On my Covered in Cat Hair business card, under my name, one of my titles is “Cat Yenta.” Most people think it's a joke, but in truth, it's one of my favorite things to do.
Yenta, originally was a Yiddish word for “Gossip,” but over time has come to mean, “matchmaker!” Instead of matchmaking people together or two cats together (we don't want THAT happening unless they're spayed or neutered!), I love to help people find the perfect cat companion. Hopefully it won't take me twisting anyone's arm behind their back to do so, but a little whining, a trick I learned from my Jewish Mother, doesn't hurt, either.
Last week, Animals in Distress, my true friends in rescue, asked me to help them get the word out on a cat that needed a home. His name is Mittens. I didn't have time to do a write up, but I did post one photo of him on my CiCH Facebook Page.
Mittens was rescued by AID from a terrible situation. He was filthy, starving and trying to survive in the frigid winter without shelter. As you can see, Mittens no longer looks like he's suffering, but on the inside, his heart is broken. He's lonely and needs a true home to call his own.
Mittens is...NINE MONTHS OLD. He's not an adult. He's a BABY! He's a VERY VERY BIG BABY! He's a Maine Coon mix, with an extra toe on each front paw. Having this special feature is called “Polydactyl.” It's also how Mittens got his name.
©2011 Animals in Distress. The ever-lovin' Mittens.
Mittens LOVES to play and loves most other cats. He's affectionate and friendly, despite what he's suffered. He's been tested negative for Feline Leukemia and FIV+. He's been neutered and has his shots. Now he needs a home.
Before I could post this information, one of my readers, a very nice lady named, Ms. Kelley, who lives in New Hampshire, wrote me and asked about adopting him! I didn't know if AID would adopt to her since she lives out of state, so I mentioned something else I'd just found out about.
Remember Cheese? Last year his owner contacted me. She had lost her job and was in the process of losing her home. Instead of turning her beloved cat over to a shelter, where at the age of 9, he didn't stand a chance of leaving alive, she chose to try to find a suitable foster home for him until she could get back on her feet. You can read the entire post, HERE.
The next DAY, one of our kind readers, Ms. Amy, contacted me and offered to give Cheese a home until his Mom could get her life back in order! Hurrah!
But that wasn't the end of the story...
©2010 Ms Amy. Cheese recently.
Recently, Amy was contacted by Cheese's Mom. Sadly, things were still going terribly and in all fairness, she could not see being able to ever take Cheese back home. Could Amy find Cheese a true forever home? He would have been welcome to stay with Amy, but one of her other cats was scared of him-not because he was mean, but because she is a scaredy cat and it was causing some issues-you know the ones...
So I told Ms. Kelley about Cheese. He's 10, now. He weighs 18 pounds and needs to go on a diet. She could have said she really wanted to adopt Mittens, but she didn't. She knows how tough it is for cats to find a home when they get well into adulthood, so she decided Cheese was the one for her and she offered to give Cheese a home!
Cheese, in his yonger days.
I had Ms. Kelley fill out an adoption application, which she passed with flying colors! Ms. Amy agreed it was a MATCH! All that's left is to find a way to get Cheese from Williamsburg, VA to New Hampshire! If any of you are traveling that way or even part of the way, let me know! If any of you happen to be a pilot and can fly a few extra pounds to the northeast, that's great, too! We'd like Cheese to get to his new home soon, so he can enjoy life with two other kitties and two cute Papillons!
But what about Mittens?
So far, Mittens does not have a forever home, but I have a sneaking suspicion he may find one soon. If you're interested in adopting Mittens and live in Connecticut or a nearby state, you can visit AID's website and fill out a Pre Adoption Application. Make sure you mention that Robin sent you!
There's one more kitty who needs our help. Ms. Amy told me that in addition to Cheese needing a home, there was another big orange kitty who was languishing in foster care. His name is Zanzibar.
Zanzibar, waiting for a forever home.
Zanzibar was given up by his owners-their reason, allergies. Zanzibar is a senior cat, so not sure how they suddenly decided they were allergic to him!
Zanzibar has lived in a room, alone, for a year. He keeps hoping to find a forever home, but no one wants him. Zan loves people, but I'm told he's not too keen on other cats. When I hear this, I always have to ask if Zan was properly introduced to other cats OR was it not done according to cat to cat etiquette? He may be just fine with another cat, but the owner would have to take the introduction slowly. They think he might prefer dogs, but again, SLOW introduction might be the key.
