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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.

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©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!

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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?

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.”

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©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.

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©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.

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©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!

 

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©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.

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©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.

 

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©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.

 

PRODUCT REVIEW and MYSTERY: The Case of the Neko Flies String

Your cats are bored. They get into fights. They bite your ankles or the just lay around with a glazed look in their eyes. They're little hunters with nothing to hunt (unless you let them outside, but please don't do that!). Can you imagine not having an outlet for your deepest desires? To be crass, that would really stink.

I try to have play time with my cats every night, but getting them to chase after a toy can be daunting because my cats are either 2 years old or 12 years old or older. What would I use that appeals to all of them?

Some cats are “air hunters” while others prefer to stalk prey at the ground level, so I'd need a toy that works well dragged on the floor, mimicking the movements of a bug, and something I could gently whip back and forth to get my air hunters to jump.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan is the consummate high-flyer when Neko Flies are around.

Usually I've solved this problem by having more than one toy in my arsenal. I still believe that you should offer options for your cats, from small balls to faux mice and catnip laden toys. That said, I can only hold so many toys in my hand at one time and I needed something that covered all the bases. At last I've found a series of interactive toys that gets cats off their big behinds and turns the lights back on in their eyes. I give you, Neko Flies!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel inspects mysterious package.

Unlike many wand toys I've used in the past, Neko Flies feel well made. Their clear plastic rod has a comfortable rubber grip. At the opposite end of the grip is a clip with a charming braided green and black cord that's attached to a variety of “Lures” that resemble and move like real bugs or mice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey grabs her Kattiepede.

Ellen, the creator of Neko Flies, underscored the importance of creating unique, carefully crafted (some elements are done by hand) toys that are as safe as possible for cats. She told me they constantly look for ways to improve their product, from finding ways to use less glue (they already only use a few drops), to finding thicker material for the wings of their Kragonfly cat toy as well as for better ways to anchor the loop into the toy so it doesn't pull free when cats tug on it. Ellen seems almost obsessed with designing toys that truly appeal to cats and are not just a collection of feathers glued to a string or that utilize materials that are so cheap they fall apart after one use.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?!

It was tempting to write the world's shortest review by stating: I LOVE NEKO FLIES. Rather, my CATS love Neko Flies.

But then something happened…

One of the cats bit the green and black cord, severing one-third off it, along with the Kragonfly. I took the fly away so they wouldn't eat it, thinking I would just trim the end of the cord and reattach the Fly to it. In the meantime, since I was cooking dinner and trying to play with the cats at the same time, I would just have them chase after the string, without the toy attached because they seemed to like it just fine.

Ahhh…hindsight is 20-20 vision, as they say.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love at first bite.

I'd gotten into the habit of hiding the Neko Flies where the cats couldn't get at it to keep them from destroying it. These toys are SO ENTICING you can't leave them laying around. It's just not safe. Really. If only I had READ THE BOX the Neko Flies came in because I would have seen the WARNING on it. I didn't read the WARNING on their web site, either, which I'm sharing with you here:

Some cats become so enamored and hooked on NEKO FLIES that they have been known to try and get the toy off a shelf by themselves! This is an interactive toy for a human to play with the kitty, so keep your Neko flies tucked safely tucked away in a drawer or closet until you are ready to play with your cat again!

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[Neko Flies Lure is attached to a card with this warning printing on it. See? They told me so!]

“Neko Flies are designed as a toy for you and your cat to play with together. The lures at the end are designed to move in a lifelike way which is a great part of their appeal, even to cats who usually are not interested in toys or playing. However, these toys are not intended to be left with a cat to chew or destroy (as she would actual live prey). Once your cat manages to catch a toy you should praise her and then get her to release it right back to you by offering her a really tasty treat - doing a "bait-and-switch" the way you would with a human toddler or a dog who have gotten something you don't want them to possess. Because the Neko Flies lure toys are so enticing to cats, there is a warning that they should never be left anywhere your cat can get to them without your participation. This is a wand toy, not a chew toy! Neko Flies satisfy your cat's primal instinct to hunt and chase - but it is up to you to then protect the lures from your cat's instinct to "kill!"”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I turned my back on my cats to check on dinner. I didn't even leave them alone for more than a minute. I looked back and the green and black cord was one-third the length it had been. Clearly, one of the cats had chewed it off and possibly EATEN IT. In decades of being a cat-mom, this was the first time I ever had to worry that a cat ingested such a large part of a toy.

I searched the living room. I knew the culprits were either my tiny foster cat, Mabel or my big bruiser, the DOOD. I had a bad feeling it was DOOD because he's, well, not the sharpest pencil in the box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley goes nuts for Neko.

I couldn't find a thing. In a panic, I called Neko Chan, home to Neko Flies. Ellen, herself, called me back right away. We talked about what materials were used in the cord (polyester).I called the ER Vet and told them about what material I believe one of the cats ingested and they suggested I bring both cats down, spend $1500.00 per cat on endoscopy-that was IF they could get an internist to come to work late on a Sunday night. They also told me to get a cat to vomit is some sort of “holy grail” treatment because the chemicals they might use to make them vomit usually kills them.They told me to watch for the cat to become listless, vomit, not eat and if that happened to RUSH them in for EMERGENCY SURGERY because the cord could twist up in the intestines and basically KILL the cat.

OR…it might pass on its own…out the “other” end.

Great.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey prepares to pounce.

The next few days were absolute Hell on my nerves. I ripped apart the living room the next day and checked everywhere I could, but no string was found. I hovered over the DOOD and Mabel, but they ate as usual and seemed unaffected. Then I started to worry that maybe it wasn't them, but another cat. I have 9 cats running around! This was going to end badly, I just knew it.

Ellen checked in with me, hopeful I had good news, but there was no sign of the missing string. I thought maybe I was getting Alzheimer's and this was the first sign? I was so paranoid that I carried the remaining section of cord in my purse, in case I had to take one of the cats to the ER so they would know what to look for yet still…nothing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Joey enjoying their new toy..

