The last few minutes of the trip to Grand Central Terminal was spent traveling under the city streets. I often looked out into the darkness, catching a glimpse of other trains sparking against the rails or barely illuminated shapes that my imagination always conjured into strange creatures. What was out there? Were people living among the drips and constant rumble of the trains? I saw graffiti. Someone must be down there. The thought gave me the shivers.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. View from the Balcony at work, looking south down 5th Avenue.
As I did every day I commuted, I got up early and stood near the doorway. I wanted to be one of the first people off the train. Others joined suit. None of us wanted to be stuck behind someone fumbling with a briefcase or getting a coat off the overhead rack. We ALL had somewhere to go, NOW! The second the doors opened, people raced out the door, eager to get where they were going and get ahead of the guy next to them. I had my sneakers on. Yes, I was one of those woman who wore sneakers to the office, then changed into “work shoes” once I arrived. I could make better time, though being short, most everyone raced ahead of me, regardless of my footware.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Another view from the office taken two days after Sept. 11th. You can see part of the Empire State Bldg. If you look carefully, you'll see some smoke near the bottom of the image. That's the debris cloud from the World Trade Towers collapse.
I never liked crowds and this always made me feel slightly panicked until we got out into the very grand concourse of Grand Central, with its soaring ceiling featuring a representation of the constellations, tiny bright lights emulating stars. In the center of the concourse was the big brass ball clock that sits atop the Information Booth. It's where I first met Sam in 1993. Many People were standing in the area around the clock, as it was a familiar meeting point. Other people were racing past the folks who were waiting. There were many near collisions as people tried to navigate around the crowd. One day, I stopped walking and stood still, shut my eyes and just listened. It was rather unnerving, to say the least. I think I heard the sound of the world passing right by me.
I made it to work in good time and, as I did each morning, I dropped my heavy backpack onto my desk, changed out of my sneakers, then grabbed a few dollars and went back downstairs to the deli to get my egg sandwich on an everything bagel.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. 5th Avenue and the gateway to the dust cloud from the Towers collapse.
This was the part of the day where I could finally relax and not feel like I was having an anxiety attack. I saw some of my co-workers and said my “hello's” and “how are you doings?” Then Tony saw me. He was the cook. Tony was from Puerto Rico and was missing a few teeth. He always smiled and was cheerful, his plump cheeks glistening from standing near the stove. He asked me if I wanted “the usual” and I answered, yes. I always felt a bit special when he asked me that. We had a quick chat, then it was on to filling the next order. Tony was like a machine. He had everything sorted out and was cranking out breakfast orders in a flash. The day was getting off to a good start.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Just some of the many missing posters that papered the City for weeks after 9|11.
I went upstairs into the office. The firm I freelanced for was located in the former Tiffany Building on 37th Street at 5th Avenue. Our space, that held about 60 people, was in an open space with two-story tall ceilings. Some fancy pants architect designed it, but I hated what they did. It was VERY noisy. The floors were elevated a few inches so they could run the lines for the computers since there were no walls-other than the outer walls of the building. The floor was concrete tiles. You could NOT wear heels or they made a terrible racket. They kicked up dust and never looked clean. We sat in small partitioned spaces, some were crammed two to a desk because the company was growing and we had long since ran out of space. There were huge iconic pillars every 30 feet or so, but the ceiling, for some stupid reason, was left "as it was" originaly-so it had big holes in it and once in awhile a chunk of ceiling would crash on someone's desk. The only saving grace to the entire space was that we had two -story tall windows that wrapped two sides of the office. One of them overlooked 5th Avenue. We had a tiny balcony, too. We could watch the Columbus Day parade from there or check out the pedestrians over our lunch break.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. This always makes me sad. I just looked up the two names I can read on the posters. Giovanna and Mario's names are on the list that says they both died. Giovanna worked at Cantor Fitzgerald.
I sat down to eat and got my computer started so I could check email and see the status on some projects I was working on. A few of the guys went over to the balcony, then I started to hear a commotion. Nothing was private in that office and I wondered what was going on. I went over to the balcony and someone told me that a plane hit one of the World Trade Towers. I thought they meant a little tiny plane. I looked down 5th Avenue and sure enough, there was dark gray smoke coming out of the building. It looked like maybe a movie was being filmed, but two of the guys had scanners and were picking up the feed from them. Then someone else said that no, a BIG JET hit the World Trade tower!
So now I'm torn. Okay, this is bad but we have to do our work, so I sat back down at my desk. I started to hear sirens, lots of them. Then someone said ANOTHER jet just hit the other World Trade Tower! The first thing I said was; “we are at War.” The second thing I said to myself was that I needed to get out of the city RIGHT NOW.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the memorials at Union Square.
I called my boyfriend and told him what was going on, my voice getting higher out of fear, the adrenaline kicking back into my system. He didn't seem particularly worried, as if I was being overly dramatic. I was really shocked, but he didn't get it. I said goodbye and looked around at my colleagues who were all buzzing about what was going on. I tried to call my Mother, but I couldn't get a call through on my cellphone or the landline. I walked a few feet over to the office cubby next to mine. That's where Sam was working. He was my boss. Somehow even though we broke up months before, we managed to be friendly, though our private life was something we didn't talk about. He sort of knew I was seeing someone and I was pretty sure he had a girlfriend somewhere out of state. He was the only person I really trusted in the office. As a lifelong resident of New York, Sam knew his way around.
Being on a main thoroughfare, we had firetruck after firetruck pass our windows, sirens blaring. I've never heard such a cacaphony before or since. Over the noise, the Owner of the company started to call out to us, to gather us together. We had no meeting area, so we flanked the central aisle. After everyone settled down, they told us what we already knew and said they decided to shut down the office and let us all go home. That if we lived out of the city, that we should partner up with someone who lived locally in case we ran into trouble getting out of town. I looked at Sam and I could tell that we were going to leave together. Safety in numbers, right?
