I had a blast kittensitting for my friends at Animals in Distress last week. Their five frisky felines were very friendly and joyful. It was pure delight to be around them-until, of course, they decided it would be fun to climb up my legs! Yes, they all need a CLAW TRIM! Aunt Connie came to get them on Sunday. I was sad to see them go, but it just makes me look forward to getting The Angel Babies and Bob's Pumpkin Patch kittens in the coming weeks.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Uh oh...the zombie kittens are back!
I have a bit of an exciting and surprising update to share. After scratching my head for months, trying to figure out how to approach local Vets to help my rescue, Kitten Associates, a Vet sort of fell (figuratively) into my lap.
It seems that someone who runs a rescue where I used to volunteer is mis-behaving rather badly by having an affair with the husband of one of her current volunteers! The news was quickly spread all over town by the jilted wife/volunteer with such passion that I felt like I needed to duck and hide once I heard the news. Without going into details (there are lots of other issues going on that I can't speak about that make this situation a bit more touchy) or pointing fingers, let's just say that one of the repercussions of these events was that one of the local vets said he didn't want to work with this person's rescue group any longer.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
When I heard this news I thought either the Vet would NEVER want to work with another rescue group again, or that perhaps he just didn't want the emotional issues to deal with, but would need time to want to help out again. Feeling rather desperate to find a low-cost Vet, I thought the worst thing he could do was say NO if I asked for his help.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. How not to weigh the kittens..or maybe just divide by two?
What surprised me was that before I could even try to pitch why he should work with us, he said, YES! He just wants to help cats. He's willing to donate some time to K.A. every month. During that time he won't charge me an office visit and will help reduce costs across the board for vaccinations, spay surgeries and anything else. I wanted to cry, but he didn't even want thanks. I offered to help him by doing design work for him at a reduced rate and he didn't need it. He just wants to help a rescue, so he's going to help us.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
Do I feel a bit creepy about asking this Vet to help us? Yes, but the future of K.A. depends on us being able to make the most of the donations we get. Because of this Vet's help, I was able to rescue two more local kittens. I have to remind myself, to paraphrase the words of this Vet, it's all about the animals and their well being. The politics and B.S. we can both do without.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Intercepted!
The interesting/challenging aspect of our arrangement is that if I ask him to spay/neuter a cat, that I HAVE TO ACT AS HIS VET TECHNICIAN. This means, shaving the girl's belly, holding them while they get their anesthesia shot, helping with them after they are out of surgery and whatever else is needed. I was told I don't have to watch the surgery-thank GOODNESS! There are things I can do and things I can learn, but there are some things I just can't do. When I have a loving connection to my foster kittens, the last thing I want to see is them knocked out and being sliced open.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible kitty motorcycle rider takes a wicked turn.
Tomorrow is my first time helping neuter the three boys in this litter of black or black and white kittens! Max, Ruby (mis-named!) and Spot are ready to go. Because these are A.I.D. kittens, and I'm sharing resources with them, their Aunt Connie is going to be a Vet Tech, too. We're both going to learn about what's needed. I have to be ready for next month when the two little girls I rescued will need to be spayed. Scared? Yes, a bit. I'm Hoping I don't mess up or irritate the Vet. He's doing so much for us. I wish there was something I could do to thank him!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Stuck to the cat toy?
I guess my thanks will be to show up on time, do a good job and not cry like a baby when I see the kittens come out of surgery!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ooo! Smells like roses!
I can't help but feel weird about all of this, but in time it will sort itself out. Just so you know, the group that lost their Vet has at least two others they work with, maybe three, so this doesn't hurt them as much at it might appear on the surface.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Off with her head!
By the way, ALL THE KITTENS FEATURED HERE ARE AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION! They're located in southern Fairfield County, Connecticut. Visit AID's web site for adoption information.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeeeee!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten wants your brainz!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shy flyer.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Super stretch!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Riding an invisible rocket.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. On no! Zombie kitten on the warpath!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Umm...detachable legs?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Excuse me, but would you please pet me?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten tries to use the force to move the cat toy closer.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombie kitten don't give a squat! Just walks over victim on to next plate full of brainz.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Zombiezzzzzzzzz!
When what ails your cat isn't clearly defined, it's easy to lean on your Vet and assume they know all the answers. They can decide what should be done next-that's their job, right? What I'd like to suggest is you don't let them call the shots-ever-without being your cat's biggest advocate. You know your cat better than anyone else how your cat behaves-how well they eat-if they are using the litter pan and their output is normal or not. Your Vet has MANY other patients to deal with, a life to live, other distractions. It doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing, but it does mean that they don't have the time to spend endless hours on your cat's case, alone. When it comes to your cat's health care, you must be prepared to push back, ask questions and offer reminders and suggestions to your Vet to help him/her solve the case.
The longer I do cat rescue and experience health issues with fosters as well as my own cats, the more I realize that it helps my Vet if I understand the pieces to my cat's health “puzzle” as much as I can. Overlook something and that might be the one thing that ties everything together. I may not understand cat's physiology the way my Vet does, but I can provide anecdotal information and I can be the one to remember my cat's health history when my Vet might miss something while reviewing my cat's file.
Before we visited Dr Weisman this morning, I made a list of every question I had, plus I thought about Nicky's past health issues. Dr. Weisman didn't have a complete picture of Nicky's life and it was up to us to provide that to her because whatever is ailing Nicky is not blatantly obvious.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Weisman to arrive.
It made me think of a few suggestions to share about going to the Vet. Maybe some of them will help you when you have to bring your cat to the Vet.
1. Keep a folder of your cat's health records. Sounds obvious, but if you have to look something up, it's there. If you want to compare blood work from one year to the next or can't remember if your cat was ever tested for Bartonella it's there. Yes, you can call your Vet and they should know, but what if your Vet is closed and you need to go to the Emergency Vet?
2. Do your best to understand and be able to recall every treatment and condition your cat has ever had. If you have to make a cheat sheet of notes, do that. I seem to have a good memory for what each cat has been through, so I just sit quietly and think about it and jot down questions for my Vet based on the cat's past history and include the details of his or her past I think are important to underscore.
3. Don't let your Vet tell you what to do without clearly understanding the pros and cons of what is being done. It's nice when they offer to give your cat a shot of Convenia so you don't have to give it pills, but is Convenia the RIGHT antibiotic for your cat? Should your cat even GET an antibiotic? What about other medications other treatments? Understanding is so important. In the heat of the moment, some times you don't have the luxury of looking up what side effects or dangers are in a certain medication, but if you do have time, then LOOK IT UP. Be smart. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure your Vet remembers those details about your cat that he or she may have missed.
4. Take time to think about what is best. IF YOU CAN. There are many situations where time is a luxury you do not have. There are other situations where if you take a day or week to repeat a test or see how the cat does, it's perfectly acceptable. Sometimes rushing into a treatment or surgery makes it worse or makes the case more complex. Try not to do too much at once or you won't be able to understand what changes were the ones that made the difference.
What happened with Nicky today is a very good illustration of the points, above. Sam and I were expecting that Nicky would be having exploratory surgery today. He has too many test results that show some sort of problem-and we needed to know what was going on.
We had our list and because we had spent time thinking about it, we were able to give Dr. Weisman more information about Nicky that ended up being crucial to his care, today.
Nicky has a growth on his spleen-it is likely it is benign. Older cats can get these growths, but the ultrasound Vet didn't describe the growth well enough so we know if it is a tumor. Cats don't need their spleen as they get older so if it had to be removed, Nicky would be fine.
