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Not On My Watch

From Meh to Meow: Tater Tot

The day has come at last. We begin with the end of the story. Adoption. The time to say farewell to our foster cat, Tater Tot. Along this journey, there were many fear-filled weeks when I wondered if this tale had any chance of ending with happy tears.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The goofy big lug we'll never forget.

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Tater's rescue began when our uber-foster-mom-Maria spotted kittens in her neighbor's yard. It was a hot summer day in Georgia, too hot for tiny kittens to be in the sun. Seeing such tiny kittens gave Maria pause. She knew her neighbor wasn't paying much, if any, attention to the many offspring of his unsprayed female cats. Each year he promised to do something about it, giving Maria lip-service, saying some of the cats were placed with friends and the others "he would get around to fixing" one of these days. Maria offered to help, but she had to tread lightly. In the meantime, the cats continued to give birth to more litters.

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©2012 Maria S. Too weak to stand, our first glimpse of Tater Tot.

She asked me if we could take the kittens into our Program and I agreed, in some way grateful they weren't coming from the local kill shelter we usually get our cats. At least these kittens wouldn't have upper respiratory infections, which is so common in shelter cats.

In total we planned to help ten cats from this one home. On one of the rescue days, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. The remaining cats, two mamas and six kittens became Kitten Associates' wards.

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©2012 Maria S. Not happy about getting a bath, but Tater was full of fleas.

What I didn't plan on was how SICK these kittens would be. As Maria fired off photos to me 1000 miles away, she was assessing how serious the situation was. A buff tabby kitten was laying on the pavement, barely able to stand. He was riddled with fleas. His left eye was swollen. He was grossly underweight.

This is how he was being "cared" for by the neighbor—with indifference.

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©2012 Maria S. Our sick sweetheart.

Maria spent weeks sleeping on a tiny cot in the room with Tater and his sister, Latte. I was going crazy from the stress, jumping if the chime on my iPhone indicated I'd gotten a text message or if Maria called me. From afar I did as much as I could. I did research, spent money on weird homeopathic treatments, did fundraisers for more and more Vet visits because this kitten was VERY VERY SICK.

In the end, it boiled down to our worst fear-that Tater had FIP, a deadly virus.

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©2012 Maria S. Another trip to the Vet.

We tried to prepare ourselves for the worst. I had the difficult task of asking Maria if she could be with Tater if I had to make the choice to have him euthanized. The Vet was fairly sure it WAS FIP and over the first week of July we watched Tater fade…

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©2012 Maria S. Getting used to car rides.

…until Maria saw that he had tapeworm and that changed everything.

Tater ended up having coccidia, tapeworm and a serve URI, at least.

The parasites bloated his abdomen, just as we would expect to see from the "wet" form of FIP. Once we began treatment, Tater began to improve.

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©2012 Maria S. This time we fear we'll be getting very bad news.

Over the weeks Tater's condition waxed and wanted. He finally began to have more good days than bad, but his left eye continued to run and his breathing was very loud. Tater also retained his big belly which made him look pregnant and was an odd mix with his long, skinny tail.

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©2012 Maria S. With new medications on board, Tater finally sleeps comfortably in Maria's lap.

As Tater grew stronger, his personality began to shine. He'd been handled so much by Maria that nothing phased him. He just wanted to be loved and enjoy life.

He was finally well enough to be transported to my home, along with his cohorts and sibling a few months later.

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©2012 Maria S. Feeling better, growing bigger!

I remember seeing Tater for the first time in person. I gasped when I saw him. His eyes were the color of ripe pumpkins and so large and round. With his angular face it gave him a comical look. Tater also made funny noises almost constantly. He was confident, friendly and wanted OUT of the big dog crate we used for the transport. I knew I was going to enjoy my time with this stunning, yet silly cat and couldn't wait to get him home.

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©2012 Maria S. With buddy, Sammy, one of Maria's cats.

Tater's been here for four months. I haven't gotten a single adoption application for him. No one wanted him. I couldn't imagine why. Over the months I've come to know Tater as a real charmer, laid back, anything goes. He got on well with all the other cats. Nothing phased him. Life was good. The sad thing was that Tater never stopped sneezing and his eye wouldn't heal properly, either.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillin' in Connecticut.