Six WEEKS passed. I was getting breakfast ready for the kittens and I saw a GREEN ball with pale colored ball next to it on a paper towel on the counter. I asked Sam what it was and he said he found it when he was scooping the litter pan. I looked at it for a moment, then the alarms went off in my head. It was cat excrement with the STRING from the Neko Flies in it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah. Green Poo (and no ham).

Being the offspring of two scientists, I HAD to get a magnifying glass out and inspect the green stool. We feed our cats a raw diet so their stool is VERY pale, hard and dry. I teased apart the green ball and saw fibers. I put the section of string I had in my purse next to the questionable object and the color matched. Whoever ate the string passed, at least some of it out. Thank God.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Six weeks later, the green string is found.

Although I'll never know if that was ALL of the string, hopefully it was enough so that it won't adversely effect the cat who ate it (most likely the DOOD). I don't know if the raw diet slowed the process down since the cats don't pass much stool or if it helped. All I care about is that my cats are fine and my pocket still has a few bucks in it.

After all this would I still tell you to go out and buy Neko Flies. Absolutely, YES I would! I want you to know about my foolishness so that you truly appreciate the warning from NekoChan. Their toys are so enticing we must be careful in how we use them and our reward for that mindfulness is that our cats will get the exercise they need and have their hunting desire sated. I'm still using the Kattipede today and hope to add more Lures to my collection soon.

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If you'd like your very own Neko Flies: Foxifur Kittenator with Rod, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what's the weirdest thing your cat has eaten or just give me a good reason why you should win. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE FOXIFUR KITTENATOR with ROD. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA and CANADA (yay Canada!) only (sorry guys outside of those areas!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. DOOD.

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ (I can only hope there will not be any ER Vet visits!).

Christmas in August Thanks to 1800PetMeds

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh boy! What's in the boxes? What's in the boxes?!!!

It's one thing to order a little something special for yourself, then anxiously await its arrival. The doorbell rings and the delivery person leaves a box by your door. You have a moment of joy anticipating what's inside the box, even if you already know what it is.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What is it?

So imagine for a moment what it's like when you open your front door and there's an enormous stack of boxes sitting there and you don't know where they came from. You start searching your mental database of what the heck you did. Did you have a late-night pity-purchase jag that's going to set you back even further into debt? You know you're credit card is in a lock box because you really can't be using it right now so where on Earth did these boxes come from?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Embarrassment of riches!

You brighten, realizing you behaved yourself, this one time. It's not some crazed shopping spree, it's a donation from 1-800-PetMeds®. Wait…THIS IS A DONATION?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This Igloo Cat Bed is so nice I don't want to let the cats use it.

As I opened each box, they revealed eye-popping delights—a very fancy Refined Feline® Igloo Cat Bed, Omega 3 Capsules (much needed by my cat, Gracie, who suffers from skin issues), a SmartCat® Garden and Peek-a-Prize (the kittens will love this), 1800PetMeds treats, catnip, and as I opened the final package, the trumpets blared, Ta-Da!, a box containing a much desired Refined Feline Cat Clouds Cat Shelf™.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not the Starship Enterprise! It's a Cat Clouds Cat Shelf!

It would be one thing if I could go out and buy all these things for myself, but I can't. Putting gas in my car is a big accomplishment, so these items mean even more to me and my cats. I'm not sure which cats will be enjoying some of these items, but with eight cats and nine fosters, I'm sure they'll all benefit in some way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen likes the boxes, best, of course.

These days not getting bills in the mail is a good day, but finding a stack of huge boxes by your door from a well-meaning company is a humbling delight. Thank you Dana and friends at 1-800-PetMeds for really making my week, if not, month and thank you for offering up some lovely products I can use or donate to my rescue.

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BarkAid Has Gone to the Cats

A few months ago I got an email from a cat-loving friend of Covered in Cat Hair who lives in Rhode Island. She told me that she wanted to help out Kitten Associates, but didn't have a lot of resources to make a donations. Instead, she told me about a program called BarkAid and suggested I contact the Founder, Patrick Lomantini, and ask him if Kitten Associates could be part of his fundraising efforts.

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BARK. AID? Isn't that for dogs?

After visiting BarkAid's web site, I came to understand the following:

Patrick owns Lomantini the Salon in Wichita, Kansas. He loves animals even though he couldn't have one as a child AND he's somewhat allergic to cats. He wanted to make a difference helping animals in need, but didn't want to focus just on his local rescue. Sure, he could do a cut-a-thon, something he'd done in the past, but it would only help one rescue. It wasn't enough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Three years ago, Patrick had the crazy idea to get in his car and travel to one state per DAY, team up with a local salon, cut hair for 12 hours and charge just $20/haircut. At the end of the day he'd donate the money to a local rescue group. Yes, it's nuts, but Patrick is a physical specimen of manly hunkatude who can handle the challenge he set for himself. His 6-pack abs have abs and his biceps would make Popeye blush. Patrick has close-cropped hair and wears tight black t-shirts and jeans, with a big hunky watch. His blue eyes could charm anyone he meets. There's a bubbling energy about him that's contagious, which won him over with folks as he blazed a trail across the country.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick decided he had 50 days to accomplish his mission and somehow he pulled it off. What is more impressive is that he decided to do it again the next year and again this year, with a small team of volunteers at his side.

Patrick NEEDS a big, fat corporate sponsor for these events, but right now Patrick is paying for the trip out-of-pocket. He wants each rescue to get as much money as they can, so he donates 100% of his profits to them, only asking for tip money to go to the volunteers to pay for gas (last year was $6,000.00 alone) and food. He hopes that the rescue groups will be able to put his team up for the night, too, to help offset costs.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach, Patrick (Center) and Alexis.