Although Nicky's blood work does show early signs of renal disease, what Dr. W didn't know was that Nicky is in DIRE need of a DENTAL!!! Some how that information was not passed on from our Vet to Dr. Weisman. Nicky has a cervical line lesion on at least one tooth and some mild tartar that needs to be cleaned. That, alone, could be the cause for Nicky's kidney issues and that his mesenteric lymph nodes are swollen, but that wasn't the possible smoking gun.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I DO NOT CARE TO BE IN THE CAR! WAHHHHH!
Before we knew any better and Nicky was being fed GRAIN (in his dry and canned food), Nicky's urethra would get blocked up. Eventually we spent many thousands of dollars having surgery done on Nicky to remove his penis (which can be referred to as a PU surgery) so he'd have a bigger opening to urinate through and not block up any more. Right after that we learned about diet and got him off grain. The surgery was done years ago, but once we mentioned it to Dr. W. she perked up. That one thing could be what is causing some of Nicky's symptoms and that his immune system is constantly being taxed from having that larger opening.
She also felt that possibly Nicky was having a reaction to being fed a raw diet. Sam and I aren't sold on that, but we're open to the idea that if Nicky's immune system is weaker from his bad teeth and the PU surgery, that perhaps the mild bacteria he might encounter on his food just adds to his problems.
We also showed Dr. W. Nora's blood work. She's Nicky's sister and she has no kidney issues whatsoever. Of course this is not comparing the same cats, exactly, but between Nora and Gracie's recent blood work there are no signs the diet is hurting them-rather helping if anything.
It became clear that doing anything other than a dental on Nicky wasn't necessary today. Nicky doesn't show enough clinical signs to tell us he's in crisis. None of his tests are so bad that we MUST do surgery NOW. We decided that after the dental and dose of antibiotics and some time to recover from both, that we'd re-do the ultrasound and see if anything has improved. It's possible many of these issues will lessen in severity OR get WORSE. If so, we move forward with surgery.
We're giving it a month. Right after Thanksgiving we'll re-test and see how he's doing. If he starts to show clinical signs before then, he has the surgery done sooner. It's really not a case of not going it at all, it's a case of when it's done. Sooner or later we will be facing this procedure, but today is not that day.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My boys last night.
Nicky is on an IV for the next few hours to protect his kidneys before surgery, then they do the dental..and they remove and biopsy a growth I found on his leg while we were IN THE CAR, on the way to the VET! After that, Nicky goes back on the IV and tomorrow morning, with any luck, we'll bring him home.
I can't say we lucked out, but I think I can say we feel better about this choice. Nicky may still have cancer or renal disease or both or hyperthyroid or IBD...we just don't know yet. Maybe we caught it VERY EARLY or maybe not. We'll find out in time.
And all this happened because we saw Nicky peeing on the floor in the kitchen...
It's a good thing I was at a conference full of pet lovers because sure enough Dorian Wagner, of Your Daily Cute, who had been playing with one of the kittens, jumped up when I said I needed a Vet and said she knew where to find one. She made a quick call and the Vet popped her head up from across the room, waving over the top of a low room divider. We hustled BlueBelle over to her. She was very calm and relaxed, which was the polar opposite to how I was feeling. She was perfectly willing to asses BlueBelle's incision.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Kate Benjamin and BlueBelle.
She gently turned BlueBelle over and looked at her little belly. There was a bright red, open area. We told her about the crappy spay surgery. She said she thought that the glue (the GLUE?) had failed and popped the incision open, but that there should have been stitches inside the kitten that would hold her abdomen closed. She was concerned about infection and the wound opening further. I asked what I could do and she said to find some Crazy Glue!
The clock is ticking. We have to leave for dinner soon. Bobby and Maria are really tired and hungry. I just won a big award, but now I must find Crazy Glue in a hotel that has a tiny gift shop and NO OTHER SHOPS anywhere close by.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid with Truffles.
The front desk offered me a dried up tube that we couldn't even get the top off of, so I tried the gift shop. They DID have some glue! Okay! Great! I ran over to the Vet and the small gathering of ladies around the kitten. Now the Vet says she really needs some sterile saline solution, some betadine and a syringe with no needle. Yeah. I can get that...WHERE CAN I GET THAT? My mind is spinning! I have to HURRY. Someone figures out there is a drug store a few miles away. It's rush hour in the D.C. area. We have no idea where we are going, but I grab Sam and he says he will drive me over to get the things we need. Meanwhile there are about 20 people wondering what is going on and some of them have grumbling bellies. Thankfully, Ingrid King, said she would call the restaurant and change the reservation! WHEW...okay...time to RUN!
But wait...can I get the first aid kit from the front desk? Sure! I was running back and forth between the front desk, the vet, the gift shop, Bobby & Maria and Ingrid. My head was getting ready to spin off my neck. There was nothing much in the kit. The woman at the front desk said that the night before had been a busy night for injuries in the hotel and that the kit was mostly empty!! Still, I brought it over for the Vet to take a look though..but it was sorely lacking so I returned it.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Snack time in the hotel room!
We got an address for a local pharmacy and just hoped for the best. Sam started driving and the GPS wanted us to go in a different direction than the point by point directions we had from GoogleMaps. Crap! What to do? We just followed the GPS hoping it wouldn't route us into a lake.
The traffic was TERRIBLE. No one was moving. Tick, tick, tick...HURRY! I wanted to JUMP OUT OF MY SKIN! It seemed like the drivers in front of us had cotton shoved in their brain hole because they were driving really slowly and they wouldn't try to cross traffic to turn into the parking lot!
Once we got into the lot, it was packed full of cars. Sam told me to go into the store and he would circle around.
It took me a few minutes to find most everything, but I had to wait for someone to help me with the syringe, so I stood there on line, tapping my leg, wishing they would HURRY already!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Time to head to Connecticut.
I got what I needed...$34 for this? Geez! Not complaining, but really? I jumped into the car and Sam sped off. Traffic back to the hotel wasn't as bad. My cell phone rang “where are you? we have another kitten that needs help!”
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Tree removal trucks getting into position before Hurricane Irene hits.
We got back to the hotel and the Vet said she wanted the First Aid Kit after all...so I ran back to get it...and she needed a place to work on the kittens. Truffles incision looked infected and needed to be cleaned out, too. We agreed to go to my hotel room so she could work on the bathroom counter.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Moments after arriving in their new home.
We loaded up all the cats, which saddened all the cat lady bloggers. They were not deterred. Many of them came upstairs with us! Before anything was done we had to promise not to say who the Vet was because like everyone at the conference, she was licensed in another state-even though she was just going to clean out a wound and put a drop of glue on the skin. I left her to do her thing while a few of the ladies watched the procedure. I needed to SIT DOWN and try to spend some time with Bobby and Maria, who were clearly energized by all that was going on, but I knew they needed to eat and have a chance to relax.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blaze, Peri and Jack, ready to play.
The kittens did great. Their bellies patched up and looking better, the Vet excused herself and I thanked her profusely as she left our room! Where could I get a housecall in a hotel for kittens that needed help-RIGHT HERE! How lucky we were! We had antibiotics with us that the kittens were already getting so we kept them on their meds. We let them out of the cat carrier to run around in the hotel room while we all went out for dinner-at last! Everything was going to be ok now, right?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. BlueBelle is doing fine now.
And it was...we had dinner with lots of PETTIE-WINNING cat lady bloggers, along with Maria, Bobby & Sam. We had a great time, great food, but sadly some of us had Hurricane Irene on our minds. Sam and I reluctantly decided we needed to leave early in the morning. Time was running out. We'd had our one day at BlogPaws and asking for another would potentially put us in peril...and the kittens, too, so we decided to call it a night.