We invested in a PCR DNA test of Tater's mucus and determined it was mycoplasma, which is a bacterial parasitic microorganism. We started treatment and he got better right away. After 30 days we stopped for two days and he began to get sick again, so we went for another 30 days (which will be done just before Christmas).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Growing big and strong.

Initially it was Willow who was supposed to be adopted three days ago. A family came to meet her and it went well, but it was Tater they had eyes for-Tater was "the one" for them. Though I tried to convince them to adopt Tater and Willow, they wanted to start slow and just adopt the one cat.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Realizing it's tougher to get off the ground the bigger you are.

This one cat who was near death in the road last June is going to live in a 5000 sq ft plus sized home with his own "in-law suite" to start, then full access to the house. Tater will have big windows to watch birdies. He'll have two little girls to be friends with. Tater's Mom and Dad are doctors and I may have been pushy, but I made his Mom promise me that she'd stay on top of Tater's health issues and that his runny eyes and sneezing would be taken care of right away. She easily agreed and had no problem continuing Tater's medication and making sure he was fed a good grain-free canned diet for the rest of his life.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater's family.

Although I wish Tater would have a kitty-friend, he may yet, one day. Until then he'll have plenty of human friends who will love him and protect him, just as Maria and I did. They will continue our good work and will keep him safe. They will care for him, not with indifference, but with loving kindness and respect.

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Tater Tot was our first poster boy in a series we did based on before and after rescue images showing what we do best. You can visit Kitten Associates to learn more about our programs.

A few of the backstories about Tater are
HEREand HERE. If you do a search for "Tater" here on Covered in Cat Hair, you can read even more about him.

The Mysterious Case of What Ails Bandit

I was finally well enough to sit at my desk and try to string together a few cohesive thoughts. Three days of a cliché cold: sore throat, stuffy head, lungs loaded and tight were in the rear view mirror now. The only thing remaining was the kind of headache that makes you wish you didn't have a head. I couldn't spend another day in bed watching episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs on my small iPad screen. I would muddle along.

I tried to catch up on e-mails and sort out what I needed to get done. I didn't want to do too much right away because relapse is not an option, especially this time of year. As I sat at my desk, the late morning sun was bright and warmed my feet. Cats came and went, searching for the prime spot to nap away the afternoon. I heard Bandit and Honeydew running around the house, chasing each other, wrestling, but eventually they, too, couldn't resist my warm office full of soft cat beds.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit keeps me company while I'm in bed with a cold.

I happened to glance down to my left. Bandit was belly up, apparently asleep. She was trembling. Amused, I thought she was dreaming, but her movements weren't the quirky-jerky shifts I've seen other cats do. I shot a video of her, at first trying not to wake her, then worried something was wrong. I woke her up and she was still shaking. I wondered if she was cold so I cradled her in my arms as her body continued to quake.

I petted her and talked to her. For a second or two she'd stop, then start up again. She seemed sleepy so I sat back in my chair and held her, falling ever deeper in love with this tiny little kitten. She's half the size of her brother and light as a feather. She would wake slightly, but the shaking didn't stop. I called the Vet and they said to watch her, keep her warm, let them know if it keeps going on.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. If you're not in love with Bandit there's something wrong with you.

I called out to Sam and the two of us began to set up a heated bed for her. I worried she was feverish so I took her temperature. It was 100.6°F which is normal.

Bandit seemed to be perfectly all right, except for the fact that her entire body was shaking.

After fifteen minutes passed, with Bandit still shaking, I called my Vet again. They could see her at 5pm. It was barely 12:30pm. Something in my gut said not to wait. I asked if I could bring her and leave her in case they could see her sooner and they agreed, offering I could see Dr. Mary right away if I didn't want to wait to see Dr. Larry.

 

As I raced to the Vet, I started to run through what could be troubling Bandit. Was she fighting off an infection? Was a toxin coursing through her? Did she get hurt? I said a silent prayer for Bandit to please be all right. Not Bandit. Not this sweet angel of a kitten. I also hoped this wouldn't cost too much. Our finances aren't the best and I knew too well how one Vet visit could easily break the bank.

Thankfully it was quiet at my Vet's office. They immediately took Bandit in the back room to check her temperature. It had gone up to 101.4°F which is still normal, but on the rise. I felt panicked and weak. I realized I hadn't eaten anything and my stomach growled loudly. I didn't care about eating, but the stress and low blood sugar was making me feel faint.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit appeared to be dreaming, but then I realized she was awake and shaking badly. I rushed her to the Vet shortly after this was shot.

