I visited with Carole and Connie last night at Animals in Distress, a small, local no-kill cat shelter. They have 3 rooms that are open so the cats there can freely walk around. There are cat trees aplenty and big windows to look out of. There are cages for the newcomers and for poor Gizmo, a big red tabby sweetheart. He has to be locked up at night-for his own safety. Poor Gizmo gets picked on by another cat and the staff make sure he is safe by keeping him in a very large cage overnight. This kitty is a big love monster with a sweet temperament. He wouldn't hurt a fly. He's on his own, now that his brother got adopted. This boy needs a good home, where he doesn't have to worry about being attacked.
Here's Gizmo's Petfinder Page
One of the cats at A.I.D. will not be getting adopted. Her name is Samantha, a big white kitty with tabby patches on her back and face. She sits serenely in a cat bed overlooking the room. She has a brain tumor and has to be medicated every other day. Her life may not be long, but she is not considered adoptable and the staff love her too much to let her go.
There are other kitties there who are too feral or too old to be placed in a home. They're the lucky ones. No harm will come to them. They are safe for as long as they live. I met other cats like Blondie and Norman and Norman's best buddy, Gatsby. You can see them all HERE.
But there was one cat who stole my heart. His name? Marshmellow.
©2010 Robin AF Olson. How cute is this tuxy boy?!
Marshy is a love bug, too. He loves to be HELD. He has a soft purr. His green eyes are stunning. His silly markings make you smile. I held him for a long time, even though his claws were, a bit long and the fabric of my shirt was a bit too thin. He likes to just sit quietly and hang out with the other cats. He doesn't seem to be a trouble maker, but has an impish quality about him. I am completely smitten with him.
Marshmellow has been waiting for a home for two months. I would so love to bring him home with me!
If you love this big, sweet boy, too, here's his Petfinder Page so you can read more about him.
It was getting late, almost 9pm. Carole and Connie have generously offered to help me with some “things” I will tell you about soon. In return, I will be helping them with a few “things” as well. It's curious. I just met Connie after she contacted me when she read the article about Chester being found. She was very kind and gracious to me and was so happy that Chester was safe and sound. We began chatting once in awhile. Connie asked me if I could help A.I.D. get the word out about their cats needing homes. They're facing very tough times and have had no adopters for awhile now.
Two shelters have moved in to the area. While that is good for the animals, it's bad for this little rescue. They have gotten lost in the shuffle. Volunteers are hard to come by and so are donations. They've been around since 1960-a rare thing in these hard times. They're not sure how much longer they can go on without more help. I promised I would lend a hand, as I can.
We fed the cats, each one getting their own bowl of food. Carole knew just what each cat liked and made sure they got what they wanted. After cleaning up and turning off the lights, it was our time to get going. I said goodnight to the kitties and walked out the front door. There was a loud humming sound coming from an air conditioning unit, but I thought I heard something else.
A cat was crying in the darkness. At first I wasn't sure, but then, yes, it was a cat, indeed. I said something to Connie and Carole, who were busy talking. They stopped, listened, then I saw the cat in the shadow of the Police Department building that was about 20 feet away. Connie let out a shriek and Carole ran to her car, grabbed a can of food and chased after the cat.
Connie was visibly upset. She asked me if the cat was gray and I said yes! She told me that the cat was theirs and his name was Gray. He had gone missing a few weeks ago! He normally NEVER meowed and they had not seen him since the night he escaped! Connie told Carole about Chester. She remarked that Connie should bring me down to the shelter so I could find Gray, too. Guess that worked out well!
Gray, just moments after being rescued.
Carole disappeared for a few minutes while we waited and hoped she would find the cat. I was told he was very friendly, so that was a good sign. Carole came running back, yelling to us to get the building open so she could get more food and a cat carrier! What cat would just go back into a cat carrier after being gone for weeks?
We rushed into the building. Carole grabbed what she needed and ran off. We followed her, but not too closely as we were worried we would scare Gray away. We could hear Carole calling to him. Meanwhile I saw a movement in the parking lot not far from us. It was a big skunk, headed our way. I motioned to Connie. Her eyes grew wide as she realized what was going on. If we made a run for it we might scare off the cat, but if we didn't run, the skunk might get scared and blast us!
