I just heard from Lisa, our friend at SPCA of Wake County in Raleigh, NC. She gave me an update on the 9 cats (an additional 3 cats went to another rescue) they rescued from Iredell Animals Services last week. If you recall, these cats were subjected to being caged for 2 YEARS due to an animal cruelty investigation and subsequent court case. Once the cats were free to go, they still faced being euthanized because many have minor health issues and some are senior-aged.
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha enjoying life out of a cage.
SPCA Wake County didn't balk at taking on these cats. They didn't pick out the prettiest ones or easiest to adopt-they TOOK THEM ALL and my hat is off to them for their good deed.
From Lisa's email, this is what we have learned:
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Brian, still a bit scared, but slowly coming out of his shell.
“Benson, Brian, Cougar and Tabitha are the first ones available for adoption. You can see their photos and listings at www.spcawake.org/adopt by clicking on the "view cats available for adoption" icon and scrolling through the alphabetical list. Attached is a photo of Tabitha and Cougar lounging in one of our communal cat rooms.
Leroy, Max and Jethro all turned out to be intact. They will be neutered tomorrow and available for adoption starting on Friday.
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Cougar, tail up, happy again!
Tori had a cyst on her chin and we're waiting for lab results before we put her up for adoption.
©2013 SPCA Wake County. Tabitha (back) and Cougra (front) relax in their comfortable new shelter. All they need is to be adopted!
All nine cats have done just fine with us so far and I'm so glad we've been able to help them by giving them a high-volume adoption center to call home until the right people come along.”
200 Petfinder Lane
Raleigh, NC 27603
I'd like to write a meaningful update about Fred, but the truth is I've become incapacitated by this horrific situation. Words are very hard for me to come by. I'm focused on providing round-the-clock care for Fred, for arranging his next test or Vet appointment and for finding a way to pay for it all.
I'm sick to my stomach. I can barely function. I have visions of having to euthanize a 10-month old KITTEN because I can't find an answer to what has been slowly robbing him of his neurological function. The more tests we do, the less we learn. Most of the tests show us nothing. Everything is normal, but Fred is far from it. We rule things out, then rule them back in.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I've cried a river of tears and had to force myself to go into the foster room-a place that once only meant joy to me-to witness seeing my dear foster kitten wobble across the room, trying not to fall over, but flopping to the floor if he tries to go too far. He is reluctant or unable to eat, so Sam and I have to zip him into a “cat bag” so I can syringe feed him every day and give him his meds-which may or may not do a thing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
The tests were supposed to happen today, but will occur tomorrow, instead. Today we opted to do a bile acid test, in the hopes that Fred has a very rare condition called a Portosystemic Shunt. Fred does not have all the symptoms, but the symptoms can vary. Fred's neurologist felt it was worth investigating and it IS treatable if it's causing the problems.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
They wanted to look again, with a second ultrasound, at Fred's mesenteric lymph nodes. Once “plump” they are now normal. This is good news, right? Not really because now they're seeing a faint “glow” around his kidneys which could mean LYMPHOMA, but of course it's not definitive. Nothing seems to be at this point.
Tomorrow, April 23rd, they will do an MRI of Fred's brain. If they see encephalitis (swelling) it can indicate FIP. They could see brain degeneration due to roundworm infestation or a brain tumor. They will take some of his spinal fluid and look for cells in it. If there are more than 5, that's a problem. If the protein levels are above 25 it will mean it's more likely FIP. If those tests are normal they will look again at the fluid to see if there is toxoplasmosis or cryptococcous-even though his blood showed no signs of it-they can some times find it in the spinal fluid. Those two things we CAN treat for and cure, but lymphoma and FIP are a death sentence for Fred.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
So we wait. We may learn things tomorrow or we may be stumped. We may never know what is happening so we'll do what most vets do-give Fred steroids and hope the inflammation reduces and he gets some function back in his limbs, that he has better quality of life for some amount of time. I got Polyprenil Immunostimulant from Sass & Sass. It's the ONLY drug known to POSSIBLY, in some very few cases, give cats with the dry form of FIP a greater chance to live longer and more comfortably. Some cats have lived over a year with the therapy and one cat has lived over 5 years.
Excuse my rambling, awful post. I'm in a very bad place, terrified, hoping that somehow, some way, Fred gets a miracle and we can cure him. It feels very unlikely right now, but foolish me, I will hold onto the few strands of hope I have left.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
Fred's vet bill is ENORMOUS and pushing over $6000.00 to date. Kitten Associates is a small rescue. We don't have big benefactors. We don't have a load of money in the bank. I only ask for help when we REALLY need it-and we REALLY NEED IT. If you can donate the price of a cup of coffee-that's GREAT-you can donate via this LINK. We're not greedy. It all adds up to help Fred. You can use the widget, below to make a donation or mail us a check made out to: "Kitten Associates" and mail it to: Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.
We're a 501(c )3 non-profit so your donation is even tax deductible.
and a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has so graciously donated and shared our fundraiser!
There are 8 CATS WHO STILL NEED & DESERVE RESCUE ASAP. Red Boy has a commitment but it still at the shelter. He's not SAFE until he is OUT.
The following cats were seized from their owner by Animal Control in North Carolina in June 2011. They've spent the majority of the last YEAR and TEN MONTHS in a CAGE. The municipal shelter, where they've been housed, did the best they could with the resources they have. The cats were let out to exercise in groups, but it's never enough when they always had to go back to their tiny cages. You can see from the expression on the faces of the cats in the photos, below, what the long confinement has done to them.
Most cats are sitting in their litter pan, a huge indicator of both lack of space and stress on the cat. From what I've seen with Mabel, once she was here it seems as if any stress she had at the shelter has passed and is forgotten.
Please, help me, help them.
•••If you live in North Carolina, and volunteer with a rescue group or KNOW SOMEONE who is with a rescue group PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH THEM and ask them to please consider taking even ONE of these cats. THESE CATS CAN ONLY GO TO A RESCUE GROUP because some of the cats have upper respiratory issues.
