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You've Got to be Kidding!

The Incredible Transformation of Miss Fluffy Pants

I was very disappointed when King and Miss Fluffy Pants's (is this her name? It was just a code name, but I think it might stick) reunion was not a happy one. It was clear they were never friends at the Palette factory, where they were both rescued from. Perhaps they even competed for the same scraps of food?

King was nonplused at the first meeting, but Miss FP was pissed. She hissed and growled when Maria let her out of the cat carrier, into the small bathroom that would be her new home. We didn't realize it at the time, but Miss FP had just had a terrible 48 hours. She was sedated, then the Vet realized she'd already been SPAYED! She had her blood drawn and we found out she may be FIV+. She was nose to nose with a big dog at the clinic and she was so distressed when she tried to attack him through the door of the carrier, the momentum of all that energy almost flipped her cat carrier over and onto the floor! With her life turned upside down, from the routine of living on scraps at the Palette factory, to a clinic full of scary smells and a big dog encounter, needless to say, Miss FP was not a happy camper to be yet at another strange place full of different smells.

If Maria had space in her home, she would not have put Miss FP with King, but we had no choice. We had to make it work until we could figure out what to do.

After Maria let Miss into the room, she let it be known that she did not want to be touched or be anyone's friend. She was so fractious that Maria was scared to go near her. Fearing for King's safety and with no other options we decided to put Miss into a crate so at least she couldn't bite King. With a disability to contend with, I didn't want King to be exposed to FIV+, too.

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©2012 Maria. S. Miss FP in her little crate.

We were all very unhappy with the situation and I started to scramble, thinking of what I could do to make it better. Maria had to be at work. She couldn't stay home and monitor the cats so Miss was stuck in a tiny cage, probably getting angrier by the minute, while poor King started to cry and urinate all over his bedding.

A day passed and Maria let Miss out of her cage to stretch. She hissed at King, but didn't growl. It was progress, but not much. King was still urinating around the room to the point where we worried he had a urinary tract infection. Maria was very stressed and tired-and who wouldn't be from having to do a mountain of laundry and deal with her own cats and work, then come home to a big mess! I was getting stressed out because I couldn't figure out what to do and living 1000 miles away, I couldn't just come over and help-which I desperately wanted to do.

I realized I had to take it in small steps.

Number one: Western Blot test for Miss-ASAP. If she truly IS FIV+ then maybe she has to go to another rescue? I have two rooms in my home for fostering, that's it, and kitten season is almost here and it will be early this year since the weather is so warm. I can't bring an FIV+ cat who is nasty into my house and hope I will ever find her a home. I'll just end up not being able to help countless other cats if that happens. It was a terrible predicament. We even discussed returning her to the Palette factory now that she was vetted. At least we could donate some food for her and a new cat bed, but I knew in my heart that I'd never sleep again if I did that to her.

I had to find out how to reach this supposedly friendly cat. Bobby had told me she was very affectionate, but all Maria had seen was a cat who would swat at her hand or growl at her.

Maria sent me a photo so I could see some progress in the situation. All of a sudden, alarm bells went off in my head. I realized we had completely misunderstood Miss FP from the start.

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©2012 Maria. S. The photo that changed everything for me.

The photo seems innocent enough. King sits near Miss's small cage. Neither cat is looking at the other. Maria interpreted it as King wanting to be close to Miss to be friends, but because he was ignoring her, I looked at it differently. Was King letting Miss FP know HE was in charge of the room-after all he's free to walk about and that HE could sit right up next to her crate and at any given moment, if he wanted to, he could pounce on top of the cage and get her, attack head on or get at her from any side of the crate. She was completely trapped and completely exposed. No wonder she was freaking out!

Maria also mentioned not being able to go near Miss FP. Then, I noticed the food dishes in the crate. They were full. Another alarm went off in my head-the food had to GO. Miss needed to be fed BY Maria, twice a day and that was it. No free feeding her. Miss needed to bond with Maria and see Maria as something good, not bad. Maria was the food provider, not the Dungeon Master!

Miss needed OUT of the cage ASAP. She needed a place in the bathroom to call her own. The problem is-where would that be in a such a small space? Of course…we needed a cat tree!

A cat tree would add a lot of vertical space to the room. Odds are, King would not be able to climb it, but Miss could. She could have the upper area to herself and feel safe. Perhaps that was what she needed?

In the middle of all this craziness, Maria and I are trying to help a pregnant Tortishell cat who was found by an elderly couple in the area! Maria was running around trying to get the cat some help, run Miss FP to the Vet to get her Western Blot test done AND she had to get to the pet store and find a cat tree ASAP!

I'm very lucky Maria is so devoted to helping cats or this would have been a complete nightmare.

Then, another puzzle piece fell into place. Maria warned the Vet Tech at East Lake Vet Hospital, to be very careful handling Miss FP. That she was nasty and might bite. The Tech said she would do her best and took Miss FP into the back of the building to do the blood draw. Awhile later, the Tech came out. Maria was worried something bad had happened and asked how it went. The answer surprised her and gave me a rush of hopeful excitement:

 

The Tech remarked that in all her years of working with cats, that Miss FP had been ONE OF THE EASIEST, NICEST and SWEETEST cats she'd ever worked with!

What was the difference? Was there a magic pill that she gave Miss FP? No. First, Miss FP was NOT in a room with another cat. Second, Miss FP didn't have to worry about territory. Third, the Tech probably approached her gently-not that Maria didn't do that, but Maria had grown fearful of the cat. All this adds up to-this cat is NOT fractious-she's ANGRY and SCARED!

 

Maria got a great cat tree and thanks to the donations we got for King's care, we could afford to get one right away instead of have to shop for one on discount, then wait a week for it to arrive. Maria set up the cat tree. I told her to take the cage out of the room. No more cage for Miss. We had to trust that she would not hurt King. She might take a swipe and him and claw him, but she'd calmed down enough for us to believe she'd not be a risk to give him FIV+. It was a very tough call, but for the sanity of Miss, we had to do it. Unfortunately, King cried with her out of the crate, then urinated on his bed. Was his sick or scared?

I can't explain how I knew what to do, but I can say that within moments of letting Miss investigate the cat tree, it was VERY CLEAR it was what she needed all along.


©2012 Maria. S. There's no footage of Miss FP being fractious because it was too dangerous for Maria to shoot video. She needed to protect herself and King. This video shows what happened after we put the cat tree into their room.

 

Miss FP climbed onto the top of the cat tree, nervously licked her mouth for a moment, then laid on her side and started to “make muffins” into the carpeting on the cat tree.

Maria didn't hesitate. She reached out to give Miss FP a pet. Her bravery was rewarded with a head butt into her hand. Maria overcame her reluctance to get close to Miss FP and had the simple joy of getting to know her as she really was all along.

 

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©2012 Maria. S. Safe in her new space, Miss FP enjoys some sunshine.

