One I Hold in High Regard

The Mysterious Case of What Ails Bandit

I was finally well enough to sit at my desk and try to string together a few cohesive thoughts. Three days of a cliché cold: sore throat, stuffy head, lungs loaded and tight were in the rear view mirror now. The only thing remaining was the kind of headache that makes you wish you didn't have a head. I couldn't spend another day in bed watching episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs on my small iPad screen. I would muddle along.

I tried to catch up on e-mails and sort out what I needed to get done. I didn't want to do too much right away because relapse is not an option, especially this time of year. As I sat at my desk, the late morning sun was bright and warmed my feet. Cats came and went, searching for the prime spot to nap away the afternoon. I heard Bandit and Honeydew running around the house, chasing each other, wrestling, but eventually they, too, couldn't resist my warm office full of soft cat beds.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit keeps me company while I'm in bed with a cold.

I happened to glance down to my left. Bandit was belly up, apparently asleep. She was trembling. Amused, I thought she was dreaming, but her movements weren't the quirky-jerky shifts I've seen other cats do. I shot a video of her, at first trying not to wake her, then worried something was wrong. I woke her up and she was still shaking. I wondered if she was cold so I cradled her in my arms as her body continued to quake.

I petted her and talked to her. For a second or two she'd stop, then start up again. She seemed sleepy so I sat back in my chair and held her, falling ever deeper in love with this tiny little kitten. She's half the size of her brother and light as a feather. She would wake slightly, but the shaking didn't stop. I called the Vet and they said to watch her, keep her warm, let them know if it keeps going on.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. If you're not in love with Bandit there's something wrong with you.

I called out to Sam and the two of us began to set up a heated bed for her. I worried she was feverish so I took her temperature. It was 100.6°F which is normal.

Bandit seemed to be perfectly all right, except for the fact that her entire body was shaking.

After fifteen minutes passed, with Bandit still shaking, I called my Vet again. They could see her at 5pm. It was barely 12:30pm. Something in my gut said not to wait. I asked if I could bring her and leave her in case they could see her sooner and they agreed, offering I could see Dr. Mary right away if I didn't want to wait to see Dr. Larry.

 

As I raced to the Vet, I started to run through what could be troubling Bandit. Was she fighting off an infection? Was a toxin coursing through her? Did she get hurt? I said a silent prayer for Bandit to please be all right. Not Bandit. Not this sweet angel of a kitten. I also hoped this wouldn't cost too much. Our finances aren't the best and I knew too well how one Vet visit could easily break the bank.

Thankfully it was quiet at my Vet's office. They immediately took Bandit in the back room to check her temperature. It had gone up to 101.4°F which is still normal, but on the rise. I felt panicked and weak. I realized I hadn't eaten anything and my stomach growled loudly. I didn't care about eating, but the stress and low blood sugar was making me feel faint.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit appeared to be dreaming, but then I realized she was awake and shaking badly. I rushed her to the Vet shortly after this was shot.

Dr. Mary and Super Deb began a careful examination. Dr. Mary talked about everything she was doing and what she was or wasn't finding. “Her heart and lungs sound normal. I'm palpating her abdomen and she's not complaining so there's no pain there. I don't feel anything abnormal.” Dr. Mary continued on as Super Deb comforted Bandit and kept her from wiggling off the table. She put Bandit on the floor and we watched her walk. I called to her and she ran over to me with her tail up high.

We were all confused by how well she seemed until she was at rest, then the tremors would start again. First, her feet would shake, then her abdomen. Her head would shake because the rest of her body was shaking. She looked up at us with the most innocent expression-one of complete helplessness. It was heartbreaking.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

They ran a complete blood panel and re-did her snap test. I sat in the waiting room with my heart pounding. Every time a door opened I jumped-wondering what the news would reveal. Those fifteen minutes passed, taking a few years off my life as I worried. When Dr. Mary came to discuss the results I almost jumped out of my skin.

The results had minor “blips” of outside the normal range, but Dr. Mary said it was nothing to worry about and something she'd expect to see on a growing kitten's blood work. Bandit's snap test was negative (again) for Feline Leukemia and FIV.

 

 

So what was going on?

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Super Deb comforts Bandit.

Dr. Mary began researching toxins. The only thing I could think of were a few plants-none were an issue and an open (empty) bottle of Dayquil that I remembered I'd left on the counter. Dr. Mary was very worried about that and said that the blood work wouldn't show if Bandit had been poisoned, depending on what she ingested and when. My heart sank. Surely this kitten wasn't going to DIE?!

We discussed everything from epilepsy to birth defects to the dry form of FIP. Red-faced, I told her that earlier that morning Bandit almost jumped into an open toilet and I'd had no other choice but to pin her against the vanity with my leg to keep her from falling in. I felt terrible. Did I cause her internal damage? What the HELL was going on?

I had to leave Bandit with Dr. Mary. They gave her pain meds and sub q fluids. Dr. Mary felt if she could calm Bandit down and soothe her pain she would stop shaking, then hopefully it would not resume once the pain meds wore off. If not, Bandit would have to see a neurologist and get a CT scan. I knew if that happened we were done for-the costs-$1200 to $1400 just for the scan. Bandit had to get better.

It was a long afternoon. I kept running things over in my head. What did I do? What did she get into? Facebook friends gave suggestions or left supportive comments, praying for Bandit to be ok.

I had the difficult task of calling Donna, Bandit's rescuer and first foster mama to tell her the news. I knew she'd be just as upset as I was and I struggled, trying to be calm and not burst into tears. She took the news well, but I knew it was killing her, too.

