The past month has been one of the worst of my life. Although I’ve witnessed the slow decline and eventual passing of my own senior cats, and all the fear and sadness that brings, I’ve never watched it happen to a mere kitten. It is so much worse because there’s the added tragedy of the full, long life that never got to be lived. The family I imagined coming to adopt him, never came to the door. The joy he’d have being loved and cherished for a lifetime, was taken away by a fatal disease.
Yesterday afternoon, Fred made his journey over the Rainbow Bridge.
The past month, I’ve had to face Fred’s decline, despite so many efforts to revive him, find an answer, at least keep him stable for a while longer. I’ve had to watch him as he lost use of his back legs. He could still get around after we made changes to his living space to make it easier on him to still have some freedom.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney often tried to get Fred to play, which I discouraged. Eventually, Barney realized his brother couldn't play with him any longer.
He became incontinent. Not surprisingly because he couldn’t get to the litter pan. We just made more adjustments and bought a lot of “wee-wee” pads. The goal was to keep him comfortable, hoping we’d get enough time for the test results to come back or to start another treatment.
I set up the web cam so I could watch him when I wasn’t in the room, but felt sick to my stomach every time I looked in on him. Seeing him struggling broke my heart. There was a time I saw him slip and fall off the pet stairs onto the floor. I raced up to the room to help him back up. He seemed so confused about how such things could happen to a once agile creature. I kissed him and told him to hang on that I would find a way to make it better.
I realized I was running out of things to hope for last week. I realized how ridiculous it was to find myself hoping Fred had lymphoma, instead of FIP. Both were fatal, but at least with lymphoma Fred could live longer, maybe over a year. It was crazy to hope that, at least, Fred wouldn’t lose use of his front legs, too, but eventually he did. He could sit up, but other than that, he didn’t move around. Sam and I took turns changing his position or location in the room. I’d place him on a bed in the sunshine and he’d groom himself, perked up by the joy of being in his favorite place.
Fred hadn’t eaten anything on his own over the past week, not even his favorite chicken treat. Sam and I fed him three times a day via a syringe. He struggled at first, but as the days passed, he just took his food without a fuss. Sam would hold him against his chest, shielded by a pad because Fred would often urinate when we held him up to feed him. We’d cheer him on when he peed because that meant his body was still functioning normally. A few times we even got him to poop, which caused us to be even happier. He still had some strength. It wasn’t time. We still had a chance.
I would focus on coming up with the tastiest, most nutritious, combinations I could put into the blender to make Fred enjoy his food. He would take a taste, then smack his mouth with his tongue. He’d look up at Sam with this silly, sweet expression and Sam would look down so lovingly at this little cat. I’d syringe a tiny bit more food into him and he’d swallow some and dribble some onto his fur. Between syringes of food, I’d carefully wipe Fred’s face with a paper towel I’d wetted with very warm water. I wanted to recreate the feeling of his mama washing his face. He seemed to like it and often purred.
When we finished feeding, there were the many medications, eye drops, bad things. I washed Fred again and we’d put him on a soft bed. We’d take turns brushing him, again, anything to help him feel clean and comfortable. Some times Barney would come over and lick Fred’s face, ears, or paws. Fred almost smiled at Barney’s attempts to connect with his brother.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred (front) and Barney (by the pillows).
I found I couldn’t focus on work or eat much. My only respite was sleep and I couldn’t get to sleep unless I was exhausted. I’d get a few hours, only to wake up as the first glow of sun peeked over the horizon. My gut would go back to its familiar ache. Should I look at the web cam? Is Fred still alive? Did he pass away over night?
Time was quickly running out for Fred. Tests kept coming in negative for lymphoma so for certain it was FIP. Fred’s condition got much worse on Tuesday night. We had to hold his head up to get him fed. He was much weaker. I’ve never seen a cat, while still alive, who was so very limp-everywhere. Fred couldn’t lift his head or lick his paw. He could flick his tail ever so slightly-and that’s how I knew it was time to change his wee wee pad, but that was it. After we fed Fred, got him cleaned up and on a fresh blanket, we left the room. I broke down in tears and said to Sam that it was time. He agreed. We were taking turns changing Fred’s position every hour and making sure he wasn’t urinating on himself. I was to call Dr Larry in the morning to make the appointment for that day. We couldn’t wait any more. Now my last hope was that we could end Fred’s life in a peaceful way and without pain or fear.
Sam and I discussed what we would do, how it would be done. I made a promise to Fred-no more Vet runs and that the Vet would come to us. Sick to my stomach, I made the call. Dr. Larry was out sick that day. My only option was to bring Fred to them and have Dr. Mary put Fred down. Sam and I discussed it and felt we could keep Fred going on more day, so we made the appointment for yesterday afternoon.
When you know your cat is going to die and you know when, you can’t focus on anything else going on in your life. Any other issues fall to the wayside. The irony is that through this past month, Sam and I have been working on refinancing our mortgage so we can stay in our home. I’ve been so sidetracked I ignored all the calls and paperwork. I even put off the Closing last week so we could watch over Fred. We managed to get everything taken care of and in the end it saved us a lot of money. We should have been happy since it’s been a constant worry for us for a long time, but we were both like zombies, signing papers, nodding yes or no to any questions our Lawyer had, hoping we’d just get it over with. We got the job done and raced home to be with Fred because we knew we had less than 24 hours to be with him.
The last twelve hours were spent with Fred. He was not left alone, even for a second. Around 10pm on Wednesday, we put or pajamas on and set ourselves up in the foster room with Fred and Barney. Fred was either on a cozy cat bed between us or on Sam's chest. We each were petting him or holding his little paws. They were starting to feel cooler and I wanted him to feel the warmth of my hand. We didn’t say much.