Dr. Mary and Super Deb began a careful examination. Dr. Mary talked about everything she was doing and what she was or wasn't finding. “Her heart and lungs sound normal. I'm palpating her abdomen and she's not complaining so there's no pain there. I don't feel anything abnormal.” Dr. Mary continued on as Super Deb comforted Bandit and kept her from wiggling off the table. She put Bandit on the floor and we watched her walk. I called to her and she ran over to me with her tail up high.

We were all confused by how well she seemed until she was at rest, then the tremors would start again. First, her feet would shake, then her abdomen. Her head would shake because the rest of her body was shaking. She looked up at us with the most innocent expression-one of complete helplessness. It was heartbreaking.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

They ran a complete blood panel and re-did her snap test. I sat in the waiting room with my heart pounding. Every time a door opened I jumped-wondering what the news would reveal. Those fifteen minutes passed, taking a few years off my life as I worried. When Dr. Mary came to discuss the results I almost jumped out of my skin.

The results had minor “blips” of outside the normal range, but Dr. Mary said it was nothing to worry about and something she'd expect to see on a growing kitten's blood work. Bandit's snap test was negative (again) for Feline Leukemia and FIV.

 

 

So what was going on?

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Super Deb comforts Bandit.

Dr. Mary began researching toxins. The only thing I could think of were a few plants-none were an issue and an open (empty) bottle of Dayquil that I remembered I'd left on the counter. Dr. Mary was very worried about that and said that the blood work wouldn't show if Bandit had been poisoned, depending on what she ingested and when. My heart sank. Surely this kitten wasn't going to DIE?!

We discussed everything from epilepsy to birth defects to the dry form of FIP. Red-faced, I told her that earlier that morning Bandit almost jumped into an open toilet and I'd had no other choice but to pin her against the vanity with my leg to keep her from falling in. I felt terrible. Did I cause her internal damage? What the HELL was going on?

I had to leave Bandit with Dr. Mary. They gave her pain meds and sub q fluids. Dr. Mary felt if she could calm Bandit down and soothe her pain she would stop shaking, then hopefully it would not resume once the pain meds wore off. If not, Bandit would have to see a neurologist and get a CT scan. I knew if that happened we were done for-the costs-$1200 to $1400 just for the scan. Bandit had to get better.

It was a long afternoon. I kept running things over in my head. What did I do? What did she get into? Facebook friends gave suggestions or left supportive comments, praying for Bandit to be ok.

I had the difficult task of calling Donna, Bandit's rescuer and first foster mama to tell her the news. I knew she'd be just as upset as I was and I struggled, trying to be calm and not burst into tears. She took the news well, but I knew it was killing her, too.

 

Dr. Mary called shortly before 6pm. She said that Bandit responded well and she'd seen Bandit shake only once as she was re-taking her temperature. It was time to bring Bandit home and see how she did.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit says goodbye the to the staff at Dr. Larry's.

I felt so happy and light, not bothered by anything as I drove along the crowded highway, a journey I've probably taken a thousand times over the years. This was a good trip. I couldn't wait to see Bandit. I got to the Clinic, smiling and anxious. One of the staff told me that Dr. Mary wanted to talk to me. I said I'd just spoken to her on the phone and she said she knew that, but that the doctor still wanted to talk about something. My heart sank.

I went in the back room where only staff were usually allowed. The walls are lined with varying sizes of stainless steel cages. It's brightly lit and spotlessly clean. I zeroed in on Bandit. She was far off to the left, curled up on a heated pad in the back of her 2' x 2' cage.

Dr. Mary's face said it all-Bandit had started shaking again and was no better. I could still take her home, but if she didn't get better by morning, she'd have to see a neurologist. Something was terribly wrong with Bandit. We just didn't know what it was.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After a long, difficult day, finally some rest.

Whatever joy I may have felt evaporated into the frosty night air. The drive home in the darkness did nothing to soothe either myself or Bandit, who cried, desperate to get out of her carrier. We set up a dog crate for her, hoping she would rest and do nothing else. I offered her a litter pan and she peed away all the sub q fluids. I gave her something to eat and she didn't hesitate to enjoy her dinner. I shut the door to the crate and she sat there, mild tremors coursing through her body. I resigned myself to it being a long night and began my hyper-vigilant watch of her every move.

