Super Pouffy

the DOOD falls down, goes boom

It started around Saturday. the DOOD wasn't eating well. I didn't notice because Sam usually feeds the cats (while I feed the foster cats). With everything going on with Jackson, we didn't notice the DOOD wasn't moving around much, either-until we looked back on it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting to see Dr. Larry.

By Monday, I did notice that DOOD was staying put in one place for most of the day. He won't get up to eat, but would eat if I brought him his food. He wasn't running around, jumping on Blitzen or bulldozing his way to get a piece of chicken before the others could reach it. DOOD wasn't even climbing into my lap to lick my face as he does just about every evening.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I cooked broccoli. Yes, that's how I cure disease. Okay, maybe not, but I knew DOOD would get up if he smelled the vegetable cooking. He didn't get up. I brought him the bowl filled with his favorite thing in the world. He was very interested in it and got up. I encouraged him to climb down from the cat tree onto the floor. He did so, but he did it slowly. I knew something was wrong, but not sure what it was.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

I saw DOOD take a few steps. I shot a quick video to document the problem. DOOD was limping very badly. He cried a little when he reached me. I tried to examine him after he had some broccoli, but he hissed, then nipped at my hand. He even growled.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Being a good boy with Dr. Larry and Super-Deb.

I felt the urge to panic, but fought it back. He's a very clumsy cat. When he runs, his back feet get out from under him all the time. When he wants to push the others out of the way to get a treat, he might overshoot where he's trying to jump and miss.

Recently he figured out there's a big covered bucket of kibble in the basement. It's for our feral cat, but he can pry the container open if he really tries. Sam found him inside the bucket gorging himself one night so he fortified access to the basement spiral staircase-then DOOD was injured a few days later.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, DOOD is high.

I fear DOOD fell down the spiral staircase.

I gave it a few days. DOOD seemed to act a bit brighter each day. Then yesterday morning the DOOD jumped onto the chair next to me. He began trembling from pain. I knew I was pushing my luck and called Dr. Larry. We had to wait until the afternoon, but we brought him in for an examination, blood work and x-rays.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Poor DOOD. He was very good with Dr. Larry and Super-Deb. He didn't make much of a fuss until Dr Larry touched the center of his spine-then he hissed and growled. I was very worried DOOD had a spinal cord injury, but then he wouldn't be able to walk, right? I also worried about an abscess that I missed finding. Something happened with Jackson because DOOD hissed at him and hid when Jackson was near him. Maybe there was a bite wound in DOOD's back?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Dr. Larry took a long time reviewing the x-rays. I got more worried as each minute ticked by. He came back into the exam room and motioned for Sam and I to follow him to the back where we could see the x-rays. Dr. Larry sighed. I started to imagine very bad news.

“I just can't find anything wrong.”

Next, Dr. Larry went over the x-rays, pointing out how he'd look for signs of an abscess-little wisps or lines passing through the skin where gas/air pockets were forming around the wound. None were found. Vertebrae looked good-intact. We looked at DOOD's right front paw and it was fine. Then we saw DOOD's heart and I almost fainted. I realized Dr. Larry brought up Jackson's X-ray on the screen! Right???!! RIGHT!..whew…

The blood work was normal. DOOD's temp was a bit high, but that could have been caused by stress. Bottom line-this was probably a fairly bad soft tissue injury. Rest and pain meds-which are tough to come by for cats-was prescribed. The choice, buprenex and aspirin-yes aspirin, but only twice over the next 4 days, but I'm not sure I can give that to him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waitin' to feel better. (with Nicky in the background)

DOOD is home, laying on the bed. He doesn't move much and his eyes seem glued open. I'm sure he's tripping out on the buprenex. I'll give him the aspirin tonight. He's not eating unless I put extra treats on his food and he growls when he has to walk. DOOD must have really twisted his back, but good. I wish he could talk to me and tell me where it hurts.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Zonked.

It's wait and see, like so many other health related problems with our cats. At least nothing is broken and DOOD does not require surgery. I hope that with some TLC and rest he'll be back to running around like a maniac.

Plus, my face needs a DOOD-special-bath.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

Bob Dole. The First Anniversary.

Grief: a 5-letter word that describes a facet of human emotion triggered by the loss of a loved one. How long grief lasts or how powerful its’ effects can’t be measured. For some, a loss is understandable, expected, perhaps only bittersweet. It’s a gentle feeling often accompanied by saying things like; “they’re in a better place” or “they’re no longer suffering.”

For me, after the loss of my cat Bob Dole, the grief comes in fierce waves; arriving not on tidal terms, but seemingly random ones that knock me to my knees. I don’t think Bob’s in a better place. Being with me was better. Now he’s just gone.

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob.

Bob died a year ago today after suffering from multiple forms of cancer which ravaged his FIV+ body. He died at home, with his family at his side. After he passed I went into a deep depression. Bob was my last living link to my Mother and now that was gone.

Bob had amazing charisma. Everyone recognized it when they met him. The second they heard his name was Bob Dole, they laughed, charmed by his silly name. Once they spent even a few moments with him, I could see the look on their face soften to one of utter adoration.

Bob was the kind of cat you just loved the second you met him. The cat purred all the time—this goofy, burbly, purr. Bob's last purr was a few hours before he died. I happened to have recorded the sound. I don't have the nerve to listen to it again, but I hope one day I can hear it and not be devastated.