I thought Clark would be a good name for the next cat we rescue, then I caught myself. The next cat? Would there be one after this?
We tried to include Barney or play a little bit with him. He was somewhat curious about what was going on, but eventually settled down on a blanket near Fred, too. We formed a circle of loving kindness around Fred. His breathing was slower. He reacted to less and less. I started to hope that Fred would hang on because I didn’t know how the FIP would kill him. Would he suffocate and struggle? Would his heart just give out? I just wanted this one thing since I couldn’t have anything else. I couldn’t have Fred rebound or recover. At least he could die without pain.
Sam slept with Fred that last night. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t see him in such terrible condition for hours on end. I still got up at 4am and again at 7am to check on Fred and to clean him up because he was urinating on himself. Every time Fred peed we still cheered him on. “Good boy! Okay, let’s get you cleaned up. Oops! Here’s some more! Get another pad. Okay, good boy, Freddie!”
But this was it, the morning of the end. I did all the chores getting our other cats feed, watered, boxes cleaned out, so Sam could stay with Fred. I was so busted up that seeing him was killing me, too. I had to go back and face him because time was running out. We got the room cleaned up and got ourselves washed and dressed. Fred was very frail now. We both sat on either side of him, petting him, talking to him. Telling him we loved him. He was barely conscious. It was devastating.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sam holding Fred before we start feeding time. You can see how limp he is in Sam's arms.
It was a gray day. I was hoping for some last rays of sun for Fred, but it rained. Around 12:30pm, the clouds opened up and it started to pour. I saw Dr. Larry’s car come down the driveway and my heart sank. This was it. It was time. I got up to answer the door, but my legs felt weak. Dr. Larry and super-Deb said hello as they entered the house. My mouth opened to reply, but no words came out.
We went upstairs to the room where Sam was waiting with Fred. Dr. Larry was quiet, then sighed and looked at Fred. He and Deb got to work. I had to sign a form saying Fred hadn’t bitten anyone in 15 days and that I was giving my consent to have him euthanized. Dr. Larry talked about how tough cats are and that he could see Fred living a few more days even though he was barely alive. He said that Fred’s body condition looked really good because we’d been constantly feeding and cleaning him, but that, too, it was clear it was time for Fred to be helped to pass away.
I asked if Dr. Larry could take a look at Barney first. I was worried that Barney could get sick, too, because I’d heard that FIP can hit siblings since they have the same DNA. He and Deb examined Barney and felt he was okay, but we would keep a close eye on him going forward. He suggested we thoroughly scrub down the room and get rid of the cat trees and bedding, just to be safe. We couldn’t risk having an unhealthy environment since I still have three adult foster cats in my bathroom who would benefit being in a bigger space. Although I knew it meant more fundraising to replace all the cat furniture, I agreed it made sense.
There wasn’t anything else I could do to put off what was to come next. It was time to let Fred go. Dr. Larry explained that we had to be calm because Fred’s veins were compromised by the steroids and that the needle might blow out a vein and that we had to not get upset. Sam was still sitting on the bed next to Fred so he lifted the cat bed with Fred on it into his lap. I gave Fred a few kisses and moved aside to hold his front paw while Dr. Larry slipped the first needle into his vein. Dr. Larry fussed over the placement, but the vein held. Fred didn’t even react to the sting of the needle. Fred was already so far gone that when he passed, none of us even saw him go.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred's last night. Sam held him for hours.
I kissed Fred a few more times and told him I was sorry and how much I loved him. Deb carried him out in her arms. He was still on his comfy cat bed. She said she didn’t want us to see her put him in the black plastic bag and I agreed I didn’t want to see that either.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, sweet Fred. We will love you and miss you, always.
I closed the door and came close to fainting. I was crying so hard I couldn’t stand. I willed myself to go back to the foster room, which had so often been a place of joy, to find Sam on the bed, weeping.
I sat on the bed, in the same place I’d spent the better part of the last day, but now we were on the other side of this journey, the side where the questions are answered and where the real pain begins.
A loud rumble of thunder traveled through the house. I said to Sam; “that was Fred. He’s on his way to be with the children and they’re celebrating his arrival.” He looked at me through tear-filled eyes and nodded “yes.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A week ago we rushed Oliver to the vet. This is the last photo I have of him.
Barely a week ago I learned that my nephew Ryan's cat, Oliver was having difficulty breathing. I saw Oliver's x-ray and it was clear something was terribly wrong. At the time I hoped that perhaps Lasix would move what looked like fluid out of Oliver's chest cavity. I thought back to my experiences with Jackson, his scary x-ray showing an enlarged heart and fluid in his lungs. Oliver's lungs were white on x-ray, meaning they were fluid filled or that there was a mass in his chest. I really hoped we weren't too late and that we could do something to help Oliver.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver was one of the most mellow cats you'd ever meet.
After a long discussion with Ryan we decided to take him to see one of my Vets the next day. That night I barely slept I was so filled with fear. The Vet who had examined Oliver told Ryan to “prepare for the end.” They didn't do blood work, they didn't go into what they thought was going on with his cat or if there were any treatment options available.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. He has the same “rub my belly” attitude our cats Nicky and Nora have-and that makes sense since Oliver is their “uncle.”
Ryan has been around animals his entire life. He has an excellent rapport with cats, in particular. He can hold the most fearful kitten who will melt in his arms. Now that Ryan is almost 20 years old, he's ready and eager to take on the responsibility for his cat's well being and I was proud to be able to offer him advice and help him see that many times there ARE options in addition to simply letting his cat pass away.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Taz, who was waiting for Oliver at the Bridge, gives Oliver a friendly sniff.
