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The Feral50. Unimaginable Joy. Ch 2.

continued from Ch.1

It astonishes me how resilient cats like “Waterbury 1” can be, even with a mouth full of slowly dissolving teeth, infected gums and with burning sores on and under her tongue. Somehow through all of this, W1 has made impressive progress since I discovered her in a parking lot barely alive a week ago.

 

Her vet said she’d never seen anything so bad. W1’s teeth were either falling apart or were fused to her jaw from years of untreated stomatitis. If it was a human, the fragile gums would have been packed with gauze, but with the delicate bones of the feline jaw it wasn’t possible. The vet had to gently suction mucous and bloody pus out of the cat’s mouth before she could even intubate the cat and begin the difficult procedure. She had to remove the roots of teeth that were long gone and separate the teeth off the jaw bone. I don’t want to think about how much pain W1 must have been in and for how long.

 

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Sweet W1 before rescue, waits her turn to eat.

Every single one of W1’s teeth were removed. My guess is the root cause was bartonella gone unchecked for years, but it could also have been from other issues; we’ll never really know.

Her matted fur was completely shaved off. I asked if she got a bath, but they only needed to rinse her paws off because they were filthy.

I can’t help but imagine her wanting to use her front paws to wash her face before she gave up on trying. She had to have been rubbing dirt from her paws into her already infected mouth if she could manage to clean herself at all. I feel sick thinking about it.

 

Oddly enough she had no fleas, but does have ear mites for which she’s been treated. She’s on very heavy duty pain medication and is on an IV because she’s anemic and has an elevated white blood count.

With all her challenges, W1 still ate food barely a day after her procedure was completed. This remarkable girl wants to live. Though she shows no signs of being friendly, she has only been fearful with the staff, no hissing, no aggression so far.

Our new kitty
©2017 Robin AF Olson. W1's sister with a few of the other colony cats.

We’d gotten W1 medical attention, but the “what do we do now” question returned. There was discussion that W1 would come to me. We’d reunite her with her nearly twin sister, who was just trapped yesterday. I’ve read that relocating ferals is more successful if they’re paired. Thankfully, the sister is not sick AND to our surprise she was spayed a long time ago. We discovered she has a very badly done ear tip, so all she needed done was her vaccination updates. After vetting she was ready to be released back to the lot, but because we wanted her with her sister, we’re holding her for a few days. Maybe she’s friendly and we can work with her. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Or maybe we won’t…

Meanwhile…

 

…one of the Vet’s clients had come to the clinic to drop her cat off to have a dental cleaning. She saw W1 in surgery, then heard W1’s story, and was so moved she offered to adopt the cat if she needed a home.

 

Wait. Adopt a FERAL CAT? Would she live outside?

 

No.

 

W1 would live INSIDE her house, even if she was feral. The woman has a lot of experience with both feral cats and cats who have suffered the same dental issues as W1. W1 would want for nothing, ever. She would get the best care possible. It would be a far better situation than I could give W1, but what about her sister?

I try not to be jaded and maybe I’m afraid that telling you now will jinx it from really happening. That this amazing woman came forward at all turns W1's story into a fairytale of epic proportion. She added when we spoke this morning that she would consider adopting W1’s sister, too.

What I’m learning and finding terribly difficult is this is an extremely fluid situation-more fluid than my brain can process. Day and night I get emails, texts, calls about what to do, who I should call, who told me what, trying to track what everyone is doing or needs and sorting out where each trapped cat was going to go (though I am thankfully not in charge of that). One minute I have a feral cat in my garage (as I did last night). The next minute I find myself signing up to take on two feral cats that may not be a good fit to even live as ferals! I’m asking my foster homes if they can take on a cat or two, or maybe even a pregnant feral if we come across another one. Not to be a complete whiner, but I REALLY wanted to take a few months OFF from rescue and just REST. What have I gotten myself into?

 

Between work, the #Feral50 craziness and finding my cat Petunia having focalized seizures last week I am fried. (and very sadly it looks like Petunia may have brain cancer-which I will write more about later)

 

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Petunia mid-seizure. We lost her mother, Gracie just over a year ago.

There’s a great divide in my head about what I expected and what I’m experiencing. I realized tonight that it’s akin to dealing with a totally different kind of animal rescue. Getting a litter of kittens to foster takes some vetting and fussing and cleaning and de-worming and such, but with the ferals, it’s all about logistics. After trapping: where do they go? where do they get spayed/neutered? where do they spend a day to three days recovering? where do they go after that? Are they dumped-strays who are friendly and need a home? If so, is there a rescue to take them? If not, how can we get a rescue to take them or should they go back to the parking lot where we assumed all would go but may not be the case now. YIKES!

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. A few of these guys have already been trapped.

I’m surprised that of the first eight cats trapped we discovered a few of the cats were either already vetted and may be friendly and not feral at all. The people who have done a lot of trapping and working with ferals seem different, too. Maybe tougher in some ways and better at going with the flow. I can’t quite put the words together yet because it’s so new to me, but they seem okay with the constantly shifting tasks we need to accomplish times 50+.

And further surprises…

The gray cat with the strange fur was in my garage last night. I didn’t try to touch him, thinking he needed peace and quiet after being trapped. When he went into his foster home tonight he was head-butting his foster mom, soliciting pets! He didn’t even come out of his cat carrier the 24 hours he was here. I assumed he was scared and to leave him be, but he really wanted love.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Gray kitty needed help, too, so he was high on our list to be trapped.

 

Some of the others are not feral either. I don’t know how common this is that there are more friendlies than true ferals in a colony, but it’s heartbreaking. All these cats getting dumped for whatever selfish, thoughtless, heartless reason. As a cat behavior counselor I know there are many reasons cats lose their homes that are fixable behavior issues, yet here these poor creatures are, fighting for their lives in difficult circumstances.

