One I Hold in High Regard

BarkAid Has Gone to the Cats

A few months ago I got an email from a cat-loving friend of Covered in Cat Hair who lives in Rhode Island. She told me that she wanted to help out Kitten Associates, but didn't have a lot of resources to make a donations. Instead, she told me about a program called BarkAid and suggested I contact the Founder, Patrick Lomantini, and ask him if Kitten Associates could be part of his fundraising efforts.

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BARK. AID? Isn't that for dogs?

After visiting BarkAid's web site, I came to understand the following:

Patrick owns Lomantini the Salon in Wichita, Kansas. He loves animals even though he couldn't have one as a child AND he's somewhat allergic to cats. He wanted to make a difference helping animals in need, but didn't want to focus just on his local rescue. Sure, he could do a cut-a-thon, something he'd done in the past, but it would only help one rescue. It wasn't enough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Three years ago, Patrick had the crazy idea to get in his car and travel to one state per DAY, team up with a local salon, cut hair for 12 hours and charge just $20/haircut. At the end of the day he'd donate the money to a local rescue group. Yes, it's nuts, but Patrick is a physical specimen of manly hunkatude who can handle the challenge he set for himself. His 6-pack abs have abs and his biceps would make Popeye blush. Patrick has close-cropped hair and wears tight black t-shirts and jeans, with a big hunky watch. His blue eyes could charm anyone he meets. There's a bubbling energy about him that's contagious, which won him over with folks as he blazed a trail across the country.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick decided he had 50 days to accomplish his mission and somehow he pulled it off. What is more impressive is that he decided to do it again the next year and again this year, with a small team of volunteers at his side.

Patrick NEEDS a big, fat corporate sponsor for these events, but right now Patrick is paying for the trip out-of-pocket. He wants each rescue to get as much money as they can, so he donates 100% of his profits to them, only asking for tip money to go to the volunteers to pay for gas (last year was $6,000.00 alone) and food. He hopes that the rescue groups will be able to put his team up for the night, too, to help offset costs.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach, Patrick (Center) and Alexis.

As fate would have it, just a I was contacting Patrick to ask him if Kitten Associates might take part he happened to be looking for a rescue group to work with in Connecticut. Apparently he hadn't had the easiest time here and was hoping for a better match this time around. I told him we're a TINY rescue and that there are bigger ones in town that could do a lot more, but Patrick had faith in us and said that the smaller rescues always worked a lot harder to publicize the events and support his team.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I figured I'd give it a try IF I could secure a salon for his team to set up shop. My first and only choice was Salon Michele, where I get my fancy-pants hairdos from time to time. I ran the idea past Maggie, who has been doing my hair for a few years now. She is a cat lover, so it wasn't tough for her to say YES. Of course we had to ask the owner, Michele and I realized it would be basically asking her to shut her salon down for the day and let me use it to raise money. Thankfully the date they chose for us was a Tuesday, so it was a slower day for business which might make it easier to give us the green light.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I gathered all my info and presented it to her. She didn't take long to think about it and said YES! From that moment on was a whirlwind for me. I had to do a lot of planning, getting permits to put out directional signs, finding out how to get a 25-ft long banner hung over the main street in town, making list after list of what needed to be done, who needed to be told. I struggled with how to get the word out and my dear friend Mary Shafer of Word Forge Books helped me get the Press Release sorted out.

For two months I was obsessed, but my biggest challenge was HOW to explain this event and NOT have people think that it was either Haircuts for DOGS or a fundraiser for DOGS?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I got everything sorted out and spent a lot of late nights working on this. I began to realize right away that we'd have to spend a good deal of money on advertising-YES, not just doing free ads online. Our town paper, The Newtown Bee, was the key way to get the word out to everyone in town. After all, we are the hometown cat rescue and we knew they'd help us. As luck would have it, an ad space opened up that was PRIME location and it hit the streets a few days before our event. I worried about spending $450.00 for this huge ad. It would be on the front page of The Bee Extra, The Bee's free paper, as well as inside their main paper.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis with the Mascot-dog plush (a gift from Kitten Associates)

I had to take a risk. If we couldn't reach people, what was the point?

I was very glad my graphic design background came in handy. I put together designs not just for flyers, but for table top signs, HUGE window signs that would re-skin Salon Michele, directional signs and a twenty five foot long banner-the biggest piece I've ever designed.

It also dawned on me that this is something I was meant to do. When I was a kid, I put on plays for my parents, then when I was at school, I was in Student Government where I came up with events like "Bring your Camera to School Day." In High School and College I took it up a notch and planned big events. My pride and joy was a 1940's Prom with a big band for over 600 guests. Why couldn't I do a fundraiser for my own rescue group?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Because I had to take care of RESCUES, too!

