthanized before she could let her contact know to put a “rescue hold” on them. Thankfully, that was not the case with the kittens I agreed to take, but I did learn that they hadn’t waited regarding some of the others. The sick and feral kittens had already lost their lives, being put down ahead of schedule.

 

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I was completely heartbroken by this news and afraid of what Joan needed. Joan said she was sorry there was a mix-up. Apparently, of the 8 kittens (one litter of 3 and one litter of 5), there was an additional kitten that was missed because she’s a twin to her sister.

 

There was a 9th kitten—a little female tuxedo with medium length fur. “Could I please take just one more?”

 

It was bad enough that I knew this little one could be left behind to die based on my decision, but that she was a twin, too? You know what I said.

“Of course. We’ll take her.”

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So now we are 9. I’ve said yes to 9 kittens.

It will be our single, biggest kitten rescue (though 3 years ago when we rescued Laney, we ended up taking on 18 cats and kittens over a longer period of time).

 

I saved these little lives because I believe that you guys will have my back. It’s no joke that their care will be quite costly between vaccinations, spay and neuter, parasite treatment, FIV and FeLV testing, food, litter, vet exams and whatever else they may need times 9.

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I can’t do this rescue without you, so I’m asking you to become part of our rescue team by giving a life-saving gift. It will help us provide everything these kittens need until they find their forever families.

 

The #SweetSuperheroes basic care will cost at least $1500-$2000, as well as provide for Waverly, who has a very painful mouth in need of tooth extractions and testing to find out what is causing her horrible coughing. Between her care ($1100 -$1500) and the kittens, we need to raise a total of $3500, with at least half of it needed ASAP.

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Things to know before you give:

• We’re a 501c3 non-profit cat rescue. Your donation is tax-deductible.

• Our EIN (tax number) is 27-3597692

 

• We’re a 100% volunteer rescue organization so your donation goes directly to the cats and kittens, not a fundraiser or any paid staff members.

 

 

• Give a gift (of any size-every dollar matters) by going to our PayPal Account HERE.

 

 

• OR USE THE DONATE TODAY BUTTON WITHOUT A PAYPAL ACCOUNT (can use your debit or credit card)

 

• You can mail a gift to: Kitten Associates, 5 Commerce Road #354, Newtown, CT 06470. Make checks out to: Kitten Associates

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NOTE: We are NOT going to use any fundraising web sites because they take between WEEKS and MONTHS to give the donation to our rescue AND they can take a portion of the donations, or they ask you to pay a percentage. If we don’t use fundraising web sites, more of your donation goes to the kittens right NOW.

We’ll be posting updates on our fundraiser, along with updates on the kittens, on our Facebook page. As always, if you have any questions for us about the kittens or the fundraiser, please contact me (Robin) at info@kittenassociates.org

 

How does it feel to save a life? Become part of our team and find out! We can't save them WITHOUT YOU!

 

Meet our #SweetSuperheroes!

 

Oh and...they're arriving in two weeks, on Sam's birthday.

 

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UPDATE 6/14/17: We've only raised about $500 of the $3500 we desparately need to save these lives. But the exciting news is, we were able to contact a rescue partner to save an extra THREE KITTENS, which raises our comittment to ONE DOZEN kittens lives saved! What does that do? IT PUT A STOP TO EUTHANIZING ANY FURTHER KITTENS for now! Please consider making a gift of even $2 or $3 per kitten. It all adds up and makes it possible for these kittens to have a chance to live a full, loved life. Thank you!

Letter from Zoe

Dear Friends,

I don’t know about a lot of things. You see I was just born a few weeks ago. My mom told me we were living in a, well, not-so-nice place before we came here. She said there were a lot of other cats and a lot of other things all over where we used to live. There was so much human stuff she couldn’t move around too well, but I guess that was okay.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Zoe with her Mama and brothers.

With so many cats in this place, my mom was scared to leave her hidey-spot. I know she was scared because she was going to have me and my brothers soon and she didn’t want to give birth in this place like the other cats did. She said that it seemed as though there were more and more cats being born, some of them went to Heaven right away and we should feel lucky that we didn’t go there yet.

She said that she counted how many cats there were and she counted one cat for every one of her toes, then she ran out of toes! So she said there were must be more than 18. I guess her sister had a kitten that went right to Heaven and then another sister got really really sick from being full of babies and she almost went to Heaven, too.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #06, Sweet Peaches, about a year old, who's looking for her forever home or a rescue organization to take her on and help her find one.

I don’t know why there are places like this—full of cats and full of dirty cat droppings and dirty human piles of things, because it doesn’t seem like the place where a little kitten like me would want to grow up.

My mother told me that before I was old enough to tell my own stories, some human-ladies came to our place. They carefully lifted us up and put us into a nice clean box with a handle on the top. Inside it there was a soft bed. It was nice and clean, too. They told us not to worry and that they would take care of us. I think one of the ladies had wet sparkles covering her eyes that she had to wipe away with a soft cloth. She seemed sad when she looked at us, but I think that’s because I look kinda funny.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #07, Terrance, about a year old male, who's looking for his forever home or a rescue organization to take him on and help him find one.

I’m really tiny for my age and I think I have bad things inside me that made me feel not my best.

The ladies that brought us to the new place gave us a huge metal box to live in so we can all stay together. It’s nicer than our old place and clean, too.

My brothers are small, but I am the smallest. The ladies said I am…I dunno. Something about bread, being in-bread? They say I should be more developed by now, but geez, I’m doing the best I can.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #05 & #09, Silly 7-month old siblings looking for their forever home or a rescue organization to take them on and help them find one.

The ladies are feeding me extra milk and they are getting me some medicine. I hope it will help me feel better really soon. I know they are worried about me going to Heaven and I’m a bit worried, too. I don’t know much about anything, like I said before, but I do know these ladies are really good people. They helped us when no one else could help, and they will take care of us so we can get big like my mom someday.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #04, Phillip, a sweet boy barely a year old.

The problem is there are so many other kitty-cats who came from the not-so-nice-place and they need something called a Rescue Group to help them go to a nice place to live. The kitties don’t need much, just somewhere clean and with good food, whatever food is. I only drink milk right now, but I hope you know what I mean.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #10 Very friendly female tabby, about a year old.

