One I Hold in High Regard

Making Sense of the Senseless

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.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. What did you find out about me?

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.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle REALLY loves to PLAY!

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?

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle has a black band around his belly. Ooo. I want to smoosh-face into it!

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.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Stuck on You.

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.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Invisible cat ladder.

But what about this little 4 month old kitten?

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.”

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. ?

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.

Doodle will also need more tests, a second, and possibly third ELISA (snap-test/ enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and first and possibly second IFA (indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay). I'm going to start fundraiser for him for his medical needs and to purchase a small cat tree.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Yes, I have a zero-gravity bathroom.

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.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle let's us all know not to take anything too seriously.

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.

If he IS Feline Leukemia positive, then I will search the Earth until I find someone who will adopt him.

Please help us purchase a cat tree for Doodle and be able to continue to re-test him for Feline Leukemia for the next few months! You can use the ChipIn widget below or you can also mail a check to: Kitten Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Put “Doodle” on the check so we know where the funds should be spent. Your donation IS tax deductible. Thank you!

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. DoodleBug: Thief of Hearts.

Two Big Love Bugs, Dumped, but Not Forgotten

Under cover of darkness someone snuck up to the door of my Vet's office and left him not one, but two cat carriers. They each contained a very large cat. There was no note, pleading for help. There was no information on the health, behavior or even name of the cat. They weren't even sure these cats came from the same home! Maybe two different, desperate, people dumped cats? They had no idea.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The poor baby barely fits in his cage he's so BIG!

They brought the cats inside. They have no facility to contain cats for a long period of time. This is a Vet's office with small steel cages. The best they had to offer are two side-by-side two story spaces, barely big enough to hold the cats. These are HUGE cats.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Are you my brother? (I think so!)

Instead of being aggressive or terrified, the cats wanted one thing: LOVE. Oh, and they wanted a belly rub, especially the black one, the bigger of the two. This big fella weighed in at 19 POUNDS. He's not even really fat, per se. He's just HUGE and he LOVES to LOVE and be loved. This is one, sweet, knockout of a cat and his friend, a lovely classic (with the swirl-pattern) tabby is just as sweet and affectionate.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Handsome! I see your tail is up in the air! I know he wanted to be petted!

Dr. Larry doesn't have any way to find these cats a home, so I'm helping him out. He can tell me the following:

• The cats appear to be between 7 and 9 years of age.
• Both are neutered
• FIV+/Feline Leukemia NEGATIVE
• at least one of them could use a dental, Dr. Larry will do that for FREE for whomever adopts the cats
• They seem to be buddies, but do they have to be adopted together? That's not my call to make. It's a bit too soon to tell. I'm guessing if they got a good home and it meant they were separated, it would be better than them sitting in a tiny cage.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He has nice stripes, right?

I spent some one-on-one time with the cats this afternoon. They were friendly right away, no hesitation, no fear at all. The tabby liked to “chat” with me if he wasn't getting attention or if he just wanted to say “hello.” He enjoys being petted and his tail goes right up and curls at the end. He is very happy to be with people. He didn't mind me giving him a belly rub, but when I reached in to pick him up he got nervous. I think that's because he recently had his blood drawn and maybe he thought I was going to do it, again. That said, he watched me and came right back to me a moment later. This is a great sign. He has confidence and does not seem to be aggressive at all-even though he is in a stressed environment with dogs barking, weird smells and he's not home! What a NICE kitty!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. His eyes are dreamy, too.

Then there's the black kitty. He just wants a belly rub, to be held or to purr himself silly. He reminds me of my big boy, Nicky. Same gigantic cat with a heart of pink roses and buttercups. He is pure sunshine in a black coat with a tiny white spot on his chest.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. (Super-Lauren was camera shy so I blacked out her face.) Here you can see how BIG this kitty is! Lauren can barely hold him.