Instead of going to bed, everyone came back up to our room to play with the kittens some more! Kate was on her belly, shooting videos of the kittens playing. Amberly took a huge stinky poop (we had a litter pan on hand) and we couldn't open the windows! No one cared. They were all cooing and laughing. I'd forgotten that I'm used to being around kittens most of the time and for them, it was more of a rare treat. It was really lovely to sit on the floor and watch the kittens and watch the joy and the delight on everyone's faces.
We bid everyone good night. We had to pack. Bobby & Maria still had 10 more miles to drive before they could get some sleep. For awhile I forgot about all my problems and what was waiting for me back home. It was nice, but far too short of a break. We got packed and set the alarm. Bobby & Maria would return in the morning with the kittens and we'd load up the car and head for home.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Amberly, always lovely and ready to chat wtih me.
Sam and I were very tired. The morning came too early, but we got ourselves out of bed. I went down to the car to start loading it up. I set up the dog crates where the cats would be traveling. I realized we didn't have enough room in the car for everything we had, so I made some changes so we could make it all fit.
Bobby & Maria were right on time. We let the kittens out so they could run around while we had breakfast. It was just the four of us eating, while BlogPaws continued on. The sky was slate gray and the winds were starting to pick up. I knew we had to leave soon. Irene was nearby.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the many reasons the power was out. This is across Route 34, a main road in our town.
I was very sad to leave. I gave Bobby & Maria a big hug goodbye. We'd only just met a less than 12 hours before. We loaded the kittens into the car and began our trip home, deciding to take a longer route, away from the coast. It added an hour to the drive, but in the end, it was the right thing to do. We missed some flooding and a few tornadoes. The entire drive home we hit bands of violent rain, but they only lasted a minute or two. I looked the weather radar and we were literally skirting the edge of the storm the entire drive home.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A common sight around Newtown, CT.
Seven hours later, we pulled into the driveway. I unlocked the door. I just wanted to see if Bob was still with us. I hadn't had an update on him and I was worried. Sure enough, Bob was sitting on his favorite red chair, looking a little more frail, but still with us. Once I knew he was ok, we worked on getting the kittens settled and getting ourselves unpacked.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Housatonic River flooded quickly. If you look carefully, in the center of the image, you can see a home. It's built on stilts because the river often floods, but not as bad as this time around.
Irene swept into town and took with it, many of our lovely trees. 80 percent of the town went dark. Almost a week later, the power is still out in 26 percent of the homes. We were VERY LUCKY our power didn't go out. Many of the roads were impassable, not marked that trees were down, so getting around has been tough. My car is STILL in the SHOP because they lost power and phones. We drove past there and you can see my car on a lift in one of the bays. We haven't gone out much and we offered shelter to all our power-less friends, but they are doing fine without and hopefully things will be getting back to normal again soon.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Pootatuck River was raging in downtown Sandy Hook, CT.
Now that I can look back, I know going to BlogPaws was the right thing for me to do. I'm glad I didn't miss out on the entire conference and I left yearning for more...for more connection to these good folks...for just a break from the troubles in my life. It was exhausting, but worth it. I'm glad I took the risk.
Maria was certain something was terribly wrong with Amberly. The cat is very small to begin with and was still healing from spay surgery that was done 10 days prior. What was making the cat's belly distend? Then Maria mentioned very smelly poop, which can be a sign of Giardia. I told her I thought maybe it was worms or just the effects from a long ride in the car. She felt it was something worse than that-perhaps life threatening! I promised I'd find a Vet. She said they would be arriving in about an hour. I had to act quickly.
Thankfully, Caroline Golon, one of the Founders of BlogPaws, was able to find a Vet. She didn't tell me she was going to find me a really cute Vet to boot..and one who does Acupuncture and Wellness! I wish I had had time to have a conversation with Dr. Patrick Mahaney, instead of pleading for his advice!
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Margaret Gates, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, & Me just after the phone call..and the relief that all was well for Amberly.
Margaret Gates, from Feline Nutrition, was with me. We were both giving Dr Patrick big-eyed “Puss-in-boots” look, asking if he wouldn't mind talking to us about this cat problem we had. Of course Dr. Patrick did not see Amberly, nor could he advise us since he's from California and not licensed in Virginia, but it didn't hurt to ask for his opinion, which he was gracious enough to give us. I put Dr. Patrick on the phone with Maria while my heart raced. It was 4:45pm-in fifteen minutes, the Pettie Award winners were going to be announced via the web. Almost all of the nominees were at BlogPaws and we all sincerely wanted to watch the broadcast, but I had to make sure Amberly was all right over anything else.
Thankfully, Dr. Patrick agreed that Amberly needed to be de-wormed and I promised to get a stool sample over to my vet when we got to Connecticut. As a personal THANK YOU to Dr. Patrick, I'd love it if you ALL go visit his web site: http://www.patrickmahaney.com/blog/ and LIKE him (what's not to like?!) on FACEBOOK!
With that issue put to rest, Margaret and I started to look for the room where we could watch the Pettie Awards. I have to note that for some reason, Dogtime Media pulled out of attending BlogPaws 2011 about 2 weeks before the Conference. Many of us were very upset about this because there would be no formal ceremony, handing out of trophies and no chance to give that acceptance speech we'd all been planning. The Petties were going to be broadcast as a pre-tapped video.
Instead, we were sent off to a private room with a nice big screen projection setup. Everyone else was off to a screening of a new Disney movie called Spookie Buddies. About 20 of us were sitting around waiting for something to happen. I didn't see any computer hooked up to the screen so I ran off looking for help. Michael, our very nice A/V guy, got there with minutes to spare! My heart started racing. We were all getting nervous with anticipation.
Then I started getting texts from Maria. They were going to arrive in about 15 minutes! What was I to do? Make them sit out in the hot car? I had to go meet them, but I just HAD to see who was going to WIN!! Covered in Cat Hair was up for TWO awards!
Then the video began, featuring Leslie Smith, Editor at Dogtime.com. We all started buzzing...first up, our friends Kate Benjamin of ModernCat and JaneA Kelly of Paws & Effect! When Kate won, we all erupted in screams and clapping! I wish both ladies could have won, though.
The awards were being announced at lightning speed. Next up was one of my categories: Best Social Integration! Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella won! I was very happy for her, but then I worried..it was my best shot to win. There was no way I was going to win for Best Cat Blog. The competition was way too stiff.
My heart felt like it was going to bust out of my chest. Maria was texting me. They were about to arrive! My category finally came up. I thought to myself-it's about time I was a WINNER. After the pure HELL of the past few weeks, I was due..due for something good to happen and I'd worked very hard for 5 years writing Covered in Cat Hair. Surely, I had a shot, but it also meant that my good friend, Ingrid wouldn't win and I wanted her to win, too.
The intro screen came up...
They announced the four finalists....
Ingrid was right there, giving me a big hug. She was so gracious and I knew from our talks that we both would be happy if either of us won. I wanted to cry. I was so happy, but I had to leave the room! Bobby and Maria had arrived and were waiting in the Lobby. They'd just driven 10 hours. I was not going to make them wait.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Just after the WIN!
I floated out of the room and there were lots of folks from the show milling about. I wanted to scream “I WON I WON!!!” but I had to drop the urge and get back to business. I could celebrate later.
And then, across the lobby, I saw Bobby and Maria walking towards me. It was so odd. I knew what they looked like and we'd talked many time over the past year, but here they were in the flesh, like nothing particularly strange was going on. I'd been looking forward to this moment for a long time, but I could see how tired and hot they were so I got them to sit down and got them a drink. As I was walking back, I saw everyone leaving the room where I just watched part of the Petties. Ingrid, it seems, won for Best Pet Blog-the TOP honor of ALL the awards! I WAS SO HAPPY FOR HER and now things just felt complete! EVERY award-other than than the Best DOG Blog, was WON BY A CAT WRITER!!!!!