As fate would have it, just a I was contacting Patrick to ask him if Kitten Associates might take part he happened to be looking for a rescue group to work with in Connecticut. Apparently he hadn't had the easiest time here and was hoping for a better match this time around. I told him we're a TINY rescue and that there are bigger ones in town that could do a lot more, but Patrick had faith in us and said that the smaller rescues always worked a lot harder to publicize the events and support his team.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I figured I'd give it a try IF I could secure a salon for his team to set up shop. My first and only choice was Salon Michele, where I get my fancy-pants hairdos from time to time. I ran the idea past Maggie, who has been doing my hair for a few years now. She is a cat lover, so it wasn't tough for her to say YES. Of course we had to ask the owner, Michele and I realized it would be basically asking her to shut her salon down for the day and let me use it to raise money. Thankfully the date they chose for us was a Tuesday, so it was a slower day for business which might make it easier to give us the green light.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I gathered all my info and presented it to her. She didn't take long to think about it and said YES! From that moment on was a whirlwind for me. I had to do a lot of planning, getting permits to put out directional signs, finding out how to get a 25-ft long banner hung over the main street in town, making list after list of what needed to be done, who needed to be told. I struggled with how to get the word out and my dear friend Mary Shafer of Word Forge Books helped me get the Press Release sorted out.

For two months I was obsessed, but my biggest challenge was HOW to explain this event and NOT have people think that it was either Haircuts for DOGS or a fundraiser for DOGS?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I got everything sorted out and spent a lot of late nights working on this. I began to realize right away that we'd have to spend a good deal of money on advertising-YES, not just doing free ads online. Our town paper, The Newtown Bee, was the key way to get the word out to everyone in town. After all, we are the hometown cat rescue and we knew they'd help us. As luck would have it, an ad space opened up that was PRIME location and it hit the streets a few days before our event. I worried about spending $450.00 for this huge ad. It would be on the front page of The Bee Extra, The Bee's free paper, as well as inside their main paper.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis with the Mascot-dog plush (a gift from Kitten Associates)

I had to take a risk. If we couldn't reach people, what was the point?

I was very glad my graphic design background came in handy. I put together designs not just for flyers, but for table top signs, HUGE window signs that would re-skin Salon Michele, directional signs and a twenty five foot long banner-the biggest piece I've ever designed.

It also dawned on me that this is something I was meant to do. When I was a kid, I put on plays for my parents, then when I was at school, I was in Student Government where I came up with events like "Bring your Camera to School Day." In High School and College I took it up a notch and planned big events. My pride and joy was a 1940's Prom with a big band for over 600 guests. Why couldn't I do a fundraiser for my own rescue group?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Because I had to take care of RESCUES, too!

In the two weeks before our event, I helped rescue about twenty cats and kittens. All of them went to other rescues, but I did a lot of emailing, phone calls, driving around with a car full of kittens. It seemed that Minnie, too, got the message because she relapsed and got sick again and ended up having to have emergency spay surgery a few DAYS before the event!(she's recovered now and doing well)

I was having all sorts of stress dreams. The worst was the morning of the event, I dreamt I was waking up with most of my hair laying on the pillow and no way to hide that I was bald.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Beth, one of our awesome adopters with Patrick.

When the banner was hung and the ads were printed, I knew I'd spent about $1000. and that was about half of all the money we had. I started to fear we might lose money, but my friends kept reminding me that getting our name out is valuable, too (tell that to the Vet when he wants to be paid!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Kathy, the super-star who works the front desk of Salon Michele contacted me and said we had 3 appointments for haircuts. My heart sank. We had one week to go and I worried not only would we lose money, but it would be embarrassing to everyone who gave up so much to support our group.

A few days later the banner was hung and more calls came in. We were up to 14 appointments, which was still far too few. We needed 50 to break even.

The Friday before the event, the big ad in the paper came out. Nothing happened for three days, then on Monday, the day before, we were up to 50 and rising. Between the banner, the ad and word of mouth, things were heating up. By Tuesday I knew we had over 60 with whispers that it might even go higher than that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Busy Bees cutting hair and raising money for our kitties!

Tuesday morning, the BIG DAY, I drove over to Salon Michele to get set up. It really hit me that a lot of people had stopped what they were doing to help Kitten Associates and most of them I didn't even know. I fought off crying, but it was very emotional. When you work really hard and often have difficult situations to deal with, you don't have time to think about what you might get out of it. With cat rescue it's just focusing on helping the cats however you can. You know there are lots of people who love cats, but they wouldn't get their haircut because of that, would they?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. These cupcakes from the DOrazio Sisters Bakery tasted SO GOOD that I am craving one or ten right now!

So I got to work. Patrick and his team were already there even though the first appointment wasn't for 30 minutes. They'd arrived at 1am and were already back up and ready to go at 7:30am. These guys were amazing and they hadn't even started!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I set up, everyone got to know each other. Zach, one of the stylists graciously helped me put out the directional signs at the perimeter of the parking lot. We got chatting and he told me this was the first time he'd been east of Montana and that his home state was Idaho! I couldn't begin to imagine how amazing and exhilarating it was for him to see so much, in so little time. What a wild ride. I was tempted to offer to join them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Alexis, one of the other stylists, offered to do something with my hair. It was really kind of her to help me look less like a mop and more professional, plus it was just plain fun to get fussed over after all the weeks of preparations were finally over and I could (sort of) relax.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Then, as they say, the rest is a bit of a blur. People were coming in, a few almost begging for appointments, we were filling up to the point of having to turn people away! From 50, to 60, to 70 haircuts. The day raced by. I answered a lot of questions about cats and around noon, Sam brought three of our kittens to remind everyone why we were there. They did great and had a lot of fun. Everyone wanted to take them home, but Irene, my faithful friend and volunteer, kept a watchful eye over them so none of the kitten “accidentally” left the salon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not a party unless you have tattoos!