 

Last night we had an ice storm followed by pounding winds and rain. I kept thinking about the cats, imagining them hiding under the blue tarps near the warehouse, huddled for warmth. It makes me even more anxious to get all of them whatever help they need. I know they were all getting fed and that goes a long way to keep them alive. Some of the team have begun putting out shelters and I hope the cats will start using them soon.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. They got him and now I've got him!

Tomorrow there will be more trapping. Eight cats have been trapped and maybe eight more will get grabbed. I thought we were going to have a game plan and do a big trapping all at once, but the folks in charge are just going for what they can trap with the traps they have. I don’t know what is the best way or if it matters how it’s done. It’s just amazing that it IS being done so fast when the donations are barely coming in the door for the spays/neuters. They're finding vouchers from other rescues or calling in favors. They’re just getting it done and I need to learn how to move as fast as they do, but I think I need more caffeine first.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Temporary lodging, gray kitty is hiding in his cat carrier. He ate 9 oz of food over night. Glad he has a full belly.

Waterbury1 is resting in her cage at the vet. She’s clean and beginning her life anew. Her vet wants her to stay at the hospital for the full week so she can continue to monitor her recovery. We raised almost enough for the high end of the estimate. If a few more donations come in we’ll be all set until we trap the other cats who are sick or injured.

This experience is all about how to face something difficult without having any idea beyond step number one about how you’re going to get to step number two. It’s about finding faith that you’ll get there¬—that it will all shake out just fine. If you don’t have enough faith, you’re going to fantasize about sitting in a darkened room with a big box of chocolate chip cookies on hand and plenty of time to eat every single one. Don’t ask me how I reached this hypothesis, but I just know it to be true.

As I’ve written in the past, a majority of the rescue process is about having faith that everything will be okay one day no matter how bumpy the path might be.

The tough part is believing it.

And lastly, W1’s adopter liked my choice of a proper name for her instead of W1: Hyacinth, but then, after some discussion, she added that perhaps she should name the cat, Robin.

NOTE: If you'd like to make a donation towards W1's care, there's complete info on ways you can help on the previous post. Stay tuned for even more news about the #Feral50.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Such beautiful creatures.

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Shop Cats of New York

 

You might notice them sitting in a window watching the world go by, or nestled comfortably, napping on a self next to merchandise that’s on sale. These are the cats who make their home inside the shops of New York City, but what is their life really like?

 

Book cover

That question, posed by author Tamar Arslanian, was the inspiration for her book, Shop Cats of New York. In this 176 pg, eye-poppingly colorful book, Arslanian focused her efforts on 40 beloved, cherished shop cats. These feisty felines are well cared for, some even getting fan mail from the shop’s patrons. None are mistreated or left to live on scraps. Tamar makes a fine distinction between “Bodega cats” (small markets that dot the New York cityscape, where cats are often in poor condition and mistreated) to “shop cats” where the cat’s home, from a loving-care standpoint, is the same as yours or mine.

 

Shop Cats of New York is my favorite kind of book—lots of full-page, heartwarming images paired beautifully with charming stories about each featured cat. Arslanian is a heck of a writer, one who may be best known for her blog: IHaveCat.com - “Single in the City with Cat(s)." Tamar looks for the quirky, the adorable, the sometimes heartbreaking in each cat’s tale, but doesn’t overdo it by being too cutesy or overly maudlin.

 

Cshop cats

The book would fall flat without cat photographer extraordinaire, Andrew Martilla’s images. As someone who’s taken thousands of photos of her own cats, I can sincerely appreciate the level of skill it takes to go beyond the cliché posed kitty portrait. Martilla instinctively grabs the decisive moment, where placement, lighting and expression capture the essence of each cat’s personality. Martilla admits he only had 30 minutes or so to photograph each cat; hardly time to focus the camera while his subjects were moving around, unwilling sit still for more than a second. The shops were open during photography so he had the extra challenge: how to side-step customers and balance being unobtrusive with making images.

SCONY sample image 4  Bobo

There’s one image in particular photo that really stands out. It’s a portrait of a big orange tabby named Lionel, who lives in a hobby shop. On first glance, you don’t even see Lionel amidst the clutter of the shop’s counter, but once you find him, you’re caught in his steady gaze. There’s a quality, that doesn’t depend on photoshop tricks or a studio lighting set up that reminds me of a Bernice Abbott image. There’s an honesty and simplicity in capturing this moment that’s very appealing. (You can see what I mean and meet Lionel on page 134.)

Shop Cats of New York is a hefty, gorgeously printed book by Harper Design. It’s a page-turner that’s guaranteed to delight cat-lovers of any age, and one of the best books about cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Until recently, Shop Cats was sold out, but thankfully the publisher has more in stock. You can grab a copy HERE before they sell out again.

Tamar Signs
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Signing away! This could be yours!

If you’d like to win a Free AUTOGRAPHED copy of SCNY, simply leave a comment here on why you’d like to win. Most amusing comment, as judged by me, by Friday, January 13 (which would have been my daddy’s 87th birthday) 2017 at 11:11 AM EST will win.

Tamar and Andrew Signing R Olson copy
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Ms. Arslanian and Mr. Martilla.

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Bonus Bit

 

I had the pleasure of attending a book signing of SCofNY at MEOW Parlour, a cat café, some of whose cats are featured in the book. The café is clean and charmingly laid out, with doting caretakers and a few adoptable, adorable cats in residence. Two of the rescue-cats are siblings named Fanny and Nicky, who have CH (cerebellar hypoplasia). They also have a variety of cat-themed merchandise that was hard to resist (I didn’t. I got a really cute patch for my jacket.).

 

MEOW Parlour partners with KittyKind a terrific New York City based cat rescue. Their collaboration has helped find homes for over 100 cats to date.

CH Kitty Napping R Olson copy
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Nicky napping.

Tamar and Kitten R Olson copy
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Tamar has Cat!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

The Last Feral Cat. Part 2 of 2.