Over the next hour or two it was clear that Bandit was not happy being confined. Each time I opened the crate door she'd slip past me and dash around the living room. I decided to bring her to my bedroom and close the door so I could watch her and she'd have space to move around and not feel stressed. I offered her toys and she wanted to play. She jumped on the bed. She chased her brother, then her brother chased her. She wouldn't sit still long enough for me to see if she was shaking. She seemed like her old self, yet I couldn't believe she was suddenly just fine.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

Somewhere near midnight Bandit jumped on the bed and laid down, finally tired. As she began to doze off, I shot another video. It's not very exciting, but to me it was worthy of an Oscar. Bandit wasn't shaking-not even a toe.

 

I didn't want to believe it, but she seemed fine. This morning she was playful, hungry and just as loving as ever. As I sat at my desk, trying to put this story together, she climbed into my arms, fussing about until she found a comfortable position. I cradled her just as I had a day before, but this time the only vibration I felt was from her deep, blissful purr.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This morning with Bandit in my arms.

What Would You Do for Bongo?

Bongo is seven months old. In that time he’s made friends, learned to play and met some very nice people, all while his right front leg didn’t function properly. We rescued him before he was going to be euthanized at a shelter not knowing much about him other than something was wrong with his leg. They noted his paw was crushed, but that turned out not the case.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo.

We did tests and x-rays. Bongo met with noted Orthopedic Vet, Dr. Alan Cross of Georgia Veterinary Specialists. Dr. Cross felt that Bongo, while happy and otherwise healthy, could not feel anything in his right front paw and that he had severe nerve damage that was either not repairable or would be very costly to repair with very little hope for success. He suggested the best course would be to remove the leg since it was only getting in the way and slowing Bongo down.

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©2012 Maria S. Favoring his leg.

We work with a great Vet who helps rescue groups. Her nickname is Doc Thomas and she really knows her stuff. During our rescue of Bongo, Doc had taken a few weeks off-a rare vacation for her and certainly well deserved.

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©2012 Maria S. Getting some lovin' from foster sister, Bunny Boo Boo (who needs a home, too!)

We knew she could do the surgery for far less than the $2000. Dr. Cross quoted us, but we had to wait a few weeks to talk to Doc T about whether she could do it. Dr. Cross felt it was not a rush to do the surgery because Bongo wasn’t in any pain.

In the meantime, Maria, Bongo’s foster mom noticed Bongo using his leg as a crutch. He couldn’t bear weight on it, but he did push litter around and use it to help him balance. He did this by swinging his leg from his shoulder.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo with his new BFF-George who we rescued from an apartment complex in GA.

When I heard about this I thought the same thing Maria did; “Maybe we should talk to Dr. Cross again? Maybe Bongo is getting feeling back?” The last thing any of us want to do is amputate this cat’s leg unnecessarily.

Maria contacted Dr. Cross. He felt that it would be very unusual for nerves to begin to work again and that Bongo didn’t have to have the surgery–ever, as long as he wasn’t dragging the limb. Dragging the limb meant he’d get infections in it eventually and that’s dangerous especially because he can’t feel if something is wrong.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo with catnip banana.

Maria took Bongo to meet Doc Thomas today who has done plenty of amputations for other rescue groups. She looked at Bongo’s x-rays and examined him and came to the same opinion—Bongo does not need to lose his leg at this time. If it’s not bothering him, then leave it.

We worried that as Bongo ages he would have arthritis in his shoulder or as he grows larger and gains weight, that the constant pull of his “dead” leg would give him back pain.

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©2012 Maria S. His leg problem doesn't stop him from climbing.

Both Vets agreed that he should be just fine. If he drags the leg it has to go, but as long as he’s holding it up, running around and having fun, then for now it can stay. It’s really up to us if we feel he would be better without it in the way.

So again, Maria and I are wondering what to do. Neither of us want to take Bongo’s leg, but how will that effect his future? Would he be better off if we amputated his leg now so he could adjust and so we can oversee his care before he gets adopted or is he more adoptable with a leg that doesn’t function? What if he got his leg stuck somewhere because he couldn’t feel it and was home alone and did worse damage to himself?

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©2012 Maria S. Brothers from other mothers.

Fortunately, Bongo is adorable and affectionate. Leg or no leg we’ll find him a wonderful home one day. It would be easy to leave the leg alone because we don’t want him to lose it, but what is best for Bongo? He has to be considered first and last…not us…not our ideas of what might not be as appealing to adopters or what might make us feel sad for Bongo’s sake.

Choosing what’s best for Bongo is very difficult. Perhaps we have our answer now and just have to accept it? Perhaps we need to do something more difficult and have the amputation done?

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©2012 Maria S. Da boyz.

I don’t know, but I’m grateful we have the luxury of seeing how it goes and waiting on making any firm decisions.

I’ve never had to have a cat’s leg amputated and am unsure what is the best course of action. If Bongo was your cat what would you do?

To Those I Cannot Save

Every day whether it be via email, a phone call or on Facebook, I get notified of cats and kittens in dire need of rescue. Some are owner-abandoned, some are found on the street wandering, seriously injured. Others are listed on Craigslist because they have behavioral issues or the family is moving and “can’t take them” or mysterious allergies pop up so the cat has to go. If they don’t get any help they will go to the shelter---and we all know what that implies---they may be euthanized.

This is a letter to all those cats.

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Dear Cat ID# Unknown,

My heart is very heavy. I took it upon myself to open my home to helping cats like you. Cats who are hunkered down at the back of a stainless steel cage, with dilated pupils, cowering in fear. Cats who are too old to care and just sit, staring in their litter pan, hoping the smell of their own excrement will offer them a sliver of comfort in a place that is not their home. They are confused, lost, scared, hopeless. Some have newborn kittens clinging to them for nourishment and who are trying to protect them from the sounds of the shelter, the barking dogs, the smells of cleaning fluids and untouched cat food.

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©2012 Maria S. George's guardian lives in a very bad part of town and had taken him off the streets knowing full well she would get evicted for having a cat. She was also in hiding from an abusive relationship and was risking her own safety if she got evicted. My rescue group, Kitten Associates took him on because his next stop was going to be the kill shelter or being turned back to the streets.

I want to save your life, but I can’t. I’m so very sorry. I see your photo and you look like a perfectly nice kitty. You don’t deserve to sit there, waiting to die. I wish I knew something I could do to help you. There isn’t enough time in the day to send out pleas to everyone I know for every cat I discover who needs help.

I don’t want to be cliché and say, “If I had the space and money, I would save all of you,” because I don’t think that’s even possible to do by just one person. I have to measure what I can do versus what is needed. If I take too many, I am no help to anyone. As it is, my home is ruined from my own cats suffering from stress from a constant flow of incoming and outgoing cats, but it’s just urine-ruined floors. If that’s the price I pay to save lives, then so be it.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. 10 yr old Helmet was brought to the shelter. The owners were warned the cat would be euthanized if they surrendered him. Being over 10 years old he had no chance. I sent out a plea on Facebook and within a day we had three adopters interested. This is a rare WIN. There are so many requests for help on Facebook cats like Helmet get overlooked.

I’m not saying you’re not worth it, because you are. You are SO worth it. You are worth making a fuss over-every single one of you. You’re a sentient being. You forgive and forget. You can move on with little or no remorse. You are so much better than I can ever be, but I don’t have a way to help you so I have to delete this email or ignore this post on Facebook.

Even though I try not to see you, I do. Each time I “pass” on helping another one of you, it puts a little tear in my heart, which is already in tattered shreds.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Helmet, now named, Grayson, with his new, devoted family. I'm told he is doing really well and is already requesting belly rubs.

I feel so badly I can’t do more, but I aspire to, at least, but it’s getting harder and harder to know about all of you because this year is the worst I can remember in a long time. I know that mamas and their kittens are dying in record numbers this summer and into the autumn and that pains me in a way that nothing can make right again. I can’t stand seeing elderly cats given up by their families who turn a cold shoulder to them at a time when those cats should be cherished even more.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. This lovely pregnant cat was living outside in a very dangerous part of town. The owners of the apartment complex wanted her dumped at the heart stick kill shelter where she would die before her kittens were born.

What ever happened to “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” No…you are disposable. I will never understand how anyone can think that of you.

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©2012 Jennifer N. Another miracle rescue-Anastasia was offered a loving foster home ONE HOUR after I asked for help. This is another rare WIN for a sweet cat who deserves the best we can give her.