The ladies told me that to keep helping all of us they need donations so they can make sure we’ll get more good food, some of the kitties get special treatments called spay and some get neuter, and they all get vaccinations…and the donation-thing is something they really need help with.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. A Mother's Love can't heal everything, but hopefully we got to this family in time so that none of the kittens will be lost.

Well, I have to rest again. I get tired easily since I’m only 3 weeks old. I hope you can help me and my family and all our other kitty friends somehow. I’d like to have a chance to grow up and see the world, but I just don’t know if that will happen.

I’ll write again if I can.

Thank you for reading my story.

Your friend,


Zoe

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From CiCH/Robin:

This is a true story that began two weeks ago with a phone call from a person asking me for help to get a C-section for his cat. When I explained how dangerous that procedure was to the mom and babies and asked about the mother cat’s condition, he began to reveal what was really going on: He had more than 18 cats and none were spayed or neutered. Far more than I could take on myself, I reached out for help and my fellow rescuers answered the call.

PAWS in Norwalk sent a representative over to the home to begin the process of sorting out what needed to be done. This liaison was terrific, keeping us abreast of what was going on, but the true heroes are the staff at Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic, who offered to not only vet each and every cat, but they would travel an hour to get ALL the cats and have ALL the cats recover from their procedures on site, then stay on in their facility until legitimate rescue organizations could step in to help.

PAWS and our rescue, Kitten Associates granted funds to provide 8 of the cats spay/neuter surgery and vaccines, and the former owner of the cats provided funds to get 7 more cared for.

Considering this is a situation that Nutmeg normally can't get involved with and is so far from their facility, the staff deserves a huge round of applause AND especially, our support. They're still in need of $2,200.00 to provide complete care to all the cats...

...(a couple needed emergency spay surgery and had additional health challenges, plus all the cats were tested for FIV and Feline Leukemia, dewormed, de-fleaed and some needed special grooming). Nutmeg is in dire need of assistance from the local rescue community to help them place each and every one of these cats into a loving home.

Every cat is spayed/neutered, has their rabies and distemper vaccinations and NEGATIVE for feline leukemia and FIV. Many of the cats are very friendly and all are under the age of 3, with most being older kittens.

Please visit NUTMEG CLINIC to share your love for kittens like Zoe. Simply use their PayPal donation widget (DONATE BUTTON on left side of page) or mail a check to: Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic, 25 Charles Street, Stratford, CT 06615 and note on the check “For Zoe & the Kitties.” Any unused portion of donations will go directly to the other cats in Nutmeg’s care. Nutmeg Clinic is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so your donation is tax deductible as the law allows.

Connecticut and surrounding area rescue organizations, please consider taking just one or two of these deserving cats into your adoption program so the folks at Nutmeg can get back to doing what they do best—keeping the animal population under control with safe, effective sterilization and vaccinations. In the almost three years since they have opened their doors, they’ve already spayed or neutered almost 10,000 cats and dogs.

If you'd like to inquire about any of the cats, please contact Gilda at info@nutmegclinic.org

I’d like to personally thank Nutmeg for stepping up to a difficult situation and for being willing to house such a large number of cats. They aren’t a shelter so this is tough on them.

Lastly, to the kitten I nicknamed Zoe, I hope you make it, Little One! I look forward to reading your next letter.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Come on, Zoe! You can do it!

BarkAid Has Gone to the Cats

A few months ago I got an email from a cat-loving friend of Covered in Cat Hair who lives in Rhode Island. She told me that she wanted to help out Kitten Associates, but didn't have a lot of resources to make a donations. Instead, she told me about a program called BarkAid and suggested I contact the Founder, Patrick Lomantini, and ask him if Kitten Associates could be part of his fundraising efforts.

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BARK. AID? Isn't that for dogs?

After visiting BarkAid's web site, I came to understand the following:

Patrick owns Lomantini the Salon in Wichita, Kansas. He loves animals even though he couldn't have one as a child AND he's somewhat allergic to cats. He wanted to make a difference helping animals in need, but didn't want to focus just on his local rescue. Sure, he could do a cut-a-thon, something he'd done in the past, but it would only help one rescue. It wasn't enough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Three years ago, Patrick had the crazy idea to get in his car and travel to one state per DAY, team up with a local salon, cut hair for 12 hours and charge just $20/haircut. At the end of the day he'd donate the money to a local rescue group. Yes, it's nuts, but Patrick is a physical specimen of manly hunkatude who can handle the challenge he set for himself. His 6-pack abs have abs and his biceps would make Popeye blush. Patrick has close-cropped hair and wears tight black t-shirts and jeans, with a big hunky watch. His blue eyes could charm anyone he meets. There's a bubbling energy about him that's contagious, which won him over with folks as he blazed a trail across the country.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick decided he had 50 days to accomplish his mission and somehow he pulled it off. What is more impressive is that he decided to do it again the next year and again this year, with a small team of volunteers at his side.

Patrick NEEDS a big, fat corporate sponsor for these events, but right now Patrick is paying for the trip out-of-pocket. He wants each rescue to get as much money as they can, so he donates 100% of his profits to them, only asking for tip money to go to the volunteers to pay for gas (last year was $6,000.00 alone) and food. He hopes that the rescue groups will be able to put his team up for the night, too, to help offset costs.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach, Patrick (Center) and Alexis.

As fate would have it, just a I was contacting Patrick to ask him if Kitten Associates might take part he happened to be looking for a rescue group to work with in Connecticut. Apparently he hadn't had the easiest time here and was hoping for a better match this time around. I told him we're a TINY rescue and that there are bigger ones in town that could do a lot more, but Patrick had faith in us and said that the smaller rescues always worked a lot harder to publicize the events and support his team.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I figured I'd give it a try IF I could secure a salon for his team to set up shop. My first and only choice was Salon Michele, where I get my fancy-pants hairdos from time to time. I ran the idea past Maggie, who has been doing my hair for a few years now. She is a cat lover, so it wasn't tough for her to say YES. Of course we had to ask the owner, Michele and I realized it would be basically asking her to shut her salon down for the day and let me use it to raise money. Thankfully the date they chose for us was a Tuesday, so it was a slower day for business which might make it easier to give us the green light.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I gathered all my info and presented it to her. She didn't take long to think about it and said YES! From that moment on was a whirlwind for me. I had to do a lot of planning, getting permits to put out directional signs, finding out how to get a 25-ft long banner hung over the main street in town, making list after list of what needed to be done, who needed to be told. I struggled with how to get the word out and my dear friend Mary Shafer of Word Forge Books helped me get the Press Release sorted out.

