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Not on My Watch-It's Just One More Cat

Maria and I decided after a few years of fostering non-stop that we both needed a break. That lasted one week before Maria took on a sweet kitty whose owner had left it at a parking lot near the local Target store. Maria named the 4 month old kitten, Bunny Boo Boo and on her own, took care of the vetting and brought the kitten home until she could find a forever family.

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©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo.

Bunny is a love bug and I'm helping Maria find a forever home for her. Maria knew I just couldn't take on more kittens here in Connecticut so we're focusing on finding a local home for Bunny (somewhere in the McDonough, GA area).

Bunny gets on with other dogs and cats and loves people. She'd be a great addition to any family. We can arrange transport to nearby states if you're not located too far from Atlanta.

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Visit my rescue, Kitten Associatess to fill out a Pre-Adoption Application or email us at to find out more.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Bongo.

A week after Bunny, we rescued Bongo. It was just one more cat, right?

Then we heard about a heartbreaking situation in another part of Georgia. Apparently a neighboring town has an Animal Control where they not only euthanize animals in record numbers, but their method is by heartstick. If you want to know what that is, click HERE (there are no graphic images). I don't want to describe it because it's horrible and upsetting, but if you feel you can read about it then you'll know WHY we want to AVOID any cat having to go to this place. If you read it you'll also know why there is a strong support to BAN this heinous activity.

I heard about a pregnant mama cat roaming the parking lot of an apartment complex where the owners were VERY happy to get "rid" of any stray cats and take them straight to Animal Control. With local rescues filled to the brim we had a big challenge ahead of us, but something amazing happened.

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©2012 Jennifer N. Pregnant siamese mix in her new foster home.

After posting ONE PHOTO on our CiCH Facebook Page and asking all of you to SHARE her story, this kitty got TWO offers to foster her IN ONE HOUR!

Within a few days we were able to put together a team and Bobby our awesome volunteer, drove her a few hundred miles to her new foster home. I'm very glad to report she is doing VERY WELL with foster mom, Jennifer N. and is VERY affectionate (and gorgeous). That she was living outside on her own, but still very friendly reminds us of how many owner-abandoned cats there are out there. She must have known love at some point. Thankfully she will know love again.

And then there's George.

George lived with a lady who took him in off the streets at the same apartment complex. She took him into her home, knowing full well she would get evicted if they found out she had a cat. To make matters worse, she's at this location to hide from an abusive husband so she really needs to keep a low profile. In some ways it would have been good if we could have rescue her AND her cat, but at least we could help her cat.

©2012 Bobby Stanford. George.

George is just one MORE cat, but that's really IT for us for this year. We need to find homes for the cats we made a commitment to already and I DO need a break so I can focus on fundraising and getting a lot of silly things done, like finish our web site and do some long range planning, RIGHT?

Bobby picked George up a few hours ago. George is about 7 months old and is vetted and has a clean bill of health. He's friendly and could become a good buddy to Bongo as soon as George can come out of quarantine. George has a bad “toupee” swatch of black fur on his head, a spot on his side and his tail is fluffy and all BLACK! This may sound odd, but I had a premonition about this cat the night before I found out about him so I had to say YES when I was asked if we could take him on (or that's just a weird-ass excuse and I think he's cute so what the heck).

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Helmet.

There is one more cat who does NOT have a RESCUE, but who clearly needs one. His name is Helmet.

Helmet is 10 years old. His family has been evicted from their home and are going to live temporarily with a family member who refuses to take on the cat, too. Helmet was taken to Animal Control. They told the couple they will have to EUTHANIZE HIM when he comes in the door. He will have NO CHANCE FOR re-homing. They are FULL UP and OWNER SURRENDERED CATS DIE FIRST.

Helmet does not deserve this. The couple, crying, begged for another choice. Animal control called Bobby and Barb from Winging Cat Rescue. They don't have anywhere for this TWENTY-FIVE POUND, DECLAWED cat to go.

We are in DIRE need of a Georgia Licensed Rescue to take Helmet into their program. I'm sure we can provide either vetting and/or a donation to provide for his initial services. Helmet is a nice cat, with a crappy name, in a terrible situation. This poor guy is in a small cage at a boarding facility and he's not eating. This is no way to put a big cat on a diet. He's terrified and sad.

We would also be HAPPY if someone wanted to ADOPT this GENTLE GIANT and give him the love and security he needs.