Suddenly, it took a sharp turn and went another direction just as we heard the door of a cat carrier slam shut. Gray began vocalizing LOUDLY as Carole came out from behind a building, carrying him in a half run.
Gray gets brushed and fussed over, which he enjoyed between taking bites of food.
Gray's brother sat in the window at the shelter. The screen was open. He could hear his brother yeowl. We couldn't get Gray into the building fast enough. Carole feared he was COVERED with ticks. She wrapped him in a towel and brought him into the kitchen. Connie jumped in and began to pick tiny burrs off his coat. Carole checked him for fleas while they both continued to pick and brush his coat. He was in good shape, other than being far too thin. No sign of ticks or fleas! He nibbled at some kibble and enjoyed all the attention. At one point he laid down on his side and allowed belly rubs. This boy was home and he knew it.
Gray says hello to Marshmellow.
Once Gray was settled in his cage with lots of food and water, we, once again, turned off the lights to let the cats rest until morning. There was a bright yellow sign that said "LOST CAT" with a description and the shelter's number on it. It was hanging on a cork board near the front door. I told Carole she needed to scratch out the word “LOST” and write, “Found.” Tired as she was, she grabbed a pen and edited the poster, a smile forming on her lips.
This kitty is safe once again and in a place where he will be loved and cared for until his new family finds him. Not so different a journey than our dear friend, Chester made, who disappeared on the exact same date as Gray did so many weeks before.
So the little cow kittens will be here in about 3 weeks. I guess they'll have some company. It's not my fault. Betsy should not have sent me photos from kittens that were brought in to Henry County on Friday night, just after our cow kitties were rescued!
She sent me this:
I also found out that the cow babies and their mama missed being euthanized by a few hours! A lot of babies died that day. Now these guys will have a few days, then their time is up, too. I know I can't save them all (yet!!!)
I asked Maria if there was any way to fit 4 more foster kittens into their own space in her house. She said, YES.
I asked Bobby if he could go to Henry and pick up the kittens on Monday and get them to the Vet.
He said: “Yes.”
Betsy asked me if I would rescue them.
I thought about it. 6 foster cats is a lot to care for and a lot of cats to be stuck with if they don't get adopted. These guys are so cute I think they'll get adopted quickly, but as with any rescue, just the basic costs to get them all spayed/neutered and rabies is $50/cat if I go to the low cost clinic. I also have to have them all vetted before they go into foster care, combo tested for FIV/Feluk, de-flead, de-wormed, and FRVCP shots.
Doing this is not cheap. And God forbid any of the cats get sick and we know they probably will, then it could go into the thousands.
So, when time came to decide on if I should rescue these cats or not...well, you know what I said.
I've paid for their initial vetting this afternoon. For the first time in my life, I'm going to ask for some help. I've got the first vetting on my dime, but now I'd like help paying for the cats to be S/N. I've cut my goal down as much as I can.
I don't have my Non-Profit status, so you can't write any donation off, but you CAN feel good knowing the money goes to the kittens. You can visit H.O.P.E's Website and see their costs listed there, so you know the costs are legit. I'm only asking for money to help get them S/N and rabies shot and a little extra in case I need a booster FVRCP. I've got their food, litter, any other vetting covered (if it's not astronomic). If you'd like to ChipIn a few dollars, that would be great. I promise to work on getting my Non-Profit so you can write the next donation off!
Yes, I'm doing this bass-ackwards. I should have a few big benefactors, but I don't have time to find them. These cats would be dead, so I just did what I needed to do.
Now I hope you'll join me and be an important part of this rescue! Run to your sofa and dig around for some spare change! Every dollar helps! I know you get bombarded by requests for donations, so I'm going to try to keep my request to a minimum
Thank you for your help and to everyone for all their supportive messages and good wishes. I hope to make you all proud of me and rescue more kitties in the coming days!
There comes a point in your life where you start to see a direction you need to take. You can avoid it or run away from it. You can meet it head on and get bugs in your teeth, but you gotta do something.
I can't sit here and know little babies are being euthanized, along with their mamas. It's just so wrong on so many levels. No animal should be put down just due to space limitations or budget reasons, but that's how it goes.
