Who Knew?

Elke! Butt-Kicker and Cat Lover Extraordinaire!

Elke is awesome. She really kicks butt.

Last year she jumped at the chance to ADOPT, not foster, an adult cat who was dumped at the door to a Vet in the blistering heat of southern Atlanta. The cat, stuck in a cat carrier, suffered there until the local Vet's office opened a day later. He didn't care for the cat, he turned it over to Animal Control, who brought it to a KILL SHELTER. This kitty had NO CHANCE of surviving. She wasn't a kitten, she wasn't fancy-pants, she was just a tabby with an pleading look in her eyes.

The cat's name was Koko and the notes attached to her cat carrier sent shock waves throughout the cat rescue community. Of all the stories I've written, Koko's got the most passionate and heated reactions-my own, included.

Koko's backstory is HERE.

In nine days, it will be the one year anniversary of KoKo, who is now named, Sophie's freedom and the start of her life 2.0. Elke, opened her home, took a big risk and fell in love with this chubby tabby who only sort-of-kind-of gets along with Elke's other cats. It doesn't matter. There's plenty of room for everyone. The cats co-exist peacefully and Sophie will never have to worry about being dumped again.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. WOO! LOVE IT!

Since I arranged for Sophie's release from the Kill shelter, her vetting and transport, Elke and I have become friends. Elke is a diehard supporter of Kitten Associates and for all cats in need. This woman LOVES animals and it's clear her heart is huge.

The latest proof arrived in the mail today! A surprise! A stunning, fantastic, zebra-striped cat carrier! I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

I'm a Graphic Designer and I LOVE black and white with a hit of hot pink or red and this cat carrier has all the right touches of red! It is a knockout!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't even bother trying!

The second I put it on the floor Blitzen, Mazie and Nicky rushed over to check it out. Blitzen, somehow managed to cram himself into the opening, while Mazie smacked at his face out of jealousy!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.Well I'll be! Look at Blitzen!

This cat carrier isn't really made for a big cat, it's really for the foster kittens. I know “the DOOD” being black & white, will coordinate perfectly with his carrier or, vice versa!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Uh oh. Mazie is not havin' it!

I didn't realize how tired I was of the boring, flesh-tone colored hard plastic boxes I lug back and forth to the Vet. Now I can't wait to bring Doodles for his FVRCP vaccine! We'll be the hit of the waiting room, for sure! If it wasn't so hot, I'd just pack him in it and take him for drives with me.

For now I'll have to contain myself...hee hee...

THANK YOU, ELKE!

and thank you for loving Sophie so much, too!

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The DOOD Scores a Big Surprise!

DoodleBug is passing the days, waiting to be out of quarantine. He still has seven more weeks to go, living in my blue bathroom until his FeLV test can be re-done and prove for once and for all he does NOT have Feline Leukemia.

Until that time, I've been trying to keep Doodles entertained, but I can't spend enough hours each day to play with him and the bathroom is dark, with only one small north facing window. I fear for Doodles mental health, but I must follow protocol. I can't risk some sort of freak test results where I got a true positive first and an unheard of false negative with the second test!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie & Blitzen inspect the contents of the box.

I'm very lucky that there are many good people out there who care about what I'm doing. One such person is Amy Sikes. I've written about Amy before because she offered to take someone's cat (after reading about him on Covered in Cat Hair) when they had to move out of their home due to tough economic times. Amy ended up fostering the cat (named Cheese) much longer than she bargained for so I ended up helping Amy find a home for Cheese.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Directions with NO words to read! The small parts come in a velveteen bag!

Amy has also been donating proceeds of her Avon sales to my rescue group, Kitten Associates. This month, she's helping our friends at Diabetic Cats in Need! It's clear, Amy is devoted to helping cats everywhere!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen inspects every inch.

When Amy heard about Doodles confinement and my wish for him to have a cat tree, just the right size for the bathroom, she contacted me right away and said she would take care of it!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Trying to get the hang of this new-fangled doohickey.

