Nicky

Not Nicky.

After my father killed himself in 1999 I figured nothing bad would happen for awhile, as if I deserved a “pass” from any more pain. Of course I was wrong. I got divorced four months later and lost my biggest client.

I realize that most things that happen during my life are not about me. My father took his own life. I didn't cause that to happen, but certainly it effected me deeply, and still does. The thing is I can't help but feel a bit, well pissed when one thing after another seems to go down the drain. I asked Sam if we were being foolish to think that things were going to get better “some day.” Maybe we should just realize that life pretty much sucks, is difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and has moments, just moments of good stuff to keep us from offing ourselves, too.

Last month after Bob died, I thought that maybe we were done with long trips to Vet Oncologists, done with digging the deep financial hole to provide Bob with the care he needed, done with heartbreak over our cats. Bob was an old cat with FIV+, two kinds of cancer and half a liver. Our next youngest cat is eleven, so certainly they would be fine for many years to come. I really wanted to take a deep breath and relax, focus on the working out some behavioral issues with the cats and get the foster cats adopted.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, this morning, getting ready to roll over and show me his belly.

I nagged at Sam to take Nicky to the Vet. I was fed up watching the cat urinate on the floor, right in front of his litter pan, often not caring if we were watching him do it. We knew it might be due to the stress in the house and the cats jockeying for position in the cat hierarchy with Bob being gone, but due diligence dictated that Nicky should be seen by Dr. Larry.

I honestly thought Nicky had a urinary tract infection or might be in the early stages of hypothyroid because he drank a lot of water (and I knew his blood sugar was normal so it wasn't diabetes).

The blood work came back and it indicated that Nicky might be in early stages of renal (kidney) failure. The next morning, Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat just posted an article by Dr. Darren Hawks about Kidney Failure that helped me understand what was possibly going on. It was devastating news, but since we caught it early, Nicky had a chance to live many more good years. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He always gives us "lovey-dovey" looks.

But Dr. Larry wanted to do a sonogram to look at Nicky's kidneys. Sam agreed and the procedure was done yesterday afternoon. I wasn't worried. I thought we had that pass to not get bad news-Nicky is just eleven, right? He gets a raw diet and fresh spring water not our yucky well water. Sure he had some kidney issue, but maybe he just needed some antibiotics?

I was sitting at my computer, working on a project. I'd had a lousy day. An acquaintance of mine died. He was only 52 years old. He had a massive stroke last week and died on Monday morning. I had some very interesting times with him and I liked him even though he seemed to bring out the worst in my childhood friend, MaryEllen, who was dating him in those days. Now she's planning his funeral. I couldn't help but feel the weight of the ticking clock of my own life. How much time did I have left? I'm only two years younger than he was and a lot of people don't even get to be my age. I can't take it for granted I have tomorrow. It gave me pause.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rub Mah Belleh.

Sam stood in the doorway to my office. He didn't look so good, but we've both been in fairly bad moods for lots of reasons lately. He started to talk about Nicky. He must have just gotten off the phone with Dr. Larry. They found a growth on one of Nicky's kidneys-which were both showing signs of degeneration. They found lymph nodes that were enlarged, but it wasn't renal disease, it might be CANCER.

FU@KING CANCER.

Mesenteric Lymphoma. The same thing that JUST KILLED BOB.

When I heard “lymphoma” my head buzzed and my stomach flipped. I felt like I couldn't breathe for a second. No. No. NOT NICKY. NO!

They can't be certain until they do EXPLORATORY SURGERY. Maybe it's something else? Maybe it's some sort of reaction to something else? I don't know what else it COULD BE other than some sort of cancer!!!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky's view of the world is often upside down.

For the handful of you who've met Nicky, you know he's our BIG 20 pound boy who would rather lay in your arms, belly up, like a baby or get tummy rubs than do just about anything else at all. Nicky is a big sweetheart who LOVES everyone. He and his sister...and then I thought about Nora...are inseparable. She wouldn't survive without her big brother. Oh my GOD..what is happening to my cats?! We found this out just because Nicky was drinking too much water and peeing outside the litter pan. That was all we had for symptoms.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Skritches from mama.

I really thought we had more time. Now we have to scrounge for money. Nicky must have the surgery, but we are tapped out. We gave all that we had, and more, for Bob, thinking we could recover in time for the next cat health issue, but we were wrong.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. We love you, Nicky!