•••If you're OUTSIDE of North Carolina, with a Rescue Group that has resources and a Non-Profit 501(c)3 number, then you can pull a cat from this shelter. There is a form you have to fill out. It's not a big deal.
IF YOU WANT TO ADOPT ONE OF THESE CATS, you MUST HAVE A SHELTER/RESCUE PULL THE CAT FOR YOU and YOU MUST WORK IT OUT WITH THE RESCUE HOW TO GET THE CAT. Not ideal, but it CAN BE DONE.
ALL CATS WERE SNAP TESTED for FIV/FeLV 12/15/11 and have not been around other cats during their time in the shelter. They CAN be retested on site for $25.
If the cat is not spayed/neutered, it can be done in-house for $65. They can take a credit card over the phone.
Phone: (704) 878-5424
Iredell County Animal Services & Control
430 Bristol Drive
Statesville, North Carolina
Monday-Friday, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
There ARE weekly transports running in and out of the area. Some are volunteer based, like the Underground Railroad Rescued Kitty Network and some are paid. We use PETS, LLC. NOTE: PETS will require the cat be in quarantine for 2 weeks and be vetted prior to transport.
You can board your cat at TROUTMAN ANIMAL HOSPITAL, among other places in the area. I've used Troutman and they are terrific. They are also very close to Animal Services.
THE MORE WE SHARE, THE BETTER THE ODDS SOME OF THE CATS WILL GET OUT!
Brian is aNeutered male, short haired white/orange tabby. He's a LARGE cat. Good appetite! Brian is good with other cats, but is a little shy. Not aggressive at all with cats or people, just nervous. Would probably come out of his "shell" once in a calm and quiet home. Does have eye and nose drainage. Has upper resp. issues.
Poor Brian! He sits in his cat litter pan because the scent of it is his only comfort. Brain looks depressed or angry, but he's a nice kitty. He's emotionally exhausted from the stress of living in a cage for so long. Can you love this big lug?
Cougar is a short haired female (underbelly indicates possibly spayed). Good temperament. Possible slight upper resp. symptoms.
Rarely do black cats have a happy ending once their in a shelter. Cougar is a nice cat who just needs a break.
Intact male, 3-5 years of age. Medium haired Tabby/White. Temperament was very good, but in last few months has been slightly temperamental (they believe once out of "caged" environment temperament will once again improve). Possible slight upper resp. issues, but overall seems healthy!
Look at that FACE! Jethro is asking you to bust him out of that cage. He's so handsome and friendly, I'm sure he would make a great addition to any home.
Intact male, short haired gray/white. Very friendly. Seems ok with other cats. Cat is slim, but not too underweight. Cat has good appetite. Slight upper resp. issues. Owner had as 10 years of age, would not guess that old in age.
What do you think? I think Max wants to play and have fun! What pretty eyes, too!
Medium haired, neutered male orange tabby. Approx 7 years old. Cat is overweight and has a great appetite! Very friendly with other cats and with people. Have not noticed any eye or nose discharge, but still possible to have slight upper respiratory issues. Teeth are yellowing and are "worn".
Red Boy is an older kitty. Those of you who know this blog well, will notice that he looks too much like my guy, Bob Dole. Red Boy is too adorable to stay in a cage any longer.
Neutered/Male, Medium haired Orange Tabby/White. Approx 5 years old. Cat is friendly, but VERY nervous. Not aggressive. I believe once out of a "caged" environment will be an independent calm and happy cat. Weight is good. Possible slight upper resp. issues.
Sammy looks so scared, but what a knockout! He's another cat who will blossom once he's safely out of the shelter.
Medium/Long haired, dilute calico/tortie markings. Approx 3 years old. Very friendly with people, but does not like being scruffed. Would do best as an only cat (seems to be agitated by other cats). Cat seems to "talk" instead of meow! Loving girl. Does have issue with hair balls, but I believe once in a home and groomed regularly will improve. Possible slight upper resp. issues. [Note from Robin: I find it tough to agree that the cat needs to be an only cat. She should be evaluated in less stressful environment. She can probably get on with other cats if introduced properly.]
I don't have to convince anyone that Suzie needs to be rescued. Look at her!
Short haired, black/white cat. Has some dental issues. Very friendly and seems ok with other cats. Good body weight, but poor hair coat (dull coat). Has slight upper respiratory issues.
Sweet Tori. It's easy to overlook a cat who might have some minor health issues, but none of them are her fault. With good food and some vet care, this kitty could be your best friend.
Short haired, gray/white cat. Slightly underweight. Very friendly. Has started to defecate outside of litter box in past couple months. I believe once out of a "caged" environment cat will return to using litter box. Fur is dull.
This photo arrived distorted so I tried to fix it. Working on getting a replacement image.
Journey is a senior-about 12 years old. She's a short haired, black/white cat. Cat has no teeth and has been on canned food only. Cat has upper respiratory issues. Cat appears to be losing weight and appears to have stopped grooming regularly. Poor fur coat. Cat is friendly and seems ok with other cats, but is "high energy". Possibly spayed.
This is the initial notes from the shelter. I personally had this cat for a week in my office. She was beyond kennel stressed, and just letting her out in my office to stretch was the best thing for her. She is absolutely hilarious! In the mornings she would greet me at the door, and proceed to stand on my desk in front of my computer screen and paw at me until we had our morning “hellos”. She would only then go and lay in her bed. Wonderfully loving and sweet cat!
She's a SENIOR and a wreck. Of all the cats this one cuts me the deepest. I hope we can find a way to get her OUT. I know she can recover from her difficult time in a cage, but we need help to make it happen.
Benson is an approximately 5 year old, neutered male tabby cat. He has URI issues with an unknown cause despite treatment. [Note from Robin: He may have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all he needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.] He is friendly to humans and is good around other cats. His left ear slouches, and we suspect that is from an old hematoma.
