Boogie has two brothers, Otis and Milo. They all lived in a kennel at my Vet's Office. Dr. Mixon of the Newtown Veterinary Center decided to take them in since they were surrendered by a good samaritan a few months ago. I couldn't help him with them right away, but a few weeks ago I started by trying to work with Boogie, which I detailed HERE. He was very fractious AND sick and things didn't go very well. Boogie was so sick that I had to bring him back to the Vet until he could recover.
The good news is that Boogie had a fan in Mandy, one of the Vet Techs at Dr. Mixon's practice. Mandy adopted Boogie and reports that although he is still hissing, she is able to handle him and is in no rush to get him socialized. She can take it at his pace and hopefully, in time, he'll be used to human contact and actually enjoy it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Unhappy Boy.
Otis was able to find his forever home and has been with them for a few days. That left Milo, a lovely orange tabby mix with medium length fur. I'd heard that Milo's personality was somewhere between Boogie's fearfulness and his brother Otis's friendliness. I was somewhat concerned what that might mean, but since it was just one kitten I decided to take him on. I brought him home today.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo photo bombed by his cat dancer toy.
Milo is very pretty. He's three months old, but looks like he may grow to be a big kitty one day. Milo cried furiously from inside his cat carrier, scratching at the walls of it to get out as I drove us home. Nothing I said would soothe him. I hoped he would quiet down so I could sneak into Panera Bread and buy a few treats since I hadn't had anything to eat since last night. I knew bringing a cat into a restaurant would be frowned upon, but it was too hot to leave him in the car and I thought I'd be in and out before anyone was the wiser.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Milo!
The second I walked in the door, Milo began CRYING. I walked up to the counter mentally tracking how much time was passing. I acted like nothing was going on. The women in line ahead of me were looking around. One started to rub her watering eyes. I started to panic. Could an allergic reaction happen this quickly?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You can almost see Milo's tail. It's VERY long and fluffy.
Milo was bouncing around inside the carrier that was slung over my arm like a big purse. He meowed frantically. I said something to the ladies about how I'd only be in the store for a minute and they agreed he should not be in the car and thankfully did not point at me and scream that their runny eyes were from the cat being there!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
The young woman at the counter was in a daze. She had NO idea I had a cat with me and took forever to fulfill my order. I beat cheeks out of there while Milo continued to protest.
I got Milo settled into his new home. He was out of a cage at the Vet's office and in my bathroom. He'd have sunlight and fresh air and lots of toys and a cat tree. Sadly, he would be on his own for awhile. I want to make certain he's not sick, then I'll start to introduce him to the girls, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia. Once that is done, he can live in the room with them as long as he's friendly and doesn't need me to work with him.
I let Milo out of the carrier. He stopped crying. He sniffed around with his tail down, but not tucked between his legs. I didn't know if I could touch him so I simply observed him. After a few minutes I spoke to him and he meowed back at me. He sniffed at the food I gave him and had a few bites. When he came over towards me I reached out to pet him. He reacted by raising his back to meet my hand! Once he did that he relaxed and so did I.
Milo got a few more pets, then I took out a toy for him to play with. He was engaged right away, the stopped playing and ate more food. I'm not worried that he'll need work. He's in good shape already.
Dr. Mixon provided all of Milo's Vet care for no cost so there's nothing for me to do but find Milo a great home. If all rescues could be this easy…:::KNOCK WOOD:::
Day six has drawn to a close. I can't sleep. My heart is broken. It's not that I even feel the need for it ever to be “repaired-” if such a thing is possible. While I was working on the story of my cats falling ill, another story began to form. Stories that follow along with a real person's life don't transpire in tidy little packages, so here I stop to inject something else before I get back to the mystery ailment.
Two nights ago I found a small, odd looking black growth on the edge of Spencer's right ear. In my foggy memory, I believe I saw it long ago, thought about running Spencer to the Vet, got sidetracked and forgot. There it was, this rubbery, creepy mass, well hidden by the dark fur along the cap of Spencer's head.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Back at the Vet for a second time.
At first I thought it was a tick, then realized there were two masses, one “tick sized” and the other much smaller. I knew this was something that Dr. Larry needed to take a look at so yesterday morning I took Spencer back to the Vet for the second time in less than a week.
Super Deb entered the exam room first. After working with Spencer the other day, she realized that he was calmer if we didn't cover him during procedures. She got to work taking his temperature and he was basically calm. He had no fever.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The growth was easily overlooked. Follow the left edge of Spencer's ear. Where the fur gets dark you'll see a tiny black area where there is no fur. That's the growth. It's just right of center of the photo.
She weighed him and he'd lost 4 ounces in five days. Not surprising, but a reminder to keep him eating as much as he wanted while he recovers from his illness. His fluffy rear end, which had become soiled yellow from having diarrhea, was looking cleaner. Perhaps he was feeling better?
Dr. Larry entered the room and I was relieved to see him now that he's back from his vacation. He's been my Vet for more years than I can remember. Though we may not always agree on things, he's open minded and in return I'm very respectful of him. We've had some difficult discussions about my choice to feed a raw diet to my cats. It's unfortunate that even now I have to be on the “down low” about it, but there is so much fear mongering going on about it that it's just easier not to talk about it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. She didn't even buy him dinner first! Spencer gets his temperature taken.