 

Dr. Mary called shortly before 6pm. She said that Bandit responded well and she'd seen Bandit shake only once as she was re-taking her temperature. It was time to bring Bandit home and see how she did.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit says goodbye the to the staff at Dr. Larry's.

I felt so happy and light, not bothered by anything as I drove along the crowded highway, a journey I've probably taken a thousand times over the years. This was a good trip. I couldn't wait to see Bandit. I got to the Clinic, smiling and anxious. One of the staff told me that Dr. Mary wanted to talk to me. I said I'd just spoken to her on the phone and she said she knew that, but that the doctor still wanted to talk about something. My heart sank.

I went in the back room where only staff were usually allowed. The walls are lined with varying sizes of stainless steel cages. It's brightly lit and spotlessly clean. I zeroed in on Bandit. She was far off to the left, curled up on a heated pad in the back of her 2' x 2' cage.

Dr. Mary's face said it all-Bandit had started shaking again and was no better. I could still take her home, but if she didn't get better by morning, she'd have to see a neurologist. Something was terribly wrong with Bandit. We just didn't know what it was.

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After a long, difficult day, finally some rest.

Whatever joy I may have felt evaporated into the frosty night air. The drive home in the darkness did nothing to soothe either myself or Bandit, who cried, desperate to get out of her carrier. We set up a dog crate for her, hoping she would rest and do nothing else. I offered her a litter pan and she peed away all the sub q fluids. I gave her something to eat and she didn't hesitate to enjoy her dinner. I shut the door to the crate and she sat there, mild tremors coursing through her body. I resigned myself to it being a long night and began my hyper-vigilant watch of her every move.

Over the next hour or two it was clear that Bandit was not happy being confined. Each time I opened the crate door she'd slip past me and dash around the living room. I decided to bring her to my bedroom and close the door so I could watch her and she'd have space to move around and not feel stressed. I offered her toys and she wanted to play. She jumped on the bed. She chased her brother, then her brother chased her. She wouldn't sit still long enough for me to see if she was shaking. She seemed like her old self, yet I couldn't believe she was suddenly just fine.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

Somewhere near midnight Bandit jumped on the bed and laid down, finally tired. As she began to doze off, I shot another video. It's not very exciting, but to me it was worthy of an Oscar. Bandit wasn't shaking-not even a toe.

 

I didn't want to believe it, but she seemed fine. This morning she was playful, hungry and just as loving as ever. As I sat at my desk, trying to put this story together, she climbed into my arms, fussing about until she found a comfortable position. I cradled her just as I had a day before, but this time the only vibration I felt was from her deep, blissful purr.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This morning with Bandit in my arms.

Giving Tuesday

With all the shopping madness ramping up and the rush to get ready for the Holidays, it's lovely that organizations who really need the help, have their chance today with Giving Tuesday.

My Non-profit rescue group, Kitten Associates, has been blessed with an early number of donations of food, treats and toys that came in after we broke the news about our Amazon Wishlist two weeks ago.

There's still LOADS of things we really need and the list grows weekly. We blow through food at an amazing pace and toys have to be discarded to prevent spreading diseases between the groups of foster kitties.

 

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Simply click here or on the graphic, above, to be whisked away to our Amazon Wishlist.

What I love about our Wishlist is it allows YOU to choose what we get and there are items at just about every price point. We'd love your help and you'll see, below, how our kittens feel about your donations, too!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah! This is WAY bigger than what we even asked for! Yipee!

 

There are few feelings that are as precious as giving help to someone who needs it. Thank you for helping us be part of Giving Tuesday. I hope you'll enjoy the special video I created to honor today.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Not even the DOOD is sure how to put it together, though.

This is a riot!


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

 

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The energy in the room increased tenfold after the cat tree was in place. The kittens LOVE IT! Thank you Tereza & Larry for donating it to us!

 

Forever in My Heart

It’s been less than a day since our former foster girl Bobette, who was named Kissy after she was adopted in May, passed away. Just typing those letters, “p-a-s-s-e-d” makes me cry. I’m still in shock and still hoping someone will call me and tell me it was just a bad dream, that the Vets figured out a way to save our sweet pumpkin girl and she’s going to be okay—but no one calls.

The events leading up to Kissy’s death, I’ll leave to her “mama,” JaneA Kelley of Paws & Effect to write about. This is her story to tell, with her cat. My post is about my reflections about a foster cat who just barely a year ago arrived in my home, with her three young sons. They’d reached the part of their rescue-story where all the shots are done, they are spayed or neutered, and all that’s left is for them to just have fun and wait for their adopters to find them. It’s usually the part of the story where we all can relax, knowing the worst is over and the best is yet to come.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. A stray cat dumped at a Kill Shelter with her six newborn kittens waits for rescue.

Kissy didn’t have an easy life. I wrote a great deal about her and her boys, Jakey, Mikey & Teddy…and their three siblings, who passed away a few days after we rescued them from a Kill Shelter in Georgia. If you do a search on Covered in Cat Hair using the phrase: “Bobette” you can read all the stories, but here are a few: Life in the Pumpkin Patch
Bobette's Secret Pain
Harvest Time for Bob's Pumpkin Patch
and the Cat Writers' Association Certificate of Excellence winning: It Had to be You about Kissy's adoption.

---------------------------------

Kissy was rescued in honor of my cat, Bob Dole, after he passed away in September of 2011. He was a beautiful, brilliant orange Maine Coon tabby mix with piercing green eyes. When I saw Kissy’s photo and her brilliant orange coat and piercing green eyes, I knew I had to rescue her and her family...which also explains why she was originally named, Bobette.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Not eating for four days, Bobette was in dire straights.

