Heartache, anxiety and fear have robbed me from being able to write, work, think. As a cat-mom and rescuer, most of what I do has something to do with or for cats. There are bumps in the road that I usually manage, but when a health crisis hits one of them, the all-too-familiar and all-too-painful knot twists my gut, draining my soul. The worse the crisis, the less I can eat or sleep, the more I worry, research, call Vets, try to find an answer while attempting to soothe an anxious, weak, mysteriously sick cat.
©2016 Robin AF Olson. My baby, Spencer, flat, depressed and not eating while Blitzen worries about his old friend.
There was something wrong with Spencer, the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair, my 15-year old shadow. He was lethargic, would not eat, was depressed. He’d been drinking a lot of water and I’d feared it was his kidneys because water drinking can be a sign of kidney disease. At Spencer’s age it's no joke for him to have a problem like this. The issue: getting him to the vet when he’s a very high-stress patient.
This time it was no problem getting him to the vet. That’s how sick he was.
We gave Spencer fluids, hoping it would help him feel better, but it did nothing. I knew we couldn't wait this out. Once at Dr. Larry’s office my mind went into overdrive imagining what was wrong with my dear boy. I thought it could be pancreatitis or that his kidneys or his liver was failing but why? Spencer’s on a fresh diet, with lots of protein. There was no reason something would irritate him like that. It had to be that his kidneys were failing so I worried about how we’d give him fluids when he has a very short fuse.
Dr. Larry did some tests that indicated pancreatitis. It was possible I caught it early but Spencer still needed an ultrasound at the ER Vet as soon as possible to make certain there wasn’t something else going on. They kept him there for the full day because he’d been so stressed out, even though he was weak. Just taking his blood was difficult so they had to let him calm down in a cage for a few hours before trying to get the sample. By the time we got home Spencer was flat and even more depressed than before.
©2016 Robin AF Olson. One of my "go-to" things to tempt a sick cat to eat-chicken baby food. Notice I offer the food on a flat dish and elevate the plate not only to make it easier to reach but so that the aroma of the warmed food reaches Spencer's nose faster. Normally I use a soup bowl to elevate the plate but in this case a tissue box was a good height and nearby.
I didn’t want to take my baby to the emergency vet because over the past year they’ve lost most of their staff and I didn’t know if they were hiring any decent vets. I didn't want to believe the rumors I'd heard. Their prices are crazy-high, but they are also a few minutes drive from my home. It meant less stress on Spencer and they could see him the next day so I agreed and hoped for the best.
Even the short drive to the ER did a number on Spencer. He was open-mouth breathing so they rushed him into an oxygen cage until he could settle down. How the heck where they going to be able to an ultrasound on him if he was flipping out? I feared they’d have to sedate him and the after effects of sedation on his old body. This had to be done, but how would they do it without pushing Spencer into the red zone?
Instead of meeting with the Internist, they went ahead and performed the ultrasound. I was surprised that it only took a few minutes. They went slowly and since Spencer was so ill, he was easier to handle and did not require sedation. I waited anxiously in the exam room, mentally adding up what I feared the bill was going to be for the day. The door opened and there stood Dr. De (her nickname to keep her anonymity). She was very nice and polite. She explained right away that yes, Spencer did have pancreatitis and that the key now was to soothe his belly while getting him to resume eating. There was no sign of cancer and the rest of his organs appeared normal. The concern was that if he didn’t eat soon, I’d have to assist-feed him or what worked much better was the placement of a feeding tube.
She gave me a list of meds and a schedule along with some bland food (which of course I hated since the ingredients included corn, wheat and soy, but I had to do whatever I could for my boy). I went home and wrote everything out. Pilling Spencer was going to be dreadful but I had to get the job done.
©2016 Robin AF Olson. I constantly followed Spencer around, but not so close as to make him anxious. As he chose a strange place to lay down, near the stove, I decided to sit down on the kitchen floor, too. Fluff Daddy, ever the jokester decided it was a great time to sit on my lap and watch Spencer with me.
Spencer laid on the floor under the table in front of the sofa. He’d lost a good bit of weight and he was depressed and in pain. I began giving him pain meds and something to help the nausea. I offered him some food but he would not touch it beyond a few licks.
Two of my friends got in touch with me when they heard the news and offered to help me if Spencer did need a feeding tube. They assured me to welcome this if the Vet thought he needed it because it made it much easier to provide nutrition and medications and that most cats (hey, not Spencer!) would not be bothered by it, too much. That feeding tubes could extend or save lives.
A very nice lady named Dee even offered to come to the house and show me how to feed, then clean the setup should Spencer need it. I had to prepare myself for doing this. If he needed it then so be it.
©2016 Robin AF Olson. I took this photo not realizing that Spencer was laying in a large pool of his own urine. He was completely zoned out, between the pain meds and being sick. You can see it effected his pupils as well.
After a few days of meds, Spencer began to eat on his own. He liked the crappy food so I was glad that he'd eat anything. I offered him many small meals throughout the day and he’d eat a teaspoon or two at most. He began to perk up a little, but I was still worried about taking him off the pain killers. I also wondered if we did something to his food that made him sick in the first place. We make our own raw food from carefully sourced ingredients, but what if we made a mistake? Surely one of our other nine cats would have been sickened, too?
By day five Spencer was off his medications and back to eating his regular diet. He’s still underweight but he’s back to his old self. I think he’s even friendlier than before and he’s not sucking down copious amounts of water, so perhaps the drinking was a way to soothe his digestive tract and not an alert that his kidneys were failing?
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Spencer giving me "lovey-eyes."
Next up: A Semi-feral cat, indeed!
continued from part 16
I didn’t want to take Freya to the Vet. I was sick with worry about it. If Freya was a “normal” cat I wouldn’t be so concerned, but we already know that Freya has lots of deformities so it wouldn’t be surprising that her ovaries or uterus had some issues. I knew she’d be in very good hands because Dr. Chris, our Board Certified surgeon, was going to do the procedure. He’d also be the final word on whether or not Freya still needed to have her right inner ear CT scanned and if she'd also needed surgery on her ear canal to drain any remaining infection.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Our Freya.
I love Dr. Chris, not like I want to run away and bear his children love, but I really cherish working with him. He’s always smiling even though the poor guy has often had to soothe my fears about Freya. He’s extremely smart and talented and I trust his opinion (okay and he’s really cute, too, but that has nothing to do with it. I’m just dutifully relating information as any good writer would).
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Chris last December with Freya.
