Dee reads my blog (Thank you, Dee!). She bugged her friend, Angi to give Chloe a foster home since Angi lives in Connecticut, has cats and LOVES cats enough to take on one more (and she's also an awesome artist). Dee already fosters cats and knows that Angi would do a great job so she used whatever secret powers she has to urge Angi to give Chloe a home until she's ready to go to her forever home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Chloe. Feeling scared was not a surprise, but what happened next certainly was.
I would call this “finding a foster home in a haystack,” because I thought there is NO WAY we're going to be able to find a LONG-TERM foster home for Chloe. Color me surprised.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little self-soothing foot bath before she explores the room any further.
Angi is awesome. She's vivacious and cute with a funky-cool haircut and an easy going attitude. I did a home visit to make sure she had a good space for Chloe to pass the next few months, recover from her abuse and to lose a bit of weight (she's already lost a pound). Angi had a perfect space-a guest room in the corner of her home that overlooks her yard. It's a far cry from the bathroom where Chloe has been staying with Katherine and it's almost as big as the entire living room where Chloe once lived with her former guardian.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Katherine brings out Chloe's favorite brush.
Everything went well with the home visit and today Katherine and I delivered Chloe to Angi's home.
Chloe didn't protest too much in the car, but Katherine and I both worried what she'd do when she got out of her cat carrier. Would she completely revert to being aggressive with Angi? Would she try to bite her? Would she growl and lash out?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe's FAVORITE-Cat Grass!
We covered her cat carrier and rushed her into Angi's house, before Angi's three cats knew what we were up to. We got the room set up with Chloe's things while Chloe watched us from the safety of her crate.
Then came the big moment-opening the door.
We all took a collective deep breath as Katherine opened the crate. Out walked Chloe, planting her face directly into a small container of cat grass. Content to munch on her favorite treat, we all relaxed. At least Chloe wasn't going to charge us, guns blazing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Or is Chloe's favorite thing being brushed?
Chloe, energized from her treat, surprised us by getting up and casually began to examine her new home. She rubbed her face onto Angi's outstretched hand, the table, the edge of the cat carrier. She rubbed up against ME, which at first scared, then delighted me, leaving me sitting there with my mouth hanging open like an idiot.
Chloe continued exploring the room. She didn't go very fast or very far. She had to take a break and sit down every so often, but she wasn't hiding. She was simply curious. So far, so good.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Happy Buddha-kitty!
Katherine got Chloe's favorite brush out and that put a smile onto this kitty's face. Chloe loved being brushed and it helped her relax.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Reaching up to be brushed. More, please!
Chloe got a bit irritated from all the attention. Perhaps it was a bit too much, too soon. She gave Katherine and Angi a “love bite,” but nothing worse. Katherine stopped brushing Chloe and decided it was time to go over the instructions for taking care of her with Angi.
Katherine and I left Angi's, feeling happy and hopeful that Chloe would finally have a chance to flower.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A little love from Katherine.
A few hours later, Angi wrote that she was have a bit of hard time getting BACK into the room with Chloe and that Chloe attacked her ankles. I guess I shouldn't have made a joke about the boots, but then I realized maybe someone had kicked Chloe and that's why she was upset? When we let her out of the cat carrier, we were all sitting on the floor, which made us less intimidating. Now what was Angi going to do?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A few skritches from Aunt Angi.
Angi took it in stride. She knows this is going to be a long process and now Chloe will have to learn to trust her, too. She's prepared to give Chloe every chance, if Chloe will just allow her into the room once in awhile so she can water her plants.
©2012 Maria S. Our first glimpse of Willow-stuck up in a tree.
Almost a year has passed since our-Maria rescued a stray kitty out of a maple tree. We didn't know her story, only that she was probably dumped and a pit bull saw her and chased her up the tree. Maria had quite the time getting her down, but from the very first moments, we knew that Willow was going to be a special kitty. (read more about Willow's rescue HERE).
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow's transformation.
From day one, Willow was very sick with some sort of upper respiratory tract infection. She was thin. Her coat was ragged, but Willow was very easy-going and friendly. In fact, Maria soon realized she could put a harness on Willow and take her for walks and even jokingly put a baby doll dress on her. Willow was fine with whatever came her way.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow enjoying the sunshine…
We tried many rounds of antibiotics to cure Willow's sneezes and runny eyes. They worked for a time, but she would get sick again and again. We tried 60 days of doxycycline, only for it to return. Willow had been in our program for over six months with no real idea of what was ailing her. I finally decided to try to test her for Bartonella this bast January.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. …and the view of the woods.
Due to a mixup, I never found out that the test was a STRONG POSITIVE until MARCH! Once we knew, we began treatment and she got better right away.
Of course, I couldn't easily put Willow up for adoption if she was sick, but between cycles of her illness it seemed she was fine so I processed LOTS of applications and even went on a few home visits, but NOTHING EVER PANNED OUT.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A tender moment with Fred.
I got an application from a gentleman named, Matthew. He's young and married and has a nice home north of here. I did a Vet check and it panned out. He was very sweet when he talked about his cats and I really liked him.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow has tortie-patterned paws-you can just see it here.
I knew that telling an adopter about a cat being sick could have them give up on her. Many folks will just think they're getting a terminally sick cat and move on to another rescue. I worried that Matthew would not want Willow but he just asked me if it was contagious and I said no. I didn't hear from him for a day or two and finally he wrote that if I could medicate Willow and keep her here, that he would be happy to adopt her after her medication was done-which would be another month.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. On the way to her new home, Willow's journey is almost complete.
Willow is such a sweet cat. She's become the mother-figure to all the other fosters. They adore her and cling to her and she calmly reassures them as she grooms them. I didn't mind having her for awhile longer.
The day finally arrived to bring Willow to Matthew. I was very sad because Willow is a "top 10" sort of cat. She simply had no unwanted habits, she was always friendly to everyone and affectionate. She was silly and seemed to always be happy and she is so very lovely to look at-with her crazy, undefinable patterning and colors. I loved her dearly and definitely would be missing her a great deal-and I worried that Fred & Barney would, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Back seat driver!
We got Willow packed up. I had all sorts of toys, food, a scratcher, catnip, a cat bed-everything I could think of to get Willow off on a good start. I even brought extra toys for her two new kitty friends. She didn't want to be in her cat carrier, so I let her out. She panted a bit, out of fear and excitement, but eventually she just sat on top of her cat carrier and watched the world go by. What a GREAT cat!
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is so cool she can even travel in the car in style.