You are not a cat on death row-you are my cat. You would give me the world, your love, your heart. You would give me all that you are, every single one of you, but I can’t give you the same in return no matter how badly I wish I could.

No other rescues stepped forward to help you. They’re in the same bind. No one came to adopt you. You’re going to die today. I can’t do a damn thing about it other than cry and hate that we, as a society, decided euthanasia is the answer to overcrowded shelters.

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©2012 Jennifer N. Anastasia's due to give birth any time now. Thank goodness she's safe.

I recently learned that in Italy it’s against the law to euthanize a cat. The community has decided to take cat care on as a group. Everyone pitches in to help the cats. There are sanctuaries and adoptions and some cats just live outside without a home, but they are cared for and cared about.

Why can’t we do this, too? Because we’re selfish and don’t want cats ruining our plants or peeing on the front door. Or we don’t want to deal with spending a few extra dollars to put out food for the strays or ferals because then it becomes a bigger problem. We’d rather the cats just die, as long as we don’t see it happening, so we can focus on what WE want and what WE NEED, who cares about them?

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Three days ago I learned about this kitty and MANY others at Henry County Care and Control. I wanted to help him but I didn't have time. Why would a cat like that have to be put down? It never makes sense.

We can shout all we want about spaying or neutering cats, but it falls on too many deaf ears. We can say “no kill!” but we don’t know that it often only means “no killing of adoptable animals” and that shelters can make rules that any animal over 7 is too old to be adopted so they can KILL those perfectly healthy, loving animals and still declare they are “no kill!”

We have to realize that millions of cats will die this year because we’re too lazy to get off our asses and really FIX this problem. It’s not an important issue compared to the economy, people losing their homes, losing their jobs, etc. There will always be another reason that is “more important” to focus on even though we COULD focus on this AND work on those other issues, too.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. I found out that they're putting cats down daily. This photo was haunting me, like so many others. I stopped what I was doing and begged a favor. As of this afternoon, THIS CAT IS BEING RESCUED by Kitten Associates and Animals in Distress, but I couldn't help the other 15 or more who don't have a chance.

To my dear cat who will die today, I failed you. We all failed you. We need to stop failing and start putting an end to this madness and start saying NO we don’t accept euthanasia as a solution for overcrowded shelters. We need to start opening our homes and accepting cats in to foster-NO MORE EXCUSES ABOUT IT BEING TOO PAINFUL TO LET THEM GO TO A NEW HOME BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT TO SUFFER THE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT BEING BROKEN. Just do it.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Three days ago I learned about this kitty and MANY others at Henry County Care and Control. I loved this cat's face. What a serene and beautiful cat. This post is dedicated to her and the thousands like her who didn't make it. She was euthanized two days ago because there wasn't enough room in the shelter.

I would much rather cry because my foster cat got adopted then if it died in a shelter because I refused to open my home up to fostering cats.

I’m so very sorry, kitty. Rest in Peace. Fly free.

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If you want to help the cats of Henry County or the cats in your town, please consider opening your home to foster a cat for a rescue group or shelter. It's a magical thing to realize you truly are SAVING a LIFE.

Not on My Watch-It's Just One More Cat

Maria and I decided after a few years of fostering non-stop that we both needed a break. That lasted one week before Maria took on a sweet kitty whose owner had left it at a parking lot near the local Target store. Maria named the 4 month old kitten, Bunny Boo Boo and on her own, took care of the vetting and brought the kitten home until she could find a forever family.

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©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo.

Bunny is a love bug and I'm helping Maria find a forever home for her. Maria knew I just couldn't take on more kittens here in Connecticut so we're focusing on finding a local home for Bunny (somewhere in the McDonough, GA area).

Bunny gets on with other dogs and cats and loves people. She'd be a great addition to any family. We can arrange transport to nearby states if you're not located too far from Atlanta.

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Visit my rescue, Kitten Associatess to fill out a Pre-Adoption Application or email us at info@kittenassociates.org to find out more.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Bongo.

A week after Bunny, we rescued Bongo. It was just one more cat, right?