The following afternoon we met with Super-Deb and Dr. Mary. They were both really terrific with Ryan-not that they aren't always that way, but in this instance, when it was vital that Ryan learn that getting a second opinion could be worthwhile. It also helped him see that Dr. Mary and Super-Deb were both doing everything they could to give Ryan options for Oliver.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Santa's Goofheads: Ryan and Oliver.
Dr. Mary is so cheerful that even when she told Ryan the bad news that Oliver clearly had a large, firm mass in his chest, that it was pushing his organs out of their normal position, that it still seemed like we could help him. Oliver probably didn't have long to live-maybe months. Seeing a Vet Oncologist could help or Ryan could try steroids which may reduce the mass enough to keep Oliver comfortable longer.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver is no sure he liked what he got for Christmas.
Looking at Oliver on the exam table with his big, pleading green eyes, it was tough to see he was sick at all. He was bright and sweet as ever. Oliver was 14 and was one of the most easy-going and friendly cats I've ever met. I always found it amusing to tell people that Oliver is the "Uncle" of two of our cats, Nick and Nora. In fact, Nicky and Oliver are very much two peas in a pod.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovey-eyes! We love you, Oliver!
Dr. Mary felt that Oliver was very stable, but needed to start treatment as soon as it could be arranged. I was grateful we didn't have to put Oliver down and truly thrilled that Ryan felt empowered to do something for his cat.
The next day we were hit with a blizzard and 36" of snow carpeted our town. Ryan began making plans for Oliver, but couldn't get him to a Vet for a few more days. He thought about it and decided to start Oliver on steroids once the roads were open again in the hope that Oliver would have more time.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Ryan demonstrates the vertical belly rub maneuver.
Oliver started the steroids two days ago. I don't know if they helped or if they were started too late. I only know that very late last night Ryan's mom picked Oliver up and shortly after that Oliver passed away peacefully. It may have been that Oliver's aorta ruptured when he was lifted. Ryan and I had discussed not picking him up because we didn't want to put pressure on his chest. Maybe being picked up had nothing to do with anything. Maybe he was already dying and his mom lifted him to give him comfort in his last moments? I don't know. I'm not blaming anyone. All I know is within a few minutes Oliver slipped away from us and went to the Rainbow Bridge.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver with my scarf. Looks nice on him.
It all seems to have happened so suddenly, but most likely Oliver was sick for a long time. We all know cats are great at hiding illness and Oliver did what Nature dictates. It's just tough to lose another great, big, orange kitty with a heart of gold.
©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. A big orange tabby; the best gift ever.
To Ryan, his mom and everyone who loved Oliver, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Oliver was definitely one of the good ones and we will miss him very much.
Fly free, sweet angel. Tell Taz, Bob, Stanley, Squeegee, Sasha, Blue, Chanel and Tugger we send our love and will see them again one day.
July was even more difficult on us than June. Maria had taken in two more kittens from her neighbor who were very sick. A buff tabby named Tater Tot was the most ill. The Vet told us it was the “wet” form of FIP which is fatal. His sister, Latte was struggling with a terrible upper respiratory infection. Maria took time off from work to care for the cats around the clock. Neither of us slept much. I researched alternative treatments, testing, anything I could think of while we expected that Tater wouldn't be with us for much longer.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our amazing survivor-Tater Tot.
Because Maria is so good at what she does, she noticed that Tater had tapeworms. We ran more tests. His belly was big and round from the tapeworms, giardia and what was almost pneumonia. Once we started treatment he began to show improvement. It took a few weeks but we were very happy to take FIP off the table as we saw Tater eat on his own and gain weight.
King arrived in my home for a few days. He was quite the charmer, but he wasn't meant to be here for very long. Sam and I drove King to New Hampshire, to his new home where his mom, Judy was waiting to adopt him. I loved this home for him and this good woman and her sister. I never thought King had a chance and here he was 1400 miles from the palette factory in a safe, loving environment.
Two of my dear friends adopted Sabrina and Cutie Pie. Their mom, April, found a home in Brooklyn, NY and their sister Bon Bon was adopted in June.
We took on another pregnant mama named Winnie and got a new foster home here in CT. Donna and her husband, Paul are great foster parents. Winnie had five amazing kittens on 8.10.12 named Buttons, Bandit, Honeydew, Charly and Pinkie.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama, Winnie (inset) waiting to see Dr. Chris. Buttons flying high while Honeydew and sister, Bandit look on.
I took another fistful of Xanax and flew to Topeka, Kansas to tour the Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center. I tiptoed through the “dark side,” but made some good friends and learned a lot more about pet food ingredients.
Something horrible happened to my cat Spencer. He stopped eating and hid. X-rays showed a strange mass in his sinus. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. It turned out to be a false alarm which added many more gray hairs to my head.
I was honored to be chosen as one of five members of the Animal Control Advisory Panel, overseeing the operations of our brand new town's Animal Control facility here in Newtown, CT. We had our first meeting and I was delighted to be nominated as Co-Chair of the committee.
Just as I was about to get inundated with kitties from Maria and Cyndie, I found a foster home for two of the remaining black kitties and the final one, Hello Dahlia, was adopted. We got the word that Miss Fluffy Pants found a GREAT forever home and Coco, Chichi, Choco, Tater Tot, Latte, Fred & Barney, and Willow arrived!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (inset) the DOOD resting in his cage while his mysterious back injury slowly healed and a few months later enjoying the new cat tree in my office.
Chichi and Choco got adopted right away into a great home.