We got Willow settled and she immediately started to PLAY in her new room! She didn't hide or run off. She rubbed her face on the furnishings, marking her new space with her scent. She went over to Matthew to get some pets. She seemed completely cheerful, as ever. Meanwhile, Roo, one of her new friends, was sitting outside the door, wondering what was going on.
©2013 Matthew R. Willow, in her new home eats while her new sister, Roo, eats on the other side of the door.
I didn't want to leave Willow, but as it always goes, I have to do it. I have to do it so I can help more cats. I gave her a kiss on the “M” on her forehead, her silky soft fur brushed my lips. I told her I loved her one last time. With a heavy heart I went home wishing she could have stayed with us. I crossed my fingers and said a silent prayer that I hoped I'd made a good choice for Willow and that she would have a lifetime of happiness with her new family.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our last moments with Willow before it was time to head to her new home.
When I first met Chloe and assessed her for rescue, I had serious concerns that her behavior would change any time soon-that I'd be putting my friend, Katherine into a tough situation because ultimately Katherine would be responsible for this cat's future. I was clear with Katherine that right now Chloe was not adoptable, but I had a glimmer of faith that this cat COULD turn around. We just didn't know if it would take months or years to do so. In cat rescue it's rare to have the luxury of time when there are so many other cats who are just as deserving and who also need help. It's a constant dilemma.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe's back is finally free from mats
The good thing about smaller rescues is that sometimes they can take that time. They aren't faced with the crushing demand big shelters get for space-not that they aren't always busy, but it's not as severe. Even here I've been able to hold cats for over a year when necessary. Is it the best thing to do? No. For those cats, I'd guess they'd beg to differ.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe knows there's a treat on Katherine's leg, but will she try to reach it?
Chloe has made some astounding changes, almost overnight. Katherine has worked tirelessly to offer Chloe everything she can think of to enrich Chloe's life and give Chloe a good reason to bond with Katherine. Katherine tried all sorts of grain-free treats, different types of canned and dry food. Two days ago Katherine brought Chloe an offering of cat grass-something none of us had thought to try. Within moments Chloe was greedily chomping the grass. She was having SO MUCH FUN that Katherine was able to brush away Chloe's matted fur. Chloe was too happy to care about being brushed and the mats came out easily.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Treat gone! Cat on lap-almost!
Katherine persisted, always giving Chloe space and passed only short periods of time in the room with her.
©2013 Katherine Reid. First pets-no growling or hissing, too!
Once Katherine began to pet Chloe, a new cat shyly emerged, one who may have been beaten down, or simply ignored for so long that she gave up, we'll never really know. What we do know is that Chloe is blossoming, instead of retreating. This cat has the heart of a warrior, this chubby siamese mix, and so does her foster mom.
©2013 Katherine Reid.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Katherine tried a number of different brush types on Chloe until she reacted positively. Look a the HUGE change in Chloe's expression.
Katherine and I are cut from the same cloth. We NEVER want to give up on ANY CAT and Chloe was no different. We couldn't know she would begin to trust again, but when I saw that glimmer of joy the moment I met her, fleeting though it was, I had a feeling we needed to try and I'm so grateful that Katherine agreed.
Chloe still has a long road ahead of her, but now that her mats are brushed away and her ears have finally been medicated, each day Chloe will feel more comfortable and confident.
©2013 Katherine Reid. This is the moment all rescuers live for. Thank you to Katherine for sharing it with all of us.
Animals in Distress is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. If you'd like to make a donation to help with Chloe's long-term care, you can use this LINK to their PayPal account. Thank you!
It's been almost two weeks since the grossly overweight and possibly abused kitty, Chloe, was removed from her home and placed under the care of Animals in Distress. For now, Chloe is staying with my friend, Katherine, who oversees intake of all the cats in the AID program and is a very savvy foster mom.
Chloe has had a peaceful few weeks and after only one incident I reported initially, Chloe has not lashed out at Katherine. In fact, Chloe is showing signs of relaxing and learning to trust again.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Hopefully this is one of the last photo you'll see of Chloe's back mats! Katherine is starting to remove them.
The first few days were the toughest. Chloe would not move, urinated and defecated on herself and barely ate. Katherine tried to clean her off, but was met with so much resistance that we all decided it was best to leave her alone. Katherine focused on offering Chloe a variety of grain-free dry food as her first attempt to get Chloe moving in the right direction.
Chloe took to one of the brands and began to eat. Katherine also offered Chloe some plain chicken baby food from a spoon, which encouraged Chloe to both regard Katherine in a positive way and to help Chloe want to interact, instead of withdraw.
Katherine had to move slowly and not do too much. It was easy to upset Chloe, so she did less, instead of overload her. With the guidance of our friend Wendy Christensen, cat behaviorist and author, she kept the pace to baby steps only.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Is that a smile I see?
Chloe began using her litter pan and eating more than a mouthful of food. With such an obese cat, we have to be careful NOT to restrict her food intake as much as IMPROVE her food, for now. Once she is stable, she will no longer be free-fed and will begin the process of eating grain-free canned food, in monitored amounts, until she can lose some weight.
Chloe also may have bad teeth and an ear infection-both issues will be dealt with as soon as we feel Chloe can be handled without it putting her into a panic. We're hoping that at least the ear issues may resolve, to some degree, with better food. Her body may be reacting to the grain in the food by making her ears get a build up of material. It's unlikely she has ear mites, but she WILL get the treatment as soon as it's safe to do so.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe's sweetness may be starting to emerge-and what a cute face she has!
This morning I got a note from Katherine that she had another small breakthrough. Last night she was able to brush Chloe's face, which she liked, and while she was brushing Chloe, Katherine managed to pick out a few of the mats on the cat's back (which she pulled out easily without causing any irritation to Chloe). As you can see in the photos, Chloe looks like she's almost smiling and for that, we are all very pleased and hopeful that Chloe's story will continue to be one filled with promise. I know we're all rooting for this kitty to make it through this difficult time.
Animals in Distress is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. If you'd like to make a donation to help with Chloe's long-term care, you can use this LINK to their PayPal account. Thank you!
©2013 Katherine Reid. Lucy, safe in her new foster home.
UPDATE: Shortly after Chloe was returned from the home, the former guardian called saying that Lucy HAD to go, too. Lucy has been placed with AID and is doing well. I've met this cat and she's VERY friendly and gets on well with other cats, too. If you live in CONNECTICUT and would like to know more about Lucy, please visit her PETFINDER PAGE!.
Chloe sits in the center of the living room. I can’t see her back legs from where I’m sitting, a few feet away. Her front legs are comically dwarfed, little white mitts, in comparison to the rest of her body.
It’s completely heartbreaking to look at her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Look, but don't touch.