The bottom line is this big, orange, senior needs a break. He can even do tricks, so this is no dull boy. Zan is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. If you'd like to know more about Zanzibar and see a VIDEO of him, please visit HERE
On the Eve of St. Valentine's Day, I hope my words are like Cupid's arrow and that somewhere, out there, the hearts of a few families are inspired to fall in love with these big fellas and to help make their dream come true—a real forever home, filled of love.
...and no chocolate, please. Cats and chocolate don't mix!
With all the craziness going on with Bob, a family full of sick (YES, STILL SICK) kittens and a lovely 4-week-long sinus infection giving me an unGodly headache, the LAST thing I need is to do, well, pretty much anything. I really want to go to bed for the day and just SLEEP.
But, we have some work to do, first.
I got an email from our uber-foster-mom in Georgia a few nights ago about a beautiful cat at Henry County. She's been there for a few weeks. Happily not all their cages are filled to capacity right now, so the cat has had some luck on her side. We know that sooner or later, her luck will run out. Although we don't often have the ability to rescue an adult, we love to make exceptions.
This cat is certainly an exception. Just one look at her and you'll be in love! How could we NOT help her?
©2010 Henry County Care & Control.
This girl, has the BEST front paw coloring I've ever seen!
Her name is Amelia. Our dear, Bobby, busted her out of the kill shelter an hour ago and got her over to the Vet for a check up. As of this moment she is FREE from a cage and will be starting her new life in foster care, then she'll come to Connecticut where our dear friends at Animals in Distress are going to take her into their shelter and get her a new home (if I don't find her one first!).
But wait...there's more coming! We helped save a few MORE kitties! Details about them coming your way soon!
Bob's been home for almost a week since he had surgery to remove the right lobe of his liver. We found out it was cancerous, but now removed, it could be considered to no longer be a threat to his health. Of course many of you know, they also biopsied one of his mesenteric lymph nodes, where they found he had lymphoma. As in humans, the amount and severity of cancer is rated. In humans, they call it “stages,” and in cats, it's called “grades.” Bob's cancer is “low grade,” which means we may have caught it very early on in the game. Dr. Weisman said it could be a blessing in disguise because if she hadn't done the surgery, the lymphoma would have grown unchecked until it was probably too late.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob a few days after surgery.
At least Bob has options and I'm glad I didn't wait another month to see how homeopathy would work for him. He just would have gotten sicker.
There are two great candidates to help Bob with the next phase of treatments. It's ironic that they are almost exactly the same distance from here-about 50 miles. Dr. Post was referred to me by Dr Weisman and the other, Dr. Impellizeri, who runs the Vet. Speciality Center of the Hudson Valley was glowingly referred to me by Dr. Larry as well as Super Deb-who used to WORK for this Vet. I have appointments with both Vets, but am leaning towards Dr. Impellizeri.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Enjoying freedom from his pen and a nap near my space heater.
I'm really grateful to live in a place where I have choices and don't have to drive Bob hundreds of miles for treatment. It's important to me to be careful about what Bob must endure and the value of the stress on him versus the beneficial results. I find myself treating him as gently and lovingly as I can. He feels like he's made of glass.
It's been a long week, but Bob continues to recover. He's eating well and some times looks perky, though he is tired and sleeps a lot. He loves his heated bed and his dehydrated chicken treats. His belly turned black and blue from the surgery, but that is starting to fade. Tomorrow we visit Dr. Weisman to have his staples removed.
What is very frustrating is that Bob caught Nora's upper respiratory infection. I gave Bob some homeopathic treatments and he seems less afflicted. I certainly hope that this is the case. The last thing Bob needs is to be sick with something else.
Last night, I let Bob out of his pen. He was glad to be free from confinement and went right back into his old routine. He sits quietly, in “his spot” and waits for meals to be served. He sleeps in his favorite places, too. He gave me a real thrill by climbing the stairs to our bedroom, then not only did he sleep in a cat bed next to my side of the bed, in the middle of the night he climbed into the "human" bed and slept with us all night. At one point I got up to see if he was on the floor and was surprised to see him flanked by Spencer and Blitzen at my feet. I didn't want to go back to sleep. I wanted to just watch him and have the joy last of seeing Bob surrounded by his family, resting comfortably, maybe even happy.
He's a good boy, that Bob.
