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Foster Cat Journal: Snots R Us

It seems as though Polly has been sick for most of her short life. At about 13 weeks of age, she's been sick for a good 10 weeks. Her sister, Cara Melle and brother, Chester Cheesetoes have also been sickly, too. Their Mama, Mazie, has been mostly spared, but being an adult, her immune system is strong and fully developed. Her job is to hang out and keep the babies company, until I get her adopted. My job is to learn to ride the waves of fear and anxiety, wondering if these little guys are going to succumb to their illness or overcome it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie (is not mad!), Polly and Cara (Center).

It seemed as though homeopathy was going to make the big difference in getting the cats better, but in the blink of an eye-about 48 hours, really, Polly took a serious turn for the worse. I got her to Dr. larry and he did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and put her on antibiotics-again, will it really help? This is VIRAL! I had to go with it. It was the Holidays so I couldn't reach Dr. Hermans to ask what other things I could do for her from a homeopathic standpoint.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A few days ago, Cara was doing fairly well.

Polly's left eye sealed shut AGAIN. That eye has been a problem for her since the beginning. I took her into the bathroom and ran the shower. She was VERY snotty and was very tired. In a day or so she perked back up, so I didn't have to do another Vet run.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Polly. Snotty and feeling like crud. Getting a steamy shower treatment in the bathroom.

None of the kittens were resolving their URI. I took them to Dr. Hermans and we discussed treatments for them. She reminding me that their case is a complex one and that I couldn't have come up with a treatment for them on my own just yet. She made some suggestions and a plan for me while the kittens ran around her office, exploring every nook and cranny. She felt they were NOT in bad shape at all and that in time we should be able to get them to recover.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chester is doing well and SO CUTE!

A few days later, I took Polly and her siblings to see Dr. Larry for a re-check. He thought they were doing OK, but clearly now Cara was doing worse! She was cold and her eyelids were swollen. Dr. Larry put them on stronger antibiotics and asked me to come back again in another 10 days.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara was so cold she didn't mind being bundled up at the Vet.

The next night Polly took another turn for the worse. This time it REALLY scared me. She was open-mouth breathing, with her left eye sealed shut and her head was VERY SNOTTY. I had just taken her to the Vet the day before and that was 3 vet trips in 3 days. I was wiped out and did NOT want another Vet bill on my hands! I got Polly back into the bathroom for a steam treatment. I ended up having to force feed her to make sure she wouldn't crash over the night. I got up at 4Am to check on her and her eyes were not sealed shut and she seemed comfortable. The space heater was running full blast and so was the humidifier.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Instead of sitting ON the space heater, I found Cara in front of it, so I put a little cat bed out for her.

The next morning I expected to have to take her to the Vet, but my fear was that taking her to the Vet-being exposed to the winter cold and a car ride, pushed her over the edge in the first place. There was a big snow storm coming, too and I had to decide if I was going to run her to the Vet or not. She was eating a little so I decided to wait.

Cara was so chilled that she kept sitting ON the space heater (since she couldn't sit on the cable box any more after she puked on it and shorted it out!). I realized I needed to get her warm, fast. I drove to Target just as the snow started to fall, to get an electric blanket for her and I got some more stinky cat food at the local pet shop. I made it back home just before it was too late to drive much longer. Instead of getting three to five inches of snow, we got thirteen! I-84 was just about shut down and I heard reports of it taking people FIVE HOURS to get home, instead of minutes...

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara loves the heated blanket, but she's still not feeling well.

I couldn't get home fast enough, both to avoid the weather and to get Cara and the others warming up. It took about five minutes for the kitties to realize the blanket was warm and later that afternoon, I found them all stretched out sleeping.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly returns to kicking butt, even though she's still snotty.

Polly seemed to be doing better. The high calorie food perked her up. Her sinuses were draining. I was watching the humidifier more carefully and I think it made a difference that it was always full of water.

Then it was Cara's turn to get really sick-again!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh dear! Back to the Vet, or keep her warm and stress-free? What's best?

Cara is a tiny little thing. She's over a pound lighter than her brother, Chester and she's about the size of a six week old kitten. Her paws are no thicker than my pinky. Last night her eyes were sealed closed. She wasn't as snotty as Polly had been and even being blind, she found her food and ate quite a good bit of it. Her belly is really BIG and I just de-wormed the cats two days before. I do not want to say things like FIP, so for now I won't. Cara has been vomiting, still, very small amounts and only every few days. Since the de-worming she hasn't vomited, but that could change.

