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2017. A Look Back on a Tumultuous Year.

2017 was a lousy year that followed another lousy year (2016). That I’m alive and have a roof over my head sort of surprises me. I’m VERY GRATEFUL for what I have, so grateful. I’m lucky, even with very serious financial problems because it could be so much worse. I feel for the millions of people who lost their homes this past year due to floods, fire, hurricanes, tornadoes…not to mention all the suffering caused by social upheaval, reports of rampant sexual abuse, and the fears stemming from the actions of the so-called leadership of our precious country.

January

Annie, one of our Kitten Associates fosters, fell ill yet again. She’d been punky after recovering from intussusception surgery in October of 2016. Even though Dr. Larry said she looked good, I pushed to do blood work. It revealed Annie was seriously anemic, to the point of an Internist feeling she might have lymphoma. I asked if we could treat her for my nemesis, Bartonella, because there are some forms of the infection that cause anemia. We couldn’t re-test her so we tried a new treatment. Within a few weeks and some TLC and vitamin B12 injections, Annie bounced back and regained her good health, but just as she was recovering I got a disturbing call.

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©2016 Robin AF Olson. Fly Free sweet Lady Saturday. We miss you so much.

Lady Saturday was ailing. She was skin and bones. I didn’t know. Our foster family called and said she needed to see the Vet. She’d been pretty weak and eating a lot less. When Dr Larry saw her, he was shocked. She only weighed 4 lbs and was near death. We didn’t know how old she really was, but we knew she’d had kidney issues for the nearly two years she’d been part of our foster program. She’d gotten fluids, a heated bed, good food, supplements, but we couldn’t cure old age. On January 16th we said goodbye to our sweet girl.

With all of that going on, my cat Petunia began having focalized seizures. We didn’t know the source even after taking her to a neurologist. We started her on Phenobarbital in the hopes it would give her some relief, but did she have cancer? Would she eventually have a grand-mal seizure and I’d come home to find her dead?

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Petunia is doing better these days and no longer needs medication to control her seizures.

The year wasn’t off to a good start, but thankfully it was pretty quiet as far as rescue went. After years of saying I was taking a break from taking on kittens, I decided I would really do it. Then I saw a post online about a huge feral colony in Waterbury, CT. Over 50 cats were struggling to survive and were breeding out-of-control. Read about the first cat we rescued HERE along with follow up stories them HERE and HERE) While doing TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) isn’t my forte, I thought I could help raise funds for these cats and do some social media outreach.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. My first sighting of the Waterbury Ferals.

My mistake…I decided I had to go to the location to see for myself what was going on, to take some photos, then start raising money for the #Feral50 #waterburyferals. Once I saw a horrifically sick cat, I knew I had to get more involved. I had no idea that instead of taking a break, I was going to be busier than ever for the sake of these cats.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. This little sweetie is feral. She was eventually named Tulip and was the first cat trapped. You can read about her story HERE.

February

I pushed the limits of what I could handle and was pushed beyond my limits by another volunteer who worked doing some of the trapping of the feral cats in Waterbury. The things I saw, some cats barely clinging to life…I found placements for 10 cats, but it wasn’t enough. I had to do more and more and more until February 13th when I ended up in the hospital during a snow storm. I was diagnosed with an ulcer, along with an anxiety attack that I was certain was really a heart attack in disguise. The stress was just too much.

But in rescue "too much" always ends up becoming "just help one more." I decided to take on a pregnant feral from the Waterbury colony.

It was very risky, because I didn’t know what I was going to do with her after the kittens were born and weaned, but as so many other rescues, I just took it one day at a time. Solve one problem at a time-that’s the key. The cat had been named Waverly. She was covered with oil and metal dust. She was too dirty to give birth, but we have a great foster mom who is gentle and patient and who was able to wipe Waverly down every day until Waverly was clean enough to give birth-and just in time, too. By the end of the month, Waverly had given birth to three kittens. Sadly only two of the three survived. I knew that if we hadn’t taken Waverly on none would have made it.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Happy Birthday Willoughby and Weatherby!

I’ve come to the understanding that in rescue you shouldn’t try to do everything. Rescue the kind of cats you can handle and do your bit. Other people, who are great at things you may not be so great at can do their part. It all adds up to be much more effective than trying to take on more than you can handle and getting sick from it. What I learned is that I am not cut out for TNR. I want to give every cat a chance to become socialized. There isn’t time or space to take that on.

While I respect every cat who just can’t become social kitties, and I will return those cats to the outdoors, it kills me because I know their future will be very difficult, even with a great caretaker looking after them.

Meanwhile, Spencer had a re-check of his blood work because in late 2016 we found out his kidneys weren’t working very well. The new test results showed us that Spencer might only have a few months left because his values changed for the worse, so very fast. We were to start him on fluid therapy and see how he did in 6 months.

March

Things started looking up. I was a Guest Speaker at the first ever, Cat Camp NYC. I had a blast, made new friends and saw some of my most cherished cat lady friends. It did my heart good to be reunited with them and energized me for Kitten Season, which was right around the corner.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Artist Cathi Marro (left), Me and Jodi Ziskin of Treatibles (right)

We took on #FairfieldCountyGives and had our best fundraising day ever, raising over $3500 in a single day-most of which were $10 donations. We’d be ready to take on kittens, but where were they?

I got an email from a guy who asked for cat behavior help with his 5-month old kitten, Holly. She’d been peeing on the family beds. The guy turned out to be musician and songwriter, Stephen Kellogg. What transpired next even surprised me. You can read about this crazy trip in these stories HERE (including links to all 5 chapters). I’m glad to say that after all the trials and tribulations that Holly is in her home and that Stephen has become a good personal friend and newly minted Cat Daddy.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Stephen visiting Holly while she was here being evaluated for behavior issues.

Weird April

I wasn’t getting calls about kittens. It was very strange. Then I thought about why it might be so quiet. We’d had a very mild January giving intact cats plenty of time to become pregnant, but in February we had a few brutal snowstorms dropping a lot of snow. I didn’t want to imagine it, but I started to believe that perhaps a lot of kittens just didn’t make it and that the “season” would be starting later in the year.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Will Bills was a bit too wild for Bill.

For once I got out on my birthday for a short road trip and lunch at O'Rourke's diner. We stopped at a crazy place called Wild Bill's. The namesake and owner was there as we strolled down the aisles. I didn't think he looked so hot. I guess I was right. He died a few days later. I couldn't help but feel like I better not take having another birthday for granted.

May

Ah, Stormy; a purebred Russian Siberian cat whose owner really was allergic to her entered the picture in May. Her mom, Kim, was sick all the time and though she felt terrible about it, she needed help getting Stormy a new home. The problem was, Stormy was not very nice. I thought it might be due to her being declawed. Perhaps she was in pain? So we did a lot of tests to see if that was the problem.

The bottom line was I promised to help find a home for this 9-year old aggressive cat, but how was I going to pull it off?

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Stormy.

I found what I thought was a good home in Boston, but the people were terrible, fearful, posers. A few weeks later they brought Stormy back to Kim’s where I was under even more pressure to find Stormy a placement because her home was about to undergo a serious renovation and they’d have to put her in a boarding facility if she stayed much longer. I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever be able to find Stormy a home. I even tried to get a breeder from the CFF Cat Show, where I took part as a guest judge, to take her on, but with her anger issues it was a lot to ask.

June and July

I wasn’t going out of my way to find kittens to rescue since I never got a break over the winter, but then I got a call from my friend Joan. She told me one of the shelters down south had 65 kittens. They were going to start putting them ALL DOWN in 12 hours. Could I take even a few? She’d foster for me and even go get the kittens.

I decided to take 6 kittens, which turned into 8, except that they counted wrong and there were twins so 8 became 9 and I got another rescue friend to approve taking 3 and somewhere in the middle of that Moe, our other southern foster mama asked me if I could take just one more to make it 13 kittens.

Yes. I’m insane.

I nicknamed the group, the #SweetSuperheroes. If only they had lived up to their name. I wrote about what happened to them, how it broke me in ways rescue never broke me before, but I never published what I wrote. I may some day reveal all the details when I feel I can tell their story without it wrecking me.

In a few words, it was our first experience with Feline Panleukopenia. Within the first week, two of the kittens were dead and the threat of many more hung over us as poor Joan feverishly scrubbed and cleaned, while I spent thousands of dollars on vet bills, cleaning supplies, cages, food and litter for the remaining kittens.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Some of the kittens we rescued. Thankfully, our offering to take so many inspired other rescues to take kittens, too so a majority of the kittens made it out alive.