One morning, the DOOD couldn't get up and walk and was in terrible pain, growling or crying if we touched him. We did x-rays that showed nothing and began talking about taking DOOD to a neurologist or starting him on steroids. It took six long weeks, most of it forced cage rest, before he was well enough to walk again without pain. I think he fell down the spiral staircase to get into the basement where we store food for our feral cat, but we'll never really know what happened.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson getting oxygen before we raced him to the Emergency Vet and Intensive Care (inset). Jackson at home feeling better.
With Maria having space in her home open, we took on a kitty named Bongo who has nerve damage to his front leg. It had been a Hell of a month, but we kept on.
Opal went to a sanctuary and is doing well. She is becoming more friendly each day and she may one day be put up for adoption.
There was troubling news about King. He'd been struggling with chronic, severe and frankly bizarre ear infections. He had to have surgery, loads of daily cleanings, antibiotics. The other cats in the home weren't too sure about him. King faced losing his ears and his home, but his mom never gave up on him.
©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo (inset) with Bongo (left) and George (right)-who are all ready to be adopted! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
I rescued a knockout silver tabby Maine coon mix named Nico from a kill shelter in Georgia because I knew I could find him a home and I wasn't going to let him die.
Maria found a kitten in a parking lot she named, Bunny Boo Boo that she rescued on her own and we took on another cat whose former mom was going to lose her home if the landlord found out she rescued a cat from the parking lot nearby. We named him George and he and Bongo and Bunny Boo Boo are great friends.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hurricane Sandy, no power for almost a week-just a bad flashback to the year before when we got nailed at almost the same time by “Snowmageddon.”
Hurricane Sandy killed the power and made life HELL for a week making a mess of my home in Sandy Hook, CT.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You are deeply missed, sweet girl.
Nico arrived and was adopted a few weeks later. The rest of Winnie's family found their forever homes. There were lots of inquiries about adopting kittens since the Holidays were approaching. Tater Tot, in a surprising twist, got adopted instead of Willow, who the family had come to meet. Willow, Fred & Barney and Latte were still with us waiting for their forever homes.
I got good news that King overcame his severe ear issues and was finally settling in with his new family. The other kitties were slowly accepting him and King was finding his place. His mom is the sort of adopter I always wish for-after a very rocky start, loads of vet bills and difficulties, she kept on. She never complained. She was completely devoted. My only hope is that her reward is enjoying the love of a very dear cat and hopefully a much easier future.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our mascot of Covered in Cat Hair and my baby, Spencer before and after surgery.
Spencer had a very challenging dental cleaning where he lost two more teeth and surgery to remove a mass from one ear and another from inside the other. I prepared myself for bad news, but the shock came as the test results indicated it was an apocrin gland cyst with “no content”-meaning NO CANCER.
Sam and I cleared out the garage of recycling one bright sunny morning. After we were done we went to Panera Bread to have a late breakfast. While we were sitting there we saw police cars racing past. I knew something bad had happened and a few minutes later I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which you can read more about HERE and HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My home town will never be the same again. The school is a few miles from my home.
Wanting to reach out and help heal the broken hearts in our town, I created “Kitties for Kids” a kitten-therapy for the children, first responders and residents of Newtown, CT. We were featured on national television news and major news outlets online. We got loads of donations of plush toys and the first children and parents began to arrive to visit our kitties.
Although we had no Christmas and sent out no card (for the first time in my adult life), the joy of knowing I was helping people and the overwhelming honor of so many people reaching out to us was my gift.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. We will never forget and find a way to heal our hearts.
It's been quite a challenging and painful year. I realize that 2013 may be no easier. All I can do is hope that I'll be better able to handle what is yet to come and that for the cats out there who need me, that I'll have the resources to help them when the time comes.
We began the year with a rescue, going beyond our comfort zone by taking on an adult, instead of an easy-to-place kitten. The cat was a huge, white, “biscuit head” tom-cat from Henry County Care & Control. I saw his photo and saw something about him that made me take action. I named him Jackson Galaxy in honor of the Cat Daddy/Cat Behaviorist on Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell.”
©2012 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson was a miserable wreck when we first took him into Kitten Associates as our first rescue of 2012.
Jackson had a rough start. He frightened Maria but we realized later it was because he was in great pain. He had a terrible infection from his neutering and he needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and get him back on the road to good health. By the end of the month, Jackson was on the transport headed to Connecticut to find his forever home.
©2012 Bobby Stanford (inset). ©2012 Leesiateh.com. Miss Fluffy Pants shortly before being adopted.
Our friend and volunteer, Bobby Stanford, told me about two cats living outside a palette factory in McDonough, GA. They were living in poor conditions and in danger of being hit by any one of the numerous fork lifts that raced around the premises. One of the two cats, a dirty, thin tuxedo we named King Arthur, seemed to be missing his back paws. Completely horrified I decided we'd help him and the other cat on the premises, who we named Miss Fluffy Pants, because we worried she was pregnant.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). King's mama, Judy. King's journey has been quite amazing. I'll be doing a more in-depth update on him in January.
I was fostering a little orange tabby spitfire named Bobette, along with her two boys, the third had just been adopted. Bobette needed surgery to repair her luxated patella, so I sat in on the procedure and helped her in recovery and for the next few weeks while she healed.
February was a month of discovery. We learned that King's missing paws were due to a birth defect. He didn't need surgery or prosthetics. He could walk on carpeting, but who would adopt this cat? King began to clean himself and gain some weight. He loved being petted until Miss Fluffy Pants came to join him.
Miss FP was not pregnant. We thought the two cats were friends at the factory, but they were not happy to see each other. With some quick thinking and the donation of a cat tree, Miss FP could sit high up, away from King and both cats relaxed into their new foster home.
©2011 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette with one of her kittens while at the kill shelter and after surgery in Sam's loving arms.
