One I Hold in High Regard

Cara's Journey: In Sickness & In Health

It's been a VERY LONG JOURNEY for Cara Melle-one I wonder will ever come to a happy conclusion. Cara's been sick for SEVEN MONTHS. When we cure one issue, another problem pops up. We've squeezed everyone's pockets to shake loose every last penny. This little kitten has cost my rescue group thousands of dollars in Vet care. This is not about the money, but it is an illustration of how far we've travelled to find a way to get Cara HEALTHY.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara knows she's at the Vet. Been there, done that, one too many times now.

There've been a few times when we thought we had Cara's problems licked. At first, it was a terrible URI that permanently effected her brother and sister. They both have scar tissue in their tear ducts which slows draining of their tears and causes them to have one or both eyes weep. They won't suffer much as a result of this, but it's a reminder to us of what they went through, too.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Those big eyes just cut right through my heart.

Cara, however, was hit the hardest. She had two esophageal strictures from being burned by Doxycycline when she was just a little kitten. It was avoidable had we known the antibiotic was so acidic. It could have been caused by her genetics, too. We'll never really know for sure. Either way, it caused her tremendous suffering, for a very long time. Her growth was stunted and she remains underweight.

We treated her strictures twice and medicated her every six hours for weeks. We gave her “novel protein” diet to make sure she didn't also have a food allergy (turns out she did not). We gave her the best food, the most love and tender care, but it was not enough.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara's resemblance to her mother, Mazie is very clear. Mazie still waits for her forever home, but was very glad to see Cara again.

Cara continued to vomit-PROJECTILE vomit. If you've never seen that before, imagine a hose being turned on inside little Cara. The spigot flies open and a torrent of fluid comes out. It's shocking. Disturbing. Horrifying. It leaves Cara limp. She rarely ever plays. She sits hunched over, uncomfortable, licking at her mouth, her tummy grumbling.

On Friday Cara returned to see Dr. K. Our last three weeks of feeding her a special diet showed us she had no food allergies, but she was still vomiting. A repeat of her blood work revealed her White Blood Count was still shockingly high at 29,500. Dr. K needed to do a third endoscopy to find out what was going on. The results surprised all of us.

While Cara's strictures were healed, her stomach lining, which was once fine and normal, was now “grossly” full of Helicobacter. To understand how common this is, here's a portion of an article by Bob Sherding in 2001

“Various surveys have found a high prevalence of Helicobacter approaching 100% in most shelter and colony cats and 30 to 100% in pet cats. The spiral organisms identified most often in these surveys are the large Helicobacter-like organisms, e.g., H. felis and H. heilmannii. Because of the high prevalence of infection in animals without clinical signs, the clinical significance of gastric Helicobacter-like organisms (GHLO) in cats is uncertain. Helicobacter organisms may be an incidental finding in clinically normal animals, but when they are associated with clinical signs (chronic intermittent vomiting) and gastric mucosal inflammation (lymphocytic gastritis), it is possible that they should be considered potential pathogens and treated.”

The treatment remains the same-even today: Amoxicillin and Biaxin™

But that's not all Cara is dealing with. She also has Leukocytosis-which is a high White Blood Cell Count. Because her Neutrophils are also high, it means she probably has a nasty bacterial infection. Last month, Cara had a high Eosinophil count, which could have meant she was having an allergic reaction to her food or medication. That indicator is back to normal, so it leads us to believe that Cara has a “Mother” of an infection.

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What causes this? Another mystery. Helicobacter is common. It making us or our cats sick, is not so common. What caused Cara to have such an overwhelming infection leaves us all scratching our heads. All we can do is treat her and hope it resolves. She may get better or she may get this on and off for years to come.

The saddest thing to consider is that this infection can be a precursor to Adenocarcinoma or Lymphoma. Adenocarcinoma is always malignant. My cat, Bob, has lymphoma. It can be treated, but there is no cure. To think that Cara, at such a fragile age, could face this one day is unbelievable and completely cruel. I hope it is not so. Today it's too soon to tell.