This guy is a big, friendly dude. Sure he's a bit rough around the edges, but with a little polishing he'll be a treasure. He just wants to make friends and love his family.
Tabitha is an approximately 5 year old female tabby cat. We suspect she is spayed due to her body condition, but we cannot be sure. She is friendly with humans and other cats. She has a chronic URI issue, with an unknown cause, despite medical treatment. [Note from Robin: she may also have bartonella which is an easy test to do and 3 week course of antibiotics-not a big deal if that's the case. Just being out of this environment may be all she needs to get better. Cats get SICK if they get STRESSED.]
She's a sweet tabby who has not only suffered confinement, but illness. She CAN get better and it may take as little as getting out OUT of the shelter and into a loving home. Please don't overlook this little sweetie.
It is with great sadness and reluctance that I announce, effective today, that my non-profit rescue, Kitten Associates, will be closing its doors for good. With adoptions and donations at all time lows and volunteers difficult, if not impossible to find, I feel that my time would be better suited letting others do this good work of saving cats since I have been a complete failure at doing so.
What IS Pebble Associates all about?
Simply put, we rescue rocks from cruel living situations where they might otherwise be ground up and used as decoration in expensive landscaping or to provide a surface for a driveway, which, in turn, would abandon them to be repeatedly run over day after day. That's something we find intolerable!
Rock rescue, before today, was simply unheard of and it's high time something was done about it. Consider this-how many rocks do you see each day as you travel to work? Or do you see them causally dumped in piles by cruel-handed gardeners in your neighbor's yard? How many of these rocks ever hope to get proper care and consideration, while eeking out an existence?
We've developed a list of important tenents that guide me to my new purpose in life.
1. No rock should be subjected to EROSION-especially by water and wind. ALL ROCKS SHOULD BE INDOOR-ONLY.
2. Rocks should never be spade, shoveled or otherwise disturbed once they are placed in the home.
3. Rocks should have regular care, which includes keeping them clean, but not exposed to harsh abrasives, given no food of any kind, not even a treat, and always kept at a comfortable temperature to prevent fissures or cracks from occurring.
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Granite being judged at a Gem & Mineral Show-how disgusting! That rock should not have been used for such greedy and malicious purposes.
4. We suggest that rocks be adopted in, at least, pairs, unless they are boulder-sized, particularly when it comes to pebbles as they do much better in groups or cozy piles.
5. Cruelty to rocks will NEVER be TOLERATED-and we're talking about using Rock Tumblers, Jackhammers, Chisels, or Diamond-tooth Saws on them!
6. Rocks should come from Rock Groups or Rock Shelters, NOT from a fancy-pants Gem & Mineral Show. There's already too many rocks on the planet and we need to act now to keep the problem from turning into an avalanche.
I hope you'll support my new dream with your donation to Pebbles Associates. It's good-hearted folks like you that help me, help them.
Chloe sits in the center of the living room. I can’t see her back legs from where I’m sitting, a few feet away. Her front legs are comically dwarfed, little white mitts, in comparison to the rest of her body.
It’s completely heartbreaking to look at her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Look, but don't touch.
I met Chloe last week after getting a number of calls from my Vet, the Animal Control Officer in town and a woman who is friends with Chloe’s guardian. The story I got was that the guardian, who I will call Dave, was calling our ACO and Vet to find out if he could get someone to come over to euthanize his cat.
Upon further discussion it was disclosed the Chloe had been biting people and that Dave, being basically house-bound and disabled, had to get rid of the cat because his caretaker was making a fuss about her.
Obviously there were other reasons why the caretaker wanted to end Chloe’s life, but I couldn’t know the reason until I learned more.
The ACO said she might have to put the cat down if it was a biter. She couldn’t be adopted if she was going to hurt a future adopter. Chloe was at least 10 years old, if not older, and the odds of finding her any home were slim to none, even if she was a Siamese under all that extra weight.
I offered to go to the home to assess the cat. We could hear stories about her, but I needed to see her for myself. I was told the cat was chubby, but I had no idea how grossly obese she was until I met her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chole's back fur is quite matted and I'm sure causing her some discomfort.
I visited Dave, along with his friend, Frances (not her real name). She’d met Chloe many times, but was hard pressed to describe her behavior to me, which I found very puzzling. Is the cat friendly or not? What’s the deal here?
I entered the small living room of the 1-bedroom apartment. Chloe was sitting on the top of the sofa. As I walked into the room and sat down on a nearby chair, she came over to say hello.
I let her settle down. She sat in the center of the room, commanding the space. She growled softly, which turned into a whine, then back to a growl. Her ears were not flat. Her tail didn’t whip up and down in anger. Her pupils were dilated. I made no move to touch her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. There IS a cat under there, somewhere.
I spoke with Dave and got some history on the cat. He’d gotten her a few years ago from a woman in Fairfield. Chloe supposedly slept on his chest and would tap him to get petted. That the day before three Missionaries had come to visit, all men, and she had been fine with them, so why was she so distressed by me?
We talked about food. He said he got really good food (not even close to good-in my opinion) for the cats, some sort of house brand dry and that was it. Clearly this cat was being given a huge bowl of food to snack on day and night. She could barely walk. I imagined that part of her fear was that she was too fat to flee, should I be a threat to her. She might also be in a lot of pain from carrying so much weight on her bones.
I’d worked out a deal with my dear friend, Katherine from Animals in Distress. We would get the cat vetted, then re-assess her behavior at that time. We owed it to Chloe to give her a chance to stabilize her weight and behavior before making any other decisions about her future.
It’s one thing to deal with a feral cat, but a fearful cat is a different thing altogether.
Our choices were to either put Chloe down or give her a chance. Katherine and I chose to give her some time. The problem is we needed a foster home for Chloe and Katherine had to sacrifice the last precious space she has left in her home that doesn’t already have cats in it. It wasn’t ideal, but for now it’s all we had. No one would step up to take this cat and most of my fosters are sick and I know I’d have her with me forever and I just couldn’t do that to my cats. At least Katherine might be able to put Chloe into their shelter if she was ever well enough to go there.