Miss FP relaxed. Her eyes were soft. Her movements were slow and easy. Her tail did not whip around or even move. She was HAPPY and with her happiness came more surprises.

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©2012 Maria. S. The posture and “soft eyes” of a happy cat.

 

Miss loves to be brushed. She loves to be petted. When her anger and fear washed away; a sweet lady emerged.

 

 

King stopped peeing on the floor.

 

 

King stopped crying.

 

King is still lonely and still loves Maria's cat, Kahlua, who comes in to visit for a few minutes once in awhile. King has also perked up now that he has some toys and the cat tree base to play with!

Although Miss and King are not best friends, they both have safe spaces to live in and places they can call their own. I'm sad that King wants a friend, but can't find one in Miss FP, but with all the surprises we've had, perhaps there are more to come?

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©2012 Maria. S. We may make changes for King after this but we'll see how it goes. What do you think?

For now we wait for Miss's blood test results and we hope she is not FIV+.Tomorrow, King goes to meet Dr. Alan Cross, an orthopedic surgeon, who may help us understand what happened to King's back feet and what we can do to help him live a more comfortable life.

 

We couldn't have done ANY OF THIS if we hadn't gotten the support from so many of you. You honor King with your love and your donations. His success is due to your support, Maria's love and devotion to cats in need and my determination to unlock the mystery of what these cats are thinking and how to provide what they need.

 

NOT ON MY WATCH: A Rescue Fit for a King

There are times when you just have to do something to help rescue a cat. You can't sit idly by and do nothing. Even from 1000 miles away, my heart is breaking for one particular tuxedo cat I just learned about. Even if I don't have a shelter and know I'm going to have trouble finding a home for him, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING and it can't wait until I can sort out details. I HAVE TO ACT FAST.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. A lonely stray calls out for help. Where white paws should be on his back legs, there are only stumps.

Our wonderful supporter and driver, Bobby, alerted me about a cat that's been living around a palette factory in Georgia. In the daytime it's okay to walk around there, but at night even Bobby does not feel safe. This is not a place where a cat will have a long life expectancy.

He'd seen the cat six months ago, but thought it had died so he never mentioned it to me. A few days ago he was surprised to see it again since the last time he saw the cat, he noticed it's back paws were either deformed or crushed and he was hobbling around the plant on his two front legs. The workers feed him scraps. They didn't provide him with proper food or vet care of any kind.

They simply don't have the funds or the interest to concern themselves about a disabled cat. How this cat survived this long is beyond my comprehension.

 

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. What a life-dragging his legs around in the dirt and living under a building.

I told Bobby to grab the cat next chance he got. Maria, our beloved foster mom, said she would foster him. Her heart melted when she heard about the poor cat hobbling around and she wanted to get him off the streets as badly as I did.

A few days passed, then Tuesday afternoon I got a call from Bobby. He got the kitty! It took a bit of coaxing to get the cat into the carrier. He's lived outdoors his whole life and though he wasn't feral, he was probably going to be very skittish. Bobby was told by one of the workers at the Plant that some of the folks could rub his belly-so why didn't then TAKE HIM TO A VET? Didn't they NOTICE something was WRONG with him? Okay, at least he could be petted-or so we thought.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Our latest rescue, moments after Bobby got him. Where are his BACK FEET??!!

Bobby told me he was on his way to the clinic to have Doc Thomas take a look at him or her-he wasn't sure which. It's funny we all assumed it was a male cat for some reason, and turns out we were right. Bobby didn't get a good look at the back feet. The cat was too nervous to be approached. Bobby said he heard rumors that someone cut the cat's feet off, but he hoped it was not true. We decided to let Doc do the basics, for now and fill us in more the following morning. It was late in the day and she just had time to run his tests and get him neutered.

As always, I'm on pins and needles until I hear the snap test results-his were NEGATIVE/NEGATIVE for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia. Next he got his vaccinations and was neutered, but what about his FEET?!

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©2012 Maria S. King, relaxing on a soft towel, probably the first comfort of his entire life.

Initially I didn't know what would be in store for King. I was told this boy is going to need a lot of socialization. At the clinic he laid in his litter pan and was covered with his own filth. He's never even used a litter pan before and with his short back legs, there's no telling IF he can use a litter pan. Maria would have her work cut out for her, but I knew she could handle it. In the meantime, I've been introduced to someone who works with handicapped cats and hopefully she will share some ideas of how we can help this kitty. I've never rescued such a severely handicapped cat before and though I'm a bit scared, he needs us, so our fears will have to be put aside. No matter what, he is safe now and we'll just take it one day at a time.

There's also a very friendly, fluffy little lady at the palette factory. I offered to, at least get her spayed, but when I heard how nice she was, I realized we needed to take her into foster care, too. Looks like Maria had all of a week-long break from fostering, but am so grateful she could and wanted to help! Bobby is going to go get Miss Fluff as soon as he can and we'll start the vetting process all over again.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Miss Fluffy Pants, living at the palette factory. If we don't spay her soon, we know what's going to happen!

We went through a long discussion of what to name the kitty. The options ranged from Ahab to Footloose or iHop but I wanted him to have something noble and brave. Maria and I chose, King Arthur. I liked the idea of calling him “King”-of course because of nobility, but also because my Mother's maiden name was King, and two of my good friends are also “Kings” (Ingrid and Marcia).

Late last night, Maria got King back from the Vet. She said she thought the problem was a deformity, but would need an x-ray to confirm it. We'd have to bring King to another Vet to get that done. Meanwhile, Maria prepared herself to foster a semi-feral cat she could not touch, who would probably be very stressed out. She was going to keep him in her bathroom, away from all the other cats. With Maria as his only connection to another living thing, hopefully he would learn to trust her and have less fear of humans. With his leg issues and fear, this was going to be a VERY LONG ROAD.

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©2012 Maria S. Does this look like a skittish cat to you?

But the surprise was on us. King Arthur is more than just a brave kitty. From life on the streets into a stranger's home, this cat did not bat an eye. Instead of showing fear or aggression, he rolled over and showed his belly. Did he run off when Maria tried to pet him for the first time? No! He just wanted some love and she was more than happy to oblige.

 

This cat, who has suffered a painful and difficult life, loves Maria already. He has a soft, CLEAN, SAFE place to sleep-probably the first in his life; fresh wholesome food and clean water to drink. That he is friendly now will make our job of helping him feel better so much easier. I'm happy and hopeful for this kitty's future.

 


©2012 Maria S. Our first look at King in motion. It's sad to watch but so very sweet at the end. You will fall in love with this boy! Beware!

 

Our sweet handicapped friend needs a lot more vet care and x-rays. I don't know if he'll be able to benefit from prosthetics or if he needs surgery, so I'm going to start a fundraiser and leave the total open ended for now. I'll go back and adjust it down as soon as I know what he'll need.

 

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©2012 Maria S. For Good Belleh-Rubbin-Times, Please Dial 1-800-LUV-MAHBELLY

 

I hope you'll consider making a donation to help King. He's been through so much, let's help him get on the road to a long happy life.

 

The donation you provide to King Arthur and his fluffy friend (who needs to be spayed and get her vaccines) is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. The money will go to my 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue: Kitten Associates.

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 "KING" mail it to:

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

Any funds not used for the care of these kitties will go to helping other cats in our program.

 

If you can't make a donation, you can help us by getting the word out. We're going to need a solid base of donations to help King walk again. Every dollar helps and every Re-tweet or FB Share does, too. THANK YOU for caring about this very special kitty!

 

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A special THANK YOU to Bobby Stanford for being willing to take action when he saw a cat in need-not only that, but he got King to the vet and oversaw his initial care without batting an eye or looking for a pat on the back. Without Bobby, King didn't stand a chance. And also another big THANK YOU to Maria for going above and beyond-again, opening up her home and heart to this wonderful kitty.

Of Bites, Bandages & Boo-Boos.

WARNING: the video of Bobette walking may make you sad and it shows her injury quite clearly. Also, there is an out-of-focus photo of her injury that may upset the squeamish.

Bobette's been on one Hell of a journey along a very bumpy road. Just when I think we've rounded a corner, something unexpected occurs. I realize I'm getting caught up in this cycle of hope and fear with her situation. I have to hope she WILL regain the use of her leg and will be comfortable, but what if she doesn't? What if I have to make the choice to have her leg amputated? This is something I don't know if I have the courage to do for her and I hope it will not come to pass. In the meantime, let me catch you up on how she's doing.

After the first few days with the bandage, we adjust to a new routine. Every morning I check on Bobette to see what sort of mess I need to clean up. She can't manage getting around and often I discover wet cat litter on the edge of her e-collar, indicating she's fallen face first into the dirty litter. The inside of her crate is in disarray. Some times she pees outside the crate onto the floor. I started putting training pads on the floor around the crate to help offset this problem. I never get mad. It makes me sad. I hate this life for her. I so want it to be over-for her to be free from the crate and feeling well again. I must be patient. She will get there…she will get there…

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The morning mess.

Sam often spends time holding Bobette as I clean up the mess and get her fed. It's a nice time for her because she can stretch out and relax without her e-collar on. The day before her bandage was to come off, we left off her e-collar as well. She wasn't picking at the bandage and without the e-collar she had some hope of sleeping in an more normal position. It's very clear she's not getting much rest as she often falls asleep while Sam holds her. Between the pain from her surgery, being in an uncomfortable crate and her body working on healing, she must be exhausted.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The morning before the big day. Bobette is non plused.

The big day finally arrived. I couldn't wait to get Bobette to Dr. Mixon's to get the bandage off. I had to borrow Sam's car because we had about six inches of snow, followed by frozen rain and with my car being 2wd, there was no way I was going to get to our appointment on time.

Bobette cried in her carrier just once, then was quiet for the rest of the trip. I kept looking at the clock. I had to drive slowly but the roads weren't too bad. I got there right on time-at 11am. No sooner than I walked in the door, I was told that my appointment was for 9am! But I wouldn't have agreed to that time because that's about when the cats get fed. I didn't have time to worry about it because they said they'd squeeze Bobette in between appointments. Couldn't we just get this over with? I really couldn't wait any longer!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sleepy Bobette.

A few minutes later, Bobette and I were in one of the exam rooms. Dr. Mixon and his Vet Tech began working on removing the bandage. I was worried that Bobette would become fractious, as she'd done so many 21s before. Initially there were no problems other than a lot of material to cut through.

With just about all the bandaging off, Bobette started to get VERY DISTRESSED. She started screaming as the last piece of tape was coming off. Dr. Mixon stopped and he and the Tech tried to restrain her. I tried to help, but she was thrashing around and shrieking so loudly, there was no calming her down. I foolishly tried to reach out to her and she bit down HARD into the top of my hand. I felt her canine teeth meet under my flesh. Everyone let go of Bobette and she began to urinate all over the exam table, then threw herself off the table and onto the floor. I was crying out to her, worried she had just broken her leg. My hand was throbbing badly and I felt woozy. There was a sink nearby so I washed my hand, pushing the blood out of it as best I could. I knew how filthy cat's mouths are and that I just signed myself up for a trip to the ER if we didn't get my hand clean-fast.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandage removal time!

It was all a crazy blur. I was trying not to cry. The pain was unbearable, but I was still worried about Bobette. Dr. Mixon got big gloves out and we got the cat into the cat carrier to recover. They'd have to sedate her later and get the rest of the bandage off. No one understood what upset her so severely until much later. In the meantime, Dr. Mixon urged me to go see a Dr. right away.

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I was lucky the Clinic could fit me in if I could get there in 10 minutes. I met with Maureen, the Nurse Practioner. She said I needed to be on antibiotics as soon as possible and that if the infection spread-which it could do even with the oral antibiotics, that I'd have to go to the ER in a few days. Great. I don't have health insurance, or money, for that matter. What an idiot I was.

I was still pretty shaky and my hand hurt badly even though it didn't look like much. I picked up the antibiotics which were $71.00! I needed to kill some time while they were working on Bobette, so I called Gene, a friend and local pet sitter and asked him if he wanted to meet me and have some soup at the local grocery store. I'd seen him there before and figured he might be in the area. Sure enough, he said the timing was good and we had a little visit.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My hand is already turning purply blue and starting to swell just minutes after I was bitten.

Gene is so cheerful, it put me in a good mood. We talked about bad pet parents and his grandson (who he adores like no other), then told me he was just about to pick up his new car. This is big news since Gene's car has 180,000+ miles on it and he's getting a brand new RED VW Bug! Our chat helped me get my mind off my hand. Everything would sort out. It was just another bump in the road.

I ended up going home for about 45 minutes, then left for Dr. Mixon's to pick up Bobette. The shock from being bitten must have been getting to me because suddenly I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. I promised myself as soon as I got home and got Bobette settled, I'd get some rest. I'd already taken an antibiotic so that was hopefully starting to kill the pasteurellosis that was making my hand swell up.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh my goodness!

I got back to Dr. Mixon's in good time. I realized I'd forgotten to even find out if Bobette's patella was still in place or if it had moved out, back to it's old location. I didn't have to wait long for the news. Some of it was very troubling and some, hopeful.

While Bobette was sedated, Dr. Mixon examined her leg. The patella, oddly enough, was STILL in PLACE! Bobette still has at least a month to go before we know if she'll be able to walk normally, but this was promising news. Now I had to keep her from jumping, encourage her to walk and give her time to heal.

The bad news was that the wooden tongue depressor he used as part of the splint in her bandage, had slipped down and been rubbing onto the back of her leg, causing a horrific wound. One of Bobette's toes had a cut on it, which I knew happened just after the surgery. It was not healing due to being in the bandage for so long. Both injuries were going to heal in time, but one had pus in it, which meant more antibiotics for Bobette and and more difficult recovery. When I saw the wound it was clear why she was in so much pain. Looking at her leg makes me hurt, too.

I have a lot of guilt about this. I've tried so hard to do the right thing for her and I failed. It will be even harder for her to walk at all with the added injuries to her leg-which was clear when I got her home.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette's first steps.

I set up the bigger crate for her new home and gave her a real cat litter pan to use-at last. She went to it right away, got in, peed and got out, but her leg was very weak. Sam put her on the floor and we had her walk over to me. She was reluctant to uncurl her paw to even place it on the floor. As she walked, she wobbled. Some times she used her paw and some times not. I tried to put some calendula cream on her wound but she is so sensitive, I had to leave it alone. How is this cat going to recover from all these injuries and walk again?

I just don't know. I know I'll be there for her as we find out. Bobette is young and strong. Now that her bandage is off, she'll have a chance to heal. One day we'll know if this was all worth it or just a waste of time. It's too soon to tell.

For now, we both need some rest.

BREAKING NEWS: TEDDY RETURNS

It's a good thing I check in with adopters after a month or so has passed. This is the point at which issues can come up after an adoption and it eases my mind to make sure all is well.

I couldn't wait a month to find out how Teddy Boo, one of the Pumpkin Patch kittens, was doing because I placed him into a home with a newly married couple who had a gigantic 2 year old Great Dane. I had some concerns and warned the couple that even with the best training and intentions, their dog could see the lively kitten as prey and go after him. We decided to put Teddy in his own room, away from the dog who spent the day on a separate floor of the home while the couple was at work. I couldn't underscore enough how important it was to be extra careful when introducing the kitten to the dog.

I had a gut feeling that I should just check in sooner, rather than later and it was a good thing I did. Apparently the dog “forgot her training” and went after little Teddy, who they had renamed, Peanut. Peanut didn't care for the dog, either. I'm sure he was intimidated by the sheer size of the beast. The dog got the door to Teddy's room open. Thankfully, Teddy could hide out of the way under the bed, but he must have been terrified.

I don't know or want to know how close Teddy came to becoming a snack, but I do know that the couple called the Vet and he said the kitten would never be buddies with the dog because he wasn't raised with dogs-which I found to be completely unfair. Put the blame on a KITTEN? I've seen plenty of them cuddle up with dogs and one even was close to a Great Dane. Let's watch where we point the fingers here.

The couple felt that after less than three weeks, it wasn't a good fit and they felt it would be better to return Teddy. I was relieved. I wanted Teddy back partly for his own safety and partly because poor Jakey, who was now alone with his other brother Mikey being adopted, was crying and not eating. I knew once Teddy returned, Jakey would be happy again---or would he?


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Teddy's first moments back home with Jakey.

At 8:30 this morning, Teddy returned. The adopters donated a cat tree and cat carrier to us. I guess they're not getting ANY cats any time soon. I had her fill out the Surrender Form-the first one in Kitten Associates' history. The woman started to tear up. I told her not to feel bad and that I'd much rather take him back and know he was safe. The whole event took less than 5 minutes. I was anxious to get Teddy back with Jakey, who had been crying since we'd gotten up an hour ago.

As you can see in the video, the reunion went well. There was some growling after the video ended, but what was truly lovely was when I brought them some breakfast. They both ran over to me, tails up in the air. I placed a dish in front of each kitten and side by side they enthusiastically ate their food.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jakey waiting for Teddy to return.

I thought I'd leave them alone to get reacquainted. An hour has passed since Teddy arrived and I haven't heard a peep out of either cat. I imagine they're sleeping together on their heated blanket; one relieved to be out of danger and away from that DOG and the other, no longer lonely and heartsick.

It's a good way to start the day.

Emergency Surgery for Jackson Galaxy (the cat)!

WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS, BELOW.

Last night foster mama-Maria, called me, worried about Jackson Galaxy, the cat we rescued last week who was named after the uber-cat-listener-of the same name. We'd already discussed that Jackson has been aggressive, biting Maria's hands and clawing her legs. Because he was just neutered a week ago, we thought we'd give it time and Maria was going to adjust how she approached him. Jackson had almost 2 years of being an intact male and probably had plenty of hormones still working through his body. We needed to give him time to adjust and get rid of all that testosterone.

Because Jackson's in a small bathroom I also asked Maria to be observant about where she is in relationship to the cat. Did he feel cornered? Was he attacking out of fear?

Very slowly Maria saw some improvements. Jackson could be petted and he did purr, but last night something was not right with Jackson-not right at all. Jackson was lying in the bathtub, pale smears of pink-BLOOD-were on the porcelain. Jackson was licking at his scrotum and when she looked at it, it was red, slightly inflamed and she saw some blood. She called “Doc” Thomas, who runs the Spay/Neuter clinic at Noah's Ark and asked her what to do. Doc said to bring him in in the morning.

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©2012 Maria. S. Jackson, last night.

Jackson wouldn't eat. Maria had to force feed him after trying many different tempting options. I asked if she could take his temp, but she said he didn't feel hot. She tested his blood sugar and it was normal. I thought he was getting an infection or brewing the dread shelter-virus, but his eyes were not watery, only his coat looked unkempt.

Maria took the day off so she could rush Jackson to Noah's Ark, where Jackson was neutered. Jackson's temp. had risen to 104.4°F-high normal is 101°F. Jackson's scrotum was enlarged-an obvious infection was brewing. In four years of doing neuters, Doc had only seen this happen ONE other time.

Jackson needed surgery right NOW.

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©2012 Maria. S. Jackson getting prepped for surgery.

Jackson was sedated and Doc opened up his scrotum. She said it was good to see blood, that it meant the tissue was not dead. She could drain it, then give him a course of strong antibiotics and he should recover. I asked Maria if he'd have to wear “the cone of shame” (an Elizabethan collar), but she said no.

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©2012 Maria. S. It's tough to look at, but now his painful, swollen scrotum will be healing up and feeling better very soon..

Jackson's waking up from the procedure as I write this. He's already gotten antibiotics. Hopefully this was just a bump in the road and from here out he'll not only be feeling better, but perhaps acting more calm with Maria, too. It's possible he's been in pain, first from the surgery and then from the infection—and what guy wouldn't lash out if his scrotum hurt?!

Another reminder to all of us that if your cat's behavior changes you should get him or her to the Vet, first. You never know what may be going on and it's important to rule out illness when you discover a behavioral problem.

As for Jackson, I see a lot of treats in his future!

Tomorrow is Bobette's orthopedic surgery. I'm thinking the theme for this weeks' blog may be "graphic photo warning-week." I hope it will also be, “cats who were feeling lousy but are on the road to recovery week”, too.

Foster Cat Math Part Two: The Pumpkin Patch Arrives

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©2011 Maria S. Bobette and family etting ready to leave for Connecticut.

I can't believe it's been over a week since the Pumpkin Patch family arrived from Maria's home in Georgia. This time of year, it's always more hectic and I had much to do before this family arrived. Even after picking the family up off the transport, the boys only had an hour break before I packed them up and brought them to my rescue group's Home for the Holidays Adoption Event! (I left mama, Bobette home to rest. She was very cranky with the boys and I thought some alone time would do her good).

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©2011 Maria S. The transport awaits.

The planning and setup for Adoption Events always leaves me knackered. Someday I hope to have volunteers able to help me get these things done. My car isn't very big, but it seems as though there's an endless supply of “stuff” that has to be crammed into it. Things need to be packed, washed, organized, then I have to figure out how many cats there are plus how many crates needed, plus where is this all going to go and how is it going to get to Choice Pet Supply where the event is being held?

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Would you adopt me?

Irene is my right hand woman. She shows up. She helps. She fills up her car with whatever I ask. She jumps in and chats people up and tries to get us a few sales or donations. Sam will load up his car, too and help us get the tough things set up, then he scampers off to work on his own projects. I end up having to design flyers, send out notices to the newspapers-the online ones, the printed ones. Then the flyers have to be hung up around town, if I can get away long enough to do that. There's just an amazing amount of work to be done. Meanwhile, there are cats to care for and all their paperwork to fill out, what vaccination they need, getting them to the vet, vetting potential adopters. No wonder I always seem to be stressed out and feeling like I don't have enough time in the day.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie!

We got some applications and I met with folks who had emailed me about stopping by to visit the kittens. It was all going well when all of a sudden, I heard one of the Angel Babies furiously meowing and scratching at the plastic tray bottom of their crate. As I lifted the cover off the back of their cage, my nostrils were violated by a powerfully nauseating smell. Then, I saw it-diarrhea! Ugh.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bananas are good fun.

Irene and I quickly started to clean up the mess. Thankfully the poop wasn't on the bedding in the cage so the cleaning wasn't difficult. The smell, however, was not going away. I had a small litter pan ready to go. It was too soon into the event to offer it to the kittens, or so I thought. If one of the kittens had the runs, I figured I'd better give them the litter pan. Seconds after I placed the pan in the cage, two of the kittens started digging around in the litter. At first I thought they were just bored and playing with it, but after a few minutes it was clear that another kitten had to let it rip-and so he did.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Jakey the sneak-attack biter!

I truly believe that the U.S. Government should use mooshie cat poop smell as chemical warfare. There is no way troops wouldn't be quickly offended by the stank and run for the hills! Did we manage to clear the store? YES! It was great at keeping the crowds down. Just what we needed.

The orange boys did fine. They were bouncing around, having fun. They laid on each other and the three of them started grooming each other. It was so cute that it made everyone forget the lingering stench, as they crowded around the cage, “ooo-ing and ahh-ing.”

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello! This is Teddy or Mikey. I think it's Teddy.

People would ask me questions about the boys, but like the white kitties, I couldn't tell the orange kitties apart (I am starting to a week later, though).

Meanwhile, poor Mazie sat forlornly in her cage. She growled a bit so we covered her up. I bravely stuck my hand into her cage and she started to purr. She forgave me from locking her in a cage by giving me her belly to rub. I felt very guilty about having her at the event, but she's GOT to find a forever home! She's been with us for a YEAR already and she's such an awesome cat!

I was grateful when 4pm came so we could pack up and get home. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep right then and there, but I knew that once we got back I'd have to feed the foster cats, make sure they were all right, then unload the cars and put things away.

I got the cats fed, but after that my body complained to the point where I just had to sit down for awhile. Unloading the cars could wait.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette a few moments after arriving.

I also wanted to spend some time with Bobette and the boys. I didn't have a chance to get to know them that morning, so now was the time.

I let the boys out of their carrier and Bobette looked at them and hissed. She's barely bigger than they are and at certain times I can't tell which one is the kitten and which is the mother. A few of kittens foolishly went over to their mom and she attacked them. I don't think she had her claws out, but the sound she made was one of pure rage. I made sure the boys were fine. They were scared, but ok. I got them all fed. I kept Bobette away from the kittens. I worried that she might attack me, as well, but she seemed relaxed around me or was it because I was feeding her?

What happened on the transport? Bobette was fine with the boys when she left Georgia, but now she was clearly not interested in having them near her at all.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette (far right) screams at her boys to get away.

The boys picked at their food, so did Bobette. They'd been eating dry food, softened with water, and I knew I'd have to break them of the habit; better now than never.

After they ate, the boys ran around. I called Bobette over to me. I was sitting on the bed. She came over and let me pet her. She climbed into my lap and got comfortable. I cautiously petted her. She relaxed until a kitten would come near her. As that happened, she'd alert, then growl. She'd lash out if the kitten dared to ignore her warning. I didn't want to lay there with an angry cat in my lap, but she went right back to relaxing and enjoyed my company. She even rolled over with her belly up in the air. I took a long look at her. She's very much got an Oriental Shorthair body with a classic orange tabby coat. She's long and lean with a wedge shaped head, dainty long legs and a long, delicate tail. I didn't see her limping, that would come later. Right now she was content-if I could just keep the boys away from her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeee!

I'd seen this behavior before, but never so severe. I wondered if I should crate Bobette, but with her painful leg issue, I realized that maybe it was her pain that was making her lash out? I asked Dr. Mixon, one of our Vets, about this and he said it might be typical behavior of the mother pushing the males out of the colony to keep the colony from having inbreeding issues or...well he wasn't sure. Even after almost a week, she's still aggressive towards them.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Da boyz.

The boys are doing well according to Dr. M. Mikey has a broken tail tip. We don't know when or how it happened, but it's already healed. Teddy was all right and Jakey was a nightmare getting his vaccines; what a screamer!

Bobette is another story. I see her jumping with some difficulty. She wants to play, but the boys get in her way and she gets angry. Some times she'll run around the room, clearly having fun, but after a few moments, she starts to limp very badly. Her drive to do more is hampered by what happened to her leg. She was in an accident of some kind and it's badly dislocated her kneecap. Dr. M rated it a 4 out of 4; 4 being the most severe. He feels he can correct the problem with surgery and that the patella (kneecap) shouldn't pop back out. I remembered when we first rescued Bobette that the folks at Henry County said they couldn't get her to eat for four days. Perhaps she'd just been hit by a car? Perhaps that had something to do with her inability to provide for her six kittens? I can't seem to let go that we lost three babies. I want to know why they died so we can prevent that from happening again. I know I'll never know why they're gone, but maybe the trauma their Mother suffered had something to do with it?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Lanky, lean and lovely-Bobette.