I met Chloe last week after getting a number of calls from my Vet, the Animal Control Officer in town and a woman who is friends with Chloe’s guardian. The story I got was that the guardian, who I will call Dave, was calling our ACO and Vet to find out if he could get someone to come over to euthanize his cat.
Upon further discussion it was disclosed the Chloe had been biting people and that Dave, being basically house-bound and disabled, had to get rid of the cat because his caretaker was making a fuss about her.
Obviously there were other reasons why the caretaker wanted to end Chloe’s life, but I couldn’t know the reason until I learned more.
The ACO said she might have to put the cat down if it was a biter. She couldn’t be adopted if she was going to hurt a future adopter. Chloe was at least 10 years old, if not older, and the odds of finding her any home were slim to none, even if she was a Siamese under all that extra weight.
I offered to go to the home to assess the cat. We could hear stories about her, but I needed to see her for myself. I was told the cat was chubby, but I had no idea how grossly obese she was until I met her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chole's back fur is quite matted and I'm sure causing her some discomfort.
I visited Dave, along with his friend, Frances (not her real name). She’d met Chloe many times, but was hard pressed to describe her behavior to me, which I found very puzzling. Is the cat friendly or not? What’s the deal here?
I entered the small living room of the 1-bedroom apartment. Chloe was sitting on the top of the sofa. As I walked into the room and sat down on a nearby chair, she came over to say hello.
I let her settle down. She sat in the center of the room, commanding the space. She growled softly, which turned into a whine, then back to a growl. Her ears were not flat. Her tail didn’t whip up and down in anger. Her pupils were dilated. I made no move to touch her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. There IS a cat under there, somewhere.
I spoke with Dave and got some history on the cat. He’d gotten her a few years ago from a woman in Fairfield. Chloe supposedly slept on his chest and would tap him to get petted. That the day before three Missionaries had come to visit, all men, and she had been fine with them, so why was she so distressed by me?
We talked about food. He said he got really good food (not even close to good-in my opinion) for the cats, some sort of house brand dry and that was it. Clearly this cat was being given a huge bowl of food to snack on day and night. She could barely walk. I imagined that part of her fear was that she was too fat to flee, should I be a threat to her. She might also be in a lot of pain from carrying so much weight on her bones.
I’d worked out a deal with my dear friend, Katherine from Animals in Distress. We would get the cat vetted, then re-assess her behavior at that time. We owed it to Chloe to give her a chance to stabilize her weight and behavior before making any other decisions about her future.
It’s one thing to deal with a feral cat, but a fearful cat is a different thing altogether.
Our choices were to either put Chloe down or give her a chance. Katherine and I chose to give her some time. The problem is we needed a foster home for Chloe and Katherine had to sacrifice the last precious space she has left in her home that doesn’t already have cats in it. It wasn’t ideal, but for now it’s all we had. No one would step up to take this cat and most of my fosters are sick and I know I’d have her with me forever and I just couldn’t do that to my cats. At least Katherine might be able to put Chloe into their shelter if she was ever well enough to go there.
A few days later, Chloe was taken to the Vet. I don’t know how they managed, but they did get blood work done and there was nothing indicating her thyroid was off, which could have caused her emotional issues, or that she was diabetic, which was surprising. I don’t know if the Vet looked at her teeth, but Chloe probably had some painful gums, at least, from all the junky food.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh dear, dear, Chloe.
Katherine brought Chloe home and placed her in a bathroom where she’d be living until we could get her settled. It’s unlikely we’d find her a foster home with her behavior issues, at least for now.
All Katherine was doing was trying to help Chloe feel more comfortable and clean. She called me, distressed, but laughing through her irritation. I felt so badly, but I hadn’t told Katherine anything other than the truth-the cat was NOT adoptable right now, but that we should at least try to give her a chance to blossom. These would be the worst days-hopefully better ones would follow.
I contacted my friend, Wendy Christensen, who is an award-winning author and illustrator. Her books include The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care. She's written for Cat Fancy, Kittens USA, Catnip, CatWatch, Natural Cat, and Natural Pet. Wendy is one of my go-to people when I have a cat behavior issue that stumps me. Because she’s not directly involved with Chloe, I knew she could offer me perspective without any bias one way or the other.
Wendy wrote me back, a very long email. She was very troubled by what she was told about Chloe. She said what I also feared, it’s very likely that Chloe has been abused.
Wendy wrote: “I would concur that she's probably been abused. What she needs more than anything else is peace and quiet and a calm, stable environment. She is just too stressed to deal with any human interaction right now. I know it sounds "cruel," but she needs to be left alone to get some of her confidence back, stabilize and heal for awhile. She needs to be alone so she can start to feel safe again.
Her size has clearly made it very hard for her to move about and escape whatever peril she was placed in. Escapability is primary for cats' mental health. She has felt (and still feels) utterly trapped and at the mercy of others -- possibly the worst thing a cat can experience. She is in a super-super-sensitive frame of mind. She doesn't need a lot of space, but she DOES need safety, peace, quiet, stability, and predictability.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. With pupils dilated with fear, Chloe readies herself to strike, but I can't help wanting to pet her and soothe her anxiety, regardless.
Of course, my first thought was, that the caretaker who hated this cat and wanted her put to sleep was responsible. What was he doing to her when no one was looking?
There’s no way to know if he ever even lifted a finger to Chloe, but it certainly makes sense. There’s no way to know that Dave wasn’t the one who harmed her either, but clearly something terrible happened to Chloe and now she needs us to understand that and give her the space she needs to heal.
And then there’s the other cat in the home, Lucy; Lucy who is so friendly and outgoing. What will become of her? We need to get her out of this place, too. It’s only a matter of time before she is so big she can’t walk either, or so sick from never being vetted that she dies.
Our first goal is to focus on Chloe and hope her sweet nature will emerge one day. I saw a flicker of that sweetness the first moment I met her. She’s suffering from crippling fear brought on by abuse.
I realize this is a long-shot, but if you live in the Wilton, CT area and have lots of experience working with cats, if you can provide a SEPARATE space in your home that’s quiet and safe and you’re willing to basically just keep Chloe fed, but otherwise left alone, please contact me: email@example.com
Chloe is going to need long-term care. If you’d like to make a donation to help Chloe, please donate via PayPal HERE. Animals in Distress is a 501(c) 3, non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Wendy has recently begun offering fee-based cat behavior consultations. If you're in need of her services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
Another resources for help with cat behavior issues, is Wendy's latest book: Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to do What You Want which was just published earlier this month.
The main foster room is quiet now. I don't hear the thudding, stomping, or occasional crashing sounds from above my office in the room where Coco, Latte, Willow, Barney and Fred lived. Three young cats still live there, waiting for their forever homes, but as of this afternoon, two have moved on.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The perpetually lovely, Coco.
I'm sad. I'm always sad to see them go. They were here far too long. These cats were in our program for almost a year-which astonishes me since we had them when they were kittens, but at that time, when they were most adoptable, many of them had health issues and we had to wait to place them.
I was also up to my ears here, having taken on a litter of all black (save for one) kittens who were taking far too long to adopt out, as well. It meant this group from Georgia had to wait even longer to arrive and once they did it seemed like either no one wanted them or one adopter after another fell through.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ready to pounce.
I must have gotten 50 inquiries and many of the applications on Coco. Of course everyone would want her being a Flame Point Siamese mix. Who wouldn't want a cat with peach and china blue eyes and delicate orange points (a creamy coat with darker facial masks, ears, tails, paws, nose leather and paw pads. These darker areas are known as their points.).
Of the many applicants there were a very few good options. Some just lived too far away, in states with tough animal importation laws, and there were too many other things going on, too. I have no volunteers to help process applications and the task can be daunting for me.
I did one home visit, thinking I had Coco's home, but with all due respect, it was too cluttered and though the people were so very nice and lovely, I just couldn't place Coco there. Knowing she tends to be a bit “Princessy” I imagined her hiding under a bed for the rest of her life. I still feel badly about that, but I had to move on for her sake.
A local family stepped forward to adopt Coco and I thought this was FINALLY who I'd been looking for. They came to meet Coco a few times. They promised they were going to adopt her just as soon as another family member's cat returned to his home with his guardian (they were visiting). Two months went by and I got an email; "Sorry, our daughter didn't do some [no idea what] chore and she can't have the cat.”
What could I do? I moved on. Coco was 7 or 8 months old by now. Lucky for her she still had her looks even if she wasn't a sweet little kitten.
Sifting through more and more applications I finally hit a good one from a very nice lady and her husband. They live north of here and didn't currently have any cats or pets. I was worried that Coco would be sad, but I also was feeling like I had to get her a home and she would be treated so well that perhaps she would be happy being on her own? Her new mom didn't work full time so Coco wouldn't be alone a lot.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I did the home visit and it went very well so we made plans for the couple to meet Coco in a few days.
The next day, I got an email from the couple; “Family emergency. We have to fly out of town. Can you please hold Coco for us?”
“Oh no, not this again.” I thought.
I liked this family so I gave them a break and said to let me know when they got back from their trip, worrying that I would never hear from them again.
Though there was very sad news for the family, they wanted to move forward with the adoption and let me know when they returned, as promised.
But now Coco was sick! She had a slight fever and wasn't eating. She wasn't running after her toys so I took her to the Vet. They gave her SubQ fluids and sent her home. Hopefully whatever it was would pass. Of course-perfect timing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The goofy twosome.
I almost lost the adoption again when I had to tell the family Coco was sick. There was some confusion, but in the end it worked out. They waited a few days and came to visit Coco when she was nearly well enough to be adopted. It had taken almost a month to get to this point. I was very hopeful this was going to be the one that would stick.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Those heart-stopping eyes.
During the visit, Faith, Coco's new mom, talked to me about adopting Coco as a sole cat. I was honest, but not pushy. I preferred Coco go with one of the others, but I would never try to manipulate someone to do that. I explained the benefit of having two cats who are already friends-watching them play, groom each other, sleep together. She'd know they'd keep each other company when no one else was home. Since the house was large and there were no other pets, why not, if the family could afford a second cat.
Right away Faith started looking around the room. Her eyes fell on Latte who was rolling around on the floor getting litter dust on her fur.
“I like that one. What do you think of her going with Coco?” Faith asked.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I nicknamed Latte, La-La and she often came to me when I called her by that name.
There was some discussion back and forth about maybe Barney being a better choice. The husband wasn't a big fan of Latte's but I had a feeling she would win him over later. In truth, these were Faith's cats. He just had to nod and smile, which he did with resigned elegance, I must say.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte and Barney ready to pounce.
I encouraged them leave without taking ANY of the cats. I wanted them to think about it over night. I promised I'd bring the cats to them, whatever they decided. This is a big commitment to take on and it should not be rushed.
The next morning I got an email from them. I was afraid to read it, but once I did a big smile spread across my face. They wanted both girls and could I please come soon? They didn't want to wait any longer.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Raised together as sisters and will now be adopted together!
This afternoon I packed the girls up into cat carriers and also packed up some food, toys and two cat beds that were made for us by Mrs. Medaugh's Third Grade Class at St. Rose School in New Lexington, Ohio. I packed Latte's favorite Kong toy and I added a catnip banana to the mix since we had a few that were donated to us. The girls were silent the entire journey. I knew they'd be scared, but I knew they'd work past it. My job was to get them settled and say my farewells though I had a very heavy heart.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte and Willow had become very close with Latte turning to Willow as she would her own mother. I saw them grooming each other from time to time and I hoped that Latte would find the same affection from Coco one day.
Faith cheerfully met me at the door. She carried Coco into their new room while I took Latte. I suggested that we start the girls off in just one room, so they didn't run off and hide somewhere, never to be seen again. The room Faith chose is a lovely corner space on the main floor. There are french doors on one side, with windows all around. It's brightly lit, clean and warm. Faith set out a big cat bed-enoguh room for two, some cat scratchers, a tiny scratching post and some toys. We sat on the floor together as the girls explored, but mostly hid, in their new home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The part of the story we're never sure we're going to reach when we first do a rescue. Tiny Coco was living outdoors in terrible conditions when we rescued her. You can read some of her backstory HERE.
I probably told Faith too many little things to make sure she did, so the introduction phase went well…things like not to go after the cats but let them come to her..not to move the litter pans too soon into the basement and to not move the girls out of the room until she saw them walking with their tails held high and were confident in their new space. It would take time for them to adjust, but going slowly would pay off later.
I'd already kissed each cat goodbye before I put them into their carriers and left for their new home. I only had a last glimpse of Latte's nose and tail pocking out from under a dresser and no sign of Coco at all. I knew they were under the dresser together, but I was sorry our final moments weren't a bit sweeter.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte and her brother, Tater Tot were terribly ill-especially Tater. Latte blossomed into a big, strong beauty. She and Coco were born on the same property to different mothers. It's possible they may share the same father. Some of her backstory is HERE.
To Coco, you are a true beauty and I'm so happy for you. To Latte, watching you blossom has been an honor; from terrified to a little gem of a warrior. You have a sparkling soul and I adore you. I hope you and Coco will know a lifetime of love. I've done my best to make sure you have the best chance at finding it. The rest is up to you.