His paws are SO BIG I thought he was polydactyl (extra toes), but he's not. He had no hesitation when he met me. He plopped over in his tiny cage and wanted a belly rub. This cat has no mean bones in his body. He has a sweet face. I fell hard for him. It was easy to do. They just don't make cats like this often enough. Someone must have loved these too cats very much. They are both well fed and were in fairly good health. Whoever gave them up must be very sad right now because these are great cats. I don't know how anyone could live without them. I honestly can't feel angry. I feel sad for this person. I wish they had just asked for help, but maybe they did and no one listened. We'll never know. We have to focus our anger and our energy on helping them. That's what counts now.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Big black kitty would not look at the camera no matter what we did, so Lauren helped out by holding his head. Made for a surprisingly elegant image.

While the folks at my Vet (who I'm not naming because I don't want more folks to dump their cats off on him), name the cats,

Dr Larry has also offered to do a DENTAL on BOTH CATS and FULLY VET them before they get adopted or a licensed CT rescue takes them into their shelter/foster home.

He will do whatever it takes to get these cats a home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He has so much more love to give!

If you live in Connecticut, or a nearby state, and want to ADOPT these babies or just one of them, please FILL OUT A PRE-ADOPTION FORM on my non-profit cat rescue's web site HERE.

If you are with a licensed rescue in CT and would be willing to take these FULLY VETTED awesome cats into your shelter/foster home, then email me at info@kittenassociates.org and I will put you in touch with the right people.

While I'm very sad these babies are in tiny cages, at least they're safe and not about to be euthanized. Thank you Dr. Larry for doing the right thing and for being kind. I'm sorry someone dumped these cats on your door and made them your problem, but I'm really happy you can provide care for them until we can get them a home.

Please SHARE THIS & RE-TWEET to any buddies you have in Connecticut or the surrounding areas! THANK YOU!

The Angel Babies

I know a lot of people who rescue cats and they often say to me that they think they're cat magnets because cats who need help, always seem to find them. My friend, Izzy, is one such person and recently she had to take quick action to save the lives of helpless neonatal kittens.

Izzy and her husband, Mark were helping bring in hay at the boarding farm where they keep their horses. While they were there she found out something that was was both heartbreaking and a true emergency.

At the boarding farm there was a tractor shed on the property. The owner found 5 newborn kittens without their mother. The owner figured the mama would come back, so she didn't worry about it. She checked on the kittens the next day, but no mama. For two days the kittens were left alone, not fed or kept warm. At less then a week old, without urgent care these kittens would perish.

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©2011 Isilwath. Izzy smartly used an insulated thermal bag to help keep the kittens warm. One of the MOST important things you need to provide to very young kittens is warmth.

She mentioned her find to her next door neighbor who said he'd shot and killed a white cat in his yard, worried she'd kill his ducklings. Without pity or concern, he ended her life, not realizing he may have also just ended the lives of five little kittens, as well.

The owner moved the kittens to her stable, hoping another feral mama would find them and care for the three boys and two little girls, but no help arrived...until Izzy got there.

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©2011 Isilwath. Some of the Angel Babies.

Now Izzy has a few, ah cats, dogs, horses...well more than you can count on your fingers and maybe toes, so Izzy knows how to care for animals, but she's got her hands full already. She didn't bat an eye, or try to get out of helping these babies. One look at them and she was smitten. Each delicate creature was snow white, but by some comedic genetic twist, all but one has at least one black dot on their head. It's as if a cosmic force anointed them, marking them as ones to be saved. Izzy knew she had to move quickly, so she took the kittens and got them home where she began the difficult task of trying to warm them up get them FED. Time was of the essence!

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©2011 Isilwath. Jazz.

Izzy and her husband, Mark, also a dedicated animal rescuer, helped tend to the kittens. The phone rang. It was the owner of the farm. They found a sixth kitten. He, too, looked like the others, but was strangely about a week older. He was alone and crying. Mark drove back to get him. They weren't going to turn their backs on kittens in such dire circumstances. The kitten was sick and probably starved. They put him in with the others, hoping for the best.

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©2011 Isilwath. Vash.

It was touch and go for a few long days. Izzy and Mark took turns feeding and helping the kittens void their bladder and bowels. At that age, the kittens can't even do that without help. It's a very difficult thing to do TIMES SIX. Every few hours the kittens were fed, cleaned, loved. Now was the time to pray and hope that they weren't too late, at least for some of them.