On this day we HAD to talk about it. He approached the topic carefully. I felt myself taking a step back, crossing my arms over my chest as he spoke. What is sickening my cats could have been caused by the raw food. Though rare, salmonella could be a culprit, yet we did NOT see any indications in the blood work to show us it was a possibility. It could be e.coli or other bacterial culprits. To really know for certain, Dr. Larry asked if we could get a stool sample on Spencer and run a PCR test on it. Though expensive, running over $200.00, the test would show us what was causing the diarrhea. If we could manage, he wanted a sample from Nicky, as well. Using that information we could get a better picture of what happened and how to NOT let it happen again-IF it's something we can control.
I said yes to the test and I told Dr. Larry that we stopped feeding raw the day the cats got sick. We've discussed how we prep the food and saw some minor things we can and will correct. We're going to throw out the litter pans and start anew. We've been feeding raw for many years and the cats have NEVER gotten sick, but in case we did something to cause this, we will find a way to do right by them.
Before we went too much further down this path we agreed it might still be something else and NOT the food.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least he's starting to eat again.
Then Dr. Larry examined Spencer's ear. He measured it and said it measured out larger then he expected. He didn't “like the look of it” and said we should remove it. He looked at Spencer's teeth and mentioned Spencer really needed a dental cleaning. I asked him to look into Spencer's ears because I noticed they appeared a bit dirty.
Spencer fussed and hissed angrily as Dr Larry looked into his ears. The right was dirty and irritated. Dr. Larry told me that some times cats can have an over production of a greasy residue in their ears. The ear gets dirty and very itchy. Certainly Spencer would need drops to get him feeling more comfortable.
Next, Dr. Larry looked at Spencer's left ear. As Spencer fussed, Dr. Larry adjusted the angle of the scope. He stopped for a second and removed the scope.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Measuring the growth.
I felt a lump form in my throat. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I brought my cat to the Vet to look at this weird thing on his ear. Hopefully it was just a funky benign mole or something, but with the discovery of a second growth I knew what that could mean and I didn't know if I could get the words out to ask the question.
Dr. Larry has this serious expression I've seen too many times before. He had it when he examined Bob's belly and said it didn't feel right. It turned out Bob had a cancerous tumor engulfing half his liver. Dr. Larry never makes light of a diagnosis like this. Being conservative and I'm sure not wanting to upset me, he would only answer; “I don't like the look of this. It could be benign, but…”
He said if it was cancer that the rule of thumb would be to excise enough tissue to get a clean margin. It would mean removing Spencer's ear or ears. It was too much to imagine. I had to keep it together. I said if it was malignant, what was the point of cutting his ears off? His lovely little elfin ears…how could I do that to him? We didn't talk much beyond that. It was too soon to go down that road.
First Spencer had to get well and recover from whatever was causing his gastric issues. We'd schedule a dental and surgery for sometime near the end of the month. He wished me well and left to attend to the next patient. I put Spencer back into his cat carrier and went to the lobby to pay the bill, not sure I could get out of the clinic without bursting into tears.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My little pouff-waiting, wondering and scared.
Although I have no idea how I'm going to pay for this surgery, I will find a way. The overriding thought in my mind as I waited to hand over my credit card was; this can't be cancer. I just lost a cat to cancer 11 months ago. I just watched my dear Bob slowly die over the course of a horrible year. I can't go through that again.
I thought about what my lawyer said to me on the phone when we were talking about a car accident I was in two years ago. The case is either going to be settled or go to trial. He asked me my age, then told me the insurance company figures that based on my current age I have 29 more years to live which is how they will base my settlement offer. At first it really bothered me that there's a computer program that bets on how long I'll live. After we ended our conversation, I started to think maybe that was too many more years; more years of witnessing the pain and suffering of my dear cats.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the exam, Spencer sat in the window, trying to regain his composure after being poked and prodded.
Last night Spencer came over to me as I laid in bed. He did his little routine of laying on my arm, with his fluffy ruff in my face, purring loudly next to my ear. I tried to hold back, but I began to sob. I wondered how many more nights we would have together like this-where he is himself, not broken or wasting away. He is my beloved cat and together we have a simple joy that is deeply profound.
Spencer got up and walked to the end of the bed. I gave up trying to sleep, got up and went downstairs to my office and began to write. Between writing and tears I heard a sound. I turned to look and Spencer was there in his cat bed next to me. He was purring away like nothing was wrong.
I hope he's right.
The PCR test results are due in a day or two. I won't know about Spencer until we biopsy the mass towards the end of the month. The sliver lining has to do with a surprise adoption. Find out who it was and about their forever family in the next installment (unless something ELSE happens first).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Traffic, traffic, traffic.
Judy needed time to think about it. Adding another cat to the mix should always be considered soberly and not in haste. As much as I wanted Judy to adopt King, I couldn't push her to do so. I told her to take some time and think about it. It ended up taking two weeks. During that time Judy asked me “what ifs” and I did my best to help her not feel pressured. Just before the end of June, on the anniversary of my sweet tuxedo kitty Stanley's passing, Judy said YES.
I made the reservation for King to get on the next transport north (as far as Connecticut) and let Maria know the good news. I decided to drive King from my home to New Hampshire so I could do the home visit and make sure King arrived safely. You can read about King's difficult trip and arrival to Connecticut HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina & King meet.
