My former foster kitten, Tweetie, who rose to fame and fortune when he was adopted by Sockington, the Internet's Most Famous Cat, is lying in recovery at a Boston area Vet after having emergency surgery to correct a urinary blockage.
I don't have much more info than that at this time, but please send your good thoughts and prayers to this sweet little guy and his family.
As soon as I know more, I'll let you know.
Last year I fostered four kittens. One of them was fractious. He bit the Director, then when I got him he ended up biting me, twice. I wrote about this kitten's journey, being in foster care and the tug of war over whether or not I would be able to socialize him before he was neutered, ear-tipped and released to the woods. While his brother and sisters played, I got into an argument with the Director about this cat's future. While I won the battle, I lost the war. We never truly got along after that. For this one cat, named Tweetie, I took a big chance. I was either going to be stuck with him forever as an unadoptable cat or I was going to have to find a way to reach his heart and help him learn that humans are ok.
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Arrival day. Tweetie (top left), Angel (center), Twitter (right), Fluffy (front left).
I wrote about this crazy journey in “The Tweetie Chronicles.” Little did I know that this little cat would make such a huge impact on my life. As I was working with him and he began to trust me. One day I noticed he looked just like “The Internet's Most Famous Cat, Sockington!” and decided to Tweet about it. If you read the Chronicles, you'll see in detail how Socks' Fans, “Socks Army” rallied around Tweetie and urged Sockington to do the right thing and acknowledge that Tweetie was his secret son. It was all fun and games, until I was contacted by Socks' Mom, “Food Lady” and his dad, “Fatty,” who I call, Mr. Scott.
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Tweetie while still in “Feral Rehab,” but bearing a shocking resemblance to Sockington.
Food Lady came to visit Tweetie. Her tender heart urged her to help. Since her other cats, PennyCat and Sockington were also rescued from dire situations, it just felt right to help another cat in need. The visit went better than I could have dreamed. Tweetie went right up to Food Lady and sat on her lap, purring. He looked up at her and perhaps, in that moment, his future was locked into place.
A few days later, Sam and I drove Tweetie to Boston for a “trial” adoption. That was ONE YEAR ago TODAY.
Tweetie's trial is long over. He's now a cherished member of the family. A few days ago I got an email from Food Lady, updating me on how Tweetie's been doing. Here's some of what she had to say:
©2010 Food Lady. Tweetie (right), plots his next bum attack on Sockington (left).
“He's still a real snugglebug. He tends to follow me around the house (although having said that, I'm not sure where he is at the moment). He can't jump as well or as elegantly as Socks (those long legs, you know) so Socks will hop atop the bookcase or dresser, causing Tweetie to get very vocally upset. :)
©2010 Food Lady. “His newest discovery is that he can be *under* the blanket as well as on top of it. So he'll quite often root around until he can get his head under the blanket. So one of the shots is of that. In one of them, he's got half a shakymouse toy in his mouth. He adores boxes of all kinds - I think they remind him of the crate at your house.”
He's got a thing for brushes - I now have to hide away my makeup brushes and the big poofy wool duster, because he runs off with them in his mouth. :)”
Food Lady also told me that Tweetie eats everyone's food so he has to be fed in a separate room! Oops! He also likes to sneak up on Socks and bite him in the bum! Tweetie and Socks are quite close, even if Tweetie is a pain in the butt-literally.
©2010 Food Lady. Tweetie with Baron Von Shakeymouse
What lies ahead for our former foster? We really don't know anything more than Tweetie has grown up into a big, sweet, playful kitty. Will he ever be as famous as his dad? Probably not. Does it matter? Not to him, surely.
So without further adieu, put on your party hat and get out the nose makers! Not only can we celebrate the adoption of a cat who beat the odds, but we can take delight in the fact that Tweetie's life in the glow of the nearby limelight suits him just fine.
In fact, it was meant to be.
©2010 Food Lady (goofy type by Robin).
©2010Food Lady. Tweetie all grown up. The spitting image of his Pop, Socks.