Some of the kittens were in isolation at the vet in Tennessee, while some remained at Joan’s foster home. We both did as much as we could to get the survivors healthy for the long transport to Connecticut, but in all honesty I did not want to bring them here at all. I was terrified my cats would get sick.

I’m not a fan of the FVRCP booster vaccination, but we had to make the difficult choice to booster most of our adult cats right away because there is no definite period of time for how long kittens who are exposed to PanLeuk are still contagious. To be safe, the kittens were isolated for 6 weeks, which ruined their window of adoption by a great deal, but I also didn’t want them here if there was any chance at all they’d sicken my cats, too.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. In honor of Super Nibs, who died from PanLeuk. You are forever in my heart. I wish you had a chance to grow up and find your forever family as your siblings did.

 

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. and Major Muffin. He died so fast there was nothing we could do to save him from the ravages of Panleukopenia.

I spent most of the end of June and into July crying, worrying, researching PanLeuk and trying to prepare things here for their arrival. It was the first time in years I dreaded taking on more kittens.

Stormy was proving to be a tougher case than I imagined. The shocker, what I realized much later was that Stormy had reverted to being feral from not being handled for many years. She wasn’t in pain at all.

Because she had to be moved into the in-law apartment in the home and be in close proximity to her family, Stormy ended up getting handled more and sure enough Stormy became friendlier. So friendly that a lovely lady named Annabelle flew to Connecticut from Philadelphia so she could adopt this magnificent cat. They’re doing great and Stormy no longer lives up to her name.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Stormy says farewell to her sweet mom, Kim and hello to her new mama, Annebelle.

August

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Leslie Mayes gets ready to interview us for #CleartheShelters.

My rescue took part in #CleartheShelters, a national program to help pets get adopted in a 24-hr period. We were off to a great start because Heidi Voight, journalist and Anchor on the local NBC affiliate came over to interview me and meet the #SweetSuperheroes. We did an hour-long live Facebook event and I think we were in the news about 10 times over the next few weeks.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Ready for their big adoption day, most of the Sweet Superheroes.

The problem was, we didn’t have a shelter to clear, so that meant doing an adoption event at Watertown BMW. Being surrounded by $100,000 cars and anxious adopters and yet more news media was literally a crazy ride. The folks at Hoffman Auto Group BMW were awesome, but some of the potential adopters left something to be desired…yes, screaming kids, demanding kids who wanted a kitten “RIGHT NOW” and unapologetic parents shocked and angry with me. They asked why I would deny their application to their face when the dad would declare they would let our kittens outside even after the mom hushed him and said “They don’t allow going outside. Don’t you get it?” Followed by "dad" getting so angry I thought I was going to have to call the police.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. The Kitten Associates, associates from left to right: Grace, Me, Sam, Adria, Jame and Frances.

Thankfully, one kid was nice and his parents were just as sweet. They saw a poster of Buddy and Belle, my ex-boyfriend’s two cats. They’d been in our rescue for almost a year with not one application for their adoption and they would be too scared to be at the adoption event so the best I could do was have a poster advertising them.

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©2017 Kathleen. Buddy & Belle in love with their new mama.

I told the lady their story and she was smitten. A few weeks later, Buddy and Belle were adopted. Her new mom says it’s like they were home from the second they arrived. They’re doing great and the new joke is her son likes to blame things he did on the cats.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Poor Fluff Daddy!

And then Fluff Daddy got really sick, really fast...Horrible, bloody mushy stool. I was terrified it was PanLeuk. How did he get it? He had to be confined to a cage, then a few other cats got very mildly ill. Tests came back positive for Giardia. How could he get it? Guess what I didn't know? Adult cats can have chronic episodes of it or it can be intermittent! Gah! It's really contagious, but thank God it wasn't PanLeuk.

Shitty September

The brown month. Diarrhea. Kittens with diarrhea. Kittens squirting the walls, floors, bedding, pretty much everywhere but the litter pan, with stinky, pudding poo. I could not get most of the foster kittens to resolve their runs. We did so many tests and trips to the Vet followed by a zillion de-worming protocols and found NOTHING.

Joan had warned me about Tritrichomonous Foetus. It’s pretty much impossible to test for, though we did do a PCR fecal test (negative) and treatment can cause neurological damage and may not even work. I was to a point where I didn’t want to go into the foster room because it would take over an hour to clean it every time I entered it. I was so angry and frustrated that I imagined kicking the kittens outside, but I would NEVER DO THAT EVER. Instead I just cried as I scrubbed the floor yet again. The kittens were oblivious to my suffering. They were not sickly at all, unless you counted them leaking stool out of their rear ends while they were playing.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Yes, it's poop. The poor kittens couldn't have much of anything soft in their room because it would get filthy so quickly. I don't think any of us got any decent rest that month.

I put the cats on a raw diet. They got better quickly, so as the kittens got adopted, their new families had to promise to keep them on the raw diet. So far, so good.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. The good with the bad...de-wormer for the kittens first followed by a freeze-dried chicken heart treat.

The highlight of the month was my play date in NYC with Mario Arbore who is an architect by day and fantasy cat furniture designer by night. I can’t do better than to have a buddy who builds cat furniture, right? His business is called Square Paws (humans measure space in square feet, so Mario’s coined the term “square paws” to indicate how cats measure space).

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Mario putting the moves on Fluff Daddy.

Mario had been graciously helping me design a brand new foster room for Kitten Associates. We’d bounced a few ideas around over the summer that were truly inspired. The main foster room in my home is totally run down and I want to create a showpiece for our kittens and to allow us to increase adoptions and have a safer, more entertaining home for our fosters. Mario is incredibly creative and though our workload has prevented us from locking down a theme, I hope we’ll get there in 2018.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Uncle Mario surprised Fluff Daddy and the rest of the kitty-clan with a hand-built giant mouse trap for our cats! Check out more of Mario's wild designs at Square Paws.

October

The Big Chocolate Show returned after being on hiatus for a few years and boy was I happy it came back. The show was fantastic. I learned that there’s some kickass chocolate coming from Ecuador and that I will eat as many samples of chocolate as the vendors will hand out.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Thank God for chocolate.

Adoption Day
©2017 Robin AF Olson. Thunder Cake and Wonder Waffles get adopted together!

With Buddy, Belle and many of the kittens adopted, I took time to focus on trying to make a living and for a quick escape to New York City!

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. I actually left the house! Here I am at NY ComicCon where I got to meet one of my idols, Bob Camp, who did the animation art for Ren & Stimpy. I also had a chance to get back to work as a Graphic Designer. I love working with Royal Bobbles on their carton graphics for the main cast of Better Call Saul.

I also had the honor of creating the carton for Bob Ross, the afro-hairdo-headed painter who had a show in the 1970s on PBS that’s in re-runs on Netflix even today.

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To see more examples of my design projects, visit Ultra Maroon Design.

The biggest thrill was having a chance to design the new cartons for over half a dozen of The Walking Dead figures. Those designs are still in development so I can’t show them, but I’m crossing my fingers they’ll be greenlighted into development in 2018. The only problem with this project was I felt I needed to watch all 8 seasons of TWD so I could do a better job with the design. It’s a compelling and interesting show, but watching the entire program over the course of a month left me feeling a bit paranoid. I had to fight off the urge to strap a weapon to my leg when I did a run to the grocery store.

November

Waverly found her forever home with a retired couple named Molly and Sam. I was thrilled that the cat we feared was feral was really just a sweet, mild-mannered lady. Her kittens, Willoughby and Weatherby were adopted together over the summer.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Dear Waverly with her daughters.

Then one night, just before Thanksgiving, my dear 16-year old cat, the Mascot of this blog, Spencer vomited. It was a lot of food. He sounded like he aspirated some of it. Normally I’d wait it out and see how he did, but something told me to go to the vet right NOW because they were going to close soon.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Waverly on her Gotcha Day with Sam & Molly.

Dr. Mary found a big mass in Spencer’s abdomen and feared it was an aggressive cancer. So began our journey of tests, scans and treatments until we realized that the next step would have to be surgery or palliative care and prepare to say goodbye. We'd already lost 4 cats in 2017. I prayed there wouldn't be another.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. The x-ray that changed everything for Spencer.

December and Beyond

Every time my cats get really sick, I get sick with worry. I try to take a breath, have faith, focus on my cat, but I often find myself not sleeping, not being able to concentrate on work and wanting to bury my head in the sand. But it was Spencer. I had to face whatever it was. I had to face that maybe this was it and I had to face that I couldn’t afford to provide surgery for my beloved cat even if there was a chance it could give him more time.

I almost didn’t ask for help, but in the end I did do a fundraiser. Thanks to A LOT of REALLY REALLY REALLY AWESOME people, we raised just enough to have the surgery done. I still can’t believe it happened at all and am blown away that we got the funds together in just four days.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. What do you mean SURGERY?!

Now that I had the funds, I had to decide for sure if we were going to move forward because there were lots of risks involved and quite a few could happen after the surgery was over.

On December 5th, Dr. Weisman removed a 6cm mass off the very tip of Spencer’s pancreas. The amazing thing was it wasn’t cancerous, but there WAS small cell lymphoma found in other areas. It’s extremely rare that a cat has a benign mass like Spencer’s and I was so grateful, because those sorts of masses often are very aggressive cancers and lymphoma is slow-growing. At the time, I didn’t know if removing the mass would help him, but now, a month later, I can say that Spencer is so much better that he often surprises me.

He’s had a lot of ups and downs and I have to carefully monitor what he eats because he did get pancreatitis after surgery. He’s eating all right, not quite enough. He’s given me some very bad scares, like trying to eat cat litter when he got badly constipated and was battling anemia (He lost a lot of blood during surgery and I read that cats who lick cement or cat litter often are anemic.).

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Doing well and I am oh so very very very grateful to have this extra time with my boy.

We recently did new blood tests to confirm the pancreatitis and anemia and were surprised to see Spencer’s kidney values had improved some.

Today, Spencer’s getting up the stairs to come to bed and tuck me in just like he used to do. He’s also smacking foster cat Andy in the face and chasing after toys. He LOOKS better. His eyes aren’t so sunken. He’s grooming himself more. I honestly am completely thrilled to see him like this.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Naked belly requires a heated bed for full napping comfort.

It’s time to start him on Chlorambucil, a form of chemotherapy that we hope will retard the growth of the lymphoma and help him feel even better. I already have him on CBD Oil, which may also help and will certainly keep him comfortable even if it doesn’t effect the cancer. I’ve decided to put off starting him on prednisilone because it IS a steroid and Spencer’s oncologist is ok with not using it right away. I’m hoping the CBD oil will take the place of the pred for now. Why? Because steroids really do a number on the body and I’d rather help give him vitality and protect his failing kidneys for as long as I can.

Needless to say, with all the vet runs and care Spencer needed, Christmas cards didn’t get printed and I didn’t do much to plan for “the day.” Somehow it was still a really nice holiday, aside from all the guilt I had for not getting everything done and for not being able to buy presents for anyone except Sam.

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©2017 Robin AF Olson. Our Holiday e-card.

Sam and I have had one thing after another go wrong with our finances and honestly I’m terrified that if things don’t improve we will lose our home. We’re trying to keep the faith and we’re both working as hard as we can. So many people have it far worse off than we do, I can’t complain. I’m happy I have a home, it’s not on fire or swept away by a hurricane. I have my dear cats, as much as they often annoy me, they’re still one of the few reasons I get out of bed in the morning.

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©2018 Robin AF Olson. Bye bye Sprinkie! I'm going to miss you!

And I’m determined, after nearly eight years of constant fostering, to take this winter off and focus on work and getting funds for Kitten Season. The other cat rescue in town surprised everyone by deciding to close after many years.

Their reason, they aren’t needed any more, which is completely absurd. They spun it into making it sound like they solved the feral and free-roaming cat problem in Newtown so they can look like heroes and get out of doing rescue any longer. It just puts a bigger strain on Kitten Associates so we’ll need to ramp up.

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©2018 Robin AF Olson. Macaroon is a total goof head who loves to fetch her pom pons. Her new family promised to make sure she has as many pom pons as her heart desires.

I expect 2018 to be very busy for us as we shoulder more responsibility in helping local cats, but in a way I’m excited for the challenge and crazy as it seems, I really do miss having little ones here.

Here’s to 2018. May we all have a safe, loved, prosperous and Happy New Year!

Oh, and the last two kittens from the #SweetSuperhero rescue were adopted just after Christmas. Congratulations to the Mighty Macaroon and Professor Sprinkles!

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©2018 Robin AF Olson. Last night Mackie and Sprinkie met their new family. Here's Suzanne and Maddie, totally psyched to have their first kitties ever!

-----------------A few hours later------------------

….I just got a text message…“Robin, I just found a kitten. Can you take him?”

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©2018 Robin AF Olson. Uh oh...

PRODUCT REVIEW and MYSTERY: The Case of the Neko Flies String

Your cats are bored. They get into fights. They bite your ankles or the just lay around with a glazed look in their eyes. They're little hunters with nothing to hunt (unless you let them outside, but please don't do that!). Can you imagine not having an outlet for your deepest desires? To be crass, that would really stink.

I try to have play time with my cats every night, but getting them to chase after a toy can be daunting because my cats are either 2 years old or 12 years old or older. What would I use that appeals to all of them?

Some cats are “air hunters” while others prefer to stalk prey at the ground level, so I'd need a toy that works well dragged on the floor, mimicking the movements of a bug, and something I could gently whip back and forth to get my air hunters to jump.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan is the consummate high-flyer when Neko Flies are around.

Usually I've solved this problem by having more than one toy in my arsenal. I still believe that you should offer options for your cats, from small balls to faux mice and catnip laden toys. That said, I can only hold so many toys in my hand at one time and I needed something that covered all the bases. At last I've found a series of interactive toys that gets cats off their big behinds and turns the lights back on in their eyes. I give you, Neko Flies!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel inspects mysterious package.

Unlike many wand toys I've used in the past, Neko Flies feel well made. Their clear plastic rod has a comfortable rubber grip. At the opposite end of the grip is a clip with a charming braided green and black cord that's attached to a variety of “Lures” that resemble and move like real bugs or mice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey grabs her Kattiepede.

Ellen, the creator of Neko Flies, underscored the importance of creating unique, carefully crafted (some elements are done by hand) toys that are as safe as possible for cats. She told me they constantly look for ways to improve their product, from finding ways to use less glue (they already only use a few drops), to finding thicker material for the wings of their Kragonfly cat toy as well as for better ways to anchor the loop into the toy so it doesn't pull free when cats tug on it. Ellen seems almost obsessed with designing toys that truly appeal to cats and are not just a collection of feathers glued to a string or that utilize materials that are so cheap they fall apart after one use.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?!

It was tempting to write the world's shortest review by stating: I LOVE NEKO FLIES. Rather, my CATS love Neko Flies.

But then something happened…

One of the cats bit the green and black cord, severing one-third off it, along with the Kragonfly. I took the fly away so they wouldn't eat it, thinking I would just trim the end of the cord and reattach the Fly to it. In the meantime, since I was cooking dinner and trying to play with the cats at the same time, I would just have them chase after the string, without the toy attached because they seemed to like it just fine.

Ahhh…hindsight is 20-20 vision, as they say.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love at first bite.

I'd gotten into the habit of hiding the Neko Flies where the cats couldn't get at it to keep them from destroying it. These toys are SO ENTICING you can't leave them laying around. It's just not safe. Really. If only I had READ THE BOX the Neko Flies came in because I would have seen the WARNING on it. I didn't read the WARNING on their web site, either, which I'm sharing with you here:

Some cats become so enamored and hooked on NEKO FLIES that they have been known to try and get the toy off a shelf by themselves! This is an interactive toy for a human to play with the kitty, so keep your Neko flies tucked safely tucked away in a drawer or closet until you are ready to play with your cat again!

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[Neko Flies Lure is attached to a card with this warning printing on it. See? They told me so!]

“Neko Flies are designed as a toy for you and your cat to play with together. The lures at the end are designed to move in a lifelike way which is a great part of their appeal, even to cats who usually are not interested in toys or playing. However, these toys are not intended to be left with a cat to chew or destroy (as she would actual live prey). Once your cat manages to catch a toy you should praise her and then get her to release it right back to you by offering her a really tasty treat - doing a "bait-and-switch" the way you would with a human toddler or a dog who have gotten something you don't want them to possess. Because the Neko Flies lure toys are so enticing to cats, there is a warning that they should never be left anywhere your cat can get to them without your participation. This is a wand toy, not a chew toy! Neko Flies satisfy your cat's primal instinct to hunt and chase - but it is up to you to then protect the lures from your cat's instinct to "kill!"”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I turned my back on my cats to check on dinner. I didn't even leave them alone for more than a minute. I looked back and the green and black cord was one-third the length it had been. Clearly, one of the cats had chewed it off and possibly EATEN IT. In decades of being a cat-mom, this was the first time I ever had to worry that a cat ingested such a large part of a toy.