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Bobby & I cuddle with Peri & Amberly.
And then, like moths to a furry-flame, the cat writing ladies managed to find that Amberly and her kittens were in the lobby and within seconds they were all cooing and smiling over their new friends. Maria and Bobby were good sports. I think the energy in the room revived them and all the fussing about the kittens was a treat to see. What was even better was that most of us had just won a Pettie Award and it felt so empowering for us to be together! It was a moment I really cherished.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Ingrid King (left), Foster Mama-Maria (seated), Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat (rear), Margaret Gates of Feline Nutrition and Kate Benjamin of ModernCat (right)
I think I had about fifteen minutes of feeling good, happy, visiting with everyone...then, as things often do...the shit hit the fan. One of the ladies came up to me holding BlueBelle. She said something was wrong. I looked at the incision on Blue's belly. She'd been spayed 10 days earlier. I have to say the "person" who did the spay did a terrible job. I've never had to put kittens on antibiotics after being spayed because they got an infection. Their incisions were horrible. Here was Blue, very calm and serene and the glue had popped and her incision was opening up and was bleeding.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Sam & Bobby with Periwinkle & Amberly.
Find out what happens next...in tomorrow's post!
If you'd like to see the Pettie Awards presentation, just go HERE to see the show and a complete list of all the WINNERS!
It was very difficult to leave home last week. The decision to make the trip to Virginia to attend BlogPaws 2011 was not made lightly. Sam and I both changed our minds as we sat glued to the TV, watching the latest reports on Hurricane Irene. The closer we got to leaving, the closer the Hurricane was coming to the United States. We knew we'd have to cut our trip down to the shortest time away, possible, if we had any hope of getting back before the weather turned. Add to that our Pet Sitter and our backup, Jennifer, both got the flu, my car died on the highway the day before and Bob...Bob was growing thinner and thinner. His time was coming. Would we be away when he passed on?
Reluctantly, I packed, thinking it was a fool's errand to even bother. I knew I made a commitment to be a Speaker at BlogPaws and I also knew it was my only chance to be able to have Amberly and her kittens transported to me at the hotel, instead of facing putting them on a paid transport. It was my only chance to finally meet, in person, Maria & Bobby who I've been working with for over a year. I had to go.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Headed over the Tappen Zee bridge.
We decided to leave later and come home sooner. At noon on Thursday, I took half a valium. It was the only way I was going to be able to leave and not have a nervous breakdown. I did not want to leave Bob. I started crying. I said goodbye to him, not knowing if I would ever see him again. Our pet sitter came through and said she would be there as much as she could, but of course it would never be enough since she couldn't live here while we were gone. I had to be ok with that.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. D.C. Traffic.
The drive to Vienna was mostly uneventful. Sam and I talked, but often we sat quietly. As we got further from home, I tried to focus on what I wanted to get done at the conference and I thought about the presentation we were going to give about Analytics. I did what I could to prepare, but I just wanted to go home.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Almost there...
We made good time to the hotel, even though the traffic near it was terrible. We're used to traffic in New York City, but somehow this seemed worse. We were lucky we were headed into the city because we saw the northbound traffic backing up from Baltimore to the exits for D.C.
After we got into our room, which had a great view of the pool and from the 15th floor we could see what the weather was doing, too, we got unpacked. This is when I discovered that my old digital camera was not working properly. Great. Just what I needed. I would have to use my iPhone and do what I could. I didn't want to think about how much it was going to cost to replace that camera. Or could I get it repaired? I was too tired from everything breaking. I put the camera away and shelved my disappointment for later.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I tried to resist the temptation to jump.
Ingrid was waiting, anyway.
Ingrid King, who writes The Conscious Cat, and I have become good friends since we met at the Cat Writers' Association conference a few years ago. Ingrid is one of the nicest, most kind-hearted people I have ever met. Being around her always cheers me up and I knew she was waiting for us in the Lobby, so we made a beeline down to see her.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A SMALL sample of the swag we got.
We got gigantic goody bags when we registered. They were so huge we had to bring them up to our room. No way were we going to carry that stuff around all night. I took a peek inside the bags. I saw a lot of dog-centric things, but I must say I really liked the BlogPaws t-shirt. Very nice design. Anyway..back to Ingrid!
The worries about doing the right thing began to fade as soon as I started to see my friends and meet new ones. It was great to see Ingrid again and I finally got to meet Margaret Gates, who is the Executive Director of Feline Nutrition Education Society. We love what Margaret does to help people understand the benefits and importance of feeding a species appropriate diet. I saw JaneA Kelley from Paws & Effect. She is one groovy chick. Wendy Christensen, a fellow CWA member and awesome artist was there with my new cat charm bracelet-she made just for me! (I will have to take a photo of it soon!) Wendy has a shop on Etsy you can see HERE. I also met my new BFF, Kate Benjamin whose website, Modern Cat is one of my favorites for discovering simply beautiful products for cats. Kate and I didn't get to talk much, but I could tell right away we were going to be good friends. Kate is really awesome and has a kickass tattoo on her arm of a tribal stylized cat. Very cool!
We loaded up on an array of appetizers and got to chatting, about cats, of course. I was really impressed that there was a lot to choose from and the place was buzzing with excitement. Hurricane Irene hadn't kept folks home, that's for certain. I was told that there were about 400 people, up from 250 at the first BlogPaws 2011 in Ohio. Very impressive! Sam and I had to run off to test our Presentations and check out the room we'd be using. It was very big with lots of windows. The reality of doing the session in less than 24 hours hit me. Was I even mentally prepared for this? Guess I'd find out.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. YAY!
The gals, Sam and I went to the Cheesecake factory to chat and load up on sugar. The conversation was non-stop and there was a great deal of laughter. I REALLY needed that, more than I can say. It was so good to be around like-minded folks, who were all passionate about the same thing-cats, cats and more cats!
I would have been happy to stay up all night, but I knew I had a 7 AM (as in the MORNING!!) breakfast meeting to get to, so we all said our good-nights.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Prepare to be assimilated.
Somehow I managed to drag my butt out of bed and get to the Breakfast meeting held by World's Best Cat Litter. They'd invited a small group of bloggers to talk about their products and their vision for getting the word out on their brand. I was too delirious to say much, but it was interesting to know they realized the value of having our good opinion. I got a coupon for a free bag of litter, so I was pretty happy about that, but really, where is the money? Sorry, but we all work very hard at what we do. It just seems to be very tough to figure out if there's a way to make a reasonable income when, clearly we can help this company make some money. All we get out of it is more visibility for our blog-maybe. This is something I need to ponder further.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rescue Ink Guys, Big Ant and Joe.
Next up was a trip back to the big dining hall for a presentation by two of the guys from Rescue Ink: Joe Panz and Big Ant. Now it's clear these fellas really care about helping both people and animals that are in danger of being abused, but I have to admit that there is something about them that makes me giggle and I can't take them seriously. I'm really sorry to say that because I don't know them, but they are so completely different than the female-centric rescue people I know that seeing these big guys with tattoos talking about how they scare off the bad guy...I dunno...I reminds me of going to a friend's house for a party and meeting a guy who brags about things but you're never really sure if he's telling the truth or just trying to be cool.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ooo..I feel so tiny.
After the presentation was over, I spoke to the guys about a situation my rescue has been dealing with regarding a nut-job woman who is in jail and how she dumped her cats on poor Jennifer without surrendering them to her. So Jennifer is stuck-she should be able to give the animals to the pound, which is very nice in Milford, and they cannot do anything to those cats until the owner is out of jail. I wanted to know about the law regarding removing animals from a home and personal property laws. What would happen if one of those cats got sick and died while the woman was in jail? Their advice; talk to the cops. They didn't even seem to know about animals being considered personal property. Hmmm...well I got my photo taken with them so that made up for a few misgivings.
After that, I had to find Megan from Purina. She'd asked me if I wanted to be interviewed about Kitten Associates. Sure! Of course! The Purina Cat Chow Correspondent, Andy Senor Jr. wanted to meet with me. I had no idea how they knew about me or why they wanted to chat. I was still half-awake, but figured I better get this done. I walked over to the Purina booth and introduced myself. They knew who I was and were ready to do the interview right then and there. I was escorted outside (for better light) by Andy, himself, a camera man and Bill a very big wig from Nestle/Purina. I'm a very informal person, but suddenly I felt like I needed to step up to the plate.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Andy is dandy! Hee hee. (and me)
Firstly, Andy is VERY charming. Apparently he's an actor and has been in the cast of “RENT” for over a decade. Andy shares ownership of a cat named Buster with his friend. His cat spends two weeks at one apartment and two weeks at Andy's. Shared custody? ONE CAT? Okay, what does this guy know about cats? He certainly loves them, but I really wanted to get him alone to find out what was going on or to make out with him, one of the two.
Oh yes..be professional! Okay...so Andy starts interviewing me. Wow is he good at what he does! The camera guy was walking around us, getting different angles. I tried not to look in the camera, but it certainly was an odd feeling having someone watching your every move. I know how these things work-they shoot a lot of footage and cut it to 30 seconds. I tried to remember to sit up straight, be clever and clear and make sure to get out my message. Oops. Problem. One of the missions of Kitten Associates is to feed a species appropriate diet-which means no dry food. Guess I better tread lightly on that topic for now.
Andy oozed confidence and compassion. Either he was a great actor or really cared. He was very polite and kind and very easy to like, which made the interview go that much better. Due to Hurricane Irene, Andy had to hustle back to New York City, but our interview will be posted in the coming weeks. You can subscribe to Andy's feed on YouTube HERE so you'll be notified of when our interview goes live.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
And now it was time for lunch! Remember, I'd been up since 6 AM so I was covering a lot of ground.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Let us eat cheesecake (again)!
I decided to attend a presentation afterwards-the one just before the one I was doing. It was about monetizing your blog. Great! What they didn't tell us what HOW MUCH MONEY we could get for doing whatever we were going to do to sell our souls to the Devil to make a buck. I still have no idea how this happens because it sounded like you have to pitch company's what you want to do to help their brand, then get paid to do that via your blog. I don't know how I could do what I do, tell my stories and share my knowledge all “sponsored by” some big corporation. I think I would lose my credibility. I hate being poor, but really? Isn't there some other way to make money? I bet I could do consulting. That might be the answer, but again, what are people getting paid to do this sort of thing? They wouldn't say!
©2011 Ingrid King. Sam is up first.
Then it was our turn to do our Presentation. I was not nervous, for once. In fact, I was raring to go. I think doing that stand up comedy/storytelling show in New York City made me stop being scared to talk in public.
©2011 Ingrid King. I get started.
Sam was up first. He went over all the nitty gritty about Analytics. I was watching the time and he was going long. I started to get worried I wouldn't have more than 5 minutes to talk. Then Sam started to show slides about things I WAS GOING TO TALK ABOUT! What the heck was going on? I tried to be funny and remind him to move along and that I had that covered. I think the stress from the past week had gotten to Sam, too. He was clearly tired and jumped into action to wrap things up.
©2011 Ingrid King. Last slide. Whew!
Things went quickly and before I knew it I was done and we were fielding questions. I started getting text messages from Maria before we started. She was worried about Amberly. Her belly was big. She was gassy. Maria thought it was something bad. They were about an hour away. At the end of my talk, I saw she had sent more texts, frantic that Anberly needed to be seen by a VET.
It's Friday afternoon, almost 5pm. I need a Vet. I don't know where there is a Vet. I don't know where I am! I ran out of the conference room and started to search for Yvonne and Caroline, who are two of the founders or BlogPaws. They would know where I could find a Vet to talk to.
But what I couldn't have known then, that even though I found a Vet, not 30 minutes later, would I have a real crisis on my hands and need another.
Tomorrow...the next 24 hours...
This morning I brought Cara in to see Dr. Larry. Thankfully, they were able to fit her into the schedule for today without an appointment, but it meant I had to leave her there and they'd do x-rays and an exam at some point during the day. I got home and sat in the foster room with Mazie, Chester and Polly. They've been in that room for FOUR MONTHS. Only Mazie can be adopted and no one has been interested in her. Polly STILL has a URI and Chester is dealing with that spot of ringworm on his head. I know that being in a small room, even if it does have one huge window that overlooks the yard and another smaller window that gives them a view of the sky and tree tops, is not enough. Since they can't really catch anything from my cats and vice versa, I let them out into my bedroom once in awhile. There's more room to run around, but they really need a huge space to stretch their legs. I suppose if being bored or not having a lot of space was their biggest problem, I'd be lucky.
Dr Larry called me early this afternoon. Cara's x-rays did not show any obvious foreign object, but he wanted to do a blood panel to make sure she didn't also have an infection. I wanted to push back and say, no, not to spend the money since Cara seems fine, but I agreed. He told me to meet him at 4pm and by then he'd have the results and I could take Cara home.
Things were busy at Maple Ridge today, so I grabbed a People magazine and looked at it while I waited for Dr. Larry in exam room number 2. I noticed photos of celebrities in their bathing suit, walking on the beach at some exclusive resort. I didn't even know who half the people were. Then, it dawned on me. Why does it matter that I need to see these photos at all? If there were photos of my neighbors walking on the beach, I would be just as uninterested. They're on vacation? So what! What are they doing that's unusual, interesting, important? Maybe People should be renamed; “Photos of people on the beach with really nice bodies, wearing huge sunglasses, but otherwise not really doing anything.” I swear they use the same photo each week, they just photoshop the latest celebrity A-lister face over the body they used the week before.
I was just about to read about why Catherine Zeta-Jones is disclosing she has Bipolar Disorder II and why there is a “II” and what that means? Is it a sequel to Bipolar Disorder I? Maybe it's fancy movie star version of Bipolar disorder? Dr. Larry entered the exam room before I could sort it all out. He sighed. Then he said something about me having too much on my plate. I had a feeling he was about to add more to it and I was right.
Cara's blood work showed her White Blood Cell Count was VERY HIGH. High-normal is about 20,000. Cara's is 35,000. She's got a raging infection. Her stomach is swollen full of gas. Her intestines are full of stool-almost packed solid. I looked at the x-rays and asked about something I saw in her stomach-some small particulate. Dr. Larry waved it off saying it was the cat food I feed...you know the RAW food with the BONES in it. I balked. Cara does not get raw. She gets canned. So of course it has to be the canned food. It's CANNED FOOD! There aren't BONES in it. Then it hit me. It was the cat litter. It confirmed what I had been suspicious of all along—that Cara has been eating the corn based cat litter. Perhaps the high WBC count is due to her eating out of the litter pan?
It's tough to say what's going on exactly. Dr Larry wanted to have an ultrasound done. The Vet who performs them had a cancellation. It's for tomorrow at 8:30AM. Larry felt we might be able to see if there's still a piece of yarn toy acting as a filter between her stomach and her intestines or if there's any damage to her stomach from eating the toy or ingesting the litter. It would give us some info, but potentially not enough.