Author's note: Bob has a few nicknames-one I use most often is: Baba-D. Some others are: Bobbee Tinkleberry, Mr. Bob and Robert J. Dole (only used if I'm yelling at him)
Barely 24 hours ago, I got a call from one of the Vets at VCA Cheshire. He said something I didn't expect to hear: “Bob's ready to go home. He's eating a bit and has perked up. If you can get here before, say 3pm, we won't charge you for an extra day.”
All I could muster in reply was; “You're shitting me.”
I was told that shortly after Sam and I left yesterday, Bob perked up. He ate a little bit, he sat up in his cage. Dr Weisman, who I LOVE, said she felt the pain meds were really taking a toll on Bob, so she eased off on them. Sure enough, the minute it started to wear off, our old Bob started to make a comeback.
Of course I had a Vet appointment for Polly, who is, getting SICK again. I had to postpone it to today. I basically had to postpone everything to get ready for Bob to arrive. Since Bob's belly is in a fragile state of repair, we have to give him either cage rest or put him in a small room with no furniture. Since we don't have a room like that, I set up a BIG dog crate, then went out and bought a dog pen to attach to the crate. It would give Bob some chance to walk around a bit. I didn't want to put it in a dark part of the house or off in a corner, so Bob's in the middle of the living room. I want him to have sunshine and to be part of our daily activity so he can feel like he's part of the gang again.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's new digs.
Sam and I got things set up and I realized I needed a few things so I left early to hit a pet store that was on the way to the hospital, which is a 45 minute drive from here. Of course, I took the wrong exit and the store is in the middle of Waterbury, where the roads are like a messy plate of spaghetti. I panicked and decided to skip the store and not risk getting lost. I did NOT want to be late. The Vet bill was over $3000.00 and I didn't want it to go any higher if I could help it.
I hit a grocery store and got a new litter pan and the litter my Vet wants to use. I bought a few groceries and ignored the bell ringer from Salvation Army. I wanted to go up to him and tell him how much money I give to animal charities and how I run my own. I ask myself why I feel so guilty about not putting money in his bin when I donate clothing and household goods to them every year. Maybe that's how they score? The guilt factor?
Guilty or not, I was racing to get to Bob on time. It was 2:30pm and there was some sort of nightmare traffic jam, from what, I could not figure out. So I crawled along, finally getting to the hospital in the nick of time. I grabbed my empty cat carrier, walked in the door and almost yelled, “Filler Up!”
Oh yes, but there is a matter of the rest of the payment to deal with first. They were very nice, very professional. They went over Bob's discharge information, which isn't really much, other than to watch Bob and check his incision. He doesn't need extra meds. He can go back on Denamarin and Dasquin and eat what he likes (so THEY say!). He is supposed to wear a “cone of shame”, e-collar but he hasn't picked at his belly at all so no go for now. He's been through enough.
I spoke with Dr. Weisman, who I LOVE (yes, i know I wrote that earlier and it's still true). She told me what to watch out for and to either call her or just email her to let me know how Bob is doing or just to say hello. You're KIDDING ME, right? Woah. I love her. She's not tossing me to the wind now that the surgery is over!
While we were talking, I realized someone was standing next to me. It was a tech holding BOB!!!! I grabbed his carrier and she placed him inside it. He looked perkier, even at a glance. I couldn't wait to get him HOME!
I got the bill settled. It was actually a bit less than the low end of the estimate. The amount still kills me and it will be a year before it's paid off, but I can get it done. It was time to head home with my BOB!
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob, at home, at last. By the way, we moved his litter pan out of this crate, into the penned in area after this photo was taken so Bob has more space to relax and not smell his own fumes.
I wanted to let Bob out so he could walk around a bit, when we got home. I thought he might like to use his familiar litter pan, then I'd put him into his crate. Instead, Bob almost RAN around the house, then got away from us and RAN up TWO flights of STAIRS! Oh NO! he's gonna blow himself wide open! Thankfully we got him and put him into the crate. Sheesh!
We warmed up some raw food and offered it to him. He licked once or twice, then went to his heated bed and laid down. He was exhausted. I offered him some chicken treats, which he ate, but then turned away from me. He licked his paws and his face, a great sign. He got comfortable and went to sleep.