I decided it was time to move foster kitties George, Bongo and Bunny-Boo Boo from Maria's house in Georgia to my house in Connecticut so we could get going on finding the cats forever homes. We rescued them FIVE MONTHS AGO and in that time I had hoped my other foster cats would have been adopted. With Kitten Season upon us, I have to crank things up a notch and hope we adopt out at least some of these foster cats before there are loads of kittens competing for adopters.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet George.
Most of the time I use a professional transport service to move our cats north. I really like PETS, LLC because they have been very trustworthy and prompt and their rates are reasonable. The only bad thing is the transports are usually filled with dogs. None of us love that the cats are with dogs, but the cat's discomfort only lasts for about a day's time (and they ARE in separate crates and some times even a separate walled off space from the dogs). The cats adjust and after they arrive here, within a very short amount of time, they are playing, eating and enjoying their new home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many gorgeous cats are in this photo? Answer: All of them!
But…Maria didn't want to put these cats on the transport. I understood her reservations and certainly didn't blame her one bit. In five months of fostering, the close bond Maria had with the cats made it even harder for her to let them go on a truck full of dogs. Our only other option was to ask our friends Izzy and Mark if they were going on any road trips to Florida any time soon.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Keep that pretty face clean, George.
Izzy and Mark LOVE cats. If you've read my blog before, you know they will do anything to help any animal and their home in Pennsylvania reflects their passion. They've shared photos of their bed-it's covered with cats. I've seen a photo of Izzy on her sofa, working, flanked by the couple's two dogs, with cats at her feet. When Izzy and Mark go on a vacation, the always offer to bring rescue cats back north with them and many rescues are very grateful for their generosity.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Helloooooo Bongo!
Though they had no plans to travel, Izzy and Mark offered to drive down to Georgia, then drive back to PA and meet us with the cats! Yes, that's something crazy people do (lucky for us)! Before I knew it, in the space of a day, a plan was hatched. Izzy and Mark would leave Wednesday morning and drive to just north of Maria's in Georgia. They would get a good night's sleep, then pick the cats up very early on Thursday. By Thursday night (last night) they'd get the cats to the Perkins near the state line of NY and PA where we would meet them and take the cats the rest of the way home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo is the spitting image of our former foster kitty, Charly!
Tuesday night, Coco fell ill. She had a fever and wasn't eating. I took her to see Dr. Mary the next morning. They ran some blood tests and re-ran her snap test to see if she had Feline Leukemia or FIV. Great.
Now what do I do? Do I tell Izzy and Mark to turn around and go home? What if Coco had something terrible? What if she was contagious? Sure, she wouldn't be in the same room as our new arrivals, but it's pretty much impossible for me to prevent transmitting disease as I go from one foster room to the next-even if I wash my hands and change clothes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Portrait of cuteness.
If I cancel the trip, it will be TWO MORE weeks before the PETS transport runs and then we're in mid-March.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. LOOK AT THAT TAIL!
I spoke with Maria and we realized we needed to just do this transport. It would be better for the cats and after having nine deathly ill foster cats here two years ago, I figured with any luck, I would be able to manage what was yet to come. Ha ha ha. I think it's funny, too…funny or foolish.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. White Lion or domestic house cat?
I spoke with Dr. Mary the next morning. Coco's blood work indicated her white blood count was very high, which was her body's response to a virus or bacterial issue. She wanted to put her on antibiotics. Normally, I would just do that, but now I'm much more conservative about using antibiotics and more prone to allow the body to defend itself. Coco had begun to eat and perk back up after we'd given her subcutaneous fluids the day before. The blood test results were from the day before, too. Just because her white blood count was high then, did not mean it was STILL elevated now. I decided to let Coco heal on her own and, of course, if she showed ANY signs of feeling poorly I would get her on the medication right away. She was still negative for Feline Leukemia and FIV, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Goofhead.
Now I just had to get ready for the new arrivals so I got to work cleaning the foster room. After that I made myself a sandwich for lunch. I'm including this boring detail because not long after that I got SICK. Needless to say, driving 100 miles each way to pick up three cats at 9:00 PM in the middle of the boonies of mid-state New York is NOT something you want to do with a stomach ache and little, if any, access to a bathroom.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Bunny. She'll feel better soon.
Izzy and Mark were running ahead of schedule AND the weather was about to take a turn from just cold to rain, sleet and snow mixed together. There was no way to back out of the pickup trip. I decided to take a nap and see if that would help any. Sam took a nap, too, since he was really tired and we were both going to do the run together (and hopefully not both GET the RUNS together since I made HIM a sandwich, too).
When I got up I felt just as awful as before, but now I also felt really groggy. I woke Sam up and had a difficult conversation with him. He had to do the run on his own. I just couldn't do it. I'd print out the directions, get him everyone's phone number and stay up in case he needed me for anything while on the road. I felt so terrible asking him to go alone, but he took it with a grain of salt while I stewed in my guilt.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh so delicate.
As it turns out, the trip was a quick one. Izzy and Mark were very tired and just wanted to get the cats to Sam and head home. They had been on the road for nearly fourteen hours by that point and still had three and a half more to go. Sam texted me saying he was turning right back around and would be home soon. By 11pm Sam called saying he was down the street. I thought; “Here goes nothing.” Then started praying this wasn't the stupidest idea I've ever had.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo wants to start the day with a belly rub.
We got the cats into the foster room. I had my first look at each one. George was calm, cool and collected. He let me hold him right away. I took one look at him and knew I was in trouble, suddenly realizing that to avoid “foster fail” I should rescue cats I'm NOT going to LIKE, yet here in my arms was my dear cat, Spencer's little twin brother. George has the same mostly white Norwegian Forest Cat body, the crazy spots of tabby, the biggest, fluffiest tail I have EVER SEEN, a plush coat and ruff AND he's a NICE CAT to boot.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The CRAZIEST tail I have ever seen!
Bongo hid behind the litter pan. Poor Bunny didn't even come out of the cat carrier. I knew to keep the room dark and quiet. I put out some food and left them to rest from their long trip. I set up an electric blanket for them in case they wanted to snuggle and I whispered goodnight to them and headed to bed…but first another trip to the bathroom. Ugh.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Bunny, it's going to be OKAY!
This morning George and Bongo came over to say hello. I saw Bongo's nerve-damaged leg curled tightly against his body as he walked towards me. He walks with a wobble, but he doesn't let that stop him. He came over and laid down on the floor next to me. He rolled over and showed me his belly. He got up and laid against my lap and purred deeply. Oh crap, another cat to fall in love with!
Bunny is still scared, but I know she'll come around. It hasn't even been 24-hours yet and we all need time to get used to all the changes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Doomed. I'm doomed!
July was even more difficult on us than June. Maria had taken in two more kittens from her neighbor who were very sick. A buff tabby named Tater Tot was the most ill. The Vet told us it was the “wet” form of FIP which is fatal. His sister, Latte was struggling with a terrible upper respiratory infection. Maria took time off from work to care for the cats around the clock. Neither of us slept much. I researched alternative treatments, testing, anything I could think of while we expected that Tater wouldn't be with us for much longer.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our amazing survivor-Tater Tot.
Because Maria is so good at what she does, she noticed that Tater had tapeworms. We ran more tests. His belly was big and round from the tapeworms, giardia and what was almost pneumonia. Once we started treatment he began to show improvement. It took a few weeks but we were very happy to take FIP off the table as we saw Tater eat on his own and gain weight.
King arrived in my home for a few days. He was quite the charmer, but he wasn't meant to be here for very long. Sam and I drove King to New Hampshire, to his new home where his mom, Judy was waiting to adopt him. I loved this home for him and this good woman and her sister. I never thought King had a chance and here he was 1400 miles from the palette factory in a safe, loving environment.
Two of my dear friends adopted Sabrina and Cutie Pie. Their mom, April, found a home in Brooklyn, NY and their sister Bon Bon was adopted in June.
We took on another pregnant mama named Winnie and got a new foster home here in CT. Donna and her husband, Paul are great foster parents. Winnie had five amazing kittens on 8.10.12 named Buttons, Bandit, Honeydew, Charly and Pinkie.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama, Winnie (inset) waiting to see Dr. Chris. Buttons flying high while Honeydew and sister, Bandit look on.
I took another fistful of Xanax and flew to Topeka, Kansas to tour the Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center. I tiptoed through the “dark side,” but made some good friends and learned a lot more about pet food ingredients.
Something horrible happened to my cat Spencer. He stopped eating and hid. X-rays showed a strange mass in his sinus. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. It turned out to be a false alarm which added many more gray hairs to my head.
I was honored to be chosen as one of five members of the Animal Control Advisory Panel, overseeing the operations of our brand new town's Animal Control facility here in Newtown, CT. We had our first meeting and I was delighted to be nominated as Co-Chair of the committee.
Just as I was about to get inundated with kitties from Maria and Cyndie, I found a foster home for two of the remaining black kitties and the final one, Hello Dahlia, was adopted. We got the word that Miss Fluffy Pants found a GREAT forever home and Coco, Chichi, Choco, Tater Tot, Latte, Fred & Barney, and Willow arrived!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (inset) the DOOD resting in his cage while his mysterious back injury slowly healed and a few months later enjoying the new cat tree in my office.
Chichi and Choco got adopted right away into a great home.
One morning, the DOOD couldn't get up and walk and was in terrible pain, growling or crying if we touched him. We did x-rays that showed nothing and began talking about taking DOOD to a neurologist or starting him on steroids. It took six long weeks, most of it forced cage rest, before he was well enough to walk again without pain. I think he fell down the spiral staircase to get into the basement where we store food for our feral cat, but we'll never really know what happened.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson getting oxygen before we raced him to the Emergency Vet and Intensive Care (inset). Jackson at home feeling better.
With Maria having space in her home open, we took on a kitty named Bongo who has nerve damage to his front leg. It had been a Hell of a month, but we kept on.
Opal went to a sanctuary and is doing well. She is becoming more friendly each day and she may one day be put up for adoption.
There was troubling news about King. He'd been struggling with chronic, severe and frankly bizarre ear infections. He had to have surgery, loads of daily cleanings, antibiotics. The other cats in the home weren't too sure about him. King faced losing his ears and his home, but his mom never gave up on him.
©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo (inset) with Bongo (left) and George (right)-who are all ready to be adopted! Email email@example.com for more info.
I rescued a knockout silver tabby Maine coon mix named Nico from a kill shelter in Georgia because I knew I could find him a home and I wasn't going to let him die.
Maria found a kitten in a parking lot she named, Bunny Boo Boo that she rescued on her own and we took on another cat whose former mom was going to lose her home if the landlord found out she rescued a cat from the parking lot nearby. We named him George and he and Bongo and Bunny Boo Boo are great friends.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hurricane Sandy, no power for almost a week-just a bad flashback to the year before when we got nailed at almost the same time by “Snowmageddon.”
Hurricane Sandy killed the power and made life HELL for a week making a mess of my home in Sandy Hook, CT.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You are deeply missed, sweet girl.
Nico arrived and was adopted a few weeks later. The rest of Winnie's family found their forever homes. There were lots of inquiries about adopting kittens since the Holidays were approaching. Tater Tot, in a surprising twist, got adopted instead of Willow, who the family had come to meet. Willow, Fred & Barney and Latte were still with us waiting for their forever homes.
I got good news that King overcame his severe ear issues and was finally settling in with his new family. The other kitties were slowly accepting him and King was finding his place. His mom is the sort of adopter I always wish for-after a very rocky start, loads of vet bills and difficulties, she kept on. She never complained. She was completely devoted. My only hope is that her reward is enjoying the love of a very dear cat and hopefully a much easier future.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our mascot of Covered in Cat Hair and my baby, Spencer before and after surgery.
Spencer had a very challenging dental cleaning where he lost two more teeth and surgery to remove a mass from one ear and another from inside the other. I prepared myself for bad news, but the shock came as the test results indicated it was an apocrin gland cyst with “no content”-meaning NO CANCER.
Sam and I cleared out the garage of recycling one bright sunny morning. After we were done we went to Panera Bread to have a late breakfast. While we were sitting there we saw police cars racing past. I knew something bad had happened and a few minutes later I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which you can read more about HERE and HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My home town will never be the same again. The school is a few miles from my home.
Wanting to reach out and help heal the broken hearts in our town, I created “Kitties for Kids” a kitten-therapy for the children, first responders and residents of Newtown, CT. We were featured on national television news and major news outlets online. We got loads of donations of plush toys and the first children and parents began to arrive to visit our kitties.
Although we had no Christmas and sent out no card (for the first time in my adult life), the joy of knowing I was helping people and the overwhelming honor of so many people reaching out to us was my gift.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. We will never forget and find a way to heal our hearts.
It's been quite a challenging and painful year. I realize that 2013 may be no easier. All I can do is hope that I'll be better able to handle what is yet to come and that for the cats out there who need me, that I'll have the resources to help them when the time comes.
We began the year with a rescue, going beyond our comfort zone by taking on an adult, instead of an easy-to-place kitten. The cat was a huge, white, “biscuit head” tom-cat from Henry County Care & Control. I saw his photo and saw something about him that made me take action. I named him Jackson Galaxy in honor of the Cat Daddy/Cat Behaviorist on Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell.”
©2012 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson was a miserable wreck when we first took him into Kitten Associates as our first rescue of 2012.
Jackson had a rough start. He frightened Maria but we realized later it was because he was in great pain. He had a terrible infection from his neutering and he needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and get him back on the road to good health. By the end of the month, Jackson was on the transport headed to Connecticut to find his forever home.
©2012 Bobby Stanford (inset). ©2012 Leesiateh.com. Miss Fluffy Pants shortly before being adopted.
Our friend and volunteer, Bobby Stanford, told me about two cats living outside a palette factory in McDonough, GA. They were living in poor conditions and in danger of being hit by any one of the numerous fork lifts that raced around the premises. One of the two cats, a dirty, thin tuxedo we named King Arthur, seemed to be missing his back paws. Completely horrified I decided we'd help him and the other cat on the premises, who we named Miss Fluffy Pants, because we worried she was pregnant.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). King's mama, Judy. King's journey has been quite amazing. I'll be doing a more in-depth update on him in January.
I was fostering a little orange tabby spitfire named Bobette, along with her two boys, the third had just been adopted. Bobette needed surgery to repair her luxated patella, so I sat in on the procedure and helped her in recovery and for the next few weeks while she healed.
February was a month of discovery. We learned that King's missing paws were due to a birth defect. He didn't need surgery or prosthetics. He could walk on carpeting, but who would adopt this cat? King began to clean himself and gain some weight. He loved being petted until Miss Fluffy Pants came to join him.
Miss FP was not pregnant. We thought the two cats were friends at the factory, but they were not happy to see each other. With some quick thinking and the donation of a cat tree, Miss FP could sit high up, away from King and both cats relaxed into their new foster home.
©2011 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette with one of her kittens while at the kill shelter and after surgery in Sam's loving arms.
We also learned the Miss FP was FIV+ which we knew would put a roadblock in our ability to find her a good forever home. With her taking up valuable foster care space I got to work trying to figure out what to do for her that didn't mean putting her in a sanctuary.
We were heartbroken to learn that after some behavior issues gave us a clue to trouble, Dr. Larry diagnosed Sam's cat, Nicky with Chronic Renal Failure. We began giving him sub Q fluids every few days and began to learn more about this condition and ways we could lengthen his life.
Jackson arrived in Connecticut and was placed with my friends at Animals in Distress, but fell ill after arriving there. They thought it was a mild upper respiratory infection and in time he was feeling better. By the second week of February, Jackson found his forever home with a loving family. We were all delighted.
©2011 Maria S. (inset) ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Two of Bobette's boys, Jakey & Teddy.
Bobette continued her recovery, but was still limping. I had to separate her from her boys because she hissed and growled every time she saw them. The boys, Jakey & Teddy had a blast hanging out with my cats while I continued to try to find them a great home.
The saying is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but this March was the opposite; quiet for a few weeks, then things started to go crazy.
Bobette had the staples taken out of her leg and due to a problem with the bandage removal she ended up biting my hand so badly I had to see a Doctor.
I found a blueish growth on my cat Gracie's abdomen. She had a dental done and had the cyst removed. It ended up being an Apocrine Gland Carcinoma, but was considered to be completely excised and of no further concern.
Jakey & Teddy were adopted together and Bobette was glad to see them leave.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy.
On March 26th, a few days before my birthday, Jackson Galaxy emailed me and asked me out to lunch (which ended up being dinner). It was one of the best days of my life, but that wasn't all that happened. That night in the frigid cold in nearby Trumbull, CT, six mostly black kittens were born to a gray mama named April. I didn't realize it at the time, but they would be my next foster family.
The next day, still buzzing from my visit with Jackson, I was honored by Freekibble.com with a donation of a full palette of Halo® canned cat food! The press came to document the event and I started to wonder if the foster cats would eat it (they loved it!).
The Worst Birthday Ever was followed by picking up April and meeting her mostly all black female kittens for the first time. Three kittens were polydactyl and there was no way I was going to be able to tell most of them apart for the next eight weeks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April and her kittens.
I rescued a senior cat named Leo who was an adorable long haired tuxedo. The poor cat was forced to live outside on scraps when his owner's wife had a baby. I begged my friend Katherine to take him into Animals in Distress if I paid the Vet bill. We worked something out and Leo was saved. A few months later, Leo and a second cat found an amazing home with a family I found for them here in town. They are doing GREAT.
A missing cat alert showed up in email with a very familiar name, Amberly. One of my former foster cats was MISSING and the family didn't have the nerve to tell me. I leapt into action. Thank GOODNESS Katherine has good instincts and lived nearby the family. By the next DAY Katherine found Amberly and the family promised to work harder to keep her inside.
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, all grown up with siblings Choco and ChiChi (inset).
Maria contacted me about a tortie mom cat we named Cami and five kittens in her neighbors yard. She was very worried about them so I told her to find a place to put them and we'd take them on. By the time Maria got back to the home, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. We named the surviving kittens Coco, ChiChi and Choco.
On May 1st a shelter called AnimalKind in upstate New York suffered the total loss of their facility after a small fire caused the sprinkler system to flood the 3-story building. Through my contacts a pet product companies I was able to provide them with palettes of food and litter. Later in 2012 I visited their facility and met with their Director, Katrin Hecker. You can read about my visit HERE.
I travelled to New Jersey to attend Bottle Baby Bootcamp at Tabby's Place. The timing was great because the black kittens needed help since poor April was having a tough time feeding all the kittens. I worried the littlest one wouldn't make it, but Cutie Pie surprised me and began to do well. I named her sisters Sabrina, Bon Bon, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia (in honor of my friend, JaneA's cat Dahlia who had recently passed away).
Then a crazy thing happened.
JaneA came to visit us and instead of falling in love with her cat's namesake, she threw me a curveball, clearly falling in love with our little spitfire, Bobette. She adopted her the next morning before she left for her home in Maine. It was a one of the happiest adoptions I'd ever done.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her girl, Bobette (who she later named, Kissy)
By the end of the month there was more somber news. Jackson the cat lost his home and was being returned. Since I had space I offered to take him back since AID was full up.
June will forever be a tough month for me since it's the anniversary of my Father's passing and of my favorite cat's passing. I hoped that this June would not be under such a dark cloud but it was not meant to be.
Thankfully it wasn't all bad news. After months of searching, begging, dealing, I was able to get Miss Fluffy Pants transferred to Good Mews in Marietta, Georgia.
©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is still looking for her forever home! You can visit her Petfinder page HERE
Maria, our cat-magnet, rescued a cat from a tree. She named her Willow and we added her to our group of rescues in Georgia. Meanwhile, I got a curious email from a lady in New Hampshire inquiring about King. She had a fully carpeted home. She had two cats. Did I think King might be happy with her?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me, Jill Delzer (center) and Ingrid King (far right). Inset: Joanne McGonagle, Me with Gracie the cat.
And for the first time in many years, I took a fistful of Xanax and boarded a plane headed to Salt Lake City where Sam and I were Speakers at BlogPaws 2012. I was up for two awards that I did not win, but I had so much fun and made a great new friend. In those few days I was re-energized enough to keep doing rescue work once I got home.
Maria removed another cat from her neighbor (with his consent)- who NEVER spays or neuters his cats. Maria has tried repeatedly to get the cats taken care of but he just puts it off and his cats get pregnant. A nine month old kitten named Opal, who had become almost feral, was pregnant. Our new foster mom, Cyndie offered to take her in and help her along. Sadly, the stress of being in a home pushed Opal in to premature labor. Four kittens were born, but after extensive attempts to save their lives, only two survived. She named them Fred & Barney. We had their siblings Pebbles and Bam Bam cremated and their little wooden urn is here with me placed next to my cat, Bob's ashes.
NOTE TO READERS: It's been a week since I wrote this post, but I felt it was still worth sharing. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the birth “Kitties for Kids” and its initial flowering. I hope it inspires all of you that next time you get an idea that rises from your heart, you just go with it. You may change the world, or only a small part of it or just your own soul. Whatever comes of it, do it. The world needs you.
My Mother used to say to me: “Never wish for anything. You're liable to get it.”
A week ago I wished I could pay my mortgage, find more donations for Kitten Associates and get the kittens adopted so I could finally take a MUCH needed break from fostering. Things were looking up. I had good possible adopters for Coco, Fred & Barney, Nico and Willow. That left me with Latte and George & Bongo (who are still down in Georgia).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The size of the memorial grew every day until the sidewalks were jammed with toys, flowers, candles and messages of love.
Then the world stopped spinning and the tears began to flow after the vicious rampage and mass murder at our local elementary school. The following day, Saturday the 15th of December, an idea blossomed. I'm not one to sit idly by when something bad happens. I need to take action on some level, in some way. Maybe running a cat rescue predisposes me to be the type of person to run TO trouble, instead of AWAY from it?
There are so many times when I believe I have a good idea, but never act on it. There's always a reason to watch more TV or to not bother because it would take too much time and keep me from other things I've made a commitment to already. Between tears I said to Sam that maybe we should open up the foster kitten room and invite the children of Newtown to come here and just pet the cats. We knew the effect playtime would have on the kids. I'd seen it many time before-their eyes lit up, twinkling, giggling like mad, their voices rising in glee. I thought if I could help them, even for a short while it would be worth it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. So many candles. So many tears.
I knew I couldn't take away their pain-or frankly, anyone's here in Sandy Hook, CT for that matter, but I HAD to try. I feel very protective of the people in this town-which surprises me because often I feel like an outcast. Sam and I don't have any children together so we miss out on a lot of things since Newtown IS very family focused. Some times I resented living in a bedroom community where we didn't drive an SUV or go to soccer games. I found my way to fit in through my love of animals and now I get to do something with that love that might be of some benefit on a grand scale. I've always wanted to make a difference. Maybe with this little idea to help the children I COULD.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The note reads: “Sandy Hook Elementary. With all my love and lots of Hugs. Sandy Hook Class of 1972.
I called the program Kitties for Kids (though looking back on it I wish I called it Kitties for Kiddies, but it's too late now) and put together a mental picture of how it would work. I bounced the idea off Sam and he said; “Go for it.” He didn't find any serious issues with doing it and I was so energized by my need to help that I sat down and started making lists. I went online and added a number of plush cat toys to our Amazon WishList. As I do with every adoption event or promotion I went online and told my Facebook fans, both of Covered in Cat Hair and of Kitten Associates, my non-profit cat rescue organization.
I thought that after the kids came to visit, I'd give them a plush cat toy because I feared they would either not want to go home after 30 minutes OR not want to go home-EVER. Perhaps getting a parting gift of a plush cat would help soothe them and remind them of the nice time they had.
I got a text message from my foster mom down in Georgia. “Where were the plush cats on the list?” She didn't see anything.
Neither did I.
I added more and they, too, were gone in minutes!I began getting emails from folks asking how they could help. One woman, who created K.T. Cat, an adorable plush toy designed to help young children talk about their feelings, offered a donation of her plush.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Every day the UPS driver kept bringing us packages. It was like Christmas for days and days!
She offered 50 K.T. Cats and I gladly accepted. I knew a special therapeutic plush like this could REALLY make a difference.
I was stunned by all the sudden activity and interest in my idea. I started to worry about what-if's: What if I don't have enough space to store all these boxes of plush cats? What if no one shows up? What if TOO MANY people show up and I can't take them all on for fear of stressing my kittens? What if we have to rent a haul and a storage container? What if I RUN OUT OF FOSTER KITTENS?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sorting out what we have and trying to keep it all away from inquisitive cats.
My dear friend Mary, of The Word Forge LOVED the idea and offered to help write a Press Release. Another friend, Irene, my super-volunteer offered to come over and help me clean out the foster room and go to Target so we could get some things to cheer the space up a bit (even though i really wanted to completely re-do the room there wasn't time). It seemed as though EVERYONE I told about Kitties for Kids LOVED the idea. Their enthusiasm kept me going.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A huge box of plush ready for the children to take them home.
I got very little sleep and barely ate. There was a lot of time spent answering calls and emails. Kitten Associates was FINALLY starting to become known in Newtown, something we've been very weak on since being established in 2010 and the word is spreading about us beyond the borders of the USA.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen and his plush counterpart, both offering comfort to those effected by the Shooting in Sandy Hook.
And then the phone started to ring. The people I needed to reach were getting the message and wanted to book an appointment. Kitties for Kids was really happening. Now it was time to found out if my idea was a good one.
Next up-"Media Mayhem," followed by “Terror-tourists GO HOME!”, then we do a wrap up with an update on how the Kitties for Kids program is doing along with some very special photos.
For more information about Kitties for Kids, or to find out how you can visit our kitties visit Kitten Associates!