On Thursday, Sam and I took the day off to make the four hour trip to Concord, New Hampshire. The violent thunderstorms the day before had finally cleared and King had been here long enough to feel settled and eat normally. I knew it was not going to be easy on King to move him only five days after he arrived, but at least he didn't have to travel from Georgia to New Hampshire without any break. I also think that it was good for King to meet the kittens. It seemed to perk him up each time they entered his room. He'd stand the second he saw them, then walk over to them as best he could. Noses would touch, the kittens would run off to play. King would settle back down, but I swear he had a smile on his face.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina meets King and the two bond instantly.
I set up a carrier for King with a double layer of puppy housebreaking pads on top of a soft towel. King HATES to be in the car, which he proved by peeing BEFORE we even left the DRIVEWAY. Sadly, King can't stand up to pee while he's traveling so he pees in place. The poor cat soiled himself he was so scared.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello? Anyone in there?
I got King cleaned up and tried to soothe his nerves. I covered him with another clean housebreaking pad and he seemed to calm down. For the next four hours King remained motionless. The only sound he made was when I uncovered him every so often to check on him. He'd look at me and moan pitifully. I petted him and he did his best to enjoy it, but he was too frightened to relax.
As Sam drove, I kept saying to myself that I hoped this home wasn't from an episode of Hoarders, that Judy was as nice as she sounded, that it worked out well enough so that I could leave King there and not be worried about his future. I had to prepare myself to tell Judy to her face that I could not go through with the adoption. I had to be brave. If it didn't work out, I'd just be clear and take King home.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Wishing he was anywhere but inside a car…
We arrived a few minutes after 4PM. Judy's house is a cozy, mint green Cape Cod style house that was built around the turn of the last century. I took a deep breath and tried to steady my nerves. This was it; the moment we'd been praying for. I knocked on the door and waited a beat. A moment later the door opened and a very cheerful woman answered saying her name was Lynne and that she was Judy's sister. As she welcomed us into the house, Judy appeared, clearly happy and excited as she tried to get a look into the carrier to see King. Sam held up the carrier as Judy and Lynne both “squeed” with delight.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Judy gives King his first belly rub.
Judy brought us upstairs to King's temporary room. The second I looked around I realized this was going to work out. The room was small and had cheerful blue painted walls. There was carpeting, as Judy promised, but it wasn't ugly at all. It was quite nice. Judy had put out a new litter pan with the litter King is accustomed to using. There was a clean bowl with water, a new cat bed, a cat scratcher and another cat bed. There was a large futon in the room and one of those “papasan” chairs everyone has or knows someone who has one from Pier One. (My brother had one of those chairs when he first got married.)
I put King's crate down and opened the door. King came out cautiously and looked around at all of us. I"ll be dammed but that cat can MOVE! In a flash he was in the far corner behind the futon! I moved the futon away from the wall and sat on the floor near King. He was trying to make himself invisible by putting his head under an end table, but the rest of his body was comically sticking out. I petted him for a few minutes and we all discussed what to do. I asked Judy to sit with him and I got out of the way. I was passing ownership over to her and this was the first moment she'd get to touch her new cat.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yasmin, King's new sister, getting her brush on.
Judy cautiously touched King, then, as he relaxed a bit, she began to explore his head and back with her fingers. We were all talking to King and telling him he was a good boy. Judy's sister couldn't resist being away from King so she came over to join in the petting, sitting opposite her sister on the floor.
For a good hour we talked, petted King and got to know each other better. The more Lynne and Judy spoke, the more I liked them and liked their family. They were both clearly dedicated to providing the best care for their cats. They were lively and cheerful and had that sweet sisterly banter that made me homesick for the family I no longer have.
King managed to get away and hide in a pile of boxes that Judy was storing in the same room. It took some time but we got him out, then re-worked the location of the boxes so King couldn't do it again. I put King into a cardboard box turned on its side and placed a cat bed in the box. I put King on the bed and petted him for a few moments then Lynne sat with him and petted him. Lynne must have magic fingers. Before too long, King was falling asleep. Judy pretended to get miffed that her sister “hogged” time with King, but it was all in good fun. When Judy took a turn petting King, he was out cold.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It took 6 hours to get home due to accidents and road construction. We arrived at 1AM, but it was worth the long drive to make certain King was settled in his new home.
We decided it was time to make the final decision and it was clear Judy made it before we even got there. I knew this would be a good home for King-one full of love and one where he would get whatever he needed. If he couldn't manage the carpeted stairs, then Judy said she would carry him downstairs during the day and bring him upstairs at night. Hopefully Judy's cats would come to accept and hopefully be friendly with King. We discussed at length about letting it take the time it needed to take and not be on some deadline. Judy was going to try and that's all we could hope for. It's was up to the cats to see how they would get along. I knew King would want a friend and would accept the girls. We had to be patient and hope the girls would see what we all did-what a great cat King is and give him a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's been a long road for King, but well worth the journey.
I didn't have much of a farewell with King. I went to check on him before I left and he was sitting behind the futon, but not in the corner. I told him goodbye, but I'd kissed him and told him I loved him in the car, so I was ready to go. I didn't want to distress him by grabbing him and getting a photo of us together. Cameras seem to scare King so I didn't push it, though I was disappointed. Judy didn't want her photo taken so I teased her and said I'd do an “artist's interpretation” of the two of them together in lieu of a photo. She promised to stay in touch and let me know how King was doing.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This image is burned in my heart and how I will always think of King.