Then we heard about a heartbreaking situation in another part of Georgia. Apparently a neighboring town has an Animal Control where they not only euthanize animals in record numbers, but their method is by heartstick. If you want to know what that is, click HERE (there are no graphic images). I don't want to describe it because it's horrible and upsetting, but if you feel you can read about it then you'll know WHY we want to AVOID any cat having to go to this place. If you read it you'll also know why there is a strong support to BAN this heinous activity.

I heard about a pregnant mama cat roaming the parking lot of an apartment complex where the owners were VERY happy to get "rid" of any stray cats and take them straight to Animal Control. With local rescues filled to the brim we had a big challenge ahead of us, but something amazing happened.

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©2012 Jennifer N. Pregnant siamese mix in her new foster home.

After posting ONE PHOTO on our CiCH Facebook Page and asking all of you to SHARE her story, this kitty got TWO offers to foster her IN ONE HOUR!

Within a few days we were able to put together a team and Bobby our awesome volunteer, drove her a few hundred miles to her new foster home. I'm very glad to report she is doing VERY WELL with foster mom, Jennifer N. and is VERY affectionate (and gorgeous). That she was living outside on her own, but still very friendly reminds us of how many owner-abandoned cats there are out there. She must have known love at some point. Thankfully she will know love again.

And then there's George.

George lived with a lady who took him in off the streets at the same apartment complex. She took him into her home, knowing full well she would get evicted if they found out she had a cat. To make matters worse, she's at this location to hide from an abusive husband so she really needs to keep a low profile. In some ways it would have been good if we could have rescue her AND her cat, but at least we could help her cat.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. George.

George is just one MORE cat, but that's really IT for us for this year. We need to find homes for the cats we made a commitment to already and I DO need a break so I can focus on fundraising and getting a lot of silly things done, like finish our web site and do some long range planning, RIGHT?

Bobby picked George up a few hours ago. George is about 7 months old and is vetted and has a clean bill of health. He's friendly and could become a good buddy to Bongo as soon as George can come out of quarantine. George has a bad “toupee” swatch of black fur on his head, a spot on his side and his tail is fluffy and all BLACK! This may sound odd, but I had a premonition about this cat the night before I found out about him so I had to say YES when I was asked if we could take him on (or that's just a weird-ass excuse and I think he's cute so what the heck).

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Helmet.

There is one more cat who does NOT have a RESCUE, but who clearly needs one. His name is Helmet.

Helmet is 10 years old. His family has been evicted from their home and are going to live temporarily with a family member who refuses to take on the cat, too. Helmet was taken to Animal Control. They told the couple they will have to EUTHANIZE HIM when he comes in the door. He will have NO CHANCE FOR re-homing. They are FULL UP and OWNER SURRENDERED CATS DIE FIRST.

Helmet does not deserve this. The couple, crying, begged for another choice. Animal control called Bobby and Barb from Winging Cat Rescue. They don't have anywhere for this TWENTY-FIVE POUND, DECLAWED cat to go.

We are in DIRE need of a Georgia Licensed Rescue to take Helmet into their program. I'm sure we can provide either vetting and/or a donation to provide for his initial services. Helmet is a nice cat, with a crappy name, in a terrible situation. This poor guy is in a small cage at a boarding facility and he's not eating. This is no way to put a big cat on a diet. He's terrified and sad.

We would also be HAPPY if someone wanted to ADOPT this GENTLE GIANT and give him the love and security he needs.

Can you help HELMET? Sharing this post would REALLY help! We need to find a needle in a haystack, but we just did it with a pregnant cat, why not with a chubby one?

If you wish to adopt or are a rescue, please contact me, Robin, at info@kittenassociates.org and I'll put you in touch with all the right folks. We can deliver Helmet to YOU at no cost.

We've had a lot of WINS this week. It's just ONE MORE CAT, right?

Please share for Helmet!

The Sad Truth about Bongo

If we didn't have the power of imagination just think about what a dull world it would be. We'd probably all still be living in a cave, wearing animal hides. There are times, though when I wish I didn't have the ability to imagine, especially when it comes to thinking about our latest rescue, Bongo.

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X-ray of Bongo's damaged leg.

In the week we've had Bongo, I've only heard good things about him. The first few days made me sad when I heard he stayed in his litter pan, comforted by his own scent-something common to cats who are confined in cages at animal shelters. In time, Bongo realized he was safe and loved and began to spend his days relaxing on a soft bed or playing with toys. He walked holding his right front leg off the ground. It doesn't seem to function properly. You can see a video of it HERE.