For two months I was obsessed, but my biggest challenge was HOW to explain this event and NOT have people think that it was either Haircuts for DOGS or a fundraiser for DOGS?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I got everything sorted out and spent a lot of late nights working on this. I began to realize right away that we'd have to spend a good deal of money on advertising-YES, not just doing free ads online. Our town paper, The Newtown Bee, was the key way to get the word out to everyone in town. After all, we are the hometown cat rescue and we knew they'd help us. As luck would have it, an ad space opened up that was PRIME location and it hit the streets a few days before our event. I worried about spending $450.00 for this huge ad. It would be on the front page of The Bee Extra, The Bee's free paper, as well as inside their main paper.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis with the Mascot-dog plush (a gift from Kitten Associates)

I had to take a risk. If we couldn't reach people, what was the point?

I was very glad my graphic design background came in handy. I put together designs not just for flyers, but for table top signs, HUGE window signs that would re-skin Salon Michele, directional signs and a twenty five foot long banner-the biggest piece I've ever designed.

It also dawned on me that this is something I was meant to do. When I was a kid, I put on plays for my parents, then when I was at school, I was in Student Government where I came up with events like "Bring your Camera to School Day." In High School and College I took it up a notch and planned big events. My pride and joy was a 1940's Prom with a big band for over 600 guests. Why couldn't I do a fundraiser for my own rescue group?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Because I had to take care of RESCUES, too!

In the two weeks before our event, I helped rescue about twenty cats and kittens. All of them went to other rescues, but I did a lot of emailing, phone calls, driving around with a car full of kittens. It seemed that Minnie, too, got the message because she relapsed and got sick again and ended up having to have emergency spay surgery a few DAYS before the event!(she's recovered now and doing well)

I was having all sorts of stress dreams. The worst was the morning of the event, I dreamt I was waking up with most of my hair laying on the pillow and no way to hide that I was bald.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Beth, one of our awesome adopters with Patrick.

When the banner was hung and the ads were printed, I knew I'd spent about $1000. and that was about half of all the money we had. I started to fear we might lose money, but my friends kept reminding me that getting our name out is valuable, too (tell that to the Vet when he wants to be paid!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Kathy, the super-star who works the front desk of Salon Michele contacted me and said we had 3 appointments for haircuts. My heart sank. We had one week to go and I worried not only would we lose money, but it would be embarrassing to everyone who gave up so much to support our group.

A few days later the banner was hung and more calls came in. We were up to 14 appointments, which was still far too few. We needed 50 to break even.

The Friday before the event, the big ad in the paper came out. Nothing happened for three days, then on Monday, the day before, we were up to 50 and rising. Between the banner, the ad and word of mouth, things were heating up. By Tuesday I knew we had over 60 with whispers that it might even go higher than that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Busy Bees cutting hair and raising money for our kitties!

Tuesday morning, the BIG DAY, I drove over to Salon Michele to get set up. It really hit me that a lot of people had stopped what they were doing to help Kitten Associates and most of them I didn't even know. I fought off crying, but it was very emotional. When you work really hard and often have difficult situations to deal with, you don't have time to think about what you might get out of it. With cat rescue it's just focusing on helping the cats however you can. You know there are lots of people who love cats, but they wouldn't get their haircut because of that, would they?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. These cupcakes from the DOrazio Sisters Bakery tasted SO GOOD that I am craving one or ten right now!

So I got to work. Patrick and his team were already there even though the first appointment wasn't for 30 minutes. They'd arrived at 1am and were already back up and ready to go at 7:30am. These guys were amazing and they hadn't even started!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I set up, everyone got to know each other. Zach, one of the stylists graciously helped me put out the directional signs at the perimeter of the parking lot. We got chatting and he told me this was the first time he'd been east of Montana and that his home state was Idaho! I couldn't begin to imagine how amazing and exhilarating it was for him to see so much, in so little time. What a wild ride. I was tempted to offer to join them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Alexis, one of the other stylists, offered to do something with my hair. It was really kind of her to help me look less like a mop and more professional, plus it was just plain fun to get fussed over after all the weeks of preparations were finally over and I could (sort of) relax.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Then, as they say, the rest is a bit of a blur. People were coming in, a few almost begging for appointments, we were filling up to the point of having to turn people away! From 50, to 60, to 70 haircuts. The day raced by. I answered a lot of questions about cats and around noon, Sam brought three of our kittens to remind everyone why we were there. They did great and had a lot of fun. Everyone wanted to take them home, but Irene, my faithful friend and volunteer, kept a watchful eye over them so none of the kitten “accidentally” left the salon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not a party unless you have tattoos!

I was really hungry. Our friends, the DOrazio Sisters from Brooklyn who opened a bakery here in Newtown, kindly and generously donated 4 dozen cupcakes. We had them set up on a lovely cupcake tower stand and it was tough not to eat them ALL. I managed to sneak one..okay two, but no more than three, when no one was looking. I still have a jones for another one!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

It was clear we were going to do okay. Somehow amidst the chaos, a lot of people were getting really nice haircuts. One lady donated her hair to Locks of Love, which really touched my heart. Another lady talked about being at the Sandy Hook Elementary on "that day" and I think it helped her with the healing process to have Patrick fuss over her and listen to her heartbreaking story.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

We had lots of kids come visit, too, who told me stories about their cats or other pets. Even though I've lived in Newtown for over 20 years, it honestly was the first time I felt like I was part of this community. Not having children, I never had need to go to any of the town events or schools. I've yearned to feel closer to the people in this town and surprisingly, that finally started to happen because of K.A. Kitten Associates is on the radar of more people in town. It was definitely a dream starting to come true.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

In total, Patrick and his team, as well as Maggie, Michele, Jackie, Mary, Kathy and others from Salon Michele helped get 84 haircuts done, which was the SECOND HIGHEST number of haircuts in BarkAid's 2 1/2 year history! I was really really REALLY thrilled! We were able to cover our expenses and the rest will go to caring for our kittens.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A donation for Locks of Love! What a wonderful woman!