[continued from part 1]

This time it was a nip, not as serious as that first chomp, but it made me recoil in fear. What did I do to cause this or did Barry have aggression issues? Barry was bored. I felt it in my gut. He needed out of the crate.

When the day finally arrived for him to come inside I was both worried and relieved. First, I had to get him out of the crate and into a cat carrier so I could bring him into my home. I purposely skipped Barry's dinner the night before, thinking if he was hungry enough I could lure him into the cat carrier with food. I was terrified that if he didn't cooperate and I had to handle him that it would end badly for me. But Barry was being Barry. Show him food and Barry will go anywhere you want. I had to give his behind a quick shove so as to not get his tail stuck in the door of the carrier, but he went right inside. He was too focused on food to mind. Whew.

This was it. Time to find out what Barry was made of. Would he continue to be aggressive or would he relax with space to move around and the company of another cat? He'd been friends with Bronte. Surely he and Mia would be friends, too. I prayed that being out of the cage would be what Barry needed to begin to blossom and where I could finally trust him.

Barry looking out window 650
©2015 Robin AF Olson. It made me sad that Barry spent countless hours looking out the lone window in the bathroom. I knew he was safe where he was. He wanted to get outside, but since he wasn’t feral I had to give him every chance.

Barry was a bit bossy with Mia at first, but there was enough room for the cats to have their own space. My instructor urged me to do two, 15-minute play sessions every day with Barry. He loved them and it helped him relax afterwards. What was so completely charming was how awkward Barry was when he dove after a toy. His body was not built like a gymnast, more like a wrestler. He'd dive after a toy, then thud onto the floor. His eyes lit up and he wheezed as he vigorously grabbed at the toy then bit hard into it. Finally, something else was getting bitten besides me.

Barry 11 15 400
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Handsome man.

One night I sat on the floor and encouraged Barry to come over to me. I reached out for him and pulled him onto my lap. He sat there like a brick. His body was heavy and solid. I carefully petted him, worried I would over-stimulate him and cause him to bite again. He sat there quietly, but I was tense. Barry sensed it, too. He got up and jumped onto a small cat condo. I froze since he was towering over me. I spoke to him quietly and reached out to pet him. His mouth opened to take another bite of my hand, but this time I disengaged with him, got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind me. He could not do that to me or anyone or I'd never get him adopted. My non-reaction was a message to him that he wasn't going to get what he wanted by biting.

Barry and Mia play time 11 2015
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Barry and Mia at playtime.

A few months passed and Barry and Mia became friends. I even played with Mia when I had a session with Barry. It helped her come out of her shell a little bit more, too. Barry continued to charm me but I felt terrible he was in such a small space. I cleared off the top of my washing machine and put a cat bed on top of it. He loved hanging out there since it was big enough to hold him, unlike the cat trees that were woefully inadequate. Though I was still a bit on edge, I began to worry less and less that Barry would bite me. The more time we spent together, the more I saw him as a clown instead of a fearsome beast.

©2015 Robin AF Olson. Barry & Mia, BFFs.

Barry’s biggest change was when I was finally able to move him and Mia into the main foster room. There Barry quickly made friends with Jelly (who was in a big crate recovering from surgery on his leg) and his brother, Lolli, who wasn’t too thrilled, but eventually accepted the newcomers. I had a large wicker basket that I put on top of a storage container, about a foot off the ground. I had an old rag rug that I lined the basket with. It became Barry’s favorite place to hang out and I often found him there, belly up, snoring softly.

Barry on the washer R olson copy
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Barry, the washing machine attendant.

Jelly and Lolli got adopted, giving Barry and Mia plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy life. There are two sunny windows in the room, one that was very large and overlooked the same spot in the front yard where I first saw Barry so many months before. Barry had been up for adoption for awhile, but I didn't get much interest in him. Last week I got an application that looked good, but they have a young daughter. They asked me if Barry really couldn’t go to a family with young children because their kids had been around a cranky old cat and knew to be careful AND they were falling in love with Barry’s big head and goofy markings (intact male cats get really big heads. In the northern USA, we call them “apple heads” and in the south they call them “biscuit heads”).

We discussed Barry in detail and they sounded like a perfect match. Sam and I did a home visit and their home is more windows than walls and is surrounded by the woods. They promised not to let Barry outside and they agreed to give him time to adjust and not overwhelm him.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Barry and his new family (with Freya).

Nearly a year after I first trapped Barry, he found his forever home. Frankly, I’m in awe. I had no idea we’d ever find something for him, but he’d blossomed and mellowed out so much (he hasn’t bitten me for at least for six months!) that it shouldn't have surprised anyone that he found a home. I didn't want to admit it, but I'd become very attached to the big lug. He makes me laugh. He talks to me some times. He lays belly up and hugs tight onto his rainbow catnip toy. He's a far cry from the cat who tried to rip through the screen to get into my house. Now he licks Mia’s head and chases her around the room. He lets the just-arrived foster kittens push him out of his food. He’s a big, (17 pounds now!), dopey, love bug.

Living in a home with two parents and their two young kids is a good match for Barry and though I will never know, maybe he had a home like that once long ago. This time he won’t lose his home when times get tough, because I’ll always have his back. This time he'll be in a place where he's appreciated and cared for and where he's valued.

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Barry funky 10 2015
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Barry in the blue bathroom.

 

For the first time in almost ten years, Sam and I decided to close off the screened porch so our own cats could finally use it. We haven’t seen any cats in our yard over the past year so it was time. Barry may be the last cat I will ever trap. Now I can go back to doing what I do best, and that’s caring for kittens and their moms.

 

I miss you, Barry, but I’m glad I miss you because you’re in your forever home than because I didn’t give you a chance and you were lost to us as Bronte was. Have a wonderful, loved life, big guy. You deserve it.

And please don’t rip up any more window screens.

©2015 Robin AF Olson. A year later, a very mellow fellow with his catnip rainbow.