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Cara's endoscopy. Tough to see here, but her stomach lining is a mess.

And then there was Cara's pancreas to consider. Either it was inflamed and getting worse, or it had been and was resolving. They ran a PLI test to determine how badly her pancreas has been effected. This is in a EIGHT month old KITTEN. To have such problems is disturbing, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

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Cara's pancreas shows white highlights. This means it's inflamed and irritated. Is it getting worse or is it getting better?

Who will adopt a kitten with such health history? Who would I even TRUST to give this kitten a home? We have a long way to go before we can even worry about that. Right now there's much to be done, but the fear sits in the back of my head. I don't know that Cara will ever be on Petfinder looking for a forever home.

Sam was able to drive with me down to Norwalk to pick Cara up after her procedure so I could hold her on my lap the entire drive home. She was very weak and withdrawn. Although she had a nice reunion with her Mother, Mazie and sister, Polly, Cara wanted to be alone, to rest. She ate well for me the first night, then the next day, back at her foster home with Aunt Connie, she stopped eating. Her coat was rough. Her left eye was now weeping from the URI. She hid under the sofa where no one could get at her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. After endoscopy, Cara is wiped out and sick with a URI.

We had to give her antibiotics, so after some coaching, were able to get her to come out so we could treat her. It took two long days, but Cara started to turn the corner just a bit. She began to eat some food and came out from under the sofa. Her eye stopped running, but she was still very worn out.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara looks out the window into the darkness. She didn't want to visit with us. She just wanted to be alone to rest and try to recover from the procedure.

This morning Cara projectile vomited again, so I called Dr. K. to let her know. She said the infection was so bad that she wasn't surprised there was more vomiting. She said to stay the course, keep giving her the meds and give it a week. By Saturday, maybe she'll show signs of feeling better. We can only hope.

I have no idea what is to become of Cara. Once her meds are done in two weeks, we'll re-evaluate the situation. If Cara is responding well, then what? I don't know. Will Cara get something else? We she relapse? Will she even live to be an adult?

Cara looks right into my soul with those big owly eyes. She's so much like her Mother that way. I only wish she was just as healthy and ready to be adopted. For now, all we can do is keep our commitment to her, in sickness and in health, for better or worse.

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If you'd like to read more about Helicobacter, how common it is, how it may be transmitted and its' effect on humans, you can read this article on DVM360, as well as on Wikipedia

Not on My Watch: The Numbers Game

This family was rescued because 1 person posted that this family needed help to rescue groups, 1 person began bugging rescue groups to help and offered to raise $500.00 via her blog (hmmm..who might that be?), 2 people at 1 shelter said YES, 21 people donated money immediately, and 1 person offered to drive the family a very long way to their new home. It took 26 people, most who have never met in person, to step up and offer to help this family in some way. Was the journey effortless? No way. But was the journey worth the effort? I think you know the answer to that.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Mama is smiling. She knows she and her family are safe at last.

This family has no idea that after 1 person dumped them, so many would gather round them and offer them sanctuary, safety and love. Most of us will never even meet this family, but it's not about us. We don't care for our own needs. We care that this family will not die today and hopefully not any day soon.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. “I wonder where we're going? I hope it's nice there.”

They are a symbol of so many families that are just as deserving, who also need to make it out of a kill shelter today. Many of them need a donation or a driver or a foster home for a few weeks. These are things many of us can provide in one form or another. Let this rescue remind us how wonderful it feels to WIN one! Let us take a stand and remember to keep doing more-as much as we can-of course, without straining resources unfairly.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Mama sings a song to entertain Bobby as he drives them to their new home.

We can fight this good fight together, but we have a lot more work to do.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. We don't know what the prognosis is for this little tabby's legs yet. Stay tuned for an update.

Thanks to Bobby, our super-awesome-do-anything-for-cats-friend, the family is with the Humane Society of Forsyth County (Georgia). The little tabby may have TWO deformed legs, not one. We hope the lesser of the two deformities will resolve on its own or with very little intervention. When I have more information, I will let you all know. At least, for now, everyone is well, with full bellies and a safe harbor.