A few days later, Chloe was taken to the Vet. I don’t know how they managed, but they did get blood work done and there was nothing indicating her thyroid was off, which could have caused her emotional issues, or that she was diabetic, which was surprising. I don’t know if the Vet looked at her teeth, but Chloe probably had some painful gums, at least, from all the junky food.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh dear, dear, Chloe.
Katherine brought Chloe home and placed her in a bathroom where she’d be living until we could get her settled. It’s unlikely we’d find her a foster home with her behavior issues, at least for now.
All Katherine was doing was trying to help Chloe feel more comfortable and clean. She called me, distressed, but laughing through her irritation. I felt so badly, but I hadn’t told Katherine anything other than the truth-the cat was NOT adoptable right now, but that we should at least try to give her a chance to blossom. These would be the worst days-hopefully better ones would follow.
I contacted my friend, Wendy Christensen, who is an award-winning author and illustrator. Her books include The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care. She's written for Cat Fancy, Kittens USA, Catnip, CatWatch, Natural Cat, and Natural Pet. Wendy is one of my go-to people when I have a cat behavior issue that stumps me. Because she’s not directly involved with Chloe, I knew she could offer me perspective without any bias one way or the other.
Wendy wrote me back, a very long email. She was very troubled by what she was told about Chloe. She said what I also feared, it’s very likely that Chloe has been abused.
Wendy wrote: “I would concur that she's probably been abused. What she needs more than anything else is peace and quiet and a calm, stable environment. She is just too stressed to deal with any human interaction right now. I know it sounds "cruel," but she needs to be left alone to get some of her confidence back, stabilize and heal for awhile. She needs to be alone so she can start to feel safe again.
Her size has clearly made it very hard for her to move about and escape whatever peril she was placed in. Escapability is primary for cats' mental health. She has felt (and still feels) utterly trapped and at the mercy of others -- possibly the worst thing a cat can experience. She is in a super-super-sensitive frame of mind. She doesn't need a lot of space, but she DOES need safety, peace, quiet, stability, and predictability.”
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. With pupils dilated with fear, Chloe readies herself to strike, but I can't help wanting to pet her and soothe her anxiety, regardless.
Of course, my first thought was, that the caretaker who hated this cat and wanted her put to sleep was responsible. What was he doing to her when no one was looking?
There’s no way to know if he ever even lifted a finger to Chloe, but it certainly makes sense. There’s no way to know that Dave wasn’t the one who harmed her either, but clearly something terrible happened to Chloe and now she needs us to understand that and give her the space she needs to heal.
And then there’s the other cat in the home, Lucy; Lucy who is so friendly and outgoing. What will become of her? We need to get her out of this place, too. It’s only a matter of time before she is so big she can’t walk either, or so sick from never being vetted that she dies.
Our first goal is to focus on Chloe and hope her sweet nature will emerge one day. I saw a flicker of that sweetness the first moment I met her. She’s suffering from crippling fear brought on by abuse.
I realize this is a long-shot, but if you live in the Wilton, CT area and have lots of experience working with cats, if you can provide a SEPARATE space in your home that’s quiet and safe and you’re willing to basically just keep Chloe fed, but otherwise left alone, please contact me: email@example.com
Chloe is going to need long-term care. If you’d like to make a donation to help Chloe, please donate via PayPal HERE. Animals in Distress is a 501(c) 3, non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Wendy has recently begun offering fee-based cat behavior consultations. If you're in need of her services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
Another resources for help with cat behavior issues, is Wendy's latest book: Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to do What You Want which was just published earlier this month.
The ACO asked me, since they felt the case was nearing completion, did I want to foster Tansy until the case was over? I had to agree to return her to North Carolina if the Judge awarded her back to Sue. I promised I would follow the letter of the Law even if I didn’t agree with the verdict.
“When can we take Tansy out of there?” I asked.
”We’re open until 5PM today and from 10AM to 2PM tomorrow.” they replied.
I couldn't believe it! I wished I had superpowers so I could FLY to Animal Control and get her out. I started to consider making the 1000 mile drive, but first I wanted to make certain it was our girl. I asked for a photo of her to confirm we had the right cat. A few hours later, the photo below arrived in my inbox. There was Tansy, all grown up. A bit chubbier than she’d been when we last saw her, but it was still our girl. I was so happy to see her my mouth hurt from smiling so hard. They told me half the cats had become chronically sick at the shelter, but somehow Tansy had been spared. Thank God.
©2013 ICAS&C. There she is-TANSY!
I called a friend of mine who used to run a shelter here in CT and who’d recently retired to North Carolina. I asked her to please go get Tansy and since she couldn’t foster her that I’d arrange to pay for the cost of boarding at a local Vet hospital if she could drop her off. It would mean more time in a cage, but we were almost out of the woods.
The next morning at 10AM Tansy left the building, hopefully for the last time. An hour later I got more photos and a call. Tansy was at the Vet getting examined by the same Vet who had seen her while she was in custody. It's a very nice facility called Troutman Animal Hospital and the people there were really thrilled with their new furry client.
©2013 ICAS&C. A second photo seals the deal. Yes, it's our girl.
I couldn’t believe my luck, nor did I deserve it, but I was so very grateful. I didn’t know if Tansy’s behavior was temporary and due to the long confinement or if that was her true nature.
I arranged for Tansy to be vetted and I set up her transport to Connecticut. I sent out some emails and was able to find Amanda Arthur from Paws and Claws rescue. She offered to drive Tansy 100 miles to the drop off location for the PETS transport. It was all working out so well. It should be an easy time for Tansy now, but there were more delays.
©2013 Troutman Animal Hospital. Someone turned Tansy's laser beam eyes on at the Vet!