We also learned the Miss FP was FIV+ which we knew would put a roadblock in our ability to find her a good forever home. With her taking up valuable foster care space I got to work trying to figure out what to do for her that didn't mean putting her in a sanctuary.
We were heartbroken to learn that after some behavior issues gave us a clue to trouble, Dr. Larry diagnosed Sam's cat, Nicky with Chronic Renal Failure. We began giving him sub Q fluids every few days and began to learn more about this condition and ways we could lengthen his life.
Jackson arrived in Connecticut and was placed with my friends at Animals in Distress, but fell ill after arriving there. They thought it was a mild upper respiratory infection and in time he was feeling better. By the second week of February, Jackson found his forever home with a loving family. We were all delighted.
©2011 Maria S. (inset) ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Two of Bobette's boys, Jakey & Teddy.
Bobette continued her recovery, but was still limping. I had to separate her from her boys because she hissed and growled every time she saw them. The boys, Jakey & Teddy had a blast hanging out with my cats while I continued to try to find them a great home.
The saying is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but this March was the opposite; quiet for a few weeks, then things started to go crazy.
Bobette had the staples taken out of her leg and due to a problem with the bandage removal she ended up biting my hand so badly I had to see a Doctor.
I found a blueish growth on my cat Gracie's abdomen. She had a dental done and had the cyst removed. It ended up being an Apocrine Gland Carcinoma, but was considered to be completely excised and of no further concern.
Jakey & Teddy were adopted together and Bobette was glad to see them leave.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy.
On March 26th, a few days before my birthday, Jackson Galaxy emailed me and asked me out to lunch (which ended up being dinner). It was one of the best days of my life, but that wasn't all that happened. That night in the frigid cold in nearby Trumbull, CT, six mostly black kittens were born to a gray mama named April. I didn't realize it at the time, but they would be my next foster family.
The next day, still buzzing from my visit with Jackson, I was honored by Freekibble.com with a donation of a full palette of Halo® canned cat food! The press came to document the event and I started to wonder if the foster cats would eat it (they loved it!).
The Worst Birthday Ever was followed by picking up April and meeting her mostly all black female kittens for the first time. Three kittens were polydactyl and there was no way I was going to be able to tell most of them apart for the next eight weeks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April and her kittens.
I rescued a senior cat named Leo who was an adorable long haired tuxedo. The poor cat was forced to live outside on scraps when his owner's wife had a baby. I begged my friend Katherine to take him into Animals in Distress if I paid the Vet bill. We worked something out and Leo was saved. A few months later, Leo and a second cat found an amazing home with a family I found for them here in town. They are doing GREAT.
A missing cat alert showed up in email with a very familiar name, Amberly. One of my former foster cats was MISSING and the family didn't have the nerve to tell me. I leapt into action. Thank GOODNESS Katherine has good instincts and lived nearby the family. By the next DAY Katherine found Amberly and the family promised to work harder to keep her inside.
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, all grown up with siblings Choco and ChiChi (inset).
Maria contacted me about a tortie mom cat we named Cami and five kittens in her neighbors yard. She was very worried about them so I told her to find a place to put them and we'd take them on. By the time Maria got back to the home, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. We named the surviving kittens Coco, ChiChi and Choco.
On May 1st a shelter called AnimalKind in upstate New York suffered the total loss of their facility after a small fire caused the sprinkler system to flood the 3-story building. Through my contacts a pet product companies I was able to provide them with palettes of food and litter. Later in 2012 I visited their facility and met with their Director, Katrin Hecker. You can read about my visit HERE.
I travelled to New Jersey to attend Bottle Baby Bootcamp at Tabby's Place. The timing was great because the black kittens needed help since poor April was having a tough time feeding all the kittens. I worried the littlest one wouldn't make it, but Cutie Pie surprised me and began to do well. I named her sisters Sabrina, Bon Bon, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia (in honor of my friend, JaneA's cat Dahlia who had recently passed away).
Then a crazy thing happened.
JaneA came to visit us and instead of falling in love with her cat's namesake, she threw me a curveball, clearly falling in love with our little spitfire, Bobette. She adopted her the next morning before she left for her home in Maine. It was a one of the happiest adoptions I'd ever done.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her girl, Bobette (who she later named, Kissy)
By the end of the month there was more somber news. Jackson the cat lost his home and was being returned. Since I had space I offered to take him back since AID was full up.
June will forever be a tough month for me since it's the anniversary of my Father's passing and of my favorite cat's passing. I hoped that this June would not be under such a dark cloud but it was not meant to be.
Thankfully it wasn't all bad news. After months of searching, begging, dealing, I was able to get Miss Fluffy Pants transferred to Good Mews in Marietta, Georgia.
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is still looking for her forever home! You can visit her Petfinder page HERE
Maria, our cat-magnet, rescued a cat from a tree. She named her Willow and we added her to our group of rescues in Georgia. Meanwhile, I got a curious email from a lady in New Hampshire inquiring about King. She had a fully carpeted home. She had two cats. Did I think King might be happy with her?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me, Jill Delzer (center) and Ingrid King (far right). Inset: Joanne McGonagle, Me with Gracie the cat.
And for the first time in many years, I took a fistful of Xanax and boarded a plane headed to Salt Lake City where Sam and I were Speakers at BlogPaws 2012. I was up for two awards that I did not win, but I had so much fun and made a great new friend. In those few days I was re-energized enough to keep doing rescue work once I got home.
Maria removed another cat from her neighbor (with his consent)- who NEVER spays or neuters his cats. Maria has tried repeatedly to get the cats taken care of but he just puts it off and his cats get pregnant. A nine month old kitten named Opal, who had become almost feral, was pregnant. Our new foster mom, Cyndie offered to take her in and help her along. Sadly, the stress of being in a home pushed Opal in to premature labor. Four kittens were born, but after extensive attempts to save their lives, only two survived. She named them Fred & Barney. We had their siblings Pebbles and Bam Bam cremated and their little wooden urn is here with me placed next to my cat, Bob's ashes.