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©2011 Isilwath. Princess.

It's been two weeks and the kittens have survived so far. Each day they live is a big success for Izzy and Mark. They decided it was ok to go ahead and name the kittens.

Their names are:

Justin - older kitten - two gray spots on his head
Shiro - all white female
Princess - white female with two very small gray spots on her head
Screamer - little male with a black spot on his head
Jazz - little male with a large gray spot on his head
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©2011 Isilwath. Screamer.


©2011 Isilwath. Watch Izzy manage feeding six HUNGRY kittens!

They're squirming and crying and eating and doing all the things little kittens should do. Two of Izzy & Mark's own cats, have become surrogate mothers to the little ones, offering their own warmth and companionship, (though since they're spayed-no milk) that the kittens so desperately need. It's as if they knew, too, that these little angels needed them.

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©2011 Isilwath. Cee Cee with her foster babies.

But what happens next? Izzy and Mark don't live in a big metropolitan area full of potential adoptesr and don't have resources to home so many kittens. Well, that's where I stepped in. I told Izzy I had her back. I didn't want her to fear having six extra cats. Even though I'll have Amberly and her five kittens by then, I'll find a room for these angel babies. I'm just part of the team that's going to get them to their forever homes. We're trying to right a heartbreaking wrong and perhaps in getting these kittens strong and adopted into great homes, we're honoring the spirit of their Mother, who truly is an angel now.


©2011 Isilwath. Sophie, one of Izzy & Mark's cats, helps with motherly duties when it comes to giving Justin a bath.

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Can you help provide a small donation so we can pay for the Angel babies vet care? Your donation is Tax Deductible as the money goes to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit cat rescue, Kitten Associates, Inc.

You can use the ChipIn widget, above or mail a check to:

Kitten Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470. (make check out to: Kitten Associates and note "Angel Babies" on your check)

The kittens will need shots, to be spayed or neutered and microchipped. It's about $85/cat to do it here in CT, so we're just asking for the basics. If you can help, great! If not, you can help by sharing this with your friends. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Kitten Palooza!

Amberly's kittens are SIX WEEKS OLD! Time flies! Can you believe they were found in a nest under a tree? If you missed their AMAZING RESCUE, you can read about it HERE. Are these the SAME kittens? Is it possible they are NOT SICK? I don't even know what it's like to not have a kitten with upper respiratory to battle or something worse:::KNOCK WOOD::: anti-jinx!!!

I'm SO grateful that the kittens are doing so well and to make it even better, I swear EACH of them is more lovely than the last. Amberly made some very special kittens, that's for certain!

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©2011 Maria S. Peri with Mama-Amberly.

Today, instead of blathering on and on, let's just enjoy a multitude of images from a few weeks ago and more I just got yesterday-including some adorable videos! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit back and smile. It's a good day to smile!

Here are the babies! (make sure you scroll ALL the way to the end for the funniest photo, ever!)

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©2011 Maria S. Here's the gang!


©2011 Maria S.

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©2011 Maria S. Lunchtime!

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©2011 Maria S. Bluebelle.

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©2011 Maria S. Blaze and Jack LaLac.


©2011 Maria S.

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©2011 Maria S. Truffles and Bluebelle.

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©2011 Maria S. Periwinkle, the Glamour Puss.

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©2011 Maria S. Jack in Wonderland.

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©2011 Maria S. Girl (Truffles) Gone Wild!


©2011 Maria S.

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©2011 Maria S. Blaze just doesn't get the joke!

Missing You: An Update on Polly & MacGruber

It's too quiet in my home. There are NINE cats here. One of them, the mama to my foster kittens still needs to find a home. You'd think with nine cats there'd be some noise, but it's like we don't have any cats at all now that Polly and MacGruber have been adopted.

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©2011 P. Mulhern. Mac, nervous in the kitchen of his new home.