Cara may need exploratory surgery or another endoscopy. Dr. Kittral, who's been performing all Cara's endoscopies needs to be included in our decisions. Sadly, she doesn't start her work week until TOMORROW. Dr. Larry wanted to put Cara on antibiotics, which, of course, raised a huge alarm bell in me. We can't give her oral meds or we risk causing her strictures to return. We compromised and Larry gave her an injection that will only last until tomorrow. By then, hopefully we will have more answers and be able to figure out a game plan for Cara.
I tried to be brave, but I felt a bit weak in the knees. Cara could be in a very dangerous situation. With her esophagus compromised already and her stomach lining possibly being damaged, we can't try to clear the stool out of her without risking her rupturing somewhere. Anything invasive that needs to be done, has to be carefully considered. Any medications given must be carefully scrutinized. She's been on too many antibiotics. She's been through so much already. I just don't know how we're going to get her over this next hurdle.
This Vet bill, even with a discount, is going to be bad. It could be the beginning of VERY BAD, I don't know how bad just yet. I'm going to open up yet another fundraiser for Cara. Her last two Vet bills came to $1500.00 and with the loan I got, we were able to pay everything off in full, but now we're back to loose change in our pockets to pay for the next Vet bills. I'm guessing that between today and tomorrow it will be $600.00 and counting. I can't give up on Cara even if the timing is the worst, ever. I thought we were over the hump, but now we've been pushed back down the hill like a feline version of Sisyphus.
I also have a lot of guilt about this situation. The past two weeks I just haven't been home much with frequent trips to NYC to care for Sam's mother. I couldn't feed the cats as regularly as usual and I fear that Cara resorted to eating the litter out of desperation and perhaps now has developed a taste for it. I really LIKE the litter and the other cats are fine with it, but I have to stop using it around Cara.
As for Cara; we've just GOT to get her well; for once and for all.
I realize we've had to ask for help more often than I ever imagined to get Cara well. I'm blessed with having devoted and compassionate friends of this Blog. My hope is that not one person has to donate more than $5. If we can all ChipIn, we'll hit our goal in a heartbeat. If you can share this request with your friends, I would appreciate it very much. Your donation IS tax deductible, as the funds go to a Kitten Associates, Inc. foster kitten (Cara).
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. I just saw Cara PROJECTILE vomit. I've never seen so much fluid come out of such a small animal, so quickly, in my LIFE. The vomit was mostly water. She'd eaten a good 5 hours before she vomited, so this indicates she was able to digest her food, but why so much water? Clearly something was wrong with her when I sat down to have some play time with the foster kitties around midnight.
Cara licked her mouth—a lot. This is a strong indicator of nausea. I knew she hadn't eaten recently, so I couldn't figure out what was going on. I got her a bowl of fresh water, not really knowing what else to do. I have had some fears she's been eating her corn based cat litter and perhaps that was the culprit? I spread some chunky Yesterday's News over the corn litter to put a “protective coating” over the corn until I could change out the entire pan.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Cara. She's been through so much already.
Meanwhile, Cara was troubled and uncomfortable. I lifted her up to listen to her belly. Was it rumbling? Was her breathing ok? Her heart was racing. I put her down, then moved her inside her cat carrier because if she was going to get sick, she could do it there instead of on the bed (which is why I've had to do a lot of laundry lately.). The past two weeks I've been finding these enormous watery vomits in the foster room. Due to the volume of fluid, I thought it was Mazie or possibly Polly or Chester. They're still twice Cara's size. Certainly it was not her.
Between everything else going on in my life, I just wasn't able to give Cara the close attention I normally can provide. I've had to spend much less time with the fosters.
The biggest reason it's been difficult to be more attentive to the foster cats is Sam's mother. She's having surgery today. I was told to stay home and keep things going here. It's partially due to the reality of having relationship problems with Sam, and possibly moreso that the folks at the hospital don't even know what time or what HOSPITAL she's having the surgery done. After being in the Psych Ward for TWO WEEKS, with little information provided, we only know she's had her meds adjusted for the pain in her hip and now her Orthopedist says, at 82, she's still a good candidate for a hip replacement. So...after her attempting to take her life over the pain she was in and the fear of having to have surgery to repair her hip, now she is fine with the notion of having her hip replaced, which I believe is far simpler and less painful than the corrective surgery she had five years ago. It's rather ironic she's at this place after where she started off, but she's alive and hopefully her surgery will go well and she'll be on to a new, happier chapter of her senior years.
I'm writing this at 12:30 AM, so as soon as Dr Larry's office opens at 8 AM, I'm going to call to see if they can fit Cara in for an x-ray and an exam. Last week in one of the vomits, I found a length of a knitted curlycue cat toy that was attached to a plastic wand. I caught Polly gnawing on it and figured she had also been the culprit who threw up a piece of it. I made it tough for the cats to get at the toy. I was stupid. I should have thrown it out. I saw Polly chew it again a few days later, so that's when I finally did throw it away.
The problem is-it may not have been Polly eating the toy. In Cara's vomit, there was a 2 INCH long piece of that darn toy! Cara HAD eaten it. Was there MORE in her stomach? If I had saved the remaining cat toy, I would have been able to make a guesstimate, but with that gone, my only choice is to get her x-rayed to see if there's more inside her.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. 2 inches long. I measured it!
Cara's energy has been off and on, but mostly normal. She eats well. Her eyes are bright, yet...after days of wondering who was vomiting, I had to do something to figure out which cat was sick. I crated Cara for two days until she vomited in her crate, proving to me it was her all along. I made an appointment for her to see Dr. Kittral, her Internist, right away. The soonest we can get in is on Wednesday. I know I can't wait that long, so we'll start with x-rays in a few more hours and I've left a message for Dr K for when she starts her week on Tuesday, so she knows what's going on.
I'm terribly worried that after ALL the effort, the two endoscopies, the medications every 6 hours...has it all been UNDONE because Cara ate a cat toy? Are we back to square one? I'm terrified of what this is going to cost, but I'm going to take it one day at a time. We'll do the x-ray and hope for the best. Maybe Cara just popped out the only foreign object inside her? Maybe pigs will fly out of my butt, too?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly (left), Cara (center) and Mama-Mazie (right) settle down on the electric blanket for a nap.
I have to admit, this cat is driving me nuts. She's so sweet and so dear, but I just can't keep up with all her problems! I keep thinking we're over the hump and she's on the road to being 100% healthy, but she just isn't getting there any time soon! Maybe her Internist will adopt her and make my life a lot easier and her's a lot better? Yeah, right...like that's gonna happen.
I'll update this post as soon as I can get Cara to Dr. Larry...
It's been a long time since I posted much of anything. It started off with being overwhelmed by people asking me to post about a cat who needed help, who was going to be euthanized, who was abandoned by its' owner, who was injured or sick or old. In the meantime, other folks are asking me about how to deal with their problem-cat. I do my best to help everyone out, but some of these folks write volumes. I'm trying to get Kitten Associates off the ground and neglecting my duties there, too. I was spending far too much time answering a gillion emails. I realized I need to re-group, take stock, adjust.
I have Moonpie and Pattycake languishing here. They've been ready to be adopted for over a month. They're sick and tired of being in their tiny bathroom foster room so I've been letting them out. As I suspected, as soon as they started to explore the house, my cats started fighting and urinating...all over the place...a few of them doing it right in front of Sam. They literally are showing him they are PISSED. I've had to scrub down most of the house and yes, I do have Feliway diffusers ALL over the house, but they aren't helping OR they are helping, but just not enough.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Pattycake likes to fly. Blitzen can't seem to figure how she does it.