So this morning I sat in the now so very familiar waiting room at NVS with Freya at my side, who was snuggled inside her Robin’s egg blue cat carrier. Dr. Chris came out from the back of the building to escort us into an exam room. Just seeing his radiant smile made me feel more relaxed. I hadn’t seen him for a few months and it was good to see him again. After we said a quick hello, I found myself focusing on the mental laundry list of things he needed to know about Freya. As I spoke I noticed he was looking at Freya as she ran around the room. He was smiling, then remarked how great she looked. After all she’d been through I didn’t see her transformation as clearly as Dr. Chris did.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya's nickname is Monkeypants, so this is a box of monkeypants.
Dr. Chris examined Freya as we spoke about what should be done today. We went over the costs which would range from $1800.00 to $5100.00, the low price being only the spay. Of course many of you who do rescue know we can get spays done for under $100 at a clinic, but Freya couldn’t go to a clinic since we didn’t know what was yet to be discovered inside her.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. At the vet yet again. At least Freya's not scared being there.
It was a tough nut to swallow, but I knew we had to do what was right for our kitten. Dr. Chris said that he didn’t feel Freya should have the CT scan yet. Clinically she was doing very well. She was playing, eating, passing stool. She no longer had a head-tilt, though she does have some deafness, which could be something she’s had since birth. Instead of spending that money on the CT now, he thought it was wise to wait and give her more time. If she relapses then we’d have to do the scan, but for now the less we do to her, the better.
All that was left to decide was when to do her spay surgery. Again, I was surprised by the answer. Dr. Chris felt that Dr. Mary or Dr. Larry could do the spay and that as a rescue it would be better for us to bank the savings so we could rescue more cats than spend it on having him do the procedure. I asked if he felt it was safe to have our G.P. Vet do the surgery and he thought they could easily handle it. He also said I could bring her back and he would still perform the procedure if our other vets didn’t feel comfortable taking her on.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya meets the raccoon.
I agreed to call Dr. Larry and to determine whether or not we could have Freya’s spay performed today since she was already fasted and ready to go. Then, what I never expected happened. In my writer’s mind I'd describe a romantic scene about being alone in the exam room with Dr. Chris; about how our eyes locked in an intense gaze across the room, the passion building between us, undeniable, magnetically drawing us ever closer, but also knowing his peers and my friends might read this; I’ll have to keep a more detailed fantasy to myself. In truth, what really happened was very straightforward, COMPLETELY professional and G-rated.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya loves Aunt Nora.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after such a long journey. After discussing the results of a million x-rays of Freya’s colon, after a hundred tears worrying about my kitten, after all this; it was over. Dr. Chris said his residency is wrapping up in Newtown and he’s accepted a position in Miami and will be leaving in July (in that heat?!).
Resigned to this disappointing news, I gave Dr. Chris a hug goodbye and told him I was sorry to see him go (along with my silly schoolgirl crush). He walked us over to the reception desk, smiling politely as he said goodbye, then turned, greeting the next couple waiting to meet with him.
Two hours later.
Freya and I were in the exam room at Dr. Larry’s office. As he entered the room I could feel the energy shift. I knew that Dr. Larry’s in-law had passed away a few days ago and that he was truly hurting. He looked visibly thinner and tired. Before we could talk about Freya I reached out and gave him a big hug and told him how sorry I was for his loss. Dr. Larry’s my brother from another mother and I hate to see him suffering. I felt badly for even asking him to spay Freya. He should be home with his family.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya's tail obsession goes into overload when she sees Spencer's tail.
I gave Dr. Larry the rundown and explained to him why I felt it was okay to at least try to spay Freya. We had a few rounds of blood work done in the past that were very clean. She’d had a 2-hour long surgery and did well. She was eating and playing normally. She went into “heat” so that meant something was working inside her. We just didn’t know how well it worked or if there were other surprises.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Yes, Freya watches TV.
In the end I agreed that he should consider this an exploratory surgery and if she was well enough to be spayed, to do so and if not I’d take her to Dr. Chris for a surgery at a later date.
He told me that he’d call me right away if there was a problem and that if she did all right he’d wait until he was done to let me know how things went. Basically if there was no news any time soon, that was good.
Three hours later.
Dr. Mary, Dr. Larry’s partner, called me. She sounded as cheerful and bubbly as ever. She said; “Well, Miss Freya is all set. We did the spay and she’s recovering now.”
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya vs. Fluff Daddy.
“Yes, she did fine. Everything was normal. She may act a bit odd for a few days since she her hormones were still elevated, but other than that she’s doing well. You can pick her up later this afternoon.”
After I hung up the phone it hit me. It’s OVER. Freya doesn’t need any more surgeries and hopefully will never need a CT scan. She’s spayed. She’s had her shots. She’s been de-wormed. She’s passed all the milestones our other foster cats have passed. It just took a lot longer and we never were sure we'd make it this far.
No more worrying about if she’s going to survive her surgeries. She did. No more worrying about her being able to pass stool. She does.
No more wondering if she’ll ever hold her head straight or have both eyes open. It’s all good.
Then I recalled something I wrote in my very first post about Freya:
“In my mind’s eye I can see Freya, sleeping on a soft bed that is bathed in sunlight. She’s comfortable and plump. She looks like she’s smiling as she sleeps away the afternoon. She is healthy and well and these dark days are over for her. She didn’t have to die, she got to live. That is my dream for Freya...”
And for once, my dream came true due in part to so MANY generous donors who offered not only financial support but sent cards and gifts to Freya, who put tires on my old car, who sent us emails and called and told us they cared so very much about our little foster kitten. To our amazing Vets: Dr. Chris, Dr. Larry, Dr. Mary, Dr. Pav, Dr. Deb and Dr. Cory--yes, it took all your expertise to bring us to this fine day and I appreciate it so much. To Chelsea and Randy, who gave up their kitten because it was the right thing to do for her, even though it meant giving her up (and it was Chelsea's birthday that day, too), thank you for your bravery and trust in letting a rescue take over when you weren't able to.
I guess there's only one thing left to do. It’s time to put Freya up for adoption.
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Home from being spayed, Freya gets some much needed rest.
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. 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.
©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Zoe with her Mama and brothers.
©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.
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.
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.
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.
©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.
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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
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.
...(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.
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.
If you'd like to inquire about any of the cats, please contact Gilda at firstname.lastname@example.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.
©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Come on, Zoe! You can do it!
We all get notices about cats and dogs needing rescue. Many of them are marked as “urgent.” It's great that we can get together and help spread the word, BUT there are millions of animals out there who are "safe" in a rescue and who still go unnoticed. Many of them are older, or not a fancy breed. They don't have a group of folks trying to help them get a forever home. What happens to them? They wait and wait and wait and the longer they wait, the more animals that same rescue has to turn away because their spaces are filled.