Later that night, after we picked up Nicky from the Vet and brought him home, I half jokingly said to Sam that I was feeling suicidal and asked him if he was, too, and he said, yes. Then he said, gesturing to the cats, but they would suffer if we died and I answered simply, we'll just take them with us when we go.

I guess we didn't get that pass we were hoping for. We'll do our best for Nicky. I don't know what that means. It's one step at a time. We need to confirm that it's lymphoma. We need to sort out what Nicky's options are and how we can provide for him. These are dark days indeed and this is just the beginning of a very sad journey for one of our beloved cats.

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Chaos-Central or Is My Cat Sick?

I can't believe it's been over a month since Bob passed away. It was a tough time-between losing him, then losing three neonatal kittens who were rescued in honor of Bob-it just felt like too much. I got a very bad chest cold and have been sick for four weeks. It's finally passing, but something else is going on in my home that's added to the feeling of chaos.

The heirarchy between the cats has shifted. Clearly there are power struggles going on. Cats who have regularly been a "problem" are fighting with newcomers. The result are urine puddles and poop piles that aren't in the litter pan.

I get it. I really do. Not only is Bob gone, but we're test driving Doodlebug to see if he can live harmoniously with the other cats. Mazie, who I rescued just about a YEAR ago, STILL LIVES HERE. She's become more bold and brazen. She's staking out some territory, too.

It's easy to shake a finger and tell me to not have the cats, but I see Mazie as transient and overall she's a very good cat. The problems I see are with Blitzen, Nicky and Petunia. The others manage okay and they don't spray or mark the house.

The biggest culprit is Nicky. He will literally pee on the floor right in front of me. When this 19+ pound cat lets go, a lake forms below him. He also poops by the doorways, usually one of the first things I see in the morning.

In sorting out what to do, I have to remember that Nicky could be sick. Nicky could be upset that Petunia is asserting herself more than ever now that Bob, her arch enemy is gone. To rule out illness, Nicky went to visit Dr. Larry today.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, “Mr. Lovey-Dovey” at the Vet with Sam giving him a belly rub.

Nicky has lost over a pound in the past year, which is good, unless it's a trend downward from illness. He has one tooth that might be painful so he'll need a dental. Dr Larry did some blood work and a urinalysis-the results come in tomorrow. We discussed Nicky's water intake, which has noticeably increased over the past few months. This could mean diabetes (which I doubt since I did tested him a few weeks ago and he was normal), hyperthyroid (common in older cats and Nicky is 11) or renal failure (which we hope that's not what it is). ANY of these things, including his painful tooth, could be causing him to eliminate outside the box.

Then Dr. Larry asked me how many litter pans we had. I answered that we have three that are enormous. He seemed surprised, then said that we need a lot more. I questioned him about it because with the cats on a raw diet they don't fill up the pans and we keep scooping them at least once if not more times a day. He told me about a client who has TWO cats. She has one of those perfectly clean homes. She worked long hours and came home and found pee all over the place. To solve the problem, she ended up buying a kiddie pool (!!!), then placing SIX cat litter pans INSIDE the pool with fresh litter.

The inappropriate peeing stopped.

Each of the litter pans was used over the course of the day. There might be something to this after all. Our problem is that our house is a contemporary and all the rooms are open to each other. We don't have a lot of room for litter pans, but we will MAKE SOME ROOM, that's for sure. Tonight we're going out to buy some new pans. We'll see if that makes a dent in it.

The peeing problem is quite bad. It seems every day I find another place they were peeing on. We're trying all sorts of tricks and behavior modification and we've seen a reduction to not happening at all for the pooping, but the peeing..ugh...what IS IT WITH CATS? I am honestly trying to understand what they need and to give each one love and attention. I'm failing. I have to fix this.

Then there's Gracie.

Gracie is a sweet cat. She hardly has a mean bone in her body. Gracie was one of my first foster cats about 8 years ago. She was an "unwed" Mother to three kittens. Gracie's had Miliary Dermatitis for three years. I've done every test, treatment, seen every specialist I can and so far all I know is she seems sensitive to fish and homeopathy helped her stop being so painfully shy. I also think this may be the path to helping Gracie's skin now that we have her in a more calm frame of mind. You can read more about Gracie by doing a search on GRACIE in the sidebar. A few posts about her are HERE and HERE.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracie hiding under the towel. Maybe Dr. Larry won't see her?