By 8pm we all pitched in, packed up, cleaned up and were ready to call it a day. Patrick and team were professional, friendly, outgoing, charming, everything good. Thankfully Michele's salon wasn't trashed. It was respected by all and I think that we all parted with genuine smiles and goodwill for each other. Patrick said he was ready to do this again next year, as he hugged me goodbye. I just shook my head, wondering how he does this, because I wanted to go to bed and not get up for a few days I was so tired.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick is on Day 20 of his trip. He's doing great work for the rescues in this Country. If you'd like to help support Patrick's efforts-they REALLY need donations to, at least, cover travel expenses, please visit their web site and donate HERE

In lieu of a proper photo album, enjoy some images from our big day!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Michele, owner of Salon Michele giving a great haircut and big smile to a customer.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Patrick hones his craft.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis and Ruby (who was SO adorable!)

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ruby steals the show.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The team with Minnie's kittens: Gracey, Mellie and Joey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach and Gracey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How to know it's time for the kittens to go home.

The Squee Diaries. Chapter 2.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Named, at last, here is our mama, Minnie.

The kittens are 10 days old today. Hurrah! Every day they live is another milestone because at this tender age kittens can fall ill and quickly die. It's common that 30-40% of kittens in a litter will pass away depending on the stresses in the environment and the condition and ability of the mother to provide for her offspring. So far, so good for this family.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Who has the cutest little rear end in the world?

There's an internal war I'm struggling with between feeling great anxiety about the mother's overall condition, which is very poor, and bliss in witnessing her tender devotion to her kittens. I nicknamed the mama, Skinny Minnie, because she's rail-thin. She weighs a little over 7 lbs, but she should weigh about 10 lbs, at least. I can feel her vertebrae when I pet her. It's sharp, without any cushion of flesh. When she sits, her hips stick out, almost at an impossible angle. It hurts me to see her like this when I know she's struggling to keep her kittens alive-at any cost to herself.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chaos at the lunch line.

What is more worrisome is that starved or not, Minnie isn't eating well. The first day she gobbled her food, then it seemed that nothing would interest her. Was it the fact she was getting good food, more than her digestion could handle? It was certainly a possibility. Add to that she was in a new environment-was she safe? Were her kittens safe? Stress might keep her from eating and so could the fact that we did treat her with Revoution®, which can add to tummy troubles, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie is so painfully thin. Come on mama-EAT!

 

I didn't know what was ailing Minnie so I pulled out every tempting treat I could think of and used every trick in the book to get her to eat. She'd lick a little bit of food here and there off my finger or take a few bites of food. I syringe fed her some probiotics, hoping they would calm her stomach. I could hear it gurgling. I checked with a Vet and got the okay to give her sub q (under the skin) fluids. We gave her what is considered a small amount of fluids, just 50 mL. We gave it to her a second time the next day, too.

 

Minnie also relived herself of two gigantic bowel movements. Normally this isn't something to consider, but since she came off the streets, it was important to both get her stool tested for parasites (which surprisingly came up clean this time-we'll recheck in a month) and to make sure she COULD pass stool properly (and use the litter pan!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Confetti Joe is named after my daddy, Joe, who passed away 14 years ago this month.

I even offered Minnie what I loathe to feed any cat-dry food. I opted for the highest quality grain-free kibble I could find. Over the following days she nibbled at it a bit, but only seemed to like eating one brand of canned cat food and one flavor of it. Sadly it's a tough food to find locally so I've put in a rush order for more.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Yukon Stan is named after Stanley Pertwee Kokopelli, who died 10 years ago this month.

I've started to weigh Minnie when I weigh the kittens. Tracking her weight is just as vital as that of her offspring. If something should happen to Minnie, it would put the kittens at great risk of dying. They're still completely dependent on her and I'm not the best bottle feeder in the world.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel is named after my sister's dog, Mel who passed away the day before the kittens were born.

I'm also torn between taking Minnie to the Vet where we might be able to run some tests on her, but it would also STRESS her and the kittens AND put the kittens into an environment where they could possibly get sick being exposed to the other animals in the practice. My gut says to hang tight. As long as Minnie's eating something and not dehydrated, maybe she'll push through this and I can bring her in for a checkup in a few weeks once the kittens are stable.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Precious Pete is named after Super-Deb's cat, Pete Puma who passed away a few years ago.

I keep asking myself, what would the Vet do that I can't? Yes, they can run a blood test, but even if they find infection they can't give her antibiotics because she's nursing. Minnie is alert, bright-eyed, seems comfortable. She grooms herself and is the BEST mama. Though I'd love to see her devour her food and eat a lot of it, she's eating something.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson (main) ©The Tiniest Tiger (inset). Lil' Gracey is named after Joanne McGonagle (her middle name is Lil) and her beloved cat, Gracey, who just died three weeks ago. You may know Gracey for being the spokescat for The Tiniest Tiger.

 

I have to remind myself to hang tight. Keep everyone warm, dry, comfy, fed. That's all that has to be done. Now if Minnie would comply and EAT, we'd be all set.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Pete and his plush pal.

As with every rescue we do, we need to raise some funds to provide for their care while in our foster program. You don't have to donate a lot, even a few dollars can add up to make a difference. Each kitten will need their vaccinations, their spay or neuter surgery, toys, kitten formula and litter. Minnie may need some blood work done if she doesn't get her appetite back.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I wuv my brudder. Joe and Pete enjoy a snuggle.

 

To help Minnie and her family, simply click the "GIVE NOW" button and you'll be directed to our You Caring page. If you'd prefer to send a check, you can make it out to: Kitten Associates and mail it to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354

 

 

Thank you for helping this precious family and for sharing this post to your cat-loving friends!

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey fills her belly while brother, Stanley snoozes away the day.

The Saddest Place on Earth. Sandy Hook, CT 1 of 2

[There's SO MUCH going on that it's tough to catch up. Here's a double dose of blog entries that cover Saturday and Sunday. Next up will be the truly uplifting, surprising and amazing story about what's going on with the Kitties for Kids Program we've put into action. By the time I get to write it, I'm hoping I'll have even more joyful news about how this program is taking off.]

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Land of the Tripods at Treadwell Park in Sandy Hook.