I came up with a fun way to help animals who are not in crisis (so your friends won't be upset hearing about them-which is a bonus) but who need help. It's totally free, just takes a minute of your time and could potentially save more animal's lives. Don't just do it today. Do it EVERY DAY and see how YOU can change the world for animals in need.
I call it:
Step One: Visit Petfinder
Petfinder's home page.
Step Two: “Search for a Pet.”
Do you want to help a dog, cat, bunny, goat, what? Choose Location (City & State) Animal Type, Breed, Age and Gender. It's even more effective if you choose a town in your state, since most of your friends will be able to share with their friends and be able to act on a local level! Hit the “FIND PETS” button.
I chose Chicago, IL, Cat, Maine Coon, Any Age and Male in my search.
Step Three: Review Search Results.
Which animal would you like to save. Pick one! I chose CHANDLER. He's 10 years old, a total cutie and needs to find his forever home.
Search results page. Notice there are over 1000 cats MATCHING MY CHOICE in the Chicago area alone who need homes. That means there are LOTS more than that who fit other descriptions!
Step Four: Tweet & Facebook-Share
Chose the Tweet and the Facebook icons to share with your friends!
The share buttons to choose to let your friends know about the cat you want to help.
Tweet & have fun with it. I added a few words to this Tweet before it went out.
Chandler shared on Facebook. I hope it helps him find his forever home soon!
This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Adopt-a-Cat month, but Covered in Cat Hair only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.
Life is precious and should be revered in all its forms, whether it be a plant, or bug, a whale or amoeba. It’s also natural and expected that all forms of life draw to an end at some point, whether it be after only a few moments or many years. Death must occur to make way for new life to emerge in an endless cycle.
When a life comes to an end we may not even notice. We might step on a bug on a walk to the bus, while the end of another life form might break our hearts, making living our own life difficult, if not impossible.
When faced with losing our own precious life, we fight, we take medication, we have a surgery, we ask for prayers. We may also do the same thing in honor of a life we want to protect that’s in the balance. It might be our child or our friend or in this case that of a tiny newborn kitten who was found inside a dumpster with his sibling.
Someone who did not consider life to be precious had a pregnant cat. The cat gave birth far too soon. Perhaps she was highly stressed or sick. She may have even died due to complications from the delivery. Her kittens were smaller than normal by more than an ounce, when a birth weight of a newborn kitten should be at least 3 1/2 ounces. Being down 1/3 of normal weight meant those kittens had a high probability that they would be robbed of having a normal life span.
I want to know what sort of monster would do such a thing. Why was throwing away a precious life was the answer to their problem. What other things was this person capable of? What excuses did this person give himself or herself so that person could feel like their choice was acceptable and they would remain blameless for their heartless actions?
But what the person didn’t expect was that a man named Sal went to the gas station some time later. While he was getting gas he heard crying. He thought the high-pitched sound was made by birds at first. He went to investigate, and to his surprise, he unearthed the box of kittens, who were so small their umbilical cords were still attached.
He has a dog and cat at home. Life is precious to him. He brought the kittens home and called a Vet who gave him some idea of what to do and what to feed the kittens, not understanding that these kittens were newborns, called neonates, and that they needed more care than a kind-hearted soul could give them.
I got a call about Sal needing help so I called him, concerned about what I’d heard. I had no idea how serious the situation was either, but I asked, truly urged Sal to let my rescue, Kitten Associates, have the kittens. I’d called Jeannie, one of our foster moms who has a lot of experience with kittens, far more than I do, and she was on standby to take them.
Sal wanted to try to provide care. His girlfriend was home all day and would stay up and watch over the kittens. Less than a day later, I got a call that the kittens weren’t doing so well. I rushed to reach Jeannie and she changed plans to take the kittens as soon as possible. I worried we were too late.
The prognosis for the other kitten wasn’t so good either. This little black kitten was very thin and not very lively. Jeannie took a photo of him for me. She put a Chapstick next to the kitten to show me just how tiny he was. It was a shocking sight.
Jeannie stayed up all night with him, trying to get him to take nourishment, trying to get him to warm up, but he wasn’t responding very well and seemed depressed. We all knew about Failure to Thrive or Fading Kitten Syndrome-when due to illness, gestational issues (born too soon or developmental issues) or some times it’s not even known why, some kittens just don’t make it. They are too weak, too fragile and once that process starts they usually die very quickly.
©2014 Jeannie G. The lone survivor moments after entering our rescue.
I wanted to hurt someone, specifically I wanted to hurt whoever robbed these innocents of their life. They didn’t ask to be born, but they were here, so let us respect that. Ask for help from a local rescue. Reach out to SOMEONE. There are many resources where you can get help. Why would anyone THROW THESE KITTENS AWAY? I don’t understand. I don’t understand how cruel this person could be and I worried about the mom cat. What became of her? But I could do nothing other than sob for what will never be–two kittens having a chance to grow and thrive and live a wonderful life. Now it would not happen and as bad as this was, I worried about what this heartache would do to Jeannie, too.
Early that afternoon I texted Jeannie. I hadn’t heard from her that the kitten had died so I wanted to check in. I asked if he was gone and she answered, “no.” I asked; “is that good?” and she replied, “no.” I knew it meant the end was near. I hung my head and cried some more. That was all I heard for a few more hours, until my phone rang. It was Jeannie.
©2014 Jeannie G. First look at Midnight after surviving the second night.
“Wait…so the kitten is not DEAD?”
“Right. He’s alive, but I have to tell you I don’t think he’s going to make it.”
©2014 Jeannie G. Little Man.
I didn’t want to shoot off fireworks and proclaim all was well with the world, but I had a glimmer of hope that somehow he would make it. Jeannie told me that she had stayed up all night and tried to get the little kitten to eat every hour or so. By morning he was doing so poorly and she was so tired, she finally gave up. She let herself sleep for a few hours, leaving the kitten in a warmed up blanket in a box next to her bed. She knew when she woke up that he would be gone, but when she woke up and touched him he cried. He was hungry. She fed him, but he was still very weak and probably fading away.
With nothing to lose, Jeannie brought the kitten to Jonathan and his wife Christal. Over that night we heard no updates. In fact I was wondering if it was some crazy tall tale and that this guy didn’t even exist. I couldn’t get his contact info, but I knew Jeannie was exhausted so I didn’t bother her to get it. I called Sal and asked for the info but he never called me back. Almost a day later I got the number from Jeannie, but she said the number was disconnected. I called it and sure enough, the phone was off! What happened to the kitten? I had to know.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Unable to right himself, Midnight wobbles. I assure you we quickly helped him adjust his position (see below), but I include it so you can see how TINY his legs and paws are.