I believe some of their illness had something to do with being de-wormed. That killing the parasites opened them up to being a bit more sick or perhaps it made them have a mucus build up reaction? I don't know if there is ANY correlation, but maybe some of you guys know about one?

So last night was spent in the bathroom, yet again. I took Cara and Polly (to keep her sister company). I washed Cara's face and got her eyes to open. She was very quiet, but gave me a little purr, then waddled around the bathroom after her sister, Polly. Polly was like a new kitten-running all over the bathroom, bouncing up and down, attacking Cara and having a great time-even though she's still fairly snotty, herself. I was texting Jennifer and Polly got too curious about the bathtub. As I put my iPhone down, I heard a splash! Polly fell into the tub! Fortunately she was only up to her belly in water. She didn't seem to mind at all! I got her dried off, but she went right back, almost falling into the tub a second time. Yes, time to DRAIN the water out of the tub, good idea.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Even though she's sick, Cara still played with her sister. A good sign.

It's been a few very late nights and very early mornings. With kittens, I can't be too careful. I monitor them like a hawk and when I see they're not doing well, I try not to freak out. I'm finding that I can be more gentle and relaxed now that I've been through this quite a few times. I don't know everything there is to know about kitten care, but I know that if I'm calmer, they can be calmer, too. No stress is very important for them and I've got to get them over this hump of getting better, then getting worse. I'm learning what may be setting them off and giving them every chance I can have what they need to get strong. Between a good diet, a warm, humid room and lots of lysine (and meds!) and love, it should do the trick.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. At least some of the cats are doing all right! Mazie is a handful. She's like a giant kitten, she's so playful and Chester is turning into a big love-bug.

Fortunately, Chester, though sick, too, is not in as bad shape as his far...though from what I've seen it can change at any moment, so I'm not taking anything for granted!

Not on My Watch: Okay, Not on Our Foster Mom's Watch!

With all the craziness going on with Bob, a family full of sick (YES, STILL SICK) kittens and a lovely 4-week-long sinus infection giving me an unGodly headache, the LAST thing I need is to do, well, pretty much anything. I really want to go to bed for the day and just SLEEP.

But, we have some work to do, first.

I got an email from our uber-foster-mom in Georgia a few nights ago about a beautiful cat at Henry County. She's been there for a few weeks. Happily not all their cages are filled to capacity right now, so the cat has had some luck on her side. We know that sooner or later, her luck will run out. Although we don't often have the ability to rescue an adult, we love to make exceptions.

This cat is certainly an exception. Just one look at her and you'll be in love! How could we NOT help her?

©2010 Henry County Care & Control.

This girl, has the BEST front paw coloring I've ever seen!

Her name is Amelia. Our dear, Bobby, busted her out of the kill shelter an hour ago and got her over to the Vet for a check up. As of this moment she is FREE from a cage and will be starting her new life in foster care, then she'll come to Connecticut where our dear friends at Animals in Distress are going to take her into their shelter and get her a new home (if I don't find her one first!).

Please welcome: Amelia. Kitten Associates FIRST rescue of 2011!


But wait...there's more coming! We helped save a few MORE kitties! Details about them coming your way soon!

Foster Cat Journal: Oh Yeah, The Kittens are Here!

Somewhere in the middle of Bob having surgery, preparing for Christmas and us being hit by a blizzard, Polly and her family and MacGruber arrived! Thanks to Sam for being kind enough to drive four hours each way to rendezvous with Izzy and Mark, so I could stay home with Bob, the weekend before his surgery.

I wasn't looking forward to the kittens arriving. I was too worried about Bob, plus it meant that Petunia, the pee-er, the antagonizer, the irritating-one, was going to be let out of her room. This would mean a pee-a-thon in the house, no doubt and the nice, quiet two week break we had from her neurotic behavior was coming to an end. I was also terrified about what Polly's URI would do to Bob if he caught it, not to mention-would Polly even SURVIVE a thousand mile road trip?

I made a commitment to take them on. So be it. They arrived almost exactly one year to the day that Santa's Team arrived last year. What a nightmare of sick cats. I never want to see that again! Four months they were here...oh boy...

First up was MacGruber. I MUST write about him first. Everyone told me he was a mellow, sweet kitty and I would love him right away. They were so RIGHT! This cat doesn't let anything get under his fur. He knows his name and comes when you call him with his tail held high.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Who is cuter thank YOU?!

Since he's neutered and has his shots, I only confined him to our bedroom for two days, then began the process of letting him meet my other cats. Heck, I fast-tracked it. He did so well and my cats were so blasè about having another cat here, I just let him go for it. He spends a part of his day upstairs, feeling safe, but then will head down to hang out with us for longer and longer periods.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Meeting Blitzen.