A few nights ago I was petting Gracie. She's so jumpy I don't often get to pet more than her head, but this time she let me pet her belly. Right away my fingers detected something not right-a mass on her abdomen. It felt like an M&M.

Sam and I took her into the bathroom and tried to clip the fur away from her belly but we couldn't see much. This morning Dr. Larry got out the clippers and shaved her belly.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The cyst is the blue thing. The scabs are scabs from her dermatitis (looks worse than it really is).

Before he shaved Gracie he felt the cyst. He had a grave look on his face that told me everything. I started to think..."Oh no..not cancer again..we just went through this with Bob...I have no resources if she's that sick." Dr. Larry explained why it didn't feel like just a simple cyst; that he couldn't get under it and the texture didn't feel right.

After he shaved Gracie he didn't look so grim. What appeared to me like a freakish blueberry, Dr. Larry thought might be, I will paraphrase, a pore, perhaps there's ingrown fur in the growth and basically it's like a big zit? I'm to put warm compresses on the thing for the next few days and see if I can encourage it to drain (pop). Weee! Fun! Almost as good as when Dr. Larry offered to let me express Bob's anal glands.

It could still be cancer. We're not out of the woods. If I can't get it to drain, then he will excise it. Gracie needs a dental, too, so he'll do both. We discussed that 3 years ago when she had her last dental, that she got this rash afterwards. He's going to sedate her differently so perhaps she will be less stressed. I know he'll go as easy on her as possible. It just seems as though her skin breaks out when she is highly stressed. I should have named her, Nervous Nelly.

As we struggle to cope with missing Bob and struggle to sort out what's going on with the remaining cats, I know that in time we'll have some answers. I just hope I'm okay with what I find out.

The Sort of Sweetest Slumber

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob Dole (left) and NICKY (right) “share” the electric blanket.

Bob is hanging in there. After four months of chemo, somehow he's still with us. Each day with him is a blessing, even if I only seem to interact with him when it's time for a snack or a pill. He sleeps a lot, so I try not to bother him too much. I know he's resting and comfortable. I check on him all the time. He still purrs and whines, depending on his mood and appetite.

I set up an electric blanket over an old chair, which became a big hit with the cats. I'm not sure if Nicky, our huge 24 lb cat, is willing to share or just puts up with Bob if he wants to warm himself on the blanket, too. Looking at this photo, you'd think Bob was very tiny. He's average size. Nicky, however, is enormous-freakishly so. More to snuggle with-that's for sure. In a way, it's like he's looking out for Bob and helping him feel better.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. NICKY planning his next move.

I'll leave out the part of the story where I tell you that Nicky ran over my FACE this morning; his own brand of shocking wakeup call. I don't want to ruin your opinion of him as being a NICE cat, looking out for Bob, instead of being a pain in the rear end, thoughtlessly crushing Sam's man bits before he makes a beeline for my head.

It's okay. We can pretend Nicky's a good boy for awhile longer, but tonight I'm wearing a football helmet to bed and I heard a rumor that Sam's going to wear a cup.

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Sifting Through the Pieces

I'm trying not to think about Bob...24 hours a day. I'm trying to remember to not loose my footing, to stay calm, to try to breathe. I don't want to make a rash decision, but I also don't feel like I have a lot of time to think. With the Holiday crush upon me and with Polly and her family and MacGruber about to arrive, I need to get things ready, but all I want to do is lie down next to Bob and just be with him.

I know I can't take enough photos of him. I can't pet him enough times. I can't listen to his crazy purr long enough. I got up at 5am, went downstairs and just sat with him and petted him. I can't take one second for granted. I can't assume he will be here tomorrow. Sure, that's true for all of us, but when you KNOW the sand in the hour glass is running low, is there any way to prepare?

I've made a few more decisions. I took Bob to get a blood test to check to see if his blood will coagulate properly. If it does, then he is a better candidate for surgery. If it does not, then we'll stop here and just let Bob live out whatever days he has left. If he's OK to go ahead, then I'll meet with the surgeon. She is VERY well respected-certainly one of the best. I'll only have a consult with her, that's it. If she says we can go ahead, then I have to make a very difficult decision. Dr. Larry told me that if we did open Bob up and they find that he has cancer, to wake him up out of sedation is unkind. It would be asking so much of Bob-to have him wake up, then face painful recovery, only to die a few weeks or months later in even more pain from the cancer spreading.

“You have to prepare yourself now for being able to make that choice for Bob, if it comes to that.”

There goes my heart, breaking into little pieces. I can't put Bob through Hell, but there IS a chance it is benign, operable, can be removed and he can live for a few more YEARS. How can I not take that chance? My head feels like it's going to explode.

I ordered a new cat tree a few weeks ago-before all this mess with Bob. I bought it on a lark, thinking it would give another one of my cats a place to go if she got stressed out. The box just arrived a few days ago when I was hormonal (why do cat trees show up when I have PMS? If you want a laugh, read THIS and THIS). Sam and I weren't on great terms (still). Somehow we still managed to put the thing together without killing each other.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen, the parts inspector arrives.

In a way, it was nice to do something that got my mind off things. The simplicity of tightening down a bolt helped me stop obsessing. Seeing the parts scattered across the floor, while my cats excitedly inspected every piece made me break with tradition, as of late, and actually smile.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob helps with the inspection, but as usual, Nicky fails by smelling Bob's tail, instead of the parts of the cat tree.

Blitzen was fascinated. He sniffed and climbed on everything. Bob and Nicky joined in, but were soon bored and went back to taking a nap. Blitzen, began to scratch on the sisal posts just seconds after they were in place. Lock down a sleeping platform and he was on it having a field day.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob!

Blitz was certainly test-driving the cat tree and it was a good thing he did-he's about the ONLY cat that will actually FIT onto or into most of the damn thing!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bratty boy “helps.” (we're still building the cat tree at this point)

It's small. This is not a cat tree for full grown cats, save for the main platform that's big enough for any cat to lie on, but the rest of it is tiny. One piece was so small we didn't even bother to attach it. Honestly, this will be GREAT for my foster kittens, but my guys will not be able to enjoy this very much.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson

Of course, tell that to Blitzen. He loved it. There was only one problem.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen gives this cat tree a 1-Belly Up!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bucket o' Blitz.

“Someone” is not big on sharing.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer was investigating the top of the cat tree when Blitzen reminding him whose cat tree it was.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Not sure which end of Spencer you're seeing in this photo.

I admit that Blitzen is good for cheering me up when I'm feeling down, but it makes me feel guilty, too. Blitz is, in some ways, much like Bob. Blitz has a crazy purr and it's obvious he shares a resemblance with Bob, though Blitz is very light in coloring. Blitzen is all things joyous and fun-full of promise and magic. He has decades ahead of him, most likely. His story is just beginning.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. King of the Cat Tree (for now)

Bob was like Blitzen once-a long time ago. I never knew Bob in his youth, only as an adult. I bet he was a handful when he was a baby. I find myself wishing that I COULD have been his “mama,” from day one. I could have prevented him from getting FIV+, he'd still have all his teeth and most likely, he never would have gotten a mass on his liver in the first place...but I can't get a “do over” to put Bob back together again. I don't have the right tools and I'm pretty sure the instructions are written in Chinese.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob, enjoying his heated cat bed.

When the Going Gets Tough

I know this road. I've walked it more times than I care to recall. It's the moment at which I realize the time I have with one of my cats is coming to an end. The road is full of hopeful moments that will ultimately lead to despair and to the final choice we must make for our cat, one day.

I hate this road more than I can say. It eats at my heart and taxes my reserves. I try to prepare myself, but there is no preparing for death. It comes, as it does for all of us. We either accept it and find peace or fight and have the same end, no matter what.

On Saturday I got Bob's blood test results. His liver function, one test indicated by his ALT, was stratospherically high. A normal value would be 10-100. Bob was at 1240.

Other liver values were also very high, save for his Bilirubin, no it's not a sandwich, it's a blood test. That test result was normal. This is a good thing.

From Cat World, Australia, I found this description of Bilirubin:

Bilirubin: This is a major breakdown product of red blood cells. When red blood cells wear out they are trapped in the spleen and destroyed, releasing bilirubin into the blood. This type of bilirubin is called unconjugated. This bilirubin is transported in the blood to the liver, where it is taken up & conjugated (joined with glycuronic acid). This conjugated form may either be stored in the liver cells or excreted into the bile. Bilirubin levels are increased in cats with liver disease, gallbladder disease or have excessive destruction of red blood cells (known as hemolysis).

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What do these numbers mean? See THIS web site for some helpful guidelines.

Then the kicker came today. Bob had an ultrasound done of his heart and abdomen. I thought I was going to be able to sit in during the ultrasound, but Dr. K said it would be quicker if he was on his own. Super Deb assured me she'd be with him and answer any questions. I kept thinking about this and that thing I wanted to make sure he knew, but in the end, nothing I was worried about mattered.

I took Super Deb's dog, Jayne for a walk, instead of twiddling my thumbs in the waiting room. It was freezing cold outside with a bitter wind. I tried to shake off the fear of what I would find out in a few more minutes. I tried to not cry thinking about it. I know as any good cat-parent knows-something is wrong, I just didn't know what it was. I didn't really WANT to know.

When I returned to Dr. Larry's office, grabbed a magazine about celebrities and their fabulous lives and pretended to look at it. I saw Super Deb. She wouldn't make eye contact with me. Then Dr. Larry arrived to start his day. He didn't even look towards the waiting room. Maybe it was not a big deal that he didn't look, but it seemed like no one wanted to even give me a hint as to what was going on.

Sam arrived with Petunia and Nora. He sat next to me, but we didn't speak. It's been a common thread here for a very long time. We only speak when necessary. Something is going on with Sam. I can guess, but he won't talk to me about it. Instead he hides in his office in the basement and plays his guitar. He mumbles this and that. He helps out around the house, in silence. Each day I grow a little more resentful, more angry. I am shut out and alone. I didn't do anything wrong. I can't wait forever for his life to be in a place where he feels like being a partner to me again. I'm still suffering from the car accident, in tremendous pain, but he does nothing. No comforting. No nothing. With all the stress I have about Bob, he only taps my shoulder or brushes my hand. When I need him most, he is the furthest away. I have to ask myself how many more years can this go on? What happened to having joy? Companionship? Even a dear friendship? For so long I have tried to encourage him to trust me, to talk to me, to give him guidance and support, but I am tired of trying.

So, Sam is there, but not there. I am there, but wishing I was somewhere else.

Petunia is getting a dental. One of her molars has a HOLE in it! Was THIS what was causing her to go on a pee-storm throughout the house? Fight with the other cats? Did she also have a urinary tract infection or impacted anal glads? While under anesthesia we'd be finding out. Maybe after all these years, I'd finally have a true end to the inappropriate urination going on in my home.

Nora was there to check her foot. We thought she had ringworm, but turns out she did not. She has some sort of fungal infection on one foot. It hasn't spread. We've treated it and it's getting better. But what about BOB??! Will someone please TELL ME what is GOING ON?

Dr. Larry took a deep breath. That was all he had to do. I knew it was bad news and he was preparing himself to speak.

Bob's heart is normal, which is very good, but...

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Fun with ultrasound results.

As you can see, above, the many LONG words that I can't make heads or tails of spell out that Bob has a 5 cm mass present in the right lobe of his liver. It is not possible to tell if it's a cancer or if it's a benign tumor that could be treated or removed surgically.

With FIV+ and being a senior cat, Bob may not be a good candidate for surgery. He may have cancer and if they do the surgery they will open him up, then say they have to put him down. That it would not be fair to wake him up when he will only live a little while longer, anyway. It's a big crap shoot.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob ponders his future (on his new blanket from Jennifer)

Thanks to one of my readers who works with FIV+ and Feline Leukemia positive cats, she told me something shocking:

...for any kitty that has been tested since the beginning of this year with the new IDEXX 3-way test (FIV/FeLV/HW), you cannot trust ANY positive result on the FIV or FeLV component: incredibly high rate of false positives, confirmed by retests with the western blot for FIV or the IFA for FeLV. the true positive rate on retest is the normal, VERY LOW, percentage. (and, of course, the FeLV component only tests for EXPOSURE, and most cats are able to process the virus out of their systems, which is why retesting is imperative. usually, the retest should be done 90-120 days after last exposure, but with the nationwide problems on the new test, we-who-get-the-panicked-calls-to-place-these-cats are advising that cats be retested immediately. (IDEXX does know about the problem, and will admit it to vets; however, tho they've asked for the names and contact info for those who have stats--national rescues, and special-needs sanctuaries--they've never followed up when they were provided with same.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen and Nicky try to cheer Bob up.

Even though Bob was tested years ago, this is the time to make SURE he is FIV+ because that will effect his ability to get a surgeon to take on his case. Because he was not neutered at an appropriate age, he got FIV. This is my Mother's fault and I will never forgive her for not caring for her cat. His life would have been so much better if he'd been neutered sooner and not left outdoors to get into fights with other territorial males.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen decides to lick Bob's head while Nicky is...Nicky.

I started to cry when I got the news...big, shaky tears. I tried not to cry, but he knew I couldn't hold back. Dr. Larry rubbed my arm and told me about a woman whose dog had the same thing Bob does. That he opened the dog up and saw the mass and called the owner and said he should put the dog down. The mass was too big. The dog would die anyway. She was going through a bad divorce. The dog was all she had. She demanded he cut the mass off-so he took half the liver. The dog lived...another two and a half YEARS. But Bob's not that dog and Bob could have cancer and Bob has FIV+ and he's a senior...blah blah blah...

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen being cute, as usual.

I just wanted to fall over, curl up in a ball and weep. But that won't help Bob get better or live a bit longer, at least.

So I asked a few questions, then left the exam room. The first thing I saw was Moonpie's face! His new owner, as promised, brought Moonie and Patty to meet Dr. Larry now that they are adopted. I couldn't have been happier to see their friendly faces. I took Moonie out of his cat carrier and held him. He sat comfortably in my arms. Both cats meowed furiously at me. I hope they weren't asking me to take them home. I wanted to, but they will be happy in their new home one day. Right now they're doing well, but are still scared. Their new owner says that each day the calm down a bit more and become a bit more cuddly. With three young boys to play with, it's a big change for them. I told her to give it a month and that I'm always there for her whenever she had a question. She told me to come visit them any time. It would be too tempting to sneak them back home with me, but it was really GOOD to see them again.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. My boy, Bob.

We loaded Bob into the car, alongside Nora and drove separately home. I got Bob fed and gave him his liver medicine. He ate well, then went to his heated bed for a nap. It was just like any other day, completely unremarkable, save for the part that I know there may not be many more such unremarkable days ahead.

Not on My Watch: As the Hurricane Churns

As Hurricane Earl churns in the Atlantic, I sit and wait and wonder if it's going to behave and only give the folks here in Connecticut a glancing blow of high winds and torrential rain or if the weather reports will be wrong and Earl will take a devious leap west and blast us with its' Category 2 fury.

I realized that should we ever take a direct hit that I have nowhere to go that would allow cats-and certainly not foster cats that also have ringworm. I couldn't even put them in the car with the healthy cats.

I'd be forced to stay behind.

So Sam and I got up at 6AM. This was not my idea of a good time. No one should get up until at least 9AM and 10AM would be even better. Anyway, we wanted to get to the grocery store and buy some non-perishable items like pudding cups, nuts, chocolate covered raisins. You know-important things that will keep us healthy if we lose power—which happens if you fart too hard around here. We expect the power will go out-which also means, no WATER.

We live in a house where everything is run by electricity-including the pump that goes to our 390' deep well. That means no shower and NO FLUSHING. Not fun. We have those 5 gallon bottles of water and a dispenser. Some of the bottles are empty so we filled them with tap water. Ah ha! Now we will be able to flush, though holding a 40 pound jug of water, aiming over the toilet tank, then hoping you don't miss and dump it all over the floor or miss and get it into the toilet BOWL, which would splatter whatever was currently IN the bowl all over the walls.

Gosh, I hope the power doesn't go out tomorrow. I just don't think there's enough bleach in the world to clean my walls after that.

As I wait to find out if my little house in the woods is going to be decimated by Hurricane Earl, I thought I'd catch you up on a BUNCH of news...in no particular order...

1. HOPE IS OUT OF THE ANIMAL HOSPITAL!

Her leg, HELLO!, is HEALED! She will walk just fine. She beat the infections, but traded them off for a cold. That said she is well enough now to go into foster care. I heard her foster home is terrific and her rescuers, called The Cat Women, should be getting a check from me via Sweetwater Vet Hospital, to cover ALL of HOPE's medical bills! There will be a bit left over and that will go into a fund to help other cats who need vet care.

HOPE has a new name: Ariel. This will mark her new journey. In a very strange coincidence, Ariel's foster mom is none other than Mary Jo-who is the subject of item number 2!

2. BIG, ORANGE MAINE COON IS SAFE!

Big Orange's owner is a senior citizen with dementia who cannot care for her cat and whose (jerkwad) of a son refuses to allow the cat in the house! The poor cat has been attacked by local (equally jerky) kids. Mary Jo (sound familiar?) stepped up to help rescue this big lug. When news got out about his troubles lots of folks chimed in, willing to help. I got the word out to my rescue babes and one of them offered to give him a home. I can't say more than that because the details aren't worked out, but even if not, Big Orange is SAFE. Mary Jo got him today only to find out the (jerkwad of the century) son now wants to get a puppy since the cat is gone. Is there no justice for this cat? Perhaps a wonderful life in a better home will do the trick?