Thanks to Maria, I had a foster home for the family until they were ready to come to Connecticut. Thanks to Bobby Stanford, I had someone to go bust this kitty and her babies out of the shelter before they got sick or were euthanized. The pieces fell in place. It was meant to be.

Kissy was far too thin and far too young to bear the burden of having six kittens. She began to recover and eat again, but after the loss of three of her kittens perhaps part of her shut down. She was a good mother for a time, but as the remaining boys grew, her love for them waned. She taught me that not all mothers and kittens suffer being separated. In fact, Kissy did better without her boys, though I know they missed her a lot.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Moments after rescue.

Kissy was just 9 months old when she had her kittens. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to be away from them, as she was barely a kitten herself.

Yesterday when JaneA called me and told me that Kissy had passed away, I broke down and sobbed, completely heartbroken. In that moment I realized something that I’d known for a long time, but perhaps was too close to it to see the truth—Kissy had taught me something else, my foster cat hadn’t just died, MY CAT just died.

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©2011 Maria S. Safe in Maria's home Kissy can finally relax.

The pain I was feeling was why many people can’t foster cats. They fall in love with them along the way and they can’t bear to be parted from them when the time comes. I realized that all these years of fostering cats that I truly do love each and everyone just the same and just as much as I love the cats who live with me for their entire lives, not just for a few months.

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©2011 Maria S. Kissy and her boys.

Each foster cat charms me, delights me, challenges me to learn more, to make fewer mistakes, to remember to cherish each day. I fall in love with each foster cat, not just a little, but fully, completely. I can’t build a wall to protect myself from how I feel about them. Instead of running away from that fear, I push into it. It does me no good to hide from feelings. In facing them head on, perhaps I gain some gentleness about saying goodbye when they get adopted.

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©2011 Maria S. Her spay surgery over, Kissy relaxes in a comfy bed at Maria's.

When I go for a drive, I often pass homes where my foster cats now live. They are still my cats, they just live with other families. I still feel the tether that connects us. I sense they’re out there and they’re okay and because of that, I’m okay, too.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally in my home, Kissy and I get to know each other.

Maybe I’ve been kidding myself for a long time that I love my foster cats, but never enough so I can’t let them go. It’s not true. I love them no less than my own, I’ve just been practicing letting go and rationally telling myself that I must do this so I can help more. It always hurts, but the pain is bittersweet because I know they'll be happy where they're going.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Family portrait with proud mama.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Kissy and son, Churchy (formerly Mikey).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lap time with Sam as Kissy recovers from her corrective surgery. In the end, the surgery didn't help Kissy live more comfortably. Her leg was too deformed to be corrected.

Kissy only lived for two years. She knew a lot of pain in that time, but in the last year she knew a lot of love; love from Maria, me, Sam and finally her true mama-JaneA. She knew it from her fans and friends online who were rooting for her surgery to go well and for her to take her first steps without pain. That didn’t get to happen. We’re all shocked and terribly sad that Kissy’s story didn’t get to have the happy ending we all wanted for her. Frankly, I can't stop crying about it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Such a good girl.

Kissy’s short life will not be in vain. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, but I’ll be doing something to honor her. Kissy taught me a lot and made me realize I was foolish to think that love could be restricted or spooned out in measured amounts. It’s all or nothing and I loved that cat completely. I will never forget her and I thank her for what she taught me. Maybe we’ll meet again one day? I can only hope so.

For now I share my grief with those of us who fought hard to give her a great life and who will keep fighting for other cats so that they may have the same chance Kissy did. She will never be forgotten and always be in my heart.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, my sweet. No more pain.

What Would You Do for Bongo?

Bongo is seven months old. In that time he’s made friends, learned to play and met some very nice people, all while his right front leg didn’t function properly. We rescued him before he was going to be euthanized at a shelter not knowing much about him other than something was wrong with his leg. They noted his paw was crushed, but that turned out not the case.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo.

We did tests and x-rays. Bongo met with noted Orthopedic Vet, Dr. Alan Cross of Georgia Veterinary Specialists. Dr. Cross felt that Bongo, while happy and otherwise healthy, could not feel anything in his right front paw and that he had severe nerve damage that was either not repairable or would be very costly to repair with very little hope for success. He suggested the best course would be to remove the leg since it was only getting in the way and slowing Bongo down.

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©2012 Maria S. Favoring his leg.

We work with a great Vet who helps rescue groups. Her nickname is Doc Thomas and she really knows her stuff. During our rescue of Bongo, Doc had taken a few weeks off-a rare vacation for her and certainly well deserved.

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©2012 Maria S. Getting some lovin' from foster sister, Bunny Boo Boo (who needs a home, too!)

We knew she could do the surgery for far less than the $2000. Dr. Cross quoted us, but we had to wait a few weeks to talk to Doc T about whether she could do it. Dr. Cross felt it was not a rush to do the surgery because Bongo wasn’t in any pain.

In the meantime, Maria, Bongo’s foster mom noticed Bongo using his leg as a crutch. He couldn’t bear weight on it, but he did push litter around and use it to help him balance. He did this by swinging his leg from his shoulder.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo with his new BFF-George who we rescued from an apartment complex in GA.

When I heard about this I thought the same thing Maria did; “Maybe we should talk to Dr. Cross again? Maybe Bongo is getting feeling back?” The last thing any of us want to do is amputate this cat’s leg unnecessarily.