Jeannie said she was going to go back to the home. I asked to go with her but she said it wasn’t necessary and that these folks were very private. I was jumping out of my skin, but there was nothing I could do. I had to keep waiting and wondering what I’d find out.
Not long after I got another message and a new phone number. The couple had recently moved here and had coincidently just gotten a new phone number. Not only that, but Jeannie had just been to the home and believe it or not, the kitten was STILL ALIVE. She said in 15 years of being a nurse, of working with little kittens, she was impressed with what this guy did to keep the kitten going. She said the kitten looked a little better, still very week, still far too tiny; that he was put with a mama-cat who accepted him and 4 new sisters who crowded around him to keep him warm. I was thrilled and anxious to offer support. I couldn’t let this good deed go unrewarded.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.
I was finally able to get in touch with Christal while Jonathan tended to the kitten. I offered them food, goat’s milk, whatever they needed. I offered to help them with placing and vetting the kittens and getting mom spayed one day. I couldn’t do enough to help them, but they were probably shocked that a stranger would want to do so much, so it took a few emails and calls and finally we set it up so that the next day I could bring them supplies as a gesture of thanks and of support.
Thanks to some donations we already received, I was able to buy a few cases of cat food, some hybrid grain-free dry/raw food and some goat’s milk with probiotics in it. I bought the kitten and his family a very soft, flat bed, no sides for him to get hung up on. I had some toys that were donated to us so I grabbed a bunch for the adult cats and the kittens for when they got bigger. I knew the couple had children so I packed up a donation of plush cats so the kids weren’t left out.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My trunk loaded with goodies.
My rescue has been very lucky to be on the receiving end of many acts of generosity, but it was nice to be able to pay it forward. It had only been 2 days since the kittens were found and here I was in a part of a nearby town I’d never been to, hoping what I’d heard was really true and that this kitten was still with us.
I expected that when I met Jonathan he’d be tired, but this poor guy was loopy from being exhausted. He came out and met me after Christal had welcomed me into their home. He’s a young man, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, barefoot, with his hair askew. He apologized for just waking up even though it was mid-afternoon. I told him not to be sorry and that I truly appreciated what he was doing. I couldn’t wait to find out how the kitten was doing when he quickly left the room and returned, holding the little guy out to me in his hands.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Literally and figuratively-Midnight is in good hands now.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fussy feeding time while Cupcake looks on.
Jonathan spoke at a rapid fire pace. I asked him how he got this far and he told me so much that it made my head spin. He said he’d lived on a farm and had raised hundreds of kittens over the years. He knew about fading kitten syndrome but he was not about to let that beat him. He told me how he slowly but carefully got the kitten’s core temp to rise, how he made up some homemade Karyo syrup to get his blood sugar up. He gave the kitten, who he calls Midnight, an extremely minute dose of amoxycylin and something that helped perk up his electrolytes. I was aghast. Whatever he was doing resulted in this little guy latching on to his new mom for a moment. It caused this little guy to allow being syringe fed a tiny amount of milk. This kitten was reacting to the world around him even though he was far too weak to do much more than wiggle against sensations like being held or being syringe fed that he didn't understand yet.
Jonathan felt the kitten had been depressed from being alone, but now had become more energized now that he was with his new family. The fight was back in his heart. This little kitten wanted to live again and Jonathan was going to do whatever it took to keep him going.
I wished I could take Jonathan home with me so we could write everything down-so this information would not be lost, but I also had to wonder if there was just something about him and his wife, too, that was something more than just knowledge—maybe it was their faith? I told them that I’d posted the photo of the kitten on Facebook and asked for good wishes and prayers and that almost 30,000 people had been rooting for this little guy to live, but the news didn’t effect them. They were so focused on this one fragile life that that was all that mattered. I also knew they were both exhausted.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. So very tiny!
I thanked them again. I didn’t stay long. Jonathan needed rest and the kitten needed more meals. I promised to help them cover the costs of the vetting, spay/neutering of their current litter of cats AND the second litter (yes there’s a second pregnant cat in the home-they assumed the cat was a boy because it was an orange tabby and it’s less common for the orangies to be female). I will help them find good homes. I offered to take some of the kittens into our program but right now they want to see the kittens placed themselves. I honestly am so indebted to them I would move mountains for what they’ve done. I know it may not last. I know this kitten is far from being out of the woods, but I am trying to have faith that he will be okay.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Ready for more nourishment.
©2014 Christal P. Midnight surrounded by his new siblings.
Day six. Guess who is still with us? Midnight eats more from his new mama now and is a little bit bigger. Christal estimates he’s the size of a 2-day old kitten. She feels he can go the distance and frankly nothing would make me happier if that truly came to be.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I was honored to have a moment to be able to meet Midnight's sisters who are all adorable torties. They are almost the same age as Midnight, but so much bigger.
Midnight, his new mom, his 4 new sisters, a dad and another mom and her as-yet-to-be-born kittens will all need to be spayed or neutered, vetted and have proper food and care. I would like to be able to provide that care for these families, which I estimate to cost over $1000.00 as long as no one gets sick or needs critical care. I’m passing around the hat in the hopes that in honor of this precious life we all are blessed to have, that you will consider sharing your love with this family.
©2014 Christal P. I love this photo. Midnight stretching out on his mom while her sister (who is also going to give birth soon) reaches out to comfort the little guy .
March 26, 2014 UPDATE
March 27, 2014 UPDATE
Fundraising services either ask for a donation towards their service to direct your funds to PayPal or they take a percentage of your funds before it goes to PayPal. PayPal also takes a cut.
To maximize every contribution, we’re asking you simply go to our web site and press the Donate button which will take you directly to PayPal. Once we reach our target, I will update this post and end the fundraiser.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. One of Midnight's sisters.
HAPPY ONE WEEK BIRTHDAY little one! Midnight has lived a week, is growing and eating much better. He also doesn't sit still for photos.
©2014 Christal P. I will never stop being amazed to know that Midnight lived another day. Look at how much bigger he is today!
It’s been a long dry spell between adoptions. I got to the point last year where I considered opening up our policies just so I could approve an application. It goes against my grain to even consider for a moment that I wouldn’t get every foster cat the best home possible, that I’d just give up and let them go “wherever.”
To understand me, you have to know The Pretzel Story.