I was really hungry. Our friends, the DOrazio Sisters from Brooklyn who opened a bakery here in Newtown, kindly and generously donated 4 dozen cupcakes. We had them set up on a lovely cupcake tower stand and it was tough not to eat them ALL. I managed to sneak one..okay two, but no more than three, when no one was looking. I still have a jones for another one!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

It was clear we were going to do okay. Somehow amidst the chaos, a lot of people were getting really nice haircuts. One lady donated her hair to Locks of Love, which really touched my heart. Another lady talked about being at the Sandy Hook Elementary on "that day" and I think it helped her with the healing process to have Patrick fuss over her and listen to her heartbreaking story.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

We had lots of kids come visit, too, who told me stories about their cats or other pets. Even though I've lived in Newtown for over 20 years, it honestly was the first time I felt like I was part of this community. Not having children, I never had need to go to any of the town events or schools. I've yearned to feel closer to the people in this town and surprisingly, that finally started to happen because of K.A. Kitten Associates is on the radar of more people in town. It was definitely a dream starting to come true.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

In total, Patrick and his team, as well as Maggie, Michele, Jackie, Mary, Kathy and others from Salon Michele helped get 84 haircuts done, which was the SECOND HIGHEST number of haircuts in BarkAid's 2 1/2 year history! I was really really REALLY thrilled! We were able to cover our expenses and the rest will go to caring for our kittens.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A donation for Locks of Love! What a wonderful woman!

By 8pm we all pitched in, packed up, cleaned up and were ready to call it a day. Patrick and team were professional, friendly, outgoing, charming, everything good. Thankfully Michele's salon wasn't trashed. It was respected by all and I think that we all parted with genuine smiles and goodwill for each other. Patrick said he was ready to do this again next year, as he hugged me goodbye. I just shook my head, wondering how he does this, because I wanted to go to bed and not get up for a few days I was so tired.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick is on Day 20 of his trip. He's doing great work for the rescues in this Country. If you'd like to help support Patrick's efforts-they REALLY need donations to, at least, cover travel expenses, please visit their web site and donate HERE

In lieu of a proper photo album, enjoy some images from our big day!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Michele, owner of Salon Michele giving a great haircut and big smile to a customer.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Patrick hones his craft.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis and Ruby (who was SO adorable!)

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ruby steals the show.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The team with Minnie's kittens: Gracey, Mellie and Joey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach and Gracey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How to know it's time for the kittens to go home.

Miracle at Bridgeport Animal Control

Rescuing cats doesn’t only mean taking a cat off the street or out of a kill-shelter and giving it a home until you can find a forever home for it. There’s a great deal of behind-the-scenes networking going on, too, that doesn’t often get reported.

For a rescue like mine, that’s held together by a few very precious volunteers and even fewer foster homes, we can’t take on many cats because we don’t want to get into an overcrowded, unhealthy situation. We can’t expand until we get more foster homes so for now, we tap out at about 20 cats or less.

 

This year has been the most demanding, intense, scariest to date, with a seemingly record breaking number of calls and emails, asking for help for feral cats giving birth in all sorts of places, like basement level window wells, in a boat, under a shed. There are reports of injured kittens found, abandoned cats either cast outdoors or left behind in steaming-hot apartments or homes after the owner’s moved away. The heartbreakers are the senior cats whose sole provider passes away or is moved into a nursing home-those cats are the toughest to adopt out and often need a great deal of vet care.

 

Add to that…adoptions are at an all time low. We’ve had Barney since he was BORN and he just turned a YEAR OLD. Other rescues, loaded up, report one or two adoptions every few weeks, when in past years they were always ready to take on more cats because enough were finding homes. When you do the math, between the rise in abandoned cats or owners who get evicted, the natural rise of the unspayed/neutered cat population and the economy and you have a disaster in the making that has ended up with the cats paying the price with their lives.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. His owner died. Family members promised they would come back for him, but they never did. Leaving him depressed and alone, wondering what he did wrong.

 

Last week, I got an urgent plea, saying that the Bridgeport [CT] Animal Control was overflowing with 75 cats. Though they NEVER want to euthanize any animal, now they were faced with putting down perfectly adoptable cats and kittens because there was no longer any space to house them. Stories like this are all too common across the country. This is our answer to overcrowded shelters—we KILL the animals to make room for more, so they can be killed next.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. “Can't Keep.” Why?

Though I can’t speak for every rescuer, I’d bet we’re all very exhausted, particularly this year. Our spirits are broken, too. We used to be able to call an associate at another rescue and beg a favor. After a few calls we’d usually be able to find someone to say they could help and take on a cat we couldn’t help. We’d offer bribes-we’d pay for vetting or we’d drive the cat to their door. We’d make jokes or promise to use our social networking chops to let everyone know that this one cat is at a great rescue to help that rescue get donations…whatever it took.

Today we can make the calls, but often they go unanswered or if they are answered we’re told; “I’m so sorry, but we just can’t take another…did you try such and such rescue?” We all strive to help each other out, but we’re just lost about how we can keep doing this if people don’t start adopting cats again.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How can this cat take the stress of living in this cage? When I approached him, he came over and wanted me to pet his head. Leaving him behind broke my heart.

 

What we all really needed was some good news to keep us going and today we got some. After a tireless effort by T.A.I.L.S (who offered to pay for the spay/neuter and vaccinations of every cat adopted from Bridgeport), by myself, and MANY other rescues across Connecticut, by the local media, like Scot Haney of WFSB and a crew from Channel 12 News. The word got out-and it didn’t fall on deaf ears.

 

I made my usual calls asking for help and surprisingly enough a group here in town said they could take on a few kittens if I could go get them. I was told to take five, but then I was faced with having to choose which lives to save.

I’ve done a lot of rescues from Georgia, but I’ve never been to the state. I’ve never gone to animal control and chosen a cat to rescue. I’ve used photos as a guide, but there were plenty of times I didn’t even have that much to go on. This was the first time I would go into a place where I knew if I didn’t help, maybe no one would. As I drove to Bridgeport my task weighed heavily on my heart, but I was also excited to be part of something good happening to these needy animals.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Those are adult cats in those dark cages. They barely can stand. Imagine what it would do to their psychological state after being in there for a long period of time?

I met with Melissa, who runs animal control along with her associate Jimmy. I loved Melissa right away. She was smart, cute with dark curly hair and funky glasses. She was expecting my arrival since I’d promised her help and was finally able to make good on my words. She walked me over to a room that was having some construction done on it and told me to pardon the mess, but mess or no, I was immediately taken aback by what I saw.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I desperately wanted to take these guys, too.