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson.
I packed up my things, my head buzzing, trying to figure out what to do. Sam lived along the same rail line as I did, so we decided to make a beeline for Grand Central and catch the next train out. I looked at my worn red and white schedule and saw there was a train leaving in about 15 minutes. If we walked really fast we might just make it.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. I bent over to sign this banner, then noticed the inscription from Maryann, who was a survivor from the 48th floor. This really touched me.
Outside the office, things weren't too different, maybe a bit more chaotic. I didn't pay attention. I just wanted to go home. We got to GCT in record time. I didn't care if I was out of breath. I was on the train, we could go home now! I kept willing the doors to shut. I wanted to hear the familiar doorbell sound that indicated the doors were closed and we were going to leave. The doors shut. I heard the sound! We were going to get out!
But the train didn't move.
Then the doors opened. The conductor made an announcement. Grand Central Terminal was going to CLOSE. There would be no further train service—to get off the train immediately because they were evacuating due to a bomb threat!
Oh no! Now what do we do?
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Union Square-NYC.
Sam told me we should head north. His Mother lived on 102nd. If we walked to hear apartment, we could stay with her until there was train service again. We were on 42nd street. I dreaded the walk, but what else could we do?
We got out of GCT and that's when things changed. There was no real traffic. You could walk down the middle of the street in some places. There were people on the sidewalk openly crying. We passed about 10 people. They had formed a circle and were praying loudly, while others wept. People were on their knees, staring south, towards the Towers, crying. I tried not to panic. Then I told Sam I wanted to go south, to the Towers, to help. I knew people would need help and I didn't want to run off. He said, NO. It was too dangerous. That we could help later, not now. We needed to be away from the Towers for our own safety. We didn't know if there were more planes coming and being near the Empire State Building and GCT made us targets, too.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson.
So I told Sam we needed to get as much cash as possible. We found an ATM and loaded up. There was an electronics store nearby so I bought a portable radio and extra batteries so we had some way of getting news. Our cellphones weren't working so this was all we had. I kept thinking about my Mother. I knew she would be worrying about me and I had no way to tell her I was all right. I turned off my phone figuring I better save the battery.
We walked up to Central Park, stopping at The Plaza Hotel. I thought we should just get a room. Who knew how long we would be trapped in the city? Maybe we should just get a place to hunker down? We could get room service and watch TV. Of course, me, I wanted to feel safe and like I had a place to stay for the night. I also just wanted to be off the street. They wouldn't let us in the door. They were under lockdown. There was no way we could get them to let us pay for a room. Everything was closing down.
A street vendor was selling water so we loaded up on a few bottles. My backpack was already heavy, but I had to do something. We walked into the park and sat down on some boulders. I put the radio on loud, so other stranded people could sit with us and listen to the news. The sirens continued to blare. I sat on the boulder in stunned silence. Then, the news that one of the World Trade Towers collapsed. First I thought, well at least there is another one, but mostly I just thought of all the people that probably just died. Like so many people in NYC that day, I cried, too. We could see dark yellow smoke downtown where the Tower once stood. The city was getting hazy. A fighter jet flew over us. We HAD to get out of town somehow before they started blowing more things up.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Eric Lehrfeld died, too.
We decided to try to find a rental car agency. We walked and walked, finally finding one, but they wouldn't rent us a car. Then they told us the bridges were closed anyway, so our only option was to stay put or walk home and for me that was 90 miles away.
We kept walking north and the second Tower fell. I couldn't believe it. I was afraid to think of what was going to happen next. I just wanted to go HOME, but I had no idea IF I was ever going to go home again!
We reached 83rd street and found a cafe that was open. The Hostess said it was going to be a long wait because some of the staff worked downtown and were having a hard time getting to work. We didn't care. I was glad to sit down, even if it did end up taking 2 hours to get a meal.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson.
We got to our table and looked at the menus. It was a completely normal thing to do, but in this context it became surreal. I excused myself to go the restroom and I saw a bank of pay phones. I think I had to call my Mother collect, but the call went through. She knew what had happened and had been furiously trying to reach me. I explained about the phones being out and what had happened. I started to cry. I said I just want to go home. She said she would come get me, but I told her no- to stay put. I told her I would call her again as soon as I knew what we were going to do and not to worry. I wanted to tell her I loved her, but we never did that and I feared she wouldn't be able to say it back to me. At least we talked.
We ordered sandwiches. Sam called his Mother. He told her we'd come to her apartment after we had eaten. It was all set.
I kept listening to the radio, hoping for news that the trains would be running again soon. Just as we were about to leave, they made the announcement that the trains were going to run, but with limited service! It was almost 5pm.
We found a cab and took it north to the 125th Street Station. We climbed two flights of stairs to get to the platform. Just as we reached the top, a train pulled up. I didn't care WHERE it was going. It was leaving the city and I was getting on it-even if it went up the Hudson line to Brewster, NY when I knew my car would be 100 miles in a different direction. I didn't care. Plus, who knew if they were going to shut the trains down AGAIN soon?
We got on the train; just about the last two empty seats. Sam fell asleep almost immediately after we sat down. I was too wired and just kept looking around at the passengers and out the window. The sky was hazier than before. There was a lot of smoke covering the city.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. I have NO IDEA why someone had a CAT sitting by the memorial, but the owner was nearby.
A woman got on the train. Her expression was grim; like she just found out she had cancer. She was wearing a business suit. Then, I realized what was odd about her. Her shoes were covered in white ash. Some of it was sprinkled on her clothes. She must have been downtown. I felt so sorry for her. I wanted to give her a hug, but you just don't do that in New York City.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson.
The train pulled out of the station. It was going to stop at EVERY stop until New Haven. It meant a very long train ride, but I didn't care. We were getting out of New York and I could go HOME. HOME. HOME.