I’ve been doing a lot of crying over the past two days. I’ve been raging, not sleeping much, not eating much. Whatever I “had” to get done isn’t done. Christmas plans or shopping? Who cares? We cancelled dinner with dear friends we rarely get to see because we were too sad to go out and the roads are nearly impassible in some areas so why bother?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Imagine yourself standing here with the world watching.

I need to explain to all of you that writing and taking photos is a way for me to purge, explore, digest my feelings. I also feel that I want you to see what I’m seeing, maybe in some way so you can understand what’s going on here a little better without the filter of television news.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our intrepid First Selectman, Pat Llodra (center facing right) at the news conference to announce the names of the deceased.

Last night I was editing photos I shot at the news briefing in Treadwell Park where Lt. J. Paul Vance handed out the list of the deceased. I needed to be there, partly to prove to myself that this was real, partly to honor the history of this moment and partly because I was terrified some of our adopters were on that list.

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The phone rang. It was 9:30pm. The local 24 hr Emergency Vet was calling me to ask if I could help a cat who needed care right away. His urethra was blocked and his owner, who was disabled and on social security could not afford to pay for it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Reporters, reporters, reporters.

It took a few hours to sort it all out. The owner surrendered the cat to us because in all honesty he had no family to support him with this challenging situation and he was not mentally clear enough to understand what his cat needed done-just that his cat was sick. I made sure he was fine with giving up his cat as long as he got a good home-which I promised we would do.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lt. J. Paul Vance (right) and the medical examiner (in white).

The cat’s name is Shorty. He’s a big red tabby who must have lived outside most of his life because his left ear tip is missing, indicating he was trapped and neutered at some point. Sadly, it was done too late in his life because he is also FIV+, which can be transmitted sexually or from fighting (deep puncture bites).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lt. Vance holds “the list” of the deceased close to his chest.

Money. We needed a lot of it-about $750.00. In the middle of the night, in the middle of all this sadness, I stopped what I was doing to help this cat.

I asked for help for Shorty. Taking on a debt like this would put our finances into a very serious strain and prevent us from caring for the cats in our program. I needed my support group-my friends and fans of Covered in Cat Hair and once again, they did NOT disappoint!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Shorty.

Before I could even FINISH writing the plea for help my phone started chiming with text messages notifying me of donations.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Shorty after a night of treatment, beginning to perk up.

In LESS THAN 4 HOURS WE RAISED $760.00!!!!! IT IS BEYOND A MIRACULOUS ACHIEVEMENT! THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED SHORTY!

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The sun didn’t make an appearance this morning. It was cold and drizzling. I wanted to drive over to visit Shorty and get his bill settled. If things weren’t so insane I’d normally drive through “downtown” Sandy Hook to get to NVS.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The sign says it all.

I often feel the tug of my instincts to tell me where to go, when to go, what to do. Half the time I ignore it and try to “rationally” choose my next steps because that’s more logical than following your gut. Today, perhaps I was too tired to fight it and instead of driving the long way over to the Vet, I went straight for downtown. It was early enough and miserable enough outside that I thought maybe I’d miss the bad traffic.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The memorial—its first day.

I got there without much delay, but the center of our little district was already jammed with cars and people milling about.

I took a few photos from my car since the traffic was barely moving. A few cars ahead of me, a huge satellite truck was trying to parallel park. I watched in amazement as this behemoth crept backwards, knocking branches off a tree it was so tall. I thought he was going to hit the car behind him, but he suddenly signaled and pulled back into traffic, giving up on any chance of parking. It was a HUGE parking space. The car in front of me didn’t take it and in a flash I was parked and out of my car, walking down the sidewalk to the center of Sandy Hook, where many of the memorials are located.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. One of so many plush toys all over downtown Sandy Hook, CT.

I felt okay for the first block. It was my town. It was all so familiar. There were the pretty garlands of holiday evergreens tied with big red bows. There was the coffee shop where we sit outside on the back deck and soak up the sun while we sip our frothy cappuccinos. Everything seemed normal. I was just going to look around, take some photos. Not a big deal. But within a few more steps everything changed. My heart began to tighten, followed by my throat. I felt like I was going to faint.

There before me was a makeshift memorial, just like the ones I’d seen firsthand in New York City on 9|11, but these had teddy bears and toys covering what was normally a place to sit and look out onto the Pootatuck river.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes to both!

I began to sob. It came on so fast, from such depths of despair, that I had no way to stop...

…to be continued.

Saving Bongo's Leg

You never know what will come to pass when you rescue a kitten with a known physical problem. With King, we wondered if he'd been abused or if he was born deformed. Could he function better with a cart or prosthetic enhancements to his prematurely shortened hind limbs? In the end, King was perfect as he was born, missing the last inch or so of his legs and his paws. He does fine getting along on carpeting in his new home without any help or special surgery.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo enjoying a soft bed and freedom from the death row at the shelter.

With Bongo, our latest rescue, we have more questions than answers. Things we do know:

Bongo is NEGATIVE for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia.

Bongo is about seven months old.

We x-rayed his right front leg, which he does not use. His paw is warm, there is blood flow and sensation. There were no signs of major breaks but the x-ray could not detect any possible small fractures in the paw. The Vet felt amputation might be the best thing to do. If you watch the video, it's be clear his limb is slowing him down.

Thankfully, Bongo is also VERY FRIENDLY which will make whatever he needs medically, easier on him and foster mom, Maria.


©2012 Maria S. & Robin Olson. Bongo's first steps.

I've never had to give the OKAY to amputate an animal's limb before. I've only ever had one foster cat who had to have his right front leg removed. He was about Bongo's age and did very well after surgery. His leg had no sensation and was probably ruined in an accident, so in his case there was little to question.

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X-ray of Bongo's Leg.

I realize there are some folks who would just take the leg without getting more definitive answers. It's a lot less expensive to take a leg off than it is to repair it. The recovery time is less and there are no chances of having to do a second surgery if the leg is already gone, instead of if the surgery is done badly.

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©2012 Maria S. Someday we hope Bongo will be able to run and play like any other kitten.

 

We need to take another step, out of respect for Bongo. I want him to see Dr. Alan Cross, an orthopedic Vet at Georgia Veterinary Specialists. An evaluation is discounted, but still expensive. I believe it's worth it to make certain there isn't something else we can do to save Bongo's leg.