When I was 10, my Mother took me and my brother on an outing. The goal was to pack a picnic lunch, then go somewhere scenic. We lived in a small town in Minnesota, so it had to be somewhere local, but new to us. She chose the Elk River Nuclear Power Plant, right next to the Elk River so we could have a view of the river and see the big fancy power plant. Just thinking about it now gives me the chills. It also may explain the funny mole on my thigh.
©1972 J. Feminella. Me, my brother and Mother the same year we did the trip to Elk River. Sadly, I have no access to the 140 photo albums my Mother left after she died. This is one of the few photos I have of my childhood from about that time.
Honestly, you’d think my own mother knew what she was getting herself into by saying that to me. Did she forget that I lived to please her? That I was an obedient child? As the oldest kid I was the responsible one while my brother got away with murder.
I nodded, then replied, okay, in my sullen-relegated-to-the-back-seat voice and off we went.
About 20 minutes later, my mother asked me for a pretzel. I said no. She laughed then said; “Robin, really, it’s okay, give me a pretzel.”
I thought it was a test. Based on her orders, my somewhat scientific mind urged me to deny her request.
“Robin. Ignore what I said before. Open the bag of pretzels.”
I parroted back to her her own words about not doing it, no matter what she said or did, which of course infuriated her.
Meanwhile, my jerky brother jumped in to further ruffle my feathers: “Yeah, MOTHER SAID! Give us the pretzels!”
My brother and I were always at odds with each other so I battled back with: “NO! You told me NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR SAY. No pretzels! So NO!”
“Robin. I’m going to stop the car if you don’t give me the pretzels.”
Dizzy with power, I called her on it. She was bluffing. “YOU told me not to. No.”
She was fuming mad, but in the end, no pretzels.
I also NEVER heard the end of it. NEVER. Even years later. Okay, after my mother died, yes, I heard the end of it, but you know what I mean.
This is why I don’t do more adoptions. Pretzels.
Right around Christmas I started to get application after application. Some folks wanted kittens as gifts, which is a big no-no for me, but what I did is come up with something to appease their needs. I offered a plush cat toy and a gift certificate. This won over a few people, but some adopted elsewhere or dropped off the map. I kept at it until I met Steven, who lives here in Sandy Hook.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Pizzelle, Nanny & Mocha want to know WHO will be adopted next.
Steven is an engineer for IBM. This guy is smart, focused, serious. He also loves cats. His daughter Hanna has been begging for a cat for two years. Hanna is 7. Steven provided me with a very detailed application. He said his wife travelled a lot so that we’d have to work partly around her schedule. Steven would oversee the adoption and she would visit the kittens and approve his selection if they passed muster and were approved. Steven included an article celebrating him as the Employee of the Month. I read it.
Then it didn’t matter what else happened because I was going to give him whatever cat or cats he wanted.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti is amazed at Pizzelle's high-flying chops.
His application was excellent. The home visit was great, but they lacked in having anything for the cats. Since it was a surprise (this one time I agreed it was okay to give a cat as a gift) for Hanna, everything had to be bought and hidden away. I gave Steven loads of links, told him what to buy and he responded by getting everything you can imagine-and the BEST of the BEST for his new cats.
Steven came to visit the kittens. I had a feeling he would like Nanaimo and Linzer, the tuxedo twins. They showed well and he played with them to no end. He was charmed by Pizzelle who had MANY pending applications already. I was reluctant to let him go, but then again, due to the circumstances I agreed he could be adopted, but…who would go with him? Steven was open to having two cats. That left either Biscotti or splitting up the twins, which I was loathe to do.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzer, Biscotti and Nanny (right). But really who can tell the twins apart. Good thing Biscotti has white on his face.
What I hadn’t noticed was that Steven was drawn to Mocha. After visiting with the kitties for about 30 minutes I asked him if he felt any bond to the cats. He caught me off guard by choosing the cat I thought would be the last one adopted. He chose Mocha and Pizzelle to go together!
I was shocked, but it was a fine match. Mother and son, together always. How lovely…but…mom had to approve, too.
That’s when I got my hackles up and I wanted to get my bag of pretzels back.
Mom wanted black cats to match her outfits so she wouldn’t have cat hair showing on her clothes or the furniture. Mom is a busy executive and does not want to have anything to do with feeding the cats or cleaning the litter pan. Mom is scared of being scratched.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mocha, a truly adorable, sweet, playful kitty…and her fur matches the furniture?
Normally every red flag I’ve got in my gut would be waving furiously, but Steven was so grand and his daughter so sweet, that I simply had to do this adoption. My hope was that with time and education, mom would come around. She couldn’t believe me that our cats really don’t shed. One of the benefits of the raw diet is that cats don’t get hairballs or shed much at all. The coat length-long or short haired-doesn’t matter. I literally tried to pull some fur off one of the cats and it just doesn’t come out.
The big day arrived. I was honored to be able to bring Pizzelle and Mocha to their new home and witness this little girl’s dream come true. The night before, Steven sent me a photo of Hanna next to the gigantic cat tree they got for her new cats. I was bummed they told her she was getting cats, but found out they only told her she was getting Mocha. She was really happy about that, so much so that she said she HAD to keep Mocha's name and would not change it. The surprise was that Pizzelle would be joining her, so we worked out a plan to bring him out after Mocha had already come into the house.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. 'Zellie poses for the camera.
We got Mocha settled. Hanna was delighted. She was more subdued than I expected but was following Mocha around the room as she sniffed and inspected everything in her new home. At my suggestion, Mocha and Pizzelle would be in a big finished basement for the first week as to not overwhelm them with having free reign of the house.
Mocha did GREAT. She was happy, interested in everyone, tail up, but I was worried. Just after we loaded Mocha into her carrier, before we left our house for Steven's, she started growling. It reminded me of how she behaved shortly after she arrived off the transport. For the first week she was furious with the kittens-hissing, growling, lashing out at them. I was faced with the realization that it could happen again with Pizzelle in their new home. The short drive was enough to make her forget her own offspring and she’d be fighting and angry in front of her new family. I had to diffuse the situation. The mom might not understand and want us to take Mocha back, but first we had to surprise Hanna with her second cat. I hoped Mocha wouldn't charge Pizzelle the second she saw him.
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mocha was just as playful as the kittens. She's just a big kitten, herself.
Is this adoption going to stick or is it all going to fall apart if Mocha can't calm down fast? Stay tuned for the conclusion in Chapter 4 airing in a few hours.