Can you help HELMET? Sharing this post would REALLY help! We need to find a needle in a haystack, but we just did it with a pregnant cat, why not with a chubby one?

If you wish to adopt or are a rescue, please contact me, Robin, at and I'll put you in touch with all the right folks. We can deliver Helmet to YOU at no cost.

We've had a lot of WINS this week. It's just ONE MORE CAT, right?

Please share for Helmet!

My Last Nerve and DOOD's First Steps.

It's been a long three weeks since the DOOD injured his back. I don't know how it happened, but it must have been pretty bad because he hasn't been able to walk comfortably since. You can read more about the injury HERE.

DOOD's been under strict cage rest since Thursday. He's also been on an opiate-based painkiller called Buprenex. It makes DOOD loopy and very friendly. It keeps him quiet, though I'm not sure he's getting very good rest. DOOD also gets a baby aspirin, which is normally a big no-no, but he's only had it a few times.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD's temporary home-featuring a heated bed.

During the past few days DOOD has barely moved. If he does move, he appears very weak and I feared he was getting worse. If cage rest didn't help, the next step would be to see a specialist, do a CT scan and probably have to do surgery to take the pressure off what we fear is a pinched nerve.

Seeing DOOD in pain, growling or crying when he tried to stand cut me to the core. I told myself to remember that this is just for now and that in time DOOD will be back to his old self, running around, licking my face. The truth was that there was a chance that DOOD would never be the same again and perhaps have a life of pain or God forbid become paralyzed if the surgery failed.

I know the danger of having all these thoughts-of thinking too much and creating awful scenarios in my head. I have to face only what is wrong now and do my best to help DOOD until that information changes. To upset myself with “what ifs” is a waste of time.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson often sleeps in the cat carrier next to DOODs crate-which is odd since DOOD often hisses at Jax.

Of course, being rational is never easy when you add stress and fear to the mix so last night I had an impressive melt down.

I function day to day knowing that I'm walking a tightrope. Bills get paid, but there isn't much leftover. If something bad happened to any of the cats or my car, my house, etc., it could just toss me over an edge I can't recover from. My rational mind says things have been tough for a long time, but I'll find a way. My fearful mind pushes me to flip out over not being able to open a bottle or that I can't nicely encourage Spencer to get out of my office so I can shut the door-so the cats won't go in there and pee while I'm sleeping upstairs. I have to yell at him to get him out of the room. This is not me, I love Spencer. I don't want to yell at him, but after years on end of stress, of cats peeing all over, of Jackson and his issues and now he's been attacking my own cats…the vice grip on my poor head gets tighter and tighter. The headaches are worse and worse and I can't find an escape from all of this. There is too much to do, to tend to, other people to help, cats in need.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen visits DOOD every day.

I can usually take it on in fairly good humor or make a joke about it, but last night I could not. I just raged and sobbed while Sam sat there, not sure if he'd lose his hand if he reached out to me. There was a time he would talk to me, help comfort me, but even with our relationship, there is another tightening of the strap around my head. We don't talk much. We don't do much. We both focus on caring for our cats and we both do our little chores and that's about it. I feel pretty empty inside.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At Dr. Larry's this morning as lovely as ever.

After my nice fit, I went to sleep. I dragged myself out of bed this morning and started the usual boring routine of caring for the cats, cleaning up vomit or pee, scooping the pans, feeding the foster kittens. Before too long it was time to pack DOOD up and take him to see Dr. Larry. Today was the day. Would DOOD finally be able to walk again? From what I'd seen the answer would be no, but I hadn't encouraged DOOD to move this week so perhaps I'd be surprised.

DOOD was great at the Vet. His temperature was back to normal for the first time. He lost a few ounces, which in his case is a good thing. Dr. Larry examined him and DOOD didn't fuss. He didn't seem to be in much pain, but I wondered if the last of the Buprenex was still in his system.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is what I miss seeing.

Dr. Larry gingerly placed DOOD on the floor. I walked to the other side of the room and called to him. With tail held high, DOOD took his first few steps. I expected his back legs to wobble as they had this past month, but they did not.

It stuck me as odd that DOOD was walking fairly normally. It was the first time I'd see his stride look rather confident. I was so used to seeing him shuffling, crying, growling and here he was taking careful steps. Dr. Larry shook his head in disbelief. DOOD was clearly getting better!