The weather tanked so we had to keep Tansy in North Carolina for three weeks. Over that time Ms Vicki, who works at Troutman, kept me abreast of Tansy’s latest antics. Vicki was in love with Tansy to the point of wanting to adopt her. Even if her husband was against the idea, preventing any thoughts of adopting Tansy; I couldn’t have let her go anyway. There would be vet checks and home visits for Tansy’s next-and last home if I had anything to do with it. I was thrilled that someone loved this cat so much that I heard her choke back tears of joy when I had to extend Tansy’s stay to a third week. It spoke highly of Vicki and of Tansy. Apparently, this was one great cat.
On February 1st at 9AM I sat in the parking lot at the Danbury Choice Hotel waiting for the PETS truck to arrive. It was bitter cold and I worried about Tansy handling the serious temperature shift. The driver opened the doors to the side of the truck as the families lined up to receive their newly adopted dogs. Tansy, as often happens, was the only cat on the truck. As I reached the front of the line, I asked for Tansy, knowing it would be the last time I said that name out loud.
She was huddled in the carrier, crying. I raced her over to my car and tried to take a quick look at her, but it was so cold I didn’t want to waste any time. I got the car started and headed for home. She was quiet and didn’t react much, just stared out the front of the carrier as I drove along I-84. I talked to her about her new home and I welcomed her to Connecticut, as I do with every foster cat who arrives from the south.
It was the least I could do. This was the second time I’d saved her life from a Kill Shelter. I was determined to never put her in harm’s way again.
When I got home I brought her to her room. It’s my guest bathroom/laundry room. It’s not a huge space but it has a window that overlooks the woods. It has a cat tree and two scratchers. There are new toys waiting for her and fresh food (much BETTER FOOD) and water. I even had a heated blanket out for her to snuggle on. I wanted her to have everything she needed.
I set the carrier on the floor and opened the door. She walked out of the crate and looked around. She’s a very small cat. I expected her to be much larger. She seemed immediately at ease and came over to me to say hello.
©2013 Robin A.F Olson. One of the best moments of my life-seeing Mabel happy, safe and OUT of a CAGE.
That day was the beginning of her new life. I honored it by giving her a new name.
But how did Mabel do once she was out of the cage? Did she remain friendly or turn into a fiend? Mable had a few surprises left up her tabby patterned sleeves that no one saw coming…
I’ve been skulking around, carrying a shameful secret in my heart for almost three years. Only a very few trusted friends knew what was going on. For legal reasons I couldn’t say anything online about what was happening until there was a verdict in the court case. Yes, COURT CASE.
I suffered in silence, but I deserved it. It was part of the penance I had to pay for what I did.
Simply put, I made a terrible judgement error. I trusted a stranger when I should have been more careful. Although I consider myself to be a responsible person, I trust others too easily. When I take something on, I do it to the best of my ability. If I fail, I take the blame. I hold my head up and apologize and do my best to make it right again.
Because of my actions, a cat suffered in a most unfair and despicable way. I know that even now going public with my story may risk serious backlash from the other person involved in this horror. She will rain down on me, make untrue accusations, she will whine and twist her words. She may even do more than that, but I don’t care about her feelings after what she's allowed to happen.
In July of 2010, we opened the doors to my Non-Profit rescue group, Kitten Associates. We were still getting things sorted out, building our web site, setting up the foster room, sorting out what cats we rescue and how we would find them good homes. I already had almost a decade of fostering and working with other cat rescues, so this was a natural next step. I was scared. I was excited. I hoped I could help make a positive difference for cats and the people they live with. This was a big test for me.
At that time this blog, Covered in Cat Hair, had been going for over 4 years. I had a growing readership and my stories about rescue life were going very well. I leveraged my readership to help me get the word out on cats at kill shelters in the southern US who needed rescue. It was working to make a difference and continues to be an exciting part of what I do.
I’d already rescued cats from a few Georiga shelters in the past so when I heard about a calico mama and her two, cow-patterned kittens, who needed to get “busted out,” I jumped at the chance to help.
©2010 Maria S. Cali-Mama our first rescued cat, just after her spay surgery. She is mama to Pattycake and Moonpie.
I was worried about what to do with this cat, who we called Cali-mama, but just after I broke the news that we were taking on our first rescues, one of my readers contacted me saying she wanted to adopt the mom before we'd even gotten Cali OUT of the shelter!
I was over-the-moon happy. It didn’t occur to me to have her fill out an adoption application. We spoke on the phone at great length and shared many emails. I was so relieved she wanted this cat that I didn’t even charge her an adoption fee or ask her to sign an adoption contract! Yes, I was STUPID.
©2010 Maria S. Cali and her daughter, Pattycake.
Within two weeks, we had the cat fully vetted, since the kittens were already weaned, and our friend, Bobby, drove her to her new home in North Carolina. Cali-mama was our first adoption.
Bobby told me he didn’t like the look of the woman. The first warning sign – she wouldn’t let him drop the cat off to her at home. Though he offered many times, she wanted to meet him a few miles away-and this is after he just drove a few hundred miles with the cat - what was a few more? He said there was something about her he didn’t feel comfortable about and he wished he’d kept the cat, instead of let her go. When he told me that I feared we'd made a terrible mistake, but it was too late.
©2010 HCC&C. From my original post announcing that Cali had been adopted.
I got a few updates telling me that the cat was renamed Tansy. She was doing okay but a bit uncomfortable with the dog. She’d tried to get out of the house a few times, but seemed to be calming down. I didn’t worry about Tansy. It sounded like she was adjusting, so I continued on with rescuing more cats.
I asked her to tell me what happened. She went into a long rant, saying all sorts of things about the Home Owner’s Association saying that there was a stench coming from inside her home that could be smelled outside her home. It that was so bad they eventually called Animal Control. She said she was getting vilified and it was unfair; that there was some sort of pond causing the odor, not her house.
©2010 Maria S. One of the last photos we'd see of Cali for the next two years.
Pressing for more details, I finally got my answer. When I heard it I felt like throwing up, then passing out, as the blood went out of my head, into my toes. WHAT HAD I DONE?! When I had a second to process her words I wanted to reach through the phone line to let’s just say do something really bad involving causing this person a lot of PAIN, but I said nothing at first. I was too stunned to talk.