September 11th changed so many people's lives, including mine. After I got my car, I drove back towards the City, to Sam's apartment in Mamaroneck, NY. I was afraid for him, living so close to the city, so I offered that he could come stay with me for a few days and that he should bring his cats, Nick and Nora, too. I only had two cats, so it was no big deal. As we drove back to his place, I saw a highway sign that was flashing a message: NEW YORK CITY IS CLOSED. That's all it said. I will never forget seeing that for the rest of my life. Before September 11th, I had moved on from Sam. We were just friends. After September 11th, things changed. I was so disappointed in my boyfriend's reaction, even after I got home safely, that it made me take a closer look at that relationship. Over time, I came to the realization that I needed to end things and that maybe I needed to give Sam another chance. It took a very long time for us to break off with our partners and to being again. A lot of trust had been lost over the years, but Sept. 11th helped us see each other in a different light. It gave us the fuel to try again. A few years later, Sam moved in and Nick and Nora became my kitties, too. I also realized I couldn't work in NYC any more. I stuck it out for a few more months, but after that there was a work slowdown and they didn't call me and I didn't call them. It meant I would have to do without, but some how I would find a way to keep my home. Things are just as tough now, as they were then, but at least I have Sam in my life and I know that if tragedy should strike again, he's a person I can rely on.
September 11th changed so many people's lives, including mine. After I got my car, I drove back towards the City, to Sam's apartment in Mamaroneck, NY. I was afraid for him, living so close to the city, so I offered that he could come stay with me for a few days and that he should bring his cats, Nick and Nora, too. I only had two cats, so it was no big deal.
As we drove back to his place, I saw a highway sign that was flashing a message: NEW YORK CITY IS CLOSED. That's all it said. I will never forget seeing that for the rest of my life.
Before September 11th, I had moved on from Sam. We were just friends. After September 11th, things changed. I was so disappointed in my boyfriend's reaction, even after I got home safely, that it made me take a closer look at that relationship. Over time, I came to the realization that I needed to end things and that maybe I needed to give Sam another chance.
It took a very long time for us to break off with our partners and to being again. A lot of trust had been lost over the years, but Sept. 11th helped us see each other in a different light. It gave us the fuel to try again. A few years later, Sam moved in and Nick and Nora became my kitties, too.
I also realized I couldn't work in NYC any more. I stuck it out for a few more months, but after that there was a work slowdown and they didn't call me and I didn't call them. It meant I would have to do without, but some how I would find a way to keep my home. Things are just as tough now, as they were then, but at least I have Sam in my life and I know that if tragedy should strike again, he's a person I can rely on.
Maria was certain something was terribly wrong with Amberly. The cat is very small to begin with and was still healing from spay surgery that was done 10 days prior. What was making the cat's belly distend? Then Maria mentioned very smelly poop, which can be a sign of Giardia. I told her I thought maybe it was worms or just the effects from a long ride in the car. She felt it was something worse than that-perhaps life threatening! I promised I'd find a Vet. She said they would be arriving in about an hour. I had to act quickly.
Thankfully, Caroline Golon, one of the Founders of BlogPaws, was able to find a Vet. She didn't tell me she was going to find me a really cute Vet to boot..and one who does Acupuncture and Wellness! I wish I had had time to have a conversation with Dr. Patrick Mahaney, instead of pleading for his advice!
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Margaret Gates, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, & Me just after the phone call..and the relief that all was well for Amberly.
Margaret Gates, from Feline Nutrition, was with me. We were both giving Dr Patrick big-eyed “Puss-in-boots” look, asking if he wouldn't mind talking to us about this cat problem we had. Of course Dr. Patrick did not see Amberly, nor could he advise us since he's from California and not licensed in Virginia, but it didn't hurt to ask for his opinion, which he was gracious enough to give us. I put Dr. Patrick on the phone with Maria while my heart raced. It was 4:45pm-in fifteen minutes, the Pettie Award winners were going to be announced via the web. Almost all of the nominees were at BlogPaws and we all sincerely wanted to watch the broadcast, but I had to make sure Amberly was all right over anything else.
Thankfully, Dr. Patrick agreed that Amberly needed to be de-wormed and I promised to get a stool sample over to my vet when we got to Connecticut. As a personal THANK YOU to Dr. Patrick, I'd love it if you ALL go visit his web site: http://www.patrickmahaney.com/blog/ and LIKE him (what's not to like?!) on FACEBOOK!
With that issue put to rest, Margaret and I started to look for the room where we could watch the Pettie Awards. I have to note that for some reason, Dogtime Media pulled out of attending BlogPaws 2011 about 2 weeks before the Conference. Many of us were very upset about this because there would be no formal ceremony, handing out of trophies and no chance to give that acceptance speech we'd all been planning. The Petties were going to be broadcast as a pre-tapped video.
Instead, we were sent off to a private room with a nice big screen projection setup. Everyone else was off to a screening of a new Disney movie called Spookie Buddies. About 20 of us were sitting around waiting for something to happen. I didn't see any computer hooked up to the screen so I ran off looking for help. Michael, our very nice A/V guy, got there with minutes to spare! My heart started racing. We were all getting nervous with anticipation.
Then I started getting texts from Maria. They were going to arrive in about 15 minutes! What was I to do? Make them sit out in the hot car? I had to go meet them, but I just HAD to see who was going to WIN!! Covered in Cat Hair was up for TWO awards!
Then the video began, featuring Leslie Smith, Editor at Dogtime.com. We all started buzzing...first up, our friends Kate Benjamin of ModernCat and JaneA Kelly of Paws & Effect! When Kate won, we all erupted in screams and clapping! I wish both ladies could have won, though.
The awards were being announced at lightning speed. Next up was one of my categories: Best Social Integration! Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella won! I was very happy for her, but then I worried..it was my best shot to win. There was no way I was going to win for Best Cat Blog. The competition was way too stiff.
My heart felt like it was going to bust out of my chest. Maria was texting me. They were about to arrive! My category finally came up. I thought to myself-it's about time I was a WINNER. After the pure HELL of the past few weeks, I was due..due for something good to happen and I'd worked very hard for 5 years writing Covered in Cat Hair. Surely, I had a shot, but it also meant that my good friend, Ingrid wouldn't win and I wanted her to win, too.
The intro screen came up...
They announced the four finalists....
Ingrid was right there, giving me a big hug. She was so gracious and I knew from our talks that we both would be happy if either of us won. I wanted to cry. I was so happy, but I had to leave the room! Bobby and Maria had arrived and were waiting in the Lobby. They'd just driven 10 hours. I was not going to make them wait.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Just after the WIN!
I floated out of the room and there were lots of folks from the show milling about. I wanted to scream “I WON I WON!!!” but I had to drop the urge and get back to business. I could celebrate later.
And then, across the lobby, I saw Bobby and Maria walking towards me. It was so odd. I knew what they looked like and we'd talked many time over the past year, but here they were in the flesh, like nothing particularly strange was going on. I'd been looking forward to this moment for a long time, but I could see how tired and hot they were so I got them to sit down and got them a drink. As I was walking back, I saw everyone leaving the room where I just watched part of the Petties. Ingrid, it seems, won for Best Pet Blog-the TOP honor of ALL the awards! I WAS SO HAPPY FOR HER and now things just felt complete! EVERY award-other than than the Best DOG Blog, was WON BY A CAT WRITER!!!!!
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Bobby & I cuddle with Peri & Amberly.
And then, like moths to a furry-flame, the cat writing ladies managed to find that Amberly and her kittens were in the lobby and within seconds they were all cooing and smiling over their new friends. Maria and Bobby were good sports. I think the energy in the room revived them and all the fussing about the kittens was a treat to see. What was even better was that most of us had just won a Pettie Award and it felt so empowering for us to be together! It was a moment I really cherished.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Ingrid King (left), Foster Mama-Maria (seated), Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat (rear), Margaret Gates of Feline Nutrition and Kate Benjamin of ModernCat (right)
I think I had about fifteen minutes of feeling good, happy, visiting with everyone...then, as things often do...the shit hit the fan. One of the ladies came up to me holding BlueBelle. She said something was wrong. I looked at the incision on Blue's belly. She'd been spayed 10 days earlier. I have to say the "person" who did the spay did a terrible job. I've never had to put kittens on antibiotics after being spayed because they got an infection. Their incisions were horrible. Here was Blue, very calm and serene and the glue had popped and her incision was opening up and was bleeding.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Sam & Bobby with Periwinkle & Amberly.
Find out what happens next...in tomorrow's post!
If you'd like to see the Pettie Awards presentation, just go HERE to see the show and a complete list of all the WINNERS!
Basil & Nigel are very lucky. Not only was I willing to go to bat for them, but TWO groups; the Siamese Cat Rescue Center and the Humane Society of Forsyth County both stepped forward to offer the boys a safe place to live until they find their forever home. Thank you, again to HSFC for taking them on!
Before the boys could go anywhere their first stop was East Lake Vet for a checkup! There the Vet would do a snap test-a simple blood test that indicates if the cats have Feline Leukemia or FIV+. This is the WORST part of doing rescue-not the late nights, phone calls, millions of emails...waiting to find out if the snap test results are positive is dreadful. If the boys were sick, very few rescues would take them and their future happiness would be in peril.
This afternoon, while I was waiting for a call from Bobby, I got an email. Maria surprised me with photos of the boys. Apparently she was in the area when Bobby brought the boys to the Vet so she stopped by. The subject line of her email was: “neg/neg” I know what that means! The boys are NOT SICK! WOOOOOOHOOOO!
More details about them came in: 1) Overall they're quite healthy! 2) Nigel weighs 27 1/2 pounds, while shy-guy Basil weighs 21 1/2 pounds, 3) they didn't have any sign of fleas or flea dirt, so they must have been indoors, 4) Poor Nigel's belly is burned. It appears both cats must have been confined to a VERY SMALL area. Possibly Nigel had to lay on bedding that was soaked in urine for a long time.
In a way, I'm glad we will never really know what happened to Nigel because it would kill me to find out. Nigel is a big love bug and even tried to jump onto the exam table, but because he's so big, he didn't make it and fell backwards. He wasn't hurt, but it's so sad he's trapped in that big body. It's only temporary, but still, it's brutal to see a beautiful animal suffering like that. It's just wrong.
We wonder if the boys might be Burmese/Siamese mixes due to their dark coloring. I'm not well versed in what makes a siamese. Maybe one of you might help us figure that out? Bobby told me their eyes are a very beautiful blue and that they're both good cats.
Basil is shy. We don't know if he was always like this or it was due to cruel treatment. Fortunately he is NOT aggressive, just a scaredy-cat. He didn't make a fuss when he was examined. I think he just wanted to get out of there an into a small dark place...okay a big dark place, to hide.
Later in the day, I got a few emails from Bobbie, who has graciously offered to foster the cats for the next 10 days or so. Bobbie said that Nigel was enjoying himself, but that Basil was hiding in the cat tree (which is not really bad since he wasn't hiding under a bed and was up high so he will be less stressed). That Basil wasn't eating their new grain-free canned food, to which I was not surprised to hear. Transitioning the cats to high quality canned food will be tough. Nigel DID eat, but wanted to eat alot more than he should, so Bobbie took it away and went back to letting them get used to their new home.
Most people know that you can't put a cat on a diet. Their metabolism is very different from that of a human. Cats get energy from protein, not carbs, as we do. They also can develop “fatty liver” or hepatic lipidosis if you try to get them to lose weight too fast. HL is deadly and NOT to be messed with.
I did some research and found some helpful tools that I could use to determine what these cats need for calories. Sadly, most cat food can labels do not list carbs or calories so you have to do the dreaded “M” word...MATH! This is a starting point. I realize I need to write a lot more about nutrition and feeding guidelines, but that will have to wait. For now, give this a try...
Next you have to use a Enteral Nutrition Calculator (ACK!) to figure out how many calories your cat needs. Based on Basil's weight-we'll call it 21 pounds. He would be 9.52 kg and his BER (basal energy requirement) is 355.59 kcal/day. That would be to MAINTAIN the weight he is now. The rest of the calculator is for sick cats or cats that need extra caloric intake. You probably don't need to use that, but I used this to find out that I am grossly under-feeding Bob, which is probably why he's a bag of bones right now. I've already started him on a different feeding regime to help him out.
The last step is to grab a can of whatever you're feeding your cat and READ THE LABEL. This Cat Food Nutrition Calculator from the Cornell Book of Cats is a start, but I discovered that it gave me one number and I saw a calorie listing on the cat food that said it had 40 more calories than the calculator determined! You can see why this is not an exact science!
Going by what it says on the label, fill in the percentages in the yellowed out area of the form. You'll copy the following information from the label: percent of Protein, Fat, Fiber, Moisture & Ash/Other Minerals. Once you do that, it will calculate how many calories are in every 100g of food.
The labels I checked show the gram weight of the food on the front, under the Net Weight. So for example, one can was 156 g in weight (a typical 5.5 oz “tuna can” size) and 106 calories per 100 g of food. That's roughly 165 calories per can. What shocked me was the HUGE difference from one brand of food to another. The one I thought was very high in calories was actually quite low!
Once you compare what your cat needs versus what it's eating, you'll see why you might have a tubby tabby on your hands. Now that we know the numbers, we can adjust Basil and Nigel's intake accordingly, but first things first...they need to settle down and get used to eating different food. Breaking them off the habit of eating dry will be tough, but in time they will adjust, especially since they don't have a phone and can't order a pizza behind our backs!
Lastly, we're still trying to fund our ChipIn for the boys. It's not a lot, but their food is costly and the Vet bill was rather big. If you can donate the cost of a cup of coffee to the boys, that would be great! If you can do more, even better. In a way, we all helped save the lives of Nigel and Basil because I couldn't help them, if you didn't help us with donations, so great work, TEAM CiCH!
Three days ago, DoodleBug tested POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia. I decided to have him re-tested right away, instead of waiting for two months. I wanted a confirmation that the first test was accurate.
Super Deb just called me with the results.
Okay, DoodleBug had only one test, but I just wanted to be emphatic about the results! I am SO thrilled!!!!!!!!!! This means that it may have been a false positive. To be sure, Doods will have to be STUCK in the bathroom for TWO MONTHS until we re-test him one more time, BUT it is very likely he is just FINE, thank you. And does NOT HAVE FELINE LEUKEMIA!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Dood.
I'm SO GLAD I insisted on running a second test to confirm the first one instead of waiting for a grueling two months to get the news!
Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!
I think it's almost a given, that when something bad happens, we try to make sense of it. Give it a reason for being, so we can learn to accept it. Then there are times when it's just so bad, there is no sense to be made.
Yesterday afternoon, I called my Vet to see if Doodlebug was ready to be picked up. I had dropped him off that morning and he just needed some tests, a shot and a wellness exam. If you're going to do cat rescue, you must NEVER bring a cat into your home without it going to the Vet, FIRST. Considering all the creeping crud out there, you can't be too careful.
Doodle looked great, perky, nice weight. I didn't worry that anything was wrong with him, but when it took 6 minutes of being on hold to just find out a pickup time, I knew something was up. Instead of one of the Vet techs picking up the phone, it was Dr. Larry. His voice had a serious tone. Normally we would joke around, but not this time.
He didn't mince words.
Doodlebug tested POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia.
WHAT??!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
I felt lightheaded, like I was going to faint. I tried to muster up the courage to ask him what this means. When I was a kid, two of our family's cats died from it. Dr. Larry said what I had heard from other folks who do rescue, that although it is a “strong positive,” that there is a CHANCE that in time, Doodle's immune system may kick in and he will re-test, negative. This result means he was EXPOSED to the virus, not necessarily that he HAS it. It's called, Primary Viremia. You can read more about it on Cornell's excellent resource guide for Feline Leukemia If so, there are no more concerns for this cat's future. If he re-tests positive, you have to wait and re-test again. All in all, I may have to wait for up to SIX MONTHS to really be sure one way or the other.
But Feline Leukemia is very contagious and fatal and I have an FIV+ cat with cancer and eight other cats in my house. What am I supposed to do now?
Do I have to EUTHANIZE Doodlebug? I could barely ask the question. I had to sit down. My legs went wobbly. I was in shock. I didn't want to know the answer.
I can barely even type that word: euthanize. The thought of me KILLING a KITTEN, when my life is devoted to SAVING their lives,? It's absurd! I would NEVER do that! How could I do such a thing? But what about my own cats? Does bringing Doodle into my home, mean a DEATH SENTENCE FOR MY OWN CATS?
We talked about isolation. Re-testing. Doodle does NOT have to be euthanized today, but it may have to happen at some point. IF he was at a shelter, guess what, he would be dead. I get it. This is not something you want around a lot of other cats.
But I was VERY WORRIED about bringing him into my home. I wished I had a separate building to bring my fosters now, more than ever, but I was stuck. At least I HAD a room to put him in that was isolated from the rest of the house.
I had figured Doodle would be in the blue bathroom (as we call it), for a few weeks, then I'd let him meet my cats and he could run around and have a good time until he got adopted. Now I may have lost that space for fosters until 2012!
I could make SURE Doodle was locked up, change clothes after I handle him and wash my hands well after each visit, too. If I could keep my own cats away, the Feline Leukemia virus does not live for more than a few hours in the environment, so as long as there are no shared dishes, litterpans or contact, it increases the odds my cats will be all right.
He will be ALONE in that bathroom for a very long time.
I hung up the phone and called out to Sam. I told him the news and I could see his shoulders slump as he processed the information. He had a crush on this little kitten, too. I could see it broke his heart. We spoke about our options, about what this might mean for our own cats and for Doodlebug. I started to cry, but I was late for a meeting and I had to figure out how to not be sad, be businesslike and deal with this later. I asked Sam what we should do. We had few options. Sam said; "We don't give up on him. That's what we do. I will go get him and bring him home.”
So now what I thought was going to be an easy rescue, has become much more complex. What I thought I could afford has become a challenge. The bathroom where Doodle will live is small and has a small window. I would like to buy Doodle a cat tree so he can sit up high and look out the window, as well as have a place to climb and a way to de-stress because it will have nice, tall sisal legs to scratch.
I contacted Doodle's former owner and told him he must contact the person he got the kitten from and let them know the news and to get that cat tested for Feline Leukemia. I also told him that if he had Doodle around other cats, that those cats needed to be tested, too. I would have LIKED to tell him that I also would have appreciated it if he warned me that Doodle was trained to use a human's hand as a TOY and that he will haul off and bite and grab your arm or leg-a behavior I will be working to correct.
I didn't hear back from him. I'm not surprised. Doodle was on the road to becoming a very unpleasant cat to live with. You wouldn't be able to pet him without him getting excited and biting. When he weighs four pounds, it's one thing, but when he grows up, it won't be a lot of fun to have him around. I would bet money that this was the real reason they got rid of him-not that their kid was allergic, but that the kitten was growing too aggressive from how they mis-handled him.
All in all, I'd have to say that my first CT cat rescue under the Kitten Associates moniker was about as bad as it could be. I have to think that in trying to make sense of this, I had to save Doodle, so I can help him be a good kitty-citizen, learn to be gentle and give him all the tools to have every chance at being healthy and living a good life.
For the record, if there is one someone's keeping out there, I will never put Doodle down.
I'm in trouble. A lot of trouble!
I get emails and calls every day about cats needing a new home. Their owners give them up because they are suddenly allergic to them, or they're moving and their new landlord doesn't allow cats (so why MOVE THERE?!) or they've fallen on tough times or they just found the cat on the street. Whatever the reason, they're out there. So many there's no way I could even make much of a dent by saving one cat, but heck, it makes a difference to that cat.
I admit it. I was missing MacGruber and Polly. The house is silent without them running around. Okay, I don't yell much any more either, since the two of them were pretty good at getting into trouble, but I MISS it, you know? Also, my own cat, Blitzen is very sluggish and sad. He has no one even close to his age to play with and he just follows me around the house now.
©2011 Wei H. Photo from Craigslist Ad.
So I felt weak. I got an email from our local rescue group mailing list. It was a copy of a Craigslist ad for a Free kitten, 2-3 months old. Litterbox traiend. That's it. No other info. Craigslist doesn't allow postings like this so they aren't up for very long-which means, the contact info of the person who wrote the ad, is not valid for more than a day or so. The rescuers try to intercept these ads and get those animals help because the people giving the cats away are giving them away, unvetted, not spayed or neutered!!!, and to just ANYONE, so those cats could be harmed or worse.
Many times these cats are kicked outside to fend for themselves if the ad doesn't work. So, I replied to the ad. Did they need help with the kitten? A few days passed. I got an answer. YES, they needed help.
Oh dear, now I actually have to do something! Okay...my foster room is booked. Phil will be here from Georgia on Saturday. My only other space is my bathroom. I guess that will have to do. If this cat isn't as advertised or is nasty, I might have him here for a long time. It's very tough to take on something without having any idea of the outcome. You're responsible for a LIFE. YOU have to choose, if this cat can be adopted and what the heck to do if it's a mess!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie!
In a month, I'll have Amberly's family here, then The Angel Babies, so this little kitten BETTER be adoptable and I better be able to get him neutered in time-knowing that the S/N Clinic near us always books out this time of year-at least a month. Oh boy...well...It's a risk worth taking, I think.
Then there was the family...I have to say dealing with them did not go smoothly at all. First, they blew us off after we went to all the trouble to make a vet appointment, get the room ready, and get ourselves in the car to meet them, then they say they can't be there for 2 more hours! So we re-scheduled and while we were on the road, anyway, we went to Target to buy a new litter pan for the kitten.
Then they didn't want to sign the Surrender form, which would protect us should they ever want the cat back and find we had already adopted him to another family. That was announced in an email I got at 1am this morning. They said NO, we will just not bring the cat if we have to sign the paper.
So bleary-eyed and half asleep I had to try to "nicely" tell him in my reply, not to worry. That it was a common thing to sign off on and that it was just so that WE were not sued if THEY didn't like where the cat went after they gave it to us. At 8 am he wrote me back saying; OK, thanks for explaining. See you at 9:35 AM.” Yes, 9:35 AM, not 9:30 or 10...hmmm...odd.
Sam and I were both sure we would never see the kitten.
We pulled into the Park & Ride off I-84 to wait for the owner, who I didn't know anything about other than he had an Asian name, to bring the kitten. A car was already there waiting even though we were 15 minutes early. There were two Asian ladies in the car, one waved at me. I waved back. Their windows were open. I thought it was strange. I didn't see a cat carrier. I got out of the car and said hello. Turns out they waved at the person in the car BEHIND us and did not have the kitten! Oops. I live in a pretty much “New England Yankee” sort of demographic area so what were the odds we'd see another group fitting the same heritage as the owner of the kitten?
At 9:30 AM, an SUV pulled up. Definitely our guy. He got out of the car and smiled, then went to get the kitten. They had closed him up inside a small, covered CAT LITTER PAN. It was clean, but really? No holes in it to breathe? Sam took the litter pan and got in the car to transfer the kitten into our cat carrier. The guy gave me the paperwork signed and I signed it, too. I asked if there was anything I should know about and he, in a round about way, said the kitten peed on soft things when they first got him. Did they give him a litter pan? I don't know. Then he said he used the litter pan, but was weird about telling me if the cat pees on soft fabric that's on the floor, like a rug or cat bed. May have a litterbox aversion issue. Other than that, he said the kitten was fine.
©2011 Sam Moore. Meet DoodleBug!
He never told me the cat's name. He didn't give me any of the leftover food, if there was any. I asked him if they fed the cat. His mother said something in Chinese, not sure what, but he nodded at her and said the cat was fed breakfast. That was it. No remorse, no sadness, not even a goodbye to the kitty. No donation to provide for the cat's vet care, which I had asked for a few times. Oh well.
They left just a few minutes after they arrived. I got in the car and looked inside the cat carrier. That was it. I was “done.” What a sweet little face was looking at me from inside the carrier. When we got to Dr Larry's I took him out. He was purring. He was FLUFFY. He has a little white TIP on his stubby black fluffy tail! He didn't mind being held. His fur was very soft.
Sam almost whined at me. He wanted a turn holding the little guy! So we traded. He nibble at Sam's whiskers, then got a bit over excited so we put him back in the cat carrier. Lauren came out and we took the kitten out and put him on the countertop. He calmly explored this new place and I saw his butt. It was just the right amount of FLUFFY. He had that cute little butt-wiggle when he walked. Oh shit, I'm in trouble.
I think I'm in love.
I have to admit that I didn't think we stood a chance at winning even ONE nomination for the Petties 2011 awards, let alone TWO! Last year, we were nominated in the category of Best Cause Related Blog, for which I was greatly honored, but this year I'm simply gobsmacked to be in the Best Cat Blog category AND the Best Social Interaction Blog category! Who knew? Obviously YOU guys knew! The field is so much BIGGER this year, than it was last year. I'm still in shock that we got this far.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR MY BLOG! I appreciate it VERY MUCH!
Of course there's a TINY bit more to do to get Covered in Cat Hair all the way to the BIG AWARD. You've got to VOTE again! This time you don't have to sign up for anything or give your email address out.
May I also suggest you consider voting for my friend, Ingrid in the Best Overall Pet Blog. She writes the Conscious Cat, and our friends at CatLadyLand, and Paws and Effect need your votes, too!
MacGruber is just one of the many cats we've rescued! Help us rescue more with a simple vote!
Please vote today and please DO share this with your cat-loving friends! We need to WIN! We've got two litters of kittens coming in a few weeks! Yes, TWO!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Blitzen at 1 1/2 years old.
While I am over-the-moon-thrilled that Covered in Cat Hair is a FINALIST in the Petties 2011 as the Best Social Integration Blog and BEST CAT Blog, I had to stop celebrating for a moment and pay homage to my own rescue (aka, foster fail) boy, Blitzen.
Isn't he handsome?
Our intrepid foster mama, Maria got up early to hit the local tag sales. It was a hot Saturday just southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Maria was taking a break from a long work week. Tag sales were an enjoyable adventure since she could save some money and find something fun to bring home while she was at it.
This weekend Maria got far more than she could have expected when she saw a cat LAYING in the middle of the street. Maria stopped her car and got out; worried the cat would be hit by a car. The cat came over to her and rubbed on her leg. She cried to Maria and within a moment, it was obvious that this cat was very thin. Maria, of course, had cat food in her car and offered some to the cat. She gobbled it up right away.
©2011 Maria. S. A stray cat makes a new friend with Maria.
Maria took a closer look at the cat and saw that the cat's nipples were enlarged, a sure sign the cat was either nursing or pregnant. She sent me a text. It was not even 8AM. She wanted to talk to me, so I got out of bed and went into the foster room so I could talk to her without waking Sam up.
She didn't know what to do and I can't say I blamed her. She didn't know if this was someone's cat, but if it was they weren't taking care of her at all. If the cat had kittens, WHERE WERE THEY?
I encouraged Maria to ask anyone in the neighborhood if they knew the cat. She found one person to tell her he'd seen it before but didn't know where it belonged. I told Maria to get the cat to the Vet. If she did have owners, they didn't deserve this cat, who seemed to have no fear and who kept "talking" at Maria. Too bad she didn't speak cat.
Her tag sale plans disrupted, Maria went to her Vet. They weren't busy and offered to do an ultrasound of the cat FOR FREE. They didn't see anything unusual inside her so either she had already given birth or she was not far along enough for them to see anything. Maria spent her tag sale money to have a "snap test" done to determine if the cat had FIV or Feline Leukemia. She did not. She had some flea dirt on her, as well as two ticks. Her belly fur was bare, possibly from being itchy, they weren't sure. The cat only weighed FIVE POUNDS. They couldn't tell her if the cat had given birth.
A few hours had passed since Maria took the cat to the vet. She noticed the cat's mammary glands were more enlarged. I told her to go back to where she got the cat and let her go. See if she would take Maria to where the kittens were located-if there were any. Surely she would need to feed her babies soon.
A severe thunderstorm hit just as Maria arrived at the drop off point. There wasn't much she could do, but wait. She was able to let the mama cat out of the car, but all she did was cry, then run into the street. Maria wasn't going to let this cat get hurt and it was clear the cat wasn't going to feed any kittens-if they even were alive. It was late. Reluctantly, Maria headed for home, the cat crying next to her in the car.
I quickly designed a flyer, hoping against all odds someone would step forward and help us find the kittens and I told Maria to just get the mama to her house and we'd sort it out the next day.
I don't know much about finding where a mama cat might hide her kittens. I asked all my rescue friends and most of them said that since the mother was only 8-10 months old herself, that odds were she had abandoned the litter and was not going to care for them-IF they were alive. It's hard not to give up hope, but we knew that between the 95°F temperatures, rain, predation and starvation, these kittens might have 24-48 hours left to live.
Maria skipped Father's Day with her stepdad and her day off and got back into her car with the cat she named, Amberly. Amberly had a good night's rest, drank a bowl of water and had some food. She was in much better shape than she was the day before.
Maria let Amberly out of the car and she strutted off into someone's yard. Maria followed and saw the cat go into a storm sewer. Her heart sank. If the kittens were inside it would be very tough to get them out. A moment later, Amerbly returned and decided to look around at another drain. A neighber saw Maria and she told him what was going on. He offered to help her look. Then, Amberly dashed out of sight.
©2011 Maria. S.
The neighbor called out to Maria. “I see something!”
©2011 Maria. S.
Maria ran to his side. In the base of a tree, they could barely see Amberly's eyes. Being black let her disappear easily. They walked up to the cat. She didn't move, but something else near her, did.
©2011 Maria. S. If you look closely, to the left are two kittens.
Maria could see a tiny kitten nursing on her mother, Amberly. It was a miracle. The kitten had been found. Maria let Amberly nurse as the neighbor, who admitted he didn't even like cats, went to get her some gloves so she could dig into the base of the tree to find every kitten that was there. I can't imagine how scared and excited I'd be if I was Maria. I'd be scared to find dead kittens, but excited that some might make it.
©2011 Maria. S.
Slowly and carefully, she lifted a tiny calico kitten into the sun. The kitten squinted her eyes and let out a small cry. She was alive, not near death, but alive.
©2011 Maria. S.
Maria looked again and found a second kitten. This one a little gray guy wiht white paws. He wriggled around in her hands, but seems all right, too.
©2011 Maria. S.
Maria continued to remove kittens from their nest. Another gray and white kitten, then a tortie.
All said and done, there were FIVE kittens rescued. Each one was alive, but after barely being fed for 24 hours they needed a lot more nourishment.
©2011 Maria. S.
First things, first-they needed to get to Maria's house, away from all the dangers they faced and into a safe, loving environment. From looking at them, we estimate they're barely 2 weeks old.
©2011 Maria. S.
There's much to sort out. Names to be given-perhaps something from the Hobbit since they were found under a tree? We'll need to do an emergency fundraiser to provide for their care and get them over to the Vet for a checkup to make sure they're all right. We didn't plan on rescuing any families since funds are tight and foster homes are tough to find, but we'll make it work somehow.
We'll see how the babies do over the next 24 hours. Will Amberly feed them and give them the care they need or were the kittens left alone for too long and Amberly will reject them?
Yesterday we hoped we'd find these precious little ones and thankfully they were found. Maybe, just maybe, the worst of their troubles are over and now the fun can really begin for them all.
And to Maria, who missed going to the tag sales, I'm sorry about that and I know you got more than you bargained for this weekend. I can't express fully how completely over-the-moon-happy I am that you gave up your time and money and kicked ass and rescued those babies. My hat's off to you, Maria. Way to go, baby. Way to go!
After a long chat with Cara's Internist, instead of going straight to a third endoscopy, we're giving Cara yet another round of Clavamox to treat her high White Blood Cell Count for about 10 days. Cara's also on a special diet, which I pushed back on, (you know how fussy I am about diet)! But after looking at the ingredients and realizing it was only for three weeks, I decided it was all right. Well, feeding her the special diet was ok. That it cost $52 for one case, well, I was not too happy with that!
Cara's been back home with me and her Mama, Mazie and siblings Polly and Chester after staying with her foster mom for two weeks. Everyone got along well. Mazie licked Cara's face as a way to welcome her back. Cara is still half the size of her family, but I can see that Cara has grown some, too.
Cara still has that big, sad-eyed look and she still shakes her head and licks at her mouth. After being here for a day or so, she vomited again and was a bit lethargic. The next day she was brighter and ate well. She's still not vibrant, in the way her siblings are, but she's starting to explore more of her surroundings now that she can leave her foster room and meet my cats.
Cara doesn't go too far. She'll stay upstairs and nap or sniff around my bedroom. I think the stairs are tough for her because she's still so small. She can't race down the steps the way Polly is accustomed to doing and I think seeing my HUGE cats makes her a bit shy.
I've noticed she's starting to purr more frequently. I think the clavamox might be helping her. In some respects, she is stable, but she is clearly still struggling with something. The constant head shaking and mouth licking must mean she's feeling queasy or her tummy is acting up.
When it's all said and done, I know in two more weeks, when Cara has completed eating the special diet, we'll have to re-visit getting her spayed and doing endoscopy and biopsy at the same time OR they may say we can't spay her for the time being and just focus on doing further examinations of her digestive tract.
In a few days it will mark SIX MONTHS since this family first arrived. Six months and they are ALL still here. I try not to beat myself up about how many cats I could have helped if I could have gotten this family out of her faster. I'm devoted to the cats that are in my care. They are all getting to a point where they can be adopted. It would be great to see them get out of here. The price I've had to pay is that my own cats are angry and frustrated having newcomers running around and every day we find a new, horrifying place where one of them has decided to pee.
We may have more SSSCATS than anyone else in the world. There are Feliway diffusers everywhere. Some of my cats are making friends with the fosters, but even those cats we've caught marking. I know the best solution is to get the fosters OUT and give my own cats a break-especially with Bob having cancer. I think more quiet time would be good for him, too.
While I wonder when we'll finally get Cara's health issues sorted out and find her a home, something lovely happened. One of the fosters MAY be getting adopted in a few days. I don't want to jinx it, but it's looking very good. I wish I had more adopters like this family. If they go through with the adoption, I'll let you know just how wonderful they are in more detail.
For now, I'll just enjoy the company of the fosters and their crazy antics with a roll of paper towels and odor neutralizer in hand.
We're still trying to raise enough funds to cover Cara's endoscopy in a few weeks. She looks bright and well, but she, like most cats, is very good at masking illness. She weighs just over 4 1/2 pounds. The normal weight for a cat her age is 6 to 8 pounds.