Thank you again to HSFC for their willingness to go the distance for this family when their own shelter is beyond full. If you know anyone interested in adopting a sweet dog or cat, please visit HSFC's Adoption Page! The emptier this shelter gets, the more that can be rescued off death row..I'm just sayin'...Adopt today! It's almost the end of Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month!

Here are some faves:

Hufflepuff, Pure White Kitten

Leona, a Beautiful FIV+ baby Maine Coon mix

Felix-the GORGEOUS declawed Tuxedo (long hair!)

Helena Bonham Carter: a sweet mixed breed puppy.

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When You Save One, You Save Them All.

This family has been waiting two long weeks to be rescued from Henry County Care & Control in McDonough, GA. While it doesn't sound like a long wait, when a cat is in a Kill Shelter, every hour that ticks by is one hour less to live. As they wait, more families are brought in the door, hoping for a rescue, too. Some get lucky and leave alive, some leave in a black plastic bag.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Here's mama and the family waiting for a rescue.

Upon first glance, this family is no different than any other. Their time is almost up. Look closer and you'll see what sets them apart from others. One of the kittens, a little tabby, was born with a deformed leg. That automatically means, the entire family has less of a chance to reach safety because of the added cost to any rescue who would take this family into their program.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. We're not sure if this little guy will need surgery, but we have to assume that will be the case.

While I believe that rescue should not be based on the costs involved, it's a constant factor.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. What a cutie!

After many emails, a bit of pleading and a bit of compromise, I have worked it out with Jennifer, from the Humane Society of Forsyth County, to take the ENTIRE family if we can raise funds for the tabby should he need surgery. I'm glad there's a sponsorship of $275 already on the table, but this little guy will need more than that.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. You can see the kitten isn't able to sit correctly. His leg splays outward.

The deal is-if we can raise $500.00, the family is SAFE. We need to do it FAST. What do you think? Can we do this? If we tell enough people about our fundraiser and we all donate a few dollars, I bet we can raise the money in no time. (at least that's my dream!)

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Sweet sis wants to get out, too!

The ChipIn widget, below, is set to send the donations to MY Non-Profit Rescue Group, Kitten Associates, Inc. I'm doing this because Forsyth does not have a PayPal account I can link to. Once we hit our goal, I will immediately send the funds to Forsyth as a grant for this family. Your donation is tax deductible.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Be still my heart. I will move mountains for you.

It may be clichè, but it's true. It takes a village to make great things happen and together we can be part of giving this family a chance at having a future.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Please help this guy get OUT of HCC&C!

Thank you for your help and devotion to cats in need! You can use the share buttons at the bottom of the post to help spread the word!

Amberly Feeds the Kittens (...but she's gotta play first!)

Amberly is torn between wanting to play and feeding the kittens. Who will win out? Although this is a longer video-about 5 minutes, you get to see most of the kittens up close and finally get to see Amberly, too!

I don't know about you, but I wish I could crawl into that basket and snuggle with the kittens!

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©2011 Maria S. Little BlueBelle.

We're still trying to raise funds for this family, so if you can help them out, we'd LOVE IT. There's a "ChipIn" widget on the LEFT for Amberly's kittens. You can use that to make a donation or you can send a check to: Kitten Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470 and put "Amberly" on the check. Thank you! Your donation is tax deductible as Kitten Associates, my rescue group, is a 501(c)3.

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First They Needed Their Mama-Now They Need You!

There's no question that Maria has a big heart. Her mission to locate and rescue kittens that had been hidden by a lactating mama-cat she found was a great success (that story is HERE).

The first night has passed. This morning Maria was greeted by hungry kittens and mama, alike. Everyone made it. They're all feeding well and they're all painfully adorable!

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©2011 Maria S. Hello. Would you like to love me?