We hoped he'd become buddies with Blitzen and that appears to be the case. He and Blitz race around the house. Mac is so small. I keep forgetting he's just a baby at six months old. He's very interested in the other cats, but is figuring out quickly who to stay away from.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Feeling comfortable enough to sit on one of the cat beds in the prime location in the living room!

Initially there WAS a lot of peeing going on, but we refilled some of the feliway diffusers and that seems to have helped. Not sure what is going on, but the cats have calmed down somewhat. I wonder if they all realize Bob is sick and he needs his quiet time. Whatever is going on, I'll take it. Sam and I hate it when the cats go overboard and we feel stuck not knowing what more we can do to help them all be calm and relaxed.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Mac isn't a fan of flash photography, but he's still CUTE even with his eyes closed.

MacGruber has a fan club. His charter member is Sam. Sam loves this cat to the point of being very coy about answering my question: “Do you mind if I put him on Petfinder? I really need to get this boy a home.” The first week Sam asked me to wait until after Christmas. Today he asked me to wait another week. Uh oh...that would put us at NINE cats? Oh no. That said, look at him! He's a doll.

Then there's Polly and her family. They arrived in fairly good shape. It took them all of five minutes before they were eating and running around their new room with great enthusiasm.

©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara with her usual post-eating-dirty-face.

I thought we might be in good shape, but it didn't take long for Polly to start looking poorly. The area around her eyes started to swell, especially her left. She started sneezing. So did Chester. I contacted Dr. Hermans. I want to try treating the cats with homeopathy. She made some suggestions. I gave Polly a remedy and also made an appointment for her to see the Vet. Chester wasn't in bad shape so I waited on him.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. It's true. Chester Cheesetoes DOES rival MacGruber for being the cutest foster cat, ever!

I started to panic about Polly. She got worse, her breathing, loud. When I went to pack her into her carrier to get her to see Dr. Chiok (Dr. Larry's new associate Vet), I did a double-take. She looked A LOT BETTER. I was so shocked I had to find Cara to make SURE I was looking at the correct kitten. Polly was not cured, but her eye was much better. She was playing, ready to eat, perky. I only gave her a few grains of a remedy, twice. That was it. I gave some to Chester and he perked up, too.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Still sick, but eating well and playful.

Now Cara is sick. No surprise. She'll get a remedy and either just Polly or all of the kittens will see Dr. Hermans next week. Even though I took Polly to see Dr. Chiok, the meds he prescribed are still in the bag. I do not want to put Polly on MORE antibiotics that aren't going to cure this VIRAL infection. I want Polly to beat this if she can. She's also getting L-Lysine which supports her immune system. She's in a warm, sunny room, too, and this can help her feel well, too.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. A-Mazin' Mazie.

Then there's Mazie. What a kookie cat. She's tall, lean, meows up a storm. She LOVES her babies dearly, but LOVES to play. She's really just a big kitten. She has spots like a leopard and stripes like a tiger. Though it doesn't appear in the photos, her eyes are green and huge. She's very friendly. I should have her at Animals in Distress, but I don't want her going anywhere near other cats until I talk to Dr. Larry tomorrow. Also, she's doing well here and I think it benefits the kittens to have her close by. More stress on them is not a good thing for their health, but I realize Mazie needs to find a great home. She certainly is more than ready for one.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly wants the toy, NOW!

As sick as the kittens are, they still manage to play. Chester was very fresh when he first arrived and wouldn't even let me touch him. Now he comes to me and sits on my chest each night. Polly and Cara follow his lead once in awhile.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara (left), Polly (right).

I had the pleasure of having all three of them on my chest the other night. They were all sleeping peacefully and I was enjoying watching them dream. Then, all of a sudden, Cara just puked all over my chest! It went right down my shirt, all over my boobs. NICE! I smelled like warm salmon flavored barf. Another thing I can cross off my bucket list...

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Watching “Baggage” on GSN with me.

I also discovered that the kittens are FREAKS about a game I have for them on my iPad. It's called, Game for Cats, oddly enough. They pounce on the mousey and chase after the laser pointer. As they pounce, they rack up a score. My cat, Spencer got over 30,000 points last time he played. I'm thinking of entering him in a tournament. Imagine how awful of an idea THAT would be!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara (center) and Polly (left) LOVE Game for Cats!

So we're hanging tough. I'm trying to let the kittens get better on their own, but tomorrow is another Vet visit just to play it safe. I'm very interested to see if homeopathy is going to make a difference. I gave some to Nora and Bob and I've sen them both have a reduction in symptoms from their URIs. This is worth investigating further. If I can avoid giving these cats medications that have nasty side effects AND are VERY expensive, I'm all for it, but this is uncharted territory for me, so I'm a bit cautious.

Even though I have some guilt over having these foster cats here, they are a pleasure to be around. I hope I can get Polly and her family well, soon, but as I know from experience, this may be a very long road. So be it. We'll see how things pans out. In the meantime, they'll have plenty of good food and love until they're ready to move on to their new homes...all of them expect maybe MacGruber! He'll get the good food and the love, but moving on? Hmmm...

Not on My Watch: I Just Can't Do Nothing

I've got five foster kittens headed my way. They'll be here in an hour. My dear cat, Bob is having very serious surgery tomorrow to try to remove a mass from his liver. He may not survive. He may have a belly full of cancer. Christmas is in less than a week and I am nowhere near ready...


I can't look away from this poor girl sitting at Henry County. She's been in quarantine for almost ten days without any vet care after being injured when she took refuge inside a car engine to get warm. I just have to help her.

This is Noelle. She'll be staying with our best foster mama in the world until she's ready to come to CT and join us at Kitten Associates. Because she's injured and may have to have part of her tail amputated, we're going to start fundraising for her right now, even though we don't know what she's going to need. If we need less than I'm asking for, I will change the ChipIn widget. I will only ask for just what we need and no more. Hopefully we can get the job done. She'll be seeing a vet, tomorrow. No more waiting, silently in pain.

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Merry Christmas little one. I hope we can help you find your confidence, love, a warm loving home and a pain free life soon. Bobby's coming to get you tomorrow. Hang tight!

Please help spread the word so we can get the funds we need to provide Vet care for this baby! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Not on My Watch: Don't let a tragedy turn into a fatality

UPDATE: Kitty now has $250.00 sponsorship pledged to a legit licensed rescue who can help her!

A stunning smoke and coal colored tabby took refuge from the cold Georgia night. As cats have been known to do, she chose a small, dark place where she felt safe. It was warm. She could relax, at last.

Sadly, for this sweet girl, her choice was a poor one. She was under the hood of a parked car.

When the engine sprang to life, she was caught. She screamed. A person tried to help her, but she was so scared and in so much pain she bit the person. Her next stop, was not the emergency Vet care she desperately needs-NO-her next stop was Henry County Care & Control to be put under quarantine for TEN DAYS to see if she has RABIES. Under law, they are NOT allowed to give her ANYTHING until quarantine is up, but by then, she will also have been there too long and she will be euthanized due to space issues. THIS CAT NEEDS OUR HELP NOW.





THIS IS DIRECTLY FROM OUR CONTACT: BETSY at Henry County. Her contact info and the info of the shelter is below. This cat is URGENT!

This poor little girl is currently impounded with us as a bite case. As you can see her tail has been painfully injured in car motor. The inside of her left leg is also wounded. The person who tried to extract her from their engine was bitten so now we must hold her for 10 days with no medical treatment as she is a quarantined "bite case"

Her time is up on December 20th. I am *HOPING* one of you in rescue will be ready and waiting at that time to get her vetted. She deserves immediate attention. Unfortunately we have not been able to do anything for her.

ID# 12/10-5123 Quarantine kitty

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. Please help me.

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. This is not a mean cat. She's just scared to death and who can blame her?


**Please Note; When forwarding, crossposting, or re-posting I ask that you leave this message intact exactly as it was written by me. I do not give permission to post my message, part of my message, or my photographs on Craig's List. Thank you for your help and support, and for respecting my wishes.**

Betsy Merchant~

We are very rescue friendly and are more than happy to work with any rescue group as long as the group has a valid Georgia Department of Agriculture license! Any rescue group, whether in or out of state, that takes pets from Georgia shelters, is required, by Georgia law, to have a rescue license issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Animal Protection Division. Having tax exempt status is not the same as a license. For more information on obtaining a license, please call (404) 656-4914.

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. What a beautiful girl.


Henry County Animal Care and Control

527 Hampton Street

McDonough, Georgia 30253

(770) 288-7401

Our Hours:

Monday-Friday: 9 am-4:30 pm

Saturday: 9 am-1 pm

Sunday: Closed

County Observed Holidays: Closed

The shelter is located at 527 Hampton Street in McDonough. We are located south of Atlanta off I-75. Take exit 218 and head east on 20/81 toward McDonough. Our address is 527 Hwy 20/81 East.

For all other information regarding ordinances, county codes, and other functions of Henry County Animal Care and Control please visit


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©2010 Betsy Merchant. This must hurt like the dickens. This baby needs medical care ASAP!

Please cross post and share. This cat may only have until MONDAY!

A Christmas Wish for Shelter Cats

Life behind bars for any shelter cat is usually flat out, miserable. The poor creatures just sit there and wait around, bored, angry, frustrated. Some cats are VERY lucky, their shelter has mandatory enrichment programs for their cats. Studies show that cats who are active in a cage are much more likely to be adopted than cats who sit there glumly passing time.

Enrichment for cats can also help de-stress the animal, keeping it healthy longer. This is a very important thing to keep in mind. If less cats get sick, fewer of them are euthanized. It doesn't take much to make their lives better, but with budgets cut, donations dwindling, how can any shelter afford the "luxury" of enrichment for the cats when they can't afford food or litter?

I'm NOT interested in promoting products on my Blog unless I LOVE them, feel the company is ethical and that me telling you about it would benefit you and your cats or cats in need of help. Today I'm going to talk about such a product. It's called a “Stretch and Scratch.


I first became aware of these miniature cat scratchers at the Cat Writers' Conference a few weeks ago. In my swag bag was a tiny scratcher. At first I couldn't fathom it's use. It's too tiny for any of my adult cats, but then I noticed that the scratcher has twist ties threaded through the back. YES! To HANG them on the inside of a cage!

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Everything made sense. I could use these during times when I have to separate kittens from their mama by caging them and I could use them in the cages when I bring my foster cats to adoption events! They're nice and sturdy and within a second of unpacking the scratcher at home, Blitzen was using it!

©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen diggin' the scratcher.

But what about the kitties at all those shelters who can't afford much of anything? I thought about my friends at Henry County Care & Control in McDonough, Georgia. I thought about all those cats, just sitting in cages hoping for a miracle that all too often does not come.

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control. LOVE the scratcher! Adopt me!

I contacted Joan, Owner and Creator, Designer of Scratch and Stretch and ordered a case of scratchers to be shipped to Henry County as a surprise. I wasn't going to tell you about it. I didn't want to make a big “to do” about what a nice person I am and all that mularky, but this morning I got two thank you emails, one from Gerri Yoder, the Director of HCCAC and one from our friend, Betsy, who helps get the word out on the cats in need at HCCAC. They BOTH sent me photos of their cats using the scratchers and I realized that sharing these photos might inspire you to buy some, too.

©2010 Henry County Care & Control. I LOVE MY SCRATCHER! Oh and Adopt me!

Apparently, they're a BIG HIT with the kitties.

©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Adopt us or rescue us!

I know it doesn't help them get OUT of HCCAC, but, at least it provides the cats with some joy and a way to de-stress. I think it helps the staff, too, seeing the cats playing and having fun.

©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Mmmmeow..scratching fun!

What I'd like YOU to do is to consider buying some scratchers for YOUR LOCAL SHELTER. Joan tells me that they can still ship to arrive BEFORE CHRISTMAS! You don't have to spend oodles of money. Maybe you can ask a few friends to come together and pitch in a few dollars so you can send a 1/2 case or a case! Joan also coordinates a team of folks who make cat beds for shelters, called Kennel Comforters and she does it purely out of love and a desire to help cats in shelters. They are always in need of donations of FABRIC so if you have some fabric to share, just contact her here.

Prices are: $45 for 1/2 case of 25 scratchers and $75 for 1 case of 50 scratchers. Shipping is extra, but I'm told that Joan cuts the shipping way down so you really get a bargain with the shipping-they actually pay some of it. Joan is not out to be a millionaire, she just wants shelter cats to be happy and this is part of her way to make that happen.

I would also like to know about any of you buying scratchers for shelters. All folks who make a purchase will be listed here on a big THANK YOU roster in January! Please be sure to let me know which shelter you bought scratchers for when you write to tell me about you being a GREAT person. Hee hee! Just email me at: info AT


Glimmers of Hope

I couldn't sleep last night; that's two nights in a row. How this happened is completely idiotic: I lost my health insurance so I couldn't go to the doctor to renew a prescription that's been keeping my old lady acne at bay. Since my face exploded with breakouts after my 'script ran out, I got some "gentle" acne face cleanser and a "gentle" spot on treatment at the local drug store. It ended up burning my skin and I accidently got some on my eyelids. The next morning after my "accident," my eyes were almost swollen shut. I tried to deal with it on my own, but it got worse, so I HAD to go to the Doctor, after all. Great.

