Weird

BlogPaws 2011: The First 24 Hours

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

But first...cheesecake!

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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!

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©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.

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©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.

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©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...

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

Cara's in Trouble.

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.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. What's next for this poor cat? I'm afraid to find out.

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.

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Cara's x-ray. The arrow points to some of the particulate I noticed in her stomach. Her filled up intestines can be seen at the bottom and top of her body, on the left side.

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.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Cara! You poor baby!

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).

Foster Cat Journal: Cara Struggles with New Problems

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.

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©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.

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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.

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©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?

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©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...

Of Maidens Faire and Furry

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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!

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. A welcome sight, but do I have to go home already?

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Foster Cat Journal: Question of the Day

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!

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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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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?

Foster Cat Journal: The Spirits are Among Us...I Just Hope Not When I'm in the Bathroom.

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.

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©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.

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The Coupon.

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.

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©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.

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And then it hit me...

I have NO idea how I got enough votes in the Best Cause Related Blog category since I didn't vote for myself, nor did I ask anyone to vote for me in this category! So it brings a question to mind...who is out there who believes so much in what I do that they would put me alongside other folks who focus on a Cause?

What's even more curious to me...you guys are right! I'm glad you know me better than I know myself. Heck, YEAH, I'm all about the CAUSE. This isn't a blog just about my cats or fun cat products or the latest cat news, though I DO include those things here on Covered in Cat Hair. Where my heart has led me, is to reaching out and helping as many cats as I can, regardless of where they are located or how old or young they might be.

When I started this blog over four years ago, it was supposed to be a vehicle for my book project, entitled: Covered in Cat Hair: Mostly True Stories of a Life Spent with Cats. I imagined an Editor at a major publishing house would “discover” me and offer me a book contract since I have lots of great stories written. I'd sit in my office, surrounded by annoying cats and write, write, write, then look forward to going to the local bookstore to see the finished product on the shelf.

Yet here I sit, surrounded by annoying cats, writing, not published, other than a few little things here and there, but making connections to many people across the Country, who, like me, want to make a difference in saving cats (and dogs!) lives, but maybe aren't so perfect at how they go about it. They just want to do something, anything, but more than donating to a charity, then not seeing the results of that donation. They are willing to take a risk, get their hands dirty, be willing to not know the outcome will be a happy ending, but do it anyway.

Slowly, but surely, you all have found me, as I have found you. Many of us have worked together creating some amazing rescues-whether it was with our $5 donation or by offering to foster cats for weeks at a time. Whatever you did, you were wiling to dive in and trust that we could do it-then all of a sudden we DID. We DID IT and we keep doing it.

For every life we save, we can turn to each other and say “THANK YOU for taking part in this wonderful and bittersweet challenge to save every cat and kitten we can and rejoice in the human bond we are making with each other.”

So, whoever voted for my Blog, in a category I did not expect, I thank you most sincerely for seeing in me, what I did not see in myself and for encouraging my efforts and making them seem so very worthwhile at the moment I'm about to embark on a bigger journey and form my own Non-Profit Organization!

You guys are the BEST! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Not on My Watch: When Fate Steps In...and WTF?!

All right. Someone needs to make sense of what's been happening in my life and explain it to me. I've been lucky to be part of some amazing cat rescues the past few weeks---First there was our Black Adult Mama Cat, now named Freya, who had no chance at Henry Co. Care & Control, but who, after I posted a plea for her, through the help of a lot of great folks, was able to get busted out and off to new, loving home. Then I found Chester, the 21 yr old kitty, who got away from his family and was lost for 5 days. I found him-saved his life. As of just yesterday, Chester is still doing well and more and more like his “old” self every day.

Then there was the Calico Mama, so friendly and loving, but who had no hope to be free from Death Row. Fate stepped in for her and I was able to help be part of the team of folks who got her out of the shelter and into loving foster care. She was adopted before she even made it out of the shelter and will be in her new home in another week or so.