Sure enough, a few days later, a big box appeared at my front door. In it was a very nice cat tree from Armakat! The bonus for me was that this time I didn't have to build it when I had PMS! (Yes, I wrote about building a cat tree when my hormones were out of whack-see HEREand HERE if you want to laugh your butt off.)

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Locked on target!

This was the easiest cat tree I've ever had to build. Every part was marked. The directions were clear. I built it in a few minutes, though Blitzen could not keep off the thing as it was being constructed. He thoroughly examined and tested every piece. I guess Doodles should have been happy his maybe-some-day-big-brother vetted the cat tree for him.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Showin' off now!

When I was done building, I had to drag the thing into the bathroom. Doodles was shut up in a cat carrier so he wouldn't get under foot, but he was going nuts wondering what the heck I was doing to his room!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Dood & His Cat Tree.

I got the cat tree in place and let Doodles out. He RAN over to it and began furiously raking his claws up and down the sisal covered supports. He began to PURR very LOUD. I swear he was smiling.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Test driving going well so far...

He went over to just about every sisal covered post and scratched it, hugged it, climbed up, then fell down, then scratched some more.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The claw master!

After a few minutes he jumped into the cat condo and ripped at that for a time. He was very amped up, that's for sure!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Action shot! Look at that white tip on his tail!

Even though Doodles is small, he managed to climb all the way to the top of the cat tree, which is about six and a half feet tall. He looked down at me, smiling, still purring. He batted at the toys I attached to the platforms. He scratched the posts again.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

He just couldn't get enough.

Seeing “The Dood” so happy made me feel a lot less stressed out about having to keep him in such a small space. Though the cat tree takes up a bit of room, Doodles gains vertical space, interesting spaces and plenty of area to rake those claws and help him manage his stress.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillaxin'

It meant a lot to me that someone cared about Doodles as much as I do and wanted to make his life better during this tough time.

What was even sweeter was that another good friend, Ingrid King, of The Conscious Cat, contacted me. Her cats Ruby and Allegra also wanted to get Doodles a cat tree, but when they found out he was getting one, they decided they'd like to buy some toys for The Angel Babies and Amberly's family, when they get here in a few weeks.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Flying meatball?

I had to throw out all the toys and bedding to prevent any upper respiratory or ringworm from spreading, so I really need more for the kittens and it's just great to know that when they get here, I'll be able to provide those things for them thanks to Ingrid's generous cats!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. THANK YOU FOR MY CAT TREE!

If The Dood could talk, I know he'd say; “Thank you, Amy! I love my new cat tree!” But I fear he'd also say; “Robin, why are you locking me in the bathroom? You suck!”

I'm glad cats can't talk.

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If you'd like to do some shopping for yourself or your family, visit Amy's Avon Page and the proceeds will go to Diabetic Cats in Need! We thank Amy for her continued support of cats everywhere-especially The DOOD!

DoodleBug's FeLV Test Results are In!

Three days ago, DoodleBug tested POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia. I decided to have him re-tested right away, instead of waiting for two months. I wanted a confirmation that the first test was accurate.

Super Deb just called me with the results.

NEGATIVE!

NEGATIVE!

NEGATIVE!

Okay, DoodleBug had only one test, but I just wanted to be emphatic about the results! I am SO thrilled!!!!!!!!!! This means that it may have been a false positive. To be sure, Doods will have to be STUCK in the bathroom for TWO MONTHS until we re-test him one more time, BUT it is very likely he is just FINE, thank you. And does NOT HAVE FELINE LEUKEMIA!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Dood.

I'm SO GLAD I insisted on running a second test to confirm the first one instead of waiting for a grueling two months to get the news!

Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!

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Covered in Cat Hair is On the Air!

Robbin and Joe Everett host the #1 Online Pet Show in the World called Pets Teach Us So Much! I'm very excited to let you know they've invited me to be a Special Guest on TONIGHT'S BROADCAST!