 

The cinderblock walled room, was small, dark and filled with ungodly small stainless steel cages. Each held a cat that more often than not, barely fit inside it. The cats were stressed, some depressed, some reaching out a paw, asking for attention and hoping to be released from being confined. My heart sank. Of course, I wanted to take the black cat with the white locket on his chest, who was declawed, big, scared…so scared he was sitting in his filthy litter pan. I wanted to take the buff chubby kitty whose owner had died, leaving him on his own, even though family members promised to come back to get him-none of them ever did.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Do I chose this litter? YES!

Then there were the kittens-either all black or black and white. They were together as a litter, each clinging to the other, wide-eyed, looking at me, trying to decide if I was going to harm them or help. There were eleven kittens and I could only take five. One of the kittens, a sole longhaired black male, was sick, with green discharge from his eyes and his nose was runny. I asked to look at him and I checked his mouth for sores, the telltale sign of Calicivirus-which thankfully he did not have.

I had to consider what the rescue would want, not me. They would want the youngest, friendliest kittens. I went back and forth, adding up which combinations I could take. I started off with the sick kitten, but realized he could affect the others so he had to go back into his cage…and trust me on this…it was not a good feeling. I had to push through my emotions and make a choice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The little sick kitten I thought I had to leave behind (who is now at a Vet getting the care he needs)

I called one of my friends who works with the rescue taking the cats and asked if I could, at least, take a sixth kitten since it would have been left behind when it was part of a litter. She said YES! I wanted to take three older long-haired black and white kittens, but the voice in my head said, no, take the younger ones. I felt the ones I left behind would easily be adopted as they were very pretty and friendly. I had to hope for the best.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This kitten was so friendly I couldn't believe he came out of such a high-stress environment.

We packed up the kittens. In the end I chose two litters: one of two kittens and one of four. I borrowed a second cat carrier so they wouldn’t be together. I looked at the sick kitten and he reached out a paw, wanting to get out of the cage. I asked Melissa to promise to tell me how he was doing and when he got out, but I felt terrible leaving him behind.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I drove the kittens to our new animal control where they would be quarantined for the day until the rescue could come pick them up.

We got them settled into their new quarters, which were easily six times larger than where they had been held. The kittens looked confused until we put food down and then all I could hear was the sound of their tongues lapping greedily at the food. One growled, protecting his precious resource, so we got more plates out and added more food. The litter of four ate 3, 5-oz cans of food.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I was at animal control, I mentioned the sick kitten and some of the others. I knew I did what I could, but the image of that little guy stuck with me as I drove home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. These kittens turned out to be cheerful, friendly and playful once they had a chance to get used to their new temporary home.

A few hours later, I got a call. Our dear animal control officer asked me why I didn’t take the sick kitten, too. I told her I had no place for him to go and she told me to go get him and that she would care for him herself and get him placed! I called Melissa and told her I had to return her cat carrier and that I’d do it the next morning. She jokingly asked if I’d like to fill it back up with more cats and I replied, yes and that I was coming back for the sick kitten.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Twenty-four hours later, this little kitten is no longer depressed and fearful, but happy with a full tummy.

 

I helped get seven kittens into safety and felt like there was some good in this world after all. Three cages were empty, which gave all the other cats a chance to live a little bit longer. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. What I couldn’t have imagined was what I saw the next morning when I returned to Bridgeport Animal Control to pick up the sick kitten…

 

 

…a line of people waiting to adopt cats.

 

I had to wait to get my sick kitten and I got lost trying to find the room he was in. I walked past empty cages, then would see just one cat by itself. Confused I couldn't figure out what was going on, until one of the caretakers came up to me. I asked him about the empty cages. His eyes teared up and he said to me that in the nine years he'd worked at BPT Animal Control, this was the BEST DAY they'd ever had and that most of the cats were GONE. Gone? As in dead? He replied, no…gone as in rescued or adopted.

 

By the end of that day every single cat-even the saddest, oldest, scruffiest cats, were out of animal control. 75 cats were safe, ALIVE.

 

If only this story was being repeated across this country at every animal control and shelter…what a wonderful world it would be. Yet, I'm grateful I got to witness the breathtakingly beautiful power of what can happen when people come together to effect great change.

75 cats got to see the sunshine again, breathe fresh air, eat good food and be loved. It doesn't get any better than this.


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The Squee Diaries. Chapter 5. The Last Days of the Blue Bathtub

The blue bathtub is empty. Once home to our little foster nuggets, it's now devoid of life, still lined with a soft thick blanket, a few motionless toys, and a tiny litter pan with kitten-safe non-clumping litter inside it.

As all kittens do and should do, they have grown quickly, and in their urgent desire to explore a slowly expanding world, the tub could no longer contain their curiosity.

But before that happened, let's take a look back on the last days of the Blue Bathtub.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie's milk bar is still open for lunch.

As the kittens reached 4 weeks of age, the “drunk walk” they did began to become more confident strides. I was glad to see those days pass. Although endearing to see, it also reminded me of Fred's last days of not being able to walk at all. Seeing the kittens sure-steps gave me some relief, too. It meant their muscles and bones were growing stronger and more capable. With each day, another small miracle. Their weight continued to increase as their awareness of the world expanded.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Passed out pile of cuteness.

I placed a few simple toys in the tub with them, but they didn't understand what they were for. They were happy to use each other as a toy or alternatively a pillow when play time was over. They were still focused on mama-Minnie for everything and had no interest in any tempting foods I set out for them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan washes his face while brother, Joe sleeps.

With Minnie being so painfully thin, my hope is to get the kittens weaned as soon as possible, so she can work on getting her health back. She's a devoted, focused mother who is gentle and friendly, but fierce if threatened. My day-to-day relationship with her is very good and affectionate, but one night I learned Minnie's true colors when out of curiosity, I played a cat meowing sound effect on my iPhone that mimicked Minnie's own cry to her kittens. Minnie heard it an immediately went on alert. She jumped towards the sound, landing on the counter near the bathroom sink. She'd never jumped that high before and quickly began to growl, flicking her tail, anxiously looking for a threat. I played another sound, that of a kitten crying and she really flipped out-racing around the room, frantically searching for the intruder. Her behavior was quite startling.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lil Gracey dreams her little kitten dreams.