The surgery would cost $2500.00. I'm NOT going to ask for donations. What I really need is FOOD, LITTER and some NEW TOYS for this family and for the Angel Babies. I'll be setting up a ChipIn to ask for donations for our Food & Fun Fund soon. I have to wrap my head around what Dr Mixon told me the rescue price would be for the surgery, first.

Anyone want to guess?

He's going to charge us $100.00. That's not a typo. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! When he first told me, I thought I was going to cry. I knew we have no where NEAR $2500.00 in our bank account and I was guessing he'd charge us around $1500.00. When he said, $100.00 I asked him to make sure that's what he wanted and he said to just put the word out about his Practice and help folks get to know him. After the surgery is done early next year, I'll be writing more about Dr. Mixon and his practice. For now, I'm very grateful we have his services to depend on and that when we do have money, it will last us much longer. Dr. Mixon also doesn't charge us an exam fee for rescue cats as long as we don't take advantage of his time. We just keep it to a few hours a month. So far, it's worked great.

Without the burden of a huge Vet bill, I can focus on helping Bobette recover. She'll have to have three weeks of cage rest and three weeks of low activity. Instead of going to AID, which was the original plan, Bobette will have to stay here for awhile, until she's better.

This poor girl; she's barely a year old and what hell she's been through in such a short time. You know me, I'll do whatever I can to help her go from “Meh to MEOW!”

In the meantime, I have about 12 other kitties I need to find forever homes for!

Lessons Learned and a Guilty Confession

The more I work and live with cats, the more I realize how little I know. After years of fostering and having a house full of cats, you'd think I'd be an expert, but today I learned yet another valuable lesson.

At the beginning of my rescue career, I volunteered with a rescue group in southern Connecticut. I did some design work for their events and eventually began to naively foster cats, as well. After all these years, I have no interest in bashing how they do what they do, but I can say that it was very tough to get my foster cats adopted once they came to my home. Now that I have to approve applications for my group, Kitten Associates, I realize how difficult it is to find just the right adopter...but I also don't let my cats languish in foster care for YEARS, which was a common occurrence back in those days.

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©2003 Robin A.F Olson. Gracie with Annabelle, Scooter Pie and Petunia.

My first foster cat was Spencer and he's our CiCH Mascot . When he joined the family, I only had two cats and one had just passed away. On Christmas of 2003 Spencer's adoption was formalized. It was a meaningful adoption because not only did I help rescue this cat, but now he would be mine for the rest of his life.

The next cats I fostered were an abused mama cat and her three newborn kittens. Two of the kittens were confident, playful, easy to love. They got adopted together, but their sister, didn't show well and would run off and hide. I didn't understand at the time that I should have shown her in a small room where she couldn't hide. She was perfectly friendly with me, but in a big room with loud people talking away, no wonder she ran off.

Since applications weren't coming in and I was still quite the sucker for taking in cats, I said I'd just keep her. What the heck. Her Mother wasn't getting any interest because she was an adult already, so I kept her, too. I felt like I didn't have any other options at the time. Their adoption wasn't very meaningful.

Those cats are Gracie and Petunia.

I don't often write about Petunia. She's 8 1/2 years old now and I'm reluctant to admit, is not my favorite cat. She pees around the house some times. She's neurotic. She gets attacked by Spencer, Blitzen and now, even the DOOD. I've taken her to the Vet MANY times; dealt with any health issues as they come up. I spoke with a cat behaviorist. I tried homeopathy. I changed things around in the house so Petunia would have a place where she could feel safe, but I was always bitter about all the fuss I had to make over her when all she did was flip out over the littlest thing, drool on me if I petted her and sneak attack some of the cats while they slept (because they attacked her when she was awake).

Over the years I've come to resent her being here. She just causes trouble. I HATE that I have to admit this and I feel very guilty. I never should have kept her. I didn't have that bond I had with her siblings or her mother. I felt like I got stuck with her and I've been trying to make the best of it ever since.

Even though it was right in front of me, I couldn't see the good things about her; the way she would “talk” to me if I talked to her. she could do some tricks, she loved to play if she could be on her own to do so, she really loved me, but I was indifferent. How cruel I have been.

I considered re-homing her. She wasn't happy here. We weren't happy she was here, but her mother, Gracie, has to be with her. They are far too bonded for me to separate them now. Gracie is skittish and has health issues. Who would want these two cats?

So Sam and I made an concerted effort to be kinder to Petunia and she did respond, but the same group of male cats kept going after her! We would yell, try to break it up, but every night this would go on and the stress on ALL of us was not good.

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©2008 Robin A.F Olson. The girls.

Then I met up with a friend of mine who is also a cat writer. Her name is Wendy Christensen and she's the author of MANY books about cats. She's also an artist and jewelry designer. Her ETSY page is HERE and HERE are illustrations and some of her books.

Wendy told me that she had a similar problem-male cats going after her female. She took her cats to the vet. The vet couldn't find anything wrong. He kept thinking about this seemingly mysterious problem, some might call it Pariah cat, where one cat seemingly for no reason gets picked on by the other cats in the home. After all I've read on the subject, my short comment about that is I'm not sure it's a fair description or even that it exists at all (more on why another time).

He called Wendy and asked her to bring her female cat in to have its' anal glands expressed. He had a theory that if the glands were very full that the cat might give off an offensive odor that made the male cats react to.

Sure enough-the cats glands were full up. He expressed them and the cat stopped getting attacked!

Once I heard that, I knew I had to try it. Now, remember, Petunia is NOT easy to handle. She overreacts to getting her claws trimmed. It would not be easy to get her to the Vet, but it had to be done.

This morning I took 'Tunie to see Dr. Larry. Because I know that a small, dark place helps cats feel safe, I kept Petunia in a covered cat carrier and tried to keep her very quiet until it was exam time.

Dr. Larry and I discussed what was going on. He agreed that anal glands could give off scent that the males went after. He also confirmed something else I'd heard-that cats with urinary tract infections/issues can also emit an odor that other cats can smell. Petunia has had UTI issues, but was currently clear of them. I had to hope, which sounds weird, that her anal glands were full up.

I asked Dr. Larry if we could turn off the overhead lights, then keep Petunia covered during his exam. By the dim light from under the cabinets, Vet tech Amber held Petunia's scruff and Dr. Larry went to work at the other end.

We all kept quiet or just told Petunia it was “okay” and that she was a “good girl.” 'She was fairly relaxed until Dr Larry hit the right anal gland. Petunia started to writhe and screech. I asked Dr. Larry if he could take a break and he replied that once you start, you have to finish. He worked quickly. I couldn't see if he was expressing anything or not. If it did smell badly-which it should, I wouldn't have known. The day before a dog had come into the clinic. He was bitten by a SKUNK and BLASTED by the same! The whole clinic smelled like skunk a day later.