In the two weeks before our event, I helped rescue about twenty cats and kittens. All of them went to other rescues, but I did a lot of emailing, phone calls, driving around with a car full of kittens. It seemed that Minnie, too, got the message because she relapsed and got sick again and ended up having to have emergency spay surgery a few DAYS before the event!(she's recovered now and doing well)

I was having all sorts of stress dreams. The worst was the morning of the event, I dreamt I was waking up with most of my hair laying on the pillow and no way to hide that I was bald.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Beth, one of our awesome adopters with Patrick.

When the banner was hung and the ads were printed, I knew I'd spent about $1000. and that was about half of all the money we had. I started to fear we might lose money, but my friends kept reminding me that getting our name out is valuable, too (tell that to the Vet when he wants to be paid!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Kathy, the super-star who works the front desk of Salon Michele contacted me and said we had 3 appointments for haircuts. My heart sank. We had one week to go and I worried not only would we lose money, but it would be embarrassing to everyone who gave up so much to support our group.

A few days later the banner was hung and more calls came in. We were up to 14 appointments, which was still far too few. We needed 50 to break even.

The Friday before the event, the big ad in the paper came out. Nothing happened for three days, then on Monday, the day before, we were up to 50 and rising. Between the banner, the ad and word of mouth, things were heating up. By Tuesday I knew we had over 60 with whispers that it might even go higher than that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Busy Bees cutting hair and raising money for our kitties!

Tuesday morning, the BIG DAY, I drove over to Salon Michele to get set up. It really hit me that a lot of people had stopped what they were doing to help Kitten Associates and most of them I didn't even know. I fought off crying, but it was very emotional. When you work really hard and often have difficult situations to deal with, you don't have time to think about what you might get out of it. With cat rescue it's just focusing on helping the cats however you can. You know there are lots of people who love cats, but they wouldn't get their haircut because of that, would they?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. These cupcakes from the DOrazio Sisters Bakery tasted SO GOOD that I am craving one or ten right now!

So I got to work. Patrick and his team were already there even though the first appointment wasn't for 30 minutes. They'd arrived at 1am and were already back up and ready to go at 7:30am. These guys were amazing and they hadn't even started!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I set up, everyone got to know each other. Zach, one of the stylists graciously helped me put out the directional signs at the perimeter of the parking lot. We got chatting and he told me this was the first time he'd been east of Montana and that his home state was Idaho! I couldn't begin to imagine how amazing and exhilarating it was for him to see so much, in so little time. What a wild ride. I was tempted to offer to join them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Alexis, one of the other stylists, offered to do something with my hair. It was really kind of her to help me look less like a mop and more professional, plus it was just plain fun to get fussed over after all the weeks of preparations were finally over and I could (sort of) relax.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Then, as they say, the rest is a bit of a blur. People were coming in, a few almost begging for appointments, we were filling up to the point of having to turn people away! From 50, to 60, to 70 haircuts. The day raced by. I answered a lot of questions about cats and around noon, Sam brought three of our kittens to remind everyone why we were there. They did great and had a lot of fun. Everyone wanted to take them home, but Irene, my faithful friend and volunteer, kept a watchful eye over them so none of the kitten “accidentally” left the salon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not a party unless you have tattoos!

I was really hungry. Our friends, the DOrazio Sisters from Brooklyn who opened a bakery here in Newtown, kindly and generously donated 4 dozen cupcakes. We had them set up on a lovely cupcake tower stand and it was tough not to eat them ALL. I managed to sneak one..okay two, but no more than three, when no one was looking. I still have a jones for another one!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

It was clear we were going to do okay. Somehow amidst the chaos, a lot of people were getting really nice haircuts. One lady donated her hair to Locks of Love, which really touched my heart. Another lady talked about being at the Sandy Hook Elementary on "that day" and I think it helped her with the healing process to have Patrick fuss over her and listen to her heartbreaking story.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

We had lots of kids come visit, too, who told me stories about their cats or other pets. Even though I've lived in Newtown for over 20 years, it honestly was the first time I felt like I was part of this community. Not having children, I never had need to go to any of the town events or schools. I've yearned to feel closer to the people in this town and surprisingly, that finally started to happen because of K.A. Kitten Associates is on the radar of more people in town. It was definitely a dream starting to come true.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

In total, Patrick and his team, as well as Maggie, Michele, Jackie, Mary, Kathy and others from Salon Michele helped get 84 haircuts done, which was the SECOND HIGHEST number of haircuts in BarkAid's 2 1/2 year history! I was really really REALLY thrilled! We were able to cover our expenses and the rest will go to caring for our kittens.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A donation for Locks of Love! What a wonderful woman!