Twenty-four cats were seized as part of an animal cruelty case in North Carolina. Due to the Court System and the former owner, who would not stop fighting the case, the animals were left to suffer at Animal Control for TWO YEARS. Many got upper respiratory infections, almost half ended up losing their lives. Of the thirteen cats who survived, one came to my home (a cat I named Mabel, who had been one of our former fosters) and the most of the rest went to Wake County SPCA (who I'd been working with behind-the-scenes to help these cats). If you'd like to read more about this story, you can visit this LINK.
Today I'm thrilled to share with you an email I got yesterday from Elinor. She adopted one of the other cats named Jethro and she wanted to give me an update. Her story and photos are used with permission.
©2013 Iredelle County Animal Services. Our first look at Jethro.
“I recently found your blog about 12 kitties caged for 2 years.
I wanted to send you a big thank you for finding shelters to take these cats. My husband and I adopted Jethro from the Wake County SPCA in June. He is such a smart, playful, friendly cat.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
I saw him at the SPCA, a little cat sitting on a chair watching over the lobby. I petted him briefly, he was sweet. When I moved on to some other cats, he got out of the chair and came up to me for more petting. When I left the room, he followed me to the door and looked through adorably. He was just begging me to take him home. I took a picture with my phone and looked at it a lot. We came back the next day and adopted him.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
When we first got him, he was temperamental from switching environments. He had some of that pet me/don't pet me attitude, but he really wanted love. Slowly he started to trust us more, let us pet him and request attention. As I'm writing this, he's in my husband's lap purring loudly. He is one of the smartest cats I've met and eager to please. He follows me around the house, sits for treats and plays fetch with a ball. He loves climbing on things and running up and down the hallway. I've learned that exercising him is important or he runs around all night.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
Once in awhile we get to take a moment to look back and realize that all our efforts, our tears, were so worth it. This one cat has the chance to live the life he's deserved since the day he was born. It's clear that thanks to Wake County SPCA, this cat and most of the remaining twelve cats have the same chance at a happy life and for that I will always be grateful.
What didn't pass unnoticed was something magical. It's Elinor's last name. Angel.
I get a lot of requests to rescue cats every single day. I probably get about 50 or more emails. Some times I can't even bring myself to look at the photos of the cats who need help because I can't stop and save every single cat that needs it. There's just not enough time or resources or space, so I find myself not looking at every request because it just hurts too much to look and know you can't do a thing.
In the past nine months I've helped nearly 80 cats-which is a record for me. Either I got cats into a rescue, helped raise funds for their care or took them on into my rescue, Kitten Associates. This month we've been lucky enough to add TWO MORE foster homes, so we can do even more, as funds allow, and I'm anxious and thrilled we can start to expand our efforts.
Two days ago I saw this photo (below) of five gorgeous fluffy orange kittens in a cage in a municipal animal control in Stanton, Kentucky. I thought to myself there is no way they will be there for another day. Someone on the local level will get them out. They're ORANGE! So adoptable!
But they were marked “URGENT”. Overcrowded conditions at the pound meant these kittens could be put down at any moment. I still thought someone would help them and I tried not to think about how I was going to sort out the logistics of doing a rescue from a state that was 800 miles away, where I didn't know a soul.
Marked “Urgent” these five orange kittens are facing their last days in a municipal animal control facility in Stanton, Kentucky. One sibling, a female and the sixth kitten in the litter, was pulled by a rescue group while the others face death.
I had to accept that perhaps, like so many countless others, these adorable kittens were going to be put down for no good reason other than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is what I face every single day-knowing that if I don't rescue these cats maybe no one else will, either. Somehow I have to sleep at night knowing I can't save them all. I'll make some excuse as to why this is okay. I'll tell myself I'll save others in their honor so I don't lose my mind crying myself to sleep.
This is no place for a kitten.
I thought about it for another few hours. I thought about how our adoptions are down, funds are limited, space is at a premium and I didn't care. I know it's a risk to take on this family for a hundred reasons. I don't know where we will get them vetted. I don't know if I can find a foster home. I don't know if they will test out positive for feline leukemia or FIV but I can't f'ing sit here and do nothing. I can't. I just can't.
We have a plan in place to pull these kittens tomorrow, Sept 23. The sixth kitten is going to be reunited with this litter and we will take her into our program, too. Stay tuned for updates on their rescue!
To be able to afford to provide for this family we have to do an emergency fundraiser. Please visit our YouCaring page to make a donation or you can also go directly to our web site (to save YouCaring's fees) at http://kittenassociates.org/donate and click on the "Donate Today" button.
You can use the widget, below to make a donation or mail us a check made out to: "Kitten Associates" and address it to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.
We're a 501(c )3 non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Sharing is caring, so please share socially if you can't assist with a donation. THANK YOU to everyone who believes in our good work. We can't wait to meet these beautiful kittens!
A cat carrier sits on the pavement of a cul-de-sac in the blazing hot Georgia sun. Inside it’s cheerful pink polka-dot patterned shell, holds a terrible secret. Struggling inside the case were three tiny kittens and their mama, who were suffering not only from the heat, but from being in such cramped quarters. With no cool air to circulate between them, their bodies raised the temperature inside the carrier to a dangerous level. The mother, a short-haired black cat, furiously ripped at the mesh ends of the carrier, breaking off her claws with each panicked attempt. She was desperate to create an opening in the material so she could save her family and escape to the cool shade. Time was running out.
©2013 Maria S. First glimpse of the family and the brand new carrier they were abandoned in.
The mama was in a terrible state. She didn’t know why she was in this carrier, in the middle of the street. She could hear dogs barking, which concerned her even more. She was hungry. Her kittens were taking all the nourishment they could from her, but she had nothing for herself.
Exhausted, she laid down, panting. Her kittens squirmed over her to get at a nipple. They were oblivious to the danger they were in, but it wouldn’t take long for all of them to perish if they didn’t get out soon.
A day passed inside the carrier. The mama hadn’t been able to rip a hole into the mesh. She began to howl, not caring what predator heard her. After her voice was sore from crying, in a nearby house, the door opened and a woman emerged. She walked over to the cat carrier and peered inside. The mama cat heard her sigh. She asked the mama if she was okay. She asked her what in the world she was doing in the middle of the road and didn't she realize how dangerous it was. The mama wished she could answer, but all she could do was pant.
©2013 Maria S. Oblivious to the dangers nearby, the kittens explore their new world.
The woman lifted the carrier and brought it over to the side of her house near some shrubs. She unzipped the mesh door and let the cats go free. She couldn't take the family inside. As the kittens scattered out into the lawn, she walked into her home and after a few minutes came back outside with some food and water, which the mama ate greedily. The kittens were unfazed by their brush with death and not fearful of the woman. They got to work playing in the grass, oblivious to the fact that there was a dog in the back yard who had just mauled another dog to death the day before. Their freedom may have just put them into a more dangerous situation than they were in before and something had to be done.
