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Just One Person. How to Save the Lives of Shelter Cats.

Many years ago when I was first fostering, I’d heard about conditions cats and dogs face in the southern United States at overcrowded municipal shelters. At the time I didn’t want to know any details. I kept my eyes to the ground and just fostered a few kittens here or maybe an entire family, but never too many to feel overwhelmed. I was protecting myself from a heartbreaking truth that I was convinced I couldn’t do anything about because I was just one person. Fostering a few kittens meant giving back to my community and helping cats. I didn’t have to find them homes, my “boss” did that. I didn’t have to get too attached because I only had the kittens for a week or two.

In fact, there were times when I could have learned more about terrible conditions right here in my own state when the rescue I volunteered for helped out with a hoarder, but I couldn’t handle it. I told them not to tell me or “I’d lose it.”

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Clyde is an adult with very sad eyes who was pulled from a Georgia kill-shelter because Joan knew he was doomed. He turned out to be FIV positive, but is a sweet cat. He has been neutered and given his vaccines. This VERY lucky adult may even have a home waiting for him thanks to Joan!

Because I write this blog, invariably someone will see my words and it will effect them, which in turn will end up changing my life, too. That’s how I finally gained the courage to open my eyes to the plight of cats and kittens in the south-one person who already knew about the horrors contacted me, asking me to help. She ended up being one of our most important volunteers, our first foster home and the key to beginning to make a difference in the lives of cats from the south.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Polly is a tuxedo polydactyl who very sweet. She is due to be spayed soon, but otherwise is fully vetted and healthy. Please contact Joan to inquire about adopting this cutie.

 

The horrors these days, with Facebook abuzz with pleas for help, seems almost trivial because it’s not a secret: overcrowded shelters euthanize cats and kittens, even ones just born, to make space. Most don’t get more than a day or two to get out via a rescue or adoption. Since kittens get sick so quickly, with their lack of a mature immune system, often they are the first to die. It makes me cry to even write about it, even after all these years of facing the ugly truth that if people don’t spay or neuter their pets, this will continue on and on.

 

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. These kittens had runny eyes and were pulled in the nick of time right before the shelter killed 21 other cats and kittens. Without a foster home these kittens wouldn't have made it.

Even though my rescue is small, we’ve made a difference in more than 500 cats' lives by directly rescuing them from shelters or by networking online to help others. It’s like emptying the ocean with a spoon, but it’s something-and for those cats it means everything.

 

That’s why when someone else, who is “just one person,” reaches out for help to rescue cats in need, I will try to do something and that’s the case for my friend, Joan Flores.

 

Joan is based in Chattanooga, TN and has been helping dogs and cats for as long as I’ve known her. Even though Joan is admittedly flat out exhausted and trying to step back from doing rescue so she can work on rebuilding her business (which took a big hit earlier this year), she can’t let animals die without trying to do something, anything to help.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Happy and safe and no more sniffles, thanks to Joan.

 

Joan recently contacted me telling me the bad news-that this “kitten season” is one of the worst anyone can recall. Every week cats and kittens are being put down for no good reason other than there’s no place to put them all.

 

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. This little one, her mother and the rest of her family were put down before 8AM, before Joan had a chance to beg for their lives. She had no open foster home for them. That's all it would have taken to save them. This post is dedicated to these little angels.

I realize that this scary and sad news might make you want to tuck your head under the blanket, but I’m going to ask you to try to be brave with me, with Joan, with our foster mom, Moe, with Bobby, Warren, Mary Jo, Kendra, Jame, Dorian, Katherine, Connie, Connie S., Adrienne, Amy and SO MANY MORE “just one person” who is trying to make a difference by fostering cats and kittens. If you add up all the cats each of us has fostered, you’re starting to look at some very impressive figures. Be just one, of many and join us.

Right now Joan is in DIRE need of foster homes in Chattanooga, TN area AND pretty much anywhere in central Georgia. I need foster homes HERE in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT. It doesn’t take much to foster but it will keep those cats from dying. Will you be sad when they leave? Sure. But I would much rather be sad that they left me and went to their forever home, then left a shelter in a black plastic bag never having known love or joy.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. The Redemption 5 These kittens were given 24 hours by a shelter (basically because they were messy eaters and they don't want to clean up after them). Thanks to Joan, they are safe but need funds to help with their care. BTW Bath tubs are the BEST place to raise kittens under 8 weeks!

Also, Joan is desperately trying to raise funds to provide surgery for a very pretty Siamese kitty named Amara, who, along with her little scruffy kitten, were destined to be put down. Thanks to Joan, they are safe, but Amara’s eye is in bad shape and she needs surgery.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Amara and son. They tried optical ointments for Amara, but sadly her eye is too damaged to save. It's painful and she needs to have it surgically removed-after which time Amara and her kitten will be available for adoption. See Joan for details (contact info is below).

 

This is not easy or fun to write about, but I'm so passionate about this topic that I truly hope you’ll take a leap of faith and open your home to Joan, our rescue, or ANY rescue in your hometown. Try fostering. Save a life, or two, or four. You’ll feel blessed to be around tiny creatures who have no sadness in their hearts. You’ll find your smile seeing them thrive-even on your worst day. You will make a pledge to be brave, for them, for the little ones who have no hope to live without you.

 

 

Let’s Save Some Lives!

 

Chattanooga, TN area and Georgia friends: Please contact Joan Flores at mcnewappraisals@gmail.com if you’d like to know more about the kittens posted here for adoption or if you’d like to offer assistance by being a foster home.

Please contact ME if you live in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT at info@kittenassociates.org if you’re interested in fostering for us!

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Don't make them wait for a rescue. Foster today!

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Adopt us, too! Contact Joan for details.

Mia's Story. A Very Long Road Part 2

Before I could do a thing I got a call from my friends over at Animals in Distress about a kitten with a serious birth defect and could I just foster her for a weekend?

Continued from Part 1

That was the day I met Freya and you know what happened after that. Freya required round-the-clock care, specialized surgery and lots and lots of vet visits. Freya is still here 8 months later and is now part of the Kitten Associates family. Sadly, once again, Mia would have to wait to be socialized and I felt terrible about that.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya.

Mia’s offspring began to find their forever homes and so did a few of Celeste’s. Whichever cats were still waiting were moved over to the big foster room. Mia was nonplussed with newcomers. In fact I began to wonder if she had a vision problem because she didn’t react to anything. Her eyes were often dilated when I thought they shouldn’t be. She didn’t seem to look at toys if they weren’t making sounds, as if she was blind. I did a few tests but I’m not sure if she saw me or only has shadow vision. She’s too fractious to take to the vet and our vet said unless it’s pretty obvious (like cataracts) it’s tough to tell the degree of vision loss a cat has.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. The first group of Laney's kittens arrive. Jules, Jasper, Jasmine and Junipurr (are all adopted now!).

We began transporting Laney’s family north from Georgia earlier this year. The oldest four came up first and were quickly adopted because they were outstanding cats. One of them, Jules, was adopted along with Wallace, the once tiny kitten we’d taken from the Danbury Fire Department after they’d pulled him out of a concrete wall. Fernando and Astro were adopted together and so were Jasper and Jasmine.

That left Mia and Woody, the kitten no one seemed to want. Because Laney and gang were set to arrive I knew I’d have to move Mia and son into the blue bathroom so Laney’s group could have the bigger space. It meant no sunshine for Mia and Woody since the room faces north. It’s one of the reasons I wish I had more foster homes because this really isn’t an ideal room for a cat.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Woody with his mama-Mia.

With Woody vying for my attention, I could only do a little bit with Mia. I’d tempt her with treats and lightly brush her paw with my finger. I was careful to be at ease with her and not tense. I wanted her to be used to me being around but she always hid in a corner if she heard me coming. She never climbed on the cat tree, which added to my suspicion about her vision. It might also make socializing her much harder if she couldn’t see me very well, if at all.

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Laney and the gang have been here for about 2 months and I hopefully have a lead on ONE home for two of the kitties, but that’s it. Poor Woody, Mia’s remaining son, who has been with us over a YEAR, has never had even one application. I don’t know why we can’t find him a home because he’s amazing, but sadly he’s also keeping me from working with his mom.

During these past few months one of our adopters, who has become a good friend, came to visit the kitties. Her name is Kendra and she teaches art to children. She’s a wonderful artist in her own right and has volunteered to create torn paper portraits for many of our donors (she even did a big one for us of our dearly departed kitten, Fred that you can see on her ETSY page). Kendra is adorable and when she’s with our cats she her voice takes on a magical quality. It sounds a bit like a cross between a little girl and an elf. The cats love it. Even my shy boy Cricket will sit in her lap while she tells him how handsome he is.

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©2015 KendyBo. One of Kendra's many awesome portraits. This is of Jayne Dog, who I wrote about HERE.

I spoke with Kendra about my frustrations with Mia while we were in the blue bathroom with her. Without hesitation, Kendra reached out and started petting Mia while we were talking! WHAT????!!!!

Yeah. She was petting Mia. Mia who had been in our program for over a year and in one second Kendra is petting her.

Did Mia like it? Meh; not so much.

Did Mia bite her or swat at her or growl? No.

It was shortly after that when Kendra contacted me and offered to foster Mia, hopefully unlocking the key to help socialize her. I had my hands more than full and she wanted to help. Kendra’s boyfriend, Brian, had been around feral cats all his life. She referred to him as the “feral cat whisperer.” Once we worked out the details we set a date to begin.

Saturday, Kendra came over to pick up Mia, but first I had to get Mia into a cat carrier.

I was lucky that Mia was in the bathroom because removing hiding places is the key to getting a cat into a carrier when you can’t pick them up. The first thing I did was move Woody out of the room, then move the cat tree, litter pan and anything else giving me full access to Mia. I also knew that because fearful cats feel safer in a small dark space that if I controlled where the small dark space was, then she’d go to it sooner or later.

I knew, too, that Mia had already had this happen to her before so even with a plan of action it might prove difficult.

As I moved things out of the way, Mia dashed across the floor and hid behind the toilet, which was the only thing I couldn’t move. I put the open cat carrier to her right. It was covered with a big towel so it was nice and dark inside. Mia wouldn’t budge.

I had to get the broom. I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t risk being bitten. I tried to keep Mia calm, but she shot between a small space between the toilet and the cat carrier and jumped into the bathtub. She was very scared but didn’t growl or try to attack me. I kept at it, coming towards her, slowly herding her back to the cat carrier.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya peeks in on Mia.

She was so afraid her bladder let go. I felt so badly when I saw the pale yellow fluid run out from under her tail. I wanted to rinse her off, but it was make or break and she needed to get into the carrier. I used the broom to carefully push her towards the open cat carrier. She wouldn’t move at first, but then suddenly made a run for it, this time into the cat carrier. I closed the door behind her and made sure it was closed properly.

I told her I was very sorry and I truly was. I opened the door to the bathroom and Woody entered. He was distressed, too. He knew his mom was leaving him, but this was her only chance to blossom and to finally enjoy the loving touch of a human. With Woody left in the room it was time for him to leave, too. I’d begin to transition him to meeting my cats since he was so easy-going and it was far less crowded than adding him to the room with Laney and family.

Kendra had a room ready for Mia, with no places to hide. I waited for her to get home and update me on how things were going. Within a few minutes of her arriving, she sent me this video.

©2015 KendyBo.

Later that night I got more images and videos. Brian was working on becoming Mia’s BFF. He “forgot” she was feral and picked her up. She just hissed, confused by the sudden contact. Brian and Kendra are both able to pet Mia, not just on her face, but on her back and even on her paws. Even Kendra's 8-year old son could pet her! Mia is stressed, but has moments where she closes her eyes and relaxes. It seems that it’s just a matter of time before we see even bigger changes. Maybe by tomorrow she’ll be ready to go?

All joking aside, we can’t give up on Mia. Maybe I wasn’t the person who could help her overcome her fear, but I was the person who was ready to take action when an opportunity came up that would give her the chance of a lifetime. Now I have hope that maybe one day Mia will be ready to find her forever family. For now she's got a great team, working hard to help her overcome her fears.

The Neglected Kittens Chapter 1. This Miserable Life.

The kittens were born under the hot southern sun to two mothers who were barely out of kittenhood themselves. The mamas had a human family who fed them, but that’s about all they did. They never bothered to spay their cats or neuter the males for whatever excuse made it seem as though it’s all right to not provide care because that’s what people do…or rather don’t do in this part of the country.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. I can't believe this kitten was so depressed he was lying on the thorns of a rose bush!


We’ve seen this story played out so many times, in so many places. Intact cats left to breed out-of-control, leaving their offspring to meet a terrible fate. These cats are often reduced to being part of the food chain, instead of becoming beloved family members, which is a terrible truth that most rescuers fight with all they’ve got.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. You can see it in the photo but this kitten, like all the others, is very thin.

One white kitten doesn’t make it past a few days, while the others are mercilessly spared, or is it a good thing they survived? Their fate was to immediately become tempting morsels for anything that could catch them, bite them, slowly drain the life out of them. While somehow the roaming foxes didn’t get to them, the parasites had a field day.

It’s likely their mama passed roundworms and probably tapeworms into them during nursing. Being outdoors, of course the fleas were next to enjoy their bounty. Add to that the only food the kittens had after they were done nursing was cheap greasy kibble that was rotting under the blazing sun, covered with hungry flies.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. A mama already. We need to help her stop having more kittens.

Slowly but surely whatever vitality they might have had was slowly being eroded away. In time, if no one intervened, Mother Nature’s clean up crew would take care of them (but I don’t dare describe this any further as any kind-hearted cat lover would be devastated by reading about it).

I’m so angry and sick and tired of this story. It’s unfair, “fixable” (pardon the pun), but for some reason the people who mindlessly leave their animals intact have no concern about what happens after their cats have kittens. What drives me INSANE is not only do these people IGNORE their cats basic needs, but when it’s CLEAR that the littlest kittens are COVERED in FLEAS. Don’t they notice? Don’t they see their eyes running? Don’t they feel that they’re basically skin and bones when they reach down to pet them?

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. How do you NOT notice this kitten is sick?

I ask this over and over again and never get answer: WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE IGNORE DISEASED ANIMALS who they are supposedly in charge of caring for? WHAT DO THEY TELL THEMSELVES SO THEY DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT NEGLECTING THESE CREATURES? Is it because they can’t afford it? Sorry, but they can get vouchers, they can ask for help from shelters or rescues so money isn’t the reason. I’m going to hold my tongue and not go off on a rant, but I’ll admit it’s not easy while my blood is boiling.

Of the eight kittens in this person’s yard, two already “ran away.” The six that were left didn’t have much time left before it was their turn to magically disappear into a horrific ending.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. Worst shape of all the kittens. If he went much longer with the amount of fleas he had on him he'd be dead.

When our foster mom, Moe was driving home from work and she saw kittens running around in this person’s yard. She stopped and quickly realized these kittens needed help ASAP.

Moe had just finished fostering Mia and her kittens and was taking a much needed break. I had taken Mia and family, plus I have Celeste and her 4 kittens plus Wallace, our Fire Dept rescue kitten AND Junebug and MaggieMae. To say that I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. I did not want to take on any more cats for the next few months, but when I heard about what was going on, then saw the photos, I couldn’t turn my back on this situation.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. Can I give you my fleas?

I am not going to let these kittens die.

Moe reported that there are 6 kittens and 5 adults (very young) who need at least vetting if not more. I have a great fear that as a small rescue this puts us over our limit for what we can care for, but I don’t know what else I can do other than take it one day at a time and hope this all works out. I’m glad she wants to take on this responsibility and I’ve assured her that anything she needs-I’ve got her back.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. Lovely lady. We hope she's not pregnant. Can any rescues in GA lend a hand?

But now I need someone to have my back, too. Taking on six more mouths to feed, plus vetting the adults is going to be expensive. We’ve already done the initial vetting and all the kittens have very bad flea infestation, worms, ear mites and more. Thankfully they tested negative for FIV and Feline Leukemia, but they have a long road ahead. I can’t even use the word: recovery because they have never known good health. Perhaps this long journey will lead to a rebirth of sorts into the beautiful animals they were meant to be from the day they were born.

Here’s the plan:

We’ve got the ball rolling but we need more help. The kittens haven’t had good nutrition so they’re underweight and in one kitten’s case, I’m very worried about him. He was covered with over 100 fleas, which may have made him anemic. We need to test his blood and test the kittens for a flea-born infection called Bartonella, which I bet they have. Treatment (liquid compounded zithromax for 3 weeks) costs $40/bottle and each kitten will need a bottle. Add to that all the other medications, vet visits, tests…yikes…

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Our goal is to get everyone healthy. If we can find a local rescue to take them after they’re vetted, great. If we are fortunate to get a new foster home here in Newtown OR if we start doing some adoptions (very slow this time of year), then I’ll bring the kittens here (which I would prefer doing).

We’re also going to work with the family to get their adult cats vetted as soon as possible. There are low cost clinics we can work with. We know if we ask these folks to pay for this service they will find a reason to say no, so we want to get the cats taken care of on our dime. Moe has a tough task balancing her own desire to rip these folks a “new one,” with the need to focus on caring for the cats. She can’t upset these people so she’ll be respectful and get the cats vetted as soon as she can using funds my rescue, Kitten Associates will provide for her.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. No more fleas on meet! By the way, this is a VERY SWEET kitten.

I estimate it will cost at least $140/cat to be vetted (if they have bartonella). This doesn’t include food, litter and toys, which adds a lot since they eat 8, 5 oz cans of food every day. We’re at roughly 1600.00 for all the kittens AND the adults to get vetted. I just spent $400.00 on food, toys and initial vetting.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. This is no existence for a kitten.

Ways to Share Your Love:

smile.amazon.com – use it to shop and we’ll get a small donation that’s banked to our account every time you shop for anyone or any thing on amazon.com

KA amazon wishlist: our wishlist shipping address helps our Connecticut based fosters, but we can't add our Georgia location to our list. The BEST way you can help is by purchasing a Gift Card for amazon.com so we can buy what the kittens need and ship it directly to foster mom, Moe. If you’d like to direct how the gift card is used, just leave a note when you purchase the gift card in the gift note area and we’ll take care of it. WE REALLY NEED GIFT CARDS TO BUY FOOD!!!

Donate through our Facebook App that’s on the left side our KA Facebook page

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Visit our PetCaring Fundraiser Page where we’ll share photos and updates

If you'd like to mail us a check, checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates and mailed to: P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Please add a note on your check: “Neglected Kittens”.

We realize there are zillions of cats whose stories are online who need help and we’d all be broke if we made a donation to each one of them. The other way you can make a difference that doesn’t cost a dime is to simply SHARE this post socially with your cat-loving friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Your donation is tax deductible in the U.S.A., but see your tax advisor for how to claim a deduction and how it applies to your tax situation. Our Tax ID EIN is 27-3597692.

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. First car ride, of course, is to the Vet.

UPDATE: In just two days the kittens have eaten A TON of food. THEY LOVE IT! Moe spent the afternoon giving each kitten a bath. No more fleas! They’ve been treated for fleas, mites and worms so they should be feeling better very soon. I think they’re off to a great start.

Next is to get the buff kitty’s blood work done and test them for bartonella and get their first vaccinations done. We need to do this ASAP! Stay tuned to Covered in Cat Hair on Facebook for updates.

Thank you for being part of our life saving efforts!

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©2014 Foster Mom, Moe. It's going to get better from this moment forward. Welcome to our rescue little ones. We've got your back.

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The Accidental Feral. Big Daddy.

Northern Georgia’s had a rough winter. With snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures that vastly skew from what’s considered normal, the feral cat population has had an even tougher time surviving.

These cats are not accustomed to the colder temps and may not be as successful as their northern counterparts in finding adequate shelter. Their coats may not be as thick and their struggle to have a full belly leaves them even more vulnerable.

For a lucky few cats there’s Warren and his wife, Terri, who I’ve written about in the past. They get out there and trap, neuter, and some times return the feral cats they trap. They help the pregnant cats and the kittens find homes. They are very passionate about their rescues and have even hoped to open their own sanctuary one day.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Big Daddy the day after being trapped.

It’s not unusual for Warren to stay up late at night, watching a trap, hoping the cat will enter it so he can get it properly taken care of. Most of the time the process is straightforward. The cats are vetted, spayed or neutered, given some time to recover, then he brings them back to their colony where he and his wife will make sure they get fed.

That’s why when Warren noticed a big tabby, limping, clearly injured, who also looked a heck of a lot like one of the kittens Warren rescued (read about Dexter’s amazing and scary journey HERE), he knew he had to trap him and get him to a vet. The problem was, what could he do for this kitty, AFTER getting vetted? Surely it would be difficult to treat a fractious cat, which could mean Warren could get hurt or the cat might not recover from his injury if he couldn’t get him medicated or change bandages.

First things first…get the cat trapped.

Warren got his supplies ready and opened up the trap. He saw the cat who he called, Big Daddy, not far away, watching him. As soon as Warren opened a can of food, in a flash, there was Big Daddy by his side, pushing Warren away so he could get at the tempting morsels. Shocked, Warren carefully, lured the cat into the trap, fearful he could be harmed at any moment if the cat was separated from his food for too long. Clearly the cat was starving and didn’t care if he was in a cage or not.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Getting fueled up (again!).

Warren quietly closed the trap door and rushed Big Daddy to the Vet. Big Daddy wasn’t thrilled to be in the car but there was something odd about him. For a feral cat, he wasn’t crouched into a tight ball. He wasn’t hissing. He wasn’t struggling to break free from the trap. He was just eating.

The plan was to leave Big Daddy with the Vet for a few days while Warren was here in New York City at a trade show. I was with Warren when the call came in on the cat. He had an abscess from a bite wound, but they felt it would heal. Against Warren’s orders they gave him Convenia, assuming that since the cat was feral it was the best they could do, [even though Convenia is NOT for bite wounds but because it’s injectable and there are no pills, people tend to use it so they don’t have to pill their cat. The problem is-once injected it stays in the body for MONTHS. If there’s an allergic reaction you can’t get it out of the body. It’s really only good for certain bacterial issues regarding the SKIN. Using it after a dental or for some other reason is not safe and contra-indicated.]

They went ahead an ear-tipped him even though Warren said not to because he wasn’t sure the cat might not be feral. When we found that out we were both very angry. If Big Daddy ended up being a cat we could socialize, then ear-tipping him could further reduce his chances for adoption.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. What a face!

They neutered him and vaccinated him. They snap tested him and discovered he was positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. We weren’t surprised, but it meant that letting him back outside was not an option, but now what would we do with him? Warren feared he might have to euthanize the cat if he couldn’t go back to the colony or if he was too fractious to find a forever home.

Warren came home and discovered his hunch was right. Big Daddy wasn’t feral, but how friendly was he? Did he have behavior problems? If so, how severe were they? When Warren approached Big D’s crate, Big Daddy stepped forward and seemed interested in sniffing Warren’s hand. Worried he would get bitten, Warren cautiously offered the back of his hand. Big Daddy head-butted it.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Waiting for the next part of his journey to begin.

Warren slowly petted the cat. He seemed to like it and immediately began to purr. This poor cat, who Warren knew had to have been outside for a year or more, hadn’t forgotten the love he’d known from humans. He was willing to trust again, right away, which surprised us all.


©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission.

Over the past few weeks, Warren and Terri have been working with Big Daddy, assessing his behavior to see if he’d qualify to be adopted. Big D nipped at Warren a few times, but Terri said he never nipped her. Why? Turns out Warren needed to learn that Big Daddy didn’t care for being petted like he was a dog—oops! (Warren admitted to not realizing that right away since he’d known dogs most of his life). Once Warren made a slight change in how he petted Big D the nipping stopped.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Loves that brush.

Big Daddy’s met a few other cats. He’s interested, but neutral. A further test revealed another surprise-Big Daddy LOVES to be brushed!



©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission.

Big D’s leg is healing nicely and he’s relatively content in his big crate in the garage, but yearns to be out of it and in Warren’s house. Sadly, Warren’s other cats won’t welcome a newcomer and ultimately Big Daddy needs a home of his own.

This very sweet, affectionate, gentle giant weighs 15 pounds and is about 4 years old. He's physically he’s a large kitty. Aside from having FIV, his health is good. He does not have issues with his gums, teeth or digestion, which can happen to FIV cats. With a GOOD DIET and I mean NO DRY FOOD, low carb, grain-free canned food or better yet, dehydrated raw or really any raw diet, he will do well.



©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission.

There are Vets who vilify cats with FIV and say they can’t be with non-FIV cats, but in my own experience with my cat, Bob, he was with not only my 7 cats, but countless kittens and none of them ever got sick. Bob would have had to BITE them so seriously his teeth would have had to sink into flesh to transmit the disease. Yet, there is a vet who just said she felt it was passed through a litter pan, which defies logic.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Meeting Murphy.

The bottom line is Big Daddy is no feral cat. He's a big, sweet, super-cute, kitty who just wants to give and get love—who can be a friend to other cats. He's a cat who got dealt a tough hand now that he has FIV, but that doesn't mean he can't have a forever home. This accidental feral needs a forever home and we’re hoping that maybe it’s yours.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. What a cutie pie!

Warren definitely has Big Daddy’s back. Because he cares for him so much Warren will cover transportation costs to an approved home or non-profit, no-kill rescue group or shelter. He will also TAKE BIG DADDY BACK, should the adoption or rescue placement not work out. Ideally this home will be in northern Georgia, but if it’s anywhere along the east coast of the USA, we can get Big Daddy to your door. If you live outside the east coast, let’s talk.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Big Daddy with our Rescuer-Daddy, Warren.

If you’re a non-profit, no kill rescue and would like to take Big Daddy on and find him a forever home, Big Daddy will come with a $250.00 sponsorship and he’s already completely vetted.

If you’d like to adopt Big Daddy, go to our rescue group, Kitten Associates, and fill out a Pre Adoption Application and I will forward them to Warren.

If you have any questions or are with a rescue and can help Big Daddy find his home, just email me at info@kittenassociates.org.

Please share this socially if you believe, as I do, that Big Daddy deserves a great home. Thank you!

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The Squee Diaries Chapter 12. All Good Things.

There are times I don’t realize something profound just occurred. Looking back on the situation I see what I missed was truly amazing. A milestone was reached, a torch passed, leaving me feeling sad that I didn’t honor that moment the way it deserved, so perhaps these words will serve as a testament.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey (left) with brother, Joey (right) watching the squirrels.

Lil' Gracey and Confetti Joe have been with us since they were 4 days old. Their brothers, Yukon Stan, Jellybean Mel and Precious Pete have long since found their forever homes and as of last week, the final papers were signed as their mom, Minnie, found her place, too (with a couple I truly LOVE..and where Minnie is blossoming by leaps and bounds every day).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey (inset) just 11 days old and again recently.

The remaining two kittens had been living in my home up until 3 weeks ago when I was fortunate enough to meet with Jame, who offered to foster kittens for our group. Jame and her family don’t currently have any pets which greatly simplifies whether or not I can have them foster. They impressed me by bending over backwards to clean and prepare their entire basement for us to use for our kittens. It’s a large, bright, sunny space with windows along one side of the room. Jame’s daughters, Grace and Frances were sweet-natured and had a very calm energy. When they came over to meet our cats and fosters, they were affectionate and gentle, clearly enamored with all the cats they met. I had no concerns that any cat we placed with them wouldn’t be completely happy in their care.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Sleepy time boy.

Jame had never fostered before, but she wanted to give back to her community and she wanted to show her daughters the importance of helping others in a real way. Since this was their first time, I wanted to give them kittens I considered to be healthy, stable and friendly. Ones that only needed food, a warm bed and love so that meant Joey and Gracey would be the best choice for them.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey chill in' with the DOOD.

As much as I loved every second with the kittens, they were big enough to be part of the general population, instead of housed in a separate room. With full run of our home it opened up new adventures for them, but our cats were not too thrilled. We had some issues, like inappropriate urinating and a brief spat or two. I knew Joey and Gracey would be better off with Jame’s family, not to mention reducing the stress on my own cats, but I was very sad to see them go.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Time to wrestle in 3…2…

Because we had an unpleasant situation with Minnie’s last foster home, I was more careful about who fosters for us going forward. I wrote up an agreement for fostering and had Jame sign it. The time with the kittens would be limited and monitored. I'd let it go too long with Minnie, only to find out she was getting injured by the other cats in the home and exposed to food that ended up giving her a bad allergic reaction. I was determined to check in on the cats more often to make sure they would continue to be well cared for, but Mother Nature had a different plan.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. In their new foster home, Gracey makes sure the other cat she sees really IS her brother.

The one-week agreement was extended another week and another. The weather was so poor and we got so much snow that I could not get out of my driveway. When I could escape, it was to get cat food or do a vet run. I just didn’t have time to visit the kittens, though I did communicate with Jame often.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey's always had the goofiest tail. He walks around with it over his back like a carrying handle of some sort.

Jame did a great job reporting every little thing, sending photos, updating me on progress. Her daughters were having a great time getting to know the kittens and they were thrilled with each success (“Joey sat on my lap! I made Gracey jump after the toy!”). I realized with a sinking feeling that what happens to all fosters was happening to them. They were getting attached. Too much time had passed. Now I was worried that I would hurt them because I’d found an adopter named Dana and it was very likely that Joey and Gracey would be leaving them soon.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey with heart on his rump.

When I told Jame the news, she emailed me asking me if we could talk. I had a feeling she was going to tell me she wanted to adopt the kittens. I had mixed feelings about it because if they did, I might lose a great foster home. I knew they’d be a great home for the kittens, so I was curious to know what she wanted to talk about. Since she needed more cat food I asked her to meet me at the pet food store so I could get her more, then we ended up walking over to the little café inside our local grocery store to talk.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. With foster mom, Grace.

As Jame spoke, tears welled up in her eyes. It was hard not to cry along with her. She told me that she and her family had fallen in love with the kittens and were miserable at the idea of them leaving and wanted to adopt them, but…there was a problem. She didn’t feel they could afford to provide for them if something happened to them and she knew that wasn’t right. Jame continued to tell me that things would be changing later in the year when she expected to be able to find work, but for now they lived on her husband’s salary. The problem was how could I have her wait months to make Joey and Gracey's adoption formal when the situation was in such flux? Jame was being very responsible by not letting her emotions cause her to make a choice that could end badly. I knew how she felt. I probably shouldn’t have half the cats I have, but we find a way (but I don't have two children to provide for, either). I didn’t want her to be miserable about letting the kittens go. She was doing the right thing. I had to find a way to make this better.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. With foster mom, Frances.

I gave her as many options as I could, but in the end, this is not the time for them to adopt. In a flash of clarity, I blurted out that she hadn't even had the joy of fostering little kittens yet and to focus on knowing that by letting Joey and Gracey go, she was making space to take more kittens on. I talked to her about the pain of letting go and...

I added that although I feel sadness and heartache, that after many years of doing this, there are times I look at a photo of a foster and I can’t remember that kitten’s name right away. It’s not that they didn’t matter to me. It’s that my heart is full from their love, but there isn’t always room to remember their name, too.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Checking out the view from their new foster room.

I hoped she realized that the sharpness of letting go would soften into sweet memories. She barely knew me and I was asking her to trust me; that all she had to do was let us bring her more cats to foster and the love and happiness that gave them so much joy, would return. She had to have faith, too.

Of course, getting her children to understand and prepare for this was going to be the tricky part and I offered to do whatever I could to help them transition.

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©2014 Frances R. Frances is quite the artist and drew his adorable scene featuring her foster kittens.

When the day came for Dana and her young sons to meet Joey & Gracey, I took one look at the girls and at Jame and knew they had all been crying. They were being brave, but their struggle to remain cheerful was percolating just beneath the surface. They were doing what needed to be done. They watched the young boys learn how to play with the kittens, how to pick them up. They gave them pointers on what the kittens liked and which toys were their favorites. We talked with Dana about how beautiful and sweet the kittens were. At one point I asked her if these were her cats. I wasn’t feeling “it” from her—that glimmer I often see of love’s seed taking root in an adopter's heart. I told her about our other kittens, just in case she would prefer them. They had better energy to match that of her little boys. I could see Jame and her daughters holding their breath, hoping the woman would not want Joey and Gracey.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A hug from Frances.

Her boys looked at photos of the other kittens we have, but they only had eyes for Joey and Gracey. Dana added that Joey and Gracey were even more beautiful than she imagined from their photos and said she would love to give them a good home. I knew Jame and the girls were disappointed but the choice was made. This would be a good home. The kittens would have the boys to play with and a mom and dad to snuggle with inside a lovely home that overlooks a lake.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Lil' Gracey at 11 days old and again recently.

I gave the kittens a kiss goodbye. I thought about how they used to fit in my hand. They didn't even look like cats, more like hamsters. I'd worried, fussed, and after they were weaned, took great joy in watching them grow and thrive. The familiar pang of heartbreak and reluctance to let go returned. My eyes burned as I held back my tears. Joey and Gracey were two of our brightest stars. They’d grown into magnificent cats. It was a privilege to be part of their journey. Their little family, who so easily could have drowned in a window well during the torrential rains last June, have only happy days ahead thanks to our generous donors and skilled Vets. Now they had their forever homes. My job was done.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey with her mom, Minnie, who is very happy in her new home.

As Dana and her sons placed Joey and Gracey into their car and drove away, I stood in the kitchen with Jame and her daughters. I started to cry, but managed to not burst into tears. They offered me a tissue. Their eyes got watery and their faces pinked up. I gave them each a hug. I was SO PROUD of them-especially Frances and Grace. These girls did something tough for an adult to do and they handled themselves VERY WELL. In that moment something happened between the four of us. I’d passed the baton of fostering over to them. They had survived the first heartbreak and were ready to do it again. They were part of a sisterhood of cat rescuers now and between the tears my heart swelled with joy.

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If you'd like to see lots more photos of Gracey, Joey and their family from the first days in foster care, you can read these posts:

The Squee Diaries

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven part 2

Chapter Eleven part 3

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P.S. If you've gotten this far, Jame and her family are getting 3 kittens on Saturday that were part of a bigger rescue in Georgia. Their story begins next...

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American International Toy Fair 2014. The Cat's Meow.

There are few things in the world that make me feel happy the way cats do, but one of them is so be around art. As a Graphic Designer I get caught up in beautiful typography, bright colors and clever ideas visualized, so when I had the opportunity to attend the 111th American International Toy Fair 2014 in New York City, I was beyond delighted.

Okay, I LOVE toys, too.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Like a moth to a flame, one of the first things I see, before I even enter the show floor is a very GOOD (Bub) sign.

Imagine you’re 7 years old and you get to go to the biggest toy store in the world that carries every kind of toy imaginable, from a mind-blowing array of plush toys (way beyond a bear, we're talking plush MRSA virus and plush Pancreas), kid-sized fantasy outfits, handmade musical instruments to out-of-this-world models of monsters causing mayhem, bobbleheads and more. Now imagine being middle-aged and feeling the same way. That’s what Toy Fair does to you from the moment you set foot in the Javits Center.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Sugar LuLu. Even dogs are welcome here.

So what about cats? This IS a cat blog after all.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh yeah, baby.

That’s where I had a few surprises-seeing some very cute cat-centric items for humans that will be hitting the consumer market in the next few months.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I loved this banner art from Innovative Kids.

The first thing that got me excited was Chet the Cat & Friends.™ Think, funky 1960’s illustration style combined with a juicy color palette that makes up the world of Chet the cat. Chet has a line of child-sized appliances and other cooking related items emblazoned with delicious artwork that any child would be attracted to. Their line of 3+ up toys inspire creativity and imagination while helping tune fine motor skills. In my book, I’d buy it just because I love the artwork and hey, don’t judge me if I have a tea party with my Chet teapot while I’m at it.

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©2014 Robin A.F Olson. Lusting after these gorgeous goodies.

Educational Insights also created a game I’d love to see go into every school. It’s called Kitten Caboodle™ and in their own words:
“The Big Idea: Find your purr…fect match in this game of furry, feline fun! Draw from the stack or “go fish” from another player’s hand to collect cards that match the all of the pet necessities and accessories of the cat you want to adopt. Collect everything that cat needs and adopt it! Adopt the most cats and you win this preschool matching game.”

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HURRAY! This game's theme carries a powerful message that inspires children to understand what cats need and that only when their needs have been met is when they can be adopted. I love it.

It’s also clear that celebu-cats are having their day in the sun with the appearance of a line of Grumpy Cat merchandising by the famous manufacturer of plush, Gund. Grumpy Cat, herself, was even at the show, but sadly, due to traffic heading into NYC we missed her by a few minutes.

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©2014 Robin A.F Olson. I missed seeing Grumpy Cat again. I hated it.

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©2014 Robin A.F Olson. I'm waiting for info from Gund on when the GC merch will be in stores or through the Gund website. Stay tuned.

Gund also has a line based on Venus, the famous Chimera cat.

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Here's Venus and her Gund® imitation. Image: Gund.com To learn more about Venus, pop over to her Facebook page.

I saved the best for last. Our dear, Lil’ Bub also has a brand new plush version of herself so everyone can have a Bub of their own. I spoke with Emily from Cuddle Barn who manufactured the Lil’ Bub plush. Cuddle Barn's focus is generally in creating scarily-accurate animated plush, but this first series of Lil’ Bub plush won’t be animated just yet (though stay tuned their may be one in the future).

Emily spoke at length about how thoughtful Bub’s “Dude,” Mike Bridavksy, was in working with them in creating the most lifelike plush possible. She whispered to me that it took six months to get her just right and it’s clear their efforts were worthwhile.

Holding the Lil’ Bub in my arms, though bigger than the real Bub, captured her Bub-liness perfectly, featuring her bright green owl-like eyes, her white paws and that show stopping bubble gum pink tongue hanging out.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Now that's a BIG Bub.

What continues to impress me is that Bub’s dude recognizes that although he has, to be crude, a money-maker in his hands with Bub, he does not exploit her. He could sit back and rake the money in and with pre-sale orders of the Lil’ Bub plush about to hit 5,000 already, what’s to stop him?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I LUB my Bub plush! (They made me stick out my tongue. Honest.)

This is why I adore Mike and Bub because Mike gives back. He promotes adopting cats from shelters and to spay and neuter your pet. He donates thousands of dollars to rescue groups…

…like Mid-Hudson Animal Aid, who had a terrible fire last September and got a HUGE donation from Mike to help them recover from their loss. Mike has the sort of compassionate heart I wish all people who find themselves at the helm of a lucrative business would have as well. It’s clearly not about greed, it’s about being grateful and about being an inspiration to others, not about making a buck when he’s just meeting a demand from his doting public.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with BIG Bub.

Cuddle Barn created a one-of-a-kind BIG Bub I immediately lusted after, but they said it was not for sale. I’m guessing we’ll see it with the real Bub some time soon.

Lil’ Bub’s lil’ plush will be available in smaller outlets and Urban Outfitters starting in April. If you want to pre-order one for $24.00, the only way to get it is through Lil’ Bub’s store and be warned..the pre-sales are almost filled!

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Lil' Bub and Plush Bub thanks to LilBub.com

Good Job, Bub.

Good Job, Dude.

Good Job, Toy Fair.

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Discarded Cats Diary Ch 5. Sherlock Olson to the Rescue.

I was sure Nanaimo and Linzer were going to be adopted first out of Mocha’s family because they were almost identical twin tuxedo kittens. They often had a surprised expression, which made them appear to be caught just before they got into mischief. They could be considered “double trouble” just by the way they looked, but after spending a few minutes with them, it was clear they were love bugs, too.

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©2013 Maria S. Nanny (left) and Linzy (right) just after rescue.

I admit that their name choice was probably the two worst cat names I’ve ever come up with, but in my defense, naniamo is a chocolate and vanilla baked treat. If my readers were all from Canada, they’d understand that and might even agree it wasn’t such a bad choice.

Okay, it was a bad choice.

Moving on…

Dr. Larry hooked me up with adopters who came to visit Nanny and Linzy, but it didn’t work out. They ended up taking home Marigold, who is now living in the lap of a very loving home.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Flyin' Linzy.

In no time, I got another great application from a family in Wilton, about 30 minutes drive from here. They’d lost their senior kitty after a long illness and were looking forward to adding two kittens into their home. Everything checked out, except for one little detail. I called the vet for a reference and they told me there was a second cat named Hudson listed on their records, but the last they’d seen him was August of 2013.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Tiger Teaser moustache.

Normally I’d jump all over that lack of detail on their application, but instead I decided to talk to the family when I saw them. There are plenty of times when a family takes on a pet when another family member is in trouble or they help out a neighbor and they don’t consider the pet to be part of the application. I made a mental note to ask about this cat once we did the home visit.

The home was lovely. We only met the mom and younger son. The husband was in the house, but was “busy” with something. Too busy to come out and say hello? That seemed odd. The daughter was away in college.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The Goof Troop.

We talked about where the cats would live. We talked about their cat who passed away. The son, who is 14, talked about the cat and how much he loved her. We talked for about 30 minutes and not ONE WORD about this other cat, Hudson. I finally asked about him and the woman teared up.

I was told that Hudson was a cat they adopted in 2013 who got outside and ran away. They supposedly did everything they could to get him back but he just wanted to get outside from the first day and they had a really hard time keeping him indoors. He’d been gone for 5 months, but the vet was never informed. The kid jumped in to agree with everything his mother was saying. My cat-rescue-senses went on alert. Was this simply crocodile tears or was she sincere? Was the kid told not to talk about the cat? Was that why he, too, acted as if Hudson had never existed until I pressed them about him?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzy?

I asked her for a photo of Hudson since my buddies at Animals in Distress (A.I.D.) are right down the street and I’d planned to go there to visit anyway. Maybe they could help. The woman changed the subject. Before she did that she’d described where she got the cat and I was pretty sure she was describing A.I.D. but I didn’t challenge her on it. I had some detective work to do.

We concluded the visit and left feeling like something was wrong, nice home, nice people, but something was off. My fears were confirmed a few minutes later at A.I.D. I asked the folks if they knew about a cat I’d just heard of. All I said was the name, Hudson, and they all stopped in their tracks and looked at me. Hudson was THEIR cat. He had lived in a basement his whole life until they rescued him and he’d NEVER been outside. There was no way that cat would want to get out. The Vet told ME that the family had vaccinated the cat for Feline Leukemia months after adopting him, which also gave me another clue that they were letting the cat outside on purpose because usually when there are NO OTHER CATS in the home, the vets don't vaccinate for FeLV.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Biscotti showin' off the belly.

After conversations with many of the volunteers, it was clear to me that something was up with this family. First, they lied a lot on their application, and then they lied about letting their cat outside. I’d heard that the husband did not like the litter pan smell and relegated the cat outside. I can’t confirm that, but what I could prove to be true made me very angry. Most rescues won’t adopt to homes where the cats are let outside. Here in Connecticut, it is JUST TOO DANGEROUS. They may have known to lie on their application to get the kittens. I knew for certain there was NO WAY they were going to get our cats. There were known coyotes in the part of Wilton where this person lived and A.I.D said 5 cats in the area had gone missing in the past few months. I didn’t need any more reasons to say no.

I expected to get a reply to my email turning down the application, but I never heard another word. I’m worried these folks will lie to get a cat who will just end up like all the others because they won’t keep the cat inside. I hate to vilify ANYONE. I really do, but I also will not tolerate being lied to to get a kitten.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Linzy?

Mocha and Pizzelle got adopted next and, again, I got another promising application for the twins. This one was from a Police Officer in a nearby town. He had a dog, two teenage sons and a wife. Very stable home life. Very nice family. Great vet reference. They came to visit the kittens and I have to say, for such BIG (I mean TALL) people, they were ALL VERY MELLOW. The kittens had fun with them and vice versa. It was one of the easiest adoptions I’ve ever done, though looking back it took a long time to find the right fit.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy family with happy kittens.

Their dog is a golden retriever who is elderly. I’m guessing the kittens are sleeping on him by now. The last update I got mentioned they were all doing great.

 

It all happened so quickly. In the space of less than a week, Marigold, Mocha, Pizzelle, Nanny and Linzy found their forever homes with wonderful families. For once, I didn’t cry. I was just happy the long dry spell was over and we were getting some kitties adopted again.

 

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©2013 Maria S. Mocha's kittens, Nanny, Linzy and Pizzelle the day of rescue. And to think these kittens would have perished if we didn't have Maria to foster them and all of you to help fund their rescue. Thank you for helping us do our life-saving work. Want to read this family's backstory? Just go HERE and HERE.

The discarded cats family was mostly spoken for now, with the exception of Biscotti. He remained on his own in the big foster room for the first few days after the adoptions. Being alone pushed Biscotti out of his shy zone and he became a lot friendlier without the other kittens around. Sam and I took turns sleeping with him so he wouldn’t cry from loneliness. I knew he needed friends and that the Clementine’s desperately needed the space, but I wasn’t sure how Biscotti would survive against 5 VERY outgoing, rambunctious kittens.

I also feared that although the Clementine's had been getting antibiotics and treatments for their upper respiratory tract infection that Biscotti could get sick. I asked myself what made the most sense: put Biscotti with other kittens to soothe his loneliness, but risk getting him sick? Or, keep him on his own and let him cry throughout the day?

I couldn't stand to see Biscotti be so sad, so I took a chance and put him with the Clementines.

Boy was that ever a stupid idea.

…to be continued.

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Kitten Associates Featured in the December 2013 Issue of Cat Fancy

On December 14, 2012 my neighbor was murdered in her bed. Her son took off, armed to the hilt and for reasons we may never know, headed for our local elementary school and murdered some of the staff and 20 children.

From the moment I heard the news, I knew I had to do something to help my community. I didn't have much to offer, other than a house full of foster kittens, but what I take for granted, I knew other people might find unique. What I also knew is the healing power that resulted in spending time with kittens. Pet a kitten. Watch them play. You can't be sad when you're in a room full of kittens. The day after the tragedy, my program Kitties for Kids was born. A year later I can say that it was possibly the best thing I've ever done in my entire life.

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I had no idea we'd get accolades from the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association or that I'd meet someone I look up to-U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who also awarded our program with a Special Certificate of Recognition. I just wanted to help my broken-hearted community and had no idea or expectation that anything would happen to me as a result of giving back.

Our program was extended into the spring of this year, then it faded away when our dear kitten Fred, grew ill and later died from the dry form of FIP. I didn't give Kitties for Kids much thought. I was too busy grieving. We didn't get requests for visits and I thought it was time to close the program.

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This summer, I was surprised when Susan Logan, the Editor of Cat Fancy contacted me and asked me if I'd be interested in having them do a story about our program for their December 2013 issue. I didn't hesitate to offer to write the article myself, but in all fairness she said it would be better reporting if she sent someone to me to do the story. I agreed, though as a cat writer, I admit to being a bit frustrated to being so close to writing for a national publication I'd admired since I was a kid.

I met with Kellie Gormly, a cheerful, chatty, cat-lover early in April. We talked at great length about not only doing rescue work, but how the residents of Newtown were coping. I took her on a tour, showing her the Newtown Healing Arts Center where the arts were used to help the children express their feelings and where many donations of artwork were displayed from around the world. I showed her other areas that were about being positive and hopeful, instead of focusing on a tour of where grisly events unfolded. We paid respect to the little fire station near where Sandy Hook Elementary once stood. On its roof are 26 bronze stars, one for each of the victims in the school. It was a cold, bright day, not unlike the day of the shooting. I didn't want to be anywhere near this place and was glad to leave it behind.

Kellie got to work on the article while the design staff at Cat Fancy reviewed the photos I sent them and made their selections for what would make the issue. At the time I had no idea which photos were going to be used where, nor how long the piece was going to be. I hoped for at least a 2-page spread, but had no idea what they'd end up doing.

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The article about Kitties for Kids starts on page 16!

My dear friend Ingrid King sent me an email with the subject saying something to the effect of: "OMG DID YOU SEE THIS??!” Ingrid had attached a scan of the article. Unbeknownst to me, Cat Fancy came out early to subscribers and Ingrid hadn't known Kitten Associates was going to be featured. I imagined her turning page after page, then seeing someone she recognized…there's ROBIN and Spencer!

To quote my mother, I think I “plotzed” when I saw the scan. There, on the very first page of the article was a photo of me with Spencer. It took up more than half the space. When I envisioned the photo being used, I assumed it might be a thumbnail-size near the end of the article. Oh no…it was me in all my glory. Holy moley. I wondered if this is what it's like to be a celebrity? I admit to feeling a mix of delight and horror. Yes, I need to be out there in the public so my rescue can get more help, but wowie it is a strange feeling to see yourself in a magazine you often read.

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Here's a sneak peek of the December 2013 Issue of Cat Fancy. To get your own copy, visit Cat Fancy online.

The next day I had to bring some kittens to Dr. Larry's and the second I walked in the door, I ran over and grabbed their copy of Cat Fancy. I asked if I could do "show and tell" during my appointment and they looked at me like I was crazy (which they are also used to by now). I went into the exam room and looked at the article. It blew me away. Kellie did a great job and I loved the layout. It is 4 pages long and full of photos from our program. They even honored Fred's passing, which meant the world to me.

My parents died many years ago and this is one thing I wish they had lived to see. All the hard work, the tears, resulted in something wonderful for Kitten Associates. When Dr. Larry looked at the spread, his face lit up. He smiled. He was really impressed and proud of me. In that moment I realized how meaningful it is to get a reminder that you're doing the right thing. It gives me fuel to keep going when times get tough.

Kitties for Kids hasn't come to an end. After careful consideration, we have decided to do a special 2-week run of our program. It will start on December 14th, the first anniversary of the tragedy and will run until December 28th. Though we hope no one will feel the need for kitty play-therapy because their hearts are healing, we'll be ready in case we're needed. If you live in Newtown, CT and would like to book a play therapy session, just email us at info@kittenassociates. org and we'll fill you in on how to sign up.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of the December 2013 issue of Cat Fancy, check your local retailers right now or visit Cat Fancy online. Be sure to check out their Cat Channel which has loads of helpful information about cats, their health and behavior issues. Oh, and don't forget to LIKE them on Facebook!

Amazing Update: Caged for 2 Years No More

Twenty-four cats were seized as part of an animal cruelty case in North Carolina. Due to the Court System and the former owner, who would not stop fighting the case, the animals were left to suffer at Animal Control for TWO YEARS. Many got upper respiratory infections, almost half ended up losing their lives. Of the thirteen cats who survived, one came to my home (a cat I named Mabel, who had been one of our former fosters) and the most of the rest went to Wake County SPCA (who I'd been working with behind-the-scenes to help these cats). If you'd like to read more about this story, you can visit this LINK.

Today I'm thrilled to share with you an email I got yesterday from Elinor. She adopted one of the other cats named Jethro and she wanted to give me an update. Her story and photos are used with permission.

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©2013 Iredelle County Animal Services. Our first look at Jethro.

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“I recently found your blog about 12 kitties caged for 2 years.

I wanted to send you a big thank you for finding shelters to take these cats. My husband and I adopted Jethro from the Wake County SPCA in June. He is such a smart, playful, friendly cat.

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©2013 Elinor Angel.

I saw him at the SPCA, a little cat sitting on a chair watching over the lobby. I petted him briefly, he was sweet. When I moved on to some other cats, he got out of the chair and came up to me for more petting. When I left the room, he followed me to the door and looked through adorably. He was just begging me to take him home. I took a picture with my phone and looked at it a lot. We came back the next day and adopted him.

I like to think he picked me.

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©2013 Elinor Angel.

When we first got him, he was temperamental from switching environments. He had some of that pet me/don't pet me attitude, but he really wanted love. Slowly he started to trust us more, let us pet him and request attention. As I'm writing this, he's in my husband's lap purring loudly. He is one of the smartest cats I've met and eager to please. He follows me around the house, sits for treats and plays fetch with a ball. He loves climbing on things and running up and down the hallway. I've learned that exercising him is important or he runs around all night.

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©2013 Elinor Angel.

It just breaks my heart every time I think about him caged for two years, it's just so cruel. I'm so grateful to you and the Wake County SPCA for getting him to me! I thought you might like to see a couple pictures of him as a happy kitty.”

Thank you,

Elinor

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Once in awhile we get to take a moment to look back and realize that all our efforts, our tears, were so worth it. This one cat has the chance to live the life he's deserved since the day he was born. It's clear that thanks to Wake County SPCA, this cat and most of the remaining twelve cats have the same chance at a happy life and for that I will always be grateful.

What didn't pass unnoticed was something magical. It's Elinor's last name. Angel.

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After 15 Months, a Surprise for Barney. Part Two of Two.

Read Part One HERE

I hoped that I could move Willow into the main foster room, once she was clear of any health issues, so she could be with Barney again. You see, last October Willow had had made fast friends with Barney. She'd become like a surrogate mother to some of the other foster cats, particularly Barney, who often went to her for a comforting lick on the head or to just rub up against her. Barney dwarfed Willow even in those early days, but clearly she hadn’t been intimidated by him at all. When Willow was adopted, I was sad that Barney hadn’t gone with her, but my hands were tied. I thought she would have a great home partly do to an odd coincidence that because she was found in a tree and her new dad was an arborist that this was a match (along with a good vet reference and good home visit).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney with Confetti Joe, Precious Pete and Lil' Gracey.

Willow’s introduction to Lolly and Clark wasn’t done correctly, I admit, but they managed to work it out without anything serious happening. I began to treat Willow’s upper respiratory infection and the flea treatments quickly helped resolve the crusty scabs that covered her head and base of her tail. Willow’s coat began to improve within the a few days and her breathing was easier, allowing her to smell her food and regain her appetite. Willow hadn’t even been here for a week when I got an application for her. It was from a cop who’d just been divorced and who loved animals. He shared custody of his two dogs with his ex-wife (who also had their two cats). His vet reference was impeccable. He is the kind of person who loves his pets as much as he could love a human family member.

He told me about a bulldog he rescued who had a broken back, whose teeth had been knocked out and who had been used as a bait dog for fighting pit bulls. He went above and beyond for that dog, not only providing medical care for him, but emotional care. To hear him talk about that dog sealed the deal. He would have gone to the ends of the earth for a dog who only lived another two years. He could live in a cave and I knew he'd give Willow the best home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lolly gets in her licks.

I asked him why adopt cats and he told me that he felt it would be unfair to his dogs to get more dogs. He said that they would come visit from time to time and he didn’t want them to feel like they weren’t important or that they’d been replaced. He was on very good terms with his ex so the dogs would still see him, but he couldn’t live without any animals and he loved cats, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Clark loves his toys.

I really liked this guy. He didn’t balk when I talked about raw diet. He jumped at the chance to set up cat trees and scratchers and told me they had to be by the window-he even knew that. He told me he just saw Willow’s photo and it called to him. She’d been on his list of favorites on Petfinder and he told me how he goes by his gut instincts when he looks for a new cat. I asked him if he would consider two cats since Willow needs to be with other cats and he quickly agreed telling me that was his goal to get two but he wasn’t even sure he’d be approved to adopt one cat! How could I NOT approve him?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Typical Barney expression.

I told him about Barney, about his sad life, about his deep friendship with Willow. I hadn’t put them together since Willow had returned, but I told him if they had been friends, it was possible they could be again. He saw Barney’s photo and agreed he’d love to meet them both.

So last night David and his girlfriend, Michelle came to meet the cats. Before they arrived I took all the kittens out of the main foster room so they wouldn’t be a distraction and also because I feared they would ruin the adult cats chance to be adopted. I also worked it out so that Willow would be in the small space where I do my laundry so Lolly and Clark wouldn’t interfere, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow being camera shy.

The first meeting was with Willow. I opened the door and both David and Michelle began to ooh and aah over the cat. Willow came right over to them, tail up. They petted her, held her, talked about how pretty she was. Michelle talked about her two cats, maine coons, and how much she loved cats. I’d asked David privately if they were going to combine households and he remarked jokingly “not until I retire.” Even if that happened sooner, I think they’d be able to handle it because clearly these folks were passionate about animals and would always do the right thing for them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and Joey were particularly close. They look like father and son.

It was time to bring Barney out. I warned the couple that there might be hissing, which would be expected, since the two cats hadn’t seen each other for six months. I opened the door to the main foster room and Barney stuck his head out of the opening. The couple started cooing over Barney, which scared him at first, but then he saw Willow and he came out to investigate.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting ready for the adopters to arrive.

I stood ready to break up a fight, hoping no one would be hurt.

Barney went right over to Willow and they both began sniffing each other with great interest. Willow’s nose went right to Barney’s behind. He didn’t mind at all. He turned to her and rubbed up against her, adding his scent to hers. He licked her head; she sniffed and licked his in return. Neither hissed or growled.

Their ears stayed up and their tails were held high. They continued some very “heavy duty” butt-sniffing which we all giggled about. The cats took turns coming over to David and Michelle where they eagerly held them and talked to them, saying what nice kitties they were.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't miss an inch!

Barney got a little cranky and I suggested we let him go back into “his room” where he might feel more comfortable. Sure enough, once inside the room, with Willow joining him, they both relaxed. Barney stretched out on the bed and Willow ran around the room, reacquainting herself with her old home. Bunny stayed in the shadows, which made me feel sad but I know we'll help her gain more confidence and find her home one day, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny makes a brief appearance before dashing behind the cat tree.

The couple remarked at how handsome Barney was, how charming. He laid down and allowed them to pet his belly. He rubbed up against them. I did not push the subject, but it was obvious they were in love with both cats.

After about an hour I coyly asked; “Are these your cats?” They quickly answered YES!

If Willow hadn’t been returned, Barney never would have found his forever home. I told the couple that if it didn’t work out I would always take them back. Michelle jumped in and said there was no way I’d ever get the cats back. “We adopt for life, that’s it, no matter what.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. David & Michelle with their new kitties.

They’d brought a woefully tiny cat carrier so I let them borrow one of mine. I used it as an excuse to go visit in a few days to get the carrier back and to see how everyone was doing. Though I’d said my goodbyes to both cats before the adopters arrived, seeing Barney leave was both miraculous and bittersweet.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meanwhile Mellie is hoping his adoption day will be coming soon, too.

Last night after Barney and Willow had left I sat with Bunny and the kittens. They seemed to be wondering why there was so much extra space on the heated blanket.

Barney’s spot on the bed, the corner by the door, was empty, yet the feeling of his spirit still filled the room. I thought about Fred and how he should have been adopted with Barney and how unfair it was that his story ended the way it did. I had to remind myself that Barney may have lost his blood-family, but he gained a new one, made up of people who will love him and a cat who will look after him. It couldn't end any better than that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This was the only shot I could get of Barney & Willow's reunion. I just wish Willow didn't look so suspicious!

As this story comes to a close I will continue my search to make sense of all of this and to find a reason why all these things lined up so perfectly for these two cats. It never ceases to amaze me how things work out. I should trust in that more often.

I've been writing for hours. I'm tired enough to head back upstairs to my bed. I’ll try to go back to sleep as memories of Barney fade into my dreams.

Happy life, my dear Barney and sweet Willow. Happy life.

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