My Mother had a bizarre saying that popped into my head; “I didn't know whether to shit or go blind.” I couldn't believe DOOD looked so much better. It's as if one cat was lying injured in my home while this doppleganger was healthy in Dr. Larry's office.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Dreams.

Of course my fearful mind didn't want to get too excited. Dr. Larry said DOOD should have one more week of cage rest and two more aspirin but no more buprenex. We would continue to be conservative about DOOD's care and hope that another week would give him the recovery time he needed before he joined the rest of the family.

Some good news at last and some hopeful news, as well. DOOD must have been wiped out from the little bit of walking he did because when we got home I let him out of the cat carrier and he walked quickly into his cage and laid down on his cat bed. A few minutes later he was sleeping soundly. If that cage had been any bigger, I would have joined him.

On to the next thing…Bobby called with news about Bongo and it wasn't good.

Saving Bongo's Leg

You never know what will come to pass when you rescue a kitten with a known physical problem. With King, we wondered if he'd been abused or if he was born deformed. Could he function better with a cart or prosthetic enhancements to his prematurely shortened hind limbs? In the end, King was perfect as he was born, missing the last inch or so of his legs and his paws. He does fine getting along on carpeting in his new home without any help or special surgery.

©2012 Maria S. Bongo enjoying a soft bed and freedom from the death row at the shelter.

With Bongo, our latest rescue, we have more questions than answers. Things we do know:

Bongo is NEGATIVE for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia.

Bongo is about seven months old.

We x-rayed his right front leg, which he does not use. His paw is warm, there is blood flow and sensation. There were no signs of major breaks but the x-ray could not detect any possible small fractures in the paw. The Vet felt amputation might be the best thing to do. If you watch the video, it's be clear his limb is slowing him down.

Thankfully, Bongo is also VERY FRIENDLY which will make whatever he needs medically, easier on him and foster mom, Maria.

©2012 Maria S. & Robin Olson. Bongo's first steps.

I've never had to give the OKAY to amputate an animal's limb before. I've only ever had one foster cat who had to have his right front leg removed. He was about Bongo's age and did very well after surgery. His leg had no sensation and was probably ruined in an accident, so in his case there was little to question.

X-ray of Bongo's Leg.

I realize there are some folks who would just take the leg without getting more definitive answers. It's a lot less expensive to take a leg off than it is to repair it. The recovery time is less and there are no chances of having to do a second surgery if the leg is already gone, instead of if the surgery is done badly.

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©2012 Maria S. Someday we hope Bongo will be able to run and play like any other kitten.


We need to take another step, out of respect for Bongo. I want him to see Dr. Alan Cross, an orthopedic Vet at Georgia Veterinary Specialists. An evaluation is discounted, but still expensive. I believe it's worth it to make certain there isn't something else we can do to save Bongo's leg.


We're doing a small fundraiser to cover the office visit and additional x-rays. Anything we don't use for this visit will be used for Bongo's future care. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee to Bongo, it could mean a world of difference. Small donations pooled together can make big things happen!

We realize things are tight for everyone so if you can't donate, then would you please SHARE this post with your Bongo-loving friends?

Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.

If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Bongo" mail it to:

Kitten Associates
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Thank you and stay tuned for more updates on this sweet little guy.

Adoption-Palooza! Part One.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April and family after arriving in my home.

March 26, 2012 was a special night. Not only was it the night I met Jackson Galaxy for dinner, but miles away outside in the dark cold night, a plain jane gray cat gave birth to six kittens. A week later, on my birthday, as a favor to my rescue friends, I said I'd foster the family. I wanted to get them out of the cold, but I could only do it for two weeks to give my friends time to find a more long-term foster home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My little squirts.

That was six months ago.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Dahlia.

This family featured four all black kittens I could not tell apart unless I looked at their paws. Two of the four were polydactyl (extra toed). Two had white on them, but other than that I wasn't really certain which cat was which. Their names are: Hello Dahlia, Belly Holiday, Black Beauty, Bon Bon, Cutie Patootie and Sabrina. You can read more about their early days HERE, HERE and HERE.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello, Baby-D!

April, the mom and Bon Bon got adopted fairly soon.It was a few months later before Cutie Patootie and Sabrina finally found their family. Belly Holiday, Hello Dahlia and Black Beauty remained.

Though I saw the girls blossom into more and more amazing creatures every day, being all black was their downfall. Not many people want an all black cat.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Dahlia likes to read, of course.

I continued to wait it out and hope that one day their families would find them. More kittens arrived and the pressure to find something for the girls escalated. I was very lucky that someone stepped forward when I needed them most. She offered to foster the girls, which would take a great deal off my shoulders. Her name is Tiffany and she and her family just moved here from California. I've been trying to find a local foster home for two years and Tiffany stepped up to the plate and took the girls on, her two adorable children agreed to play with the kittens and give them lots of love. I feared they would have the girls for months but, for now, they were safe. I'd keep networking and advertising to get them a home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Here's our girl on the way to growing up to be a stunning feline.

As often happens, the foster family discovered they were falling in love with the girls to the point of being reluctant to let them go. They understood they couldn't keep them all. While they considered what to do, I got sick with a bad cold. They jumped in and printed out flyers for our quickly-approaching Adoption Event and hung them up around town for me. They agreed to make sure the girls would be at the event even if that meant they might get adopted. They did so much to help I was truly in awe. This family was a dream come true.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Just before the event, I got an application for Hello Dahlia from a young couple who have a senior cat named Admiral Mittens and a young dog named Olive. They saw the flyer Tiffany's family hung up at the local diner. Everything checked out and they came to the event to meet Dahlia. The couple ignored Fred & Barney, our little kittens, who usually command most of the attention. They went over to Dahlia and smiled. They held her and she was really good with them.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mousy-master!

The couple told me Admiral was getting vetted and the vet found some things that he wanted to check out by doing more tests. I felt we shouldn't do the adoption until we all knew how Admiral's health issues were going to shake out. I couldn't imagine adopting a cat into a family who is facing a crisis with their existing cat. I also felt badly that it was Tiffany who ended up finding a home for Dahlia when she was still struggling with deciding if her family wanted to adopt her. Maybe we all needed a bit more time to figure things out?

A week passed and in that time Tiffany's family was began to re-think how they felt about Dahlia. They adored her and wanted her to stay, but knew that with the possibility of another family wanting to adopt her, they should not stand in the way. I didn't want to push them to choose and they were really great about letting Dahlia go. On Saturday they brought her back here to meet the couple and get adopted the next day. Tiffany and her children said goodbye to Dahlia. They were sad, but I reminded them what I remind myself; “Trust me, there will be more to love. In fact more kittens will be here in a few weeks.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Look at that FACE, those paws!

It was my last few hours with Dahlia, too.

I took some photos and we had play time. I held her and she purred up a storm. She'd grown from the tiny palm-sized baby into a lovely young adult. Her fur is like silk, glossy, shiny and thick. Her eyes sparkle. Her tail is up. Dahlia is confident in her world. She's smart, too. I bet we could train her to do some funny tricks if we had more time.

More time-it's always what I want with my fosters, but I have to practice letting go, too. At six months of age, Dahlia really needed to be with her forever family. I had to hope that she'd live a happy, healthy life in their care. I always worry a little bit if I've chosen a good placement for my fosters. This couple certainly seemed devoted to providing for their animals and their faces lit up when they looked at their new family member.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Dahlia and her new family, Angela & Greg.

I thought about Hello Dahlia's namesake, Dahlia, who passed away earlier this year. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dahlia in person, but I hope my friend and her mama-Janea sees that our foster kitty was a worthy of carrying on Dahlia's name.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Goodbye, Dahlia. We love you!

But what of Dahlia's sisters? Are they still with their foster family or did they get adopted, too? I have SEVEN more adoptions to tell you about! Some are surprising and some are amazing! I've got a lot of work to do. Better get to it…

For the Love of Jackson

This post is dedicated to all the good people out there who love our foster cat, Jackson Galaxy. Without your love and support it would have been very difficult to provide the high level of care Jackson required to diagnose that he was suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-the most common and often fatal heart ailment that effects cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson is comfortable at last. In one of his favorite spots-a cardboard canned cat food tray near the kitchen.

While we will always do whatever it takes to help our foster cats, the funds in our bank account were at an all time low. We begged and borrowed (no stealing, though!) and got Jackson the help he needed. Once you heard there was a crisis, many of you jumped in to help fill our coffers so we could make sure Jackson got what he needed.

I'm pleased to let you know, knock wood, that Jackson is doing well. He's responded to treatment and he's easy to pill (so far!). There's more down the road, more tests, adjustment of medications, but right now Jackson's comfortable, chatty, eating well and happy (okay he has a few eye-boogies, but I'll clean them off next time he gets pilled).

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Enjoy this update on our Jackson. It may have a sad start, but I know you'll enjoy the new footage of Jackson in action.


In honor of everyone who re-tweeted, shared on Facebook, dug deep into their pockets, please accept my most sincere THANK YOU. Thank you Jackson Galaxy for posting our plea on your Facebook page and letting your fans know your namesake needed help. Thank you to Jill Delzer for being super-awesome-a shoulder to cry on, to Katherine at Animals in Distress for soothing my soul and helping us pay for Jackson's much needed echocardiogram.


I'm truly grateful for every prayer, good wish and virtual hug. I know Jackson is, too.


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Jackson Galaxy's Pick: Kitten Associates, Shelter of the Month!

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Big News! Jackson Galaxy, of Aninmal Planet's hit show, My Cat From Hell has choosen my rescue group, Kitten Associates, as his Shelter of the Month!


Our Kitten Associates team: myself, Sam, Mama-Maria, Cyndie, Irene, Bobby, Bobbie, Connie and Donna, ALL THANK YOU VERY MUCH for offering to donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of Spirit Essences for the ENTIRE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER to our rescue organization!

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We use Spirit Essences for ALL our foster kittens and our own cats. When we had a virus run through some of the cats we had to stop using the Spirit Essences and the issues we had been treating returned! Once our cats were feeling well, we began to use the Essences again and the problems are going away. WE LOVE THE 32 oz BOTTLE OF STRESS STOPPER you sent us. I'm only half joking when I say there was a temptation to just bathe myself in the contents to see if it would make me calm down!

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What's even MORE AWESOME is that Mr. Galaxy and his company, Spirit Essences, have teamed up with the wildly creative apparel company, ExBoyfriend to help Kitten Associates even MORE!


All you have to do is BUY A COOL T-SHIRT! You can choose 1 or ALL 3 below. For EACH PURCHASE of Fidel Catstro, Catnip Freakout and my super-fave- FUZZ Aldrin, ExBoyfriend will donate $5.00! The holidays are coming and your kids are back to school. Of course everyone could use a spankin' cool new t-shirt and your purchase helps US provide care to the kittens in our program!

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We realize times are tough on everyone, but here's a great opportunity to treat yourselves, help your cats and have some fun while helping us provide for our cats and kittens.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Here's Winnie and her 5 kittens. They were born on 8.10.12 and are just some of the kitties in our foster home network.

Please SHARE OUR HAPPY NEWS with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and beyond. We appreciate your support so very much and hope to have more exciting news as the end of the month draws near!

Thank you again Mr. Galaxy, the team at Spirit Essences (esp. Jill, Siena & Toast!) and Matt Snow of Ex-Boyfriend for believing in us and wanting to help.

That Special Something: Orange Tabbies.

What IS it about orange tabby cats that makes you love them the second you meet them? I've experienced this a few times now-there's a quality about orange tabbies-a sweet nature, outgoing personality, ready to fit into whatever situation they find themselves in…dare I add the cats must be boys, too?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I put a spellz on youz.

Over a year ago we had MacGruber. What a doll! Such a huge personality, friendly, carefree, right from the moment he got off the transport he was ready to roll. We've had LOADS of great orange tabby foster kitties since his adoption, too.

A few weeks ago I took in Milo, who you got to meet in my post HERE. His brother, Boogie, was a scared gray feral. I expected Milo to be skittish from the reports I got about him before he came into my home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Checking out the cat tree.

I was completely stunned by his transformation. Within two days Milo was ready to leave his room and join the family. He got along great with all the other cats. He LOVED eating raw food and playing with all the toys.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Napping next to me.

He'd sleep on a cat bed that's on a bench near my side of the bed. He didn't wake us up in the middle of the night, something many kittens do. He just slept the night away. I knew he was sick with a mild upper respiratory tract issue he'd had since he and his two brothers were taken in by my Vet, Dr. Mixon, in July. Milo's condition waxed and waned, a sign of herpes. It would mean Milo might always be a bit sniffly, but he ate and played normally and had no fever.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At Dr. Mixon's.

Milo began to get sicker the day I approved an adoption application I'd received from a couple who wanted to meet him. The couple decided it was OKAY that Milo wasn't feeling his best and said they wanted to meet him. I had Milo checked out before we let him go to his new home and as I expected, Milo just needed some lysine and rest and I had confidence his family could provide that.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feeling a bit stuffy, but still sweet as pie.

A few days ago, the couple came to meet Milo and to possibly finalize the adoption. Milo was a bit shy at first, but the couple knew not to push themselves on him. They distracted him with play time as we all sat on the floor, talking about cats and making comments about Milo's every move.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo wanted the Brawny lounger, but Jackson wasn't up to share it.

Dan reached out to Milo and Milo came right over and let Dan pet him. We all remarked that Milo was going to be a “daddy's boy” but Dan's fiancé Kathy said; “for now, but wait 'til I get my hands on him.” I think she was planning on getting Milo a lot of toys and treats. It was an endearing challenge as to who would be Milo's favorite Guardian.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo wouldn't take no for an answer.

Their visit lasted about 90 minutes and Milo was getting tired of playing. For fun I asked the couple; “Is this your cat?” They both replied a hearty, YES!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson=1, Milo=1. Game tied!

Sick or not, how could you say NO to Milo? I would have been glad to have him stay here. He would chat with me constantly and always be nearby. I loved how affectionate and mellow he was considering he'd only been with me for two weeks and barely knew me.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo with his new family.

Saying goodbye to Milo wasn't difficult because I knew he was going into a great home, but I was glad he got adopted quickly. There's just something about those orange cats, like Bob Dole, that make me want to keep all of them. I wouldn't want to say that I hoped Milo's adoption didn't work out and that he would have to come back to me, but it wouldn't be the worst thing that ever happened, either.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bye-bye Milo! We'll miss your orangey goodness around here!


The next morning I noticed my non-orange cat Spencer wasn't eating. He was also gagging a bit when he tried. The orange-cat spell fell away as day wore on. Spencer continued to act oddly and not eat. After 48 hours it was clear something was terribly wrong with my cat. I picked up the phone to make an appointment with Dr. Larry as my stomach tightened up with anxiety…stay tuned for more.

The Heart of a Lioness: The Fire at Animalkind part two

There’s a certain quality only a rare few people have. It’s a magnetic kind of energy that radiates from within, but can be felt by others. At times it smolders, belying the real power it can unleash, while other times there is no ignoring it. When that person enters a room, the airwaves seem to change and become electrified.

One such person is Katrin Hecker, the Director of Animalkind. She’s tall and tan with brilliant blonde hair. She’s from Germany and has an unmistakable accent even after living here for decades. She’s not shy about who she is, where she’s from or what her passions are. Upon first glance she might come off as a bit distant or cool, but talk to her a few times and you’ll sense her great heart.

Katrin operates in a no-nonsense manner especially when there's so much to get done. Since losing Aninalkind's building after their sprinkler system destroyed the interior (You can read more about that HERE), she has more than a lot on her plate.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Katrin Hecker with the latest arrivals.

Katrin is creative, a painter way back when. She lived in New York City with her husband, but after too many years in the hustle and bustle, decided to move north to the small riverside town of Hudson, NY. They bought an old church and set up their first home. Katrin wasn’t sure what she wanted to focus her attention on, maybe design or get deeper into painting.

One day she realized she’d seen quite a few cats walking around town. Her first thought was how sweet it was, seeing them dash down an alley or pass by her front door. She imagined she was living in a town that loved and cared for their cats as a community, otherwise why would there be so many of them roaming around?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Panogram of one side of the temporary headquarters at the Warren Inn. Click to see a large size of this photo.


It didn’t take long for her to realize that those cats were very thin, their coats ragged; some were injured or pregnant. Clearly none of them were being cared for and there was no rescue facility or group in the town to help them.


Katrin rescued a black cat off the street and took it to the Vet. Her husband didn’t mind as long as she didn’t get out of hand and take in all the cats she saw. Katrin found a few more cats that needed help. They were all black. Mischievously motivated or just plain brass, Katrin took in a total of eight black cats. She hid them away in one room, where she’d set up as her painting studio, knowing her husband wouldn’t enter the space. She let one or two out at a time and her husband never noticed they had more than just a few cats until one night when it was very cold and the power went out.

The wood stove was the only source of heat. One by one, the cats showed up to warm themselves by the fire. The cats were out of the “bag.” Katrin’s husband was shocked, thinking he’d gone mad seeing eight nearly identical cats appear out of the woodwork, but she made no apologies. There was a serious problem in this town and something had to be done.

By 2000, Animalkind came into existence and ever since it’s had a symbiotic relationship with the community. Katrin told me that she can’t be like other rescues and say no all the time when someone asks for help. She described some of the locals, who are down on their luck, struggling and just want to help a stray or their own cat. She finds a way to say yes, even if it means loading up her home with cats or reaching out to the community to help her help the cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Doors to the former surgical suite where they did all their spay/neuters.

Even at the clearly worst point of her life, with heartbreaking family problems, including illness and brain injuries to contend with and the loss of Animalkind’s headquarters, she still has to help the cats. She could have given up and walked away after the building was gutted. She could have walked away after her own home was badly flooded after Hurricane Irene badly damaged all the homes in her neighborhood.

With all that’s on her plate she finds a way to get up every day and figure out how she’s going to put the pieces of Animalkind back together again and how she’s going to get those poor cats out of their cages and into their new space as soon as possible.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Watching my step.

Katrin led me through the front door of what was once a building filled with the sounds of volunteers working away, answering calls, scooping litter pans, feeding the cats; who were living freely in large open group areas. It was eerily silent now. I had to watch my step because the floors were stripped to the bone, covered with debris. The HVAC vents snaked across the floors having fallen from the mounts on the ceiling. The cheerily painted sheet rock was gone. All that remained were exposed studs and wiring, the shell of what must have been a glorious Victorian home. I stood there. The heartache of loss was palpable.

©2007 Animalkind. Before the damage.

As we picked our way around the first floor, Katrin described each room. We passed the Adoptions area, then climbed to the second floor to see where their grand surgical suite was located. There are French doors separating the spaces, but no longer any walls on either side of the doors. A few stainless steel surgical tables and other equipment were shoved into a corner, dirty, but still usable. However, most of what had once been there was long gone.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the damage. The only thing that's recognizable is the teal bench.

It was a warm summer day and as we climbed the stairs you could feel the temperature rise slightly, along with the humidity. The third floor held a secret—one that couldn’t be helped. This is where the contagious cats lived...the ones with ringworm. Even though they weren’t supposed to have animals in the building, they had no choice. It was keep them safe or let them go. It’s not as though any rescue would knowingly take cats with ringworm and there was no way Katrin was going to put them down, either.

©2007 Animalkind. Cats lounging before the disaster.

They did the best they could. The cats had the basics and no more. It was only for now. It would get better soon, but the building had no electricity and without screens on the windows, the windows could only be opened a very tiny bit. Most of the cats were flat from the heat but not in any danger at all.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting.

Katrin told me about their plans for the room as I looked around imagining how it would appear with fresh paint, new cat trees, comfy chairs. It was an enormous space with large windows overlooking the street on one side and an overgrown yard on the other. They received a generous grant to re-do the yard into a perfect cat habitat so cats could go outdoors and still be within a closed space. They were going to put in benches and lots of plants and cute statutes of cats playing. It was going to be so wonderful, if only it could happen soon.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A skinny little lady comes over to greet us.

And truly, that was the problem.

“Soon” seemed to be defined as “not any time soon.” You tell that to a room full of cats who are desperate for things to get back to normal.


The final part of my story introduces you to one amazing little kitten and shares some last-minute updates, promising news and more. Stay tuned...

The Best Worst Thing Ever. Fire at Animalkind.

Late in the evening of May 1, 2012, on the third floor apartment where a caretaker lived, a small fire broke out due to the hot embers of a cigarette coming into contact with bedding. The fire was extinguished before the fire department even arrived. The building didn't burn to the ground, but something equally terrible occurred. The building-wide sprinkle system was activated, releasing a torrent of water, not light rain showers, but a flood of water throughout the building.

On the second, first and basement levels lived the cats of Animalkind, a non-profit cat shelter located in Hudson, New York. Most of the cats were allowed to freely roam their adoption areas. Terrified from the onslaught of water, the cats climbed onto the horizontal vents from the brand new $50,000 HVAC system that was installed to control the spread of disease. The cats huddled in the rafters, terrified; but what was worse was the fate awaiting the most fragile of the cats—the mamas and kittens. They were in the basement and all the water from the floors above pooled there, inches deep. The families weren't free to escape, they were in cages, trapped in the water at risk of drowning.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Still lovely, the exterior of Animalkind.

No one perished. No cats died. In that, it was a miracle, but the building was gutted. The once pink and yellow cheerful walls of Animalkind were soaked, ruined, crumbling to the floor. The joy that had filled the building, all the years of hard work and loving care, vanished in a matter of hours. The building that once held 150 cats was destroyed.