Bob was in charge of all the cats and kept power until the last few months of his life. Bob was fearless from living for years outdoors, some of those on his own as a stray. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Bob wasn't neutered until he was well into adulthood. Though I am adamant that cats be spayed or neutered, I'm secretly glad there are probably baby Bob's out there somewhere.

Bob seemed more like a human wearing an orange long-haired coat, than he was a cat.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's favorite spot in the sun.

Grief grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you hard. It wakes you up or it makes you want to sleep until the feeling passes. Sadly, the feeling doesn’t really pass. It lies dormant, catching you off guard at odd times like on the first nice spring day when normally I’d put out the deck chairs and cushions so Bob would have a place to relax outside. I didn’t go out on the deck other than to fill the bird feeders. With Bob gone no one went out on the deck this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to set up the deck furniture. I didn’t want to set out the lime green cushions that reminded me of the color of Bob’s eyes. If I did that I knew I’d keep looking for him to appear, spread out on the chair, clearly loving life, not bothered to even look up if a bird flew right over his head.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Near the end, ravaged by ringworm, Bob was still beautiful to me.

As I get older, I find that there’s more grief in my life than love or happiness. Doing cat rescue there is so much grief over the loss of newborn kittens or knowing those cats you’re trying to rescue don’t make it out of the shelter alive. I know so many “cat people” that of course their cats pass away, too and I share in their loss.

Some of my friends have died. I don’t feel “that old” where my friends should pass away or get stricken with cancer (which triggers a whole other form of grief).

It’s been a year since Bob died. I honored him by rescuing an orange tabby cat I named Bobette, along with rescuing her six newborn kittens. Three of the kittens passed away within the first few days—a tragic loss after just losing Bob. The others did well and all the cats have since been adopted into great, loving homes.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Cat at animal control who would later become the beloved Kissy of Paws and Effect. Her surviving kittens, Jakey, Teddy & Mikey are about to celebrate their first birthday with their families.

My friend Warren, of Royal Bobbles, honored Bob by creating a custom “Bob-blehead” of him as a gift. It’s something I will always cherish.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shrine for Bob featuring the custom sculpted Bobblehead on the left.

I’d like to do something more to honor Bob. Perhaps I’ll start a special fund for him or rescue more orange tabby cats. I’d like to do something positive with all this pain, but it’s a struggle not to let depression take over.

The energy in the house just doesn’t feel “right” any more. I can’t explain it. It’s not as if I don’t have any cats. There was something I felt in my heart that’s gone. There’s a queer emptiness to the house. The places where I’d often find Bob are empty. I can’t get over the feeling of wishing he would come back or that I could see him again, in all his magnificent glory, when he was healthy and well.

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©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Not long after adopting him after my Mother passed away-Bob in his full glory.

Some people believe we see our loved ones again after we die. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know if that does happen that one day I will be covered in cat hair in heaven, too.

I miss you so much, Bob. I always will.

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part five

I think we all need a reason to smile after everything that transpired this week. It's fitting that I have some good news at last. A week after all Hell broke loose there are promising signs that things are changing for the better.

This morning ALL the cats showed up for breakfast. They sat in their usual places, near their food plate, clearly hungry. Though we're not feeding their regular diet, they were all receptive to the grain free canned food we put down. Each cat walked over to their plate, sniffed, then licked at the warm mound of food, tentatively, then with more gusto.

The cats I'd been most concerned about were Gracie and Petunia. They've eaten the least amount of food and been afflicted the longest. Knowing that they ate their breakfast was a tremendous relief. Perhaps the worst is over?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Meanwhile, my foster kittens "help" me make the bed in their room.

The PCR test results are not in yet, but we hope to have news that will guide us to an answer. We may never know what happened to our cats, but today I learned from our foster mom, Cyndie that some of her clients had similar problems with both their cats and dogs down in Georgia. Our cats had zero contact with these animals, so I wonder if there's an odd virus out there or this was just another red herring?

I'm still busted up about Spencer. He's feeling better and comes to me to tell me he's hungry every few hours. He's eating small meals, but eating with the enthusiasm he had before he fell ill. He hates getting ear drops, but he forgives me soon after I apply them. It was very lovely that so many people cared about him possibly having cancer. It means a lot to have such compassion and support when I felt like giving up. Thank you to everyone who shared their messages both here and on Facebook

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Human scratching post, NOT!

The silver lining began a week ago, before our cats began to get sick. My good friends Lynne and her husband, Steve, came over to visit my black foster kittens. It was their third visit, but this time I had a feeling they weren't going to leave empty handed.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fresh kittens ready to be adopted!

Steve had a cat named Clevie, who he rescued from a video rental store (which will give you a hint as to how long ago it was). Clevie was Steve's little girl and he loved her dearly. After he and Lynne married, Clevie became part of their kitty-family. Sadly, Clevie was diagnosed with cancer and a few weeks ago she passed away. Clearly this is not a time to adopt another cat.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You gotta sandwich there? Can I have a bite?

The first time the couple came to visit the kittens it was just for fun, but one kitten left a lasting impression. Lynne and Steve pushed their feelings aside, knowing it wasn't the right time.

After Clevie passed they came to visit the kittens again, but it was too soon. I couldn't push them to adopt and they were grieving. I think seeing the kittens helped cheer them up. Who can't smile when they see kittens being kittens?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A rare sight-kittens sleeping.