In a few minutes, the procedure was done. Petunia relaxed and Amber and I both petted her and told her she was such a good girl! She reacted so well. Normally she would have been climbing the wals, but this time she was calm. I realized that how I treat her definitely affected how she responded at the Vet. Keeping the lights low; keeping things quiet-that really did wonders.

I couldn't wait to hear the results. Did she or didn't she?

One of Petunia's two anal glands was VERY FULL, but the other was “HUGE.”

Dr. Larry described that normally expressing the anal glands results in a watery brownish discharge. Petunia's was black, thick and tarry-and very difficult to express. It's VERY LIKELY that Petunia has been in quite a bit of pain for a VERY LONG TIME.

On one hand I was thrilled at the news, but on the other hand I felt very guilty and ashamed. My poor cat-all this time I've been thinking she's a royal nuisance and I wished I could just re-home her. I was tired of all the fights and her screaming in the middle of the night. Maybe a lot of what was going on had to do with the fact that she was in PAIN and that she smelled bad to the male cats.

I took the back road home, driving slowly along the river. The sun was brightly shining and I pulled the cover off Petunia's cat carrier and glanced over at her. She didn't make a sound. She rubbed against my finger when I pushed it through an opening on the side of the cat carrier. I told her again what a good girl she was and for the first time in a long time, I believed what I was saying. I felt real affection for her and real hope, too, that maybe, just maybe she was on the road to a better life.

When we got home, instead of running off in a frenzy, she jumped on the sofa and laid down in the sun. I checked on her a few hours later. She was still there. Normally, if she saw me, she'd sit up on alert, ready to run off. This time I could see contentment in her eyes. She was relaxed and happy. I reached out to pet her and she rubbed her head on my hand, again, instead of running off.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Petunia this afternoon.

I sat on the loveseat a few feet away from her. I saw Blitzen come over to her. Normally he'd sniff at her, then do this strange sort of dance where he'd rub his head against the leg of the table, then in a few moments, charge Petunia and corner her somewhere. This time he just sniffed at the air, then seemed to change his mind. He walked away.

I don't know if we've solved the problem. It's way too early to tell and I don't know if the cats are so used to going after Petunia that they'll still do it or if she has other issues we haven't yet discovered.

What I do know is I love my cat and I'm so very sorry. I'm sorry for her pain and her unhappiness. I've always felt she deserved a better home and maybe now she'll have one here.

WE DID IT! Barney & Bella are Safe!

So many people say to me that they wish they could do cat rescue, but just don't have the space or time or funds or the secret power-of-letting-go when the foster cat gets adopted to be able to do it. But you DID just take part in a cat rescue! How does it feel?

Two days ago I posted about Barney & his sister Bella. Barney is a smart cat and somehow figured out he could flush the toilet. In fact, he seems fascinated by the sound, the swirling water, the sheer power of cause and effect. My post could have simply been to point out this cat's quirky talent and leave it at that, but sadly Barney and Bella were facing a trip to the Kill shelter because their mama, who's in the Coast Guard, got transferred to New Orleans and at the last minute, the family member who offered to take the cats, backed out, leaving her in quite the jam.

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Bella and Barney, two VERY LUCKY CATS.

With no resources to help her cats, and a looming deadline to meet, she was faced with the only other option-to relinquish the cats to the local Kill shelter. Thankfully, before she did that she turned to our own Maria's, mama, who lives in Virginia and knows Barney & Bella's owner. Mama-Bobby told her friend that her daughter, Maria did cat rescue and she would ask her for help.

I get calls and emails every day about cats needing help. I wish I could promote each one. Many, you never hear about, but behind-the-scenes I try to help them, as well. When Maria asked if I could post about Barney & Bella I admit that her request gets my attention. She's caring for our Pumpkin Patch family. How can I say no? Toilet-flushing-guru-cat or not, I had to help.

This is what I LOVE about the internet. I did “my part” to help save these cats. I just wrote up a blog post. It took a few hours, getting details right, posting the video, asking all of you to just help me get let everyone in Virginia know, that these cats sure could use some help.

Of all the posts I've written, this one was re-tweeted and shared on Facebook with wild abandon. As I tapped my few connections in Virginia, others tapped their friends and rescue contacts, too. SO MANY PEOPLE shared this information, that what we hoped would happen, DID.

The RIGHT people saw the posts; the people who can do their part of a cat rescue. One woman offered to donate money to cover the costs of Barney & Bella's vetting. She couldn't foster them or adopt, but she did her part. Both kittens are in dire need of being spayed/neutered. They were snap tested for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia. They are negative for both! Maria's mama is going to make sure they get their surgery done on Friday and will keep them at her house to recover for the night. She is doing her part!

Then Kim Harkin posted a plea for help on the Facebook Page for King Street Cats, in Alexandria, VA. They are Alexandria VA's only free-roaming no-kill cat orphanage! 100% volunteer-run and Kim is one of their foster moms. She got the OK to take them into the King's program on Saturday! How did Kim find out about these cats? She said she thought she found the info on the No Kill Ohio Facebook page (I looked but didn't see a post there so we aren't sure who to thank for the post that caught Kim's attention)!

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According to Petfinder, KSC already has 47 cats in their program. Asking them to take on two more is a lot to ask. As a THANK YOU to them, I'm going to share a few photos of their Adoptable cats. Make sure you visit their pages to see more if you live in the Alexandria, VA area and want to add to your kitty-family.

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Meet Harper Lee. What a cutie-patootie!

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This is Midnight. She and her brother, Scamp, a tuxedo, are hoping to find a home together!

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Lenore has been waiting for 8 months to find a home. She's 10 years old, tiny and though initially too stressed to be sweet, her foster home says she's starting to snuggle up. Lenore needs a place where she can blossom. Let's find her that special home.

King Street looks like a great refuge for Barney & Bella until they find their forever home. Since they're be in foster care to start, Barney will have a new toilet to flush!

I wish we could ALL do a BIG GROUP HUG right now! I can't (and won't) take all the credit for this rescue. There are SO MANY POINTS WHERE THIS ALL COULD HAVE FAILED. Their current mom could have just abandoned the cats or given them to the Kill shelter, but she wanted them to have a chance and that good intention was the spark that made everything else start to fall in place. So many of you took some time out of your day to spread the word, some as far away as California offered them a home, another offered to sponsor their Vet care. Maybe many of you thought nothing would come of it, that because you couldn't physically save them, it wasn't enough. But it WAS ENOUGH. This puzzle was pieced together quickly by a bunch of cat-loving strangers. We should ALL jump for joy that together we CAN make amazing things happen. We just have to do our part and be willing to get involved in whatever capacity we can.

Well done, everyone! Well done!

If you want to thank King Street, please LIKE them on Facebook. If you're loaded and want to send them a donation, in honor of Barney & Bella, you can find out how to do that HERE.