I searched the living room. I knew the culprits were either my tiny foster cat, Mabel or my big bruiser, the DOOD. I had a bad feeling it was DOOD because he's, well, not the sharpest pencil in the box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley goes nuts for Neko.

I couldn't find a thing. In a panic, I called Neko Chan, home to Neko Flies. Ellen, herself, called me back right away. We talked about what materials were used in the cord (polyester).I called the ER Vet and told them about what material I believe one of the cats ingested and they suggested I bring both cats down, spend $1500.00 per cat on endoscopy-that was IF they could get an internist to come to work late on a Sunday night. They also told me to get a cat to vomit is some sort of “holy grail” treatment because the chemicals they might use to make them vomit usually kills them.They told me to watch for the cat to become listless, vomit, not eat and if that happened to RUSH them in for EMERGENCY SURGERY because the cord could twist up in the intestines and basically KILL the cat.

OR…it might pass on its own…out the “other” end.

Great.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey prepares to pounce.

The next few days were absolute Hell on my nerves. I ripped apart the living room the next day and checked everywhere I could, but no string was found. I hovered over the DOOD and Mabel, but they ate as usual and seemed unaffected. Then I started to worry that maybe it wasn't them, but another cat. I have 9 cats running around! This was going to end badly, I just knew it.

Ellen checked in with me, hopeful I had good news, but there was no sign of the missing string. I thought maybe I was getting Alzheimer's and this was the first sign? I was so paranoid that I carried the remaining section of cord in my purse, in case I had to take one of the cats to the ER so they would know what to look for yet still…nothing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Joey enjoying their new toy..

Six WEEKS passed. I was getting breakfast ready for the kittens and I saw a GREEN ball with pale colored ball next to it on a paper towel on the counter. I asked Sam what it was and he said he found it when he was scooping the litter pan. I looked at it for a moment, then the alarms went off in my head. It was cat excrement with the STRING from the Neko Flies in it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah. Green Poo (and no ham).

Being the offspring of two scientists, I HAD to get a magnifying glass out and inspect the green stool. We feed our cats a raw diet so their stool is VERY pale, hard and dry. I teased apart the green ball and saw fibers. I put the section of string I had in my purse next to the questionable object and the color matched. Whoever ate the string passed, at least some of it out. Thank God.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Six weeks later, the green string is found.

Although I'll never know if that was ALL of the string, hopefully it was enough so that it won't adversely effect the cat who ate it (most likely the DOOD). I don't know if the raw diet slowed the process down since the cats don't pass much stool or if it helped. All I care about is that my cats are fine and my pocket still has a few bucks in it.

After all this would I still tell you to go out and buy Neko Flies. Absolutely, YES I would! I want you to know about my foolishness so that you truly appreciate the warning from NekoChan. Their toys are so enticing we must be careful in how we use them and our reward for that mindfulness is that our cats will get the exercise they need and have their hunting desire sated. I'm still using the Kattipede today and hope to add more Lures to my collection soon.

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If you'd like your very own Neko Flies: Foxifur Kittenator with Rod, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what's the weirdest thing your cat has eaten or just give me a good reason why you should win. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE FOXIFUR KITTENATOR with ROD. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA and CANADA (yay Canada!) only (sorry guys outside of those areas!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. DOOD.

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ (I can only hope there will not be any ER Vet visits!).

The Squee Diaries. Ch 8. Paint the Town Brown

The miserable heat wave has vanished, replaced with blessedly cool and drier air. The windows are open for the first time in weeks. It feels more like autumn than the middle of July. I’m grateful for the respite, even if it will just last until morning.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The gang at 7 weeks: Confetti Joe, Yukon Stan, Lil' Gracey, Precious Pete & Jellybean Mel (front).

Minnie’s kittens continue to delight me. Even without their mother’s careful tutelage, they surprise me by being willing to accept me as their surrogate—at least in as many ways as are appropriate. For a little over two weeks the kittens have been mine alone. Minnie has completely turned over her duties to me, without a look back or regret. She moved on before any of us were ready. Her sudden apparent rejection of all her kittens, first brought on by the pain of her illness, then perhaps due to her hormones, urging her to procreate again, was rather shocking. It was as if a switch was flipped and with it her motherhood came to a premature end. The kittens and I were lost for those first few days. Neither of us wanted to give up on her so each day I offered her one kitten. I held the kitten out to her with the door opened to her room. At first she would act out violently, hissing and growling, scaring the poor kitten badly. I’d soothe its fears and put it back with the others. Minnie would go back to her place and lay down, grooming away her anxiety over being presented with an unwelcome guest.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie between vet visits.

I tried each day for a week to get Minnie to accept her kittens again. Minnie didn’t hiss as much, but reacted by retreating further into her room. The kitten would cry to her and she would reply with a tiny almost-chirp. Maybe she was telling the kitten that it’s time to grow up and be on their own and to trust that mama knows best.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey.

What I didn’t expect was how the kittens immediately rallied, focusing their interest on me. When I’d previously entered the room, they would look up, maybe run past me, but now, they run over to me, try to climb up my leg or cry at my feet, hoping to be lifted into my arms for a cuddle. For seven and half week old kittens, they are all very friendly and affectionate. I realize that this will be better for them in the long run. Bonding with a human will serve them well one day when their families come to find them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Eating raw.

Weaning kittens is always a challenge. They make a horrendous mess by running over their plate and tracking food all over the floor. Their litter pan habits still have a few kinks to be worked out so there’s “that” to be cleaned up as well. The literal dark side of weaning is that the kittens are also getting their digestion working, or not. The result for those tender tummies were piles of mushy brown splats all over the bathroom. At first I blamed it on parasites so I checked a stool sample out and the test came back negative. I still de-wormed the kittens with Strongid, which doesn’t get all the parasites, but it’s gentle enough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Stan! Swoon!

That didn’t work so I began adding a probiotic based in dehydrated goat’s milk to their food. The kittens liked it a lot, but it didn’t help, at least for the few days I fed it.

It got to the point where I didn’t want to enter the foster room. The poo-piles were always somewhere tough to get at, like behind the toilet and the smell could be bottled and used as a chemical weapon. I was very worried when I saw blood, some of it mucousy, in their stool. The kittens had very wet bottoms and many cried while in the pan. It’s one thing to work with one sick cat, but five sick kittens is a test of how to stay calm when in your mind you imagine that the kittens have the beginnings of something terrible and not just simple loose stools.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. After a day of raw (inset), canned food moosh-poop.

I kept the kittens clean and I scrubbed the floors a few times a day. I decided to take the kittens off whatever I was feeding and put them on a plain, raw chicken diet that also had proper vitamins and minerals added to it. They attacked it with such vigor that I was taken aback. Within 24 hours their stool showed signs of improvement AND they stopped using the floor for their toilet.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Joey. Straining and crying in the litter pan.

On the second day, I saw less blood, but in a somewhat formed stool. The kittens behinds looked cleaner and the litter pan wasn’t as loaded. I went back to a new de-wormer and started them on that to see if it would help. I knew I might have to use something more powerful if I couldn’t get the blood to stop, but for now the kittens were racing around, gaining weight and having fun. No need to flip out.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My little rock stars.

What was interesting to me was that I ran out of raw food and had to feed the kittens one meal of canned late at night. The next morning I found stool puddles all over the bathroom again. I wondered about the food being the culprit or was it just that the raw was easier on their tummies?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey with mousey.

While I was trying to sort out what to feed the kittens, Minnie’s health took an odd turn. She went into heat and stopped eating. I haven’t seen a cat in heat since I was 9 and we were told to wait until our kitten was almost a year old before we should spay her. She went into heat and my parents thought it was amusing that she got so very friendly with my dad-especially. What it told me was that now with Minnie on her own, I couldn’t even spay her so she’d have to remain in her room without any cat-companionship for a while longer. Spaying a cat in heat is difficult because the uterus is engorged with blood and can tear easily. Since Minnie had just barely recovered from a terrible infection, I didn't want to put her into any higher risk for her spay.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many cats are in this photo? Hint: there is MORE than one.

I took Minnie to see Dr. Chris, who thankfully gives us an amazingly generous discount, and he told me that we could end Minnie’s estrous by stimulating her ovaries. I gave Dr. Chris a funny look then said; “You’re not even going to buy her dinner first?”

Then I wondered how this was going to be done. Next I thought…I don’t want to know.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Chris.

Dr. Chris grabbed a thermometer and a cover for the tip then gestured for me to hold Minnie in place. He inserted the thermometer into Minnie’s vagina and twisted it around. Minnie started to vocalize loudly, her eyes wide. I thought she was going to bite me, but then quickly realized she was too busy getting her funk on with Dr. Chris to bother with me.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan and Mel.

In all the years I’ve done rescue, this is one thing I’ve never had to do. Dr. Chris told me that we had to irritate her, just as a male cat’s barbed penis would and it would end the cycle and we could spay her safely sooner.

Of course, I blurted out that if humans had barbed penises there would be three humans on Earth. He didn’t make a comment and I simply blushed.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mine! Mine! Mine!

We opted to give Minnie her Rabies and FRVCP (distemper combo) vaccinations. I thought she’d be fine, but she had a nasty reaction to the shots. Her right front leg went lame and she didn’t get up for the next 24 hours. Worried, I called two Vets and they said to give her another day. By the second day she was up on her paws, but not eating well. I sat down next to her to give her some reassuring pets when I noticed a big red lesion under her left front leg-nowhere near where her vaccine was given.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie.

Either she was having a nasty allergic reaction or somehow Minnie had gotten the dreaded “RW” (ringworm). Just as I thought Minnie was finally out of the woods, she was back in it again. I raced her over to Dr. Chris and he took a look. He thought it was an Eosinophilic plaque-possibly brought on by the vaccine OR it was “RW.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A foreign lesion.

…but he was leaning toward the plaque to which I almost told him I would make out with him I was so happy. Ringworm means lots of fear it will spread to ALL of us..not just the cats but to me and Sam, too. No ringworm means Minnie can be with other cats much sooner and hopefully with some treatment she will feel much better, too. Fortunately for me, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t embarrass myself further. We did a culture of the fur near the lesion and we'll have to wait about 10 days for results.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joe & Gracey.

In the meantime I will keep fumbling along, trying to right this tipping ship and hoping I can prepare myself for the kittens to be ready to go up for adoption soon. I knew I would get attached and now I have to figure out how to still love those babies to pieces without shattering my own heart.

NOTE: there were SO MANY PHOTOS I didn't have room in this post, so the next one will photos-only and please don't forget to VOTE so we can win a $1000 donation for our kittens!

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The Squee Diaries. Chapter 4 The Pitter Patter

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Yukon Stan is sitting up on his own! His cuteness is killing me!

Teenie tiny kittens are wondrous little blobs of fluff that look more like hamsters than cats in the making. I can't do much with Minnie's kittens at just over two weeks of age because frankly they're not ready to be handled for very long and they can barely walk, let alone play. Am I complaining about this? No, but I would admit to looking forward to when I can interact with them for longer than it takes to weigh them and say a quick “hello.”

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Hello, Joe!

The other day, I walked into the blue bathroom-home to Minnie and her kittens. I greeted Minnie and asked her how she was doing, then looked into the bathtub to make sure all the kittens were, well, alive. One of the kittens was looking up at me! I got a tingle down my spine. Here was the first sign of the blobs becoming little kittens! Not only was he looking at me, but he was sitting up, his front legs starting to hold his weight.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Stan head out on a mission to walk across the cat bed.

I've noticed some other subtle changes. Stanley discovered his tongue and will attempt to groom himself a little bit. Mostly, I think he's just exploring the sensation of tongue on fur and hoping to make sense of of this new urge he's experiencing.

The kittens are a bit more active. They scrambled to get out of their hooded cat bed so I removed it. That way none of them will be separated from the others. I want each kitten to have good weight gain and access to their mama and it's been working well so far.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Ever-adorable Lil' Gracey.

I was startled, too, by the discovery of a bright ORANGE “blow-out” of poo that got onto Confetti Joe, but came from Yukon Stan. I've never seen this before and after a frantic call to my friend, Katherine, we decided it was okay because their digestion is just forming and of course it could be effected by all sorts of things. Katherine was fairly sure she'd seen some bright orange poo, too, so I gave the kittens a quick bath and hoped to not see that again.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Eyes open, but ears not quite ready yet. Mel won't let that stop him!

Although I did see a small patch on Gracey's behind a day later, other than that, the kittens are still clean and seem to be in good shape. I must add that Minnie continues to be a marvelous mother. The extra good news is that in the two weeks she's been with us she's gained 12 OUNCES! Considering she's nursing AND the terrible shape she was in, this is a huge weight gain. She's still far too thin and though her spine has a very thin layer of padding on it now, she's got a long way to go. She's eating much more food and with more gusto. It makes me happy to watch her eat because every bite for her is going to help keep her lovely kittens going for another day, too.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Gracey vs Stanley.

 

If you're keeping track, the kittens, at 4 weeks should weigh about 1 pound. They're 2 1/2 weeks old now and they're at about 10-12 ounces, so a little ahead of schedule. I've tracked their weight daily-which is VERY IMPORTANT to do. It's the easiest way to see if the kittens are NOT doing well or which need more "mama-time" or which ones might be failing. Compared to the first few days when the kittens were gaining a full ounce every day, now the kittens gain 1/2 oz every day, which is a nice, steady pace.

 

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Still rail-thin, Mama grabs a quick bite between feeding the kittens.

 

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Stan & Joe check out the weird giant hanging over the edge of the bathtub with the crazy hair.

I've had some glimpses of the kitten's personalities, but I don't want to make any assumptions about which ones might be troublemakers or little Princesses just yet. They're also starting to awkwardly wrestle with each other. They still have a long way to go to gain the strength they need to walk confidently. They're very wobbly and fall over constantly. Normally this would be something I'd take delight in, but I continue to have flashbacks about Fred. I see him in my mind's eye, struggling to walk. His back legs went first, then his front. I've never seen anything so horrifying in my life and I'll never forget it. Part of me wants to not see the kittens for a few weeks until they get on their feet. I don't want to remember Fred like that-weak and helpless.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Gracey and Stan and some very sweet stripes.

 

I look at little Joe. The markings on his face remind me of Fred, too, but it's not a bad thing. I feel like I got to have a "do-over" and that I have another chance to raise kittens that will hopefully one day be strong and vibrant and be adopted into loving homes. I told myself not to think about FIP happening again with this family, or something else I haven't seen yet. Cats can get so many diseases, it's a wonder any survive.

 

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Oh Stanley…swoon.

As they always do, the kittens remind me to take joy in witnessing this miraculous time in their lives. I am so determined to do everything perfectly for them, raise them to be confident and loving, not fearful or fractious. I want them to know great health and never know dry food. Somehow that's the only way I can forgive myself for how I failed Fred and the kittens that went to HEART.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. I'm not sure I should caption this photo.

I just looked at Squee-TV , our web cam that's perched on the edge of the bathtub peering down onto the kittens. They're piled onto each other to stay warm, their bellies are full and they're peacefully sleeping. Minnie is nearby, always keeping alert to the slightest sound that will send her to the side of her newborns. She takes a few minutes out for herself and is back at their side every so often to lick them, nourish them and love them with a sincerity that is most profound.

[BREAKING NEWS: Dropcam is going to FEATURE Squee-TV on their front page! If you have a mobile device you can download their app and watch our cam when you're away from your computer! Just use the link to access our Featured-Feed]

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. I'm so big now!

 

Sweet dreams, my little darlings. I look forward to tomorrow because you'll be part of it.

 

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Good night, Mellie.

 

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

You DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT THE NOMINATION FORM TO VOTE! The $1000 prize donation could go a long way to helping us help more kittens like Petey, Gracey, Joey, Stanley and Mellie and mom-Minnie!

 

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Kitten pile!

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part three

Everything that wasn't related to caring for cats, cleaning up after the cats, or trying to figure out what was wrong with the cats, was put on hold over the weekend. Plans were cancelled. I made notes about who was eating, what they ate, if they vomited. I did research and spoke to my friends who were as confused as I was as to what was going on. We tossed around some ideas: Feline panleukopenia/Distemper, Parasites, a virus, food bourne illness. Nothing really added up. Four of the nine cats weren't eating. One cat was vomiting. Two cats had diarrhea (that I knew of). Four cats were “limp.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Unhappy at the Vet. Thankfully Spencer's blood work was normal, good even, for an 11 year old cat.

I was in a trance of despair. I couldn't do much other than worry. My temper was on a hair trigger. As I laid in bed Saturday night, hoping that by Sunday things would get better, I realized I was alone. There were no other cats on the bed. Spencer, who has a little routine with me most nights, was nowhere to be seen. My heart sank as I realized how much he meant to me. My inner voice chided me with a quote from an unknown author; “You never know what you've got until it's gone.”

Usually after I get into bed, I turn over onto my right side. Spencer will walk from the foot of the bed up towards my head. I have my right hand under my pillow. He'll lay across my arm and place his front paws onto my pillow, pining me in place. He's so fluffy that his fur covers my face. His purr is so loud I have no hope of sleeping. It sounds terrible, but I like it. I like the closeness-that he wants to send me off to dreamland even if it means he's smothering me (in a nice way, I'm sure).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer giving me a nasty look because I interrupted him when he was getting ready to spoon with me.

Other nights he'll wait until I turn onto my left side. He'll make the same initial approach, but this time he'll turn his back to me and snuggle under my arm, effectively spooning with me. He never stays more than 15 minutes or so, but it's his way of saying good night. As I pet him, I relax and can fall asleep knowing all is well with my little cat-world.

Yet there was no good night that night or the next. I woke each morning in a panic, wondering where Spencer was. He was hiding between two storage containers under the bed or he found he way back into the basement to hide so well it took another hour to find him. I couldn't bear it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least the DOOD was spared from getting sick-so far-knock wood.

Worrying about Spencer was bad enough, but it's curious how something completely banal, like feeding your cat, becomes the most precious moment of the day when your cats are sick. I so desperately wanted my cats to eat, but even the ones I didn't believe were sick barely touched their food.

By Sunday, with tempers flaring between the human residents, I left the house. It wasn't to escape, even if in my heart I wished I could just keep driving. It was simply to buy cat food. My goal was to purchase a wide variety of food, from expensive delicacies to what I would consider total junk. We were on day three. The cats HAD to eat.

Everyone who works at the store where I buy my cat food knows me-no surprise. As I walked into the store, Lindsey came over to say hello. She took one look at my expression and asked me what was wrong. I told her about the cats being sick and she walked me over to the cat food aisle to help me make some choices.

Most of you know I'm very picky about what my cats eat. They NEVER get dry food, but this time I had to make an exception. I figure if I eat cookies (more often than I care to admit-like right now while I'm writing this), they can have kibble this ONE time IF they'd eat it. I'd get something high quality, with only one grain. I'd also by lower quality canned food and some very nice “on your birthday” type of expensive canned food. At that point it didn't matter-as long as they ate.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Lindsey, you slay me!

Linsey excused herself, then returned a few moments later. She asked me what I thought. I looked up and in her hands was a huge sex toy. My eyes almost popped out of my head! Before I could say a word she said; “No…it's a DOG toy…for DOGS.”

For a moment, all the tension in my body slipped away as if a trap door opened up under it and it rushed into a puddle at my feet. I took a photo and smiled, appreciating the fleeting moment of happiness. Just as quickly, my shoulders slumped and I sighed as I turned to select a few more cans of food. Back to it. I had to get home soon.

Petunia and Gracie weren't eating. After trying many options, I finally cajoled 'Tunie into eating a small amount of dry food, but the second the other cats heard the sound of it hit the dish they ALL wanted some. Since Petunia is skittish, trying to feed her without the other cats interfering was nearly impossible. I had to toss them pieces of kibble so they'd run off to grab them as Petunia took wary mouthfuls, ready to dash off if I moved too fast.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I blocked some of this out. You get the point without having to see the goo in all it's “gory.”

Nicky remained the most sick of all the cats.We caught him moving his bowels on the floor, then caught him peeing on the floor. Either he was too sick or in too much pain to make it to the pan. All we could do was clean it up and move on.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracie getting 150mL of fluids.

I decided we needed to give the sick cats subQ fluids. I'd completely forgotten how beneficial it might be, especially if they had diarrhea they'd suffer fluid loss. We had a phone consult with a homeopathic Vet in Florida (thanks to Jen for hooking us up at the last minute!) who agreed that fluids would be great. We were to also try some remedies that I had on hand and we had to get some Bentonite Clay to help cure the liquid stools without having to use harsh pharmaceuticals.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer got 80 mL because he was too cranky to get more.

Sam and I were barely speaking to each other at that point, but we worked together to get the cats their fluids. I also took the temperature of some of the cats (I want to keep all my fingers so I couldn't temp all of them) and gave them their remedy and the Bentonite Clay. I felt that in doing something like this it was at least buying us time. Maybe it would help, who knew? None of the cats I tested had a fever. That was good news. We could hold off on going back to the Vet for awhile longer.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Petunia only got 100 mL of fluids, but I felt lucky to get that much into her.

I felt a glimmer of pride that we got the job done. I was rewarded a few hours later when Spencer came over to me and “told me” he was hungry. He didn't eat much, but he did eat.

No other cats seemed to be getting sick, but that could change in a heartbeat if this was something that the cats could reinfect each other with. So far the kittens in the foster room were eating well and behaving normally. At least they were all right (so far, knock wood!).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Both feeling sick and tired, Spencer and I have a nap.

Any satisfaction I had was short lived. I got sick, too. Was this a coincidence or was this yet another clue? I felt awful and though I wasn't vomiting I did have other similar symptoms to what the cats were experiencing. What the HELL was going on?

Stay tuned for part four, the PCR test of POOP that may tell us what happened, the triumphs and the surprise…yes there's more to this story…the silver lining is coming soon, I hope.

Foster Cat Math Part Two: The Pumpkin Patch Arrives

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©2011 Maria S. Bobette and family etting ready to leave for Connecticut.

I can't believe it's been over a week since the Pumpkin Patch family arrived from Maria's home in Georgia. This time of year, it's always more hectic and I had much to do before this family arrived. Even after picking the family up off the transport, the boys only had an hour break before I packed them up and brought them to my rescue group's Home for the Holidays Adoption Event! (I left mama, Bobette home to rest. She was very cranky with the boys and I thought some alone time would do her good).

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©2011 Maria S. The transport awaits.

The planning and setup for Adoption Events always leaves me knackered. Someday I hope to have volunteers able to help me get these things done. My car isn't very big, but it seems as though there's an endless supply of “stuff” that has to be crammed into it. Things need to be packed, washed, organized, then I have to figure out how many cats there are plus how many crates needed, plus where is this all going to go and how is it going to get to Choice Pet Supply where the event is being held?

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Would you adopt me?

Irene is my right hand woman. She shows up. She helps. She fills up her car with whatever I ask. She jumps in and chats people up and tries to get us a few sales or donations. Sam will load up his car, too and help us get the tough things set up, then he scampers off to work on his own projects. I end up having to design flyers, send out notices to the newspapers-the online ones, the printed ones. Then the flyers have to be hung up around town, if I can get away long enough to do that. There's just an amazing amount of work to be done. Meanwhile, there are cats to care for and all their paperwork to fill out, what vaccination they need, getting them to the vet, vetting potential adopters. No wonder I always seem to be stressed out and feeling like I don't have enough time in the day.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie!

We got some applications and I met with folks who had emailed me about stopping by to visit the kittens. It was all going well when all of a sudden, I heard one of the Angel Babies furiously meowing and scratching at the plastic tray bottom of their crate. As I lifted the cover off the back of their cage, my nostrils were violated by a powerfully nauseating smell. Then, I saw it-diarrhea! Ugh.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bananas are good fun.

Irene and I quickly started to clean up the mess. Thankfully the poop wasn't on the bedding in the cage so the cleaning wasn't difficult. The smell, however, was not going away. I had a small litter pan ready to go. It was too soon into the event to offer it to the kittens, or so I thought. If one of the kittens had the runs, I figured I'd better give them the litter pan. Seconds after I placed the pan in the cage, two of the kittens started digging around in the litter. At first I thought they were just bored and playing with it, but after a few minutes it was clear that another kitten had to let it rip-and so he did.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Jakey the sneak-attack biter!