The third time they came to visit, they brought an empty cat carrier. The cat they'd fallen for was Cutie Patootie, partially because of her silly floppy, extra-toed feet and partially because she is very outgoing and loving. Cutie was the kitten I worried about most. I didn't think she'd survive her first few weeks and I was constantly bottle feeding her so she wouldn't have to compete with her five sisters for nourishment. Secretly, Cutie was my favorite and if she had to go, I was glad she was going with my friends. I'd get updates on her and even get to see her once in awhile. They're great people and so devoted to their cats. I couldn't ask for a better home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie.

Though Cutie would have two other adult kitties to play with, Lynne and Steve had other plans. They'd also fallen for Sabrina, the kitten with the cutest little black toes-the kitten with the goofy markings on her face. 'Brini was another gem, truly all the kittens of this litter are extremely loving kitties. When they offered to adopt Sabrina, I was delighted. The girls would always have each other and be in a loving home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina, growing up fast and looking lovelier than ever.

We did the paperwork and got the kittens ready to go. I gave them a quick kiss on the head and wished them happy journeys. For once, I didn't even cry when they left since it wasn't really saying goodbye, it was just saying goodbye for now. I knew I'd see them again one day.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve & Lynne with their new kitties.

-------------------One week later-----------------------

The girls have new names. 'Brini is now Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies), and Cutie is now Neko Case (Neko Case is a wild haired singer and just Neko means “cat” in Japanese). I'm told they're doing great, eating like piggies and keep trying to bust out of their room (just as they did here every day!). They can't wait to meet their new kitty family and be able to race all over the house to their heart's content.

-------------------Breaking News!-----------------------

Boogie, the feral kitten I was working with is doing better, but he won't be coming back here again. One of the Vet Techs where he's staying is going to give him a forever home and work with him to help him out of his shell! His brother, Otis, is getting adopted in a few hours by a young family and I've offered to take Milo and put him with my girls so he can have company until we find him a forever home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Otis is getting adopted today!

-------------------And More Good News!-----------------------

Update on KING: King is able to go UP AND DOWN the stairs in his new home! Not only that but his mama-Judy reported the following about King meeting the alpha cat-Yasmin: “At one point she was lying on my bedroom floor - she sort of lies on her side with all her legs stretched out in front of her - and King Arthur lay down in almost exactly the same pose about 2 feet away from her, they looked like bookends, it was cute. Then he kept looking at her, and he'd scootch over a little to be closer to her - then he would wait a minute and do it again. This went on for maybe 5 minutes until they were maybe 6 inches apart. I kept waiting for her to jump up and bop him one, but she didn't do anything - I'm sure she knew he was there even though her eyes were closed. If they were people, I'd say it was like a little kid trying to get closer so they could hang out next to the cool teenager (or cool old lady in this case). So they just napped there together for a little while - I thought that was kind of a breakthrough.”

I believe we have a Silver lining on quite a few or our dark clouds. It's been a Hell of a week. I wonder what will come next?

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part four

Day six has drawn to a close. I can't sleep. My heart is broken. It's not that I even feel the need for it ever to be “repaired-” if such a thing is possible. While I was working on the story of my cats falling ill, another story began to form. Stories that follow along with a real person's life don't transpire in tidy little packages, so here I stop to inject something else before I get back to the mystery ailment.

Two nights ago I found a small, odd looking black growth on the edge of Spencer's right ear. In my foggy memory, I believe I saw it long ago, thought about running Spencer to the Vet, got sidetracked and forgot. There it was, this rubbery, creepy mass, well hidden by the dark fur along the cap of Spencer's head.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Back at the Vet for a second time.

At first I thought it was a tick, then realized there were two masses, one “tick sized” and the other much smaller. I knew this was something that Dr. Larry needed to take a look at so yesterday morning I took Spencer back to the Vet for the second time in less than a week.

Super Deb entered the exam room first. After working with Spencer the other day, she realized that he was calmer if we didn't cover him during procedures. She got to work taking his temperature and he was basically calm. He had no fever.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The growth was easily overlooked. Follow the left edge of Spencer's ear. Where the fur gets dark you'll see a tiny black area where there is no fur. That's the growth. It's just right of center of the photo.

She weighed him and he'd lost 4 ounces in five days. Not surprising, but a reminder to keep him eating as much as he wanted while he recovers from his illness. His fluffy rear end, which had become soiled yellow from having diarrhea, was looking cleaner. Perhaps he was feeling better?

Dr. Larry entered the room and I was relieved to see him now that he's back from his vacation. He's been my Vet for more years than I can remember. Though we may not always agree on things, he's open minded and in return I'm very respectful of him. We've had some difficult discussions about my choice to feed a raw diet to my cats. It's unfortunate that even now I have to be on the “down low” about it, but there is so much fear mongering going on about it that it's just easier not to talk about it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. She didn't even buy him dinner first! Spencer gets his temperature taken.

On this day we HAD to talk about it. He approached the topic carefully. I felt myself taking a step back, crossing my arms over my chest as he spoke. What is sickening my cats could have been caused by the raw food. Though rare, salmonella could be a culprit, yet we did NOT see any indications in the blood work to show us it was a possibility. It could be e.coli or other bacterial culprits. To really know for certain, Dr. Larry asked if we could get a stool sample on Spencer and run a PCR test on it. Though expensive, running over $200.00, the test would show us what was causing the diarrhea. If we could manage, he wanted a sample from Nicky, as well. Using that information we could get a better picture of what happened and how to NOT let it happen again-IF it's something we can control.