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We're going to talk about the ridiculous way Covered in Cat Hair came to be and what plans we have for the future! If you want to hear the show, visit this LINK.

The show begins at 6:30 PM EST (Eastern Standard Time-USA) and my segment will begin around 6:45 PM. THIS IS A LIVE SHOW so if you want to hear me try to do an interview while yelling at the cats to get off me, now's the time!

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AND...Drumroll, Please!...if you'd like to CALL in to ask me a question or just say hello, you can dial (760) 683-2665.

This should be a lot of fun! To top it off, this may be the start of my own bi-monthly show with the Everett's so stay tuned, literally and figuratively!

Talk to you TONIGHT!

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Making Sense of the Senseless

I think it's almost a given, that when something bad happens, we try to make sense of it. Give it a reason for being, so we can learn to accept it. Then there are times when it's just so bad, there is no sense to be made.

Yesterday afternoon, I called my Vet to see if Doodlebug was ready to be picked up. I had dropped him off that morning and he just needed some tests, a shot and a wellness exam. If you're going to do cat rescue, you must NEVER bring a cat into your home without it going to the Vet, FIRST. Considering all the creeping crud out there, you can't be too careful.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. What did you find out about me?

Doodle looked great, perky, nice weight. I didn't worry that anything was wrong with him, but when it took 6 minutes of being on hold to just find out a pickup time, I knew something was up. Instead of one of the Vet techs picking up the phone, it was Dr. Larry. His voice had a serious tone. Normally we would joke around, but not this time.

He didn't mince words.

Doodlebug tested POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia.

WHAT??!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

I felt lightheaded, like I was going to faint. I tried to muster up the courage to ask him what this means. When I was a kid, two of our family's cats died from it. Dr. Larry said what I had heard from other folks who do rescue, that although it is a “strong positive,” that there is a CHANCE that in time, Doodle's immune system may kick in and he will re-test, negative. This result means he was EXPOSED to the virus, not necessarily that he HAS it. It's called, Primary Viremia. You can read more about it on Cornell's excellent resource guide for Feline Leukemia If so, there are no more concerns for this cat's future. If he re-tests positive, you have to wait and re-test again. All in all, I may have to wait for up to SIX MONTHS to really be sure one way or the other.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle REALLY loves to PLAY!

But Feline Leukemia is very contagious and fatal and I have an FIV+ cat with cancer and eight other cats in my house. What am I supposed to do now?

Do I have to EUTHANIZE Doodlebug? I could barely ask the question. I had to sit down. My legs went wobbly. I was in shock. I didn't want to know the answer.

I can barely even type that word: euthanize. The thought of me KILLING a KITTEN, when my life is devoted to SAVING their lives,? It's absurd! I would NEVER do that! How could I do such a thing? But what about my own cats? Does bringing Doodle into my home, mean a DEATH SENTENCE FOR MY OWN CATS?

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle has a black band around his belly. Ooo. I want to smoosh-face into it!

We talked about isolation. Re-testing. Doodle does NOT have to be euthanized today, but it may have to happen at some point. IF he was at a shelter, guess what, he would be dead. I get it. This is not something you want around a lot of other cats.

But I was VERY WORRIED about bringing him into my home. I wished I had a separate building to bring my fosters now, more than ever, but I was stuck. At least I HAD a room to put him in that was isolated from the rest of the house.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Stuck on You.

I had figured Doodle would be in the blue bathroom (as we call it), for a few weeks, then I'd let him meet my cats and he could run around and have a good time until he got adopted. Now I may have lost that space for fosters until 2012!

I could make SURE Doodle was locked up, change clothes after I handle him and wash my hands well after each visit, too. If I could keep my own cats away, the Feline Leukemia virus does not live for more than a few hours in the environment, so as long as there are no shared dishes, litterpans or contact, it increases the odds my cats will be all right.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Invisible cat ladder.