What happened next literally took a piece out of my heart.
This person, who I will call Sue (not her real name), tried to convince me she was a victim and that I should help her get her animals back.
I was able to find out where Tansy had been taken, so I immediately began calling and emailing them to get more information.
I found out the that conditions in the home were terrible. They would not say more than that for legal reasons. They said they would not euthanize any of the animals unless they became seriously ill, so Tansy had a chance to get out alive.
Humiliated, I had to tell the Director of Animal Control about my terrible error adopting out this cat to Sue. I couldn’t even give her a microchip number because we hadn’t started doing chips then. I had a few photos and luckily they matched one of the cats in custody. They took down my information and were a bit terse about dealing with me. I deserved it, but at least they knew I would be there for this cat, with bells on, if I could only get her back.
And then the wait began. The fear left me breathless each time I emailed Animal Control to ask for an update. I didn’t want them to forget me. I feared if I waited too long I’d miss my chance to get this poor cat back, so I just kept contacting them, hoping for good news.
I thought about Tansy’s life—living in a tiny cage with no sunshine or fresh air, most likely living near barking dogs - what torture for her. It would be a few weeks before the case would be heard, but certainly it wasn’t a long enough time for being back in a kill shelter to do any harm to her, right?
But Sue wanted a fight so she got one. The case dragged on. It went to a higher court. There were delays and more delays. MONTHS passed. Each time I had to contact Animal Control for an update, my heart sank when I saw they’d replied. Were they going to tell me I was too late or worse, that she went back to Sue?
In part two, the wait continues, as does the fear that I will never get Tansy back alive.
What the Hell is wrong with me? The current group of foster cats has been here for FIVE MONTHS. They started out as kittens and now they’re young adults. Each day they grow a little less adoptable and each day I grow a little more concerned that I will never get them adopted.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow has blossomed into a lovely young lady.
I had lunch with Super-Deb yesterday and we got into a heated discussion about appropriate nutrition for cats. We were both respectful to each other, but I also felt like perhaps I was seen as being arrogant about my views about NO KIBBLE for cats, ever. It gave me pause. I would never want to be seen in that light.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred with Latte.
Deb surprised me by saying she feeds grain-free dry, along with grain-free canned and some raw. After all, Deb was one of the people who inspired me to look into feeding a raw diet for my cats so I assumed she was only feeding raw, too. She said she doesn’t claim to know everything about what is the perfect food for cats. What she feeds her cats is based on what she feels is acceptable. She does not find issue with grain-free kibble. Go figure.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow's pantaloons.
Deb reminded me that some cats live to be 20 years old on crappy dry food and little to no Vet care. I countered that some people live to be 100 and they smoke cigarettes every day, too, but it’s only SOME people, not MOST. What is the QUALITY of that cat’s life over the years versus a cat on a species appropriate diet? What is a daily smoker’s life like over 100 years? What is it about some cats who can live just fine on dry while so many others get seriously sickened to the point of dying? At least half of my cats had issues that were resolved once I put them on a raw/grain-free diet. Two of the issues would have eventually caused the cats to die.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow with her Cat Dancer®.
The jury is still out and perhaps we will never know what the perfect diet is for our cats, but in my book; garbage in is garbage out. Obligate carnivore cats need PROTEIN for energy, not a baked, extruded, blast-heated granule of grain and vegetable-based proteins and chemicals. It sounds disgusting even imagining it. Even if the dry food had animal protein how much nutrition is left in it after the massive amounts of processing are completed?
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney (left) with Fred (right).
Then, the epiphany came into the diner astride a gleaming white horse. I realized the primary reason I’m not finding good adopters is because I need to find people who share the same passion about caring for their cats as I do. What I don't want are people who don’t treat their cat as, well, a cat; something to pet when it’s convenient-to provide care for rarely if, at all. People who easily assume a cat is “evil” if it doesn’t behave in the way the cat expected to—even if it’s against their nature. They don't look past the assumption that the cat is being evil and don't seek out WHY the cat is acting that way or ask their Vet. People who when given common sense information about appropriate nutrition stiffen their back and refuse to even listen. That is not my idea of a good adopter.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally Willow holds still long enough to get a photo of her.
Yes. I ask a lot. I realize that.
I don’t need people to be as cat-centric as I am. I’ve been working very hard to pry my mind open and give every possible adopter the benefit of the doubt when they want to adopt one of my foster cats. I try to keep expectations simple. I do my best to educate, to be respectful, but in the end there can be a parting of the ways and another potential adopter finds a cat elsewhere.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, now a refined ladycat.
To date, Coco has lost out on MANY applications. I went as far as I could with each one. I even went on a home visit. I loved the people, but their home wasn’t a good fit. I had very long conversations with Sam debating about what really mattered—the family or the condition of the home or both? In the end I knew Coco would have spent her life hiding under the bed if she lived there and I couldn’t let her go. There have been other homes that were really crazy-messy but there was so much love in the home that I knew the cat would be happy. I try really hard not to judge, but there's a lot of pressure to get it right. I don't get a second chance to find a better home once the cat leaves here.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I don't know what Willow is doing to Barney.
I finally found a great adopter. He and his family came over a few times. Each time there was a reason why they couldn’t do the adoption right then and there. I gave him the benefit of the doubt knowing he would adopt her after the Holidays were over. He finally got back to me and because his daughter didn’t do some mysterious chore she couldn’t have the cat. I wasted two months on this.
I found another good candidate and was about to do the home visit when the former applicant contacted me and asked if Coco was still available and could they adopt her that weekend? My gut instincts said no way so I moved on.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fabulous Fred.