She put me on steroids, a short course. Guess what? I can't sleep. Not even for a minute. So my eyes are puffy, my chin is burned and sleep is a memory. I was told to take Benedryl at night to counteract the effects of the steroids. It would make me sleepy. Sure it will. I'm not feeling very confident in pharmaceuticals right now, so I'm still not getting any sleep.

In the meantime, one of the side effects of the steroids is that I seem to be crying a lot, or, heck, it could just be because of all the sad things going on in my life, too. Whatever it is, gee, I'm not a lot of fun to be around right now. It's a good thing I went to Dottie's Diner today and got some “rescue” donuts: chocolate on top is best. I think it can cure whatever ails me (other than acne cream eyelid burns).

I can't stop thinking about Bob. How I tell myself that the rest of my journey with him will not be an easy one. How I know that with every cat I adopt, all that joy and love comes with a price, a sad ending, a final farewell. It's a heavy price to pay, but it's the love that keeps me going. For in that pain, is the reminder of the love, too. The heavy weight of sorrow, lightened by the joy of what once was and what will always be in my heart, no matter what.

As I tried to sleep last night, Spencer came over to me and laid down, as he so often does. His head tucked near my outstretched left arm and his back pressed firmly alongside my chest created a perfect cat-human “spoon.” I ran my right hand over his thick fluffy belly fur and he purred. Some of my tension washed away. I was transported to a safe place where I could take a moment to realize how lovely this connection was and how much it means to me. It is SO NOT just a human with a friendly “pet.” It is SO MUCH MORE.

I have to remember to enjoy what is here, right now and not get carried away on a river of fear about what is next.

It's been a similar journey for Maria and myself regarding our dear fosters, Polly, Cara, Chester and their mama, Mazie.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie and Polly have a snuggle.

The good news is that all the cats are showing signs of improvement and are growing bigger and stronger every day. Though they are not at the weight they should be for their age, they're gaining-that's what counts.

There have been many ups and downs, though.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie's eye-here we go again.

After being the first to “recover,” now Mazie's eye is infected. She's already been on new medication for a few days and I've heard she's doing better. She's been spayed successfully and the kittens are weaned. She's just about ready to come to Connecticut to join her forever family (I just know they're out there somewhere right now!).

I'll be caring for her initially. I want to make sure it's safe to separate her from her babies. I hate doing that a lot, but over the years, I've seen some mamas go after their kittens violently. Perhaps it's Nature's way of telling us it's time for them to move on? Whatever the case, I'll make certain the time is right, first.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie, Cara and Polly have a snuggle while Chester keeps them company.

Polly's finally starting to have two open eyes, instead of one. Her coat condition is slowly improving. She looks remarkably like...a kitten. At last!

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Polly starting to look like a proper kitten-at last.

Cara is doing better, too. I don't want to breathe a sigh of relief or assume this is it and the babies are out of danger. They still need to make the long journey here and it's very likely they will have a relapse and it will be “Santa's Team”-the 4 month nightmare of sick kittens, all over again. For now, I will take joy in seeing their improvement. They aren't on the transport for about ten more days. Hopefully that's enough time to get them ready.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Cara.

Chester was the only kitten really spared from the worst of the URI/Herpes virus. His weight is good. His coat, fabulous, his temperament is marvelous. This cute little bug has stolen Maria's heart and it's easy to see why.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Chester plays with his tail and shows off his cute belly.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Could it be? Playing kittens? Great news!

The transport is going to be done by Izzy and Mark. Once again these generous folks are using part of their vacation time to include a pit stop in Georgia to pick up some kitties for me and, perhaps, another rescue group. It will be the only private, single car transport I could do without having to go there myself. I've been torn about putting the kittens on the transport, but their mama is ready to go and either I separate them now and get the kittens up here in another month, on a noisy dog transport or try to do a multi-leg transport which would also tax them, greatly. I believe this is my best option for them, but I am concerned about what will happen once they get here.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Polly's gotten bigger, but she still has a way to go before being 100%.

And truth be told, I'm a bit worried about how them being here will effect Bob's health. Will my cats get herpes? How will I handle Bob needing surgery with having the kittens here? If they get sick, too..oh boy. I've rolled the dice and been wrong before. I admit I'll be holding my breath on this one.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. “Are you my sister?.”

Some times I wish I had a crystal ball. I could gaze into it and see my future. I'd be able to make correct choices, instead of guesses, but if I knew what was coming, there might not even BE a correct choice to make, but a tough situation to learn how to cope with. We'll see how it goes.

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©Foster Mama, Maria. Mazie, Cara and Polly have a snuggle while Chester mugs for the camera.