What A Mother Won't Do for Her Kittens

Her claws dug into the wooden grate and tugged, tugged hard. Beyond the grate in the shadows under the house, she could see a safe place to hide away from the tidal pool, the animals there, the wetness that could sweep up and drown her if the rains continued to fall. She was so close to Long Island Sound she could hear the hiss of the waves as they reached the shore, but she didn’t care for a trip to the beach. She had far more important things on her mind.

A little black and white, tuxedo cat named Izzy was pregnant and desperate to find a place to give birth, but time was running out. Izzy bit and clawed at the grate. One corner was loose. If she kept pulling she’d be able to remove the grate and enter the depths of the underside of the house, but she'd have to rip out some insulation, too. No other animals had been there, she could smell the sweet earth and staleness of the fiberglass and knew she’d be safe. Her kittens were wriggling inside her. She knew they’d be coming soon so she continued to claw away even though her claws were breaking, the sheaths splintering off into the grass.

At last the grate gave way and Izzy clawed at the insulation ripping it to shreds as she made her way under the house as far back as she could; away from the wet, the wild, the world.

Compliation 475
©2016 Dana Kane, used with permission. Photos of Izzy under the house, then as the kittens get trapped and ready for a trip to "Aunt Katherine's House." If you look carefully, the bottom center image shows the area Izzy dug out to have her kittens.

Two weeks later…

 

Izzy gave birth the first night under the house to four kittens and began to care and feed them while she herself was slowly starving. She foraged for food but she couldn’t be away from her kittens for more than a few minutes so often her attempts were unsuccessful. It was unusually cold for May, the nights especially so. Many other kittens born outdoors weren’t going to survive and the odds were against Izzy's too.

 

One day a lady noticed the broken grate and pieces of insulation. She assumed it was done by a raccoon or opossum and didn’t think much of it until she saw Izzy duck under the house. Not long after that she saw a kitten, then another. She loved animals dearly, but didn’t know what to do. Of course she could put down food for the mama cat, but what about the kittens?

It’s not always easy to find help for a mom and kittens. Rescues and shelters are overloaded, especially this time of year with other moms and kittens who need help. The woman called and emailed and after a week had passed she finally found Katherine, from Animals in Distress, who was willing to come help trap the family and get them to safety. Katherine had no problem getting the kittens, but she had to return to the home a few times, in the middle of the night and early the next morning on only a few hours sleep, until she finally trapped Izzy.

Mom and boyfriend 475
©2016 Katherine Reid, Animals in Distress. Used with Permission. While hoping Izzy would get into the trap, along comes who we think is the "baby daddy"! He's getting trapped next!

 

Once trapped, the problem was that Katherine only had one space for the family, in a big crate inside her bathroom. It wasn’t ideal. Katherine has other cats. The more cats, the more chance of spreading disease to the kittens, whose immune systems were just developing. The best thing would be to move the cats into a home with no or few other cats, but where would that be?

 

That's where I came in.

Over the past year and a half I’ve been struggling to find a home for Laney and 15 of her offspring. I’m down to the final two, Jelly and Lolly, and frankly I was dreaming about taking a break when they got adopted, but part of me was also yearning to be around kittens. I’ve missed having little ones running around, learning to be confident little cats. I miss the joy of seeing them thrive, though I don’t miss the heartache of seeing them get sick or worse.

I knew we had the space to take on the mom and kittens, but SURPRISE, I’d also just said OKAY to taking on six orphan kittens from two different kill shelters (stay tuned for updates on them)! Now what would I do?

Snuggling with Mom 6 2 16 650
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Our marvelous mama, Izzy.

Thankfully I have another foster home with Ms. J and her family. I love these guys to pieces. They always jump at the chance to foster but they’ve never had LITTLE kittens. There’s a lot to learn and it can be a very tricky few weeks. At least there was Izzy to feed and clean the kittens. They were almost 4 weeks old and would start using the litter pan and eating on their own, but they needed guidance to do that. Could I oversee their care when they were in another home? Would they be willing to take on such a task? Inasmuch as they were new to fostering kittens, I needed to do a great job passing on my knowledge to them.

It took a few days to work out the details. Katherine grew ever more frantic that the kittens would get sick. I understood having had so many kittens suffering from upper respiratory tract infections from being in kill shelters. She called around to other rescues just in case I had to say no.

 

What was really great was that Ms. J and family were ready for the challenge. They knew that there are plenty of risks involved…that something very bad could happen if they weren’t careful and even if they were careful. You have to have a big brave heart to do rescue and be willing to be crushed, then do it again and again because you love cats, because you need to help make their lives better. If Ms. J hadn’t said yes, this story could have ended in a much darker way.

 

Slumbering family 6 2 16 650
©2016 Robin AF Olson.

So I began to shop for things the kittens would need: baby food (chicken!), goat's milk, syringes, cotton pads (to help them eliminate their wastes), pee pee pads, paper towels, cat food for mom. I put together a trunk full of stuff including a new baby scale. The kittens have to be weighed every day to ensure they are growing properly and so we know if they need some help with extra supplemental feedings.

Two days ago, Katherine, Ms. J and family and I met to get Izzy and family set up in their new foster home. Ms. J’s two daughters were glowing they were so excited. As Katherine introduced us to each kitten, we all swooned. We have a litter of four tabbies, with lovely sharp-edged stripes along their brown fur.

Sleeping Cuties
©2016 Robin AF Olson.

Katherine and I began talking about what to do for the kittens, how to do it, when to do it, all while the kittens were being passed from one of us to the other. We marveled at their markings and took notes about which two were our boys and which two were our girls. Two of the kittens, a boy and girl, are almost identical with the exception that the girl has a tiny white tip one her tail. We hugged and kissed them, welcoming them to Kitten Associates.

Sweet dreams r olson
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Safe, with mama and a fully belly, it doesn't get any better than this.

It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to rescue one kitty family. It also takes resources and that’s something we need a lot of help with. These kittens will need vaccinations, de-worming, to be spayed or neutered. Izzy eats as much as three adult cats and fairly soon the kittens will be eating cat food, too.