Today is the day I think of you with tears in my eyes. I mark the calendar. I count it out on my fingers. I wonder how nine years have slipped by without you in my life. I think about the last day. I don’t want to, but I cannot forget it. I think about all the other last days I’ve had to witness since you’ve been gone, my Mother, cats: Stanley, Taz, Sasha, little kittens too young to have names, Bob Dole, Bobette, so many others.
I worry about the ones to come.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. My lovely, Squeegee.
You were my “before-cat”—before I knew about raw feeding and that the grain in your dry food was the culprit, causing your diabetes. It left you overweight and demanded I learn about giving you shots of insulin every day to keep you alive. If I had known I could have saved you simply by changing your food, even to just grain free canned food, you might still be with me today. You might never have gotten cancer, which when it entered your lungs, I knew the time we shared together was coming to an end.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Squeegee finds her place in the sun.
You were before I had the courage to foster more than a single cat, when I worked long hours away from home, hiring a pet sitter to stay with you each day so you wouldn’t be lonely. Back then it was just you, me and Stanley, my sweet tuxedo cat who died a few months after you did.
It was back when I had a life. I could leave the house for more than a day and not worry. My hair wasn’t falling out in clumps. The quilted lines under my gray eyes hadn’t even begun to form.
©2003 Judith K Feminella. I asked my Mother to take some photos of Squeegee once I found out she only had a few months left to live. I'm so glad I have these keepsakes of us together.
Part of my sadness is linked to missing the simplicity of my old life and you represented that life. You were also the last connection I had to my marriage, what there was of one. He didn’t even know you were sick, nor cared that you were slipping away. Now he’s on that list of last days, too, with cancer of the salivary glands and no health insurance to save his life.
©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. A few hours before I had to put Squeegee down, she climbed onto the bed for the first time in months. The lung cancer was so bad she could hardly move, let alone jump on the bed. I took it as her way of saying goodbye, a gift I will always cherish.
I care that he’s sick and I ache because he suffers. I ask myself how anyone can grow old and not have so much pain in their heart from witnessing one loss after another that they have any happiness left? I honestly don’t know the answer to that any more.
You were the cat I didn’t want who ended up being my best friend and deeply treasured companion. You had a silly meow, which earned you your name; Squeegee, but you deserved more, so after some time I added: “The Baroness von FiFi.” You should have a regal, elegant name even if you weren’t a purebred cat.
©1990 Robin A.F. Olson. Squeegee and I take a nap without a worry in our hearts, a very long time ago.
I mourn the fact that I couldn’t give you the gift of a healthier life, but I honor your memory today by sharing your story with others.
©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. Farewell, my sweet.
I miss you so very much, Fifi. Until we meet again…
It’s been less than a day since our former foster girl Bobette, who was named Kissy after she was adopted in May, passed away. Just typing those letters, “p-a-s-s-e-d” makes me cry. I’m still in shock and still hoping someone will call me and tell me it was just a bad dream, that the Vets figured out a way to save our sweet pumpkin girl and she’s going to be okay—but no one calls.
The events leading up to Kissy’s death, I’ll leave to her “mama,” JaneA Kelley of Paws & Effect to write about. This is her story to tell, with her cat. My post is about my reflections about a foster cat who just barely a year ago arrived in my home, with her three young sons. They’d reached the part of their rescue-story where all the shots are done, they are spayed or neutered, and all that’s left is for them to just have fun and wait for their adopters to find them. It’s usually the part of the story where we all can relax, knowing the worst is over and the best is yet to come.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. A stray cat dumped at a Kill Shelter with her six newborn kittens waits for rescue.
Kissy didn’t have an easy life. I wrote a great deal about her and her boys, Jakey, Mikey & Teddy…and their three siblings, who passed away a few days after we rescued them from a Kill Shelter in Georgia. If you do a search on Covered in Cat Hair using the phrase: “Bobette” you can read all the stories, but here are a few: Life in the Pumpkin Patch
Bobette's Secret Pain
Harvest Time for Bob's Pumpkin Patch
and the Cat Writers' Association Certificate of Excellence winning: It Had to be You about Kissy's adoption.
Kissy was rescued in honor of my cat, Bob Dole, after he passed away in September of 2011. He was a beautiful, brilliant orange Maine Coon tabby mix with piercing green eyes. When I saw Kissy’s photo and her brilliant orange coat and piercing green eyes, I knew I had to rescue her and her family...which also explains why she was originally named, Bobette.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. Not eating for four days, Bobette was in dire straights.
Thanks to Maria, I had a foster home for the family until they were ready to come to Connecticut. Thanks to Bobby Stanford, I had someone to go bust this kitty and her babies out of the shelter before they got sick or were euthanized. The pieces fell in place. It was meant to be.
Kissy was far too thin and far too young to bear the burden of having six kittens. She began to recover and eat again, but after the loss of three of her kittens perhaps part of her shut down. She was a good mother for a time, but as the remaining boys grew, her love for them waned. She taught me that not all mothers and kittens suffer being separated. In fact, Kissy did better without her boys, though I know they missed her a lot.
©2011 Bobby Stanford. Moments after rescue.
Kissy was just 9 months old when she had her kittens. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to be away from them, as she was barely a kitten herself.
©2011 Maria S. Safe in Maria's home Kissy can finally relax.