In a way, it's good I had the trial by fire with “Santa's Team,” but in another way, maybe it would be better if I was still naive about all of this? If only I could turn back the clock...hit the “snooze” button on life for awhile. If only...

The Fine Line Between Enough and Too Much

If you read my blog, odds are you, at least, like cats. From the feedback I've gotten over the years, I'm guessing most of you LOVE cats as dearly as I do. The question I place before you today is: Are you rescuing or adopting cats without considering the effect on your own life, well being? Are you clear-minded enough to know when to say, “No” when someone wants you to help then with a cat? Where is the tipping point between having a lot of cats and having too many?

I'm a collector. I have 140 tin lunchboxes, about 50 snow globes, about 40 salt & pepper shakers (only ones that are miniature appliances), cookie jars, old soda advertising signs, illustrated antique children's books and lots more. Everything is organized. You can walk across the room (unless there's a cat in the way). I keep the place tidy and clean (save for a few piles of mail or what not) and it doesn't smell bad unless I cooked dinner recently.

©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, it's a wall of lunchboxes! Everyone should have one...or two.

I have eight cats. Sometimes I have as many as 20. Am I a haorder? Or am I walking a fine line between enjoying my collectibles and cats, and sliding into chaos, disease and decay?

I wonder if any of YOU have the same fear I do: “I'm ok and can handle what I have now, but I could see myself going overboard if I'm not careful.”


Recently, I was contacted by Marsha Rabe. She lives in Connecticut and loves cats. Twenty five years ago she met a woman who became her dear friend. They did a lot of animal rights work including anti-hunting, anti-circus, vegetarian education and more. She's been a tireless advocate for animals for most of her life. Her friend, who I've been asked not to name, “was beyond a doubt one of the most intelligent, charming, talented, articulate, and cultured people I have ever known.”

This is not the description of someone who is a hoarder...yet...over the years her friend developed a problem as described to me by Marsha:


It started out as it always does, one good person trying to address the horrible overpopulation of cats by taking them in, one at a time.

For more than 30 years, a woman in New Haven took in strays and ferals, adopting them out at the beginning, when she could, but then gradually becoming overwhelmed. Simply maintaining the population took all of her strength and time. To her great credit, she spayed/neutered all of her cats and also provided basic veterinary care. But there was no time or energy left for placement, and besides, many of the cats were feral and basically unplaceable. They were, quite simply, the cats that no one else wanted.

For many years, the cats had a decent quality of life. But this summer, she became seriously ill, and the situation deteriorated quickly and horribly. She died on Nov. 9 from cancers related to conditions in her home.

She was my friend.

As I said, most of the 65 cats were feral and/or sick, and though we tried to find places for them to go, we soon realized that they had to be euthanized. We had the support of a kind and generous veterinarian, but the task was heartbreaking.

We are now trying to place the few that remain.

The only true outside feral is Perdita (last photo), a longhaired grey cat on the light green blanket. She is older, about 12, we think. There are three other indoor ferals whose photos I could not get.

I believe all of the others will come out of their shells, given time, patience, and one-on-one attention. If you have any thoughts about any of these cats, PLEASE let me know.

Thanks very much.


I asked Marsha if anyone had tried to help this woman reduce the number of cats in her home and she answered:

Yes, I tried to bring up the subject of the cats many times, as did many of her other friends. But her intense sense of privacy and her uncanny ability to deflect any question about the cats — and then to change the subject — meant that none of us ever got very far…until this summer, when she got sick. Then she had to let some of us help, and we learned the details.

I think if your readers find themselves unable to say no, if they find themselves keeping their animals a secret, if they don't let people into their homes, if they find themselves becoming more and more reclusive...then they should ask themselves, "Am I a hoarder?"

What is painfully sad is that Marsha lost her friend because her friend's love and devotion to cats meant more to her than her own life. With lack of sanitary conditions in the home, it not only sickened the cats, it took the life of her friend.

I'd like to help Marsha find homes for the remaining cats.We just need a few folks to step up and lend a hand...that is...IF you have adequate space, the time and the finances to do so. I'm not going to write about hoarding and ask you all to adopt more cats unless your decision is made with a clear mind and adequate resources.

These are the cats who need help now.

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©2010 Marsha Rabe. CLEMENTINE (two photos, above) One of the shyer cats, but is definitely beginning to hang out more. Her sister is Catriona, below.

©2010 Marsha Rabe. CATRIONA, Clementine's sister. About 4 or 5. Has one clouded eye. Shy, but coming out of her shell little by little.