I told her it was okay and felt like a complete idiot for testing her like that. Her tail was puffed out and her pupils dilated. She was on high alert and ready to fight, but just as quickly as she alerted, she began to calm down. I was afraid to touch her, but soon realized it was probably safe to do so. Within a few minutes, Minnie was back to watching over her “flock.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Shhh..nap in progress.

Minnie's appetite has also been difficult to predict. One day she's ravenous and will eat what I give her, but most often she's picky and reluctant to take a bite. I've used all my tricks, warming the food, sprinkling dehydrated chicken on it, mixing in some raw chicken liver, but it doesn't often help. I'll even put some on my finger and rub it along her teeth to get her to lick some of the food and get a taste for it.

If she eats at all, she can take more than 20 minutes for her to get the idea that it's food and start to eat, some times even longer. I find myself running up and down the stairs to get the food back into the microwave to re-warm it up, thinking the warm food will help her smell it. I can't seem to find the perfect food or combination of food that she will eat each time. I've been adding goat milk to the food or bringing her a small bowl of it and she seems to like that a lot and I do know it's helped keep her hydrated and given her some extra Vitamin D.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Hey! Do not disturb!

The kittens seem to be doing very well. Their weights are all in line if not ahead of what I would expect them to weigh at their age. Petey was the smallest so I worried about him. Stanely and Mellie are the big boys, each hitting a full pound in weight before the others. I was grateful that none of them were so off the mark that I had to intervene with syringe feeding.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mel (left) and Petey (right)

The kittens are starting to get their teeth and their eyes are blue, instead of dark orbs. They're starting to sort out what a litter pan is-besides a fun place to play. They seem to be okay with me in the room, but I always wonder if I'm handling them enough or too little. I want to keep them safe and calm until they're another week older. Then I need to get more people to visit so they don't get spooked at newcomers.

I should try not to worry so much about being perfect with them and just enjoy these precious weeks. I can't believe how they've grown and how it seems like overnight they've become little cats racing to see who the first will be to explore the world outside the tub.

And not surprisingly, Gracey seems to be leading the way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey, leader of the pack, begins her attempt to bust out of the blue bathtub.

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Stay tuned for Chapter 6.—coming soon.

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REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Love Saves the Day

Summer's here; time to kick back, take a break and savor reading a good book. I'm always a fan of quirky summer romance where a crazy-haired, hard-working woman runs into (and sometimes over) the “wrong” guy (who, of course, is the “right guy” by book's end), but this summer I decided to try something different by reading Gwen Cooper's “Love Saves the Day.”

Love Saves…is Ms. Cooper's third novel following “Diary of a South Beach Party Girl” and her New York Times Bestselling book, “Homer’s Odyssey,” the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion.

Love Saves the Day, is a different kind of love story, segregated into chapters, each told in the voice of one of three characters: Sarah, her daughter Laura and Prudence, a cat. Initially, I was reluctant to read a book that included something written in a cat's voice. I've long-ago tired of reading cutesy misspelled words supposedly penned by a cat and I feared this would only end up in a lot of eye-rolling on my part.

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From the first page, I was delightfully surprised by the perky and precocious tone of the feline lead. There were no cutesy misspellings. In fact this cat-character was charming, clever and insightful—who, from having had a few conversations with Ms. Cooper reminds me, is not much different than our esteemed author, herself. The world through Prudence's eyes was one I've not imagined before. Ms. Cooper definitely has unique insight into what her cat is thinking and how the world looks from five inches off the ground.

I devoured the story, quickly getting hooked on Prudence's journey because, in part, it reminded me so much of my own. Prudence is a bridge between her cat-guardian Sarah and Sarah's daughter, Laura. The challenging relationship of mother and daughter, the awkward discussions, the misunderstandings, the assumptions that can keep two people who love each other apart. This story is poignant and tender and some times funny, too. Ms. Cooper has a keen sense of what makes relationships tick and why they can so easily take a turn for the worse, even with the best of intentions.

But perhaps, Ms. Cooper's true gift lies in weaving three voices so artfully together, that make us want to turn the page and find out what happens next. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Loves Saves the Day (which, by the way, was the name of a VERY cool shop in NYC I used to spend hours in back in the 1980's) was destined for the Big Screen.

This is a grand tale that had me giggling and in tears, too. It's the kind of book you can read again and discover something new and once you reach the last page, it leaves you wanting more. I hope we'll get to read about Prudence again one day, but for now it's good to know a cat can be entertaining and without being saccharine. Save the sweetness for the iced tea you'll enjoy as you read this fine work.

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF LOVE SAVES THE DAY

Thanks to Gwen Cooper being such a generous person, I'm able to offer one reader in the USA or Canada or UK or Australia (I hate leaving out folks outside of the USA so I will pay for the $$$ shipping this one time) an autographed copy of Love Saves the Day. To enter the contest, simply leave a comment below. Say something nice! Or "I want to win" or whatever you like. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON.

ONE ENTRY will be drawn at random and selected to win on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:11AM EST.

LEARN MORE & HOW TO PURCHASE COPIES OF LOVE SAVES THE DAY

If you'd like to learn more about Love Saves the Day or to order your own copy, just visit Gwen Cooper's website.

After you've read Love Saves the Day you can join the Facebook Fan Page and talk about it, as well as find out about Ms. Cooper's numerous book signings across the USA.

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You DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT THE NOMINATION FORM TO VOTE! Thank you for your support!