Maria contacted Dr. Cross. He felt that it would be very unusual for nerves to begin to work again and that Bongo didn’t have to have the surgery–ever, as long as he wasn’t dragging the limb. Dragging the limb meant he’d get infections in it eventually and that’s dangerous especially because he can’t feel if something is wrong.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo with catnip banana.

Maria took Bongo to meet Doc Thomas today who has done plenty of amputations for other rescue groups. She looked at Bongo’s x-rays and examined him and came to the same opinion—Bongo does not need to lose his leg at this time. If it’s not bothering him, then leave it.

We worried that as Bongo ages he would have arthritis in his shoulder or as he grows larger and gains weight, that the constant pull of his “dead” leg would give him back pain.

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©2012 Maria S. His leg problem doesn't stop him from climbing.

Both Vets agreed that he should be just fine. If he drags the leg it has to go, but as long as he’s holding it up, running around and having fun, then for now it can stay. It’s really up to us if we feel he would be better without it in the way.

So again, Maria and I are wondering what to do. Neither of us want to take Bongo’s leg, but how will that effect his future? Would he be better off if we amputated his leg now so he could adjust and so we can oversee his care before he gets adopted or is he more adoptable with a leg that doesn’t function? What if he got his leg stuck somewhere because he couldn’t feel it and was home alone and did worse damage to himself?

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©2012 Maria S. Brothers from other mothers.

Fortunately, Bongo is adorable and affectionate. Leg or no leg we’ll find him a wonderful home one day. It would be easy to leave the leg alone because we don’t want him to lose it, but what is best for Bongo? He has to be considered first and last…not us…not our ideas of what might not be as appealing to adopters or what might make us feel sad for Bongo’s sake.

Choosing what’s best for Bongo is very difficult. Perhaps we have our answer now and just have to accept it? Perhaps we need to do something more difficult and have the amputation done?

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©2012 Maria S. Da boyz.

I don’t know, but I’m grateful we have the luxury of seeing how it goes and waiting on making any firm decisions.

I’ve never had to have a cat’s leg amputated and am unsure what is the best course of action. If Bongo was your cat what would you do?

The Winds of Change-Part 2 of 4

It’s (s)Not All Right

Poor Tater and Willow. They’ve been chronically sick. Willow shoots snots across the room and Tater’s eye is always running and he sounds stuffed up. I decided it was worth the risk of not getting any information (some times these tests don't tell you much) to get an expensive DNA test on Tater’s eye goop called a PCR for URI. With any luck we’d find out what was causing Tater his misery.

It took a week, then the news: Mycoplasma.

My reaction, duh, of course. Tater’s constant runny eye is definitely indicative of mycoplasma (but it's also a symptom of other issues which is why we do the PCR test).

The Problem

Latte and Fred and Coco started to get sick. They’d all been in the same room for a month. I had the kittens examined. Only Coco was running a mild fever in addition to a runny eye and sneezing. It was bizarre the ALL the cats had an issue in their right eye, except for Tater. We decided that the best course of treatment would be to hit the kittens hard with antibiotics for 30 days because mycoplasma is bacterial, not viral.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Re-check for fleas. None were found. Whew!

I’d heard from a lecture by Dr. Hurley at UC Davis, that they will go to a 60 day protocol to really infiltrate the fine bones of the nose. My Vet hadn't heard of this so I thought we'd start at 30 and see how it goes.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow waits while the other cats get examined.

Medicating cats is never fun, BUT with Doxycycline as the medicine of choice, I had a scary task ahead of me. I learned the HARD WAY that…

…given incorrectly, Doxy can SCALD the esophagus of a cat causing a STRICTURE to form. The cat can’t pass food into the stomach and my oh my what a party you don’t have. It cost many thousands of dollars to repair this damage to our tiny kitten, CaraMelle last year after we'd given her Doxy when she was just 3 weeks old and VERY sick with a URI. She was many months old before we understood what was going on with her and were on the path to resolve it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Coco.

Having to pill 6 cats X 2/day for a month means 360 chances for me to screw up and cause multiple strictures in the kittens.

I’m determined, as always, to do right by these cats. While some scratched their head at me for not opting to use a liquid version of the antibiotic, I opted for ¼ of a tablet per cat. Each pill is coated in Flavor Doh. I like it much better than Pill Pockets® and the cats do, too. THEN I sprinkle dehydrated chicken over the pea-sized coated pill and feed as a treat, making SURE the cats are HUNGRY and more apt to eat what I put in front of them.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow weighs in at just five pounds.

The new problem I made for myself is they will eat anything and charge me at the door when they're really hungry. Entering the room is a comedic farce. I try to balance a plate with six tiny pill-peas on it, the cats push past me and run down the hall, unleashing their snottiness and frustration about being hungry all over the vicinity. In a panic, I put the plate down. With the cats corralled (and my blood pressure soaring), I turn to retrieve the plate only to find Latte had eaten all but the last remaining pill.

The Vet said she would have “GI upset” and not to pill her again that day (DUH!).

Meanwhile I had to go back and prep more pills, make sure they eat just one, then syringe them with 3mLs of water, then feed them. All this to make sure that pill doesn’t sit in their throat. All this while they are racing around the room in a panic because they’re so hungry.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Staying on track with a chart.

Today marks one full week of medicating the cats. It’s amazing that I can even do this when previously this would have freaked me out to the point where I’d just be upset all the time. Now I grab the cats unceremoniously and do what I need to do. I give them love afterwards so they don’t hate me forever and I move on. I think I’m finally getting the hang of (some of) this rescue stuff.

Part three is up next…what about Jackson? What about the DOOD? What about that bigass Hurricane Sandy headed my way?