©2010 Marsha Rabe, MOJO, a three-legged cat with a slightly twisted mouth (which makes eating messy), and a crooked tail. But he is a lively cat who just needs attention so he can stop feeling grumpy and find his way in life.It is hard to get a good photo of him because he is always rubbing your ankles. Robin's Note: I LOVE THAT WHITE FOOT!

©2010 Marsha Rabe, Perdita, is a semi-feral lady who may prefer a barn placement or outdoor placement. Very pretty lady. UPDATE: Perdita has been living INDOORS for the past month and is showing signs of coming out of her shell. I would LOVE to see her get a chance at a real home. At her age, living outdoors would be a cruel end for her. Maybe someone with a quiet home could give her a chance? Perdita is the heroine of Shakesperare's "A Winter's Tale" and means "lost one" in Latin.

There are a few other cats. One just showed up the other day so they're trying to get the situation worked out. If you have a barn and could take a few cats or a loving home or a rescue group that can help with the shy kitties or Mojo, please contact MARSHA RABE directly at:

marsharabe (@ symbol)

NOTE: We don't display address to prevent spammers.

The cats have been vetted and are located in the area of NEW HAVEN, CT


The ASPCA has excellent information about Animal Hoarding and how to recognize hoarding behavior. It's very sobering, indeed and I think it would be arrogant of me to think I could never be that person. I hope that this information helps all of you to keep loving your cats and to make sure you don't take on more than you can handle.

Furry Friday Cute Break


This is Polly's brother, Chester, relaxing and lookin' good! Chester was the only his litter who did not become seriously ill with upper respiratory infection. Luckily his case is mild-so far (knock wood!).

I think he wants you to rub his tummy.

Foster Cat Journal: The Littlest Soldiers

A month ticked by since we rescued Polly, Cara, Chester and their Mom, Mazie. It's been a constant battle to keep them alive. To date there are been about ten Vet trips, one emergency run late at night. Of the four, Polly has suffered the most and is still struggling to recover fully from the dreaded herpes virus infection she got just days after she was rescued.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Cara Melle wants to get better, NOW!

Her sister, Cara struggled as well, then started to improve, but now has an added complication of picking up another type of URI that's effecting her breathing. Maria, their foster mama, works so hard to get them to turn the corner; has taken time off from work, gotten her sister to come see the cats during the day so they're fed regularly, but more importantly, that someone is watching out for them.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Poor Cara, one thing after another sickens her over and over again.

Chester hasn't been hit too hard, knock wood. His mama, wasn't effected too badly, either, but she has a mature immune system. We expected she would pull through all right.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Red-rimmed eyes indicate that Chester is also feeling awful.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Chester (top), Cara (middle), Polly (bottom).

Each sunrise the kittens see is triumph. It means, they lived through one more day. Each meal is a few more calories to keep them alive and get them to grow stronger. Mazie watches over them, encouraging each one with a lick on the face or a comforting purr.

©2010 Maria Sandoval.Little Chester with his Mama, Mazie.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Only Mama can help make Chester feel better.

The difficulties in providing care for these kittens, is partially due to their inability to smell their food. First, it stopped them from nursing and caused Maria to take over syringe feeding them many times a day. Then, it was difficult to get them to lap food off a plate. They just didn't understand how to eat. I suggested Maria elevate their plate and that seemed to help, but before that was done, their bathroom home had to be scrubbed down many times a day.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Dinner time!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Polly gets down and dirty with dinner.

Litter training was a tough road, too. If they can't smell, they can't know the smell of their mama's elimination. What then would help guide them to the litter pan?

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Polly is a mess in more ways than one.

And yes, Maria also has other foster cats to care for, plus her own kitties! How she's doing this without having a nervous breakdown, I don't know. She's a tough cookie, that's for certain.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. A yes...antiviral eyedrops. $90.00.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. Mazie and Cara.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. Mama Mazie.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Chester and Polly.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Chester looking much better!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Cara and Polly still struggle to get well.

©2010 Maria Sandoval.Cara relapses and goes back to the Vet.

Then there are the costs. One small vial of antivirals cost $90.00. I've lost count of the Vet visits and we don't get a discount. Fortunately the Vets try to be kind about charging us, but it adds up. We also had thought we were going to get some funds covered from an anonymous donor, but that has fallen through. We're going to have to open up our fundraising and ask for more funding. The costs for their care and future spay/neuter is going to break the bank.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. It wasn't bad enough that Polly's been sick for a month, but she was so filthy she had to have a bath. Some day she'll look like a normal kitten...we hope!

We're still waiting for the day when the kittens look like kittens, instead of sad little urchins. Where their joy is measured in how high they can jump after a toy or how long they can purr.

These little soldiers will march on and we will continue to be there to help them along the way.


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