Saturday Coco might FINALLY be getting adopted except that the woman who was going to adopt her called a few hours ago and said her father has had a serious health issue and she was going out of town for ten days at least. Could I hold Coco? Oh dear..not again. [note: and as of this writing Coco has just come back from the Vet. She's SICK with a mysterious “Fever of Unknown Origin”]
There have been many other setbacks with adopters wanting the cats, coming to visit, leaving empty handed, then contacting me later to see how the cats are doing but they don’t want to adopt them! It's not completely my fault, but I want to do better.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I still haven't gotten even one application for Latte.
After the Shooting in Sandy Hook and the launch of our Kitties for Kids program I didn’t push too hard to move the cats out. It would be tough to have a program involving cats if all the cats were gone so I lost more time there.
Tomorrow my friends Izzy and Mark are driving to Georgia to pick up Maria’s foster cats: Bongo, George and Bunny Boo-Boo. I’ll meet them late Thursday night in Pennsylvania to bring the cats to Connecticut. While my house is already full, I’m bringing these guys here. They’ve been waiting for four months to come up and start the process of finding their forever homes and with Kitten Season upon us I have to get things going.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney-chomp.
There is a great temptation to not be so strict, to bend the rules, let the cats go to homes where they will go outside to roam freely, where there is no Vet reference, let alone a good one, where it just doesn’t matter what they get fed as long as there’s food. I could get the cats homes in a heartbeat if that was the case…
…and I’d never be able to live with myself.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and Latte wrestle.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred with favorite toy.
Note: Before you even go there, if you free-feed your cat kibble, that’s YOUR choice. I’m not suggesting you’re a bad person if this is what you do. Everyone does the best they can with what they have and as I said, there are some cats who are fine on kibble and nothing more. If you read this blog, odds are you really care a lot about your cat. Be assured I would never want to offend any of you. That's never my intention.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow with cool slow motion tail blur.
I AM, however, suggesting that you feed on a timed schedule-twice or three times a day, tops and NOT leave a bowl of food out all day and night. This is true for MOST, not ALL cats. There are always situations where cats need access to food all the time. I can only think of a senior cat who doesn't eat much as an example but I'm sure there are others. Free-feeding can easily cause your cat to become obese and diabetic. Just that small change could mean a lot to your cat even if that's the only adjustment you make to feeding him or her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Fred.
It’s easy to associate food with love. You can still love your cat more than anyone or anything in the world, but you don’t have to show it by overfeeding them. Love your cat with pets, with lots of play time and environmental stimulation. Keep the bowl empty unless it's time for breakfast or dinner.
I didn’t plan on writing more about life here after the shooting in Sandy Hook. My blog is focused on cat rescue and the challenges of living within a multiple-cat household, but something happened today that must write about.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
This post is regarding people who call themselves “truthers” or conspiracy theorists. They play detective, purportedly sniffing tiny “details” out of a tragedy that when taken out of context or when twisted about to suit their agenda and strung together with bits of dried up tape and spit, turn into their version of “the truth.” They supposedly get their data from credible news outlets or mysterious unnamed “sources.” They make things up. They see something in a photo that only their twisted perception can reveal.
The case in point is what happened here in Sandy Hook.
They say the shooting was faked, portrayed by “crisis actors,” not “real people” (these actors DO exist, but they are used for Emergency Training seminars, etc. These folks concur-they had no role in what happened—DUH!). They are determined to prove that the situation was used to push tougher gun control laws. Really?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
Wow. If the U.S. Government was that creative do you think the economy would be in such dire straits? No way! They’d open a movie studio to rival Paramount Pictures. They’d be profitable, save the economy and we'd all have jobs being hired out to be actors in the next, as-yet-to-happen faux-tragedy to befall our Country!
To be behind an event like this would be a logistical nightmare. Who has time for such tomfoolery with everything else going on in this Country? They’d have to hire a shitload of actors, who would have to be made up of PEOPLE I KNOW. One such person is someone I’ve known for over 30 YEARS. I find it impossible to believe that my dear friend, who is the Lieutenant in a local police department, who was one of the First Responders, was an actor. Bullshit. That what he saw was phony. Bullshit. The fact that he will probably need to go on a paid leave of absence after what he saw-NOT bullshit.
The other thing that makes my blood boil are the attacks on another person I know here in town named Eugene “Gene” Rosen. You may recall that Gene was the gentleman who lived down the street from Sandy Hook Elementary. Victoria Soto’s surviving students took refuge in his driveway after the massacre. Gene just happened to be home feeding his cats. When he discovered the children, he opened up his home and his heart to these kids until they could be reunited with their parents. What a good deed. How could such kindness be seen as merely staged dramatics? Disgusting!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
Gene is a Pet Sitter and I’ve known him for years. Gene is a sweet, gentle person who loves animals. We serve together on the newly formed Advisory Council for the Newtown Animal Care & Control Center. I just saw him a few days ago at our last meeting. He was very quiet, clearly distressed by what has befallen him and this was BEFORE the “truthers” started attacking him.
What these “truthers” are saying is that Gene is an actor; that Gene did despicable things to the children that I will not repeat. They make outrageous claims stating they can do so because they have proof. Oh really? Do they KNOW Gene? NO. Do they live here in town? NO! Are they being “mean boys and girls,” picking on an innocent senior citizen? YES!
As always happens, those good intentions begin to fall to the wayside and people go on with their lives as the days pass. That's not a problem. It's appropriate, but the invasion of “truthers” reminds us that the flip side of compassion is stained with cruelty.
We’re still here. We’re still hurting, but we’re taking time to heal, surrounded by people we know, love and trust—our community.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
There are people out there who have too much time on their hands, who probably never got picked to be part of any team, who are paranoid, maybe a few French fries short of a Happy Meal™? They sit around looking to make trouble, to get attention, to stir things up, to make people who are in obvious pain, feel like they have to defend themselves about a situation that does not require defending.
“But it could all be Photoshopped®,” they’d say next.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
They will always come up with some reason for why they can’t believe it. A mountain of photos or miles of video will never satisfy them. Hopefully NO ONE will feel like they need to feed this ugly beast. There is nothing to prove. We don’t need to see photos of little corpses lined up in rows waiting to be taken to the morgue. I’m okay with NEVER seeing that. Why aren’t they?