By 8pm we all pitched in, packed up, cleaned up and were ready to call it a day. Patrick and team were professional, friendly, outgoing, charming, everything good. Thankfully Michele's salon wasn't trashed. It was respected by all and I think that we all parted with genuine smiles and goodwill for each other. Patrick said he was ready to do this again next year, as he hugged me goodbye. I just shook my head, wondering how he does this, because I wanted to go to bed and not get up for a few days I was so tired.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick is on Day 20 of his trip. He's doing great work for the rescues in this Country. If you'd like to help support Patrick's efforts-they REALLY need donations to, at least, cover travel expenses, please visit their web site and donate HERE

In lieu of a proper photo album, enjoy some images from our big day!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Michele, owner of Salon Michele giving a great haircut and big smile to a customer.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Patrick hones his craft.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis and Ruby (who was SO adorable!)

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ruby steals the show.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The team with Minnie's kittens: Gracey, Mellie and Joey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach and Gracey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How to know it's time for the kittens to go home.

Another Orange Family Needs a Helping Hand

I had just barely gotten Minnie and her five kittens settled in the now famous blue-bathtub you may have seen featured on my rescue, Kitten Associate's, 24/7 web cam called Squee-TV when I got an email from a friend of mine who does rescue in the southern USA. She sent me a photo of an orange mama-cat, not unlike my own Minnie, whose time was almost up-the delicate way to say she was going to be euthanized if we didn't get her out.

She also had kittens, older than my little guys, but no less deserving of being freed from their cage and given a chance to live a full life. The kittens had been separated from her because they were old enough to be weaned, but what we didn't know is that someone was putting them back with mama each night, which at first glance might seem touching, when in fact it was dangerous for the mama.

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I was asked if I could help get the mama-cat out of the shelter. I couldn't take her on, but I could help her if we could find a good rescue to take part. I'd offer up what I could, including asking our dear-Bobby to help by picking up the family if, indeed, we had time to make this happen at all. When time is up…time is up.

I hate calling animal control. I always feel like I'm going to throw up because I don't know if they are going to tell me the cat is "not available” (dead) or if for some bizarre reason I can't have the cats. I promised I'd call and ask for time, maybe a few days, to put things together. If I couldn't get the rescue sorted out, then I would let them know. They agreed to give me until the next morning. Oh boy…I had to act fast.

Thankfully, a rescue in the northeast offered to take the cats. They have been fully checked out and we know we can get the cats to them. The problem is money-we need to have the cats fully vetted to sweeten the pot for the rescue to take on the family. That's not a bad thing and some times we do this to help each other out.

What I couldn't have bargained on was the frantic call I got early the next morning. The mama cat was screaming in pain and would not allow anyone to touch her. The staff was going to put her down right then and there. Something was terribly wrong. They remembered I'd asked to put a rescue hold on this cat and one of the staff urged them to NOT put her down and to call me first. When I answered the phone and heard her anxious tone, I knew it was serious.

Without thinking I said “Hell, yes! Get her out of there! I'll have Bobby come over right away, hang on.” Had I just signed myself up for a multi-thousand dollar Vet bill? What was wrong with the mama?

In no time at all Bobby picked up the mama and her six kittens. Mama was taken to the Vet. She had a very bad case of mastitis, an infection of the mammary glands. In her case it caused an ulceration of one of the glands, which is extremely painful. This often happens when kittens are too old to be nursing from their mama and their teeth puncture her skin and push nasty bacteria into the glands or the kittens claws can cause scratches or bacteria can go into the gland during rough nursing. It can be deadly and must be treated right away. Those nights of allowing the kittens on mama probably caused the issue when separating them might have kept her healthy.

Thankfully, we weren't too late. Mama is in a foster home with her kittens, though separated from them so she can heal. She's doing well and the kittens are free to explore the world beyond the size of a cage. They have a hopeful future, we just need to lend them a helping hand so they can be on their way.

This fundraiser doesn't need much to be filled up. I hope we can make that happen. If we all add a little bit to the pot, it will fill up in a jiffy! Just click the “GIVE NOW” button and you're all set.

Cats like Minnie and now, Ginger need our support. One day they will be spayed and chubby and in their forever homes. We're all part of the team that gets them there so they can find their happy ending.

Thank you for being part of our team and helping to save lives!

JULY 5, 2013 UPDATE: We made our fundraising goal AND in even BETTER NEWS, Ginger mama, her six kittens and SEVEN MORE ORPHAN KITTENS are on their way to the northeast to find safe haven in a rescue there! Our Bobby and Izzy and Mark are part of the team driving them over 1000 miles in the next few days so if you see a car full of kitties, give them a wave and let them know how AWESOME THEY ARE..and to Joan Flores who started this mission and was able to put a group together of strangers, all dedicated to saving lives. With the help of all of your donations and sharing this message, we DID IT!

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Love Saves the Day

Summer's here; time to kick back, take a break and savor reading a good book. I'm always a fan of quirky summer romance where a crazy-haired, hard-working woman runs into (and sometimes over) the “wrong” guy (who, of course, is the “right guy” by book's end), but this summer I decided to try something different by reading Gwen Cooper's “Love Saves the Day.”

Love Saves…is Ms. Cooper's third novel following “Diary of a South Beach Party Girl” and her New York Times Bestselling book, “Homer’s Odyssey,” the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion.

Love Saves the Day, is a different kind of love story, segregated into chapters, each told in the voice of one of three characters: Sarah, her daughter Laura and Prudence, a cat. Initially, I was reluctant to read a book that included something written in a cat's voice. I've long-ago tired of reading cutesy misspelled words supposedly penned by a cat and I feared this would only end up in a lot of eye-rolling on my part.

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From the first page, I was delightfully surprised by the perky and precocious tone of the feline lead. There were no cutesy misspellings. In fact this cat-character was charming, clever and insightful—who, from having had a few conversations with Ms. Cooper reminds me, is not much different than our esteemed author, herself. The world through Prudence's eyes was one I've not imagined before. Ms. Cooper definitely has unique insight into what her cat is thinking and how the world looks from five inches off the ground.

I devoured the story, quickly getting hooked on Prudence's journey because, in part, it reminded me so much of my own. Prudence is a bridge between her cat-guardian Sarah and Sarah's daughter, Laura. The challenging relationship of mother and daughter, the awkward discussions, the misunderstandings, the assumptions that can keep two people who love each other apart. This story is poignant and tender and some times funny, too. Ms. Cooper has a keen sense of what makes relationships tick and why they can so easily take a turn for the worse, even with the best of intentions.

But perhaps, Ms. Cooper's true gift lies in weaving three voices so artfully together, that make us want to turn the page and find out what happens next. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Loves Saves the Day (which, by the way, was the name of a VERY cool shop in NYC I used to spend hours in back in the 1980's) was destined for the Big Screen.

This is a grand tale that had me giggling and in tears, too. It's the kind of book you can read again and discover something new and once you reach the last page, it leaves you wanting more. I hope we'll get to read about Prudence again one day, but for now it's good to know a cat can be entertaining and without being saccharine. Save the sweetness for the iced tea you'll enjoy as you read this fine work.

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF LOVE SAVES THE DAY

Thanks to Gwen Cooper being such a generous person, I'm able to offer one reader in the USA or Canada or UK or Australia (I hate leaving out folks outside of the USA so I will pay for the $$$ shipping this one time) an autographed copy of Love Saves the Day. To enter the contest, simply leave a comment below. Say something nice! Or "I want to win" or whatever you like. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON.

ONE ENTRY will be drawn at random and selected to win on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:11AM EST.

LEARN MORE & HOW TO PURCHASE COPIES OF LOVE SAVES THE DAY

If you'd like to learn more about Love Saves the Day or to order your own copy, just visit Gwen Cooper's website.

After you've read Love Saves the Day you can join the Facebook Fan Page and talk about it, as well as find out about Ms. Cooper's numerous book signings across the USA.

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Don't forget to VOTE! If you like what we're doing here at Covered in Cat Hair, simply use this LINK every day until June 28th to cast your vote for BEST CAT BLOG, BEST CAUSE BLOG, BEST BLOG WRITING (here's a LINK to a good article or you can choose your favorite) and make sure you add KITTEN ASSOCIATES as your SHELTER NOMINEE! THANK YOU!!!

You DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT THE NOMINATION FORM TO VOTE! Thank you for your support!

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

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

A Little Love Goes a Long Way for Chloe

Chloe’s been living with foster mom, Angi for six weeks. The fact that she’s in the same home is in and of itself a wonderful thing. With her aggression issues, Chloe could easily have been sent back to Animals in Distress and possibly been deemed unadoptable, leaving her to possibly face a grim future. Her former "guardian" had called around to the local Vets asking for a house call to euthanize the cat. Thankfully, though they are not bound by law to do so, all the Vets he contacted would not do a “convenience-euthansia,” especially for a cat they had never seen before. How did they know the cat wasn't aggressive due to an underlying illness? I was dismayed to learn that my own Vet said there are some Vets who will do anything for a buck. Sadly, cats are still considered personal property, which means that said property can be disposed of at the owner's discretion. Luckily for Chloe she has a few Guardian Angels looking out for her, especially her foster mom, Angi who has stuck by Chloe through thick (and we’re working on thin).

Since this is Angi’s story, then some of the words should be her own. Here are some excerpts from emails discussing Chloe’s ever-improving progress. We last left off with Chloe starting her life at Angi’s house and Angi having to protect herself from Chloe’s attacks as she entered the room. Angi had to have a cardboard shield in front of her just to get near Chloe. She could have become fearful and given up, but Angi kept at it, slowly gaining Chloe’s trust. After two weeks, I got this email:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Chloe, relaxed and enjoying her toys.

April 21

“Chloe let me pet her, brush her, and play with her a bit with her catnip carrot. She purred throughout nearly the entire exchange, rolled around playfully, even, and I think I have identified her "pay attention to me" meyow over the "I'm gonna get you!" war-cry yowl.

She's still a bit nippy, I utilized the catnip carrot & brush a lot to give my fingers a little distance, but she's not as determined with the nipping as she was when she took that chunk out of my foot!”

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April 25

“Baby gate is going well. Rudie's popped in to be a minor nuisance a few times, but only minor. Some hissing, but everyone's keeping their distance. I have to pick up Chloe's food to prevent the oranges [note from Robin: two of Angi’s cats are called “the oranges”] from scarfing everything up (they're sort of garbage disposals!).

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Rudie checking out Chloe's room. Should he jump the baby gate or not?

Chloe meowed around mid-morning, and I decided to try something. I put the baby gate in the hallway, and closed off the other bedroom. If she got up to the gate, she'd just about be able to see me working at the desk but not able to come in, and would have access to about half the hallway, and the bathroom. She roamed the bathroom a bit, and then there was a bit of hissing with Rudie and she retreated back into the guest room. Figuring it might be just a bit too much too soon, I put the baby gate back in that doorway.”

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May 6

“I'm actually starting to suspect she'll love anyone that plays with her a few times a day, as well as offers scritches. I really do think that being able to interact via some cat toys was key to her getting her "frustrations" out. Really, I think she was starved for quality interaction for a long time.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Bring on the skritches.

I've been opening up the "baby gate" area to include the hallway and my office, but she's not really taking me up on it that much, not after the initial interest. The other day she wandered out, spent a little time in the office with me (I put a pillow out for her, but she left after spending a few minutes hissing at Smudge (who was up in the cat-basket at desk-top level) and retreated to her room - I've been trying to put some of "her stuff" in the hallway to help her explorations, but it hasn't helped so much so far.”

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The next morning

“hah! I wrote this this morning & didn't send it immediately because I got distracted, and Chloe just wandered into the office while I was talking on the phone! She's on a cushion behind me! Rosie is in the basket, and they're both minding their own business.…”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. A happy kitty thanks to foster mom-Angi.

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May 14

“Chloe is doing even more amazingly awesomely. So much so that I'm not taking so many pics & video anymore because it's losing the "OMG!" factor.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. While working, Angi looks down and sees Chloe, reaching up to get her attention!

I've opened up her room during the day and while I'm awake & around, she has the run of the house. She's stayed upstairs except for the one time she chased Rudie halfway down the stairs (I'm sorry, but it's crazy how fast she can move when she wants to), and will sometimes follow me around the house, if I leave the office to go make lunch or something. I can even "call her" and she'll come. I've got some low-laying cushions on the floor in my office, and she'll hang out while I work, just like the other cats (who tend to stay up high, on my desk, shelves, etc…). She's found some peace with Rudie & Rosie, which is good, but also not so good, as she no longer chases Rudie away from her food when he goes into her room (really, she scared the bejesus out of him on a few occasions early on, even leaping off the bed to chase him out of the room!). I'm tapering off leaving food out for her because of that.”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Completely vulnerable with her belly up, Chloe lays on the sofa and watches TV with Angi. Is this love?

“…Chloe's even come up on the couch while I watch TV, or gone up there while I'm working in the office. The Oranges will keep some distance if I'm watching TV, but will sit on the back of the couch or on the other side of me. Even the nibbles are fading, and are even more "affectionate" than ever, and not mean. I can pick her up (slowly and supportively, as she's still so big!), pet her without worrying about my approach. She even lets me pet her kinda "roughly," I really don't feel like I have to be careful around her at all.”

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May 25

“… the landmarks are getting smaller now that she's so much more normalized, but I thought this was worth mentioning:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. She's just a cat, doing regular cat things. That this happened is far from regular.

Today, very briefly, I caught Chloe playing by herself. She was in the office with me while I was drawing. There's a cushion I have on the floor that she likes, I keep it near my computer chair. There was one of those furry mousies half underneath it. She pawed at it to get it out from under the cushion, and then played with it for a bit. It was only for maybe 30 seconds, and she stopped by the time I got to the camera. But still. A sign of a much happier cat.”

Looking Back

When I met Chloe back in March I couldn’t even touch her. She was ready to attack me with whatever she had, claws or no claws. If I hadn’t seen her behave normally and confidently before she went into defense mode, I would have been hard pressed to even consider giving her a chance. In that glimmer of sweetness, I saw hope and we had to try to help her. I’m so very glad I stepped in to assess Chloe because if her former “owner” had his way, Chloe would have been dead by now. Instead, Chloe is finding out what it’s like to live a life without abuse or neglect, a life that has richness, love and companionship.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Friends at last. Way to go Angi & Chloe!

 

Chloe was willing to give us a chance, too, even if perhaps we didn’t show well when we first met her. It just goes to prove that with patience and a lot of work, every cat can blossom in time.

 

Go Team Chloe!

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If you'd like to catch up on Chloe's story from the beginning you can check out these posts:

1. http://coveredincathair.com/content/we-owe-it-chloe

2. http://coveredincathair.com/content/what-we-live-chloe-update

3. http://coveredincathair.com/content/baby-steps-chloe

4. http://coveredincathair.com/content/chloes-big-adventure

All photos and email-quotes Used with Permission.

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Here Comes da Judge-the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival!

I've been keeping some really exciting news under wraps. It would have been good enough to tell you that the Walker Art Center's (WAC) Internet Cat Video Festival is coming back bigger and better to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, August 28, 2013 at 7pm and that the crowds are expected to top 13,000 cat lovers from around the globe, but..there's more!

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I'm thrilled to announce that I will be one of the Juror's of this year's show!

I'm deeply honored to be part of WAC's group of cat-centric writers, entertainers and cat behaviorists who will be reviewing thousands of videos, with one goal-to tease out top contenders in nine different CATegories. Winning entries get the coveted Golden Kitty (statuette, not a real cat!).

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ENTER YOUR FAVORITE VIDEO NOW!

Did you create an awesome award-winning-worthy cat video or did you see one you just can't stop watching? There's still a TEENIE BIT OF TIME LEFT to NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE VIDEOS! The deadline is MAY 1st!

To enter your favorite videos fill out the Internet Cat Video Festival Nomination Form.

UPDATE: THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JUNE 1, 2013!

Get Tickets for the Internet Cat Film Festival 2013

Tickets are only $10.00 and are selling fast so don’t miss out. Rumor has it there are going to be some VERY AWESOME CELEBU-CAT GUESTS!

Purchase tickets online at mnstatefair.org or via this LINK

Order by phone at 800.514.3849

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If you can't come to the Festival, you can still get a COOL t-shirt (Spencer not included!). ORDER HERE.

You can get more details or sign up to let them know you'll be attending the event via the Internet Cat Video Festival's Facebook page. To find out what other cool things WAC has up their sleeve pop over to their Facebook page. (hint: one of them is specially designed MINI-GOLF COURSE!)

Let me know if you'll be attending the Internet Cat Video Festival and we'll have a special Covered in Cat Hair club gathering! You can email me at info@coveredincathair.com

See you in August in St. Paul, Minnesota!

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Freedom for the Iredell County Cats

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I just heard from Lisa, our friend at SPCA of Wake County in Raleigh, NC. She gave me an update on the 9 cats (an additional 3 cats went to another rescue) they rescued from Iredell Animals Services last week. If you recall, these cats were subjected to being caged for 2 YEARS due to an animal cruelty investigation and subsequent court case. Once the cats were free to go, they still faced being euthanized because many have minor health issues and some are senior-aged.

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha enjoying life out of a cage.

SPCA Wake County didn't balk at taking on these cats. They didn't pick out the prettiest ones or easiest to adopt-they TOOK THEM ALL and my hat is off to them for their good deed.

From Lisa's email, this is what we have learned:

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Brian, still a bit scared, but slowly coming out of his shell.

“Benson, Brian, Cougar and Tabitha are the first ones available for adoption. You can see their photos and listings at www.spcawake.org/adopt by clicking on the "view cats available for adoption" icon and scrolling through the alphabetical list. Attached is a photo of Tabitha and Cougar lounging in one of our communal cat rooms.

Leroy, Max and Jethro all turned out to be intact. They will be neutered tomorrow and available for adoption starting on Friday.

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Cougar, tail up, happy again!

Tori had a cyst on her chin and we're waiting for lab results before we put her up for adoption.

Red Boy is a real trooper. Of his ten front claws, seven of them were grown into his paw pads. Ouch! It was quite extreme to say the least. He had surgery yesterday and after one more week of cage rest and an e-collar he should be cleared for adoption.

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©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha (back) and Cougra (front) relax in their comfortable new shelter. All they need is to be adopted!