TWO DAYS TO SAVE THE TOILET-FLUSHING KITTEN & HIS SISTER!

LOCATION WASHINGTON, D.C./VA Area

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Bella, left and brother Barney, right.

Barney and his sister, Bella, are bright, friendly and sweet cats. They are 10 months old and NOT spayed/neutered yet. The woman they live with is in the Coast Guard and has been transferred to New Orleans. She had a place for the cats to go, locally, but it fell through. We have TWO DAYS to find a rescue to take them or a family to offer to adopt them.

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Barney with a cute smudge of color near his right eye.

 


FLUSH!!!!!

 

Barney is VERY smart. He figured out how to flush the toilet! If you wanted to take a step forward and toilet train him, he's be a great candidate! Sadly, Barney is not smart enough to be able to help get himself out of this terrible predicament---and he faces a sad fate if we can't help him.

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Bella.

I don't have a great deal of information, but what I did get is from a trusted source.

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Barney, looking for a miracle.

 

• The kittens have a $100.00 sponsorship towards their vet care.

• Transport CAN be arranged. There are folks in the area who will drive the cats to you or your NO-KILL Shelter---even out of state!

• SHELTER FOLKS-REALLY... TAKE THESE TWO CATS! THE VIDEO, ALONE, OF BARNEY SHOULD BE ENOUGH TO GET YOU ADOPTERS QUICKLY!!

If you're with a licensed no-kill shelter or are a kind-hearted soul who is looking to adopt, here's the contact information:

Bobby Hansen

504-329-2787

Bobhan91@yahoo.com

PLEASE SHARE, TWEET & CROSS-POST. TIME IS RUNNING OUT! THANK YOU!!!

Dexter's Dark Passenger

Note from Robin: CREEPY PHOTO BELOW, BUT NOTHING GORY! You have been warned.

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Terri Royal has a big heart. She loves cats and has been particularly touched by the plight of feral cats in her community of northeastern Georgia. Terri's not one to look the other way when a cat needs help. She and her husband, Warren, always seem to have a foster cat in their home, in addition to their five cats, all of whom were rescues.

Terri is the caretaker for a number of feral cat colonies. She makes sure they get fed and that they're all spayed or neutered. Once in awhile a friendly stray comes along and she helps that cat find a good home, too

A few weeks ago, Terri spotted a tiny kitten when she was putting food out for the feral colony. From her husband, Warren's email to me, he described the situation:

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Dexter, so sick, but what is wrong with you little guy?

He lived in the bushes behind Target and today when she went to feed them, he walked out and was very lethargic- horrible respiratory infection, dripping from nose, mouth, and eyes. He was blowing bubbles from his nose, and sneezing terribly.

He was too weak to eat, or to struggle, so Terri just picked him up and put him in a small box. He's very young- 6-8 weeks, and starving. We think he has 2 more siblings in similar condition.

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Just after surgery.

She [Terri] took him to the emergency vet, who gave him fluids, vitamins, combo test, and antibiotic shot, and some milk replacement. I had to leave to catch a flight (on it now) but he's in great hands with Terri. She took him home, set him up in a bedroom upstairs, with water, a little warm bed, and plenty of food and the milk. (she just told me he LOVES it!). He is resting very comfortably and is purring when she pets him- he seems to love affection.

Terri named the kitten, Dexter. He weighed only 1 lb, 4 oz.

Dexter wasn't doing so well. Although he loved affection and wanted to eat, he had constant, severe breathing problems. He had great difficulty eating. It would take him 30 minutes to eat a small amount of food. Terri gave him milk replacement, which he could eat more comfortably, but the poor little tabby was very ill.

Warren writes: And he would start sneezing - I mean REALLY sneezing - sometimes 20 times in a row, violently. We would find blood spots afterwards. The vets thought that his nose was just really irritated from all the sneezing, maybe a tiny vessel rupture, and that was causing the bleeding. But also he could barely breathe - he was always breathing very loudly, and sometimes mouth-breathing.

The Vet said to let Dexter rest. Give it time. Thank goodness Terri and Warren didn't heed the advice. They'd seen cats with upper respiratory before. After another day passed, they were sure something else going on, so they took Dexter back to the Vet.

One of Dexter's nostrils was bigger than the other. Nothing remarkable about that, but it was odd. What happened next was horrifying. When the Vet looked into Dexter's nose, SOMETHING LOOKED BACK...and was MOVING INSIDE DEXTER'S SINUS!

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. THE WOLF WORM.

Warren wrote:

This little kitten had a 1-inch+ WOLF WORM living in his nose.

It was so big that the hardened vet techs cried when they saw it and what this poor kitten had endured.

They could not believe that something SO BIG had been in this poor kitten's nose. They saved it for me in formaldehyde so I can see it when I get home - but they're saying it's like the size of a large garden grub-worm, they have never seen anything like it. He must have filled up his sinus or partially gone down his throat, his nose was so tiny -

No one expected that Dexter would have to have surgery, especially to remove a Wolf Worm!. Simply tugging it out was NOT an option. Wolf Worms are Bot Fly larvae. Removing just a piece of them results in a horrific anaphylactic (allergic) reaction and terrible infection which could easily go to Dexter's brain.

But would Dexter survive the surgery?

Warren writes: But since we didn't know this, Terri had fed him that morning, before the vet visit. And when they figured out what it was, they had to anesthetize him, which was very risky because he had eaten. (We have lost other ferals during routine spay/neuters under similar circumstances and had been heartbroken). But we felt that it was an emergency, and we had to go ahead and cross our fingers and hope for the best. They waited a few hours to make it a little safer - and while he was down, we went ahead and neutered him.

In the hammock.jpg
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Getting some rest.

The Vet carefully removed the Wolf Worm. It was no longer Dexter's Dark Passenger. Now it was safely preserved in a jar while Dexter began the long road to recovery.

Warren writes: He is much better now, his breathing is completely clear - but there may be some residual damage. They say he may always have issues with sneezing, and his nose may be permanently enlarged. But we just don’t know. He is very happy, and playing, and eating like a HORSE.

dexter and the squirrel.jpg
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Squirrel!

Since he has been with us, even with the worm, he has gone from 1 lb 4 oz to 2 lb 4 oz , mostly on the milk replacement. But I think now the will really start to thrive...

dexter and abby.jpg
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Making friends with Abby

Dexter will be ready to find a forever home in a few weeks. Though they struggle with the idea of keeping Dex, Terri and Warren know they can't help more cats in need if they have too many cats of their own. It's not an easy decision to make, but with Dexter's loving personality and winning ways, we feel sure his family will find him soon.

Dexter growing bigger.jpg
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. .

If you're interested in learning more about Dexter or want to adopt him, please contact me directly at info(@)coveredincathair.com and I'll put you in touch with Dexter's family. Transportation can be arranged. Dexter is located in Northeastern Georgia.

The Wolf Worm is not available for adoption.

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