I said yes to the test and I told Dr. Larry that we stopped feeding raw the day the cats got sick. We've discussed how we prep the food and saw some minor things we can and will correct. We're going to throw out the litter pans and start anew. We've been feeding raw for many years and the cats have NEVER gotten sick, but in case we did something to cause this, we will find a way to do right by them.

Before we went too much further down this path we agreed it might still be something else and NOT the food.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least he's starting to eat again.

Then Dr. Larry examined Spencer's ear. He measured it and said it measured out larger then he expected. He didn't “like the look of it” and said we should remove it. He looked at Spencer's teeth and mentioned Spencer really needed a dental cleaning. I asked him to look into Spencer's ears because I noticed they appeared a bit dirty.

Spencer fussed and hissed angrily as Dr Larry looked into his ears. The right was dirty and irritated. Dr. Larry told me that some times cats can have an over production of a greasy residue in their ears. The ear gets dirty and very itchy. Certainly Spencer would need drops to get him feeling more comfortable.

Next, Dr. Larry looked at Spencer's left ear. As Spencer fussed, Dr. Larry adjusted the angle of the scope. He stopped for a second and removed the scope.

“There's another mass in Spencer's ear. It's very small, but I think we need to get in there and remove it.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Measuring the growth.

I felt a lump form in my throat. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I brought my cat to the Vet to look at this weird thing on his ear. Hopefully it was just a funky benign mole or something, but with the discovery of a second growth I knew what that could mean and I didn't know if I could get the words out to ask the question.

“Is this cancer? Does Spencer have CANCER?”

Dr. Larry has this serious expression I've seen too many times before. He had it when he examined Bob's belly and said it didn't feel right. It turned out Bob had a cancerous tumor engulfing half his liver. Dr. Larry never makes light of a diagnosis like this. Being conservative and I'm sure not wanting to upset me, he would only answer; “I don't like the look of this. It could be benign, but…”

He said if it was cancer that the rule of thumb would be to excise enough tissue to get a clean margin. It would mean removing Spencer's ear or ears. It was too much to imagine. I had to keep it together. I said if it was malignant, what was the point of cutting his ears off? His lovely little elfin ears…how could I do that to him? We didn't talk much beyond that. It was too soon to go down that road.

First Spencer had to get well and recover from whatever was causing his gastric issues. We'd schedule a dental and surgery for sometime near the end of the month. He wished me well and left to attend to the next patient. I put Spencer back into his cat carrier and went to the lobby to pay the bill, not sure I could get out of the clinic without bursting into tears.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My little pouff-waiting, wondering and scared.

Although I have no idea how I'm going to pay for this surgery, I will find a way. The overriding thought in my mind as I waited to hand over my credit card was; this can't be cancer. I just lost a cat to cancer 11 months ago. I just watched my dear Bob slowly die over the course of a horrible year. I can't go through that again.

I can't go through that with SPENCER. He's only 11 years old. He's the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair. He's my love, my dear friend.

I thought about what my lawyer said to me on the phone when we were talking about a car accident I was in two years ago. The case is either going to be settled or go to trial. He asked me my age, then told me the insurance company figures that based on my current age I have 29 more years to live which is how they will base my settlement offer. At first it really bothered me that there's a computer program that bets on how long I'll live. After we ended our conversation, I started to think maybe that was too many more years; more years of witnessing the pain and suffering of my dear cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the exam, Spencer sat in the window, trying to regain his composure after being poked and prodded.

Last night Spencer came over to me as I laid in bed. He did his little routine of laying on my arm, with his fluffy ruff in my face, purring loudly next to my ear. I tried to hold back, but I began to sob. I wondered how many more nights we would have together like this-where he is himself, not broken or wasting away. He is my beloved cat and together we have a simple joy that is deeply profound.

Spencer got up and walked to the end of the bed. I gave up trying to sleep, got up and went downstairs to my office and began to write. Between writing and tears I heard a sound. I turned to look and Spencer was there in his cat bed next to me. He was purring away like nothing was wrong.

I hope he's right.

-----------------

The PCR test results are due in a day or two. I won't know about Spencer until we biopsy the mass towards the end of the month. The sliver lining has to do with a surprise adoption. Find out who it was and about their forever family in the next installment (unless something ELSE happens first).

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part two

German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said; “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”After enduring the past four days I would add; “That which does not kill us, makes us eat a bag of Lays Wavy Potato Chips and a container of French Onion dip—and feel no guilt in doing so.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You can tell from Nicky's posture that he doesn't feel well.

Nicky was the camel and white colored canary in the coal mine. It started on Friday. Nicky wasn't “right.” He wouldn't eat and he vomited. As I was about to brush my teeth, I heard the sound of water running. I turned to see Nicky urinating on the floor a few feet away from me. A few hours later, he walked over to the base of a cat tree and began to urinate on it-not even stopping as I started to scream, unable to reach him through the jungle of furniture blocking my way. I was jumping up and down like a two year old having a tantrum. I had no effect on his eliminating. He just kept peeing. There was no way to get to him from where I was standing so all I could was watch him ruin something else.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. With Dr. C and Super-Deb.