The pain I was feeling was why many people can’t foster cats. They fall in love with them along the way and they can’t bear to be parted from them when the time comes. I realized that all these years of fostering cats that I truly do love each and everyone just the same and just as much as I love the cats who live with me for their entire lives, not just for a few months.
©2011 Maria S. Kissy and her boys.
Each foster cat charms me, delights me, challenges me to learn more, to make fewer mistakes, to remember to cherish each day. I fall in love with each foster cat, not just a little, but fully, completely. I can’t build a wall to protect myself from how I feel about them. Instead of running away from that fear, I push into it. It does me no good to hide from feelings. In facing them head on, perhaps I gain some gentleness about saying goodbye when they get adopted.
©2011 Maria S. Her spay surgery over, Kissy relaxes in a comfy bed at Maria's.
When I go for a drive, I often pass homes where my foster cats now live. They are still my cats, they just live with other families. I still feel the tether that connects us. I sense they’re out there and they’re okay and because of that, I’m okay, too.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally in my home, Kissy and I get to know each other.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Family portrait with proud mama.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Kissy and son, Churchy (formerly Mikey).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lap time with Sam as Kissy recovers from her corrective surgery. In the end, the surgery didn't help Kissy live more comfortably. Her leg was too deformed to be corrected.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Such a good girl.
Kissy’s short life will not be in vain. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, but I’ll be doing something to honor her. Kissy taught me a lot and made me realize I was foolish to think that love could be restricted or spooned out in measured amounts. It’s all or nothing and I loved that cat completely. I will never forget her and I thank her for what she taught me. Maybe we’ll meet again one day? I can only hope so.
For now I share my grief with those of us who fought hard to give her a great life and who will keep fighting for other cats so that they may have the same chance Kissy did. She will never be forgotten and always be in my heart.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, my sweet. No more pain.
More on this heartbreaking news another time. I'm crying too much to write.
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.
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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
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.
©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?
©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 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.
©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.
©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’m so very sorry, kitty. Rest in Peace. Fly free.
Grief: a 5-letter word that describes a facet of human emotion triggered by the loss of a loved one. How long grief lasts or how powerful its’ effects can’t be measured. For some, a loss is understandable, expected, perhaps only bittersweet. It’s a gentle feeling often accompanied by saying things like; “they’re in a better place” or “they’re no longer suffering.”
For me, after the loss of my cat Bob Dole, the grief comes in fierce waves; arriving not on tidal terms, but seemingly random ones that knock me to my knees. I don’t think Bob’s in a better place. Being with me was better. Now he’s just gone.
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob.
Bob died a year ago today after suffering from multiple forms of cancer which ravaged his FIV+ body. He died at home, with his family at his side. After he passed I went into a deep depression. Bob was my last living link to my Mother and now that was gone.
Bob had amazing charisma. Everyone recognized it when they met him. The second they heard his name was Bob Dole, they laughed, charmed by his silly name. Once they spent even a few moments with him, I could see the look on their face soften to one of utter adoration.
Bob was the kind of cat you just loved the second you met him. The cat purred all the time—this goofy, burbly, purr. Bob's last purr was a few hours before he died. I happened to have recorded the sound. I don't have the nerve to listen to it again, but I hope one day I can hear it and not be devastated.
Bob was in charge of all the cats and kept power until the last few months of his life. Bob was fearless from living for years outdoors, some of those on his own as a stray. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Bob wasn't neutered until he was well into adulthood. Though I am adamant that cats be spayed or neutered, I'm secretly glad there are probably baby Bob's out there somewhere.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's favorite spot in the sun.
Grief grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you hard. It wakes you up or it makes you want to sleep until the feeling passes. Sadly, the feeling doesn’t really pass. It lies dormant, catching you off guard at odd times like on the first nice spring day when normally I’d put out the deck chairs and cushions so Bob would have a place to relax outside. I didn’t go out on the deck other than to fill the bird feeders. With Bob gone no one went out on the deck this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to set up the deck furniture. I didn’t want to set out the lime green cushions that reminded me of the color of Bob’s eyes. If I did that I knew I’d keep looking for him to appear, spread out on the chair, clearly loving life, not bothered to even look up if a bird flew right over his head.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Near the end, ravaged by ringworm, Bob was still beautiful to me.
As I get older, I find that there’s more grief in my life than love or happiness. Doing cat rescue there is so much grief over the loss of newborn kittens or knowing those cats you’re trying to rescue don’t make it out of the shelter alive. I know so many “cat people” that of course their cats pass away, too and I share in their loss.
Some of my friends have died. I don’t feel “that old” where my friends should pass away or get stricken with cancer (which triggers a whole other form of grief).
It’s been a year since Bob died. I honored him by rescuing an orange tabby cat I named Bobette, along with rescuing her six newborn kittens. Three of the kittens passed away within the first few days—a tragic loss after just losing Bob. The others did well and all the cats have since been adopted into great, loving homes.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. Cat at animal control who would later become the beloved Kissy of Paws and Effect. Her surviving kittens, Jakey, Teddy & Mikey are about to celebrate their first birthday with their families.
My friend Warren, of Royal Bobbles, honored Bob by creating a custom “Bob-blehead” of him as a gift. It’s something I will always cherish.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shrine for Bob featuring the custom sculpted Bobblehead on the left.
I’d like to do something more to honor Bob. Perhaps I’ll start a special fund for him or rescue more orange tabby cats. I’d like to do something positive with all this pain, but it’s a struggle not to let depression take over.
The energy in the house just doesn’t feel “right” any more. I can’t explain it. It’s not as if I don’t have any cats. There was something I felt in my heart that’s gone. There’s a queer emptiness to the house. The places where I’d often find Bob are empty. I can’t get over the feeling of wishing he would come back or that I could see him again, in all his magnificent glory, when he was healthy and well.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Not long after adopting him after my Mother passed away-Bob in his full glory.