I knew that saying goodbye to them would be tough. After all, they've been with me for eight months. How can you not get attached over all that time? At first, after they left it was just like they were at the Vet for a day or two, that they would come back. It wasn't so bad to have a break from all the insanity-and trust me there was pretty much non-stop craziness here. They would race up and down the stairs at all hours. They'd explore everywhere and I'd find them on the top of the eight foot tall cat tree, fighting for who had control of the upper level, or they'd be passed out, upside down on the bed after furiously grooming each other. What I miss the most is that they'd often follow me around. Polly loved to sleep next to me in an elevated cat bed I have near my desk. It used to be just for Blitzen, but Polly took turns with him to be close.

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©2011 P. Mulhern. Back in his room, Mac poses for the camera.

Most of the time Polly couldn't even stay that close to me without having to crawl into my lap, walk up my chest to find a spot to sleep. Her coat was like the finest silk. I'd sit back from my work and just hold her and pet her.

It's weird how lonely it is without them. My own cats are mostly, at least six, if not ten years old. Blitzen is barely two and he is lonely as well. He and Mac used to run around and wrestle, then groom each other. I saw Blitzen go over to one of my other cats and give her one lick, she backed off, he turned away, defeated.

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©2011 P. Mulhern. Meanwhile, Polly loves watching the birdies outside the sliding door.

In two weeks I'm taking in Phil, the BIG adult ragdoll/DLH cat I rescued from Henry Co. a month or so ago. I know I'm going to love Phil, but he's not a kitten, either. Maybe he will keep Blitzen on his toes, if he ever even meets my guys. I'll have to keep him quarantined for a few weeks and by then I hope to have him adopted.

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©2011 P. Mulhern. I told Polly's family about these cubes. They didn't hesitate to run out and get them so the kittens would be happy.

I realize I can easily take in some kittens that need help but I have to hold the space for Amberly and her kittens and I've promised to help another friend with her kittens, as well. They'll be here in a month. I just have to be patient. In the meantime, I am going to be sad. Missing my little munchkins, who I hear are doing well.

Mac is having a bit of a tough time adjusting and has become somewhat nervous in his new home, but Polly is ready to go, enjoys watching the birds and is very confident.

I was surprised to hear that Mac was having a tough time. He was nothing but confident here. Perhaps he smells the cat that used to live in the house before he got there? Perhaps his owners let him out of his room far too soon (after just a day). I hope Mac learns to relax and be calm and confident, as he was here. He hasn't eaten very well, which surprises me, too. Maybe we should just bring him back here?

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©2011 P. Mulhern. I miss you, Mac!

Oh how tempted I am to just go get them both. I have to stop this. They're in a very good home and their new family will look after their every need. They even noticed that Mac was afraid of their ceiling fan, so they turned it off and will only run it slowly, until he gets used to it. That tells me they're paying attention to him and trying to help him be comfortable.

It's too early to worry. I feel confident it will work out in time. I just have to get this lump in my throat to dissolve. I miss them so much, but damn it, that's how it goes when you do rescue. I didn't realize how HAPPY having kittens made me. It really takes the blues away. How can you NOT smile when kittens are nearby? No wonder I miss them. And maybe, too, they miss me.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

Update: Remember Cupid from “Santa's Team?”

In December of 2009 I rescued nine cats, not all related, from a kill shelter. I named them after Santa's reindeer and as a group, they picked up the nickname, “Santa's Team.”

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This was the fundraiser poster I created for this rescue. You can see the entire gang!

When I picked them up off the transport, it was clear they were all very sick. I have my reasons as to why this happened, but I can't say why without facing repercussions-other than to say, the transporter was not even looking at the cats for the 36 hours they were on the road or giving them fresh water and probably not any food, either.

Some of the cats had raging high fevers, one had ringworm, which basically gave it to all my cats and my foster home's cats, too. It was a nightmare, to say the least, but all the cats lived and went on to be adopted into good homes. You can read more about them by doing a search for “santa's team.” Here are a few links: The Curious Case of Cupid and The Foster Cat Journal

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©2011 Dave Musen and ©2009 Betsy Merchant. Cupid in her home and Cupid in the kill shelter with her babies.