Their story could end here. Maria would ride off into the sunset and the kittens would magically grow healthy and hearty, find perfect homes in a short time and there'd never be any problems-but Maria cannot be completely responsible with providing for this family. She didn't plan on taking on such an expense and she doesn't have access to things like Petfinder, which will make finding this family a good home very difficult. She needs help.

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©2011 Maria S. Little Calico Princess with orange flame.

I, too, didn't plan on taking in a family right now. I wanted to focus on getting little Cara healthy and my remaining foster cats needed to find homes. But doing rescue means you can never plan or even be prepared. You just have to do what is needed and do the best you can.

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©2011 Maria S. Little stripey cutie.

So without proper funding established or even knowing I'll have a foster home in Connecticut for them when they are big enough, I let Maria know I had her back. My rescue group, Kitten Associates, Inc. will be providing care for this family, then finding them forever homes later this summer. We can't turn our back on these fragile lives, nor can we turn our back on Maria, who has been a vital resource for us in Georgia.

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©2011 Maria S. Tender tortie baby.

This rescue is also going to kick off more BIG NEWS. A few days ago, Kitten Associates, Inc. had their Board Meeting. That day we got our 501(c)3 “Letter of Determination” from the IRS stating we ARE a Non-Profit Corporation! And before any of you fret, any donation from as far back as last September is deductible, so no worries! We had YOU covered, too.

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©2011 Maria S. Here's the family!

With any luck, this is the kickoff of something big, something wonderful-and what better way to celebrate our news with the rescue of such a sweet family.

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©2011 Maria S. Lunch is served.

We REALLY need your help. Everything this family needs is multiplied by six. Between their future spay/neuter, shots, wellness exam, de-worming, flea treatment, food, litter and transport to Connecticut, we estimate we'll need at least $1200.00. If any of the kittens get sick, we'll have to do a second fundraiser for that. The last family I brought to CT cost many thousands of dollars due to their repeated illness. The GOOD NEWS is that this family was NEVER in a Kill Shelter and haven't been exposed to a number of diseases. Maybe we'll finally get lucky and this family will stay healthy.

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©2011 Maria S. This is the sight we prayed we'd see happen.

We'll never really know what caused Amberly to suddenly trust Maria and show her where she'd hidden her kittens after more than 24 hours apart from them. It may have been that Amberly finally had a full belly and some rest at Maria's house and through those hours together, a bond began to ripen. Though Amberly is barely a kitten, herself, now that she has good food, she's more than willing to provide care for her kittens. The love she has for them is obvious and the joy we have knowing they are safe is priceless.


Enjoy this video of the kittens having their first meal at Maria's.

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©2011 Maria S. Safe at last.

Please use the ChipIn widget, below, to make your donation. The other way to help us is by sharing this blog post with your friends and family and perhaps a few of them can help this family out.


One of the kittens is a bit confused, to say the least! This is hysterical!

Your donation will go to Kitten Associates, Inc General Fund so we can provide for this family. Your donation is Tax Deductible, too. Every dollar adds up and we are grateful for whatever you can spare.

Thank you for helping rescue this family and for making their lives safe and happy!

Don't forget to Facebook-share, Tweet or let your friends know about this family!

Nursing Mama Found, but Where are Her Babies?

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.

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©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.

Now what?

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.

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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 mament 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.

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©2011 Maria. S.

The neighbor called out to Maria. “I see something!”

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©2011 Maria. S.

Maria continued to remove kittens from their nest. Another gray and white kitten, then a tortie.

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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.

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©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.

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©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!

Not on My Watch: Mystery Solved!

Last week I posted a photo on our Facebook page of a lovely orange persian/mix kitty. Some folks thought it was Phillip, who I rescued not long ago, but they were wrong. Phil is NOT quite so orange and Phil is not a female!

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This is Tiger. She was rescued by a very nice lady named Deb P. Deb must spend a zillion dollars a year funding the rescue of many cats and kittens in need. Deb helped with the initial funding for Cara and her family, the fosters I STILL have at my home. The other day, Deb contacted me to see if I could take this lovely lady and find her a forever home.