Nicky has Chronic Renal Failure and has been known to get urinary tract infections (as I wrote about HERE). Clearly something was WRONG. Dr. Larry was out of town until Monday so I made an appointment to bring him in then. I HATE it when Dr. Larry goes away because we often seem to have an emergency when he's not available. As the day wore on, Nicky grew weaker. I took his temperature. It was 103.2°F. He had a fever. We couldn't wait until Monday.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fun at the Emergency Vet…and this was the cost to basically have them hook up the IV to Nicky's catheter (which was in place already) and giving him a place to lay in over night.

Dr. C examined Nicky and took his temperature again. It was over 104°F. They took some blood and did an in-house test. The good news was that basically the values did not indicate something terrible was going on-like kidney failure or high white blood count, which would show he had an infection. The bad news was that we didn't know what was going on but with a fever on the rise we agreed he should be on an IV. The Vet closed in two hours so they could get him started, but we'd have to move him to the Emergency Vet to continue treatment overnight.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Portait of a sick kitty.

Sam and I cringed. Hearing “Emergency Vet” means huge expense. How were we going to pay for all of this? How could we not? We HAD to find a way. Both of us were panicking. We had to wait and see how Nicky would respond to treatment first before we'd even know if he needed to be moved.

Nicky's temperature when to 105.1°F. After two hours it went down to about 103°F so there was a chance a few more hours of treatment would benefit him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Another Vet, another examination with Sam reaching out to comfort his cat.

It would have been somehow manageable if we only had to help Nicky, but after getting him settled at the Emergency Vet and putting another charge on my AmEx, we discovered he wasn't the only cat who was not feeling well.

With all the commotion going on with Nicky, I didn't get to pay as much attention to the others cats as I would have liked. Even with that, I did notice something out of the ordinary. When we got home around 7pm, I realized I hadn't seen Spencer ALL DAY. I knew he hadn't eaten his breakfast. He's not always a fan of turkey, but this cat always shows up for a meal.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky with Sam.

Sam and I tore through the house, calling out to Spencer. The longer it took, the more I started to panic. Had he gotten outside? Was he stuck in a closet? Spencer has no real meow, so he couldn't cry to us for help. Where the heck was he? Why wasn't he showing up for dinner? Now that I thought about it, where were the rest of the cats? None of them were hungry and waiting by their food dishes. Something was wrong. Something bad.

Sam found Spencer in the basement, which is very tough area for the cats to get into. For Spencer to not be near me or near any of us was a bad sign. Spencer wouldn't eat his dinner. In fact most of the cats were off their food. I told myself there was no need to panic. No one would die without eating for a day.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky at the Emergency Vet hooked up to his Heska VetIV 2.2

The next morning we got the news that Nicky's fever broke and he'd eaten a small amount of food. He was ready to come home. The news should have been cause for celebration, but Spencer had vanished again and I knew he had to go to the Vet, too. It wasn't a big, obvious sign of sickness but it's so out of the ordinary I had to make sure he wasn't sick, too.

Again I started to panic. We'd just spent so much money on Nicky, would anything be left for Spencer? I was angry and resentful, all stemming from the fear that I wouldn't be able to do for Spencer what we just did for Nicky. If Spencer was ailing, I HAD to do something for him, but my own Vet refused to just give me antibiotics without seeing the cat firstI realized they were right, but I was truly hurting. There's dust in my bank account. I thought about home remedies and trying to avoid a Vet visit, but Spencer was due for blood work and a checkup anyway. If I could avoid hospitalizing him, I'd be able to have the exam and tests for done, but I couldn't do much more.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Saying good night to Nicky.

I took Spencer's temperature. It was 102.3°F which put him in the range to be percolating a fever. I was really missing Dr. Larry and wishing I didn't have to see Dr. C, but he'd seen Nicky so he could compare the cat's symptoms.

The exam went fairly well. The Vet retained use of his fingers. Spencer's not the easiest cat to mess with and he gets crabby if he's at the Vet. I warned the staff and fussed over Dr. C, worried he'd get bitten. Spencer was pretty good-for Spencer. They managed to get some blood and sent it out for testing. Since we didn't know what was going on the Vet suggested putting him on antibiotics “just in case,” but I won't do that without having a darn good reason. It could make whatever is going on even worse. I'd do the best I could for Spencer until we had the test results.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky being a good boy, as usual.

I started making charts and lists of each cat-if they ate, if so, what they ate. I was looking for a pattern. I began to have suspicions that Gracie, Petunia and Jackson were also getting sick based on my notes about them not eating and their behavior. I knew I'd just had Boogie in the house. He was separated from my cats and I washed my hands and showered after I was with him, even though I didn't touch the kitten until the last day he was here. Boogie was VERY sick, but he had an upper respiratory infection, not something potentially gastrointestinal. What was going on?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hiding under the bed between two storage containers-not a good sign.

Feeding time was bizarre, maybe one or two cats showed up for their food. The others weren't even in the vicinity. I'm so accustomed to the energy of feeding time, the cats circling, meowing, the sound of them lapping at their food. It was too quiet. My babies weren't eating. My fear factor increased tenfold.

Did I bring something into the house to sicken them? How was I going to be able to provide more and more Vet care for ALL my cats at the SAME TIME? How was I going to keep each one alive? Some of them are very tough to handle. How could I help them survive whatever was going on?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor, sweet baby, Spencer-the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair.

Saturday night the mood in the house was downright miserable. Nicky stopped eating again. of course, the benefits of the IV wore off. Whatever he had, whatever Spencer and the others may have was not going to just go away. We had to buckle down and figure something out. The clock was ticking. The spector of Hepatic Lipidosis was hanging over our heads. If the cats didn't start eating soon, they could all sicken and die. This is why you can't put a cat on a diet. This is why if you don't get some food into the cat after four days, your cat could enter a whole new world of pain.

We were approaching day three. Time was running out and we had more questions than we had answers….

Stay tuned for part three next..and YES, there IS a silver lining coming…

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It's Good Mews for Miss Fluffy Pants Part 2 of 2

Not even a day passed and I got the confirmation. Good Mews would take MissFP into their Program and find her a forever home! Could we bring Miss FP to them in two days?

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©2012 Maria S. and Chris Cumpton (inset). Meet Macadamia. She was living at an apartment complex with 8 other cats. People where throwing rocks at them and one hit them with a tennis racket. If that wasn't bad enough, they were being poisoned. Mac was VERY lucky to be rescued from this awful place. Mac is NOT on Petfinder just yet, but if you CALL GOOD MEWS they can give you more info on this young lady. She's spayed and LOVES to be loved and sit on your lap. What more could you want?

On Saturday, Maria brought MissFP to Good Mews Animal Foundation in Marietta, Georgia. Little did I know how VERY lucky we all were that Good Mews offered us a placement. I had no idea that Good Mews has been in operation for over 24 years and is the oldest, cage-free, No-Kill cat shelter in Georgia. Since they opened their doors, Good Mews has placed over 6,500 cats into loving homes!

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©2012 Maria S.

Not only that, but Good Mews has special programs that help Seniors, called Golden Companions and another helps cats with special needs called HALO (Home at Last), which I found extraordinary. Not only do HALO cats get the extra care they need while at Good Mews, but Good Mews pays for the Vet Care of these cats AFTER they get adopted! On their web site it states:

“HALO cats are typically overlooked for adoption because of age, ongoing medical conditions or behavioral issues - the most common reasons beyond euthanasia at traditional animal shelters. Funds designated to this program help pay for the ongoing medical care of these cats while they wait for AND once they find their perfect home. ”

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©2012 Maria S. This is where Miss FP will go after her initial quarantine period is over until she's ready to join the other cats in the main room.

One very special kitty at Good Mews is named Tricky. She's a plump gray and white shorthair whose life has been far from easy. Tricky lived in a home with other cats and a couple. The man was a very bad person.

When his girlfriend told him to leave he got angry and in a fit of rage, shot and killed almost all the cats in the home with the exception of Tricky. Tricky survived but was paralyzed, losing all control of her hind legs and her bodily functions.

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©2012 Maria S. Meeting Tricky.

Most shelters would “humanely euthanize” Tricky because her care would be too taxing on the volunteers and who would ever adopt a cat who needs to be helped to evacuate her bowels twice a day?

Good Mews is NOT that kind of shelter. They did right by Tricky and not only gave her a place to live for the rest of her life if need be, but they help her do her thing, then they give her a bath every day, twice a day. She gets around just fine without her back legs-at least that's what she would tell you.

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©2012 Maria S. She may have been shot and is now paralyzed, but Tricky doesn't let anything get her down.

Tricky is so beloved she has her very own page on Facebook. If you're lucky, she'll accept your friend request!

Is she looking for a forever home? I'm not sure about that. Is there someone who would be able to provide for her and give her the special care she'd need every single day? I think there are some very special people out there who could give her what she needs and if that person is reading this blog post and Tricky captures your heart, please DO contact Good Mews and talk to them about her or offer to make a donation towards her care.

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©2012 Good Mews Animal Foundation. Bud is another cat who is overlooked at the shelter. They say: “Bud and his sister Taylor came to Good Mews when their family lost their home. Bud is one of the most beautiful cats you will ever see. He is a little shy right now, but will easily come around when he knows he has a loving family again. I guess if I lost the only home I had ever known, I would be a little wary too! He gets along great with other cats and is seeking a home with a family that loves him and some kitty friends to pal around with! Will you be the one to brighten Bud’s day?” Bud is a HALO cat! so his Vet care for life is included with his adoption (for qualified adopters). Here's his Petfinder listing.

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©2012 Good Mews Animal Foundation. No one wants Meryl. “Meryl is a very sweet girl that would really benefit from a forever home. Meryl is a bit on the overweight side and being in a home, her new family can help her maintain her weight. At the shelter we have to keep food out at all times so it is hard to keep Meryl on a diet. It is not healthy for cats to be overweight and we worry about Meryl.
Meryl has a playful side to her and enjoys running around the shelter and loves toys and the feather wand. ”

For a list of other available cats, visit Good Mews Petfinder Page

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©2012 Maria S. Maria & MissFP say farewell.

Maria visited with many of the cats looking for forever homes at Good Mews until it was time to help MissFP get settled into her new digs. For the first two weeks MissFP would have to reside in a cage, but it's spacious and light filled and rumors are that since MissFP didn't come from a municipal shelter or from the outdoors that her quarantine period might be shortened. In no time at all MissFP would be able to roam freely around the large main area where she'll be able to look out big windows, climb many different cat trees or simply lounge on a cat bed.

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©2012 Maria S. Getting settled in her new home.

I worried that MissFP would react badly to the new environment, but she was unfazed. Maria placed her into a cat bed and MissFP “made muffins”, then settled down. Maria even got her to eat, so it was a good sign that she was going to be okay. Before Maria left, she leaned down to kiss Miss FP good bye and Miss gave her a head butt as her way of saying “thank you for not giving up on me and for giving me a loving home. I'm ready to take the next part of my journey to find a forever home with these good people.”

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©2012 Maria S. Miss FP in her temporary quarantine space.

I'm usually the person who offers to take a cat in and help them find a home. This time I needed the help and I'm VERY GRATEFUL to Michelle and the staff at Good Mews for offering this placement to us.

Help me THANK Good Mews by visiting them on Facebook and let them know we appreciate what they do or, if you can, please consider donating to one of their many life-saving programs. MAKE SURE YOU MENTION COVERED IN CAT HAIR WHEN YOU DONATE. THERE'S A SPACE CALLED "OTHER" IN THE DONATION FORM WHERE YOU CAN ADD THAT INFORMATION. Here's a list of ways you can donate.

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©2012 Good Mews Animal Foundation. It's not fancy (yet), but one day this building will be Good Mews' new home after it gets refurbished.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP: Good Mews bought a building! It's just a shell right now, but their dream is to get it set up and ready to go by the end of 2013. Wish list items include gift cards for any amount for Lowes or Home Depot, gift cards so they can purchase bird feeders and seed, decorative benches for their new yard. The sooner they can open, the sooner Good Mews will be able to help 150 cats!

You don't need money to help! Do you live in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area? Do you know people there? Are you a landscaper? Do you KNOW one? Do you have gardening skills? Do you like to paint walls? Even if you can't offer a financial donation, they also need people to help do the work to get their facility completed. If your Church group could donate a weekend of time or if your softball team could spend a day helping, it could make all the difference.

Email Robbin if you'd like more information about volunteering. robbiny@fairgreen.com

If you like to go shopping, visit their Good Mews Cafe Press Store. All your purchases go to helping provide for their cats.

-----------------UPDATE------------------------

Michelle just contacted me and let me know that MissFP is doing well and is still giving headbutts to the volunteers and making muffins on her bed. We wish her good luck and that her forever family finds her very soon!

And…it looks like Clover had her first NEGATIVE test result for Feline Leukemia. It's not a “for sure“ yet, but crossing fingers, this kitty may have very good news soon!

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It's Good Mews for Miss Fluffy Pants Part 1 of 2

Just before Valentine's Day we took in a friendly stray kitty who was living outdoors at a Palette Factory in McDonough, GA. Our volunteer, Bobby, who alerted us to this kitty's plight, asked me to name her so the Vet could get her spayed and create her medical records. I called her Miss Fluffy Pants, thinking I'd change the name later, but the name stuck.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford. MissFP at her former "home" at the Palette Factory.

You can read more MissFP's back story HERE, but the short version is, MissFP has FIV+ which basically turned this sweet kitty into a rescue-roadblock for us. My rescue, Kitten Associates, doesn't have a lot of resources and space in my one foster home in Georgia is at a minimum. If I couldn't find MissFP a home, she'd take the only space we had and prevent us from helping any more cats until we helped her. That meant saying no to the requests I got to help kittens who are being born in the thousands in the south.

I asked around and got a lot of “sorry, no's” then East Coast Maine Coon Rescue was willing to do a courtesy post about her, but we didn't get any applications. I asked other big shelters in Georgia and didn't even get a reply. FIV+ cats, though the virus is not easily spread from cat to cat (only through a deep, penetrating bite wound), makes them tough to adopt. Add to that MissFP is black-which especially in the south makes it even harder to find her a home.

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©2012 Maria S. Miss Fluffy Pants.

The goal, as it is with ALL our foster cats, was to figure out a way to get her to my home and hopefully find her a placement in Connecticut, but I was getting requests to help local kittens and I had to say yes. MissFP would have to wait and so would our other adult cat, King. Because King so easy going Maria allowed him to share space in her home with her resident cats and it wasn't a problem for him to remain there for longer than usual. MissFP spent her days in a bathroom behind a closed door while Maria was at work. It wasn't a great life for MissFP and I felt terrible about it.

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©2012 Maria S. A good sign ahead...

I kept looking for help or a home for MissFP. I did NOT want her to go to a sanctuary, never to have a forever home. MissFP loves people and is okay with other cats, but prefers humans. For a short time I thought we found a forever home right in Atlanta for MissFP, but the person backed out at the last minute-just hours before MissFP was going to be taken to her new home. We were all devastated. MissFP went back to her cat tree in the bathroom and I went back to scratching my head, feeling torn between resentment and anger at myself. I loved MissFP even if it was only from afar and I didn't care that she had FIV+, I just wanted her to have a loving home, but it just wasn't happening.

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©2012 Maria S. The interior at Good Mews.

I was resigned to the fact that MissFP was ours for a long time to come and many little kittens were never going to see the light of day because our foster space was full. That's just how it was. It wasn't MissFP's fault. Even if she wasn't in our Program, we'd still only be able to help one litter of kittens at a time.

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©2012 Maria S. How true.

I got an email from Michelle, one of the Board of Directors at Good Mews. She wondered if I could help her find a rescue or sanctuary to help a cat named Clover who was testing positive for Feline Leukemia. I did what I could and gave her some suggestions. For the heck of it I asked her if there was any way she could help me with MissFP. Her answer shocked me. She had to check with some of the staff, but she was pretty sure they COULD HELP US! She'd write me back to confirm. All I had to do was WAIT and hold my breath. Was this the answer we'd been searching for for so long?

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©2012 Maria S. I think they understand what Jackson Galaxy refers to when he talks about the importance of building a “cat superhighway.”

At the time I didn't know much about Good Mews, other than that they were one of the biggest cat rescues in Georgia and that they help rescues out of state, too. They have the manpower and sometimes they have the space to take on another cat to the 100 or so currently in residence.

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©2012 Maria S. The view from within.

After hearing rumors that another huge cat shelter in Georgia shut down intake due to having 150 kittens, I was flat out stunned that Good Mews would even consider taking on MissFP. Not only that, but they were just as careful about placing their cats as I was.

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©2012 Maria S. One of the cat's at Good Mews who's looking for a great home. This is HoneyBee on Petfinder!

I felt like I let MissFP down. It's a failure for us to not be able to find Miss FP a forever home, but it's always been difficult for us to place adults. Take Mazie for example. She was here for 14 months before she got her forever home. I know I shouldn't beat myself up, but I still feed badly. I'll never get to meet MissFP nor have the joy of meeting her new family. I will, however, be glad knowing that we have space in Maria's home for the 3 kittens she rescued last month. They'll no longer have to live in a ferret cage, but will have decent space to run and play.

Now if Good Mews would just call and tell me their answer is YES!

To be continued…

UPDATE: Connecticut Cats Left Behind After Owner Dies

Yesterday, I put out an urgent plea for help. Two adult cats were left behind when their Guardian took her life. The story touched me on many levels, but the biggest one is that I've lost two family members to suicide and I understand the impact very sincerely. What I could not have anticipated was the enormous number of people who came forward to offer to help these cats in whatever way they could; from offering donations, a foster home, a forever home as far away as Colorado! It's left me with a very full heart and the cats have a hopeful future. I clearly see-

There is nothing we cannot accomplish when we work together.

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Marmadlade. Hopefully will be looking much happier in the coming days.

I am VERY PROUD of the local rescue community. Everyone jumped in and got the word out and everyone pulled strings to find a way to fit in two more cats into their rescue or shelter. Janine from Friends of Felines took the lead on this rescue and is coordinating everything. I'm making her nuts by sending her everyone's offers to help. ROAR in Ridgefield, CT will be taking Marmalade. Any inquiries to adopt should be sent to them AFTER Thursday, April, 26th.

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Shadow. I'm still waiting to hear the final plans, but there are many offers to help this kitty.

Details on where Shadow is going are not finalized yet, but there are a few offers from rescues to help and some rescues have great adopters who may be able to provide these kitties a home. Kitty Angels of Coventry stepped up with an offer to take one or both cats, but it's not confirmed just yet. It will take some time to sort out, but it looks like these cats are safe and it looks like there are a great number of people who are dedicated to making sure their remaining days are happy, safe and full of love; no more sadness and heartbreak for them.

GREAT JOB EVERYONE!!!! WE ALL MADE THIS HAPPEN! Let's save some more lives!

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My Broccoli

I was making chicken stew from scratch. I don't have a true recipe and was just making it up as I was going along. I decided I wanted to do something different so I prepped some mushrooms, onion, carrots, peas and BROCCOLI to add to the stew. I had a bag of frozen broccoli, so I microwaved to get it thawed out and ready to add to the stew. The package was a “steamer bag” and to open it, you just rip the top off and it sits upright until you empty it out.

Of course with all the cooking, the cats were hovering close by-too close in some cases. It was a constant battle to keep them out of the food as it was being cooked. I figured I didn't have to worry about the cats getting into the chopped carrots, peas or open bag of broccoli sitting on the counter as I stood by the stove stirring the cooking meat…until…

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Is it true? Is the DOOD hooked on the green monster?

…I heard a sound. I turned in time to catch the DOOD, standing on the top of the lidded garbage can. His back legs were on the can and his front were on the counter! A big no-no! What was worse was catching him as he pulled his head OUT of the bag of broccoli, in his mouth a huge floret!

I scolded him but he was too busy running off into a corner of the kitchen, fiercely growling the entire time. What the HECK was going on? Broccoli? Really?

The rest is history…


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't $#&^!! with the DOOD's Broccoli!

Needless to say there wasn't any broccoli in the stew. I did save the bag of broccoli to test on the other cats. It was very odd. None of them wanted it, but the DOOD, the DOOD will chase me around the house to get at HIS BROCCOLI!

Don't $#@$!! with the DOOD's broccoli!

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If you didn't already hear the news, the DOOD has his very OWN Facebook page! Make sure you stop by and visit him! https://www.facebook.com/HisRoyalDOODness

 

And the Oscar for Best Hiss in a Motion Picture Goes to...

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A still from the Oscar-nominated film: “The Nightmare on Cat Bed Street”

Spencer, the Mascot of Covered in Cat Hair, has reached a new zenith in acting. Not only does he portray an innocent sleeping cat (which anyone who knows him knows he is FAR from innocent), but he reveals a level of raw emotion rarely captured on film.

I hope you'll be as moved as I was when I first screened, The Nightmare on Cat Bed Street…Enjoy!


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson

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