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©2010 Mary Jo. Her original poster trying to find help for Big Orange.

3. RINGWORM. WE HAVE A WINNER! (or is that LOSER?)

There aren't enough swear words to cover how I feel about Pattycake getting ringworm. She had it in transport, but only a tiny dot on her ear. I didn't even NOTICE what you see below. Granted the area was shaved after Dr. Larry's Vet Tech, Mighty Lauren found it!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Fungus Amongus.

And of course, a few days later I felt some "crud" on her brother, Moonpie's ear so he's got it, too. Both cats are in the bathroom for eternity, or another month. Then they will be 5 months old and even harder to find a forever home for. If this is as bad as it gets I will be grateful. If the 4 little kittens in the foster room get it, too...that will be really bad...if my cats get it...well...not good...not good at all.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. They share everything...ugh.

4. Bob has a URI. Spencer has really bad feline acne that I just can't get rid of, Nicky PEED on the floor right in front of us so he's at the Vet getting tests done and poor Gracie's dermatitis just won't go away!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob. No fever but sneezing and coughing. My poor baby!

This is why having TWO cats is nice. If one gets sick, no problem. If both got sick, no problem! When they ALL start to get sick? PROBLEM! Having EIGHT CATS is NOT FOR SOMEONE WITH A WEAK CONSTITUTION-which is WHY I should have TWO CATS!

4. Jasper County Animal Control STILL NEEDS A FEW MORE CATS RESCUED SO THEY WON'T HAVE TO PUT ANY KITTIES DOWN. BUT...

Thanks to Barb Lowe at Winging Cat Rescue and two other rescue groups, five cats from Jasper were saved, along with three others from Douglas and eight by our friend Joan Flores in TN, along with six from Heard County and three more who were supposedly rescued but their rescue DUMPED THEM!!!!!...so they were RE-RESCUED!

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©2010 Jasper Co. Animal Control. This is Frances.

That's 25 MORE CATS SAVED!!!

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©2010 Jasper Co. Animal Control. This is Maybelline.

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©2010 Jasper Co. Animal Control. This is Saber. Yay Saber!

Yes, there's a price for rescuing all these cats. Barb needs Scotch and a vacation somewhere quiet AND she needs $400.00 to cover transport. Let's show her how we can help her money woes disappear and thank her for all her hard work, saving these babies!

5. My little kittens are pushing three pounds a piece, except for Cinnie-Minnie who is just a tiny little thing.

Oh, and they're super cute, but I don't get to spend nearly enough time with them!

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. From left to right: Yodel, Sugar Pie, Honey B. and Cinnamon.

6. Little Maria WILL be having her surgery next week! Stay tuned for LOTS MORE NEWS ABOUT THIS BIG EVENT FOR A LITTLE KITTY!

That is if my power doesn't go out tomorrow...and Earl keeps his distance.

Silly Saturday

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson

Before I found the big barf to clean up or even made it out of bed, this was the first thing I saw this morning; Nicky and Blitzen, snuggled together. Nicky weighs 19 lbs and is one of the biggest cats I have ever seen. At 8 months, little Blitzen looks like he's got a long way to go before he'll be as big as his new “brother.”

Looks like Blitzen has learned how to fit in quite well.

But really. We need a bigger bed. Sam's legs are behind Blitzen and Sam is almost hanging off the mattress! Oops.

Happy Caturday!

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When The Bells Tolls For Thee

I'm not getting any younger. That's for sure. Every day new aches pop up and the type on cat food can labels looks like a secret code only a mouse could read. I don't have children (other than furry ones) and my family is sparse, mostly non-cat people (how that happened, I don't know) or I hate their guts (oops).

That leaves me with a predicament.

Who will care for my cats after I die? Sam and I are together so often that we could die together in an accident. What then? What if Sam dies first, then I die?

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob has already had two families that I know of. Will he have another one day?

I have a Will. In it, I dictated that the Director of the group I'm with should find homes for my cats. I have come to realize that that choice is not a good one any longer. I would rather know the homes my cats are going to now, if, at all possible. Just as people do with children, I would like to choose “Godparents” for my cats.