I truly believe that the U.S. Government should use mooshie cat poop smell as chemical warfare. There is no way troops wouldn't be quickly offended by the stank and run for the hills! Did we manage to clear the store? YES! It was great at keeping the crowds down. Just what we needed.

The orange boys did fine. They were bouncing around, having fun. They laid on each other and the three of them started grooming each other. It was so cute that it made everyone forget the lingering stench, as they crowded around the cage, “ooo-ing and ahh-ing.”

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello! This is Teddy or Mikey. I think it's Teddy.

People would ask me questions about the boys, but like the white kitties, I couldn't tell the orange kitties apart (I am starting to a week later, though).

Meanwhile, poor Mazie sat forlornly in her cage. She growled a bit so we covered her up. I bravely stuck my hand into her cage and she started to purr. She forgave me from locking her in a cage by giving me her belly to rub. I felt very guilty about having her at the event, but she's GOT to find a forever home! She's been with us for a YEAR already and she's such an awesome cat!

I was grateful when 4pm came so we could pack up and get home. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep right then and there, but I knew that once we got back I'd have to feed the foster cats, make sure they were all right, then unload the cars and put things away.

I got the cats fed, but after that my body complained to the point where I just had to sit down for awhile. Unloading the cars could wait.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette a few moments after arriving.

I also wanted to spend some time with Bobette and the boys. I didn't have a chance to get to know them that morning, so now was the time.

I let the boys out of their carrier and Bobette looked at them and hissed. She's barely bigger than they are and at certain times I can't tell which one is the kitten and which is the mother. A few of kittens foolishly went over to their mom and she attacked them. I don't think she had her claws out, but the sound she made was one of pure rage. I made sure the boys were fine. They were scared, but ok. I got them all fed. I kept Bobette away from the kittens. I worried that she might attack me, as well, but she seemed relaxed around me or was it because I was feeding her?

What happened on the transport? Bobette was fine with the boys when she left Georgia, but now she was clearly not interested in having them near her at all.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette (far right) screams at her boys to get away.

The boys picked at their food, so did Bobette. They'd been eating dry food, softened with water, and I knew I'd have to break them of the habit; better now than never.

After they ate, the boys ran around. I called Bobette over to me. I was sitting on the bed. She came over and let me pet her. She climbed into my lap and got comfortable. I cautiously petted her. She relaxed until a kitten would come near her. As that happened, she'd alert, then growl. She'd lash out if the kitten dared to ignore her warning. I didn't want to lay there with an angry cat in my lap, but she went right back to relaxing and enjoyed my company. She even rolled over with her belly up in the air. I took a long look at her. She's very much got an Oriental Shorthair body with a classic orange tabby coat. She's long and lean with a wedge shaped head, dainty long legs and a long, delicate tail. I didn't see her limping, that would come later. Right now she was content-if I could just keep the boys away from her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeee!

I'd seen this behavior before, but never so severe. I wondered if I should crate Bobette, but with her painful leg issue, I realized that maybe it was her pain that was making her lash out? I asked Dr. Mixon, one of our Vets, about this and he said it might be typical behavior of the mother pushing the males out of the colony to keep the colony from having inbreeding issues or...well he wasn't sure. Even after almost a week, she's still aggressive towards them.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Da boyz.

The boys are doing well according to Dr. M. Mikey has a broken tail tip. We don't know when or how it happened, but it's already healed. Teddy was all right and Jakey was a nightmare getting his vaccines; what a screamer!

Bobette is another story. I see her jumping with some difficulty. She wants to play, but the boys get in her way and she gets angry. Some times she'll run around the room, clearly having fun, but after a few moments, she starts to limp very badly. Her drive to do more is hampered by what happened to her leg. She was in an accident of some kind and it's badly dislocated her kneecap. Dr. M rated it a 4 out of 4; 4 being the most severe. He feels he can correct the problem with surgery and that the patella (kneecap) shouldn't pop back out. I remembered when we first rescued Bobette that the folks at Henry County said they couldn't get her to eat for four days. Perhaps she'd just been hit by a car? Perhaps that had something to do with her inability to provide for her six kittens? I can't seem to let go that we lost three babies. I want to know why they died so we can prevent that from happening again. I know I'll never know why they're gone, but maybe the trauma their Mother suffered had something to do with it?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Lanky, lean and lovely-Bobette.

The surgery would cost $2500.00. I'm NOT going to ask for donations. What I really need is FOOD, LITTER and some NEW TOYS for this family and for the Angel Babies. I'll be setting up a ChipIn to ask for donations for our Food & Fun Fund soon. I have to wrap my head around what Dr Mixon told me the rescue price would be for the surgery, first.

Anyone want to guess?

He's going to charge us $100.00. That's not a typo. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! When he first told me, I thought I was going to cry. I knew we have no where NEAR $2500.00 in our bank account and I was guessing he'd charge us around $1500.00. When he said, $100.00 I asked him to make sure that's what he wanted and he said to just put the word out about his Practice and help folks get to know him. After the surgery is done early next year, I'll be writing more about Dr. Mixon and his practice. For now, I'm very grateful we have his services to depend on and that when we do have money, it will last us much longer. Dr. Mixon also doesn't charge us an exam fee for rescue cats as long as we don't take advantage of his time. We just keep it to a few hours a month. So far, it's worked great.

Without the burden of a huge Vet bill, I can focus on helping Bobette recover. She'll have to have three weeks of cage rest and three weeks of low activity. Instead of going to AID, which was the original plan, Bobette will have to stay here for awhile, until she's better.

This poor girl; she's barely a year old and what hell she's been through in such a short time. You know me, I'll do whatever I can to help her go from “Meh to MEOW!”

In the meantime, I have about 12 other kitties I need to find forever homes for!

Where Was I?

Last week sucked the life out of me. It was a cumulative effect of the stress of caring for Bob during the last weeks of his life, then watching Bob lose his battle with cancers, then the three little orange kittens dying and so many other things. Pretty much everything that's not an emergency has been kicked to the wayside. I'm just wiped out and sick with a nasty chest cold. After 10 days I think I'm finally starting to feel somewhat better, but now I have a mountain of things to catch up on. I'm still trying to write “thank you” notes to donors from months ago and catch up on posts for cats in need and somehow try to figure out how I'm going to pay the mortgage next month.

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©2011 Maria S. Mikey!

Yesterday I sat in bed and felt guilty, but I really needed to zone out. Things have been very difficult in the house since before Bob died. Everyone needs a break and there's just no way to get one.

Right after Bob died, many of the cats started peeing all over the house. It's been a nightmare. We know that Nicky, one of the big boys, is peeing and pooping inappropriately. He's peed into a cat food bowl that was sitting on the floor. Great aim, but shocking, since he did it right in front of me. Of course, he needs to go to the Vet. We have to rule out illness, but we also just dropped $800. on Nora's (Nicky's sister) emergency dental. Nicky is due for a wellness exam, blood work and urinalysis. Maybe he's not feeling well, but odds are this is the result of the “pecking order” in the house changing.

I upped the number of SSScats and Feliway diffusers. I ordered Spirit Essences from Jackson Galaxy. Sam and I are working with the cats to keep them calm, but Sam and I have not been getting along at all. We don't fight, but we don't talk, either. I know it stresses the cats out. If for no other reason, we had to fix that, too.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Free at last, the DOOD relaxes on a cat tree in the living room.

Then there is the DOOD. Finally freed from two-month quarantine and not sick with Feline Leukemia, his debut into the rest of the house was probably going to spark more flare ups between the other cats and cause even more peeing. I knew it would probably be temporary, but that didn't make the fact that Nicky peed onto my family's heirloom oriental rug any easier to take.

Life is about managing change. Things are always in flux, but how do you deal with it when it all feels like too much?

Shutting down doesn't help and I can't just sit in bed with the cats and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory for the rest of my life. I have to pick myself up and get to work and plow through some things. It's been a rough time, but I have to have faith that it will get better.

Sunday afternoon, Sam asked me if I wanted to clean the rug (again) or put clean sheets on the bed next? He was placating me. I don't think he wanted to do either, but he feared my wrath since the house is getting really messy and I was very angry about Nicky spoiling the rug. I don't know why I chose that moment, but I asked Sam to sit down so we could “talk.” I was done with being silently furious-it was time to just let it out and be done with it.

We had a long talk. We both let each other know we were fed up with the relationship, or lack thereof. It wasn't overly emotional. There wasn't any yelling. I think we were both to a point of either; “let's just get this over with” or DO something to fix it. I felt dead inside. I figured Sam probably felt about the same way. No reason to be afraid of being hurt. We've been in each other's life for 18 years. It's not always going to be smooth sailing and maybe we had grown apart so far there was no turning back?