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

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A Little Love Goes a Long Way for Chloe

Chloe’s been living with foster mom, Angi for six weeks. The fact that she’s in the same home is in and of itself a wonderful thing. With her aggression issues, Chloe could easily have been sent back to Animals in Distress and possibly been deemed unadoptable, leaving her to possibly face a grim future. Her former "guardian" had called around to the local Vets asking for a house call to euthanize the cat. Thankfully, though they are not bound by law to do so, all the Vets he contacted would not do a “convenience-euthansia,” especially for a cat they had never seen before. How did they know the cat wasn't aggressive due to an underlying illness? I was dismayed to learn that my own Vet said there are some Vets who will do anything for a buck. Sadly, cats are still considered personal property, which means that said property can be disposed of at the owner's discretion. Luckily for Chloe she has a few Guardian Angels looking out for her, especially her foster mom, Angi who has stuck by Chloe through thick (and we’re working on thin).

Since this is Angi’s story, then some of the words should be her own. Here are some excerpts from emails discussing Chloe’s ever-improving progress. We last left off with Chloe starting her life at Angi’s house and Angi having to protect herself from Chloe’s attacks as she entered the room. Angi had to have a cardboard shield in front of her just to get near Chloe. She could have become fearful and given up, but Angi kept at it, slowly gaining Chloe’s trust. After two weeks, I got this email:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Chloe, relaxed and enjoying her toys.

April 21

“Chloe let me pet her, brush her, and play with her a bit with her catnip carrot. She purred throughout nearly the entire exchange, rolled around playfully, even, and I think I have identified her "pay attention to me" meyow over the "I'm gonna get you!" war-cry yowl.

She's still a bit nippy, I utilized the catnip carrot & brush a lot to give my fingers a little distance, but she's not as determined with the nipping as she was when she took that chunk out of my foot!”

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April 25

“Baby gate is going well. Rudie's popped in to be a minor nuisance a few times, but only minor. Some hissing, but everyone's keeping their distance. I have to pick up Chloe's food to prevent the oranges [note from Robin: two of Angi’s cats are called “the oranges”] from scarfing everything up (they're sort of garbage disposals!).

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Rudie checking out Chloe's room. Should he jump the baby gate or not?

Chloe meowed around mid-morning, and I decided to try something. I put the baby gate in the hallway, and closed off the other bedroom. If she got up to the gate, she'd just about be able to see me working at the desk but not able to come in, and would have access to about half the hallway, and the bathroom. She roamed the bathroom a bit, and then there was a bit of hissing with Rudie and she retreated back into the guest room. Figuring it might be just a bit too much too soon, I put the baby gate back in that doorway.”

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May 6

“I'm actually starting to suspect she'll love anyone that plays with her a few times a day, as well as offers scritches. I really do think that being able to interact via some cat toys was key to her getting her "frustrations" out. Really, I think she was starved for quality interaction for a long time.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Bring on the skritches.

I've been opening up the "baby gate" area to include the hallway and my office, but she's not really taking me up on it that much, not after the initial interest. The other day she wandered out, spent a little time in the office with me (I put a pillow out for her, but she left after spending a few minutes hissing at Smudge (who was up in the cat-basket at desk-top level) and retreated to her room - I've been trying to put some of "her stuff" in the hallway to help her explorations, but it hasn't helped so much so far.”

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The next morning

“hah! I wrote this this morning & didn't send it immediately because I got distracted, and Chloe just wandered into the office while I was talking on the phone! She's on a cushion behind me! Rosie is in the basket, and they're both minding their own business.…”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. A happy kitty thanks to foster mom-Angi.

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May 14

“Chloe is doing even more amazingly awesomely. So much so that I'm not taking so many pics & video anymore because it's losing the "OMG!" factor.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. While working, Angi looks down and sees Chloe, reaching up to get her attention!

I've opened up her room during the day and while I'm awake & around, she has the run of the house. She's stayed upstairs except for the one time she chased Rudie halfway down the stairs (I'm sorry, but it's crazy how fast she can move when she wants to), and will sometimes follow me around the house, if I leave the office to go make lunch or something. I can even "call her" and she'll come. I've got some low-laying cushions on the floor in my office, and she'll hang out while I work, just like the other cats (who tend to stay up high, on my desk, shelves, etc…). She's found some peace with Rudie & Rosie, which is good, but also not so good, as she no longer chases Rudie away from her food when he goes into her room (really, she scared the bejesus out of him on a few occasions early on, even leaping off the bed to chase him out of the room!). I'm tapering off leaving food out for her because of that.”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Completely vulnerable with her belly up, Chloe lays on the sofa and watches TV with Angi. Is this love?

“…Chloe's even come up on the couch while I watch TV, or gone up there while I'm working in the office. The Oranges will keep some distance if I'm watching TV, but will sit on the back of the couch or on the other side of me. Even the nibbles are fading, and are even more "affectionate" than ever, and not mean. I can pick her up (slowly and supportively, as she's still so big!), pet her without worrying about my approach. She even lets me pet her kinda "roughly," I really don't feel like I have to be careful around her at all.”

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May 25

“… the landmarks are getting smaller now that she's so much more normalized, but I thought this was worth mentioning:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. She's just a cat, doing regular cat things. That this happened is far from regular.

Today, very briefly, I caught Chloe playing by herself. She was in the office with me while I was drawing. There's a cushion I have on the floor that she likes, I keep it near my computer chair. There was one of those furry mousies half underneath it. She pawed at it to get it out from under the cushion, and then played with it for a bit. It was only for maybe 30 seconds, and she stopped by the time I got to the camera. But still. A sign of a much happier cat.”

Looking Back

When I met Chloe back in March I couldn’t even touch her. She was ready to attack me with whatever she had, claws or no claws. If I hadn’t seen her behave normally and confidently before she went into defense mode, I would have been hard pressed to even consider giving her a chance. In that glimmer of sweetness, I saw hope and we had to try to help her. I’m so very glad I stepped in to assess Chloe because if her former “owner” had his way, Chloe would have been dead by now. Instead, Chloe is finding out what it’s like to live a life without abuse or neglect, a life that has richness, love and companionship.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Friends at last. Way to go Angi & Chloe!

 

Chloe was willing to give us a chance, too, even if perhaps we didn’t show well when we first met her. It just goes to prove that with patience and a lot of work, every cat can blossom in time.

 

Go Team Chloe!