All nine cats have done just fine with us so far and I'm so glad we've been able to help them by giving them a high-volume adoption center to call home until the right people come along.”

These cats have waited a long time. Our last act should be to make sure they all find good homes. If you'd like to adopt any of these kitties, please call or visit SPCA of Wake County.

LOCATION:

200 Petfinder Lane

Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 772-2326

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And Then There Were None-Miracle for 12 Kitties Caged for 2 Years

BEHOLD A MIRACLE

Twelve cats I reported about a week ago who were caged for TWO YEARS at Iredell Animal Services due to a legal dispute, had their dream come true today. EVERY SINGLE CAT HAS A RESCUE. ALL OF THE CATS ARE SAFE AND SOUND. NONE OF THEM WERE EUTHANIZED!

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A HUGE, THANK YOU TO the SPCA OF WAKE COUNTY for being so receptive to my email asking for help that they got to work putting together the necessary planning to take on NINE of the TWELVE CATS (the others were taken by another rescue).

Please visit their FACEBOOK PAGE and tell them THANK YOU from Covered in Cat Hair and LIKE THEIR PAGE!

If you feel so inclined MAKE A DONATION in honor of these cats so that SPCA of Wake County can continue to help cats like these in the future.

SPCA of WAKE COUNTY-YOU ROCK. You took on all the cats. You didn't “cherry pick” out the “good” ones. You're helping them all.

IF YOU LIVE IN OR NEAR RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, stop by SPCA of Wake County and ADOPT ONE OF THESE KITTIES! They've had a Hell of a long ride and deserve loving homes. If you know of anyone looking to adopt, send them to SPCA of Wake County!

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It's a happy day for these deserving cats.

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Brian is aNeutered male, short haired white/orange tabby. He's a LARGE cat. Good appetite! Brian is good with other cats, but is a little shy. Not aggressive at all with cats or people, just nervous. Would probably come out of his "shell" once in a calm and quiet home. Does have eye and nose drainage. Has upper resp. issues.

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Poor Brian! He sits in his cat litter pan because the scent of it is his only comfort. Brain looks depressed or angry, but he's a nice kitty. He's emotionally exhausted from the stress of living in a cage for so long. Can you love this big lug?

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Cougar A135997

Cougar is a short haired female (underbelly indicates possibly spayed). Good temperament. Possible slight upper resp. symptoms.

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Rarely do black cats have a happy ending once their in a shelter. Cougar is a nice cat who just needs a break.

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Jethro A136013

Intact male, 3-5 years of age. Medium haired Tabby/White. Temperament was very good, but in last few months has been slightly temperamental (they believe once out of "caged" environment temperament will once again improve). Possible slight upper resp. issues, but overall seems healthy!

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Look at that FACE! Jethro is asking you to bust him out of that cage. He's so handsome and friendly, I'm sure he would make a great addition to any home.

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Max A136007

Intact male, short haired gray/white. Very friendly. Seems ok with other cats. Cat is slim, but not too underweight. Cat has good appetite. Slight upper resp. issues. Owner had as 10 years of age, would not guess that old in age.

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What do you think? I think Max wants to play and have fun! What pretty eyes, too!

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Red Boy

Medium haired, neutered male orange tabby. Approx 7 years old. Cat is overweight and has a great appetite! Very friendly with other cats and with people. Have not noticed any eye or nose discharge, but still possible to have slight upper respiratory issues. Teeth are yellowing and are "worn".

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Red Boy is an older kitty. Those of you who know this blog well, will notice that he looks too much like my guy, Bob Dole. Red Boy is too adorable to stay in a cage any longer.

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Samuel A136002

Neutered/Male, Medium haired Orange Tabby/White. Approx 5 years old. Cat is friendly, but VERY nervous. Not aggressive. I believe once out of a "caged" environment will be an independent calm and happy cat. Weight is good. Possible slight upper resp. issues.

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Sammy looks so scared, but what a knockout! He's another cat who will blossom once he's safely out of the shelter.

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Suzie A136003

Medium/Long haired, dilute calico/tortie markings. Approx 3 years old. Very friendly with people, but does not like being scruffed. Would do best as an only cat (seems to be agitated by other cats). Cat seems to "talk" instead of meow! Loving girl. Does have issue with hair balls, but I believe once in a home and groomed regularly will improve. Possible slight upper resp. issues. [Note from Robin: I find it tough to agree that the cat needs to be an only cat. She should be evaluated in less stressful environment. She can probably get on with other cats if introduced properly.]

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I don't have to convince anyone that Suzie needs to be rescued. Look at her!

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Tori A136006

Short haired, black/white cat. Has some dental issues. Very friendly and seems ok with other cats. Good body weight, but poor hair coat (dull coat). Has slight upper respiratory issues.