The Unbearable Cuteness of (little) Beings

I can't take it.

Two of Winnie's kittens are here. The others are with their foster mom in a neighboring town, waiting to be spayed/neutered in two weeks. Because Charly and Buttons had their procedures last week, they're ready to find their forever homes.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttons (left) and Charly (right).

The problem is they're so cute I can't stand the idea of them leaving.

To make matters worse they're great kittens. I don't know what foster mom Donna does, but whatever it is, these kittens are warm, loving, gentle and sweet.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

The first night they were here their little bodies shook with fear. They were scared in their new environment without their mama, Winnie, to look after them. I stayed with them for a long while, petting them, giving them treats, comforting them. They responded by purring and leaning into my hands.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I always feel guilty about separating the kittens from their mama, but it must be done. Winnie was spayed. She has a home with Donna. She's had at least three litters of kittens-three litters too many. She's done her time. It's time for her to recover and enjoy life without the burden of pregnancy in a home that will treat her with compassion and respect (and lots of love, too).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Charly thinking so hard his tongue came out.

Charly and Buttons have only been here for a few days, but if I could I'd spend day and night with them. I'm a sucker for long haired cats and it's rare that I ever get any to foster. In a way that's probably a good thing or I fear I'd have a zillion more “foster fail” cats and many fewer adoptions.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I keep torturing myself. Who would be good enough to adopt these kittens?

Within an hour of posting the kittens on Petfinder, I had 4 offers to adopt them. As with all our foster kittens, I'll be careful to review each application and hopefully will find someone amazing. All I know is, whoever adopts these cats is going to be VERY LUCKY.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

My fear is that they won't get enough attention, that they will lose their sweetness if handled roughly. Am I saying our adopters do that? Certainly not, but once out of Donna's loving care, then mine, what will become of them?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I always have to push aside my fears when doing adoptions. There has to be a point where I let go. It's unbearable to look into their eyes and feel myself getting lost in their adorable faces. I struggle to turn away. I make myself think about my cats-the cats I made a commitment to who depend on me and need my love. I want to make excuses as to why these kittens can't be adopted just yet so I can have more time with them, but that's foolish, too. That's not how you run a cat rescue.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I savor their sweetness, their silly antics, their awkward movements not yet refined into that of a graceful adult. Their adult coats haven't come in yet and they have spiky hairs along their backs that indicate just how long their coats will be one day.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Buttons.

One day that I will not witness…

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?

In some ways it feels like I have a secret lover. I look at Charly and Buttons and I forget my troubles for awhile. It's an escape from tension in the house, the cats misbehaving, the bills growing. All I have to do is have fun and love them, guide them with a gentle hand and make sure their tummies are full. They don't have behavioral issues or diseases to treat (knock wood). They don't irritate me as my own cats sometimes do. It's the first blush of love and I'm certainly hooked. I feel reluctant to leave them to tend to the other cats. It's like going back to my husband after a whirlwind affair.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cat toy photobomb.

Reality kicks in and I move on to other things. I know they're upstairs playing or napping or looking out the window as the dried autumn leaves flicker past the window on a gust of wind.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Little hunter.

I find myself longing for our next meeting and trying to think of an excuse to go check on them. I know our time is running out. Soon they'll be adopted and all I'll have are these photos and my memories.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Is my butt too heavy for this cat cube?

Once in awhile the door to my heart opens. Each time the hinges grow more stiff and it's harder to open the door. I know the pain of letting them in, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I get to be around little beings at the best time of their life. I get to enjoy all the good stuff for awhile and it will revive me until the next time it happens.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello!

These are the ones who remind me that my capacity for love is infinite. It doesn't run out when I feel heartbreak. It always comes back full, complete and profound.

Dear Nico.

Yesterday I shared with you the pain that’s in my heart about all the cats struggling to find help to get out of kill shelters or off the streets into a safe, loving home. I always feel torn about sharing things that are deeply painful. It’s never my goal to make any reader cry, nor even stir up “the pot,” for that matter. But…I also have to write about painful topics to purge my anguish and despair or I just can’t go on.

What surprises me is the reaction I got. I feared reprise or anger, but I got support, love, a few “hurrahs!” Of everything I’ve written, this one post grew legs I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t even consider that my voice reflected the feelings of so many other people who selflessly offer everything they have and do whatever they can to help cats in need.

I’d like to say “Thank you” to everyone who has been in my shoes, is in my shoes and who is contemplating taking on the role of cat rescuer, cat foster home, cat advocate. I say thank you because you don’t get thanked often enough. I’d also like to say this world is off-kilter if people who do what we do can’t make a decent living along the way, too.

Rescue always seems to mean sacrifice for the benefit of others. That’s not a bad thing, but it would be nice if the path was better paved and less difficult to tread.

With great appreciation this post is dedicated to the rescuers out there who kick ass and do amazing things. You are all my heroines and heroes.

Today’s letter is about Nico and all the cats like him who found rescue and safe harbor.

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Dear Nico,

My life is filled with “shoulds.” I “should” work on finding a new client or I “should work on updating Kitten Associate’s web site, then do some laundry.” I will get to all these things, I hope, sooner or later, but I’m easily distracted.

I saw your photo in an email. A nice lady was asking for help. She said you were going to be euthanized because her shelter, try as they might, just didn’t have the room to hold you any longer. Other cats were arriving and they deserved a chance, too. You had your time. Now your time is up.

I look at your photo. I don’t know anything about you other than you’re a male. I don’t know if you’re sick, how old you are, if you’ll like being around people.