As early as 2am Katrin Hecker, the Director and Founder of Animalkind, her volunteers, staff and residents of Hudson, New York, gathered together and quickly began to capture as many cats as they could.

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. Moving the cats into their new location.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a local merchant, The Warren Inn, a nearby hotel, turned its' office space into a temporary shelter space. It was just a few steps away from Animalkind's headquarters. Cages were assembled and cats were tagged and given a place to recover their shock. Many cats needed to go into temporary foster homes and people throughout the area opened their doors. The townsfolk jumped into action along with everyone from Animalkind. Though heartbreaking, the staff was buoyed by the support.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The irony of the sign on the bottom of the window isn't lost on me.

In the following days, amazing things happened. Cats who'd been at AK for YEARS were getting adopted. Adoptions on the whole went way up. About 60 cats found homes right away. Folks started to show up from out of the blue to help any way they could. As the news spread, I heard about this terrible tragedy. In an odd coincidence, I'd been only a few miles from the fire delivering Leo to Animalkind's neighbor, Aslan's Sanctuary.

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. The basement.

Like so many other people, the devastation bothered me deeply. I couldn't imagine how any rescue could recover from such a loss. I'm just one person. What could I do to help?

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. One of the shelter spaces, empty of cats, filled with water.

I got in touch with Animalkind and Bob Mechling, a Designer and key member of the shelter, got back to me right away. I asked him what they needed and told him I'd do what I could to help him get it. I couldn't believe I was saying those words. I don't have two sticks to rub together, but in my heart I knew that after all these years of blogging and writing pet product reviews that somewhere I MUST know someone who could help me scrounge up a few donations.

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logo-01.gif and Halo come to the rescue!

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I got to work. Within a few days and after many phone calls I got the logistics worked out. Right away, Kelly Ausland of and said he would be delighted to help with a donation of 350 bags of kibble from Halo. He wasn't doing this for a write-up on my blog or a pat on the back. He sincerely was concerned and wanted to help.

Next up were my associates at World's Best Cat Litter, who also did not hesitate to help once I alerted them to the problem. I was very impressed by how quickly they jumped into action! Now the cats had a supply of food and litter coming in the door. I reached out to a few other companies, but sadly they were not able to offer any assistance.


If you'd like to help put a smile on the faces of shelter cats in your town, you can get a SPECIAL DISCOUNT of 10% off on any size case of Stretch and Scratch scratchers, plus you get reduced shipping. Use CODE: CATS to get the discount! If you'd like to gift AnimalKind more scratchers (they LOVE THEM), please go HERE to get their shipping information:

I also reached into my own fairly empty pockets and ordered two cases of Stretch and Scratch cat scratchers. I knew that the cats would be stressed out in cages and having something to scratch could make a world of difference to their well being.

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. The Adoption Room circa 2004..

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Welcome to the Adoption Room 2012.

As Animalkind began the difficult work of assessing the damage and speaking with their insurance company, things got very busy for my little rescue. I didn't hear much from Katrin, but she was never far from my thoughts.

Recently, I made the 100 mile trip north to meet Katrin and Bob and see how things were going. What I saw broke my heart and compelled me to do more.

Animalkind still needs help. In some ways, things are worse now than ever. In part two I'll share what I learned during my visit and introduce you to some VERY special cats.

Update on Leo

I'm thrilled to let you know that on Thursday Leo had the surgery he's needed for a few months. Until recently, he wasn't well enough for the procedure to repair his inverted eyelashes. This happened due to the most hideous, horrible upper respiratory infection I have ever seen. It sealed his eyes closed, then MOSS grew over his closed eyes. We don't know how long he suffered like that, but are ever so glad this friendly stray was rescued and given proper Vet care.

©2012 Hilary Harris. Used with permission. Leo after his surgery.

Leo is positive for Feline Leukemia which also makes every procedure a bit more risky. Now that Leo is on the mend we couldn't be happier.

Leo wouldn't have had a chance if not for the loving care he receives at Aslan's Sanctuary in upstate New York. Aslan's is one of the few sanctuaries that takes on Feline Leukemia positive cats. They are in short supply of just about everything you can think of so if you'd like to thank them for what they do for Leo and others, you can donate HERE.

I had the privilege of transporting Leo to Aslan's and he certainly left a paw print on my heart. If you want to know Leo's backstory and see him before he got any treatment, read my post HERE and follow up, HERE.

Way to go, Hilary and HURRAY FOR LEO!


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