Since volunteering with local rescue groups hasn't worked well for me, I'm just going to do my own thing. I am scared shitless, but perhaps that will motivate me to find a way to get this to work out? There's a lot of work to do, but I've already got things started.
Of course, I'm doing this bass-ackwards. I have no funding. My 501(3)c paperwork hasn't even been downloaded off the web yet. I'm working on getting onto Petfinder because I seem to already have foster cats coming here soon, but I DO have one thing figured out!
Sam gave my group a name. We were driving in the car, talking about whether or not I should make a go of it on my own and he just blurted out; “How 'bout Kitten Associates?”
YES! Done! Locked and loaded. Love it!
My first two babies under the Kitten Associates rescue moniker, you already met last week. They're at foster mama, Maria's home in McDonough, GA until they can hitch a ride back Northeast with Aunt Izzy, our CiCH friend.
Maria sent some photos of the babies. They look big and happy! I still need to name them! Any ideas? One boy. One girl.
©2010 Maria Sandoval, used with permission.
Their Mama, a sweet calico is already adopted by a nice lady in North Carolina. Mama needs to be spayed still, but for now she is very comfy and happy in her foster home and to be back with her babies for awhile longer.
©2010 Maria Sandoval, used with permission.
So two kittens that I have to find homes for and pay out-of-pocket for anything they need while with me, is a good start. I can afford this. No problem. But...
...I forgot to take it slow...baby steps.
I've been trying to write this post for a week. I'm torn between writing a virtual rant vs. just moving forward with my life. The temptation is to light these words on fire and to really let off a years' worth of steam, but reason states that those of us in the rescue community all know each other and burn one bridge now means making trouble for yourself later.
So with that in mind, I will write this:
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer says it all.
I left The Animal Center for good. No turning back. Done. Whatever reasons I have for this, for now, will be my own. I gave it my all for 5 years, but there was a price to pay that I wasn't willing to pay any longer. I leave angry and hurt, but I know in time those feelings will fade away and for now, I can use that energy to do something positive.
I've been grappling with what to do next. The answer has been right in front of me for a long time, but I was afraid to give it a shot. I'll continue to use my tiny networking skills to help rescue cats from southern death row shelters. I'll also keep doing everything I did before, but...
I'm going to make a go of it on my own. I'm going to start my own Non-Profit Cat Rescue Group. Stupid idea or perfect timing, I have no idea. There are lots of hurdles ahead, but I'm going to try. This is the dawning of my new journey. The road I've travelled on has led me to this place. I stand here before you and take a deep breath. I'm ready to stick my neck out, kick some ass and save lots more cats.
You're welcome to come along for the ride and see how this pans out. Maybe you'll say “I knew her back when she first started that group...it was just her, but now look at it!” but hopefully not; “Oh yes, that was before she got stuck with all those cats she couldn't adopt out and went crazy and they found her body...the cats got to it first...”
I'm truly scared. I had all these plans to start super small, go slowly, only take those two cute cow kittens in to foster and see how it goes...
But so many need help! I can't just sit here with two foster kittens when I have room for more! Oh boy...what have I done?
Details of my craziness coming soon...
Thumper was in a cage at the Emergency Vet Clinic for 3 MONTHS! We get the word out on him and he gets a home in ONE WEEK!!!!!!
Do I know any details? He went to a family with one other cat and should have a grand old time in his new home. That's all I got!
Of course, while I was asking the Vet about Thumper they told me a kitten was just dumped there with a prolapsed rectum. They fixed it, for now, but it may require another surgery if it does not hold. I offered to come down and get photos of the kitten once she is ready to be adopted...so we will be at it again trying to find a home for this baby, too.
In the meantime, CONGRATS, THUMPER!!!!
Thank you to Vinti Singh for the excellent article she wrote covering Chester's Rescue! I was honored to be part of the story and it was fun to share his tale with the local community and beyond.
If you'd like to read the article, you can visit the newwtimes.com HERE
I returned to the Blue Colony Diner, the location where Chester was last seen before he got away from his family's car on June 28th. Even though I knew Chester was safely tucked at home and eating well, the rescue a thing of the past; I still felt distressed being back there again. The shock of finding Chester lingers. His limp, almost lifeless body in my arms. Trying not to lose my cool, while I was shaking, trying to think of what to do next, hoping he would not die. I will never forget it.