I look in my bank account. We just got a nice donation. I add up in my head how much I think it will cost to take care of you. I’m guessing it will be about $300.00. I have that much money, but I have 14 other cats who are ahead of you, whose needs must come first.

I add up in my head how much more I will need for the others. Most of them have what they need other than food. I try to figure out if I can afford to help you.

I look at your photo again. You have a quality about you that is appealing. Something in my heart tells me other people would agree and if I like you surely they would like you, too. I bet I can get you adopted.

Two days passed.

I can’t stop thinking about you. There are others who need help, but you really stand out to me. I really don’t have room to take you, but I’m going to give you a chance. I hope I’m not wrong. I hope to God you don’t test positive for Feline Leukemia. If you have FIV+ that’s not great, either.

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©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. A very hungry young kitty who is eating because of donations received to my non-profit rescue, Kitten Associates.

I hope you don’t end up being unfriendly or that you hate other cats. You have to get along with everyone until we find you a forever home where you won’t have many cats to live with.

I sent out a few emails on your behalf. I made bargains with other rescuers. I texted folks who could help me, help you because I live 1000 miles from your cage at the shelter. I stayed up too late again, but I didn’t have time to spare. The puzzle pieces came together creating a map of your rescue, how and when it would take place. Is it too late? Did I wait too long?

The next morning I find out. No. It’s not too late. They told me the cat is waiting for you. He has no belongings to pack up. You can just put him in a cat carrier and have your volunteer sign a few papers. He takes the cat away from that place.

Silently, invisibly a little tic mark appears in the “WIN” column in my heart. There is no fanfare, but I feel a tug; a feeling that’s mixed with joy and despair. I got you out, but left so many others behind.

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©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Nico finally gets some rest and love in his new foster home.

Then I wait again for the call that tells me your test results. You tested negative. You have ear mites. You have fleas. It’s all treatable. It’s not expensive. So far, so good.

You need a name. I ask my friend Ingrid. She chooses Nico. Nico it is. Hello, Nico. That’s all I have to do for now. A nice man drives you to your new foster home where you can rest and get something good to eat. I don’t even get the chance to welcome you to my rescue or finally see you in the light of day, instead of in a photo online.

My job is done. Your life is saved. I will make sure you get a home where they won’t ever give up on you or put you back into a cage in a kill shelter. I won a small victory and I will continue to fight for you by saying no to some adopter-candidates and only yes to the one-the one who will love you forever this time.

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©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Flame point sister have a rescue pending but their sisters don't. You can see them below.

I look at my email and there is an urgent plea about four kittens; two are flame point Siamese and two are lovely orange tabby girls. They’re at a kill shelter in the south. I should get to work. I should do the laundry and not write more emails or make more calls. It’s getting late. I need some sleep.

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©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. 5 month old sweet sisters need a rescue from Newton Animal Control in Covington, Georgia.

The laundry can wait.

The work can wait.

They cannot wait.

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

To Those I Cannot Save

Every day whether it be via email, a phone call or on Facebook, I get notified of cats and kittens in dire need of rescue. Some are owner-abandoned, some are found on the street wandering, seriously injured. Others are listed on Craigslist because they have behavioral issues or the family is moving and “can’t take them” or mysterious allergies pop up so the cat has to go. If they don’t get any help they will go to the shelter---and we all know what that implies---they may be euthanized.

This is a letter to all those cats.

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Dear Cat ID# Unknown,

My heart is very heavy. I took it upon myself to open my home to helping cats like you. Cats who are hunkered down at the back of a stainless steel cage, with dilated pupils, cowering in fear. Cats who are too old to care and just sit, staring in their litter pan, hoping the smell of their own excrement will offer them a sliver of comfort in a place that is not their home. They are confused, lost, scared, hopeless. Some have newborn kittens clinging to them for nourishment and who are trying to protect them from the sounds of the shelter, the barking dogs, the smells of cleaning fluids and untouched cat food.

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©2012 Maria S. George's guardian lives in a very bad part of town and had taken him off the streets knowing full well she would get evicted for having a cat. She was also in hiding from an abusive relationship and was risking her own safety if she got evicted. My rescue group, Kitten Associates took him on because his next stop was going to be the kill shelter or being turned back to the streets.

I want to save your life, but I can’t. I’m so very sorry. I see your photo and you look like a perfectly nice kitty. You don’t deserve to sit there, waiting to die. I wish I knew something I could do to help you. There isn’t enough time in the day to send out pleas to everyone I know for every cat I discover who needs help.

I don’t want to be cliché and say, “If I had the space and money, I would save all of you,” because I don’t think that’s even possible to do by just one person. I have to measure what I can do versus what is needed. If I take too many, I am no help to anyone. As it is, my home is ruined from my own cats suffering from stress from a constant flow of incoming and outgoing cats, but it’s just urine-ruined floors. If that’s the price I pay to save lives, then so be it.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. 10 yr old Helmet was brought to the shelter. The owners were warned the cat would be euthanized if they surrendered him. Being over 10 years old he had no chance. I sent out a plea on Facebook and within a day we had three adopters interested. This is a rare WIN. There are so many requests for help on Facebook cats like Helmet get overlooked.

I’m not saying you’re not worth it, because you are. You are SO worth it. You are worth making a fuss over-every single one of you. You’re a sentient being. You forgive and forget. You can move on with little or no remorse. You are so much better than I can ever be, but I don’t have a way to help you so I have to delete this email or ignore this post on Facebook.

Even though I try not to see you, I do. Each time I “pass” on helping another one of you, it puts a little tear in my heart, which is already in tattered shreds.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. Helmet, now named, Grayson, with his new, devoted family. I'm told he is doing really well and is already requesting belly rubs.

I feel so badly I can’t do more, but I aspire to, at least, but it’s getting harder and harder to know about all of you because this year is the worst I can remember in a long time. I know that mamas and their kittens are dying in record numbers this summer and into the autumn and that pains me in a way that nothing can make right again. I can’t stand seeing elderly cats given up by their families who turn a cold shoulder to them at a time when those cats should be cherished even more.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. This lovely pregnant cat was living outside in a very dangerous part of town. The owners of the apartment complex wanted her dumped at the heart stick kill shelter where she would die before her kittens were born.

What ever happened to “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” No…you are disposable. I will never understand how anyone can think that of you.

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©2012 Jennifer N. Another miracle rescue-Anastasia was offered a loving foster home ONE HOUR after I asked for help. This is another rare WIN for a sweet cat who deserves the best we can give her.

You are not a cat on death row-you are my cat. You would give me the world, your love, your heart. You would give me all that you are, every single one of you, but I can’t give you the same in return no matter how badly I wish I could.

No other rescues stepped forward to help you. They’re in the same bind. No one came to adopt you. You’re going to die today. I can’t do a damn thing about it other than cry and hate that we, as a society, decided euthanasia is the answer to overcrowded shelters.

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©2012 Jennifer N. Anastasia's due to give birth any time now. Thank goodness she's safe.

I recently learned that in Italy it’s against the law to euthanize a cat. The community has decided to take cat care on as a group. Everyone pitches in to help the cats. There are sanctuaries and adoptions and some cats just live outside without a home, but they are cared for and cared about.

Why can’t we do this, too? Because we’re selfish and don’t want cats ruining our plants or peeing on the front door. Or we don’t want to deal with spending a few extra dollars to put out food for the strays or ferals because then it becomes a bigger problem. We’d rather the cats just die, as long as we don’t see it happening, so we can focus on what WE want and what WE NEED, who cares about them?

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Three days ago I learned about this kitty and MANY others at Henry County Care and Control. I wanted to help him but I didn't have time. Why would a cat like that have to be put down? It never makes sense.

We can shout all we want about spaying or neutering cats, but it falls on too many deaf ears. We can say “no kill!” but we don’t know that it often only means “no killing of adoptable animals” and that shelters can make rules that any animal over 7 is too old to be adopted so they can KILL those perfectly healthy, loving animals and still declare they are “no kill!”

We have to realize that millions of cats will die this year because we’re too lazy to get off our asses and really FIX this problem. It’s not an important issue compared to the economy, people losing their homes, losing their jobs, etc. There will always be another reason that is “more important” to focus on even though we COULD focus on this AND work on those other issues, too.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. I found out that they're putting cats down daily. This photo was haunting me, like so many others. I stopped what I was doing and begged a favor. As of this afternoon, THIS CAT IS BEING RESCUED by Kitten Associates and Animals in Distress, but I couldn't help the other 15 or more who don't have a chance.

To my dear cat who will die today, I failed you. We all failed you. We need to stop failing and start putting an end to this madness and start saying NO we don’t accept euthanasia as a solution for overcrowded shelters. We need to start opening our homes and accepting cats in to foster-NO MORE EXCUSES ABOUT IT BEING TOO PAINFUL TO LET THEM GO TO A NEW HOME BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT TO SUFFER THE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT BEING BROKEN. Just do it.

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©2012 Betsy Merchant. Three days ago I learned about this kitty and MANY others at Henry County Care and Control. I loved this cat's face. What a serene and beautiful cat. This post is dedicated to her and the thousands like her who didn't make it. She was euthanized two days ago because there wasn't enough room in the shelter.

I would much rather cry because my foster cat got adopted then if it died in a shelter because I refused to open my home up to fostering cats.

I’m so very sorry, kitty. Rest in Peace. Fly free.

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If you want to help the cats of Henry County or the cats in your town, please consider opening your home to foster a cat for a rescue group or shelter. It's a magical thing to realize you truly are SAVING a LIFE.

My Last Nerve and DOOD's First Steps.

It's been a long three weeks since the DOOD injured his back. I don't know how it happened, but it must have been pretty bad because he hasn't been able to walk comfortably since. You can read more about the injury HERE.

DOOD's been under strict cage rest since Thursday. He's also been on an opiate-based painkiller called Buprenex. It makes DOOD loopy and very friendly. It keeps him quiet, though I'm not sure he's getting very good rest. DOOD also gets a baby aspirin, which is normally a big no-no, but he's only had it a few times.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD's temporary home-featuring a heated bed.

During the past few days DOOD has barely moved. If he does move, he appears very weak and I feared he was getting worse. If cage rest didn't help, the next step would be to see a specialist, do a CT scan and probably have to do surgery to take the pressure off what we fear is a pinched nerve.

Seeing DOOD in pain, growling or crying when he tried to stand cut me to the core. I told myself to remember that this is just for now and that in time DOOD will be back to his old self, running around, licking my face. The truth was that there was a chance that DOOD would never be the same again and perhaps have a life of pain or God forbid become paralyzed if the surgery failed.

I know the danger of having all these thoughts-of thinking too much and creating awful scenarios in my head. I have to face only what is wrong now and do my best to help DOOD until that information changes. To upset myself with “what ifs” is a waste of time.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson often sleeps in the cat carrier next to DOODs crate-which is odd since DOOD often hisses at Jax.

Of course, being rational is never easy when you add stress and fear to the mix so last night I had an impressive melt down.