 

Katherine and I focus on doing the right thing for cats in need. We hope that our efforts will be appreciated and that in the end when we need help, it will be there for our foster cats. Without it we simply can’t keep our doors open or rescue another cat.

 

Bottle Feeding Baby 1 400
©2016 Robin AF Olson. One of the boys gets some extra nom noms.

That’s where you come in.

 

Since the kittens do not have names yet, I’ve decided that for every donation of $10 or more, YOU CAN MAKE NAME SUGGESTIONS. We’ll review the suggestions and we may pick yours. It’s one way we can say thank you for loving what we do and for caring about our kitties.

 

Be a part of our life-saving efforts by sharing your love in the following ways:

For super fast donations of a specific amount use:

$10 Donation make a name suggestion for one or more kittens

$25 Donation helps keep Izzy's tummy full

$50 Donation provides cat food and treats

$75 Donation lots more cat food, toys and treats or first vaccinations for all the cats

$100 Donation covers spay/neuter one kitten

$200 Donation which sponsors one kitten's complete vet care

Make a donation HERE to use our DONATE TODAY button (and yes, you can use your credit card).

 

Send a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Kitten Associates IS a 501c3 non-profit rescue so your donation is tax deductible. Our EIN is 27-3597692

Purchase cat food or chicken baby food or teenie tiny toys through our Amazon.com Wish List so you can choose exactly what gift you’d like to give to our foster kitties.

Purchase catnip-free cat toys at Purrfect Play. We LOVE their toys because they're small and not scary to growing kittens. Since we have six MORE kittens coming in, we'd welcome more toys! You can ship to our P.O. Box 354 (see above).

Bottle FEedig Yuck R Olson 400
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Learning how to syringe-feed. Yum!

Every single dollar adds up and no gift is too small. We appreciate everything we get and sharing on social media helps, too!

We’re working on getting Squee TV HD up and running so you can watch our kittens 24/7 so stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates and a link to the web cam!

Thank you to the family who found Izzy and went to bat for her and made sure she found safe harbor with Katherine and I’m not thanking Katherine because she knows why. Hee hee…hey..we blogger/cat rescuers have to have a few secrets once in awhile.

 

NAME THESE KITTENS

 

Little boy two 400
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Boy 1

Little Girl no white 650
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Girl 2

Maybe little girl 475
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Girl 3

Little Guy 650
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Boy 4

©2016 Robin AF Olson.

MEOW: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition

 

MEOW: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum, now—Sept 4, 2016

 

“WAM takes the theme of cats by the tail with this one-of-a-kind, multi-faceted project. Meow includes an exhibition exploring the feline as an iconic element of art, a self-guided "cat walk" through the Museum, an interactive installation featuring live cats, a community art show, a naughty kitty take-over of Helmutt's House, a dog show curated by Helmutt, and special art classes. From serious art to mischievous fun, Meow promises to tickle the whiskers of museum and cat-lovers alike!”

---from the WAM web site

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I was delighted to be a guest of WAM for the Opening Party for Meow: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition just a few nights ago. The building was packed with feline fanciers galore as well as costumed cat-racters (sorry, had to!) like Hello Kitty and the Cat in the Hat.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. HELLO KITTY. HELLO ROBIN.

It was the place to fly your furry feline flag meanwhile celebrating artwork from modern day submissions by the community, to an Albrecht Dürer woodcut from the 15th century. There were also varying cat-centric pieces of art peppered throughout the museum in addition to two special installations featuring a wide range of artistic styles.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. WAM interior courtyard. where we got chastised for almost leaning on the walls (the docent said "everything here is art!").

As an added bonus to the dazzling display of artwork, was a chance to have a poster autographed by Emily the Strange artist/illustrator, Rob Reger. I jumped at the chance to chat with Mr Reger, being a fan of his work. The line moved painfully slowly, but before I could become annoyed, I realized it was because Mr. Reger was adding artwork to each poster, taking time to speak with each person on line (most often a child). He was clearly tired (a new daddy), but eager and interested to listen and interact with everyone. He was charming and even seemed to brighten up when I mentioned I ran a non-profit cat rescue. His wife, nearby with their newborn, was equally charming and friendly. Mr. Reger asked if we’d seen his new line of Kitty Gems. They are hand-cast, very limited production run sculptures made of colored polyurethane. They were so pretty it was tough to choose a favorite. He clearly understands how to express the form of a cat without being cutesy or heavy-handed. The moderne-style figures were a true delight and I’m certain most cat art aficionados will be jumping at the chance to add them to their collection.

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Emily the Strange goodies.

I was glad to tour the exhibit with my friend and fellow cat-rescuing-blogger, Connie who writes Tails from the Foster Kittens. Though we were disappointed that the cats-in-residence program hadn’t opened yet (it’s not set to open until July 13, 2016), it was very enjoyable to discover so many pieces of art dedicated to cats. The Community Cats section was my favorite. I was so surprised that WAM opened up their space to the general public to submit their own offerings of cat-themed art. This seems out-of-the-norm of what an art museum would do, but then again, why not? Art is everywhere and cat lovers especially want to share their love for cats by honoring them artistically. It was delightful to see a great range of artistic skills from pieces done by young children to very talented professional artists.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Rob Reger signing my poster.

As the music played on and the crowds grew larger, Connie and I headed towards the gift shop, hoping to score some goodies before we called it a night. As a cat-blogger and cat lover I could barely wait to see what I might discover. Though the selection was good I was very disappointed to find out that there was no exhibition catalog or really much of anything that had artwork from the show on it. Perhaps they underestimated what cat-fans would want to bring home with them or that there were permission and copyright issues with using any of the community submitted art. I hope they decide to open this exhibit again, but make it bigger and have more goodies available to purchase.

Robin and Cat
©2016 Robin AF Olson. Me and...?