We said our goodbyes to Judy and Lynne and got in the car to head home. As Sam turned the car around, I saw a large lilac in the corner of the yard. It faced the street and stood as a sentinel guarding Judy's home. To me it was the last sign I needed—my Mother was telling me again that this was the right place. She loved lilacs. There must be a hundred photos of her standing near a lilac or holding them in her hands. I didn't question whether or not I did the right thing. It was clear that King was home. His long journey escaping a cruel life at a palette factory in Georgia was over. He would never be hungry or scared or without love ever again.
©2012 Maria S. King getting settled prior to transport.
King is very special to me, even from afar. Knowing he must have had a difficult life living outside, handicapped by a deformity that robbed him of his hind paws, made me imagine the worst. How he must have suffered trying to get around with two stumps for back legs-especially with trucks, cars and fork lifts buzzing around him. How did he manage? How did he not get run over and killed? How is it that he's so darn friendly? I know the folks at the factory fed him scraps when they could and they put a piece of cardboard down under an outdoor staircase so he's have some sort of shelter, but someone handled this cat. That much is clear.
©2012 Maria S. Not so sure about going for a long ride.
Six months is a long time to be in foster care waiting for a forever home, but Maria and I both knew that finding King the right home wasn't going to be easy. In fact, a small rescue like mine shouldn't even take on anything other than cute little easy-to-adopt-out kittens. We don't have the staff or the foster home space to take on a cat we can't find a home for within a short amount of time. If we had a brick and mortar shelter we COULD take on more adults. If we took on as few as three adults who would be tough to place, it would prevent us from saving MANY more kittens from Kill Shelters. It's a very tough place for us to be in, but I know in time we'll take on more adults when we have the resources. I'll still help the few I can and get the word out on other adults I can find another rescue to take on.
©2012 Maria S. Maria watches the transport make it's way north.
But King had something about him, from the moment Bobby called me, describing this cat's plight. Bobby had seen him a year ago, then not again for a long while. When he saw him again, he knew he had to ask me, knowing full well that this is not a cat I can usually help. I understood that taking King on would cause some issues for us, but I couldn't say no. I'd never sleep at night thinking about him out there struggling to survive.
I had lots of questions and concerns. What could I do for him? Would he need surgery? Was he semi-feral? What was I getting myself into? I'd cared for a cat who had a limb amputated but not one without back feet who could not walk on a floor unless it was carpeted.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I saw many black dogs come off the transport. Black animals in the south still carry the stigma of being bad luck.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. King arrives, though not very happily.
On Saturday, King's transport arrived. Whatever concerns I had about him would be put to the test. The Vets and Specialist declared there was nothing more to be done for him. What would I do with a cat who couldn't jump or run around-who could only travel as far as I placed rugs or towels on the floor? Would I feel strange touching him…seeing his back legs end prematurely into rounded stumps that showed signs of a paw pad and deformed toes-but which didn't function as such?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet King.
The trip was tough on King. He was crying and upset off the transport because it was filled with barking dogs. I HATE to put him through that, but the trip ends and the damage to his nerves won't last forever. It's a necessary evil if I want to get King here reliably and safely for a reasonable amount of money.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting to know King.
King was clearly confused and upset, but once he was in the car with me, without the sound of the dogs, he got very quiet and just sat towards the back of his carrier. I spoke to him as we drove along, but he didn't move or make a peep.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. He loves to be loved. King has a heart of gold.
I brought him upstairs to the bathroom which would be his temporary home. He hid and cried.
I got him something to eat and sat with him. I wasn't sure I could pet him, but I had to try. The second I touched him, he softened up and pushed his head back into my hand. I scratched his neck and he flopped down on his side, rolling against me. It took a few minutes, but I coaxed him out of his hiding place. Watching him walk made me sad. His little back legs can't get a grip on a smooth surface so he slipped a little bit trying to reach the cat bed I'd put out for him. He climbed into the bed. It was the first time I really got a good look at him.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You know what King wants!
King gained FIVE POUNDS since we rescued him and I could feel the weight of him as I stroked his back, then his sides. He quickly turned over, opening himself to me by showing his belly. He had no reservation allowing me to pet him there, too. He wriggled around, keeping eye contact with me. He loved being scratched under the chin and behind his ears. If I hit a certain “right” spot, his back leg would twitch and dig at the air, just as a dog would do.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillaxin' on his "throne."
The longer I scratched, the happier King got. He seemed grateful for this small gesture. He couldn't get up and run off or jump on the cat tree and look out the window. He could sit next to me and be my buddy and he seemed fine with that and I did, too.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Such a good boy! (by the way, King is going to the Vet this morning to re-check why his third eyelids are showing)
Although I still feel sad when I see King's back legs, it hit me all of a sudden-of course it really didn't matter that he's handicapped. He's a great cat, paws or no paws. King doesn't know what he's missing. He never had it in the first place. He doesn't let that stop him from living his life to the fullest.