It wasn't enough. Her two cowbaby kittens needed a rescue as well. This one I handled on my own and these babies are coming to me. Within hours of their rescue, I found out about four more kittens who had just arrived at the shelter and who face the same odds of getting out alive. I rescued them, too, but now I'm “full up” and can't take any more to foster.

That's a lot of saves for ONE person with no shelter and just a few bucks in her pocket. But...

Yesterday I saved my first HUMAN and things got even crazier after that happened!

Sam and I had a client meeting at a local coffee shop at noon. We were starving for something to eat and to finally get paid for our web design project we had just finished. Our client walked in the door, but looked strange. He had a bruise under his left eye and on the bridge of his nose. I made a joke as he sat down and asked him what happened.

He said; “You know...” and could not finish the sentence. He kept saying the same thing and gesturing in frustration. Then it hit me, the injury was NEW and he was either having a stroke or something else was going on!!!

Thankfully, my Mother was an Emergency Medical Technician Crew Chief, and I learned a few things from her. I asked my client to smile. He did. Nice and symmetrical-but it was a grimace of frustration. Okay, no drooping facial things going on, so maybe not a stroke, but he cannot speak any more! He gestured for paper so we grabbed a note pad, we couldn't read his writing. I looked around and noticed a bicycle cop-who, I'm sorry but I can't take them seriously, and told him something was wrong and we needed an ambulance.

This is crazy. I don't know my client that well and I didn't want to overreact when maybe he was diabetic and needed sugar or gosh, I knew he had a clear airway, was breathing basically ok, was agitated (if I couldn't talk I would be, too), but what was wrong with him? I hoped he would not be mad at me for jumping to get him on an ambulance when maybe he just needed a cookie?...I managed to get his phone. I apologized for going through his private stuff, but he wrote his wife's name down and I found it as a "favorite" on his iPhone. Another cop showed up as I reached his wife.

The Cop wanted to talk to me, but I had to talk to her first. I didn't have time to rehearse what to say, so it came out weird. First, I was calling on her husband's phone and she didn't know this woman using her husband's phone! In a shaky voice I told her what my Mother said to me when my father had a stroke. She said he had “an event”...then I told her he could not speak and she started to cry. She was an hour away, but thankfully had a friend who could drive her to the local hospital. I got off the phone and talked to the Officer.

We were all trying to figure out our Client's address-Sam had that since he had the invoice in his hand that we were not going to get paid for that day (hey, these are desperate times!) and it had the info on it. Finally an EMT showed up and started to assess things. About 10 minutes later, a huge mob of folks showed up. More cops, some official looking woman in a suit with a badge attached to her belt, 3 or 4 more EMTs. Meanwhile the folks in the cafe are wondering what is going on and the staff is worried that he fell on their property!

My poor client. I rubbed his back and told him it was going to be okay and to not worry. That we caught it soon and he would be in good hands. He is friends with surgeons at the same hospital so I knew he would get extra good attention. I just wanted him OUT of the cafe so he could get the help he needed, fast!

I asked one of the Officers if I should go with my client or follow in the car, but he reminded me that not being a family member, they would pretty much ignore me. Since they had everything worked out and knew how to reach me and Sam, we decided it was best to just let them take our Client and leave it at that.

After they left, a few of the staff came over and asked us if we wanted anything. Sam and I just sat there with our eyes full of tears and said “no thank you.”

Then Sam turned to me and said; “That was the WORST client meeting I've ever had!”

Yah think?

I didn't want to leave him, but I had another meeting to get to. I went to dish big time dirt on the shhhh...Director of the group I used to be with and the person I was meeting didn't have a cell phone so I couldn't call to cancel. Suddenly, I didn't want to dish dirt or get into my car and drive off. Life just felt so fragile. He was our client, a few years older than we are. He seems in good health, has a wicked sharp mind and loving family. How quickly all that can change. It's very sobering.

I ended up having a good chat with this top secret person. I heard some interesting things and realized that my leaving that group was what I needed to do. Now I have the freedom to really make a difference and find my own way in the world...

But that was before I got the call asking me if I was maybe interested in taking over a shelter and running it as my own. It is staffed with volunteers. Has been around for a long time. They don't even do fundraising. They have plenty of money! And no, I was not sleeping and having a nice dream. The offer, though not a serious one at this point, is a sincere one. I can just step in and do my thing...or maybe I can't, but it's a SHELTER with only cages for new arrivals and they really are NO KILL. They don't put down for space reasons or healthy animals. What the heck?! This can't be!

It's kinda like the OTHER thing that happened yesterday between the tornado warnings and violent thunderstorms...I could not sleep. I went to bed crying, knowing a few more sweet babies were going to be euthanized at 7am. I didn't want to tell you guys about it. It's bad enough that I knew. It was late at night when I got the message. There was no time to find a rescue, so I laid there and wept for them.

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©2010 Henry Co. Care & Control

But it's okay. Don't you cry for them, too. Good old Fate was keeping me awake, I guess. 'Cause something miraculous happened. I pulled off the one thing I was sure I could not...

Taylor Swift is Better Than Me

Anyone who visits this web site regularly knows there aren't enough cat photos. There just aren't. Thankfully, Davander Mobile just released the latest version of CatPaint for lucky iPhone and iPod Touch owners. For 99 cents it's great for creating absolutely absurd images using your own photos as a background. Then you simply add their pre-loaded cat images to any "catless" image or add more cats to an existing photo; if you feel badly that you only have 2 cats and want to seem more like a hoarder (like me with 8 cats).

I swiped a few examples off the Cat Paint Gallery so you can see the work of true “artistes.“ It's very simple to pick up on how to create your own Catserpiece, and during the creation, the cat art meows every time you place one! Great for taunting real cats while you do your art.

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As seen on Cat Paint's Gallery Page! Nice job, whoever you are!

Of course if Taylor Swift can enjoy this, well, that just says it all. What it says, I do not know, but heck there's a CAT in the photo. WIN!

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I just did my own Cat Painting. It might not have been Mewseeum quality and of course I would pre-fur an option to add my own cats. Maybe that will happen in a future version, but for now, I feel satisfied that my boring photo of the Tappen Zee Bridge has been transformed into a moving tribute to something. Maybe. Maybe not a tribute, but not a bad effort. Okay. Just look at the photo I made and like me so I can feel good about myself! I don't have Taylor Swift's legs...or anything else that she's got, for that matter.

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©2010 Robin AF Olson. “The Bridge to Tabbybithia”

So go. Create art. Or bug someone with an iPhone to share this app with you. Just don't bug me. I'm busy creating another catsterpiece.

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Brush Your Cat. Save the Gulf!

Get out your brushes, gang, the wildlife of the Gulf Coast region need our help!

Did you know that human hair and pet fur is GREAT at absorbing OIL? There's a non-profit organization, called Matter of Trust. They collect hair from salons, pet hair from shelters, rescues, schools, individuals-anyone who's got HAIR! They create hair filled "booms" using ladies nylon pantyhose, then drop them onto oil spills and the hair does the rest!

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Photo by Matter of Trust

What a simple and wonderful way to help with this tragedy in the Gulf!

Here's the info from their web site:

Everyone can take part!
No matter where you are. No matter if you're with a salon or groomer or if you're a volunteer.

First, please SIGN UP to their Excess Access program. It's FREE and FAST.
It is their mass donation matching database system.

They cannot give out addresses for where to send hair, fur and nylons unless you are signed up, because as the spill moves so do the recipient sites and we don't want any boxes returned to you. And they don't want any boxes coming there after the spill.

START BRUSHING, GANG! LET'S SEE SOME PHOTOS OF THE CLIPPINGS BEFORE YOU SEND THEM OUT! Best pile of fur photo will be featured here and on our Facebook fan page!

I want to see at least 100 times better than this:

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This is a bit of Nicky, Nora, Bob & Spencer, but I know I can do bigger and better (without the cats going bald!)

Get to it and PLEASE pass this info along to your friends! You can also visit Matter of Trust on FACEBOOK.

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