But what about this little 4 month old kitten?

He will be ALONE in that bathroom for a very long time.

I hung up the phone and called out to Sam. I told him the news and I could see his shoulders slump as he processed the information. He had a crush on this little kitten, too. I could see it broke his heart. We spoke about our options, about what this might mean for our own cats and for Doodlebug. I started to cry, but I was late for a meeting and I had to figure out how to not be sad, be businesslike and deal with this later. I asked Sam what we should do. We had few options. Sam said; "We don't give up on him. That's what we do. I will go get him and bring him home.”

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. ?

So now what I thought was going to be an easy rescue, has become much more complex. What I thought I could afford has become a challenge. The bathroom where Doodle will live is small and has a small window. I would like to buy Doodle a cat tree so he can sit up high and look out the window, as well as have a place to climb and a way to de-stress because it will have nice, tall sisal legs to scratch.

Doodle will also need more tests, a second, and possibly third ELISA (snap-test/ enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and first and possibly second IFA (indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay). I'm going to start fundraiser for him for his medical needs and to purchase a small cat tree.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Yes, I have a zero-gravity bathroom.

I contacted Doodle's former owner and told him he must contact the person he got the kitten from and let them know the news and to get that cat tested for Feline Leukemia. I also told him that if he had Doodle around other cats, that those cats needed to be tested, too. I would have LIKED to tell him that I also would have appreciated it if he warned me that Doodle was trained to use a human's hand as a TOY and that he will haul off and bite and grab your arm or leg-a behavior I will be working to correct.

I didn't hear back from him. I'm not surprised. Doodle was on the road to becoming a very unpleasant cat to live with. You wouldn't be able to pet him without him getting excited and biting. When he weighs four pounds, it's one thing, but when he grows up, it won't be a lot of fun to have him around. I would bet money that this was the real reason they got rid of him-not that their kid was allergic, but that the kitten was growing too aggressive from how they mis-handled him.

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle let's us all know not to take anything too seriously.

All in all, I'd have to say that my first CT cat rescue under the Kitten Associates moniker was about as bad as it could be. I have to think that in trying to make sense of this, I had to save Doodle, so I can help him be a good kitty-citizen, learn to be gentle and give him all the tools to have every chance at being healthy and living a good life.

For the record, if there is one someone's keeping out there, I will never put Doodle down.

If he IS Feline Leukemia positive, then I will search the Earth until I find someone who will adopt him.

Please help us purchase a cat tree for Doodle and be able to continue to re-test him for Feline Leukemia for the next few months! You can use the ChipIn widget below or you can also mail a check to: Kitten Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Put “Doodle” on the check so we know where the funds should be spent. Your donation IS tax deductible. Thank you!

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©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. DoodleBug: Thief of Hearts.

Two Big Love Bugs, Dumped, but Not Forgotten

Under cover of darkness someone snuck up to the door of my Vet's office and left him not one, but two cat carriers. They each contained a very large cat. There was no note, pleading for help. There was no information on the health, behavior or even name of the cat. They weren't even sure these cats came from the same home! Maybe two different, desperate, people dumped cats? They had no idea.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The poor baby barely fits in his cage he's so BIG!

They brought the cats inside. They have no facility to contain cats for a long period of time. This is a Vet's office with small steel cages. The best they had to offer are two side-by-side two story spaces, barely big enough to hold the cats. These are HUGE cats.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Are you my brother? (I think so!)

Instead of being aggressive or terrified, the cats wanted one thing: LOVE. Oh, and they wanted a belly rub, especially the black one, the bigger of the two. This big fella weighed in at 19 POUNDS. He's not even really fat, per se. He's just HUGE and he LOVES to LOVE and be loved. This is one, sweet, knockout of a cat and his friend, a lovely classic (with the swirl-pattern) tabby is just as sweet and affectionate.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Handsome! I see your tail is up in the air! I know he wanted to be petted!

Dr. Larry doesn't have any way to find these cats a home, so I'm helping him out. He can tell me the following:

• The cats appear to be between 7 and 9 years of age.
• Both are neutered
• FIV+/Feline Leukemia NEGATIVE
• at least one of them could use a dental, Dr. Larry will do that for FREE for whomever adopts the cats
• They seem to be buddies, but do they have to be adopted together? That's not my call to make. It's a bit too soon to tell. I'm guessing if they got a good home and it meant they were separated, it would be better than them sitting in a tiny cage.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He has nice stripes, right?

I spent some one-on-one time with the cats this afternoon. They were friendly right away, no hesitation, no fear at all. The tabby liked to “chat” with me if he wasn't getting attention or if he just wanted to say “hello.” He enjoys being petted and his tail goes right up and curls at the end. He is very happy to be with people. He didn't mind me giving him a belly rub, but when I reached in to pick him up he got nervous. I think that's because he recently had his blood drawn and maybe he thought I was going to do it, again. That said, he watched me and came right back to me a moment later. This is a great sign. He has confidence and does not seem to be aggressive at all-even though he is in a stressed environment with dogs barking, weird smells and he's not home! What a NICE kitty!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. His eyes are dreamy, too.

Then there's the black kitty. He just wants a belly rub, to be held or to purr himself silly. He reminds me of my big boy, Nicky. Same gigantic cat with a heart of pink roses and buttercups. He is pure sunshine in a black coat with a tiny white spot on his chest.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. (Super-Lauren was camera shy so I blacked out her face.) Here you can see how BIG this kitty is! Lauren can barely hold him.

His paws are SO BIG I thought he was polydactyl (extra toes), but he's not. He had no hesitation when he met me. He plopped over in his tiny cage and wanted a belly rub. This cat has no mean bones in his body. He has a sweet face. I fell hard for him. It was easy to do. They just don't make cats like this often enough. Someone must have loved these too cats very much. They are both well fed and were in fairly good health. Whoever gave them up must be very sad right now because these are great cats. I don't know how anyone could live without them. I honestly can't feel angry. I feel sad for this person. I wish they had just asked for help, but maybe they did and no one listened. We'll never know. We have to focus our anger and our energy on helping them. That's what counts now.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Big black kitty would not look at the camera no matter what we did, so Lauren helped out by holding his head. Made for a surprisingly elegant image.

While the folks at my Vet (who I'm not naming because I don't want more folks to dump their cats off on him), name the cats,

Dr Larry has also offered to do a DENTAL on BOTH CATS and FULLY VET them before they get adopted or a licensed CT rescue takes them into their shelter/foster home.

He will do whatever it takes to get these cats a home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He has so much more love to give!

If you live in Connecticut, or a nearby state, and want to ADOPT these babies or just one of them, please FILL OUT A PRE-ADOPTION FORM on my non-profit cat rescue's web site HERE.

If you are with a licensed rescue in CT and would be willing to take these FULLY VETTED awesome cats into your shelter/foster home, then email me at info@kittenassociates.org and I will put you in touch with the right people.

While I'm very sad these babies are in tiny cages, at least they're safe and not about to be euthanized. Thank you Dr. Larry for doing the right thing and for being kind. I'm sorry someone dumped these cats on your door and made them your problem, but I'm really happy you can provide care for them until we can get them a home.

Please SHARE THIS & RE-TWEET to any buddies you have in Connecticut or the surrounding areas! THANK YOU!

Letting Go. Lesson Two.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly and her new BFF, MacGruber.

Two more hours and the adopters will be here. I always try to spend the last bit of time with the cats before they go. I don't know why it matters because, in a way, they're already gone. I can't take enough photos, pet them enough, give them kisses and say goodbye enough times. Here comes that flippy feeling in my gut, like I'm going to fall and no one will catch me. Kinda like yesterday afternoon when I was vacuuming the stairs and I slipped on the hose, then fell down the steps and got a whopper of a “goose egg” on my arm.