King is here today because Bobby and Maria offered to help him, but the gravity of this rescue hit me. If I hadn't said; “I've got your back-yes I'll take you into my rescue,” this never would have happened. I looked down at King. He flipped over and showed me his belly again. He looked into my eyes and in that moment nothing else mattered. As the tears slid down my cheeks, I fell in love with this cat. This once miserable wreck of a beast, with no hope in his life, laying before me, completely surrendering himself to me, trusted me to do right by him-and I know I did. I felt honored. I felt humbled. I felt hopeful that a cat as sweet and gentle as King would find his forever home soon…
…maybe sooner than I imagined.
It feels like a month's worth of time has passed over the last 10 days since Tater Tot first fell ill. Between sleepless nights, emails to colleagues, calls and visits to Vets; we teased out a possible answer to what has been ailing our little foster kitten.
Tater has Coccidia, Tapeworm and a bad Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (and maybe pneumonia). Three days after we began treatment, Tater's temperature dropped and by day four, his temperature was within a normal range.
©2012 Maria S. Tater on the way to the Vet yesterday.
On day four of treatment, Tater began to eat on his own. By day five, Tater gained back some of the weight he lost.
We brought Tater back to the Vet for a re-check and to discuss what sort of testing we should consider doing. We have a suspicion Tater has Bartonella, which is now called Mycoplasma haemofelis ("feline infectious anemia").
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson & Maria S. Tater's Tale. Tissue Warning.
The Vet didn't feel we needed to do tests just yet, but to continue with treatment though she did agree to change Tater's antibiotic to Doxycycline which would fend off the Bartonella, if that's what he's been battling. There are no conclusive tests that will tell us more than just levels of exposure to the Coronavirus if he has FIP or if he has Bartonella.
For now she wants to stay the course and see how he does. Tater is NOT out of the woods, BUT he is also NOT close to death as he was just one week ago today. It will be a long road to recovery, if we are lucky enough to get him healthy. I know for certain that Maria and I are dedicated to his well being and that he should enjoy a happy future.
I know we have a long way to go, but for now we can rejoice that Tater is with us—hopefully for a long time to come. We've learned a lot about FIP and perhaps what is NOT FIP. Nothing is certain, but in time all this will make sense.
The past few days have been a stress-filled blur. Our team of rescuers have been trying to determine if Opal will be having kittens or need a c-section, then questioning whether or not she'll accept her newborns. Will she provide care for them or will we have to find a surrogate or find someone who can bottle feed the kittens every 2-3 hours around the clock for the next two weeks? Not knowing what is to come, with a belly full of fear, is not the best way to take action. When there are fragile lives at stake, thinking clearly isn't always easy.
Early Tuesday morning, Cyndie heard cries from the room where Opal is staying. She knew more kittens were born, but with Opal becoming more and more stressed every time Cyndie opened the door, she decided to wait and not look just yet.
Cyndie, Maria and I were all exhausted and worried. We'd stayed up late texting and calling each other with updates, hoping that Opal would give birth. I started to read up on feline C-sections, thinking it was going to come to that if Opal didn't go into labor soon. I knew that Opal had a kitten around 5:20AM on 6/25, then nothing until almost 24 hours later, even though we could see the kittens moving inside her abdomen as she laid on a flannel blanket. Just before I was going to tell Cyndie to take her to the Emergency Vet, Opal gave birth to three more kittens on 6/26.
The problem was we didn't even know if Opal would accept her kittens once she gave birth. After the kittens were born, she stayed near them but seemed uninterested in caring for them. Cyndie had to clean the placenta off one of them and thought it had passed away, but after rubbing the little body, she took some breaths, struggling to live.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Baby One.
Each kitten is a mix of white and orange tabby. There are two boys and two girls. They are grossly underweight and probably premature. Opal wasn't due to give birth for two more weeks. Looking back on it, she was probably so stressed from being in foster care that she gave birth early.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Baby Two.
Over the past day, I've frantically been looking for another lactating queen to give these kittens to in the hopes the kittens would make it. To my surprise I could not find any-at least ones that weren't already nursing 5 or 6 kittens. I had to find a backup plan. Cyndie and Maria worked hard searching, too.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Baby Three.
Cyndie found an experienced person who could act as a backup bottle feeder, if we needed one, and we got a lot of suggestions about how to handle the situation. Being 1000 miles away makes it difficult for me to make decisions that should be made by those in the same room with the kittens. My gut says to feed those kittens regardless if they get anything from Opal. Opal is only 9 months old and in poor condition. We don't even know if the milk she's producing is any good. The kittens got their much needed colostrum during a syringe feeding from Cyndie, so at least they have that, but they are NOT gaining weight yet.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. Baby Four.
We did get some answers today. Opal IS caring for her kittens and Cyndie has seen a few of them nursing, but we don't know what sort of milk they're getting. Is it enough? Is it good quality? Cyndie says that the first born is off by himself. Does that mean he won't make it? We're looking for clues, but it's difficult to get into the room because Opal is NOT okay with having anyone near her or the kittens and each hour she grows more angry that Cyndie is there.
©2012 Cyndie Tweedy. With mama. Hopefully not the only, but one of the first photos we'll have of them all together.
Maria is going to loan Cyndie some heavy gloves so she can get the kittens some supplemental feedings. In addition to everything else, we have to be concerned that Cyndie could be harmed while she's only trying to help Opal and save the lives of her newborns. We're going to do a small fundraiser so we can purchase a baby monitor ASAP. This will allow Cyndie to view the family without stressing Opal and will cut down the number of times Cyndie will need to enter the room.