Part of the rescue included a mama, I named, Cupid and her four offspring, Dancer, Donner, Prancer and Blitzen. Cupid was emaciated from being nursed on for too long. She weighed just five pounds. In a week she gained about a pound, once I gave her better food and got the kittens off her. That was only the beginning of a startling transformation.

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©2011 Dave Musen. Every day is filled with fun surprises!

It took a few months before Cupid got any applications offering to adopt her. At the time, I was with another rescue group. They had a different idea to what makes a good adopter than I did. For this group, I had "special" permission to get what I wanted: NO going outdoors and I was really going to grill the family to make sure these cats were going to the best home. My plan did not work for all the cats. I think I made one adoption of two of Cupid's offspring that I still regret, but the cats are doing fine, it's just not my ideal.

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©2011 Dave Musen. Yes, that is a DOG next to Cupid. Hee hee!

The other thing I am very careful about is adopting to home where there are very young children. It's just not safe for the child or the cat, so if I see on an application there is a toddler, even though I still process the application, I usually don't move forward with it.

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©2011 Dave Musen. Toying with her dad's foot.

We had an adoption event around Valentine's Day. I met a man with his 9 year old son, his wife and their baby. The man had a connection with Cupid, but because of the baby, I wrote them off. He said they were thinking about getting a cat, but not sure. It seemed to be just a radom thing, nothing would come of it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My boy Blitzen is Cupid's son. Notice any resemblance?

Over a month later, I got an application on Cupid from that same man. His name is Dave and he lives here in town. I went through the motions, but really didn't think it would be a good idea. They had two dogs and a baby. Would Cupid be happy?

I called the family and spoke to Dave and voiced my concerns. He told me that he is often home working and that they had a Nanny to look after their baby and the nanny loved cats, too. That the baby has constant supervision of three adults. Their Vet reference was really great, too. They did everything for their dogs and they were willing and interested to feed Cupid a raw diet (they do for their dogs, too).

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©2011 Dave Musen. Merry Christmas, Cupid! I see you got some gifts, too!

I told him he could come meet Cupid with his son, but I couldn't promise the adoption would go through. They came to visit twice and both times the son was very sweet and loving and Cupid seemed to like both of them. The wife was a harder sell, but she came along. Dave was really the one smitten with Cupid and I could see it in his eyes.

I went through with the adoption. A few months later, I got an update that Cupid was doing great and that they were really impressed with how sweet she was with the children and their dogs. That was almost two years ago and I've since left the group I was with so updates would stop coming, too.

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©2011 Dave Musen. Cupid loves her doggy buddy.

The other day I was at my local pet food shop and who should be there, but Dave, getting food for Cupid and the dogs. We had a great chat about everyone. Cupid is doing fantastic. She has probably gained four more pounds and is up to about ten. Her coat, as you can see, has filled out to the extreme. Although she always seems to have a sad look on her face, she is living large, that is for sure. From what I hear, she is very very happy.

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©2011 Dave Musen. Looking simply divine, Miss Cupid.

She has the BEST life, loves the dogs, loves her people. She will never want for anything. After what she suffered, she deserves this amazing home, with a dedicated, loving family. It doesn't get any better than this.

I'm glad I was able to work through my own hesitation about this adoption because this truly was the perfect family for her. I am very grateful to them for providing for her and for making her life the best, ever. Thank you!

Now can I just find a home this nice for Mazie? For Phil? For Cara? Well...Cara may have found a home, but that's another story for another day.

The Petties™ 2011-Covered in Cat Hair, Double-Nominee!

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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.

Click HERE to VOTE. It takes about 5 seconds. If you look at the ballot, below, you can see where the arrows are pointing..that's where OUR categories are located. I heard you can VOTE TWICE A DAY so VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN!

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!

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If Coveredincathair.com can WIN BOTH categories, it will allow me to take the $1000.00 prize for EACH win and DONATE it to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue group, Kitten Associates! We REALLY NEED THOSE FUNDS TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE to RESCUE EVEN MORE KITTIES!!! Your vote will help SAVE MORE CATS!!!

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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!

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.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

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!

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