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From petfinder.com, the photo that made me fall in love and get "that feeling" this kitty needed me to rescue him.

It's bloody hot, even though I have the A/C running. The cats are flat pancakes, napping after gorging themselves on what may be their last meal with me. I worry they won't get what they like so I packed them a big bag of different kinds of grain free canned food. I'm pretending they're going on a trip and will be back in a few days. I guess I should get a clue and realize the trip will be longer than I can stand waiting.

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©2010 Bobbie Coker. MacGruber's foster mom, Bobbie was smitten with this kitten!

Today is really about MacGruber. He was the “the one” this family wanted. Since they have no other animals, I insisted they either adopt a second cat from me or find a companion for Mac. He is far too affectionate with my cats to be an only cat. I think it would really hurt him. The family admitted that they were also smitten with Polly and after I spoke to them about the reasons why having two cats is better than one, they agreed and felt they could handle the additional cost of taking on a second cat.

Fortunately, Mac and Polly get along rather well. In the past few days, even moreso. Perhaps it's a sign?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. MacGruber, all grown up and ready to move on.

Mac was the easiest rescue I've ever done. I saw him on Petfinder, knew he was in danger and had him pulled before his time was up. He went to live with Aunt Bobbie and she told me he was a doll. From the first moment, this cat was mellow, easy-going, and ready for anything. Weeks later, when he arrived at my home, he was the same way. He was completely unfazed by the long trip-1000 miles-or the fact that he was in a house full of other cats.

I intended on “properly introducing him” to my cats but it was clear he didn't need to wait. After two days he was playing with Blitzen and chillaxin' with us. His constantly burbled. He meow is very odd. He liked to talk to us about his day and when could he please have more food?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mac and our Big Boy Nicky.

I looked at his surrender form and it only listed an address, no reason for why he was given up. I can't think of why anyone would let this cat go. His silly face always makes me smile. Okay, he chases after one of my cats who does not appreciate it so she freaks out, but we don't like her! I know that's so mean, but there's a long story there and it's not time to talk about her (but she knows who she is, PETUNIA!).

Mac has been here for as long as Polly. Sam and I often talked about adopting him ourselves. We feel the same about Polly. We know we're treading in dangerous water. We just can't do this. We need to let them go. This will be a great home for him and I already said no to a lot of applications on Mac that just weren't right. It's time.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillaxin' with Nicky. YES. Nicky IS huge!

What is today's lesson about letting go of a foster cat you adore? I don't have one. It sucks. How is that for a lesson? Just the truth. There's no sugar-coating it. Saying goodbye SUCKS. Seeing their little faces in the cat carrier as they leave my home, SUCKS. Missing their silly antics tonight when I want to sleep, may not suck that much, but I will miss them.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bye bye, sweet goofball!

MackeyGee, as I call him, got way under my skin. I want to put hot pepper flakes on his tongue and make him act insane when the adopters get here. I want to put hot pepper flakes on MY tongue and act insane, too. But I can't. I just can't.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Maybe this was meant to be all along? Polly and Mac, two friends for life.

The lesson is, SUCK IT UP and just pretend it's a big band-aid on your heart, then rip it off and after they leave. I'll make Sam buy pizza for dinner to soften the pain.

My only hope is they leave before The Bachelorette starts. As much as I love my cats, this is THE SHOW I can't wait to see. I don't know why because it's a terrible show, but I DO enjoy tallying up how many times they say; “amazing” (surprisingly not many this season) and “the next level” (too early in the season for that) and Sam and I have a bet on who the winner will be, as long as it isn't Bentley. Yuck.

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Due to some technical difficulties, I couldn't post this last night when I had hoped. Today's update is: The adopters showed up, the cats showed well. Although it looked like ONLY Mac was going to be adopted, they saw how lovely and sweet Polly is and realized they loved her, too. Polly and Mac's adoption will take place on Friday, so the new family can have a long weekend together. Their new dad, Ed, works from home quite often, so they kitties will always have company, as well as each other and I get a few more days to enjoy with them. In fact, Polly is sleeping right next to me as I write this. Damn, I will miss them! Oh, and the adopters left just before The Bachelorette started! Thank you for that!

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Letting Go. Lesson One.

Being a foster mom to kittens is one of the most joyful things I've ever done. Yes, there's much work involved and some times it's very difficult and even heartbreaking. Yet, there are moments of bliss, sweetness and great love.

As someone who suffers from depression, I can say it helps keeps the blues away and reminds me that whatever bothers me or makes me feel badly is insignificant. It helps me forget about “me” and reminds me what is truly important-saving this fragile life in my hands. Seeing this creature through a journey, not only of survival, but one of thriving, of learning to love interacting with humans, know the joy of playing, instead of being fearful, so one day this animal will be ready for the next part of his or her path.

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. Hello, Polly.

It's time to reflect on a very special girl-Polly Picklepuss. Polly was born in a cage in a shelter and at just three weeks of age, my group, Kitten Associates, rescued her and her family. Some of you already know Polly's story, but for the ones that don't-Polly got very sick after she left the shelter. What happened next will scar her for the rest of her life.

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©2010 Betsy Merhcant. Polly, with Cara and Chester (background).

Polly and her family were hit with a terrible Herpes virus infection, which we might usually call an Upper Respiratory Infection. Most cats carry Herpes, but don't get sick from it. Kittens with a fragile immune system can't fight it off and being a virus, it's very difficult to treat. Many vets will treat with antibiotics to kill off any secondary infection, but it doesn't treat the virus. Sadly, no matter what we did, Polly kept getting sick. We even consulted and treated her homeopathically, but by then she'd had too many medications in her system. Looking back I would have handled it differently, but in the heat of the moment, between many trips to the vet and with Polly being so very sick, we threw everything we could at this illness-which at the time we did not even know what it was, and hoped she would survive.

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©2010 Maria S. Polly just days before everything went to Hell.

At the worst of it, when we thought we were going to lose Polly, I made her a promise-that I would adopt her if she promised not to die. I would have done anything for her and her family and over the months I was tested over and over again.

It took months before Polly began to recover and sadly, as she got better, her sister, Cara began to show signs of being seriously ill. Cara's journey is still not over. She required much more care than any of us imagined. She is stable now, but her future is uncertain.

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©2010 Maria S. And so it begins...

Polly has blossomed in the past seven months, from a tiny infant to a lovely young lady. Her medical issues are resolved, but due to her early illness she will always have runny eyes and bouts of sneezing. She eats well, her coat is like silk and she is one of the most affectionate cats I've ever worked with. Polly has been ready to leave me for over a month. I have been torn about the promise I made to her versus knowing it would not be wise for me to add another cat to my family of eight cats.

Polly gets along great with everyone. She's rarely in her room anymore and is well enough so that she can mingle with all the cats and have the run of the house. It's tough to sleep some nights because she likes to get nutty around 1am and by 2am she likes to sleep on Sam's chest or curled up by my head, on my pillow. She follows us around like a shadow and will stop suddenly and throw herself on the floor, innocently wanting a belly rub, but not realizing she's going to cause one of us to trip and break our head open. She can't help loving people as she does and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Her eyes will water and she'll breathe loudly for the rest of her life, but Polly did not lose her vision as a result of a terrible herpes infection.

The problem is, I've spent too much time with Polly. I've never had foster cats here for almost eight months. Polly is part of the family, but now a new family is interested in adopting her. They're a very nice couple who have no other pets. Their cat died not long ago and they miss having a cat to love. I checked out their Vet reference and went to their home. I tried to find a reason that this wasn't a good match and I could not.

That's when it hits me hard-it's time. This day has been coming since the day I called to make arrangements to have Polly and her family rescued. I knew it when I made the call and I knew I would have to find a way to let her go when the time came. The day is almost here, but I don't want to let her go.

This is going to hurt-even thinking about it makes me cry, but Polly deserves to be spoiled and to have a lot more attention than she would ever get here. She should have a home she won't have to share with many other cats. She'll have a buddy with her and I would have to insist on that. Polly is too social to be an only cat.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. This is what I was meant to be-a human cat bed. (Me, Polly and Cara).

I've worked very hard for Polly and her family and letting go of them is not easy. I'd like to say I can tell all of you how to foster cats and not be sad when they leave, not have second thoughts, not hope the adoption doesn't go through, but I can't do that. Fostering cats is filled with so much joy that it's tough to let that go. You have to have faith that you're doing the right thing for that cat. That they can be happy and thrive in another home. That your home isn't the only place in the world where they will be all right. That another family can give them just as much love, if not more.

I think you have to allow yourself to feel dreadful and not be afraid of FEELING that sting in your heart. If you don't suffer this, then those cats die. It's as simple as that. If you don't foster cats because you don't want to feel hurt, they don't make it out of the shelter alive. For me, tears and heartache over them leaving me is an easy price to pay compared to my tears over them never having a chance to even HAVE a life to live.

I guess my lesson is this: Be brave. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Remember why you're doing this. Remember that although you will be sad and cry, it will pass. Keep saving more lives. Keep crying. One day you'll look back and realize you've saved hundreds of lives and had just as many tears, but you did it. You did it and you CAN DO IT AGAIN.

Tomorrow is the big day. If the adoption goes through, Polly will be on her way. The pain of saying goodbye will be multiplied because it's likely she will not be the only one to leave here tomorrow. One of the other fosters will be joining her.

Deep breath.

The Petties™ 2011-Covered in Cat Hair, Double-Nominee!

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I have to admit that I didn't think we stood a chance at winning even ONE nomination for the Petties 2011 awards, let alone TWO! Last year, we were nominated in the category of Best Cause Related Blog, for which I was greatly honored, but this year I'm simply gobsmacked to be in the Best Cat Blog category AND the Best Social Interaction Blog category! Who knew? Obviously YOU guys knew! The field is so much BIGGER this year, than it was last year. I'm still in shock that we got this far.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR MY BLOG! I appreciate it VERY MUCH!

Of course there's a TINY bit more to do to get Covered in Cat Hair all the way to the BIG AWARD. You've got to VOTE again! This time you don't have to sign up for anything or give your email address out.

Click HERE to VOTE. It takes about 5 seconds. If you look at the ballot, below, you can see where the arrows are pointing..that's where OUR categories are located. I heard you can VOTE TWICE A DAY so VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN!

May I also suggest you consider voting for my friend, Ingrid in the Best Overall Pet Blog. She writes the Conscious Cat, and our friends at CatLadyLand, and Paws and Effect need your votes, too!

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If Coveredincathair.com can WIN BOTH categories, it will allow me to take the $1000.00 prize for EACH win and DONATE it to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue group, Kitten Associates! We REALLY NEED THOSE FUNDS TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE to RESCUE EVEN MORE KITTIES!!! Your vote will help SAVE MORE CATS!!!

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MacGruber is just one of the many cats we've rescued! Help us rescue more with a simple vote!

Please vote today and please DO share this with your cat-loving friends! We need to WIN! We've got two litters of kittens coming in a few weeks! Yes, TWO!

Beauty Break: Blitzen

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Blitzen at 1 1/2 years old.

While I am over-the-moon-thrilled that Covered in Cat Hair is a FINALIST in the Petties 2011 as the Best Social Integration Blog and BEST CAT Blog, I had to stop celebrating for a moment and pay homage to my own rescue (aka, foster fail) boy, Blitzen.

Isn't he handsome?

swooooon!

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