 

You know how we cat parents are, we can’t get enough goodies for ourselves if there’s a cat on it AND heck, where were the artistic cat toys?

 

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If time allows I may travel back to Worcester to scope out the Cats-in-Residence Program featuring the Worcester Animal Rescue League. This exhibit is a human/cat contemporary art installation featuring ADOPTABLE CATS. I LOVE THIS IDEA. It helps take the stigma off shelter cats and for those of us who feel too scared or sad to go to a shelter, they can experience the cats in an art installation. I hope they all get adopted the first day and…when can my rescue take part in this?

Arlene Skaran ROlson
The Hunter, The Hunted, Arlene Skaran, 2014.

Instead of being stuffy and elitist, it’s clear that WAM’s goal is to be inclusive and light-hearted by taking a chance on a somewhat off-beat subject matter. I applaud their efforts and hope you’ll check out this delightful exhibition.

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Buster Doesn't Like the Smell of Fabreze, by Heather Meri Stewart, 2013.

 

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Socks by Karen Maust, 2013.

MEOW: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition runs through September 4, 2016.

Timmy's Ashes Project. One Cat Who Changed the World.

When I was 16, my very first serious boyfriend and I traveled about 90 minutes from my parents home to the “northwest corner” of Connecticut. My boyfriend wanted to impress me by taking me somewhere romantic and it was a big deal to be able to go so far from home, alone with a boy! I remember walking hand-in-hand with him, feeling like we’d always be together. A sparkling waterfall roared nearby, but we were too in love to hear it, busy sneaking kisses along the steep path to the top of the falls where we could kiss some more.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Covered bridge entrance to Kent Falls.

Kent Falls is far more than a tiny state park nestled into the shoulder of a the southern Berkshire mountains. After almost 4 decades, it’s entered my bloodstream. Although my boyfriend and I didn’t last, I continued to visit the falls over the years, especially off-season, right after a heavy rain. The falls were almost bursting at the seams and the effect was dramatic.

My mother and I often went to the falls together and, in fact, today, when I returned there, I flashed back to those times. I had a difficult relationship with my mother, but at Kent Falls we were too busy taking photos to get on each other’s nerves…okay until she asked me, as she often did, to stand somewhere precarious so she could get a good photo. If I fell to my death, she’d worry about getting the shot over saving my life, but in a way I couldn’t blame her. We often walked the trails in the area watching others get a bit too close to the water’s edge. My mother would whisper to me; “FALL!” hoping her desire to see someone fall into the raging river would come to pass. Did I say my mother was a sweet angel? No. I did not.

2005 Mum on the Rock
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. My mother on the "do not climb" area.

Our last trip to Kent Falls was about 6 months before my mother died. Her passing was unexpected and terribly shocking. She’d kept her heart failure a secret from me and I found out the hard way when she didn’t answer her phone one morning and I raced to her home to find her already gone from this world. It was this last trip that was our best, and why Timmy’s Ashes Stones needed to become part of our memory tapestry there.

I was driving north, about 30 minutes away from the falls. My mother and I weren’t saying much, the usual tension filled the air. Off to our right, soaring high above us we saw a large bird.

I said to my mother; “Is that a bald eagle?”

“Yes, I think it is!” she replied excitedly.

Then suddenly, what at first looked like a white ribbon, quickly emerged out of the back of the eagle and fell just as quickly to the earth.

Once again I asked my mother; “Was that what I think it was? Did that eagle just take a shit?”

Without pause, my mother turned to me and put her hand on my arm. She replied; Turn the car around and head home. It can’t get any better than this.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. One of Timmy's stones. It reads: "Timmy was here."

Both laughing, the tension evaporated between us. By the time we reached the falls they were broiling and bubbling as we’d never seen before. The nearby Bulls Bridge area was terrifying, the river was lapping against the banks as we passed a bit too close by on a tiny slick path that hugged the side of a hill. We got our photos. We didn’t fall to our death (or see anyone fall, though one guy was pushing his luck) and before we headed home we stopped at a café and had grilled cheese sandwiches and tea. It was a perfect day.

I cherish this place like no other, so that’s why today, on a brisk, brilliant day, I drove my car north, to Kent Falls. It was the first time I’d been there since my mother died so it was an especially meaningful trip.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Base of Kent Falls near where I placed the stones.

When I arrived, there were barely a handful of people at the park. As I walked over the narrow wooden covered bridge to access the grounds, one that was built in the early 1930’s, as the ghosts of my past came to visit me. On that bridge, faded and softened with time, are my initials carved into the wood, along with those of my first boyfriend, David. I can’t even find them now, but I know they're still there. The dreams of our life together are long gone, but the memory of that first love will always be in my heart.

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As I walked along the path that lead to the falls, I remembered holding my young nephew’s hand on his first pilgrimage to this place, my mother urging us to stop every few steps so she could take another picture of us. She couldn’t capture the feeling of family, of love and togetherness. She was too uncomfortable to be affectionate or say; “I love you,” but we knew she did as she clicked the shutter, yelling at her quirky old autofocus camera to “FOCUS DAMMIT!”

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson.

Then my thoughts turned to Timmy, a cat I’ve never met, who’s life was cruelly shortened by a toxic exposure to over-the-counter flea treatments. I think about his mom, Claudia and how her heart is broken now that Timmy’s gone. I think about how if Timmy hadn’t gotten sick, Claudia never would have created a non-toxic soap that my rescue, Kitten Associates, can safely use on the tiniest of kittens. How I don’t have to worry I’m going to harm the most innocent of creatures because one woman loved her cat so very much and who loved all of us so very much that she wanted to protect every cat and dog in the whole wide world.

 

So she did.

 

It takes a certain kind of brave heart to be able to face the painful daily reminder of seeing your cat wobble when he walks, his nerves forever damaged, but to turn that heartache into helping others so they never have to see their own cat suffer, too—well that needs to be honored.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

That’s why I wanted to tell you about my most special place on earth. It’s full of ghosts, tears and laughter, but mostly it’s filled with love.