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Sweet Tori. It's easy to overlook a cat who might have some minor health issues, but none of them are her fault. With good food and some vet care, this kitty could be your best friend.

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A136001 Leroy

Short haired, gray/white cat. Slightly underweight. Very friendly. Has started to defecate outside of litter box in past couple months. I believe once out of a "caged" environment cat will return to using litter box. Fur is dull.

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This photo arrived distorted so I tried to fix it. Working on getting a replacement image.

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A136011 Journey

Journey is a senior-about 12 years old. She's a short haired, black/white cat. Cat has no teeth and has been on canned food only. Cat has upper respiratory issues. Cat appears to be losing weight and appears to have stopped grooming regularly. Poor fur coat. Cat is friendly and seems ok with other cats, but is "high energy". Possibly spayed.

This is the initial notes from the shelter. I personally had this cat for a week in my office. She was beyond kennel stressed, and just letting her out in my office to stretch was the best thing for her. She is absolutely hilarious! In the mornings she would greet me at the door, and proceed to stand on my desk in front of my computer screen and paw at me until we had our morning “hellos”. She would only then go and lay in her bed. Wonderfully loving and sweet cat!

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She's a SENIOR and a wreck. Of all the cats this one cuts me the deepest. I hope we can find a way to get her OUT. I know she can recover from her difficult time in a cage, but we need help to make it happen.

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A135995 Benson

Benson is an approximately 5 year old, neutered male tabby cat. He has URI issues with an unknown cause despite treatment. [Note from Robin: He may have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all he needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.] He is friendly to humans and is good around other cats. His left ear slouches, and we suspect that is from an old hematoma.

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This guy is a big, friendly dude. Sure he's a bit rough around the edges, but with a little polishing he'll be a treasure. He just wants to make friends and love his family.

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A136012 Tabitha

Tabitha is an approximately 5 year old female tabby cat. We suspect she is spayed due to her body condition, but we cannot be sure. She is friendly with humans and other cats. She has a chronic URI issue, with an unknown cause, despite medical treatment. [Note from Robin: she may also have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all she needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.]

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She's a sweet tabby who has not only suffered confinement, but illness. She CAN get better and it may take as little as getting out OUT of the shelter and into a loving home. Please don't overlook this little sweetie.

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Chloe's Big Adventure

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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?

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

Hopefully she could trust that even in this new place, with the new smells, things would go on as they did before. She'd still get loved and cared for. It was going to be okay, right?

 

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©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.

 

Everything went surprisingly well. Since Chloe was settled, we bid Angi goodbye and good luck. I joked that Angi should invest in a pair of rattlesnake boots to protect her legs when she entered Chloe's room. I hoped I was wrong, but in a situation like this-and with Chloe losing Katherine, who knows what would happen next?

 

Katherine and I left Angi's, feeling happy and hopeful that Chloe would finally have a chance to flower.

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©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?

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©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.

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Maybe It Was Meant to Be?

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©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).

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

 

I wonder if on some cosmic level I had to figure out what was truly ailing Willow before she could find her forever home because I was baffled at how many adoptions on her fell through.

 

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©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.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow has tortie-patterned paws-you can just see it here.

 

We were about to do the adoption when I found out about Willow having Bartonella.

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.

 

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©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.

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©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!

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©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.

 

I'd gone over how to do cat to cat introductions with Matthew and we started right away. I opened the door so Roo could see Willow and vice versa. They saw each other, but there was no negative reaction of any kind. A good sign-but I closed the door while things were still good and Willow resumed playing.

 

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©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.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our last moments with Willow before it was time to head to her new home.

 

The thing is, how could I not adopt Willow to Matthew? He's an Arborist, after all!

 

What We Live For-Chloe Update

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

Chloe quickly realized that Katherine had the GOOD treats, that Katherine wasn't going to harm her; and with that Katherine was rewarded by having her FIRST CONTACT with Chloe that didn't result in bloodshed.

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©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.

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©2013 Katherine Reid.

Katherine has an extremely full plate. She could have opted to put Chloe in her shelter and let her sort it out while she went back focusing on her other duties. She could have taken Chloe at face value two weeks ago and opted to euthanize her because it would have taken too much time to turn her around-and there was NO GUARANTEE that it would EVER HAPPEN anyway. Luckily for Chloe, Katherine was willing to give her a chance.

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©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.

I believe it's safe to say (KNOCK WOOD) that Chloe's darkest hours are passed and, with any luck, a bright shimmering future lies ahead.

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©2013 Katherine Reid. This is the moment all rescuers live for. Thank you to Katherine for sharing it with all of us.

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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!

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