Another chapter in the Tweetie Chronicles draws to a close. Along with the big smile on my face and the proud feeling I have about Tweetie's success, I'm enjoying the new nickname “Tweetie” gave me in honor of this special day. You may now call me, “Nice Robin Lady.”
I am SO excited and delighted to see my little (well, not so little any more), foster, Tweetie doing well and finding a happy home with Sockington, who truly IS the most Famous Cat on the Internet.
I LOVE this video! Jason Scott makes great use of Sockington's fame by sending a message to everyone-GET INVOLVED when you see an animal on the street who needs your help. ADOPT a SHELTER CAT or DOG! It's great. Thank you, Jason! Your heart is as big as the world!
Here's the video! Enjoy!
Wow. What a day.
Why is it every time something important is about to happen in my life that I can count on getting my period? What's up with that? Not only did I get it, but I GOT IT. You know what I mean? I swear my body is out to get me, but like everything else, perhaps it's a blessing in disguise?
Sure. Whatever you say.
So. BlogPaws!-my first Conference Presentation was this morning at 11:00 AM. I had practiced out loud, in the shower (hey, not that kind of practicing!), in the car, in my head when I laid down to go to sleep. I knew what I needed to say, but was worried I'd rush or fumble or both...or worse, forget the entire thing!
I knew I should try to be relaxed and calm. There are lots of nice folks here-about 250 of them. My PowerPoint presentation was only 10 minutes long, then I was to spend the remaining time on a panel discussion. The topic: “Leveraging Social Media.”
I promise I'll re-post this soon with photos, but for now, I can only write up some notes. Try to visualize...
...me. With bad cramps, feeling woozy. Slept for about an hour because I was an idiot and ate a HUGE chocolate cupcake before I WENT TO BED last night. Between the sugar and the caffeine, there was no hope I would really sleep. I DO know better, plus I'm worried that my Wii is going to yell at me when I get back home for eating like a moron while I've been in Columbus. Even now there's a HUGE vanilla cream puff from Schmidt's Sausage Haus sitting on the desk in our hotel room at the Westin!
Okay so back to visualizing me, sleepy, shaky, in my first session which was about how to do a product review without getting sued by the company whose product you're reviewing or get into trouble with the FTC. Basically, don't lie and be clear that you are reviewing something you were paid to review, if that's the case and you're off the hook if you didn't get paid, just don't be a twit and make declarations that are anything outside of simply “my own observation or opinion.”
Okay, common sense. What was dreadful about this session was one of the speakers was not able to show her slides. The computer locked up, then after restarting, they realized NO ONE knew the password to log onto the Mac! This poor woman, just calmly went on ahead and did her thing. Me, I thinking, “oh shit. I hope that doesn't happen to me. I'm dead meat if my presentation doesn't work—the same one that I still don't know if it got loaded onto a Powerbook or if it runs!”
I looked at my watch. My pulse was throbbing in my throat. My hands were trembling. Time to head to my session. I got upstairs and ran into Helin, one of the other presenters. I love Helin. She's from PeoplePets, so that make her super cool to know, but really without it I'd like her just as much. She's so cute and bubbly! She told me the room was still being used. They ran late! They ran SO LATE, it was 11 AM, instead of 10:45 am when we were supposed to get the room, get prepped and get going.
Ha ha ha. Another squeeze on my blood pressure! Those folks would not get out of OUR room!
They finally left and we started to set up. Jennifer Laycock went first. She ran her preso off her laptop. She was great. As I listened to her, I started to worry that she was going to talk too much about what I planned to say. I sat there and thought; “No..no..don't talk about analytics! Okay, yes, talk about Twitter, but no oh...don't talk about..ack!” Then I got so absorbed about worrying what she was going to say that I spaced out and thought I will have nothing to say! I am blank.
Then it was my turn. My Preso wouldn't run.
So I talked about doing stand up comedy. I made some jokes. They realized PowerPoint wasn't LOADED onto the laptop I was supposed to use. They tried MY powerbook, but the adopter (ha ha ha! I'm leaving that typo-I meant ADAPTER) didn't work. We used Jennifer's PC, but it took so long to get it working, I had to introduce Helin and she did her presentation while things were getting sorted out. What a mess!
I got back up to talk. This is it. I was shaking so hard, I could barely press the arrow key to advance the slides I designed. I told them about my journey blogging about Tweetie (remember him?!) and The Tweetie Chronicles. Sockington and Jason Scott. Instead of stumbling, it was smoothly delivered. I didn't go too fast, but I kept a good pace. I made everyone laugh and as I got near the end I was surprised it went so quickly. After the presentation was over, there was only time for a few questions. I was very happy that a few folks came up to me and told me to make sure I didn't give up on doing stand up comedy! Does that mean the presentation sucked? Hmmm...just realized that!
I think it went very well, considering everything that happened. It was so worth all the work and practice and looking back on it I can say I enjoyed it very much and hope to get the chance to do it again.
The rest of the conference was just fine. I learned a few things. I met a LOT of people. I need to sort through the enormous pile of cards I got and start figuring out who to check in with, who to follow on Facebook and Twitter and who to be real life buddies with. It was so much fun to meet Caroline, aka RomeotheCat on Twitter. She and her team kicked butt putting this conference together. For a first time event, it was great. Well put together, good food, good space, good folks. There's much more to write, but I'm just dead tired and I have a vanilla cream puff waiting for me.
I don't care if I have to face the wrath of my Wii, too. So there. I'm hormonal. I have my needs.
When I last saw my physician a year ago I recall joking that all I needed to fulfill the stereotype of the single NYC woman cliché was a cat.
One year and two cats later I lay naked and shivering under a thin paper sheet waiting for Dr. Martin to make his entrance. Listening to the gurgling of a stomach deprived of all but black coffee for 10 odd hours, it occurs to me that the fresh feline scratches edging the landscape of my body might looks suspect, requiring explanation. I wasn’t sure I wanted to divulge their true origins – thereby admitting that I had become a caricature.
At last! Word has come in to CiCH HQ that Sockington, and Penny (with great reluctance) have decided to move forward and make Tweetie's "visit" a permanent one. Yes, I can finally announce that
I heard from a reliable source that Socks will sit outside Tweetie's room and wait for him to come out, instead of hiss or run off and hide whenever he sees the little guy. I believe that Socks actually misses the him when they're apart!
The photo that started it all...along with it a simple question; "Are you my daddy?"
Tweetie will undergo a name change at some point. We're not sure what it will be or when it will be announced, but rest assured, as soon as I know, you'll know, too.
UPDATE: Looks like the rumors are NOT true. Tweetie's name has NOT BEEN CHANGED TO, Oliver or Cousin Oliver! It's a character reference from the Brady Bunch, not his new name.
Two weeks ago, Tweetie went to visit Sockington & Pennycat and has yet to return. I've checked in on him quite a few times and each time he tells me he's enjoying himself and that Food Lady and Fatty, err...Mr. Scott are very nice to him, too.
He's not quite sure what to make of the pale lady cat. She gives off a funny vibe, so he's staying clear. Mr. Sockington seems strangely familiar and it's comforting to spend time with him now that "Socks" isn't hissing so often. It's also delightful to have lots more space where he can run. Living in the bathroom was getting boring. One can only play with the faucet and flush the toilet so many times.
There's still no final word on whether or not Tweetie will become a permanent member, and highest ranking, but shortest, Officer in the Sock Army, but seeing this video, gave me the feeling that things are, at least, going fairly well.
A frame showing Tweetie in his first Supporting Role, from the newly released Socksamillion video, celebrating Socks's One Millionth Follower on Twitter (though now he's at 1.03 mil). Go Socks! You can see the rest, HERE. Tweetie's getting so BIG!
I'm very proud of Tweetie and I'm glad I worked so hard to give him every chance to break the desire to return to his feral roots...and glad I had the backing from my Director to do so. It was a long, scary journey, but now looking back, things fell into place just perfectly-as perhaps they were meant to all along?
This is my artist's interpretation showing Tweetie with Sockington. Some day I hope they'll really sit for a portrait together. Thank you to Jason Scott for allowing me to use the photo of Socks.
Will Tweetie find his forever home with Socks & Penny? Even if he doesn't, he's had a Hell of a run; the support and love of new friends from all over the world and more than a moment in the spotlight. It's far more than most (former!) feral kittens could ever dream for, but in this little kitten's case, he hit the jackpot and I couldn't have asked for a happier ending.
I'm sure Tweetie's story will continue on through his updates on Twitter; both as a spokescat for The Animal Center and also as his sly, devilish, no-holds-barred self. It's time for me to re-focus my efforts. I have more kittens to rescue; some from death row at kill shelters in the south, some from just down the street. Wherever they come from, be assured there'll be more stories like Tweetie's, filled with challenges, heartbreak and joy. I hope you'll keep visiting, Covered in Cat Hair and join me as I continue that journey learning the ropes of being a Cat Rescuer and try to maintain my sanity living with seven (and more) cats.
We can't believe a week has passed since Tweetie came to visit you at Socks Army HQ and now we're wondering-is Tweetie ever coming back? Or are you gonna keep him as a body double??
We know you're super busy being a celebukitty, so have some champagne and salmon and we'll talk soon!
We're so happy for your success on Twitter! Reaching ONE MILLION FOLLOWERS (any second now!) is quite the acme of success! Way to go, big boy!
I admit I've been dragging my feet about writing this chapter. It means that the last few stories I'm able to share about Tweetie will draw to a close; even though there IS so much more to this story than I can tell here, right now. Reflecting on our last day together, too, will remind me that my relationship with one, very special kitten is also possibly coming to an end.
If you don't already know this, introducing a new cat into a home where there's already one or more cats, should be done with great care. As with people meeting one another, first impressions matter. Get off on the wrong foot, or paw, in this case, and it can set up years of discord, damage to the home and stress for all concerned.
When the new cat is about to meet a Celebukitty, there's even more at stake. Not only is their meeting going to be of concern to their new family, but to the Global Press at large. Will the headlines read: "Sockington Rebuffs Tiny Twin, Tweetie" or "Sockington Welcomes Ward Warmly"?
The answer won't be completely obvious for some time. You simply MUST be patient about how things will pan out. Be willing to give it time, whether it be hours or MONTHS, for your cats to all get along. They may never sleep snuggled together on your bed, but at least they should respect each other's space and not fight. You must NEVER toss the new cat into a room and "let them work it out" with the cats whose home has been usurped!
A Few Introduction Tips
The new kitten or cat must be separated from the group, in their own space, with their own litter pan, food, bed and toys. It will be their "safe haven" when the day comes that they're allowed the freedom to explore the rest of the home. It's from this separate room that the introductions are done, either by opening the door slightly or, in our case, by putting window screens across the doorway.
Even though Sockington and Penny are famous kitties and it's really really cool that Tweetie looks a lot like Socks, their introduction is a serious matter. This is about their lives together as a new family, not a publicity stunt.
The Big Moment
I had a can of what I call "Kitty Crack." It's the one brand of cat food I've never seen a cat turn away from. I won't say what it's called (Solid Gold), but it's really expensive and if they want to ship me a crate, that would be awesome!
The plan was to feed Penny and Socks this delicious treat on one side of Tweetie's room divider, with Tweetie being fed on the other. This would help the cats to associate a positive experience with seeing each other. Using window screens, the cats could see and smell each other through the screen, but Tweetie would be safe from harm should one of the cats decide to lunge at him.
Food Lady, Mr. Scott, Sam and I stood breathlessly as Food Lady put down food for Penny and Socks.
Penny didn't even get close to the screen or her food. She figured out what was going on and immediately ran off. At least she wasn't aggressive. No tasty treat was going to change her mind. This left Socks to meet Tweetie.
Socks wasn't sure what to make of the creature behind the screen. His skinny tail puffed up while Tweetie looked eagerly at him. There was a sharp "hiss" from Socks, who wanted to lick at the yummy food, but was distracted by his tiny doppleganger.
Curious, Socks took a step closer. Tweetie, remained eager and friendly, with tail held high. Perhaps he hoped he could play with Socks soon?
Socks and Tweetie sniffed each other's face through the screen. Though Tweetie did nothing to provoke him, Socks hissed and Tweetie hissed only in retaliation. This cat may be big and look strangely familiar, but Tweetie wasn't gonna be no scaredy cat.
Food Lady reached down to comfort Socks, but shocked by the sudden distraction, he lashed out with another quick hiss, this time at Food Lady. This is not unusual and it's worth noting that when a cat is stressed, a comforting voice, staying neutral is great, but hands off until the cat is in a relaxed state. Yes, this is how I got bit-trying to handle a cat who was highly stressed and I assumed I could deal with him. Wrong! Sometimes it's better to let things cool off a bit, if possible.
Fortunately, Food Lady was only startled, but not hurt. Socks just wanted to let us know he was distressed at this visitor. Point taken.
Then Tweetie was given some food, which he happily ate, regardless of the giant cat towering over him with the rather silly attempt to scare him with his almost pouffless tail. We all had hoped that Socks would just eat and relax, instead of try to look menacing, but he ran off.
With a bit of cajoling, we were able to encourage Socks to return. Tweetie was still ready to be friends, but Socks wasn't ready for that. With a short, guttural growl and quick hiss, Socks ran off again, seemingly for good, this time. Poor Tweetie. He just wanted to make friends. He behaved far better than I could have hoped. He didn't run and hide. He didn't flip out. He was brave and confident. Gone was the fearful feral kitten I once knew.
Finally, Face to Face. Tweetie Wonders; "Are You My Daddy?"
Even though the introduction was far from a Hollywood Ending, it could have been much worse. Penny will need time to come around or she'll just stay in "her space" and avoid any interaction with Tweetie. Socks showed interest and although felt threatened by the newcomer, he returned, just moments after running off, with tail held high, looking as fabulous and calm as ever.
It was time for me to go. Enough excitement for all the kitties for one day. Time to let them all relax. I asked for a moment to say goodbye to Tweetie and everyone kindly left the room. I stepped over the window screens and Tweetie dashed behind the toilet. I called to him and he came right over to me. Unsure of what was going on in this new place, with new smells and a giant cat hissing at him, he was still willing to leave the safety of his hiding place. I picked him up, then was surprised to see a mirror on the wall in front of us. I hadn't noticed it before. Tweetie looked at the reflection just as I did. I took a mental portrait of us at that moment, sorely wishing I had my camera. It was the first time I ever saw myself with Tweetie and it made me tear up. I realized this may be the last time I ever hold this sweet little cat. The last time I feel his quick purr or hear his goofy burble. I got to this moment with a lot of hard work, patience, a few painful bites on my finger and a lot of love. Though my heart suddenly ached, there was nothing more that I could do other than to kiss his forehead and leave him to settle in his new home. I promised myself I wouldn't cry in front of his new family. It was a tough promise to keep.
This is my life; to socialize feral kittens and to help find them good homes. I'd done my part. Now it was up to Food Lady and the rest of her family to decide if Tweetie will be a good fit in their home. Part of me wishes it wouldn't work out so I could take him back, but I realize I'm being entirely selfish and this just feels like the place where Tweetie was meant to be-I know again with my silly predictions!
I hope that Sockington and Penny will find their way to love Tweetie, as I have, and that their home is filled with a lifetime of joy. I really enjoyed meeting Socks. He's just awesome in every way. I'd love to get to know Penny. I feel badly we only had a moment to visit with her. She's really a beautiful girl. I wish I could tell them both that it's going to be okay. That they'll still be just as famous and just as loved, if not moreso than before.
Food Lady and Fat...err...Mr. Scott are both focused on what's best for all the cats. Their sincere desire to make certain the introduction is done in the most positive manner possible is truly impressive. They're very good people who I hope to become friends with as the days pass.
Here's to new beginnings-a new chapter, of either Tweetie's visit?...or Tweetie's rise to fame, alongside his older mentor, Sockington?
What will happen to this little fella? He no longer has to fear being released into the woods, but will Tweetie's visit turn into an adoption or will he come back to Connecticut to find a new home?
All I can say about that is, of course, stay tuned...and...shoot! I forgot to get a pawtograph!