Sam and I sat in the living room, talking quietly. I sat facing Bob so I could keep an eye on him. He groomed himself some more, but stayed clear of his belly. He put his head down, then twisted it at a cute angle, as he so often does, and went to sleep. I was worried that he didn't eat, but hoped he'd eat a bit later.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob loves his blanket from Aunt Jennifer.
As the evening passed, I got into the penned in area and sat with Bob. I offered him dehydrated chicken and he ate every piece. He wouldn't eat any real food, but it was a start. We said good night and let him rest. I didn't sleep well. I worried about what I might find this morning. I got up at 6:15am and went downstairs to check on Bob.
I walked over to his crate and said, hello. He got right up and came over to me, purring loudly! I hustled into the kitchen and got him some grain-free canned food. I warmed it slightly and put dry chicken treat on top. He lapped at it hungrily! I was SO GLAD to see him eat! He didn't eat as much as I'd like to see, but he probably ate about 1/4 of a can of food, purring the whole time.
Of course, the problem with feeding Bob is ALL the other cats, including MacGruber, circled the pen and reached into it trying to get at Bob's food. I had to put Mac and Blitzen into the bathroom they were so bad! We've found Blitzen in Bob's pen a few times, now, so we can't leave food in there or Blitz will snarf it. Pig!
Of course, Bob doesn't seem to pay any heed to these interruptions. He just licks at his food and purrs, just as Bob did before, like any other day, but this isn't any other day. Bob just survived a very serious surgery and he's HOME. HE'S HOME! HE'S HOME!
One of the best things about fostering is getting updates on the kittens after they've been adopted. It's ironic that the family I put through the wringer to adopt a kitten, is really great about providing me updates. This family has three dogs-one is a “King” doberman who weighs about 120 pounds. I was not too excited to adopt to them, at first, but I did a home visit, then gave them a laundry list of “must do's” before I would move forward with the adoption. I did NOT want to have anything bad happen to my wards-especially Sugar Pie, who was very tough to let go.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. When we were young.
The family told me stories about how they raised their dogs with a pet CHICKEN! I even saw photos so I know they weren't pulling my leg. If those dogs could be with a chicken they could be with a kitten. They also had invisible fence IN their house so the dogs could not go upstairs-which is where they would start off housing Sugar Pie.
I even asked them to get a cat tree so she'd have a place to get away from the dogs if she was scared, so they custom built her one! Okay, so I had to adopt to them and it's worked out really well.
©2010 J. Prevelige.
Sugar Pie is now named, Jasmine. She gets along with the dogs, just fine and even keeps THEM in line. I'm told she is the most loving and affectionate cat they have ever known. She sleeps with her mom and dad every night, either under or over the covers or on or next to their head. She is adored and loved and growing up to be a spectacular beauty.
©2010 J. Prevelige. Will you look at that FACE?! What a sweetie!
I couldn't be happier for her or her family and I'm so glad I made the leap of faith. These people are really really good folks who treat their animals like their kids.
©2010 J. Prevelige.
It's been a rough couple of weeks for us and it certainly is great timing to have some good news about a very sweet girl.
I've got five foster kittens headed my way. They'll be here in an hour. My dear cat, Bob is having very serious surgery tomorrow to try to remove a mass from his liver. He may not survive. He may have a belly full of cancer. Christmas is in less than a week and I am nowhere near ready...
I can't look away from this poor girl sitting at Henry County. She's been in quarantine for almost ten days without any vet care after being injured when she took refuge inside a car engine to get warm. I just have to help her.
This is Noelle. She'll be staying with our best foster mama in the world until she's ready to come to CT and join us at Kitten Associates. Because she's injured and may have to have part of her tail amputated, we're going to start fundraising for her right now, even though we don't know what she's going to need. If we need less than I'm asking for, I will change the ChipIn widget. I will only ask for just what we need and no more. Hopefully we can get the job done. She'll be seeing a vet, tomorrow. No more waiting, silently in pain.
Merry Christmas little one. I hope we can help you find your confidence, love, a warm loving home and a pain free life soon. Bobby's coming to get you tomorrow. Hang tight!
Please help spread the word so we can get the funds we need to provide Vet care for this baby! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Anxiety plays out in my stomach most of the time, but today I could feel it in my chest as my heart beat hard and fast-“thump, thump, thump!” It was time to pack Bob into his cat carrier and drive to Cheshire, the town name I find rather ironic and/or amusing. There we would meet Dr. Weisman at the VCA Cheshire Vet Hospital. As much as I needed to get this meeting to happen, I struggled with wanting to go to bed and stick my head under the covers. I didn't want to know how she felt about Bob's prognosis or whether or not he'd make a good candidate for surgery.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob circa 2008. This is why we love Orange cats!
I was pretty sure, after talking many times to Dr. Larry, that I'd hear: “Well, Bob is a senior with FIV+ and the mass is large and, you know, he probably wouldn't even survive the surgery and maybe it would be best to just send him home to be loved and let him go to The Bridge.”
Dr. Weisman was surprising. She was upbeat and listened, she is quick to understand a situation and she explained things clearly. Bob IS a good candidate for surgery! Yes, he has a liver mass, but his other organs, including his heart and lungs are working normally. His blood test is really quite GOOD, if you don't count the glaringly sky-high ALT value.
She didn't want to do the surgery to prove anything. In fact she said she's not a “hero.” She's not going to go in and try to remove the biggest liver mass ever seen. If it's dangerous, she's not going to do it. She said a few times, she is there to do what is BEST FOR BOB-NOT what is BEST FOR ME, HER, ANYONE. I really admired her for saying that and appreciated it. That's all I want.
She told me she'd open him up, take a look. If he was a mess, full of cancer, she would close him up, send him home to spend his last hours or days or weeks with us. If he wasn't full of cancer, if the mass is on the part of the right lobe (there are THREE lobes on the right of the liver!) she thinks it's on, it would be something she could remove. If it's NOT and too risky to remove she may biopsy it to find out if it's benign.
As it has been since we found out Bob had a liver mass a week ago, there are no firm answers, only the okay to go to the next step. We've reached the place to decide and in the end, there really was no decision to be made. Bob will have a better life without the mass. If it can be removed, we will have that done. If not, we'll at least know what we're dealing with and Bob will have the best, most comfortable end-of-life we can provide for him.
If we did nothing, Bob would slowly decline further and further and die. If we do something, Bob can have quality of life. We did not talk about how much MORE life, but it will be more...
And it's going to cost. It's going to cost a lot of money. Between $3500-4500. Sam and I aren't having Christmas this year due to our lack of finances, but we will find the resources we need to make this happen for Bob. It's not foolishness. It's not "just a cat." It's a living creature who is in pain. If we have the ability to do this for Bob, then we will. Money will never be something that is more important than LIFE. That is just wrong.
At the end of my own life I never want to look back and feel like I didn't do right by my cats because of fear and because of a buck. If I have to go without some things, that's fine. I will still have a roof over my head and food in the panty. It will be okay. It will suck to have to spend this money, but so be it.
Sunday, the foster cats arrive from Georgia. My house is going to be full up with craziness. Monday Bob has surgery and hopefully by Wednesday he will be coming home to recover. It may mean Christmas Eve at the ER Vet. It may mean a sleepless Holiday, but hopefully it may end up meaning, that what I really wanted for Christmas, I have a chance at getting. I just want Bob to be well and to stay with us for as long as he can manage. We're not ready to say goodbye and I think he still has a lot of life left.
Bob Dole proved it to me as we were about to leave the Hospital. We walked past another client who was bringing his Golden Retriever into the waiting room. Bob took one look at the dog and HISSED LOUD!
THAT'S MY BOY!
Life behind bars for any shelter cat is usually flat out, miserable. The poor creatures just sit there and wait around, bored, angry, frustrated. Some cats are VERY lucky, their shelter has mandatory enrichment programs for their cats. Studies show that cats who are active in a cage are much more likely to be adopted than cats who sit there glumly passing time.
Enrichment for cats can also help de-stress the animal, keeping it healthy longer. This is a very important thing to keep in mind. If less cats get sick, fewer of them are euthanized. It doesn't take much to make their lives better, but with budgets cut, donations dwindling, how can any shelter afford the "luxury" of enrichment for the cats when they can't afford food or litter?
I'm NOT interested in promoting products on my Blog unless I LOVE them, feel the company is ethical and that me telling you about it would benefit you and your cats or cats in need of help. Today I'm going to talk about such a product. It's called a “Stretch and Scratch.”
I first became aware of these miniature cat scratchers at the Cat Writers' Conference a few weeks ago. In my swag bag was a tiny scratcher. At first I couldn't fathom it's use. It's too tiny for any of my adult cats, but then I noticed that the scratcher has twist ties threaded through the back. YES! To HANG them on the inside of a cage!
Everything made sense. I could use these during times when I have to separate kittens from their mama by caging them and I could use them in the cages when I bring my foster cats to adoption events! They're nice and sturdy and within a second of unpacking the scratcher at home, Blitzen was using it!
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen diggin' the scratcher.
But what about the kitties at all those shelters who can't afford much of anything? I thought about my friends at Henry County Care & Control in McDonough, Georgia. I thought about all those cats, just sitting in cages hoping for a miracle that all too often does not come.
©2010 Henry County Care & Control. LOVE the scratcher! Adopt me!
I contacted Joan, Owner and Creator, Designer of Scratch and Stretch and ordered a case of scratchers to be shipped to Henry County as a surprise. I wasn't going to tell you about it. I didn't want to make a big “to do” about what a nice person I am and all that mularky, but this morning I got two thank you emails, one from Gerri Yoder, the Director of HCCAC and one from our friend, Betsy, who helps get the word out on the cats in need at HCCAC. They BOTH sent me photos of their cats using the scratchers and I realized that sharing these photos might inspire you to buy some, too.
©2010 Henry County Care & Control. I LOVE MY SCRATCHER! Oh and Adopt me!
Apparently, they're a BIG HIT with the kitties.
©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Adopt us or rescue us!
I know it doesn't help them get OUT of HCCAC, but, at least it provides the cats with some joy and a way to de-stress. I think it helps the staff, too, seeing the cats playing and having fun.
©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Mmmmeow..scratching fun!
Prices are: $45 for 1/2 case of 25 scratchers and $75 for 1 case of 50 scratchers. Shipping is extra, but I'm told that Joan cuts the shipping way down so you really get a bargain with the shipping-they actually pay some of it. Joan is not out to be a millionaire, she just wants shelter cats to be happy and this is part of her way to make that happen.
I would also like to know about any of you buying scratchers for shelters. All folks who make a purchase will be listed here on a big THANK YOU roster in January! Please be sure to let me know which shelter you bought scratchers for when you write to tell me about you being a GREAT person. Hee hee! Just email me at: info AT coveredincathair.com
I couldn't sleep last night; that's two nights in a row. How this happened is completely idiotic: I lost my health insurance so I couldn't go to the doctor to renew a prescription that's been keeping my old lady acne at bay. Since my face exploded with breakouts after my 'script ran out, I got some "gentle" acne face cleanser and a "gentle" spot on treatment at the local drug store. It ended up burning my skin and I accidently got some on my eyelids. The next morning after my "accident," my eyes were almost swollen shut. I tried to deal with it on my own, but it got worse, so I HAD to go to the Doctor, after all. Great.
She put me on steroids, a short course. Guess what? I can't sleep. Not even for a minute. So my eyes are puffy, my chin is burned and sleep is a memory. I was told to take Benedryl at night to counteract the effects of the steroids. It would make me sleepy. Sure it will. I'm not feeling very confident in pharmaceuticals right now, so I'm still not getting any sleep.
In the meantime, one of the side effects of the steroids is that I seem to be crying a lot, or, heck, it could just be because of all the sad things going on in my life, too. Whatever it is, gee, I'm not a lot of fun to be around right now. It's a good thing I went to Dottie's Diner today and got some “rescue” donuts: chocolate on top is best. I think it can cure whatever ails me (other than acne cream eyelid burns).
I can't stop thinking about Bob. How I tell myself that the rest of my journey with him will not be an easy one. How I know that with every cat I adopt, all that joy and love comes with a price, a sad ending, a final farewell. It's a heavy price to pay, but it's the love that keeps me going. For in that pain, is the reminder of the love, too. The heavy weight of sorrow, lightened by the joy of what once was and what will always be in my heart, no matter what.
As I tried to sleep last night, Spencer came over to me and laid down, as he so often does. His head tucked near my outstretched left arm and his back pressed firmly alongside my chest created a perfect cat-human “spoon.” I ran my right hand over his thick fluffy belly fur and he purred. Some of my tension washed away. I was transported to a safe place where I could take a moment to realize how lovely this connection was and how much it means to me. It is SO NOT just a human with a friendly “pet.” It is SO MUCH MORE.
I have to remember to enjoy what is here, right now and not get carried away on a river of fear about what is next.
It's been a similar journey for Maria and myself regarding our dear fosters, Polly, Cara, Chester and their mama, Mazie.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie and Polly have a snuggle.
The good news is that all the cats are showing signs of improvement and are growing bigger and stronger every day. Though they are not at the weight they should be for their age, they're gaining-that's what counts.
There have been many ups and downs, though.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie's eye-here we go again.
After being the first to “recover,” now Mazie's eye is infected. She's already been on new medication for a few days and I've heard she's doing better. She's been spayed successfully and the kittens are weaned. She's just about ready to come to Connecticut to join her forever family (I just know they're out there somewhere right now!).
I'll be caring for her initially. I want to make sure it's safe to separate her from her babies. I hate doing that a lot, but over the years, I've seen some mamas go after their kittens violently. Perhaps it's Nature's way of telling us it's time for them to move on? Whatever the case, I'll make certain the time is right, first.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie, Cara and Polly have a snuggle while Chester keeps them company.
Polly's finally starting to have two open eyes, instead of one. Her coat condition is slowly improving. She looks remarkably like...a kitten. At last!
©Foster Mama, Maria. Polly starting to look like a proper kitten-at last.
Cara is doing better, too. I don't want to breathe a sigh of relief or assume this is it and the babies are out of danger. They still need to make the long journey here and it's very likely they will have a relapse and it will be “Santa's Team”-the 4 month nightmare of sick kittens, all over again. For now, I will take joy in seeing their improvement. They aren't on the transport for about ten more days. Hopefully that's enough time to get them ready.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Cara.
Chester was the only kitten really spared from the worst of the URI/Herpes virus. His weight is good. His coat, fabulous, his temperament is marvelous. This cute little bug has stolen Maria's heart and it's easy to see why.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Chester plays with his tail and shows off his cute belly.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Could it be? Playing kittens? Great news!
The transport is going to be done by Izzy and Mark. Once again these generous folks are using part of their vacation time to include a pit stop in Georgia to pick up some kitties for me and, perhaps, another rescue group. It will be the only private, single car transport I could do without having to go there myself. I've been torn about putting the kittens on the transport, but their mama is ready to go and either I separate them now and get the kittens up here in another month, on a noisy dog transport or try to do a multi-leg transport which would also tax them, greatly. I believe this is my best option for them, but I am concerned about what will happen once they get here.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Polly's gotten bigger, but she still has a way to go before being 100%.
And truth be told, I'm a bit worried about how them being here will effect Bob's health. Will my cats get herpes? How will I handle Bob needing surgery with having the kittens here? If they get sick, too..oh boy. I've rolled the dice and been wrong before. I admit I'll be holding my breath on this one.
©Foster Mama, Maria. “Are you my sister?.”
Some times I wish I had a crystal ball. I could gaze into it and see my future. I'd be able to make correct choices, instead of guesses, but if I knew what was coming, there might not even BE a correct choice to make, but a tough situation to learn how to cope with. We'll see how it goes.
©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie, Cara and Polly have a snuggle while Chester mugs for the camera.
In a way, it's good I had the trial by fire with “Santa's Team,” but in another way, maybe it would be better if I was still naive about all of this? If only I could turn back the clock...hit the “snooze” button on life for awhile. If only...
If you read my blog, odds are you, at least, like cats. From the feedback I've gotten over the years, I'm guessing most of you LOVE cats as dearly as I do. The question I place before you today is: Are you rescuing or adopting cats without considering the effect on your own life, well being? Are you clear-minded enough to know when to say, “No” when someone wants you to help then with a cat? Where is the tipping point between having a lot of cats and having too many?
I'm a collector. I have 140 tin lunchboxes, about 50 snow globes, about 40 salt & pepper shakers (only ones that are miniature appliances), cookie jars, old soda advertising signs, illustrated antique children's books and lots more. Everything is organized. You can walk across the room (unless there's a cat in the way). I keep the place tidy and clean (save for a few piles of mail or what not) and it doesn't smell bad unless I cooked dinner recently.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, it's a wall of lunchboxes! Everyone should have one...or two.
I have eight cats. Sometimes I have as many as 20. Am I a haorder? Or am I walking a fine line between enjoying my collectibles and cats, and sliding into chaos, disease and decay?
I wonder if any of YOU have the same fear I do: “I'm ok and can handle what I have now, but I could see myself going overboard if I'm not careful.”
Recently, I was contacted by Marsha Rabe. She lives in Connecticut and loves cats. Twenty five years ago she met a woman who became her dear friend. They did a lot of animal rights work including anti-hunting, anti-circus, vegetarian education and more. She's been a tireless advocate for animals for most of her life. Her friend, who I've been asked not to name, “was beyond a doubt one of the most intelligent, charming, talented, articulate, and cultured people I have ever known.”
This is not the description of someone who is a hoarder...yet...over the years her friend developed a problem as described to me by Marsha:
WHAT HOARDING LOOKS LIKE
It started out as it always does, one good person trying to address the horrible overpopulation of cats by taking them in, one at a time.
For more than 30 years, a woman in New Haven took in strays and ferals, adopting them out at the beginning, when she could, but then gradually becoming overwhelmed. Simply maintaining the population took all of her strength and time. To her great credit, she spayed/neutered all of her cats and also provided basic veterinary care. But there was no time or energy left for placement, and besides, many of the cats were feral and basically unplaceable. They were, quite simply, the cats that no one else wanted.
For many years, the cats had a decent quality of life. But this summer, she became seriously ill, and the situation deteriorated quickly and horribly. She died on Nov. 9 from cancers related to conditions in her home.
She was my friend.
As I said, most of the 65 cats were feral and/or sick, and though we tried to find places for them to go, we soon realized that they had to be euthanized. We had the support of a kind and generous veterinarian, but the task was heartbreaking.
We are now trying to place the few that remain.
The only true outside feral is Perdita (last photo), a longhaired grey cat on the light green blanket. She is older, about 12, we think. There are three other indoor ferals whose photos I could not get.
I believe all of the others will come out of their shells, given time, patience, and one-on-one attention. If you have any thoughts about any of these cats, PLEASE let me know.
Thanks very much.
I asked Marsha if anyone had tried to help this woman reduce the number of cats in her home and she answered:
Yes, I tried to bring up the subject of the cats many times, as did many of her other friends. But her intense sense of privacy and her uncanny ability to deflect any question about the cats — and then to change the subject — meant that none of us ever got very far…until this summer, when she got sick. Then she had to let some of us help, and we learned the details.
I think if your readers find themselves unable to say no, if they find themselves keeping their animals a secret, if they don't let people into their homes, if they find themselves becoming more and more reclusive...then they should ask themselves, "Am I a hoarder?"
I'd like to help Marsha find homes for the remaining cats.We just need a few folks to step up and lend a hand...that is...IF you have adequate space, the time and the finances to do so. I'm not going to write about hoarding and ask you all to adopt more cats unless your decision is made with a clear mind and adequate resources.
These are the cats who need help now.
©2010 Marsha Rabe. CLEMENTINE (two photos, above) One of the shyer cats, but is definitely beginning to hang out more. Her sister is Catriona, below.
©2010 Marsha Rabe. CATRIONA, Clementine's sister. About 4 or 5. Has one clouded eye. Shy, but coming out of her shell little by little.
©2010 Marsha Rabe, MOJO, a three-legged cat with a slightly twisted mouth (which makes eating messy), and a crooked tail. But he is a lively cat who just needs attention so he can stop feeling grumpy and find his way in life.It is hard to get a good photo of him because he is always rubbing your ankles. Robin's Note: I LOVE THAT WHITE FOOT!
©2010 Marsha Rabe, Perdita, is a semi-feral lady who may prefer a barn placement or outdoor placement. Very pretty lady. UPDATE: Perdita has been living INDOORS for the past month and is showing signs of coming out of her shell. I would LOVE to see her get a chance at a real home. At her age, living outdoors would be a cruel end for her. Maybe someone with a quiet home could give her a chance? Perdita is the heroine of Shakesperare's "A Winter's Tale" and means "lost one" in Latin.
There are a few other cats. One just showed up the other day so they're trying to get the situation worked out. If you have a barn and could take a few cats or a loving home or a rescue group that can help with the shy kitties or Mojo, please contact MARSHA RABE directly at:
marsharabe (@ symbol) comcast.net
NOTE: We don't display ______@___.com address to prevent spammers.
The cats have been vetted and are located in the area of NEW HAVEN, CT
The ASPCA has excellent information about Animal Hoarding and how to recognize hoarding behavior. It's very sobering, indeed and I think it would be arrogant of me to think I could never be that person. I hope that this information helps all of you to keep loving your cats and to make sure you don't take on more than you can handle.