I function day to day knowing that I'm walking a tightrope. Bills get paid, but there isn't much leftover. If something bad happened to any of the cats or my car, my house, etc., it could just toss me over an edge I can't recover from. My rational mind says things have been tough for a long time, but I'll find a way. My fearful mind pushes me to flip out over not being able to open a bottle or that I can't nicely encourage Spencer to get out of my office so I can shut the door-so the cats won't go in there and pee while I'm sleeping upstairs. I have to yell at him to get him out of the room. This is not me, I love Spencer. I don't want to yell at him, but after years on end of stress, of cats peeing all over, of Jackson and his issues and now he's been attacking my own cats…the vice grip on my poor head gets tighter and tighter. The headaches are worse and worse and I can't find an escape from all of this. There is too much to do, to tend to, other people to help, cats in need.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen visits DOOD every day.

I can usually take it on in fairly good humor or make a joke about it, but last night I could not. I just raged and sobbed while Sam sat there, not sure if he'd lose his hand if he reached out to me. There was a time he would talk to me, help comfort me, but even with our relationship, there is another tightening of the strap around my head. We don't talk much. We don't do much. We both focus on caring for our cats and we both do our little chores and that's about it. I feel pretty empty inside.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At Dr. Larry's this morning as lovely as ever.

After my nice fit, I went to sleep. I dragged myself out of bed this morning and started the usual boring routine of caring for the cats, cleaning up vomit or pee, scooping the pans, feeding the foster kittens. Before too long it was time to pack DOOD up and take him to see Dr. Larry. Today was the day. Would DOOD finally be able to walk again? From what I'd seen the answer would be no, but I hadn't encouraged DOOD to move this week so perhaps I'd be surprised.

DOOD was great at the Vet. His temperature was back to normal for the first time. He lost a few ounces, which in his case is a good thing. Dr. Larry examined him and DOOD didn't fuss. He didn't seem to be in much pain, but I wondered if the last of the Buprenex was still in his system.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is what I miss seeing.

Dr. Larry gingerly placed DOOD on the floor. I walked to the other side of the room and called to him. With tail held high, DOOD took his first few steps. I expected his back legs to wobble as they had this past month, but they did not.

It stuck me as odd that DOOD was walking fairly normally. It was the first time I'd see his stride look rather confident. I was so used to seeing him shuffling, crying, growling and here he was taking careful steps. Dr. Larry shook his head in disbelief. DOOD was clearly getting better!

My Mother had a bizarre saying that popped into my head; “I didn't know whether to shit or go blind.” I couldn't believe DOOD looked so much better. It's as if one cat was lying injured in my home while this doppleganger was healthy in Dr. Larry's office.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Dreams.

Of course my fearful mind didn't want to get too excited. Dr. Larry said DOOD should have one more week of cage rest and two more aspirin but no more buprenex. We would continue to be conservative about DOOD's care and hope that another week would give him the recovery time he needed before he joined the rest of the family.

Some good news at last and some hopeful news, as well. DOOD must have been wiped out from the little bit of walking he did because when we got home I let him out of the cat carrier and he walked quickly into his cage and laid down on his cat bed. A few minutes later he was sleeping soundly. If that cage had been any bigger, I would have joined him.

On to the next thing…Bobby called with news about Bongo and it wasn't good.

Saving Bongo's Leg

You never know what will come to pass when you rescue a kitten with a known physical problem. With King, we wondered if he'd been abused or if he was born deformed. Could he function better with a cart or prosthetic enhancements to his prematurely shortened hind limbs? In the end, King was perfect as he was born, missing the last inch or so of his legs and his paws. He does fine getting along on carpeting in his new home without any help or special surgery.

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©2012 Maria S. Bongo enjoying a soft bed and freedom from the death row at the shelter.

With Bongo, our latest rescue, we have more questions than answers. Things we do know:

Bongo is NEGATIVE for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia.

Bongo is about seven months old.

We x-rayed his right front leg, which he does not use. His paw is warm, there is blood flow and sensation. There were no signs of major breaks but the x-ray could not detect any possible small fractures in the paw. The Vet felt amputation might be the best thing to do. If you watch the video, it's be clear his limb is slowing him down.

Thankfully, Bongo is also VERY FRIENDLY which will make whatever he needs medically, easier on him and foster mom, Maria.


©2012 Maria S. & Robin Olson. Bongo's first steps.

I've never had to give the OKAY to amputate an animal's limb before. I've only ever had one foster cat who had to have his right front leg removed. He was about Bongo's age and did very well after surgery. His leg had no sensation and was probably ruined in an accident, so in his case there was little to question.

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X-ray of Bongo's Leg.

I realize there are some folks who would just take the leg without getting more definitive answers. It's a lot less expensive to take a leg off than it is to repair it. The recovery time is less and there are no chances of having to do a second surgery if the leg is already gone, instead of if the surgery is done badly.

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©2012 Maria S. Someday we hope Bongo will be able to run and play like any other kitten.

 

We need to take another step, out of respect for Bongo. I want him to see Dr. Alan Cross, an orthopedic Vet at Georgia Veterinary Specialists. An evaluation is discounted, but still expensive. I believe it's worth it to make certain there isn't something else we can do to save Bongo's leg.

 

We're doing a small fundraiser to cover the office visit and additional x-rays. Anything we don't use for this visit will be used for Bongo's future care. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee to Bongo, it could mean a world of difference. Small donations pooled together can make big things happen!

We realize things are tight for everyone so if you can't donate, then would you please SHARE this post with your Bongo-loving friends?

Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.

If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Bongo" mail it to:

Kitten Associates
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Thank you and stay tuned for more updates on this sweet little guy.

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