I want to find that place in my heart where I have faith it will work out, but I'm having a hard time. I think the other gals are as well. It feels like these kittens have the odds stacked against them. I don't know if they'll all survive even another day. I don't want to upset anyone, but this is an upsetting situation. I wish we were at the point where we could look back and say how scared and worried we were but it's all okay now. We're nowhere near that place, but I do know we're all dedicated to getting there.
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 "Opal's Family" mail it to:
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.
Very early this morning, Cyndie, our new foster mama in Georgia emailed me to let me know that Opal, our latest rescued kitty had given birth to her first kitten! We weren't expecting kittens for a few more weeks because the Vet indicated that she wasn't quite ready yet. Hopefully the kittens aren't being born prematurely, but only time will tell.
Maria, had today off, thank goodness, so she was able to get over to Cyndie's house and help out. Cyndie has a pet sitting business and had to take care of her client's. Maria will stay at Cyndie's to make sure everything goes all right. It's been about 10 hours since the first kitten was born and the Vet said she could go 12 hours between delivering the next kitten. In the video below you can see Opal's side wiggling. I think we have another kitten to meet very soon!
©2012 Maria S. Watch Opal's side move!
Maria is in constant communication with our Vet. I know most folks who have witnessed this process just say to “let nature take its course” and not worry, but I'm 1000 miles away so I'm worrying! Maria couldn't get Opal to feed her kitten so she supplemented the little one right away. Cyndie fed the kitten a few times as well and the kitten is warm and sleeping comfortably now. I'm so grateful to have two capable women caring for Opal. I wouldn't have a clue what to do!
©2012 Maria. S. Happy Birthday little one!
Our first kitten is white and peach colored and seems to be ok, but is only 2.4 oz-which is a little bit small. We're going to hold off on naming any of them until everyone is born. Right now it's watch and wait, while poor Maria is starving. I gotta find a way to get her some food delivered! I think it's going to be a long day.
Stay tuned for more updates!
©2012 Maria S. Chased up a tree by a Pit Bull, this kitty needed help-and FAST!
In the past week Maria, our amazing foster mom in Georgia, has kept running into cats who need a helping hand. My rescue, Kitten Associates, has offered to help take on every cat she's found so far. All but one of these cats came from the SAME property. To date we've rescued 5 kittens and one adult. Though we have few resources, we're making room. Somehow it will all sort out. We can't and won't look away when a cat needs us.
©2012 Maria S. Maria-super-cat-lady to the rescue!
When Maria contacted me about a cat who was up a tree and needed rescue, I couldn't believe it. It seems this year more than any I can remember, there are cats coming out of the woodwork-and now are they raining down from above? There are so many kittens that are turning up alone on a neighbor's front steps-even my own cousin found one in her yard, lost and sick-so covered with ticks he almost died. Thankfully she was able to get him the care he needed in time and he will be going to a rescue in eastern CT today.
©2012 Maria S. & Robin A.F. Olson. You MUST listen to the voiceover on this cute video of Maria saving little Willow.
We had to act quickly. Maria, with the aid of her neighbor, whose voice over on the video below is quite amusing, managed to get the kitty down without too much trouble. Sadly, it was very clear that this kitty was sick. Flea covered, dirty, with a runny nose and tearing eyes. The cat kept gulping, a reflex from having too much mucus in her sinuses.
©2012 Maria S. It looks like Willow is telling Maria she's scared.
We couldn't know if this was someone's cat. She was very friendly so she'd known humans, but where was her family? If she had one, why did they let her get so sick? Why was she so thin?
Maria looked at the cat's abdomen. Her nipples were a bit swollen. One expressed a tiny bit of milk. As Maria was relaying this information to me we both realized this could be another “Amberly”-a found friendly stray who had kittens in the area. Finding Amberly's kittens was truly a miracle, but could we do it again?
©2012 Maria S. Getting some much needed rest.
I had Maria take the cat to the Vet. We'd sort everything out later. The Vet did the exam. The cat, who we named Willow (thanks to a suggestion by our friend Judy), just rolled over and wanted to be loved. She didn't care about being sick, she just wanted to be petted. This kitty was so darling we all fell in love with her on the spot.
The Vet didn't feel she was pregnant and if she had kittens she was mostly dried up to the point that they are probably weaned by now. Sadly, we have no idea where Willow came from, but the following day Maria did put a harness on the little cat and walked her around the area, hoping Willow would lead her to her family. None were found.
©2012 Maria S. Willow loves the Vet!
Maria also asked around the neighborhood, but no one had seen the cat before. Willow was either lost or dumped. Whatever happened to her, we'll keep her safe and hopefully in time she will recover from her illness. She's been too stuffed up to smell her food so Maria has syringe fed her for a few days. This morning she's starting to improve enough to eat some on her own. She's still rolling over to get belly rubs. Whoever had her must have been kind to her at some point.
I hope Maria doesn't find any more cats who need help. We're really full up and funds are low-even with the awesome amount of donations we just got in. We have to be careful so we'll have enough for everyone as their need arises.
©2012 Maria S. Another unsprayed female, barely a kitten herself, needs our help, too.
P.S. Maria gave me the OK to show her to all of you in her PJs. She was glad she wore the ones with the kitties on them.
WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO OF EYE INFECTION BELOW (There are also images of it cleaned up and looking better so it's not too bad).
We've taken five cats from ONE property in McDonough, GA. Every time Maria drives past the home, she sees more kittens in the yard. Using her best, most diplomatic approach, she's been trying to work with the owner to convince him of how important it is to spay and neuter the cats that are roaming his yard.
To our knowledge, in only a month, we know two kittens were lost, never to be seen again and the owner admitted just yesterday that he'd found a third one dead in the yard. I cannot begin to fathom how these things can go on; cats giving birth, kittens running around, sick, starving and dying. He seems to understand he needs to do something, but he just doesn't get around to doing anything about it while the cats on his property keep reproducing.
©2012 Maria S. Flea covered and sick, but finally in a place where she'll get the care she needs.
It's taken Maria almost a year to get to the point where he is somewhat open to the idea of spaying his cats if we find a way to pay for it. Maria estimates there are 8 to 10 cats on his property and one she saw last year who was just a kitten at the time, is pregnant now.
©2012 Maria S. I thought this kitten was going to lose her eye when I saw this photo, but look below and you can see she's better once her face was washed. She still has an infection so she must be monitored carefully.
A small rescue like mine doesn't have the resources to correct this situation, but I'm looking into finding some help on a local level. If I can't find help, I'm going to do a fundraiser to get these cats to the low cost S/N clinic as soon as I can. We can't take in all the kittens that are being born. No one can. It makes me sick to think that Maria just drives home from work and collects another kitten or cat on her way-just to get them off the street. She can't look away and do nothing and I am very glad for that, but it does make me concerned that we now have ten kittens plus three adults with only me to find them good homes.
©2012 Maria S. Now that her eye is cleared of the pus, this little girl can see out of both eyes. If left untreated the infection could cause her to lose her eye.
As you may recall, on Friday Maria rescued Tater Tot, a little buff and white kitten who was so weak he could barely stand. We got him to the Vet and he received fluids, a B12 injection and other supportive therapy. Maria said after she gave him a bath, he ate really well, then basically passed out, exhausted. It may have been the first time his belly was full in his life.
©2012 Maria S. Much better!
Once Tater was safe, Maria turned her focus on getting the other kitten she saw wondering in the neighbor's yard. This kitten ran off when approached and Maria feared she was feral. She was also clearly sick with an eye infection, so we had to try to help her.
©2012 Maria S. Tater gets his eye medication. He's very sweet and friendly even though he doesn't feel well.
Maria let me know about the situation. My first reaction was that there are so many cats who need help in her area that they're falling from the sky? What is going on here? It seems everywhere Maria turns there's another cat who need her help.
©2012 Maria S. Tater Tot Burrito.
This rescue deserves a special post, so I'll tackle that next because this kitty has an amazing story which is still unfolding. I hope you'll stop back to see a video of the rescue along with an update on how she's doing.
©2012 Maria S. Tater gets some rest after being fed.
Rescuing the cat from the tree meant the little torte kitten would have to wait. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but the last time we thought we had another day, two of the kittens died. I feared this little girl would be next. There are foxes in the area. Maria sent me photos of them playing in the yard. Kittens don't stand a chance against them.
Yesterday morning Maria got a call from the neighbor that he had possession of the kitten! Not only did he make the effort to catch the kitten but he called Maria. This is hopeful news even though I wish he would have done more sooner, but we have to pick our battles. This is a great start.
©2012 Maria S. Tortie Burrito!
The kitten wasn't feral, thankfully, but like her brother, she is underweight and had a nasty eye infection. Maria had to bathe her to get the fleas off her. Under the dirt she discovered this kitten is a Tortoiseshell with dark brown and cream in her fur. One of her paws has peach colored toes and she has a whisper of peach on her chin and one cheek. We both wonder how she'll look as she ages since her coloring is just starting to show now. Her eyes are green so we know she's over 8 weeks old, but she only weighs 1 pound, 3 ounces. At this age she should be closer to 2 pounds.
The kitten was reunited with who we believe is her brother. Maria reported that they didn't seem to know each other, but they didn't hiss, either. Even if they're not related, they need a playmate and the comfort of having a friend as they both recover from upper respiratory infection, eye infections and the damage that was done to them by the flea infestation.
The donation you provide to this Emergency Rescue is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as we are 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 "Two Kittens Fund" mail it to:
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.
©2012 Maria S. All clean and pretty, now all this little lady needs is a name.
After having to re-schedule three times over the past month, this morning I dragged my weary butt out of bed and took the Kittens in Black to visit the Vet. Sabrina and Black Beauty are getting spayed (as I write this) and the others are getting their Distemper Combo booster vaccination. Normally, I'd be assisting on the spay surgeries, but I admit to feeling grateful they didn't need me today. I've had the kittens since they were a week old. The idea of doing things to them that I know will make them uncomfortable and cause them pain is very difficult to accept. These procedures must be done, but can't I sit in the other room and not watch this time?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina this morning before I took her to her spay appointment.
The kittens are growing rapidly and I need to get them all adopted soon before they lose that super cute kitten quality. The problem is I don't have time to get them adopted!
A week from today I'll be packing for my trip to Salt Lake City, Utah where I'll be a Speaker at BlogPaws. The only problem with this is: 1. I'm terrified of flying. Just thinking of it makes me want to throw up. The last time I flew this far was in 2000. 2. My computer hard drive died and I couldn't work for the past 4 days which puts me way behind schedule for getting things ready for the trip. 3. I got some freakish food poisoning a week ago and haven't been able to shake it (sorry for the almost gross pun). 4. I am so stressed out about traveling, not having enough time or money that I'm sure I'm making myself sicker and I'm not sleeping well (partially due to Jackson the cat's random early morning yowling).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't you want to adopt me?
The good news is that I'm up for TWO BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards and the event will be streamed live a week from Saturday! I don't know if you have to be a paid registrant to view the festivities, but once I find out I'll let you all know since it was all of YOU who got me the nominations for Best Meow Blog and Best Blog Writing!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Dahlia wants money to buy a catnip tea. She's such a gold digger!
I'm trying to sort through applications and find good adopters. I really need an assistant. Between making calls to the adopters, the vets, doing a background check, then trying to co-ordinate home visits and having the adopters come here, get cats to the Vet and put them on Petfinder, leaves me little time for anything else. I've been trying to get volunteers, but I'm starting to wonder if I don't have a good gene for volunteer-finding. It's been over a year and I have one person I can count on to help with adoption events. I need to find time to get some volunteers..sort of ironic, now that I think about it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie Patootie wants to know where breakfast is and why it's late (answer, you're going to the Vet, don't back talk your foster mom!).
I got an update on the Kittens in Black's mama, April. She's doing very well and has gained a FEW POUNDS now that she is on her own in foster care. April's been spayed and though her foster family loves her, they're not sure they can adopt her. I hope it works out for April because this family also adopted April's daughter, Bon Bon!
©2012 Helen T. Bon Bon.
Bon Bon is doing very well and loves that she can spend time with her mother and her new friend, Wolfie (who is not too sure about Bon Bon but he's warming up to her). I'm told that Bon Bon is very confident, playful and affectionate.
Our family in Georgia, Cami, the feral mama and her kittens Coco, ChiChi and Choco have also experienced a few changes.
Cami is feral. There was no warming up to her, though Maria tried very hard to work with Cami and to socialize her. We realized the best thing for Cami was to find her a guardian, but finding homes for feral cats can be a tall order to fill.
©2012 Maria S. Cami, off to her new forever home-where she'll get three squares and a warm cot.
Because we recently changed the Vet we use in Georgia, Maria met with a Vet named Dr. Ann. Dr. Ann did the initial exam of Cami (if you want to call watching a cat fly around a room, hissing and spitting an exam) and told Maria that she'd recently had to put one of her barn cats down and was open to the idea of taking in another one.
©2012 Maria S. We're all sad that Cami couldn't live indoors, but this is the best possible outcome for her. If she only knew how lucky she was!
It was too good to be true, so Maria and I vowed to keep quiet about it until Cami was ready to be spayed. We had her spayed last week and Dr. Ann took her to her home on Saturday. Cami didn't give Maria any trouble and Dr. Ann will keep Cami in a big crate in the barn for a few weeks so she'll get used to her new home. To have a Vet adopt one of our cats-especially one who is feral is simply outstanding! We're very grateful Dr. Ann was willing to take Cami on and now Cami will have a safe place to live and a full belly. She won't be left to fend for herself. It's a great outcome.
©2012 Maria S. The gang. Coco, Choco and ChiChi (far right).
The kittens are doing well, though ChiChi remains very small and underweight. I'm hoping she'll catch up at some point, but her siblings are almost a pound heavier than she is and that does worry me. Maria tells me they all play and eat well. She de-wormed them (right, Maria?!) and otherwise they seem to be thriving.
©2012 Maria S. Our little (and first!) flame point, Coco.
Jackson Galaxy-the cat continues to yowl late at night or early in the morning, but each day it's less and less. He's attacked most of my cats at least once. I rarely ever see things heat up so I don't know who started it or why it's happening. My cats give him a lot of space, but I also see them sitting a foot away from him looking out the same window or sleeping not far apart. I see Jackson wanting to play, but some toys scare him. He loves to chase after a stuffed carrot cat toy or the laser pointer, but he doesn't like feathers or strings waved in his face.
©2012 Maria S. Goofy Choco.
Jackson slept on the foot of the bed the other night, which was a very surprising sight. A few of my cats didn't come to bed that night, which wasn't very surprising. I realize they have to work out who gets what space and that takes time. Day to day things are better. Jackson's rough coat is getting silky. His feline acne is going away. He loves to give head butts and kisses and even let me pick him up for a few seconds, but he weighs almost 15 pounds so he's not so easy to lift him anyway.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson enjoying the view of the woods.
And finally, King. King is doing well. We ordered his Leggings for Life to cover his back legs. King's back legs end an inch short and he has no back paws. We want to cover his back legs so the ends of the legs, which end in a callus, don't get scraped or bruised. Personally, I hope these things come in cool colors!
©2012 Maria S. Belly rub, please!
King has been living with Maria's other cats and gets along great with all of them-even the dog! (you can read King's back story HERE and HERE) I still can't believe this handsome boy came from living outdoors on his own at a palette factory!
I'm hoping that King's forever home is out there and will find him soon. King's been waiting for six months, but until the time for him to go to his family, at least he's safe and happy and getting a requisite number of belly rubs each day.