Deb already had Tiger vetted, shaved down because her fur was badly matted AND Deb paid for Tiger to get her teeth cleaned, too! Tiger is a few years old, declawed, spayed and very sweet. How she ended up in a kill shelter is beyond comprehension.

How could I say NO to her?

So I said, YES!

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Tiger will be here in a few weeks. Being that “ginger” females are somewhat unusual-only 1 in 3 ginger cats are female; I think Tiger will find a good home easily.

Tiger will enjoy a diet change, which will help her slim down and allow her coat to grow back in beautifully, too. I think she'll be a knockout and whoever adopts her will be very lucky, indeed

We just gotta come up with a better name for her! What would you name her? Okay, and not Lucky, either, even if that's true!

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Cara's in Trouble Again.

I keep hoping we're getting to the point where all the foster cats are well enough to be adopted. A few weeks ago, Polly FINALLY got spayed. She made it through the surgery and recovery well, but she's still got a lingering issues with recurring upper respiratory tract infections. She gets sick for a few days, then is miraculously over it. Sadly, her left eye, which has been a problem for her since she first became ill when she was three weeks old, has never resolved its cloudy appearance. I fear Polly has lost some vision in that eye.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Polly Picklepuss.

The only way to resolve this for her is to get her to a specialist. Perhaps there's something we haven't done that could help her? Her brother, Chester is doing great, for the most part, but he has a chronic runny eye. He should see the specialist, as well. These kittens have cost a fortune to care for. I'm very grateful they are so very sweet natured and loving. It makes seem even more worthwhile to make sure they get whatever they need.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chester is a knock out! You can see the stained fur near his right eye.

Polly has been spending more and more of each day with my own cats. She gets along GREAT with them and I'm constantly hearing her making trilling sounds as she races through the house-most often with MacGruber on her tail. She's come a VERY long way from the kitten I thought we were going to lose late last year. You can see a before and after photo of her HERE.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara waiting for Dr. Larry.

Then there's Cara. Cara! What am I going to do with you, girl? Cara has been doing okay-ish, not great. She gained just five ounces over the past month. To me, that is not enough. She's still under five pounds while her siblings are easily over six pounds, each! Cara has episodes of vomiting every two weeks or so. The volume of what she outputs is frightening. It seems as though it must have come out of a much larger animal, there's so much fluid.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I've been in regular contact with Cara's Internist, Dr. K. and her assistant, Laura. I was hoping that we could get Cara spayed and while the spay was being done, Dr. K. was going to look at Cara's esophagus. Cara's been scoped twice now for strictures in her esophagus. If you're not familiar with her story, you can read more HERE and HERE (or use “Cara” in the Search field on the top, left of this page to read all the stories about Cara and her family)

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Dr. Larry listening to Cara's lungs and heart.

Cara's been struggling for a very long time. I thought it was a good idea for her to go to a new foster home so she could have “alone time” and a chance to flower without her big brother and sister there to push her out of the food bowl or away from the toys. Cara has been in another home for about two weeks and was doing fairly well. Then, the vomiting started again and Cara became withdrawn.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Yesterday I brought Cara to Dr. Larry for blood work. We discussed seeing her shake her head and lick her mouth. She is nauseous, clearly. She's quiet. Not a bouncy, crazy kitten. She's alert. She eats well, but...something is wrong. I brought her home with me so I can keep an eye on her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Last night I got the results of the blood work. Cara has a SCREAMING high white blood count-AGAIN. It's 28,000, when a high normal is about 19,000. Dr. Larry is worried Cara has aspirated some of her vomit into her lungs and that is the reason for the high count. Cara's in trouble and needs to go back to the Specialist, Dr. K., as soon as we can work it out. I put Cara on clavamox last night, to start knocking out the infection, but Cara is going to need another endoscopy, no doubt.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Cara.

This morning, Cara was bright and ate well for me. When I look in her eyes, I see a frail little kitty. She's far too thin and struggling to be well. I'm glad she's a fighter, but she can't fix what is wrong and neither can I—not without some help.