As a result, the stress level has been going up and up, so the peeing is worse and so is the fighting. There is little I can do other than clean it up, try to keep the peace and get Moonie and Patty out of here.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Patty and Blitzen nap next to my desk.
On Saturday morning, the 4 kittens I rescued from being euthanized at Henry, the Halloween Express, will be here, along with Rocco. Do I have room for them? No. I still have Honey B. and Yodel here, too! I guess they will all just have to be roomates. They're all S/N and have their shots. They'll have to find a way to get along. This is what I feared and here it is. All of my foster cats should have found homes by now, but I had to deny a lot of applications and most of them were just for Honey or Sugar Pie and that's it.
©2010 Maria Sandoval. Rocco lounging before his big trip to Connecticut.
Dr. Larry has even been trying to help. He sent a nice couple over to meet Moonie and Patty but it didn't work out. They really wanted ONE kitten not two. I realize if I allow them to be adopted separately I might get them out, but they are too bonded. I just can't do that to them. They're also really great cats. They get along with my cats just fine. They don't make a mess. They like to sit in my lap while I work. I know they would be great with a family or a couple. I just wish that right person would find them!
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Pattycake and Moonpie happy to be out of the bathroom and to be able to relax on the bed.
On Saturday morning, I took a drive to Pennsylvania to see my friend, Mary. We had a diner-breakfast of huge proportions, followed by a day of visiting flea markets and antique malls. It was just what I needed.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. $15! This was so bad, it was good!
That afternoon, we headed to the Frog Hollow B&B, where I had a room booked for the weekend. I've stayed there before and frankly, it's the only B&B where I ever felt comfortable. The Innkeepers, Patty and Mitch Adler have taken their historic property and lovingly restored it. Their grounds are well manicured and there are mature trees and flowers, a pond with a fountain, a barn, home to Ben & Jerry, their sheep, as well as a few barn cats.
Of course I was knocked over by cramps. Why I get them the one day this year that I have a weekend off, I have no idea. Bad planning on my part, I guess. I was unpacking my suitcase, when I heard Mary call up to me to look out the window. There she stood, holding a small kitten in her arms. My heart sank. Oh shit. I'm going to have to rescue this kitten, aren't I? Mary hadn't seen it before and figured it was a stray. I started trying to figure out what to do next. Mary had to get back home so she put the tiny tortie kitten down. As soon as she did, the little kitten scampered off into the bushes.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Topaz.
I finished unpacking and headed downstairs to see the kitten. Patty was in the kitchen and the first thing she asked me was if I saw their new kitten! Apparently, someone dumped her there two weeks ago. They've already taken her to the Vet and she will be spayed in a few weeks. She's a polydactyl and ever so cute, but a bit nervous around too many people. Since the Adler's have a jack russell named Gracie, they decided that the kitten, they named, Topaz, is going to probably stay out doors, hopefully near their house, but they have to make sure Gracie won't hurt her. The Adlers have four other cats. Sadly the cats are locked up in the basement. They get to come out from time to time, but it seems, they too pee all over the house and since the house is also an Inn, they can't have it smelling like pee. The last time I was there, I spent hours giving them suggestions on what to do and how to help the cats. This time I kept my mouth shut. I can't make people do what I think is right. I just hope that they will keep an open mind and find a way to, at least, make the space for their cats as enriched as possible. I can tell they love their animals and are feeling stuck, but it does take a lot of work to keep things running smoothly and as I know from my own home, keeping the cats calm, keeping them from peeing, well it's not that easy.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Topaz is a sweetheart. I was sorry not to get a better photo of her big poly-paws.
I was relived Topaz was safe. Now I could focus on my goal for the rest of the weekend, to HAVE FUN, to NOT think about CATS and to LAUGH. Mary, her partner and I, along with two other friends attended the 30th Pennsylvania Ren Faire. We all dressed for the occasion-Mary dressed like a Pyrate, with mustache and soul patch. The transformation was disturbingly well done! I kept doing a double-take. I dressed as a wench in a red dress with a big, pouffy skirt and leather boots. Jen, one of my new friends, put braids in my hair. Everyone was having spirited conversations filled with nervous excitement. I had never been to a Renaissance Faire before. In fact, I imagined them to be annoying and hokey, everyone eating turkey legs and talking in phoney accents, but putting on the costume did a lot for my mood. Cramps or no cramps, I was determined to have a good time.
From the second we all crammed into the car, we started talking. It was close to non-stop storytelling and joking around for the entire two hour drive to the Estate where the Faire is located. I'm surprised the air didn't turn blue from our conversation. It was one dirty story after another, it seemed.
We stopped at a Rest Area to buy discount tickets for the Faire. When we got out of the car, I realized people were looking at us-especially Mary. It felt weird but I felt my anticipation notch up a bit. Now I couldn't wait to get to the Faire and be part of the festivities.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. The Gang.
The place was packed but because we were a bit late, we actually got a good spot to park. I looked around and saw lots of buildings. For some reason I had imagined tents or mobile stands, but this place was more like Disney World, with "authentic" styled buildings and lots of folks dressed up either for the Faire or for Halloween. I didn't want to lug my camera. I just wanted to enjoy the day so I used my iPhone to take a few shots. Mostly we just walked around the park, took in the sights, ate a bit of this and that, and did some shopping. I really enjoyed the people-watching. There were outrageous costumes, people in street clothes and one dude dressed like a BANANA, which seemed completely bizarre.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Okay not sure if I'm at Burning Man or Dude in Big Metal Diaper Land.
There were lots of vendors selling clothing, corsets, boots, capes. I wanted to buy an outfit, but being practical I couldn't see the need for it unless I was going to come back to the Faire next season. Instead of poo-pooing the who thing, I realized that the folks who are truly into the scene follow the protocol, including being polite, genteel and charming. I loved it. It would be fun to come back and visit again.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. LOVE! Yes, there are black cats on this gown.
The weather was perfect. The crowds weren't too bad. Our little group got along great. Other than throbbing feet, I was completely happy, until we had to leave and then I realized I was going home in the morning. I'd barely been gone two days. It was a taste of what I'd needed to restore my senses. It wasn't nearly long enough. When I got home, although I was glad to see Sam, my heart sank as I smelled urine near the front door. I wanted to just turn around and leave, never come back. Just travel the country and have adventures, but this is my path and there are more cats that need to be saved. Hopefully, one day I can take a real vacation. For now, my weekend away gave me a taste of what I needed and left me yearning for more.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. A welcome sight, but do I have to go home already?
For those of you wondering what the heck happened to me and why I didn't post this past week, it can be summed up thusly: Kitten Associates is (somewhat) Open for Business!
After weeks of preparation and endless head-scratching on how to set Adoption Policies, I finally have enough cobbled together where we can start promoting our group and sharing the kittens we have for adoption. Yes, the time has come!
Kitten Associates brand new main page. You can visit us at: www.ktitenassociates.org
This week I started getting Pre-Adoption Applications. I ask many questions on my Ap in the hopes I can understand potential adopters better and figure out if they'll be a good match for my kittens. I've been accused of being too picky or asking for too much. Maybe that's true, but I'd rather be able to sleep at night, knowing I did what I felt was right, instead of just trying to move animals out the door. I don't have a shelter and I'm not "open admissions" so I have the luxury of taking time...just not too much or the kittens will be too big.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. How cute is Cinnie?!
Speaking of size, the girls were big enough to be spayed this week, so I got myself over to H.O.P.E at a way-too-early 7:30AM drop off time (okay, it's 8AM, but I got there early). The person doing admissions and I had a little snitty conversation about what to feed the cats. Apparently, dry food is good for cleaning cats teeth (one of the biggest mis-truths out there) and dry food “has special vitamins and minerals that kittens need for optimum health.” Really? And what vitamins and minerals are these? Corn? Wheat? Sugar? I was so shocked...then she said I should be working with my Vet to make sure my cats aren't suffering or getting the wrong nutrition. As if VETS know about nutrition! My Own Vets both told me they did not get much of anything regarding nutrition when they were in school. I really wanted to slap this woman in the face, but since this is a low cost S/N Clinic, I had to bite my tongue-which would have had better nutrition in it than some of those kibble foods..blah. Hey, it's great for dogs, but dogs are not cats. I only wished Margaret Gates from FNES had been there with me to let this woman have it.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Sugar Pie shows off her hunting skillz.
The kittens are home now and doing well. I de-wormed them again and all of a sudden, they're starting to get a little padding on their frame-finally. They have been too skinny (probably because of the dry food I refuse to feed them...hmpf!), but now they feel REALLY soft (from the grain-free and raw food they get) and chubby. I love it.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Yodel and her goofy little expression.
So my next task is to find homes. I've gotten many applications on Honey B. and Sugar Pie and I'm sorting through them. I already said; No, to a family-who felt I was being unfair saying no when I suggested they adopt a 5 or 6 month old kitten to a 1 yr or older cat because they have FOUR KIDS and a DOG. One of the kids is 3. Although they were a great family, just not for a tiny kitten. I think it would be too much on the cat and if the littlest child got hurt or bitten, then what?
It leaves me with a nagging question: How do I find homes where they won't EVER give up on these kittens? Where they will take good care of them for the rest of their life? Where they won't balk if it costs $1000.00 for Vet care should the cat fall ill. Where, if they break up with their boyfriend or husband or whatever, they won't give up the cat, too? I know. I can't solve all the issues, but how do I cut it down so that the fewest cats are at risk of ever being returned?
Two days ago I got a call from the adopter of two of Santa's Team, kittens. These were Donner and Dancer, the two kittens I felt went to the wrong home, who I tried to get back-unsuccessfully. Now they want to give up Dancer because she is "too shy." The one person in the family-an 18 yr old daughter, who was working with the kitten, has moved out and now the kitten only hides...this was one of the reasons, I wanted the cat back months ago.
So I told the person, I would help him either work out the behavior issues so he can keep the cat or he would have to return it to where he adopted it from...and that I no longer have a relationship with this group. He said he would call me back.
I haven't heard from him since.
Now I wonder...will the cat be given up, given to a shelter, let outside? I have no idea. This is what I face times 6 more cats...
This is the tough stuff. How to find great homes for little kittens who need more work than adults, more love (maybe?) and certainly careful guidance so they group up to be outstanding companions.
Where are you wonderful families and folks? Where are you? What question do I need the answer to to KNOW you will do right by my fosters?
Yesterday was a very strange day for me that was punctuated by the passing of the Big Maine Coon. Before I even heard about Big Boy, the theme of the day was death.
©2010 Ryan C. Feminella. After such a sad day yesterday, it seems fitting to be reminded of some of the rescues that had happier endings. Cinnie-Minnie (Cinnamon).
I got up early and drove to Milford. I had a meeting with a client about some new projects. She owns a beauty products company that caters to the overseas market. We went to High School together and met at our Reunion a few years ago. She's a very sweet person, but I can't say I know her very well.
I arrived at her office before she did. She called a few minutes later, apologizing for being late, that I wouldn't believe where she had just been. I was worried something happened to one of her family members-a trip to the hospital? Was she in Jail? Did she just help a woman deliver her baby at a rest stop?
When she got out of her car, she had a strange look on her face. Before we could even exchange a “hello,” she said; “I saw a Psychic Medium!”
She proceeded to tell me about her Mother, who died four years ago, who she misses so deeply that she's in physical pain about it. Through a twist of fate, she learned about this woman with special abilities to talk to the dead. In hope of getting a message from her Mother, she decided to give it a chance. This poor woman was in so much pain over the loss, she felt it was her only chance to know if her Mother was still there.
Before she told me about her reading, she talked about her Mother. I got a creepy feeling as she spoke. I started to realize that maybe I needed to be in this meeting, not to talk about work, but to talk about our lives. As she spoke, I realized that her Mother and my own had many similarities. Was I going to get a message from beyond, as well? Or did I, already?
She told me that the Medium said her Mother wanted to give her proof that she was there, so she said “Tell her the name, Victor.” My friend was shocked. Victor was her very first intern who spent many hours in the office with my friend and her Mother. When my friend got married, Victor was there. The three of them had a special connection, but it's not something many people would know about-and certainly not a stranger. Then the Medium said; “Your mother is holding a tea cup and talking about the round table.” My friend and her mom always sat at their round kitchen table and had tea-that's how they discussed their problems. That's how I discussed my problem with my Mother, too, over tea.
The Medium told her about her Grandfather, who said to tell her about my hands and how you loved them. What a strange thing to bring up. Her grandfather played baseball and in the early days their mitts did not have padding in the palm. As a result, her grandfather had very smooth hands, which my friend always noticed and thought were very beautiful. She would sit with her Grandfather and draw her fingers along the palms of his hand and marvel at them.
She went on and talked about other things that all made sense, that didn't seem to be vague at all. The Medium said that our dead relatives are with us and that we do get signs from them, but we have to pay attention. That's when I realized, I had gotten a message, too.
Four years ago today, my Mother died. Four years ago tomorrow, was when I found her. I count both days as the anniversary of her passing.
Last week, I got a coupon in the mail from CVS. I still use my Mother's savings card. I don't know why, I closed all her other accounts, but left this one open. It wasn't a surprise to get something in the mail addressed to her, but there were other things...1. I've never gotten a coupon for 20% anything in the store and my Mother LOVED a good coupon., 2. The only two days the coupon is good are today and tomorrow-the anniversary days of her passing. I told my friend about it and she jumped out of her chair and exclaimed that, “Yes! Yes it was a message!”
What does it mean? She's still out there, saying hello or do I need to go to CVS and get something on sale (which is the only way she ever spent money).
Then she asked me if I wanted my Tarot cards read! My Mother used to read Tarot cards, but would never read mine. She promised she would when I was 16, but when got old enough, she refused again, saying she never wanted to see bad things in my future. She stopped reading Tarot cards after that.
So of course I said yes!
She told me that I had the sun shining upon me, which means, good fortune. Though money is tight, I will be made an offer of money in a months' time. That I'm on a spiritual journey that is very meaningful to me and I have a lot of emotional support all around me. I felt as though it was another message-telling me that by following my heart and opening this Non-Profit rescue organization, that I'm doing the right thing. I've gotten a tremendous amount of support from all of you and it makes a huge difference. She told me that a woman, a “water” sign would be very important in my life. I'm not sure who that is, but I hope I met her already.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Like Mother, like Daughter..
It's curious, this life and what follows after this life comes to an end. It's comforting to imagine that all my relatives and all the cats I've lost are somewhere out there watching me, supporting me and are just out of reach, not really gone. Of course there's only one way to find out if this is the case or as my Mother told me; “When you die, you're dead, that's it. No. I won't come back to see you or send you signs. I will be dead.” Yeah, not the best Motherly advice.
I guess in this, I hope she was wrong.
I miss you, Mother, whether you know it or not and maybe, just maybe we all really WILL be reunited again one day. Put the kettle on for tea.