 

We're doing a small fundraiser to cover the office visit and additional x-rays. Anything we don't use for this visit will be used for Bongo's future care. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee to Bongo, it could mean a world of difference. Small donations pooled together can make big things happen!

We realize things are tight for everyone so if you can't donate, then would you please SHARE this post with your Bongo-loving friends?

Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.

If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Bongo" mail it to:

Kitten Associates
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Thank you and stay tuned for more updates on this sweet little guy.

Crushed Foot Kitty finds a Rescue with Kitten Associates

Not quite a kitten, but not big enough to be a full grown cat, a friendly Norewegian Forest cat mix was dumped off at Henry County Care & Control in McDonough, Georgia. Like most cats he was placed in a small steel cage to await his fate, but what was different about him was this cat was injured and unable to put weight on his right front leg.

Any cat lover would want to grab that kitten out of the cage and rush him off to the Vet, but without funds to do so, cats in shelters don't always get the help they need. It's not because the staff is evil or because they don't care, it's because of stupid things like money that force their hand. If they help this one, what about the two other badly injured cats with gaping wounds in their necks who just got brought in, too?

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Poor little fella.

This year I had to turn away from helping cats from Henry County because there were so many others that needed our attention who literally fell out of trees (like Willow). After a long year of helping more abandoned cats than I have ever seen, more stray, homeless, starving, knocked up cats, Maria (our super foster mom in GA) and I decided we both needed to plan to take a break. Neither of us had had more than a week free from fostering for almost three years.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant.

It's just plain crazy to push yourself in a field where there is so much misery and heartache. I want to always love my foster cats and have the stamina and compassion to keep helping them. For my own sanity and out of respect to my own cats, after the 13 cats in my program get to their forever homes, I'm done for a few months.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Do you love those wispy ear tufts or what?

I've already had to say no to many requests for help. I hate it, but I have to do this. Of course, last night I got a text from Maria asking me if I'd heard about this “crushed foot” cat at Henry Co. I had seen the plea a few days before, felt bad about it, then closed the email. I hoped someone would help him, but it'd been a week and no one came forward.

We believe the cat is 6-9 months old and his right paw is twisted out at an odd angle. It's not quite fused in place, but there is a deformity. His paw is warm so there is blood flow. Our intrepid volunteer/driver, Bobby felt the paw and the kitten didn't wince, nor did he feel any broken toes.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. This kitten mostly lays down in his cage. Getting him to stand up is not often easy.

I asked Maria if she wanted to take on another foster and she didn't hesitate to say yes. I contacted Bobby and Henry County and by 2 AM everything was sorted out.

Bobby arrived at Henry County 90 minutes ago and picked up the kitty, who has been purring non-stop since he got out of the cage.

We're going to take on whatever ails this little guy. He may need his leg removed or hopefully surgery can save it somehow. Yes, we'll need to start a ChipIn, but I'm even tired of asking for money. We'll wait to see what the Vet says and take it from there.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Meet Bongo, our latest rescue!

The cat is at our Vet's office right now being examined. I'm praying his snap test is negative/negative. I'm more worried about that than I'm worried about his leg.

We'll get him his vaccinations and they'll do x-rays. If he needs pain meds, he'll get them. I look at it this way-it's just one cat, right?

Just one more cat to find a home for. One cat to fuss over and worry about until he's feeling well again. Just one more to love (and honestly, just looking at his crazy ear tufts was enough to put me over the edge).

This is Bongo, our latest rescue. Welcome aboard. The story of your rescue starts now.

From the Ashes. Fire at Animlkind.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. What remains after the fire and flood at Animalkind on May 1, 2012..

[If you missed it you can read Part One HERE and Part Two HERE]

We continued on to the fourth floor. It suffered the least amount of damage. The sheet rock was still intact. There were cats living here, too. Some of them had been kittens who had tested positive for Feline Leukemia. A few of the kittens died and the others couldn’t be near other cats until they had time to re-test negative. The surviving kittens had to sacrifice those first few months when they would have been the most adoptable. It would mean if they weren’t sick, they’d be adults who'd have a much tougher time getting adopted. It wasn’t fair, but it was the best that could be done for them.

There were many cats walking around the large sun-soaked space. It was too warm and the cats were lying stretched out on scant blankets that were scattered around the rooms. A few cats came over to me. Clearly they were sick. I didn’t judge Katrin. I would have done the same thing. She could have put them all down to save her the headache of trying to see them through this, but she didn’t.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet kitty finds comfort in a simple box.

Katrin had a difficult time walking through the building that had come to mean so much to her. This place was her life and her life was in shambles at her feet. I told her to imagine the day when she walked up the stairs and she could smell freshly painted walls; to imagine the cats running freely around the rooms, enjoying their release from captivity. My mother often said; “This too shall pass.” I knew it was true for Animalkind, the problem was—WHEN. When would it pass?

 

The insurance company has been slow to provide the funds to get the re-building started. The agent had a heart attack. There were other delays. Each day revealed another frustration for Katrin and her staff.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely architectural bones, but not so comfortable for the kitties.

We returned to Animalkind’s temporary headquarters at the Warren Inn. The phone rang. Katrin was called over to speak to the person making the call. At last there was some good news–the power in the building was hooked up! All they needed was a final inspection, which could happen very soon. Katrin spoke to the caller at a rapid pace and as soon as she hung up the phone, she lifted the receiver and made more calls. She was on the phone as a volunteer brought in an injured snowshoe kitten AK had agreed to rescue from the notorious Animal Care & Control in NYC (notorious for euthanizing zillions of cats and dogs every day). The kitten was stunning, but supposedly suffered from a broken hip. She sat in the cardboard carrier and meowed. A cat carrier was also brought into the room with two young kittens, also from ACC&C. Just because their building was gone, didn't mean Katrin was going to stop rescuing cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Quarantine kitty.

I overheard Katrin speaking with a volunteer to ask them to go buy as many fans as she could. She also wanted screens for those windows-ASAP. She was going to make certain the cats in quarantine were more comfortable now that they had their power restored.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sick ward patient enjoying one of the few comfortable places in the building.