 

As I walked up an incline near the falls, I found a place very close to the water, but not too close so that Timmy’s memorial stones would wash away. I knew that even if they did, that was okay, too because Timmy’s memory would move along the river and find a new place to be discovered. Now his stones are part of my memory and part of my life. He may have been a cat I’ve never met, but his loss is just as vivid as if I lost one of my own.

©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Stone placement.

I sat on a fallen tree near the falls after I placed and photographed the stones. There was no one else around and I was glad to have some privacy. I cried for Timmy, for how unfair it was that he died so young. I cried for his mom, Claudia, wishing I could give her a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay and that I’m so proud of what she’s done to honor her beloved cat. I cried because I wish I’d hear my mother’s voice, tell me to sit up straight and tip my head down, just a tiny bit, so I wouldn’t have a double chin in the photo she was about to take of me. I cried because somehow 40 years have slipped by and I realize I haven’t done enough good in my own life.

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Geotag of stones.

 

Timmy and Claudia are an inspiration to me and a reminder to all of us that one cat with one person who loves them CAN change the world. I hope that tonight when you’re with your cat or cats, you think about ways you can make the world a better place for all of us and get out there and do just that.

 

Fly free sweet Timmy. Thank you and your mom for making our world a better, safer place.

#TimmysAshesProject

#TinyTimmy

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Thank you for allowing me to be a ripple in the wave.

A Gift for You. A Gift for Us, too.

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Thanks to the kind and generous people at Satiama, we're thrilled to announce a great offer that enriches the lives of children and adults AND helps our rescue efforts!

 

For your donation of just $50 (or more) to our rescue, Kitten Associates, Satiama will donate to the first 30 contributors, one of any of your choice of products. (some of the selections are shown in the image above). Choose an award-winning children's book, Spirit Animal Cards or a CD of Four Guided Meditation Journeys. Free shipping is included!

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HOW IT WORKS:

 

1. Go to Satiama, check out their offerings. Choose your favorite book, cards or CD from those listed on THIS PAGE.

2. DONATE $50 to Kitten Associates using the DONATE TODAY button. Please include your selection in the PayPal notes when you make your donation and include your USPS mailing address. Delivery in the US only. Media mail will be used when possible. Sorry, but NO exchanges.

This offer is good until March 15, 2016.

First hours in foster care

Spring is almost here and along with it will be more kittens who will be in dire need of rescue. Your donation today will help us prepare for those neediest of creatures and also provide for kitties like Lady Saturday, below, a senior kitty who requires extensive medical care for the rest of her life.

Lady At Vet
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Lady Saturday in Intensive Care just after her rescue. A year later Saturday's had two weeks in ICU, a dental cleaning, an ultrasound, lots of blood tests and is now being treated for chronic kidney disease and getting sub q fluids three times a week. We never let costs stand in the way of appropriate care for every cat who is in our program.

Thank you SO MUCH to our friend Karen, one of the owners of Satiama, for her endless enthusiasm for our work and for her compassion and generosity. Thank you to everyone for helping keep our doors open and making it possible for us to continue to save lives!

Satiama

REVIEW: The Cutest Book in the World?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harper Design. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Japanese are the masters of the cutie-verse like no other culture in the world. My lust for all things kitty-san started with Hello Kitty back in the 1980s (yes, according to die-hard fans, I know she was "born" in England, but Sanrio, the parent company touted with creating HK is a Japanese company). For many years I've been putting together a small collection of Japanese books, collectibles and toys featuring cute-ific felines, so you can imagine my delight when a certain book arrived in my mailbox. They had me at the title: AMI AMI KITTENS: Seriously Cute Crochet!

What IS Ami Ami? Using crochet, a new craft form called Amigurumi; which translated means knitted stuffed toy, was born...but what crafty artists do with this form is what makes it so special.

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In her latest book AMI AMI KITTENS: Seriously Cute Crochet!, Mitsuki Hoshi not only creates amazingly detailed crocheted kitten figures, she places them in perfect miniature scenes, each with delightful details that make the Amigurumi seemingly come to life.

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Excerpt from Ami Ami Kittens by Mitsuki Hoshi. Copyright © 2016 Mitsuki Koshi. A HarperDesign book, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Used with permission.

 

I barely opened the book before I was swept away by the sweetness of each image, which spans the full width of every page. These may be the cutest photos I've ever seen. The tiny kitten figures are photographed as if they're real kittens; being mischievous, acting curious and carefree, only they're made out of yarn. They're so completely adorable that I immediately wanted to learn how to crochet OR beg Ms Hoshi to create some kitten toys for me.

 

Even if you're not crafty, just looking at the photos is enough reason to add this book to your collection because you'll smile every time you turn the page, whether it be the first time or the hundredth time. If you're a cat-loving crafter, there are complete instructions and patterns in the book so you can make your own tiny crocheted kittens.

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Excerpt from Ami Ami Kittens by Mitsuki Hoshi. Copyright © 2016 Mitsuki Koshi. A HarperDesign book, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Used with permission.

 

 

TINY. KNITTED. KITTENS!

 

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Excerpt from Ami Ami Kittens by Mitsuki Hoshi. Copyright © 2016 Mitsuki Koshi. A HarperDesign book, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Used with permission.

Details from the Publisher

AMI AMI KITTENS: Seriously Cute Crochet! (Harper Design; Trade Paperback; On Sale: March 1st, 2016; $14.99) is a craft book following on the heels of the great success of AMI AMI DOGS and AMI AMI DOGS 2, but now for cat lovers!

In AMI AMI KITTENS, crocheters will learn:

- Basic crocheting techniques (perfect for beginners!)

- Spiral techniques to ensure stuffing will not come out

- Patterns and detailed directions for many different types of kittens! Including: Tabby, Pointed, Black/White Solid, Calico, Black and White, Scottish Fold, Siamese, Russian Blue, Munchkin, Maine Coon, British Shorthair, and American Shorthair!