I miss you so much, Bob. I always will.
I don’t feel like I can breathe. It’s 1pm. I haven’t eaten anything since last night. I feel like I’m going to collapse. I’m so wrung out and tired. I don’t want to hear the sound of my phone ringing or the tone that indicates I have an incoming text message. Every time I hear my phone chime, my heart races. What am I going to find out now? How much more can I take?
I barely stepped off the plane at JFK Airport when things started to race downhill. Opal, our rather feral, far too young mama, gave birth to a kitten last Monday. Cyndie, the foster mom, found the kitten laying on the tile floor, cool, but alive. She put the kitten with Opal, hoping Opal would care for her newborns. Twenty four hours later, Opal gave birth to 3 additional kittens.
The next three days were a blur of phone calls, texts, e-mails. Opal wasn’t caring for her kittens and we weren’t even sure if she had any milk to give them if she could. Opal was more and more fractious. Cyndie had a tough time intervening, but eventually was able to start bottle feeding the neonatal kittens to ensure they were getting some sustenance.
The challenges began to pile up. Cyndie couldn’t provide round-the-clock care to such young animals. Frankly, I couldn’t have done it, either. I started a frantic search to find a nursing mama cat we could either rescue (and take any of her kittens, too), or one we could put our four kittens with. There were no mamas to be found—all already had 5 or 6 kittens. We couldn’t put 4 more with them.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. We need a name for this little kitten.
Cyndie called an old friend who had experience with newborns. She offered to take the kittens and give them all the care they needed. It would relieve Cyndie and give the kittens a better chance at surviving. Cyndie chose to only give her to the two most critical kittens, a boy who was born first, and a girl who was born last (Opal wouldn’t even clean off the amniotic sack on this kitten, who Cyndie initially feared was dead). The other two kittens appeared to be doing ok. Opal seemed to be feeding them, but no one was really sure since getting close to Opal meant getting clawed.
Meanwhile, two kittens were doing worse and worse. Then, on Thursday, the little boy passed away. We knew that the mortality rate for newborns is 30-40%, but it didn’t make what happened any easier. The little girl, Baby G., was not doing well, either. As if things couldn’t get worse for her, they did. The bottle feeder who was helping Cyndie had to rush to the hospital because her Mother had a bad gallbladder attack and had to have emergency surgery. Now Cyndie was alone with the ailing kitten and didn’t know what to do. She placed the kitten with Opal, who ignored her baby. When Cyndie looked at the little kitten, she realized the other two siblings were MUCH larger and clearly doing much better. A few hours passed and Opal had her leg over Baby G. Baby G. wasn’t nursing or doing much of anything. Something had to be done.
©2012 Maria S. Maria took this photo last year. This is Opal, just a kitten, before she became hateful of humans and had her kittens. It's so unfair to see this precious kitty and know her fate as it is now.
I have to take on the responsibility for ALL decisions for our foster cats and trying to do it from 1000 miles away is grueling. Not only do I emotionally support our volunteers, I have to help them make difficult choices and I have to KNOW what I’m talking about to do that…which would be fine IF I knew what I was talking about.
I took a Bottle Baby Bootcamp class at Tabby’s Place a few months ago and it dawned on me that Baby G. should be tube fed. Cyndie was massively sleep deprived and stressed out and didn’t feel this was a good option and that it could hurt the kitten. I had to try to draw from my own reserves to help her have faith that tube feeding was the best and possibly last option for Baby G. I wished I could have just taken the situation out of her hands so she could rest. We were both so tired, but in the end the buck stops with me. It was barely 6:30 AM on Friday the 29th. Not the best time to even be able to think (at least for me)
Cyndie rushed Baby G. to our Vet. They weren’t busy and could offer her supportive care until she stabilized. Over the course of the next few hours Baby G. was fed and got some fluids. She perked up and they thought she was going to improve so we made plans for them to keep her at the Vet partly so Cyndie could rest and partly so we could be sure Baby G. was stable before we brought her back to her mom.
The Vet graciously offered that one of their Vet Techs would take Baby G. home and tube feed her over the weekend. They would do it for NO COST, which truly was a blessing. I think everyone on Facebook started to feel like all their prayers and hopes were working. I did, too.
Early that evening, Cyndie called me. Baby G.’s temp started to fluctuate
wildly. Shortly thereafter Baby G. took her last breath and passed away. I was speechless. What happened? I really thought we were going to save her life. How arrogant of me to think that! Now Baby G. would join her brother, the two would be cremated together. I found it ironic that the costs for the cremation would be more than what we spent for her Vet care. They would ship the ashes to me. I already have many little tin boxes of ashes and these two babies could rest with my cats, never to be forgotten.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Opal with the surviving kittens.
After many tears I hoped that perhaps we all could finally breathe? The stress gone, only our broken hearts remained. Over the past day, Opal had started to produce milk and eat a great deal of food, indicating that her milk production was strong. The two remaining kittens, a boy and girl, were twice the weight of the kittens who died. These two had a very good chance of making it. Opal, fiercely protective of her young, was in mom-mode now. We just had to keep her fed and keep an eye on the kittens, but she would do the rest for the next few weeks.
©2012 Maria S. Tater Tot on the way to the Vet.
Less than a day passed and Maria called me. She didn’t like the way Tater Tot was looking. His belly was big, his eyes runny, he seemed flat. She feared FIP. I didn’t want to accept that-who would? I asked if she de-wormed him and she said she had a few days ago when she first noticed his belly getting round.
The next 24 hours were spent in a mad dash to see if there was anything we could do to save Tater's life. Part two shares our roller coaster ride with you.