With all the activity of volunteers and calls, I decided I should head back home. A foster mom entered the room with her kitten, Tatanka (which means Buffalo in Indian). Tatanka’s eyes were like orange saucers as he looked around the room. He couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 weeks old. Something happened to him, but so far their Vet couldn’t determine whether it was a neurological problem like Cerebeluar Hypoplasia or an injury. Initially, the kitten couldn’t walk at all, but with his foster mom's care he was starting to use his back legs and could stand up for short bursts.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tatanka with his Stretch & Scratch.

She jangled a toy in front of him and he looked at it oddly. There was something not working right in his mind, you could tell by his expression. I found myself wanting to take him home with me. His cuteness factor was set really high and the fact that he was a bit wobbly and needed extra help made him even more adorable.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet ginger boy.

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I’d brought with me the donation of Stretch and Scratch scratchers, which Katrin LOVED. She and I hung them in most of the cages and right away the kittens started to use them. Some of the adults were too scared to try them out, no doubt stressed from their months of captivity (they DO give each cat a break outside of their cage as often as possible).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tuxedo kitty in the sick ward.

It was time to head out. I said my farewells and wished good luck to Tatanka. As I walked to my car, I felt heavier. The struggles and the suffering of these good people and sweet cats effected me deeply. It’s one thing to read a story about a disaster, but it’s another thing to stand up and get involved even if you’re not confident you can do anything to make it better.

 

The one thing I am confident about is that even though I have my own struggles, failures and fears that I only truly feel happy when I help someone else.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Oz is a super sweet kitty looking for his forever home.

Katrin called me a few days ago to give me another update, but before she told me the latest news, she had to tell me something else. She said that what I’ve done, getting donations for them, coming up to do a story about Animalkind, meant a lot to her.

This stoic, lioness choked up as she spoke. I suddenly understood why what I did effected her so deeply. I understood what she was going through on so many levels—everyone wants something from her when she’s at the lowest point in her life and here was a stranger showing up to help, without asking for anything in return and not making her life more difficult, but better.

She told me she regretted that I didn’t live closer so we could get to know each other better and I felt the same way, too.

 

 

It reminds me that we need to look out for each other, whether we’re strangers or best friends. That one person with only a few bucks to her name can make a difference in someone else’s life that maybe helps them get through another day. Each and every one of us has that power and frankly, that duty. Without even considering “what about me” I got a great gift. It’s so much more meaningful when it comes without feeling like it’s even needed.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tatanka sits up on his own!

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© 2010 Mark Westscott Studios. Animalkind before the tragic loss of their shelter.

Update: After all these months, MAYBE just MAYBE construction is going to begin in two weeks. They have an expert coming in to review the spaces in their building and help them set it up so that it will be the best environment for the cats AND the safest from a health standpoint so they can keep their cat population from spreading illnesses.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the many kittens at Animalkind.

THEY’RE LOOKING FOR HELP RIGHT NOW FOR THOSE OF YOU WITH THE FOLLOWING SKILLS. (Animalkind is located in HUDSON, NEW YORK-about 2 hours north of New York City)

• an Architect who can help with designing the new spaces

• Solo Construction workers OR someone who owns a construction company to help them rebuild

• Stone Masons who can help with their garden

• Carpenters who can help them build out their new rooms

Of course, like any rescue, they need financial donations or donations of goods. You can visit their Network for Good donation page to donate OR you can contact AnimalKind at 518-822-8643 or email: katrin@animalkind.info to arrange for a donation of goods or services.

Donate

 

Don't forget: If you'd like to gift AnimalKind more scratchers (they LOVE THEM), please go HERE to get their shipping information. You can get a SPECIAL DISCOUNT of 10% off on any size case of Stretch and Scratch scratchers, plus you get reduced shipping. Use CODE: CATS to get the discount!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tatanka casts his cute-spell on us.

The final update is that Tatanka is ready to be adopted! I’m not clear on the status of his current medical condition, but I believe he'll still need some Vet visits and possibly physical therapy to be well. If you’re interested in adopting Tatanka or finding out more about him contact Animalkind at the same numbers above or fill out an adoption application.

The Best Worst Thing Ever. Fire at Animalkind.

Late in the evening of May 1, 2012, on the third floor apartment where a caretaker lived, a small fire broke out due to the hot embers of a cigarette coming into contact with bedding. The fire was extinguished before the fire department even arrived. The building didn't burn to the ground, but something equally terrible occurred. The building-wide sprinkle system was activated, releasing a torrent of water, not light rain showers, but a flood of water throughout the building.

On the second, first and basement levels lived the cats of Animalkind, a non-profit cat shelter located in Hudson, New York. Most of the cats were allowed to freely roam their adoption areas. Terrified from the onslaught of water, the cats climbed onto the horizontal vents from the brand new $50,000 HVAC system that was installed to control the spread of disease. The cats huddled in the rafters, terrified; but what was worse was the fate awaiting the most fragile of the cats—the mamas and kittens. They were in the basement and all the water from the floors above pooled there, inches deep. The families weren't free to escape, they were in cages, trapped in the water at risk of drowning.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Still lovely, the exterior of Animalkind.

No one perished. No cats died. In that, it was a miracle, but the building was gutted. The once pink and yellow cheerful walls of Animalkind were soaked, ruined, crumbling to the floor. The joy that had filled the building, all the years of hard work and loving care, vanished in a matter of hours. The building that once held 150 cats was destroyed.

As early as 2am Katrin Hecker, the Director and Founder of Animalkind, her volunteers, staff and residents of Hudson, New York, gathered together and quickly began to capture as many cats as they could.

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©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. Moving the cats into their new location.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a local merchant, The Warren Inn, a nearby hotel, turned its' office space into a temporary shelter space. It was just a few steps away from Animalkind's headquarters. Cages were assembled and cats were tagged and given a place to recover their shock. Many cats needed to go into temporary foster homes and people throughout the area opened their doors. The townsfolk jumped into action along with everyone from Animalkind. Though heartbreaking, the staff was buoyed by the support.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The irony of the sign on the bottom of the window isn't lost on me.

In the following days, amazing things happened. Cats who'd been at AK for YEARS were getting adopted. Adoptions on the whole went way up. About 60 cats found homes right away. Folks started to show up from out of the blue to help any way they could. As the news spread, I heard about this terrible tragedy. In an odd coincidence, I'd been only a few miles from the fire delivering Leo to Animalkind's neighbor, Aslan's Sanctuary.