©2013 Maria S. Mama is standing by the boy, so close to a very dangerous dog. It wouldn't have taken much for any or all of the kittens to wander too far in the wrong direction.
This family was lucky because the woman who found the cats, knew our Maria, intrepid foster mama for our rescue. Maria came over to her friend’s house, even though she was reluctant to get involved in yet another rescue right now. Maria has been taking a break from fostering (though she still does have 2 foster cats who are looking for a home) so she could focus on caring for some of her own, ailing cats. She knew she’d have to start making calls and sending emails asking for help to rescue groups that are already overloaded with animals. This year seems worse than ever for dumped/abandoned animals and it’s tough to be in rescue and have to ask the same people, the same question, and face the same answer—“no,” over and over again.
But she had to try-for the cats.
Maria let me know what was going on and I told her right away that Kitten Associates would, at least pay for the initial vet care of the cats, but I also had to be honest and say that taking on an all black adult cat would be really tough for us. I have a growing number of adult cats that no one wants: Barney, Bunny Boo-Boo, Mabel and Minnie. I have nowhere to put another adult. I thought I could take the kittens, but even that might be a stretch if the ones we have now don’t get adopted soon. It’s always a juggle between space and resources. At least we had some funds to get the family vetted if Maria could foster them for a time.
©2013 Maria S.
What I’ve come to learn about rescue is that trying to see too far down the road is a waste of time. First things first. You have to look at the moment and get the basics taken care of. We had a space for the family to live. We had funds to provide for their first Vet visit. We had at least four to six weeks before we’d need to put them up for adoption, so maybe we would have time to work out everything else. I had to be realistic and remember how it went with Minnie and how one day she had her family and the next was the last time she saw her kittens and had to be separated from them. Anything can happen and it’s usually not what you imagine. As my friend Katherine often says; “We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
For the next few days, I struggled with what to do with this family, while they began to recuperate in Maria's home. Maria found a placement for them, but she felt more comfortable working with me because of our long history together. She asked me if I would take the family on and I told her I needed more time to think about it.
©2013 Maria S. Mama-cat was so tired that after Maria got her fed, she passed out cold. She must have been exhausted after her ordeal.
He looked like he belonged with the family Maria had so I contacted Betsy to find out where she got him. It wasn’t near the same area, so they couldn’t be related. I emailed Maria and asked her if we were idiots to take this kitten on, knowing that we risked the health of the ENTIRE FAMILY if this kitten sickened them or vice versa.
©2013 Maria S. Safe and resting comfortably at Aunt Maria's house.
I asked my friends on Facebook about how safe or stupid it was to put a sole kitten in with a new family. I asked a few Vets. I kept getting the same answer-you weigh the options. Without the nurturing and friendship of his new mama and siblings, he would not thrive. The mama might not accept him because Betsy had put him with another family she had and they beat him to a pulp.
©2013 Betsy Merchant. Our first glimpse of Biscotti. His paws and nose are burned from being trapped in a hot metal dumpster.
Maria and I felt like we had to risk it, so Maria made arrangements to take the family and the new kitten to the Vet. Her first stop was to pick up the lone kitten and go to her sister’s house to drop off the car she borrowed. She let the kitten meet her sister’s dogs and the kitten enjoyed being around them. When Maria sent me the photos I thought; This is one tough cookie. He can survive being in a dumpster. He survived being beat up by other cats. He likes dogs. What would I name a tough cookie? Biscotti. Of course.
©2013 Betsy Merchant. The little fella is only 3-4 weeks old. What a rough start to his life, but he's a fighter.
The Vet determined that the kittens are about 4 weeks of age, even Biscotti. The mama is about a year old. She was negative for FIV and Feline Leukemia, so that meant odds are the kittens were okay. They were too young to be tested, so we have to hope for the best and will test them when they get older.
The mama and kittens were very friendly, so they’d been around people, which was both good and bad for obvious reasons. Someone loved them for a few weeks, but then decided it was better to cowardly dumped them in the middle of a road, on a hot late summer day, than it was to ask for help. I had to stop imagining what I'd like to do to that person and focus on worrying about how Biscotti was going to get along with the others.
©2013 Maria S. Fearless Biscotti with Dale.
Will Biscotti like his new family? Will they like him? Will it be safe for them to be left alone or is Biscotti’s life still in danger if his step mom wants to harm him? Will I ever decide if I can take on five more foster cats in my home?
Stay tuned for the next chapter in the Discarded Cats Diary!
When I started doing rescue over a decade ago, my goal was simple— save lives by home-fostering cats and kittens. Now that I run my own rescue, I have a great deal more on my plate. Because I recognize I can do a better job and help more cats if I network with others, a majority of what I do these days is to locate good shelter or rescue partners to work with in a variety of ways.
One of my dearest relationships is with Animals in Distress in Wilton, CT. I know the ladies that run the organization. I’ve been to their shelter many times and they’ve taken on some lovely young adult cats that I’d have a tough time placing because I don’t have a brick and mortar facility. Over the years, I‘ve come to trust and regard Connie and Katherine, who run AID, as both rescue-peers and good friends.
©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission) Meet Romeo before he left Georgia for a rescue in upstate New York.
Sadly, earlier this year I learned a painful lesson about working with other rescues and it came with a price. What I never would have dreamed of happened- that just because a rescue steps forward and offers to help, doesn’t mean they’re going to provide the loving care I expect. They may not provide the health care or clean conditions I would insist upon. They might falsely represent themselves OR they may truly be good-hearted, cat-loving folks, but who have taken on too much and are overwhelmed, leaving the cats to fall victim to stressed and over-crowded conditions.
Two years ago I rescued a number of Siamese mix kittens from a municipal shelter in Georgia. The group was large so I placed them into two foster homes-one group went to super-foster, Maria.
Another person I’ll call Jane, who lives in New Jersey, offered to provide the funds needed to care for the cats, as well as make sure they would be safely transported to a rescue in upstate New York, called HEART. Great deal, right?
©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission) Romeo, struggling to survive, but still a loving, sweet kitty.
I was too quick to trust. I’d seen Jane around on the group emails and she was often paying for cats vet care and transport to either HEART or other rescues she worked with. She seemed reliable and trustworthy. She told me that HEART was a good place and Maria, made sure her kittens would be in a safe place by contacting the woman who runs HEART. She was assured they did home visits, were a non-profit rescue and truly loved and cared for their cats.