Our resources are depleted and we need to do yet another fundraiser for Cara, Polly and Chester. I don't know exactly how much we'll need for Cara, but I do know some of the cost. I'm going to estimate what we need, then adjust it up or down as soon as I have more information. Anything we don't use will go into the General Fund of my Non-Profit Rescue: Kitten Associates, Inc., to provide food and basic Vet care for any of the cats in our Program.

If you have the resources to help out, we are deeply appreciative. Your donation IS Tax Deductible, which is always a good thing!

If you can't help with a donation, if you would kindly help us spread the word, that would be terrific. We need to get the donations put together BEFORE we can go to the Vet, so we gotta make this happen fast if we can.

Thank you to the many folks who have jumped in to help Cara along this difficult journey. I hope you can help again, for Cara and her family.

Not on My Watch: Believe in Miracles

On April 21, 2011 another pregnant feline was brought to Henry County Care & Control, dumped by her owner, no longer their problem or responsibility. This cat's fate, along with that of her unborn kittens, was unknown. Many mamas never make it out of the shelters alive. The shelters are simply too overcrowded and the kittens too fragile to make it. If they pick up a URI, they are all euthanized. If they don't get sick, but they don't find a rescue in time, they will get euthanized. The odds are just not very good for a happy outcome.

This mama gave birth inside a steel cage, on newspaper, next to a litter pan. Not a very dignified way to bring life in to the world, but certainly better than she would have been if left abandoned on her own. The mama had four kittens. She cleaned them and began the task of providing nourishment-nothing unusual or special about this, just as so many other mamas have done before and since. Her babies were all chubby and healthy. One had a charming spot on this chin that looked like a goatee. They all squirmed and writhed, still blind and uncoordinated-reaching for their mama's warmth. The mama did what she could to keep them safe, placing her front leg protectively over them.

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©2011 Henry County Care & Control. This very young mama hopes for a miracle.

Last month, I posted a plea about this “cow mama” and her “cow babies.” They were among the MANY mamas and kittens that came to Henry County that needed help. Many of the families got a rescue, but many MORE families arrived over the past few weeks needing help. The cow mama and family did not get rescued. The clock was running out, as they ran out of space at Henry County.

This morning, this family was slated to die. They were at the shelter the longest, so they would be first to go. The folks at the shelter did NOT want to put them down, but their hands were tied. There are SEVVEN other families that also need rescue, too and there wasn't any more room left to keep all the cats. It was time.

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©2011 Henry County Care & Control.

Keep in mind that over the past month I, along with Dorian Wagner of Your Daily Cute, have been trying to find a way to rescue this family. Dorian and I both have a fondness for cow kitties, but neither of us were finding a solution. Last night, just before I went to bed, I got an email from Jennifer at the Humane Society of Forsyth County. I'd contacted her a month ago and at the time she couldn't help. She had not forgotten about this family. She said they had an opening and did we still need help?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! YES!!!! I could NOT believe the timing. Here I was about to give up. Jennifer saved the day! I got to work right away-banging out emails since it was too late to call anyone. I contacted Betsy, at Henry County. I pleaded with her NOT to put that family down. I wrote to Gerri, the Director and asked the same thing. I contacted our dear, Bobby and asked if he could transport the cats. My heart was beating so hard I could barely breathe. I contacted Jennifer and said I get the transport set up and get things sorted out and gave her information on who to call at Henry Co. to confirm they were going to take the cats.

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©2011 Henry County Care & Control. Look at the spot on the chin on that baby!

This morning I got up early. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I heard back from Henry Co. They would NOT put the family down. I called Jennifer and she was very sweet. She was completely calm. I'm sure she does this every day. She had just left a voice mail for Gerri and things were getting settled. In another hour of phone calls and emails it was worked out.

As of 12:30 PM EST, Bobby has picked up the Cow Mama and her babies and will be driving them to the Humane Society of Forsyth County. They're a NO-KILL shelter, so this family won't have to worry again about being put down. Now all they have to do is thrive, play and wait to be adopted when they're big enough.

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©2011 Henry County Care & Control. It IS a miracle these babies got out ALIVE!

This could not have happened if it wasn't for Warren Royal, who offered me Jennifer's contact information when I was first trying to find a rescue to take this family. Forsyth is the same shelter that took in Warren's foster cat, Buddy who had FIV+ and who found him a great home.

This could not have happened if Bobby wasn't willing to drive 2 1/2 hours to deliver this family to their new home.

This could not have happened if I didn't stick my nose into this situation. While I didn't rescue this family, I did network my butt off by making phone calls and writing e-mails and blog posts.

Guess what? YOU can do this, too. You can get involved with animals at kill shelters and make a difference in their life. You don't have to foster them or even run a rescue group-you just have to be willing to stick your neck out and find those puzzle pieces until you get the right fit. I'm not saying it's easy and it certainly is stressful, but those times when it works out, it's completely worth it.

There is a lot more work to do. Those other mamas aren't going to rescue themselves. Let's get to it!

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If you're as thrilled as I am about the Humane Society of Forsyth County stepping up to help this family, then please be sure to visit their web site and “Like” their Facebook page, then check out all the animals they have for adoption. If you're not looking for a new companion, then please consider making a small donation in honor of the Cow Mama's Family to help offset the costs related to their care. Saying Thank You to them is great, but during these tough times, saying it with a donation makes a big difference.

Making Friends with Death

Our society has such an aversion to death. We don't want to talk about it, let alone, acknowledge it happens. If we can talk about it, it happens to other people, not us. We're fixated on making ourselves appear younger, shooting our faces full of botulism, getting lip injections, face lifts, hair transplants, in an ever more desperate attempt to cover up that we are, with every moment that ticks by, one step closer to “The Big Sleep.”

In the early 1900's people held funerals in their own home, in the parlour, the fanciest room in the house. It was reserved for only the most special occasions, like the death of a loved one or a wedding. I have to wonder if solemn, it was also dignified and beautiful to have this ceremony in the most uplifted space a family could provide. Nowadays, we run off to a funeral home, they touch “the body,” they prepare it for burial or cremation, they provide the space to have a service for a few hours or days. There is an aseptic quality to death. Someone else deals with the “gorey” details. We bring the checkbook and the tissues while our loved one is hidden away in a refrigerated compartment.

I'm not making a judgment, rather an observation. I ask that we take a moment to think about death, which in turn, asks us to think about life. How do we want to live our life so that when we die, we die with dignity, in a beautiful setting, with peace, instead of being surrounded by hysteria? How do we look death in the eye and make friends? How do we find a way to watch our loved ones with terminal illness, weaken and die, knowing there is no pill to fix this situation. There is no bargain to be made. I think somewhere in that is the key-there is nothing you can do sometimes, but to bear witness, provide loving compassion, then let go. Stop clinging to what you can do nothing about.

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©1990 Judith K Feminella. Daddy with Blue, the cat.

Originally this topic was on my mind because June was approaching. I hate June. I hate it. June is not wedding month for me. It's “death month” in my family. My father took his own life on June 27, 1999. A few years later, two of my cats died in June and over the years there have been other losses during this month. When June arrives, I duck my head under the covers until July.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Sammy needs a rescue. Read his back story HERE

The other reason I was thinking about death is because of Big O. Big O was one of Kitten Associates' first rescues from Georgia. Big was kicked outdoors when his owner died. Big was declawed and thin, kicked and teased by the neighborhood kids. Mary Jo, a kind-hearted cat rescuer in Georgia, took him in, then started to look for a home for the cat who was called, Sammy, back then.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Big O just after he arrived in Connie's home.

It was early September 2010. I had just gotten Kitten Associates off the ground. I wrote about Sammy's plight, hoping to find a rescue to help him. I got more than that. I found an adopter. My own friend, Connie, who is passionate about helping every cat she meets. Connie has a few...cough...cats. She read about Sammy and decided to adopt him in honor of Lion King, a cat she had lost a few weeks prior. She didn't care what shape Sammy was in or what he needed. She knew whatever it was, she would take care of the problem.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Only the best for Big O!

When Sammy arrived, we had already been calling him by his nickname, Big O (for Big Orange, not big you-know-what). Big had a big personality. He liked to talk and boss the other cats around. His tail was badly damaged by some sort of abuse so it had to be removed. He had hyperthyroid, so Connie took him to RadioCat to have his thyroid zapped with radiation to cure the problem.

Big O had a benign growth on his foot. She had it surgically removed so he would be comfortable.

Big peed all over her house after a few months, then focused on peeing on some furniture, ruining it. Connie was frustrated, but never gave up. We often tried to joke about our cats peeing issues. Connie tried to find out what was wrong with Big O by taking him to the Vet for more tests. They found nothing. Meanwhile, Big started to lose weight, but no amount of food would bring it back.

Yesterday morning, Connie discovered a huge pool of bloody vomit near Big O's bed. She knew he was in crisis and got him to the Vet. They took an x-ray. His abdomen was filled with fluid, obscuring the tumor they suspected was there. Big O, now just a few pounds in weight, was going to die. Connie wanted him to go home to live out whatever time he had left.

I went to see Big O last night. Connie warned me he wasn't doing well at all. When I first saw him, all I saw was orange fur. His body was mostly obscured by the bright green grass in Connie's back yard. Big O was laying flat, his eyes open, his breathing slow and regular. It was a warm day. I remarked at how all my cats were flat, too, not wanting to be completely hopeless for a few minutes more. Death was nearby. We all knew it. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. The car was traveling up the steep rise on the track. I felt my insides tense up, knowing I was about to go over the edge-not wanting to fall-not wanting to feel that sharp fear of facing something that terrifies me.

Big O got up a few times, clearly using everything he had to try to hide under the bushes or under the deck. I wouldn't let him. Instead, I bent down and gingerly lifted him up. There was nothing to him. He was skin and bones. He didn't resist. He basically fell over when I put him down. I'd been crying a lot since I first saw him, but now I needed to stop. I needed to face this for Big O's sake, if not my own.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Big O rests on my leg last night. He had the softest, nicest fur.

So I sat with him while Connie tended to her other cats. I did a Buddhist practice called Tonglen. It was very hard to do, but the more I did it, the more relaxed I felt. I allowed my feelings to drop away and just focused on Big O. Focused on being there for him, being calm and peaceful. If it was his time to go, then he would die with as much dignity and love as possible. I wanted him to have a good death. He deserved nothing less.

It was too late to go the Vet, anyway, better to let Big O enjoy being outside. In a way, I wish he could have passed then and there, but in my own fear and my own desire to make it better, I suggested we syringe feed him some water and food. Although Big O perked up after that and we both felt a little bit more hopeful, last night things got much worse. Big O vomited a lot more blood and hid behind the toilet. He wanted to die alone, but Connie wanted to be with him, staying close to him until the morning came.

Connie drove Big O to her Vet this morning. He sat quietly in her lap during the drive. Normally he'd make a big fuss. A few minutes after arriving at the Vet, Big O was humanely euthanized. Connie did the right thing. She stayed on the roller coaster, riding the fear and sadness, then did what needed to be done. She wished Big could have passed at home, but he was in too much agony. It wasn't fair to him. Most of his life wasn't fair, but in the end Big O knew great love and care and is at peace. Sadly, we are far from it.

I'd like to say I've made friends with Death. I know the grim reaper lurks out there, lightly touching the next to go on the shoulder. He whispers; “It's time.” They leave sweetly and with love. I wish that was the case, but frankly it doesn't work that way. I can't do it. I still want to kick Death in the ass. He took a great cat to the Rainbow Bridge, one who deserved more time with those of us who loved him.

So Death, you can suck it. The month of June can rot. Big O fly free and go with love.

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