The Blue Colony Diner.
The Diner is surrounded on two sides by DENSE brush. The north side is almost impenetrable. The west and south sides are flanked by either a very busy main road or an interstate highway (I-84). This is definitely not a great place to lose a cat.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. The east side of the property, facing the woods where I eventually found Chester.
The back of the parking lot is where we thought Chester had escaped to. Over to the far right of the lot, there's an access point to the woods, past some large boulders. That's where I wanted to enter, but as you may recall from my original post about finding Chester, there was a creepy SUV parked there, so I entered the woods to the right of the 4th car from the left.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. The woods by the Diner.
Just steps over some large rocks and into a dry creek gully, this is what you'd see. Thick woodland. When I was there last, the sun was very low. The woods had an orange cast and it was much darker. I was pulled in a direction that was almost straight out from the middle of this photo.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Artists' interpretation of finding Chester. The lighting was much different. Everything had a bright orange cast or deep shadow. Chester was well into the shadows.
I was looking left, right, up, down. I walked about 40 or 50 feet. Then, I thought I saw something. I tried to re-create what I saw, above. If you look closely, you can see Chester, just about the same way I did. He was so still, I thought he was just part of the brush-and sadly, he matched it perfectly, too!
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Looking towards the Diner from where Chester was found.
Once I realized I'd found my boy, (sorry, he's not mine, but I do feel a certainly attachment to him) had him untangled from his leash and in my arms, I turned to face the Diner parking lot. This is the view. As you can see, the diner is out of sight. I could hear the music faintly from the loudspeakers they have near the front door, but I couldn't see the building until I got closer.
Being back on the scene, I was surprised at how much brush there was. I don't recall running through it. In fact, I remember little of anything after I had Chester. I know I ran as fast as I could towards the parking lot and my waiting car. How I got there...not sure.
Last night I got an email from Ruth, Chester's Mama. She told me that Chester is eating well and surprising them every moment. Chester was adopted as a kitten from a shelter in Westchester County, NY, which is how he got his name. Chester also lives with a big doggie and travels with his family from their home in NY to their summer home in Maine. A nice life for a kitty and fortunately, he will be able to continue to enjoy it.
Late this summer when Chester and his family return to NY, they might stop by so we can finally meet each other and the story will have come full circle. Be assured, should that day arrive, that I will be waiting, heart racing, camera in hand, ready to share the moment with all of you who worried and prayed for this story to have a happy ending.
...and thankfully right now, we have just that.
Chester's family contacted me to let me know that Chester arrived at his summer home in Maine a little while ago. He already ate (a lot) and is resting comfortably. His mom, Ruth said his fur felt really nice and clean and that although he was thinner than before, that he was looking pretty good!
I'll have more updates in the coming days and maybe a photo of Chester and his family??? We'll see.
The one thing that's certain is...after all that he's been through...
Chester's family is truly devoted to their beloved furry friend. I've been told that they are going to cover any charges he incurs at the Emergency Vet Clinic and have already set up plans to make the drive to Connecticut from VERY far away in Maine, to get their boy back.
They're ready for him to come home IF he is stable enough to make the long journey. There is some pressure in that the Vet closes at 8 AM on Monday. They're only open when "regular" Vets are closed. The thought here is that if needed, Chester would either have to just go home OR be transferred into boarding or another Vet, depending on how he's doing.
I've offered to pick him up and foster him here for a few days if that is needed and Barb, another rescue lady, also offered her home in case Chester wanted to have a choice of locations (hee hee).
As of 5 PM today, Chester was described as being “OKAY,” which seems to be a step up from what I heard at 8 AM, which was “iffy.” I'm VERy hopeful the trend to improve will continue and Chester will be ready for the long trip when Monday morning arrives.
I plan on going over to the Clinic to pick up my cat carrier and to visit Chester, if he can have a visitor. It would be great to see him in a perkier state than I last saw him.
Please, dear kitty, know that your family is coming for you. Fight the good fight. Get some rest and may you feel fabulous tomorrow!
As promised! The video clip of the News segment from last week's announcement of the “Fur for the Gulf” program.