GIVEAWAY

 

If you'd like to WIN a copy of AMI AMI KITTENS: Seriously Cute Crochet! simply leave a comment here about something cute. Enter by 2/14/16 at 11:11PM EST. Winner, as chosen by me, will get one copy of the book. Entrant's mailing address must be in the United States for a chance to win. One comment PER person, please. Comments are moderated to prevent SPAM so it may take a few hours for your entry to appear. BOOK MAY NOT SHIP UNTIL AFTER THE PUBLICATION DATE of March 1, 2016.

 

In a Perfect World. The Way Station.

I didn't have much time to mourn Laney, Winnie and Piglet leaving to go to their forever home because the day after their adoption a family contacted me, interested in Louie and Larry. I'd had a few applications on the boys over the past year they've been here, but none of them were a good fit. This one sounded promising, but I never assume anything until the cats leave in a carrier.

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©2014 Kitten Associates. Just a few months old, Louie (left) and brother Larry (right).

Louie and Larry were two cats I never really got to know well. The girls were so much more affectionate that even though I tried to handle the boys, the girls were always in the way. Originally there were nine cats in the room who all needed attention. Sadly, the ones who didn't get as much, ended up being a bit more shy. I knew as the cats got adopted I'd be able to spend more time with whoever was left, but I was already concerned because if the boys didn't warm up, it could mean they'd be here a lot longer.

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©2014 Kitten Associates. Laney with her last litter, including Louie and Larry.

It was unsettling, entering the foster room and only seeing the four boys. The room felt empty without the girls buzzing around my ankles, purring and chirping their greeting to me. I longed for the familiar routine, but I also appreciated the fact that I had a lot less food to give out and less in the litter pan to scoop. After five and a half years of having a room constantly filled with cats, it was nice to have the numbers go down a bit. I wondered if it would ever be empty again.

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©2014 Kitten Associates. A little over a week old.

The boys really missed their mom. They were more shy with me than before. But fairly soon they were taking over her routine of chirping and meowing at me when I brought them their meals. Larry, especially, became more outgoing and even came over to me to be petted. He and Louie are such handsome boys. I felt badly for not admiring them more sooner. I always enjoyed play time with them because Louie, especially, would go crazy after the toys, growling to the others to stay back when he had his mouth on the prize. He'd fly after a toy and run until he was panting. If I kept on he'd chase the toy until he fell over.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney's kittens with Piglet.

 

Yesterday, I spent some time with the boys before Renee and her family came to meet them. They seemed a bit more relaxed around me and Larry even enjoyed being petted, instead of running away when I approached him. As my fingers rubbed behind his ear, he began to purr. It was the first time I'd heard it since he arrived here from Georgia last March. I imagined it being a sweet parting gift IF he and Louie were to be adopted. I really wasn't sure if the boys were going to go. They never showed well, always hiding when strangers entered the room. I'd told Renee about that when I did the home visit, but she and her husband have had cats "forever" and their two boys were raised with cats. Maybe it would be a good fit in time.

 

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. A very grown up, Larry.

The family arrived and all the cats hid. The room was noisy and filled with Renee, her husband and two sons. I tried to get everyone to settle down, grabbing some cat toys to help the cats forget to be scared. Distraction with play time is a great way to help cats gain confidence in stressful situations and this was certainly one of them.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. What always happens when I try to take a photo.

Louie and Larry began to play right away while Jelly Belly and Lolli seemed to evaporate into a parallel universe. Everyone was chatting and asking questions about the cats. They'd come to see all four cats, but I knew that Jelly and Lolli wouldn't be a good fit. They're just too fearful, especially Lolli, to be with a family of four who live in a very big house. It would be too much for them to handle and they'd only hide even more. My hope was that if they started the boys off in their own room for a week or two, that they'd be able to manage. But would they be adopted?

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Larry. Named after our vet, Dr. Larry.

 

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Louie, in his spot overlooking the front yard.

They boys began to tire. Renee's husband reached out and was able to pet Larry. Once that happened I had hope this adoption would go through. The boys are truly sweet cats, but they also need time to blossom and maybe this family would give them that chance.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Silly Louie.

I left the room so the family could decide what they wanted to do. They could go anywhere and adopt any cats they wanted. My boys were over 10 pounds now, a far cry from the kittens they once were. Part of me didn't want to see them go since I'd just said goodbye to their mom, but part of me yearns for foster kittens and the emptier the room, the sooner I can fill it up again.

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©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. Louie (above) while brother Larry (below) is not far away.

 

A little while later, the decision: Louie and Larry were going to their new home. Laney and Winnie's family was broken up for good. The co-parenting they did, the way they all slept in a big pile together every night was really over now. I'd have Jelly and Lolli left while the others went off to live their new life with their forever families. It's how it's meant to be. It's my job. As happy as I was to know they were on their way, part of me longed for the way things used to be and my heart ached over having to separate any of the cats from each other.

 

The Boys 450 R Olson
©2016 Robin A.F. Olson. The most handsome of handsome.

I can only do this if I believe the cats are going to a good home. I remind myself that I can't give them the love and time they deserve. I can't give them the space to run around and explore. I can't even sleep with them each night. My home is just the way station. Now they can begin their life without restrictions (other than staying indoors!).

Happy life, boys. May you only know love and joy in your new home. Congratulations to you and your family.

In a Perfect World.

When I think about Laney and look into her owly-shaped pale-lime colored eyes, I feel relief. She weighs a bit over 10 pounds now. Her fur is sleek and silky, her expression sparkles with vitality. The fleas and parasites that plagued her body over a year and a half ago, are long gone. Her womb is no longer filled with a rag tag mix of kittens. Her fourth known litter was her last because we had her spayed. Instead of trying to scrape together a meal, living outdoors with filthy pest-covered kibble to sustain her, her meals are nutritious and brought to her twice a day.

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