I had no feeling about any outcome. However it worked out was fine, as long as something is worked out. I couldn't live like two strangers in the same house any longer. I really thought this was the end.

But...it wasn't. The turning point was when I told Sam I really wanted him to be my friend and he said he wanted the same from me. I had to tell him things that have really hurt me and about things I really need from him and he shared his feelings about what he needed, as well. We didn't try to be something we're not, but we did agree to just try to be friends. Our lives are intertwined in so many ways. We have to keep trying.

I'm glad Sam and I talked. Things are better and the cats seem more relaxed, as well. I realized you can't just plow forward and hope things will work out. They don't. You have to do the work or you can just suffer in silence.

As for the cats, there have been a few surprising updates. More on that in my next post, but first I gotta get some work done.

Foster Cat Journal: One Lost Mind. Anyone Find It?

It's tough to write. Actually, it's tough to do ANYTHING with 12 cats running loose in my house, plus four sick cats in the foster room who I have to make sure don't cover me in contagion every time I enter their domain.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. The Halloween Express is stuck at the URI-Station!

Between the complicated feeding parade, breaking up fights, cleaning up urine marking, plopped poops and just the plain ol' litter pan scooping, I've lost hours every day. That doesn't even include play time-a must for these INSANE BEASTS and lovey dovey time, which, for my own cats has been whittled down to the bare minimum. I'm so out of touch with my own cats, it scares me. Sam has drifted into making sure they get fed, the raw food gets mixed up (I order and pay for it), while I do my shift feeding the fosters in three different locations, making sure they're all locked in their rooms during feeding time so I can monitor that everyone is eating enough.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Pattycake and Blitzen share some snuggle time.

This is not what I had in mind. I had a room, ONE ROOM, not ALL MY AVAILABLE ROOMS set aside for cat care, with one room as a flex room-in case I had to separate out a cat or two. It's funny, though. I realized that if I just had four fosters in one room, plus my eight cats, that it would be a BREEZE! You get to a point where the “nubs” wear off and you can handle more and more. That said. I do not want to handle this many again. I am more than max'd out.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Meanwhile, Yodel is passed out on my bed.

Even as I sit here, I had two fosters battling for space in my lap, Blitzen and Spencer and Honey B all in my tiny office. Then they started fighting-no surprise and to save face (literally) I had to scoot them out the door for my own safety. Now they're ripping up some paper and a cardboard box. There is rarely ever a silent moment now. I have to get up every two seconds to break up fights-that's the worst.

Yet, I was ready to take in another foster cat two days ago! Thankfully, the little cutie--pie at Henry, got a rescue before I had to step in. In for a dime, in for a dollar, at this point.

There is a glimmer (of something, not sure if it's hope or just a bug in my eye) on the horizon! Maybe. Just MAYBE, I MAY have not one, but TWO potential adopters lined up. I don't want to jinx anything, so I'm not going to say much at this point. Just...maybe I will be down a few cats before the weekend is over. I sure hope so. I just spent $240.00 out of my own pocket on cat food (and that was with a HUGE discount). Yes, fundraising for Kitten Associates will be starting soon! We just saw our CPA and he helped us get a form done that was standing in the way of us getting our non-profit status. We are "this" close to being the real deal (Okay, we're incorporated, so that is a cool start!).

Since I may have only two more seconds to write before the next fight, I wanted to do some updates.

PRINCESS FIFI

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©2010 Robin A.F Olson. Princess FiFi barely a month ago.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Princess just the other day-looking lovely!

Well, she is just doing GREAT! Carole, the President of Animals in Distress, brought her to the shelter so we could have a visit. Princess has grown. Her eyes are clear, where they were once full of dark, crusty, discharge. Her mood is light and happy, instead of limp and barely alive. She likes the other cats and [sorry, had to take a break, again to get Honey off my BOOKSHELVES-knocking everything onto the floor-great. Oh wait..I had to yell NO about 10 more times. I swear I start and end my day yelling!]

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. I love the markings near her front paws.

Oh yeah, and Princess MAY have found her forever home. Oops. It's sort of been there all along. Carole, who has been doing cat rescue for almost 20 years, is moving soon. She's taking her two Persian cats with her and vowing NOT to take Princess along for the ride. BUT...Princess LOVES her cats and they love her. Princess “uses her paws like little hands (you have to squeal when you say this, as Carole did)!” Carole is still in denial, but she's turned down a lot of adopters. I think she's fostered Princess FiFi long enough. Time to make it formal and adopt her.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Sitting by the door to the Shelter. Waiting for her forever family...or is the wait over?

ROCCO

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Ryan preps Rocco for his belly-rub-a-thon.

I love Rocco. I just do. He's a big guy. He got a raw deal-getting dumped by his crappy family who just didn't want him any more. I had a chance to visit him a few days ago. I brought my nephew, Ryan, whose mother is kinda-sorta-mulling-over the thought of MAYBE adopting Rocco. She has the brothers of our cats, Nick and Nora. All four of these “cameo” short haired cats are GIAGANTIC and they love belly rubs and they are just sweet sweet cats. Sounds a lot like Roc.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. He's not fat. He's TALL!

Part of the goal of my visit was to get good photos of Rocco so I could post his ad on Petfinder. Carole told me he shut his eyes every time she took a photo. I figured I'd shoot without a flash and see if I could get anything.

Ryan and I tried to get a good shot. We jiggled toys, gave him catip, offered treats. He didn't react to much of anything. In fact, I started to think that Rocco is deaf. Carole bent down, looked at him, called his name and clapped. When he saw her clapping, he perked up and ran over to her. I think he knew the gesture, not the sound. We didn't get to the bottom of his hearing issues, but it was very sad to think that maybe that was why he was starting to become shy of the other cats at the shelter.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't open your eyes to make our job easier. Okay, great. Hold it!

Even with all that, he would still come over to me, throw himself against my leg and want some belly action (which I happily gave him). In the end we got some OKAY photos, but nothing that really showed off his pretty green eyes. He's a big, probably older, fella. He got kicked to the curb and maybe he's not a fancy, spring chicken, but he's still got some miles left and hasn't forgotten how to love.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Really, don't open your eyes. It will ruin the photo and no one will want to adopt you.

Rocco is HERE on Petfinder, in case you know anyone in the area of Connecticut, who might like to give this boy a home. I'm not going to post Princess's ad. I don't want to waste your time! (Carole, please don't kick my ass for saying that!). (Carole scares me a little bit, but don't tell her that.) Oh and here's one more ad for Chance, a kitty A.I.D rescued after she lost her litter of kittens. She's not even a year old and is a very pretty medium-haired tortie.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Ooo! You opened them! Quick, take the photo..okay yes I did photoshop his eyes a tiny big, but they ARE that color! I swearzzz!

Time to feed the cats and scoop some pans. It was nice writing for awhile. Maybe I'll be allowed to do it again one day. Oh and for the record, I am REALLY going to MISS the cats who might be getting adopted...yes, after all my complaining...I'm going to probably have a good cry after they leave, but I'm not gonna say if they will be tears of sadness or tears of JOY!

Foster Cat Journal: Oh Sh-t!

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I know. It's so close you can almost smell it, right?

This is what I get for letting the kittens run around in my bedroom without giving them access to a litter pan. I also should not have shown Dancer and Donner that it's fun to drink out of the faucet. Now they're obsessed with playing in both of the “jack and jill” sinks. One of the kittens got the great idea to “drop off a few friends at the pool” when I left them unattended for a few minutes! I left them alone too long, so it was my fault.

I got everything cleaned up and bleached and the kittens back to their room. Later last night, I let them back into the bedroom for some play time. They weren't even in the room for 10 minutes before I got a death-whiff of something NASTY. I hoped one of the kittens ripped a “toot,” but as I made my way to the bathroom (MY sink, by the way), it was clear that Dancer was just finishing up taking (really it would be LEAVING) a dump.

Great. Now I need to keep them locked up in their room for a day or two. I don't want this to become a habit. Also, I better get a litter pan in my bedroom when I let them play in there.

I know it could be worse. As Sam said; "At least it wasn't on the bed."

My answer was: “As far as we know.”

Foster Cat Journal: Mum's Bum -Rated PG

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Donner declares; “Mmmm...nothing smells like home more than me mum's bum!”

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