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If you compare the front legs, you can tell one has good muscle mass and one does not.

Yesterday Bongo met with Dr. Alan Cross, a noted Orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Cross reviewed Bongo's x-rays and did a careful and thorough examination.

He felt that Bongo had severe nerve damage and muscle wasting in his leg from a trauma of some kind. Most likely from someone grabbing his leg and twisting it backward. It wasn't enough force to break the shoulder, but it was enough to destroy the nerves.

It could NOT have been from being hit by a car. Bongo's leg had to be grabbed and twisted by force.

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Muscle wasting.

I tried not to imagine who did this to him or why. I tried not to imagine that this person is still doing this to other cats. I did allow myself to imagine what I'd do to the person if I ever could find out who did this to such a sweet and innocent creature.

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©2012 Maria S. Sweet Bongo.

Dr. Cross felt the best solution in this situation would be to amputate Bongo's leg. It's only in his way and over time it will become more and more of a hinderance. Bongo has NO sensation in his paws, which we originally thought he had. I've never had to make this choice for an animal and I'm not overjoyed it has come to pass. For Bongo, I will do whatever it takes to help him live the most comfortable life possible.

If there was any way we could save his leg, it would be done. I know Bongo won't mourn the loss of his leg as we will because we can imagine what life he could have had, but perhaps we can begin to imagine a new life, on three legs, that can be just as full of love and joy as it would have been on four.

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.

BIGGEST PAWS EVER-Meet Kenny

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting, Kenny. He's an affable lug of a cat, the kind that makes you take notice-especially when you look down-at his paws.

Kenny is a polydactyl (sometimes called Hemmingway) cat. He has the BIGGEST PAWS I've EVER SEEN! This cat's paws are almost as big as my HAND!

What I can't get over is the sad fact that Kenny was given up by his guardian and left to die at a shelter. He was going to be put down for not other reason that space issues AND that Kenny is not a cute kitten.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. LOOK AT THOSE PAWS!

Kenny is about 9 years old. He probably weighs a bit over 20 pounds. From the first second I saw Kenny and he saw me, he rolled over to show me his impressive belly. I was told he was nasty at the shelter most likely due to the fact he was terrified. This cat was sweet, friendly, willing to be held and simply happy to be out of his cage.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Kenny needs a home where he'll get the love he craves and the adoration he deserves.

Kenny is SAFE where he is now, but it's not very roomy and he doesn't get a lot of attention. We need to find this special kitty a home!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hi Kenny!

Kenny is located in CONNECTICUT.

If you think Kenny is the one for you, contact ME and I'll put you in touch with Kenny's caretakers.

Please don't contact me if you live more than one state away from CT. I doubt this caretakers would want to transport him too far away.

Contact me at info@coveredincathair.com if you'd like to know more about Kenny!

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.

Pierre, the Amazing, Mysterious, Stray Kitty!

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I met my friend at Animal Control for lunch. She told me about two cats who were being borded at a local Vet. One, we believe may be a cat who was dumped or who is lost. She asked me if I wanted to see him. Of course I said YES! This is one of the coolest cats I've ever seen. He has a remarkable mustache-shaped black spot on his head and two tiny earring-shaped dots on his ears. The rest of his body is white. He has a blue eye and a green eye.

As the saying in rescue goes; “If I didn't already have so many cats I'd take him in a heartbeat!”

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Bi-colored eyes AND a mustache shaped black spot on his head. Fantastic!

This cat is SUPER friendly, with a sleek, healthy coat, not a flea on him. He's neutered and only about three years old. Where did this cat come from? Is his family missing him?

We don't know much but I'll be posting this boy's photo in the local paper. If no one steps forward we'l find him a great home. Who wouldn't want a cat who gets on with other cats, dogs and people? This guy likes to be held and purrs up a storm.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. What a knockout!

He's perfect and then some because of his crazy markings and rare bi-colored eyes. What a gem!

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Mr. Lovey-Dovey.

I nicknamed this kitty Pierre. If you live in western CONNECTICUT and are missing a cat and can prove this is your boy, contact me right away at info@coveredincathair.com ! If you'd LIKE this to be your cat and want to adopt him, let me know at the via the same email address. If we can't find his owner, we'll go through the adoption process and transport him to you if you don't live too far from CT.

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