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

If you'd like to catch up on Chloe's story from the beginning you can check out these posts:

1. http://coveredincathair.com/content/we-owe-it-chloe

2. http://coveredincathair.com/content/what-we-live-chloe-update

3. http://coveredincathair.com/content/baby-steps-chloe

4. http://coveredincathair.com/content/chloes-big-adventure

All photos and email-quotes Used with Permission.

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Crazy Cat Ladies No More

Crazy Cat Ladies. In many circles that expression is not meant kindly. It connotates instability, excess (too many cats, obsessively talking about cats), wearing sweatshirts with cutesy embroidered artwork of kittens chasing after balls of yarn. We're probably fat. We're far from “cool.” We have no relationship as meaningful as the one we have with our cats. We're probably not married, maybe never even had a boyfriend.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The cat ladies dinner. Between everyone at the table we had or cared for (we counted ferals) 85 cats!

Not any more.

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Tamar from IHaveCat and Angie from CatLadyLand and moi.

Today I'm retiring the phrase: Crazy Cat Lady. It's been dying slow death and it's time to strike it from the dictionary and replace it with something appropriate.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ever-smiling Angie with kitten.

Last week I attended BlogPaws 2013, a conference for pet bloggers. I'll be doing a write up about my trip, my 90-minute session about our Kitties for Kids program and may even dish a bit of dirt, but today my focus is on the real reason why I go to these conferences-it's to spend time with my friends, who happen to write about cats and who love and protect them with the same passion I do.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our dear friend, Kate from Hauspanther couldn't make it to BlogPaws so we got together and created the Cat Lounge for her.

When I was a kid I had a younger brother. We didn't get along very well, nor do we, today, which is why I used “had” referring to him. Our family moved around a lot and I was constantly uprooted and lonely. Making new friends was tough and it seemed that just as I made a friend, we'd move away and I would never see them again.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Deb from Zee & Zoey sharing a flirty smile (and wearing cat-ear tiaras!)

My Mother never had women friends. She had some interesting male friends, ones whom I'm not sure what their real relationship to my Mother really was. There was the Chief of Police, one of the officers in the Fire Department and another guy who worked doing construction who was like an uncle to me. I never had a role model for how to be friends with women. Women were always creatures you could not trust and who you were in competition with for the cute guys.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA of Paws & Effect with Sir Disco

My “best” friend in high school went behind my back and stole my boyfriend away from me (he returned a few weeks later claiming she smelled like wet cardboard..and I later dumped him). She claimed I should “move on because David loved her now”…some friend.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Tamar, Angie and Debbie from Glogirly

I wrote off being close to women. I just didn't know how to do it…

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Elegant Coco-and yes, she's dressed up. Coco has no problem wearing an oufit or prancing around. She's VERY well cared for, stable and loved. This little cornish rex has one of the biggest personalities I've ever met. Coco has style (and so does her mom, Teri!)

…until I started to do cat rescue and write my blog.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid of the Conscious Cat with a kitten.

What would happen if you met someone who shared your interests? You'd have a good reason to be friendly, at least. But what happened if you hardly even knew this person, but it didn't matter because for some unspoken reason, they felt you were worth the effort to get to know, warts and all and you felt the same way about them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid, the birthday girl, with Bernadette of The Creative Cat and ANGIE!

There's something magical about the cat ladies. Most of us compete for the same awards. Most of us compete for the same “eyeballs” on our blog or friends on Facebook. While there can be blips of mildly hissy behavior, all in all, those issues aren't issues. We have our own angle, our own stories. We can support each other without losing our readership. We can even be dismayed (to say the least) when a newcomer hits the scene and starts winning “our” awards. Our revenge—we reluctantly make an effort to make friends with her then find out she's too nice for us to hate and instead of shunning her, we adore her (you know who your are, Debbie G.!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Janniss of Sparkle the Designer Cat and Tamar get photographed by ANGIE at the welcome banquet at BlogPaws 2013

Where else do people retract their claws and extend a hand in friendship? Getting together with my ladies feels close to a sacred gathering where I'm accepted and accepting. Where even if I lose out on an award, I can still find a smile and hug for the winner, who is also a friend of mine. We're in this together. We're trying to raise awareness about cat wellness, behavior problems, nutrition. We make you laugh about your cat. And some (yours truly) make you cry about cats. Whatever we do, it's done with a deep and abiding love and devotion to our cats, not in an obsessive way, not in an unhealthy way, in a rational, clever, compassionate way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not a party until someone gets a tattoo. Here's Ingrid flashing her calf while big boy Disco photobombs the shot.

Felina Domina means “Cat Lady” in latin. It rolls elegantly off the tongue. It gives us an air of class and refinement-that we deserve. Sure, we wear cat ear headbands or tiny tiaras, but that's only because we celebrate who we are, without apology. We cherish the bond we have with our cats and we love to share that joy with other like-minded women AND MEN.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Teri of Curlz & Swirls with her girl, Coco.

Many of the Genus: Species: Feline Domina ARE married or are in long-term relationships. Most of us are in good shape mentally and physically. Many of us have friendly relationships with lots of people. We hold down jobs. We help others live better lives with their cats.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Teri and her boy, Disco Noferno. I LOVE THIS CAT. He's completely hilarious.

Feline Domina is about friendship and support. Holding your friend's hand when times get tough or helping your friend laugh after there have been too many tears. Realizing we are in this together, whatever “this” may be. We're glued together by our love for cats and we take great joy in that fact.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Winners of the Nose-to-Nose Awards: Karen of Mousebreath with ANGIE! and Debbie

I honor my ladies with this post. Your friendship means the world to me and without it I am a sad, lonely person. I love each of you and take great delight in your successes and I share your sad days, too. There are few things better than the comfort of sisterhood and I will never take it for granted.

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©2013 Debbie Glovatsky. JaneA and me. This is what sisterhood is all about.

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©2013 Debbie Glovatsky. My dear, Ingrid.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My hotel room full of cat ladies!

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©2013 Debbie Glovatsky. Happy Birthday to Ingrid from all her cat lady pals.

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