Am I being morbid? NO. I'm being realistic. Shit happens even when you're 18 or 32. I'm pushing the big 5-0. I've been lucky so far, but one day the luck will run out.

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©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Cricket sleeps. My former feral is mostly too shy around anyone but us. What will become of him? He's a really sweet boy. He would not make it in a shelter.

I started to imagine putting just one person in charge of all the cats. They would get my house, most of my stuff, but would have to live here until all the cats pass away (naturally!), then they can do what they want with the stuff. But that's a lot to ask.

The other problem is that the people who would give my cats the best home, already HAVE, in most cases, quite a few cats, already. Asking them to take 8 more is too much. Perhaps, asking them to take one or two is possible?

I don't have to have it all sorted out in a day (I hope), but I dipped my toe into the water to see how it would feel. I asked someone to take Bob Dole, should he outlive me.

I asked, Super-Deb.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer. The pouffy cat with his own fan club. Spencer is my beloved, but he wouldn't be an easy fit into just any home. He must have play time or he can be bossy with other cats. He's an alpha-boy, too and does not like belly rubs or to be picked up. That said, he loves to be near me at all times and he's “my boy.”

I love Super-Deb, but who wouldn't love someone who is super? Even though I've known SD for many years, I don't know her very well. She is a private person, with me, but I get the feeling she's shared things with me that maybe not many other people know. She may seem to be a bit guarded, but it doesn't take long for her to reveal a wicked dry sense of humor. Her devotion to her own animals and her loving care of them is a beautiful sight to behold. She really knows her stuff and has been a mentor to me during so many crises and a calming voice during the worst of it.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Petunia or “'Tunie” as I call her. She should be called; “Princess.” She's clever, chats with me and can do tricks, but she is high strung-no wonder, she's one of the lowest cats and I know the boys pick on her some times. She would be great in a home with no other cats other than her mama, Gracie. I know she would blossom.

She's jokingly called “Aunt Debbie” when Bob goes to Dr. Larry's. Bob loves her and vice versa. He will let her brush him and he won't let me do as much. I only want Bob to visit Dr. Larry when Aunt Debbie is there to oversee his care. It's a perfect fit for SD to take Bob.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. I should re-name this cat, “Poor-Gracie.” for she is not in good shape. I'll write more about her, separately, but she's had a very long road with a skin ailment that's taken her beauty and her joy in life. She needs a kind hand and a knowledgeable person to keep her healthy.

Yesterday we were talking on the phone about my worries about Gracie. I didn't have the nuts to ask her about Bob, so I sent her an email, shyly asking her to ignore my being a loonie, and would she consider taking Bob (along with some money for his care) if something happens to me and Sam? She wrote back a resounding YES!

A few minutes later, my phone rang. SD blurted; “Can I have Blitzen, too?!”

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and Blitz. Some days things are just perfect.

I didn't want to ask her for that, thinking it was too big of a request, but of course, YES. I would be happy for her to take him, too.

I've got four more cats to figure out homes for, unless Sam wants me to try to place his cats, too, and then it will be six. Once we have this worked out, I go to my lawyer. I want to protect my cats as much as I can after I die. They shouldn't have to face death row at a shelter because they might be older or sickly. It's not fair to them at all.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. I assume there will be a fist-fight over Nicky, but with Nicky, comes Nora. Maybe they can go back and live with their brothers; “Charles and Bailey,” but I haven't asked just yet.

I hope that all of you will think about this and how it effects your own life and cat-family. Yes, it's scary or creepy or “you just don't want to go there,” but if you don't “go there” it's selfish. What of your cats? Their future well-being? Your dogs? Some times you have to do things that are unpleasant, but knowing you have it worked out, for when your time comes? Well, hopefully, it's a great comfort to you and most assuredly, the least you can do for your pets.

Snuggle Sunday

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Nick and Nora. Sam's cats. These two cats are just about the biggest cats I've ever seen. Nicky is not even fat, he's just gigantic. Nora, well, she's slowly slimming down, but still kinda-sorta looks like a baby seal at the right angle.

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Well, it's Sunday, folks, a perfect day for a long snuggle with the kitties, maybe read a good book with a cup of tea or coffee? Maybe a ripped, shirtless, guy would bring me some donuts, while I'm relaxing? Maybe he would also rub my feet for at least two hours (per foot). Then he would clean the house and prepare an elegant, delicious meal for me to enjoy, before he LEAVES.

Ah, Sunday. A day for dreams.

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