The kittens were vetted and transported. Maria checked in after the kittens arrived and heard that one of her kittens might stay with HEART and the other was getting adopted. We didn’t think twice about it, after all we had more kittens to care for. Everything was going great and now we knew if we had more Siamese mix kittens that we could get them off death row and head them north to find great homes.
©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission) Meet Peppy. She was healthy and thriving before going to HEART and now, due to a severe URI had had to have surgery on her eye.
The Broome County Humane Society in upstate New York (Facebook pg is HERE) was called to take in all the animals. I contacted them and spoke with the Director, only to find out they had no microchip or photo match for any of our cats. Maria frantically wrote to the Director of HEART who said the cats had been adopted out and that there was more to the story but she could not comment on it at this time. We checked her Petfinder page, which was only working for a day after we found it. We saw our kittens listed under the “happy tails” section. It meant nothing because any administer of Petfinder can set the listing to adopted and it goes to “happy tails.” We had to hope that because it was two years ago that the cats got out before it was too late.
It’s easy to immediately vilify the Director of HEART for causing these problems, but we don’t know both sides. I contacted her to offer her a chance to make a statement, but did not get a reply. I thought about what would happen if I was taking on kittens from other rescues. I trusted them to test the cats for feline leukemia and FIV, but maybe they didn’t really test the cats, then I put them all together in a group room. All it would take was one cat to sicken the lot of them.
I’m not trying to defend what happened, but I have to try to be fair and give her the benefit of the doubt…but…
A rescuer from Georgia contacted me. Her name is Tina. She sent HEART a lot of cats very recently and many of them were affected by the disgusting conditions in the home. Tina was the one who contacted Animal Control and turned HEART into authorities, but wait…Tina lives in Georgia so how did she know?
Tina had been calling HEART for an update on her cats. She couldn’t reach anyone or got suspicious answers. Whatever she was told, it didn’t sit right with her so she got in her car and drove over 1000 miles to HEART's location What she found shocked her to the core.
©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission). Teensy, a kitten who had to have her eye removed after the URI she had destroyed her eye. This could have been completely avoided if only she had been kept in a clean environment and provided with Vet care when she first fell ill.
A rescuer should never have to worry about what happens with their foster cats if they go to another rescue. We can look them up on the web, see their web site, see their 501(c)3 papers filed with the IRS, we can see their Petfinder page, we can ask to talk to their Vets. Somewhere along the line we have to trust that this rescue will continue the good work we started.
It begs the question: How do you find a reliable rescue to work with? How do you trust again?
This is by all means not a complete list of what to look for and I welcome comments and suggestions because this is something we need to sort out together.
1. GO THERE. Go to the rescue group and take a look around. If they’re located too far away, then you’re going to have to do more work to determine if they’re legit.
2. Do they have a working website that is CURRENT or is it many years old and out of date?
3. Will they give you references to Vets they work with? What about adopters? What about fosters or volunteers? Some of that information may be private, but the more they are willing to give you the information you require, the more likely they are also transparent about how they do business
4. Do a Google search on them. Look for negative comments or positive ones.
5. Do they have a Facebook page that’s current?
6. Ask your friends that do rescue if they have heard of them-word of mouth can be very important
7. Make sure you have email, phone number and physical address. Using Bing Maps you can see an ariel view of the facility/home. You can also use Zillow to look up their residence.
8. If you have funds you can do a background check for criminal records. There are many websites where you can do that in a matter of minutes.
9. GuideStar will also show you if the rescue is a non-profit
10. Ask to see a copy of their adoption application or don’t they have one? That is a problem to not have a screening process for adopters.
11. Ask for photos and video of the facility if you have no other way to see it. It’s not foolproof but again, if they won’t do that, then there’s a problem
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. You can see our kittens any time via our Web Cam.
With my rescue, Kitten Associates, for example, we have a web cam going 24/7. You can SEE the conditions in the foster room. You can also see what we’re up to via my blog or facebook page. We have a Petfinder account. I welcome questions and challenges about anything we do, any time. Our web site has our tax number and other information about us on it and you can easily contact me and I can give Vet or volunteer references. Being transparent about our operations and earning the trust of our peers and our community is something I take very seriously. It’s our credibility that’s on the line and I’m really proud of our good reputation.
With HEART, I can’t say what happened or if they were ever up to snuff. They seemed to be legit, but I never went there and I will NEVER let another cat go to a rescue unless I HAVE been there or I have a trusted friend go there and send me photos and videos. Even with that, the conditions can go to HELL. At some point you have to have faith they are doing a good job and will continue to do so and you have to keep checking in with them to make certain their facility maintains proper health standards and care for their cats.
©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission). Romeo, sick, clinging to life, needs very specialized surgery that only one place in Georgia can do and it's very expensive.
“...Then last month (4/1/13) Romeo turned worse after a short stay in boarding. He had stopped eating and playing. Romeo seemed much more congested and having trouble breathing. He also started gagging if he tried to eat. I suspected his esophagus was burned from an antibiotic. I started med's and syringe-feeding again but he was not improving like expected. I finally took Romeo to a specialist this week (5/21/13). The specialist found two very bad things that seem inter- related. The first problem is that his nose has completely closed over (choanal atresia) from chronic rhinitis so that he can no longer breathe through it or smell, hence the problem eating. The second problem is that he has a hernia - his stomach is coming up into his esophagus, probably because of him trying so hard to breathe. To get an idea of how hard it is to eat and breathe at the same time, try plugging your nose and seeing how hard it is to breathe and then try to eat something. It is hard and awful! No wonder Romeo is having such difficulties, but he definitely still wants to live.
The only fix is surgery to put a stent in his nose to open up the passageway. A stent is needed to keep it open permanently, otherwise, it would scar closed again. This would relieve the pressure and most likely ALSO fix the hernia. The cost is close to $4,000 which includes a CT and $2,000 for the stent alone. It is a complicated, although relatively short, surgery with great success and would give him immediate improvement. Right now, Romeo is on 3 different medications to keep his esophagus from getting more damage and he is being syringe-fed. ”
Your donation is tax-deductible and I hope you’ll be able to add your donation to the many already pouring in. We’re only to the halfway mark and Romeo’s time is running out. I just heard the Romeo is doing worse and we can't get him the surgery until we have ALL the money we need. Please SHARE if you CARE!
If you'd like to follow Tina's long-journey trying to re-save the lives of all her foster cats, you can visit her Cat Whispurrer Rescue & Consult's web site blog page.