Are there some “facts” that seem odd? Did someone believe they saw more than one shooter run away from the building after the massacre on a video? Can’t all that be faked, too? DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHAT THE DETAILS ARE? DOES IT CHANGE THE FACT THAT DOZENS OF PEOPLE WERE MURDERED A MONTH AGO?
I say to you “truthers” to rename yourselves-“the kids that didn’t get enough attention from their parents, who have nothing better to do than stand cowering behind Freedom of Speech, then shout out whatever hateful, disturbing, UNTRUE things just to get a rise out of us.”
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
Yes, you got a rise out of me, but here’s one for you.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
But that would be too much to ask for, just plain decent behavior between fellow human beings. No, some of us have to piss in the pot and make life suck for everyone and make someone like Gene end up getting threats. He and his poor wife are afraid for their lives! Is that right? Pick on an innocent person?
This is APPALLING and it needs to stop. Some of us need to GROW UP and find a new way to get attention, if that’s such a precious commodity, and they need to LEAVE THE PEOPLE OF NEWTOWN ALONE. Leave decent brokenhearted people alone to grieve one of the worst tragedies to befall us in recent times.
Go find another tragedy to pick apart because the truth of what really happened here got my fellow Newtowners international media attention that NONE OF US WANTED. Are you so desperate to attach yourself to this story that you'd say or do anything to get some press? That's just depraved.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I have better things to do with my time. I suggest you do the same.
The snow falls in big soft clumps, slowly changing the world to one bathed in white. I love watching the snow fall. It makes me feel peaceful. My heart fills with childlike wonder. I want to believe in magic as I watch the flakes shift and dance in the gentle breeze. My thoughts are interrupted realizing that the snow is also a sign from nature that the time has come to slow down, take stock and prepare for spring.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. The Memorial in downtown Sandy Hook was so large it covered the sidewalks. The town set up tents to protect many of the displays from the elements. What I can't share with you is what it smelled like-the overly sweet scent of thousands of flowers, some beginning to decay, mixed with the pungent aroma of hundreds of burning candles.
On this steely gray day as the snow fell, it began to erase signs of the many memorials scattered throughout downtown Sandy Hook, along Route 34 to the High School, and even as far as a few blocks from my home. It was just after Christmas and the crowds. Time for the families who lost loved ones to have a private tour of the offerings of teddy bears, messages, flowers and candles before they were to be taken away, crushed and used as sacred soil for a future permanent memorial.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. One of three memorials at Newtown High School, the location of where President Obama spoke.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. This lone sign is on the road I live on, which is also the road to where the gunman lived.
Mother Nature has ways to scrub things clean, through vibrant storms, high winds, torrential rain. Sooner or later, it’s all washed away; a fresh start. Space must be made for seedlings to replace lost trees. There’s no way to turn back or to protest this process. This is how it is and will always be.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. In honor of the Christmas that will never be celebrated.
25 days have passed since we lost 28 lives. We can argue about how we count those lost or why we leave some out, but in truth that is the number. The Press left, on to other stories. Our town is beginning to sort out what to do with the donations. To date The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has surpassed $6 million. There is a special team in charge of getting everything to the right people or organizations. We can finally drive through downtown Sandy Hook in about a minute, just as we used to do. There is a return to sameness upon first glance, but the underlying feeling here continues to be one of struggle to know how to go forward.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. It's difficult to show the size of the Memorial in Sandy Hook. It was on three street corners and up each street. There were smaller memorials scattered all over town.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. 26 Christmas trees lining the road to the Sandy Hook Firehouse, where the children took refuge after the shooting.
People couldn’t ignore what happened to our Country. They HAD to experience this National heartbreak and in that pain was an opening of our protective emotional shell. We had to be open. There was no way to close off from others. It was beautiful even in the heartache, but it didn’t last.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. I left one of the plush cats from our “Kitties for Kids” campaign at the Memorial in Sandy Hook to be joined with the other mementos and turned into scared soil one day.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson.
Something similar happened here in Sandy Hook. People stopped worrying about their own little issues and reached out to help each other or accept help from those outside our town.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. We do feel the love. Thank you, world!
The other day I was at the grocery store. A woman was there with her young kids. The kids were being rude, noisy, annoying. The mother was yapping on her cell phone. I felt a sense of relief. Here was something I’d considered to be “normal,” but as soon as I thought that, my heart sank. I didn’t want things to go back to the way they were. I wanted things to change. I wanted our hearts to STAY open and for caring about each other to be our top priority-not buying Christmas gifts, not getting a job promotion, not trying to get somewhere fast at the cost of cutting off other drivers to save a minute of travel time.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Smiling bears try to heal our broken hearts.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Catherine Hubbard loved animals. One day she would have been saving the lives of cats and dogs if her life wasn't so tragically cut short. She went to our old dog pound and visited her favorite dog every week. She left a donation of $20 to provide for his care. After her death her parents asked for donations to go to the Newtown Animal Control, but for some reason, perhaps due to a mixup, another rescue got the donations totaling over $100,000. My rescue, Kitten Associates, got a few small donations in Catherine's honor so we will be either naming a kitten after her or asking her family to choose a name.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. On Christmas Day I saw this guy was walking up the hill to the Memorials near the Elementary School. Perhaps he thought he was doing something thoughtful, but I saw it as a vulgar display of grandstanding that was both thoughtless and cruel-especially if any of the family members who lost a loved one saw him.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson.
As I do in my work as a cat rescuer, I dream that one day people will get a wakeup call that sticks; not one that fades away as the next story takes its place. We need to acknowledge the inter-connectedness of all beings. We’re all in this together and that’s the only way to live.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Rather odd message to say the least.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson.
The snow lies in heavy blankets across town. The Memorials are gone, cleaned away. Mother Nature is doing her job, too and we're left to sort out how we're going to do ours in the coming days.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson.