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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.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

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.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

One Day. The Rebirth of Animalkind.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

For many people their day-to-day life may not hold many challenges. There’s a routine of waking up, feeding kids, pets, yourself, of washing a few dishes (or ignoring the mess), of getting dressed, working, playing, resting. Perhaps the challenges are in the in-between moments, how we get to work, if we can fit into our clothes, if we’ve run out of cereal and have to start the day with an empty belly; but more often than not, we can manage those little bumps in the road. But there are also some of us who have suffered a great loss; a loved one dies, a flood sweeps our home off its foundation and crushes it into bits, our town is ravaged by a hurricane and the power goes out for weeks. For those people, even the simple tasks require herculean efforts to accomplish. For those people it is our duty to stop worrying about our own challenges and help them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Kitty in quarantine.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The Infirmary with large airy cages. Inset: Doorway to surgery suite. The doorway was reduced in size and moved to the right where you now see a yellow door.

On May 1st 2012 in Hudson, New York, a small fire broke out in the top floor of a 3-story Victorian building. It was put out fairly quickly, but not fast enough before it set off the building-wide sprinkler system. The water, which should have saved the building from the flames, destroyed it from top to bottom, leaving many inches of water covering the floors. The building was mostly empty of people, but it was filled with terrified and wet cats. The building was the home to Animalkind, a cat-centric shelter.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sick kitty in the Infirmary.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the lovely new cat lounges.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Artwork plays a strong role in creating an inviting space for humans and cats alike.

In those moments, their day-to-day challenges of trying to raise enough money to buy food to feed their cats, to find cats good homes, to help people who found strays, changed dramatically to having to quickly sort out just WHERE were they going to house their almost 100 cats? HOW were they going to keep the sick, injured, most fragile cats ALIVE? WHO was going to pay for all of this?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Dreary ruined space turned into a catio/cat lounge.

Some people might curl up on their bed and just not get up for a few months after such a tragic loss. Running a cat rescue is difficult enough, but to lose a life’s work overnight is unthinkable.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Senior kitty enjoying sunshine and some love.

Animalkind could have shut their doors and moved all their cats to other rescues, but they didn’t. They’re the only cat rescue in the area and Katrin Hecker, the Founder and Director of Animalkind couldn’t close the doors, knowing what a negative impact it would have on the community. The community of Hudson, knew what they’d lost, too and many pitched in right away to help Animalkind rebuild.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the cats available for adoption completely oblivious to the crowds surrounding his space because folks were not allowed in the lounges during the open house (good call if you ask me).

I covered the story of those early days in a few blog posts (listed at the end of this post), as well as doing my bit to help the rebuilding process by procuring large donations of food and litter and encouraging monetary donations from all of you. Even though my own cat rescue group was suffering at the time, I knew I needed to help them. It was too big of a loss to turn away.

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©2012 AnimalKind (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The adoption room after the sprinkler system ruined the floors and sheet rock. This was taken just before the cats were removed from the room.

It’s taken over a year for Animalkind to rebuild, between insurance nightmares and having to work out of very cramped temporary quarters; everyone suffered under the strain. I still recall walking through the “bones” of their facility last year with Katrin, as she tried to stay strong seeing all her hard work laid waste at her feet. I told her to focus on the fact that one day it will be all re-done, bright and new. All the cats will be in comfortable surroundings and things can get back to their regular rhythm again. That “one day” would come soon. We just had to keep working.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Part of the Surgery Suite showing the HVAC system back in place, cleaned up and ready to go.

“One day” arrived last week.

I was delighted to make the two hour drive north to attend Animalkind’s Open House. The last time I’d seen the facility, everything was removed, down to the studs. The spaces were dark and scary and empty of life. In my mind’s eye I could imagine what it might look like with new sheet rock in place and new furnishings and painted walls, but what I imagined was nothing in comparison to what greeted me as I arrived at 721 Warren Street.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Panorama showing the main floor cat adoption suites.

Animalkind was reborn-not just rebuilt. The redesigned space was dramatically better than it had ever been. They hadn’t simply installed new walls and floors. They’d created a bright, colorful, uplifted space with no cages, just glass walls dividing room after room of cats. Cats, who had only been out of their small cages for a week, who were clearly completely relaxed and content to stretch out on a number of different perches and beds. This was not a sad place filled to the brim with miserable frightened animals. It was a palace, what all cat rescues should be-clean, airy, with focus on what’s best for the cats, not the cheapest way to house as many cats as possible.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy cats.

I loved what Katrin, her Board, her volunteers and donors were able to create. Here was a place that also included art, along with rescuing cats. Animalkind appears to be like a hybrid between an art gallery and cat shelter. There are paintings embellishing large areas on each floor. The walls are painted a patchwork of cheerful colors. There are photos of cats, sculptures of cats, everything cats, everywhere you look. This was a place where you couldn’t be sad, even in the Senior Cat room, where many cats were blissfully resting on soft beds kissed by the sun.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The Senior Room.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the youngest cats looking for a forever home.

We visited the Infirmary where volunteers made certain that each and every cat had cuddle time to help encourage them to overcome what ailed them. They understood that pills or procedures only go so far and that love helps the cats make it back to health.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely senior calico.

We didn’t get to see the Quarantine room, but with a house full of cats, I wasn’t too eager to risk bringing something home. The new surgical suite was also closed off but I got to see a bit of it through the window in the doorway. The room had new equipment and cabinets and with their Vet they would be able to do spays/neuters which would not only save the shelter money, but they also extend services to the public. They provide low cost Spay/Neuter services for socialized cats as well as FREE Spay/Neuter for feral cats! What a dream come true for the people who live in the area. I’m sure that now that they’re back on their feet, Animalkind can seriously impact cat overpopulation with their programs.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The Senior room gets strong sunlight, perfect for those achey joints. Here two kitties enjoy an afternoon respite.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Art and AnimalKind go hand in hand. This lovely kitty adorns the front desk.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A sweet senior kitty playing with a visitors loose shoelace.

The Open House was crowded, full of cheerful people buzzing about what they were seeing. From across the room, I saw Katrin. I didn’t even think she’d remember me, but she shouted my name and came over to me. We embraced—a big bear hug. I almost burst into tears when I told her how happy I was for her. There were too many people around for us to have a conversation so I excused myself so she could greet other visitors, but my heart was light as a feather as I looked on with admiration for what she was able to accomplish.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Outside on the street level looking down into what was once a flooded mess and is now a multi-suite cat adoption facility.

She and her team did it. They made it to that “one day” when things would be better again for the cats and we get to share her joy by witnessing Animalkind's rebirth. It was always about making a better place for the cats and this new space is a testament to that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This is what all the hard work is for-to know each cat is safe, relaxed and content in their temporary home until their forever homes are found.

Animalkind is still putting the finishing touches on their building so there’s still time to be part of their rebirth. If you’d like to donate simply click this LINK.

Animalkind is a 501c3 non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

If you'd like to read more about the fire at AnimalKind and their rebuilding you can visit these links:

The Best Worst Thing Ever. The Fire at AnimalKind. (part one)

The Heart of a Lioness: The Fire at AnimalKind (part two)

From the Ashes: The Fire at AnimalKind (part three)

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Not on My Watch: My Darling Clementines

I get a lot of requests to rescue cats every single day. I probably get about 50 or more emails. Some times I can't even bring myself to look at the photos of the cats who need help because I can't stop and save every single cat that needs it. There's just not enough time or resources or space, so I find myself not looking at every request because it just hurts too much to look and know you can't do a thing.

In the past nine months I've helped nearly 80 cats-which is a record for me. Either I got cats into a rescue, helped raise funds for their care or took them on into my rescue, Kitten Associates. This month we've been lucky enough to add TWO MORE foster homes, so we can do even more, as funds allow, and I'm anxious and thrilled we can start to expand our efforts.

Two days ago I saw this photo (below) of five gorgeous fluffy orange kittens in a cage in a municipal animal control in Stanton, Kentucky. I thought to myself there is no way they will be there for another day. Someone on the local level will get them out. They're ORANGE! So adoptable!

But they were marked “URGENT”. Overcrowded conditions at the pound meant these kittens could be put down at any moment. I still thought someone would help them and I tried not to think about how I was going to sort out the logistics of doing a rescue from a state that was 800 miles away, where I didn't know a soul.

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Marked “Urgent” these five orange kittens are facing their last days in a municipal animal control facility in Stanton, Kentucky. One sibling, a female and the sixth kitten in the litter, was pulled by a rescue group while the others face death.

I posted a plea for them on Facebook and waited and watched and still, no news of them getting any help. I couldn't stop thinking about them, about what I could do to help save their lives. I offered $200 sponsorship to any legitimate rescue in Kentucky that would take the kittens. I offered to ask for donations from our friends at Covered in Cat Hair to sweeten the pot. Still there was nothing. No one stepped forward.

I had to accept that perhaps, like so many countless others, these adorable kittens were going to be put down for no good reason other than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is what I face every single day-knowing that if I don't rescue these cats maybe no one else will, either. Somehow I have to sleep at night knowing I can't save them all. I'll make some excuse as to why this is okay. I'll tell myself I'll save others in their honor so I don't lose my mind crying myself to sleep.

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This is no place for a kitten.

I thought about it for another few hours. I thought about how our adoptions are down, funds are limited, space is at a premium and I didn't care. I know it's a risk to take on this family for a hundred reasons. I don't know where we will get them vetted. I don't know if I can find a foster home. I don't know if they will test out positive for feline leukemia or FIV but I can't f'ing sit here and do nothing. I can't. I just can't.

And I won't do nothing. I will save their lives because some times you just HAVE TO HELP. You can't look away. You can't make an excuse as to why you can't do something. You have to take a step forward, stand straight, raise your hand up high and say; “I'm here. I will help. I am going to make this right-whatever it takes.”

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We have a plan in place to pull these kittens tomorrow, Sept 23. The sixth kitten is going to be reunited with this litter and we will take her into our program, too. Stay tuned for updates on their rescue!

...But I also need YOUR HELP.

To be able to afford to provide for this family we have to do an emergency fundraiser. Please visit our YouCaring page to make a donation or you can also go directly to our web site (to save YouCaring's fees) at http://kittenassociates.org/donate and click on the "Donate Today" button.

You can use the widget, below to make a donation or mail us a check made out to: "Kitten Associates" and address it to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.

We're a 501(c )3 non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.

Sharing is caring, so please share socially if you can't assist with a donation. THANK YOU to everyone who believes in our good work. We can't wait to meet these beautiful kittens!

Chloe, After.

Each rescue story begins with hope and fear. There’s hope that this cat you’ve taken into your care will thrive, perhaps grow, perhaps blossom into something better than the poor creature who arrived at your door. There’s fear that they won’t do well, that you chose the wrong cat to save. It has behavior issues that will tax your every nerve. It’s older than you expected-so old you’re not sure you’ll ever find it a home. The cat has underlying health issues that will bankrupt you or worse-that will mean the cat has used up most of its nine lives and now it’s in your hands to make the choice to take its last one.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe last March (inset) and last week. Though still big, you can see definition in her face and her coat is lighter and healthier.

Six months ago, my journey with Chloe began. It was her “before,” the baseline for what would later come to pass. She was aggressive, fearful and severely overweight. Her guardian wanted her dead, even though he reported to me that she was very friendly with him. He said his caretaker was allergic to her, but not his other cat—that he was worried that if Chloe bit his caretaker, he’d get sued. This 10-year old cat had to die.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe much more relaxed than that last time I'd seen her.

You may know that I stepped in to change the course of this cat’s life. Chloe’s been in long-term foster care for six months, instead of being euthanized. Her guardian angel, Angi, has been working with Chloe, helping her gain confidence and lose weight. It’s been quite a ride, which I’ve chronicled here and here and here. But today we’re at the point of our story where things take another turn in the road that’s marked with a little sign that reads; “Chloe After.”

Chloe did very well in foster care, so well we all agreed it was time to put Chloe on Petfinder and work on getting her a forever home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Angi doing the unthinkable-holding Chloe in her arms without Chloe reacting viciously.

 

We knew finding an adult, still overweight cat, a home would take time so we sat back and waited…oh about a day or two! We got three applications for Chloe right away, which shocked me since I can’t get a 1-year old, friendly cat adopted. There’s something about Chloe that people are drawn to. We screened the adopters and narrowed it down to a lady named Pam. We set a date to get together. Pam could meet Chloe and we’d see how it went. If it was a match, great—if not, no problem.

 

It’d been a few months since I’d last seen Chloe in person and I was anxious to witness her transformation. I couldn’t wait to finally pet her without fear of being bitten, since as a front-declawed cat, it was how Chloe protected herself when she was afraid.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Chloe.

When I got to Angi’s house and took a seat in her living room, she left to fetch Chloe. A few moments later, Angi entered the room HOLDING Chloe in her arms. Chloe looked smaller, lighter in color and had a bemused expression on her face. Angi put Chloe down on the floor and I said hello, extending my hand, fingers pointed down, for her to sniff. I was ready for her to give me a nod of approval or allow me that much-desired stroke, but she reacted as she had the day I first met her-with an angry HISS.

Angi was shocked. Chloe had been getting along with everyone she met. Even Angi’s mom, who is adorable, by the way, had been sleeping with Chloe every night! Worried it was the scent of other cats on my hands; I went to the bathroom and washed up. I came back out and tried again. Again, Chloe hissed at me with great vigor. I retreated to my spot on the sofa and sighed. What would this mean for Pam? What would this mean for Chloe?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Angi + Chloe.

Pam arrived a few minutes later and Chloe’s reaction to her was pretty much the same as it was to me. Pam is a very caring person and wasn’t bothered that Chloe didn’t come over to her. She knew Chloe’s story and didn’t expect a lot from her right away. She knew it would take time and was willing to give that to her. She talked about how she felt seeing Chloe’s photo on Petfinder and why she wanted to give her a home. From the tone of her voice I could tell it was a love-connection right then and there.

We sat in a circle around Chloe and talked. Angi played with her for a time, then we decided to try giving Chloe treats. Pam began to carefully offer Chloe a treat, praising her softly and making her come to her to get the treats. Chloe got closer and soon Pam was giving Chloe gentle pets. At one point, Angi had distracted Chloe, and with her back to me. I reached down and petted Chloe at last.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe had changed so much she was willing to show us her belly-those tiny feet, in comparison to her relative size always make me smile.

 

Chloe didn’t even flinch. I didn’t pet her for too long, but it was long enough to be shocked at how soft and clean her coat was. The grain-free canned food and grain-free dry (hey, you do what you gotta do) had worked some magic. Chloe’s coat was also no longer brown, which I see in cats that have nutrition deficiencies. She was silvery and cream. Angi mentioned that Chloe could finally groom herself now that she’d lost OVER TWO POUNDS and had gained flexibility. Chloe even jumped on the sofa and chased after toys. Her mobility was greatly improved, but the big surprise was in her eyes.

 

Chloe had always been so fearful her pupils were dilated to the point of not being able to see her iris. Now that she was calmer, her blue eyes were dazzling. They looked crystalline. I’ve never seen that before and found myself caught up in their beauty. I sighed, as I admired her from afar, still forlorn that she just didn’t dig me.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting to know Pam. Chloe allows some one on one.

We had a long visit. No one wanted to rush Pam, but it was clear she was going to adopt Chloe, issues and all, warnings to go slow and all, and then the reality hit Angi and me.

 

Chloe was going to her forever home. Right now.

 

I’m glad I’ve had hundreds of adoptions under my belt because I would have been a wreck when I realized I was witnessing a miracle. This cat, who was slated to die, now had the door open to her to have a wonderful life.

Poor Angi had been through the wringer with Chloe. Chloe charged her, bit her, scared her, made her life very difficult, but in the end Chloe had loved her, trusted her and even allowed her to rub her belly as they snuggled on the sofa to watch TV late at night. Katherine, Connie and I had been hoping maybe Angi would keep Chloe, but this wasn’t a good time for her to add to her family. In truth, as I said to Angi, trying to comfort her as tears welled up in her eyes, that her job was done. Chloe needed Angi to help her learn to love and trust again and that job had been done for a while now. It was time for Chloe to continue to blossom, but she could only do that in her forever home.

It was a testament to how much Chloe was loved by how broken up Angi was about her going, but being ever-thoughtful, Angi kept her tears at bay in front of Pam as much as she could. I jumped in and suggested that maybe Pam should invite Angi to visit some day, to which she cheerfully agreed. We all promised to keep in touch and help Pam as she begins her life with Chloe. Chloe was going home, but we didn’t have to lose the connection to her entirely.

 

Angi asked me to take a few photos of her with Chloe so I obliged. She put her face down close to Chloe’s and looked towards the camera. I got a nice photo of them together, but wanted to take a few more, just in case. I got a bit too close and Chloe turned towards Angi, opened her mouth wide and HISSED! Angi responded by laughing. Yep, that’s our Chloe.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Maybe the best photo I've ever taken...

Pam signed the contract and we packed up Chloe’s things. I fought back the tears and made jokes to try to keep things light. It came time to put Chloe into the cat carrier and Angi didn’t want it to be the last thing she did to Chloe, so she asked me to do it. Me, the person Chloe has hated from day one; me, the person whose role in her life was now going to be as Chloe’s nemesis, probably forever.

I put the carrier on the sofa in front of Chloe’s face so she was aimed in the right direction. I took a deep breath, scruffed Chloe quickly and gave her a great shove. She protested. She cried. It was such a pitiful sound, but I got her into the carrier and shut the door. I looked down at my hands and saw 10 fingers…yep…still there.

Chloe was upset, which made Angi upset, which made me hurry to get her outside and into Pam’s car. I said that this was the worst time for Chloe and I reminded her it would get better soon. Angi told Chloe she loved her and was welcome back any time. I wished Pam well and told Chloe I was sorry for putting her into the carrier as a lump grew in my throat. Angi asked me to stay behind as Pam drove away. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves and followed her inside.

Chloe heads for Home R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Goodbye and good luck, Chloe!

I sat with Angi and gave her a hug. I felt awful that she felt so sad. I did everything I could to let her know that Pam really was “the one.” I had no doubts. There are times when I just know an adoption is right and this was one of those times. Pam knows not to expect too much right away and she’s willing to give it time and she knows Chloe has a place to go if things just don’t work out and Chloe reverts back to the way she once was. When you foster, there will be tears, but I’d much rather cry because Chloe went home than because Chloe was put down.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Go Team Chloe!

----------------------------

The next day we got an email from Pam. Chloe had lunged at her. She hadn’t eaten or left her cat carrier. Instead of flipping out, Pam said it was all right. We gave her suggestions and she said she’d go slowly and give it more time. Chloe had reverted back to her fearful ways, but we hoped that perhaps she hadn’t gone back to square one.

The following day Pam reported that Chloe had eaten and used the litter pan. She was not venturing out of her cat carrier, but it was a start and it was an improvement compared to how she behaved at Angi’s in those first days.

Though it’s far too soon to know if Chloe has found her final home, she has every opportunity to prove she can love again and enjoy being loved again by a new friend. If it doesn’t work out, Angi, Katherine and I will be there for her.

 

That’s the thing about Chloe-even though she's challenging to work with, we all love her and maybe that's enough fuel for her journey to continue along the right path. With Pam's help, Chole has every chance to reach the final stop on this road, next to the sign that reads, “Home at Last.”

Nov 2013 Update: I'm thrilled to report that even though Chloe bit Pam very badly, Pam knew to give Chloe more time to settle down. Chloe acclimated quickly to her new home. Not only that, but Chloe LOVES her new daddy (maybe even more than mom, Pam!). Chloe's met lots of Pam's friends and family, even kids. She's been friendly and affectionate to everyone she meets. This is a HUGE triumph for Chloe. I hope to see this very special kitty again one day soon. If she FINALLY likes me I'm going to file this rescue under: "MIRACLE." If not, well, that's our Chloe...

 

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Lil Bub's Lil Book Review

What is it about a cat that would make you drive over 200 miles just so you could be in her company for a few minutes? Yesterday afternoon, I couldn't begin to answer that question. I'd been going through a wave of very deep depression and felt pretty much hopeless. Mentally, I felt impaired from feeling like a failure. While I was surfing around online, I read that the feline-phenom, Lil Bub and her “Dude” Mike Bridavsky were going to be attending a book signing for Bub's first book; Lil Bub's Lil Book. The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet. It meant a long drive to New Jersey later that day. I was tired of feeling lousy, so I decided I had to make the trip. Maybe getting away from home would help soothe my tangled nerves?

Lil Bub Sign R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

As many of your know, Bub was rescued after she was born outside, the runt of the litter, to a feral mama. Bub had many severe physical deformities including dwarfism (she only weighs four pounds), a shortened lower jaw that leaves her tongue hanging out and her teeth never erupted (which ends up being a blessing since those teeth surely would have caused her a lot of mouth pain). Bub wasn't expected to live beyond a few months, but when her daddy, Mike Bridavsky met her, it was "lub" at first sight and perhaps, in that moment that bond gave Bub the will to survive.

Me and Bub Sign R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Grateful that my tongue doesn't stick out all the time like Bub's does because this is something that maybe should not be seen on the internet. Oops.

Bridavsky was at a low point in his life when he met Bub. Inasmuch as he saved her life, she's now saving his. She's become an internet sensation and media darling, with millions of fans. She stars in an internet talk show called Lil Bub's Big Show. The episodes are set to air every Tuesday on Vice Media and the first episode has already aired. It features Whoopi Goldberg, but the star of the show is the script Bridavsky wrote. It's clear he has a talent for giving Bub a voice that is both endearing and completely charming without being overly saccharine. Bub's interview with Ms. Goldberg will leave you glowing with joy.

Bub and Mike R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bub and “Dude,” Mike Bridavsky.

Bub's been very busy. She has her own movie titled “Lil Bub & Friendz”. It's available to view in four parts on Vice. Part one (all I've seen so far) is a documentary on Bub's life, but also includes an interesting discussion on just why cats are such a huge part of the internet. Some clips include interviews with the likes of Ben Huh, creator of I canhascheezburger, NYAN Cat, Keyboard Cat, Grumpy Cat and more. It's very well done and I admit, the scenes with Bub really tugged at my heartstrings. What IS IT ABOUT THIS CAT that's so appealing beyond the realm of normal?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stubby legs with extra white toes, Bub may be the most curiously constructed cat ever.

My intentions were to buy Bub's book, get it signed, say hello, go home. On a lark, I worked up the nerve to ask for Press access to Bub, hoping that coveredincathair.com would be enough credentials to get me in the door. The owner of Book-Ends, where the signing was held, took my business card and disappeared into a back room. Thirty seconds later he came out and held up his hand, spreading his fingers apart. “Five minutes. You have five minutes.”

Bub with her Book R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Buy a Bunch of Bub's Books.

“Right now?!”

I was ushered into a small office behind the front desk with no time to clear my mind, prepare some questions, focus my camera. It wouldn't have mattered how prepared I was because as I turned the corner, my mind went blank. Before me was Bub sitting on a knitted mat on a folding table, with her “Dude,” Mike by her side. It caught me off guard and I felt a lump of emotion rise in my throat. Was I going to burst into tears? Why did I feel like I was meeting a major rock star or the President? It was a CAT! How many cats have I met in my days? Probably thousands by now. Yet meeting Bub was transformative.

Bub with my Biz Card R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Thank you for giving my blog your paw of approval, Bub.

I said hello to Mike, not wanting to be completely rude, but later I realized I forgot to say my name! I told him I wrote a blog about cats. I gave him my card and he put it right next to Bub, thinking I could take a photo of her with my card. Oh dear…then I realized that of course everyone would want to hitch their trailer to this rising star. Mike was dutifully doing what was expected, except that I didn't have any interest in plugging my own work when I was trying to be respectful of his situation. This was his cat, her success. I was just documenting my visit so I moved the card out of the way.

Bub with Button Back R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. BUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I thought about this a lot last night while I was struggling to fall asleep. Bub is providing her Dude with a living. I'm sure advertisers are knocking at the door. Fans are lining up around the block. Everyone wants something from both of them, but it's Bridavsky's job to find a balance between leveraging the spotlight on Bub without it causing her harm. I got the sense that if he could be doing anything it would be to get away from all these crowds and be back home with Bub. I didn't get the sense that Bridavsky's ego was involved, nor did I get the sense he's out to make a buck off his curious cat. There's still an honesty there. He has to make a living, everyone does, and he's surrounded himself with a team of friends, not internet marketing geniuses, to create the Bub dynasty. There aren't handlers and crowds of publicists. It's still Mike and Bub sitting very quietly in an office, having a chat with a strange lady with crazy hair who seems to have forgotten how to use her camera and speak the English language.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My anointment into the Bub clan.

I was cautious about approaching Bub and immediately whispered when I addressed her Dude, Mike. He told me it was okay to speak at a normal volume, but that she didn't like the noise level in crowds. I still kept my tone soft and I got down so I could be at eye level with Bub. I asked if I could touch her and Mike said it was okay. I offered my hand to sniff, which she did, but she didn't react like other cats. I couldn't tell if she was giving me the okay or not so I gave her a gentle pet, then as I do with my own cats, I tipped my head to her so she could sniff me better. As she sniffed me I could hear her raspy breathing. It felt like I was being blessed by a scared creature. I struggled with wanting to pet her, but not bother her, out of respect for her well being. She must be handled so much that I just couldn't treat her like that. I knew there were a lot of people waiting to see her at the signing and I felt my cat-rescuer code calling me to to protect her more than I wanted something for myself.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lub Bub!

I took as many photos as I could, then forgot my camera in the office. I left Mike and Bub feeling completely transformed, but frustrated that I didn't get to ask half the questions I'd wanted to and wishing it could have lasted a few minutes longer. I was energized, vibrating. Why was I so happy?

I sat down with my friend, Irene to look at Bub's book. It's a colorful, whimsical, wondrous piece of art containing hundreds of color photos of Bub with a tapestry of words that weaves a magical tale of Bub's past. In it she declares that she's actually not from planet Earth, but from another planet far away. Bub crash landed here when she was looking for fishes, but now that she's met “Dude” she's here to stay. Bub is featured in imaginative sets, much like her TV Show and Film, but because this book is something you can hold in your hands and hold dear to your heart, it makes it more precious. Captured on film are the many faces of Bub. In some of the photos she's featured in hokey sets with mutant-sized props. I loved it. It left me wanting more. I couldn't stop thinking about this tiny creature on the glossy pages, with her owly eyes and tongue hanging out. She doesn't do amazing tricks. In fact, walking around is difficult for her, but lately she has gotten a bit stronger. It almost doesn't matter what sets she's in, because Bub is cuter than cute and becomes more irresistible with each turn of the page. She shares her book with some friends like Colonel Meow, but what stands out are the words. There's a tenderness and affection in the story that Bridavsky penned. I'm sure not only would adults love this book, but every kid, too. Bub's magical powers effect us all and I could read this book over and over and always reach the end with a smile on my face and a warm puddle in my heart.

 


©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bub's arrival!

 

Mike with Bub at Signing Tender R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mike is constantly checking on Bub to make sure she's comfortable-a true doting dad.

It would be easy to take a lot of cute photos of Bub and leave it at that, but this book has soul and is filled with love, which is expressed throughout as well as in some of the images of fan art the book also includes.

Mike with Bub at Signing R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I'm sure there are a lot of ladies looking at this cute gu,y who loves his cat, who are writing marriage proposals as we speak.

 

The title of this book suggests that Bub is the most amazing cat on the planet and even though I think my own cats should give her a run for the money, they can't. Bub is in a class all by herself. She truly does rank as being quite extraordinary and truly amazing. Being in her presence is a gift I will always cherish.

 

Bub and her Dude are a talented team, but they don't flaunt it. There's a great sense of generosity that goes hand in hand with their fame. They use their super-powers for good by reminding their fans to adopt from shelters, and more importantly, to not overlook special needs cats. And as someone who runs a cat rescue, part of whose mission is to encourage spay/neuter legislation, Bub is there, encouraging everyone to make sure their own cats are taken care of, too.

 

In Bridavsky's own words, Good job, Bub. Good job.

 

Bub up Close R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I lub Bub.

 

Lil Bub's Lil Book is available TODAY via her web site or the following resellers: amazon.com barnes&noble, indie bound and more.

 

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