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©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. The basement.

Like so many other people, the devastation bothered me deeply. I couldn't imagine how any rescue could recover from such a loss. I'm just one person. What could I do to help?

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©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. One of the shelter spaces, empty of cats, filled with water.

I got in touch with Animalkind and Bob Mechling, a Designer and key member of the shelter, got back to me right away. I asked him what they needed and told him I'd do what I could to help him get it. I couldn't believe I was saying those words. I don't have two sticks to rub together, but in my heart I knew that after all these years of blogging and writing pet product reviews that somewhere I MUST know someone who could help me scrounge up a few donations.

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Freekibblekat.com and Halo come to the rescue!

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World's Best Cat Litter-YOU ROCK!

I got to work. Within a few days and after many phone calls I got the logistics worked out. Right away, Kelly Ausland of Freekibble.com and Freekatkibble.com said he would be delighted to help with a donation of 350 bags of kibble from Halo. He wasn't doing this for a write-up on my blog or a pat on the back. He sincerely was concerned and wanted to help.

Next up were my associates at World's Best Cat Litter, who also did not hesitate to help once I alerted them to the problem. I was very impressed by how quickly they jumped into action! Now the cats had a supply of food and litter coming in the door. I reached out to a few other companies, but sadly they were not able to offer any assistance.

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If you'd like to help put a smile on the faces of shelter cats in your town, you can get a SPECIAL DISCOUNT of 10% off on any size case of Stretch and Scratch scratchers, plus you get reduced shipping. Use CODE: CATS to get the discount! If you'd like to gift AnimalKind more scratchers (they LOVE THEM), please go HERE to get their shipping information:

I also reached into my own fairly empty pockets and ordered two cases of Stretch and Scratch cat scratchers. I knew that the cats would be stressed out in cages and having something to scratch could make a world of difference to their well being.

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©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. The Adoption Room circa 2004..

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Welcome to the Adoption Room 2012.

As Animalkind began the difficult work of assessing the damage and speaking with their insurance company, things got very busy for my little rescue. I didn't hear much from Katrin, but she was never far from my thoughts.

Recently, I made the 100 mile trip north to meet Katrin and Bob and see how things were going. What I saw broke my heart and compelled me to do more.

Animalkind still needs help. In some ways, things are worse now than ever. In part two I'll share what I learned during my visit and introduce you to some VERY special cats.

For the Love of Tater

Tater Tot's life hangs in the balance. Since I first broke the news a few days ago that Tater may have FIP, his foster mom Maria and I have been working around the clock trying to find out if this diagnosis is accurate. Because he may have FIP, we have more questions than answers. It seems every moment something changes and throws us into a tailspin of fear that this IS FIP. It really IS.

OR IS IT?

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©2012 Maria S. As we found Tater, laying on the pavement, sick and flea infested a few weeks ago.

I flat out don't know. This is the first case of FIP I've ever encountered (again, IF that's what is ailing Tater). I feared Tater was going to die a few days ago, but it's Thursday and he's still with us.I just found out if he has FIP he can live for a few MONTHS like this so any hope I had of it not being the wet form of FIP is dashed again. I feel like I'm losing my mind trying to sort this all out.

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©2012 Maria S. Tater this morning.

Tater had a fever as early as Sunday or possibly before that, but Maria only started to check his temperature when he showed physical signs of not feeling well. From Sunday to yesterday morning his temperature ranged from 103.4°F to 104°F. Yesterday morning his fever broke and his temp. fell to 101.5°F and today it is a normal 101°F.

So NO fever for over 24 hours. Does that mean this is not FIP?

Tater hasn't eaten for a few days. His sinuses are stuffed up. He can't smell. He walks over to his food and looks at it-so he's interested in eating, but Maria has to syringe feed him. He didn't move his bowels for two days. Today he finally started doing that again, but it's a bit soft.

We discovered that Tater has Tapeworms AND Coccidia so he was de-wormed on Tuesday. [note: we have de-wormed him twice since rescue, but our dewormer doesn't work on tapeworms or coccidia]

Tater is on clavamox since his lungs sounded crackly. I know it can cause tummy upset so we have yet another call into the Vet to find out if we should change course or give him a minute amount of Pepcid to settle his belly after his meds?

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©2012 Maria S. Unable to share his space with his sister, Tater's only comfort is knowing she's nearby.

The problem is we just don't have enough information to make certain we're doing the right thing for Tater. Maria has barely slept. She moved a cot into the foster room with Tater so she can keep an eye on him and continue giving him his medications throughout the night. She can't keep doing this. I'm lucky she's off work this week. I don't know what we'll do next week when she has to return to work.

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©2012 Maria S.Tater on Tuesday morning and today (right)

Tater still purrs. Maria watched him as he licked his paw, then rubbed it against his face. That he is grooming himself is another check that goes under the column of “Maybe NOT FIP?”

We MUST do more tests. Nothing is definitive, but getting more information will help us possibly rule FIP out. Tater needs a complete blood workup done and we need to sample his abdominal fluid and check serum protein levels.

Between the emergency Vet visits for Opal's kittens and the daily Vet visits and medications for Tater, then more for Choco, ChiChi, Coco and Latte, most of the funds we just raised are getting depleted quickly. We don't get much discount on blood work so it will cost at least $500.00 to do the tests (I added more to the ChipIn because I fear we may end up needing to do more.). If we don't do the tests, we can't give Tater the appropriate care he needs. It would also be heartless to ignore that it would help Maria be able to handle what may yet come to pass if she can understand better what is wrong with Tater instead of playing a frustrating guessing game.

 

If everyone bands together to help Tater by providing a small donation, then it would really add up to making it possible for us to get additional Vet care for this sweet little guy.

 

 

If you can help Tater, please use the ChipIn widget, below.

 

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©2012 Maria S. Tater would thank you for your help but he needs to rest so he can get better.

 

Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.

If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Tater Tot" mail it to:

Kitten Associates
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.

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©2012 Maria S. We just want our sweet boy back to his old self. This is Tater a few hours after we started treatment.

 

If you can't make a donation, you can help us by getting the word out. Every dollar helps and every Re-tweet or FB Share does, too. THANK YOU for caring about Tater Tot!

 

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