The Cutest Kittens in the World
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Charly & Buttons.
Charly and Buttons are still here giving me a reason to smile. They are such darling creatures. I love spending time with them.
It looks like one of them will be getting adopted. I don’t want to jinx it by saying more, but I promise to update you when the time comes. Until then, I’ll greedily hold onto them and try to enjoy every second.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Clean those dirty toes!
Since writing this a few days ago, a few things have happened. Charly's been adopted by a wonderful couple from Boston! (Read his new mom's blog to keep up with Charly's adventures) Though I miss Charly a lot I know he's got a great home. Buttons is keeping me company and to help him, I asked foster-mama-Donna to let me take Bandit, Button's sister. That way Buttons wouldn't have to be alone.
The problem-Bandit is NOT happy to be here at all! Oops.
About the title: The Winds of Change
There’s a huge hurricane headed our way. They’re calling it Frankenstorm or simply, Hurricane Sandy. I’m having terrible flashbacks of a year ago when we were hit by “Snowmaggedon”—the worst week of my life without electricity or friendship (Sam and I had had a bad fight and spent the week ignoring each other…I broke off our engagement and gave back the ring.) With no heat, frigid temperatures, no water, no nothing I thought I was going to lose my mind. You can read the multi-part series HERE HERE and HERE and see a visual journal of my week from Hell.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Taking five from wrestling.
A year later, the same things seem to be happening again, as if on schedule. Because I know he reads this blog, I’m not going to say much other than a simple moment of irritation on my part turned into a full blown war on his. Sam has declared he is leaving me, we are done. It’s day five when we should be planning on getting through this next storm, but we can’t even recover from the one between us.
There’s a cascading effect once these cruel winds blow. There’s the obvious sign of bags and boxes being packed, but beyond that there’s a joint business being run that saves the life of cats. There are design projects that might have been worked on hand in hand and will now be done by other firms. There is a loss of livelihood and most likely a loss of my own home.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Game for Cats is a hit with these two.
Almost twenty years have ticked past. There have been plenty of storms along the way. The winds always bring us back together and we find a way to rebuild. With all the stress in our lives I can’t see where the resources are to find a place where things are okay again. I’m so beat down by everything else it’s just one more thing. It makes me sad to write that because it should mean so much more, but my bank account is almost empty and so is my heart.
That’s why I haven’t been able to write much this week. It’s hard to write when you’re looking out the window and know something horrible is coming your way. As if in a bad dream you can’t lift your legs and run, run, run. You have to stay there and wait and let the wild winds crash the tree limbs around you, let the rain wash over you, while you pray you don’t drown.
I can't take it.
Two of Winnie's kittens are here. The others are with their foster mom in a neighboring town, waiting to be spayed/neutered in two weeks. Because Charly and Buttons had their procedures last week, they're ready to find their forever homes.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttons (left) and Charly (right).
The problem is they're so cute I can't stand the idea of them leaving.
To make matters worse they're great kittens. I don't know what foster mom Donna does, but whatever it is, these kittens are warm, loving, gentle and sweet.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
The first night they were here their little bodies shook with fear. They were scared in their new environment without their mama, Winnie, to look after them. I stayed with them for a long while, petting them, giving them treats, comforting them. They responded by purring and leaning into my hands.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I always feel guilty about separating the kittens from their mama, but it must be done. Winnie was spayed. She has a home with Donna. She's had at least three litters of kittens-three litters too many. She's done her time. It's time for her to recover and enjoy life without the burden of pregnancy in a home that will treat her with compassion and respect (and lots of love, too).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Charly thinking so hard his tongue came out.
Charly and Buttons have only been here for a few days, but if I could I'd spend day and night with them. I'm a sucker for long haired cats and it's rare that I ever get any to foster. In a way that's probably a good thing or I fear I'd have a zillion more “foster fail” cats and many fewer adoptions.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I keep torturing myself. Who would be good enough to adopt these kittens?
Within an hour of posting the kittens on Petfinder, I had 4 offers to adopt them. As with all our foster kittens, I'll be careful to review each application and hopefully will find someone amazing. All I know is, whoever adopts these cats is going to be VERY LUCKY.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
My fear is that they won't get enough attention, that they will lose their sweetness if handled roughly. Am I saying our adopters do that? Certainly not, but once out of Donna's loving care, then mine, what will become of them?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I always have to push aside my fears when doing adoptions. There has to be a point where I let go. It's unbearable to look into their eyes and feel myself getting lost in their adorable faces. I struggle to turn away. I make myself think about my cats-the cats I made a commitment to who depend on me and need my love. I want to make excuses as to why these kittens can't be adopted just yet so I can have more time with them, but that's foolish, too. That's not how you run a cat rescue.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I savor their sweetness, their silly antics, their awkward movements not yet refined into that of a graceful adult. Their adult coats haven't come in yet and they have spiky hairs along their backs that indicate just how long their coats will be one day.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Buttons.
One day that I will not witness…
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?
In some ways it feels like I have a secret lover. I look at Charly and Buttons and I forget my troubles for awhile. It's an escape from tension in the house, the cats misbehaving, the bills growing. All I have to do is have fun and love them, guide them with a gentle hand and make sure their tummies are full. They don't have behavioral issues or diseases to treat (knock wood). They don't irritate me as my own cats sometimes do. It's the first blush of love and I'm certainly hooked. I feel reluctant to leave them to tend to the other cats. It's like going back to my husband after a whirlwind affair.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cat toy photobomb.
Reality kicks in and I move on to other things. I know they're upstairs playing or napping or looking out the window as the dried autumn leaves flicker past the window on a gust of wind.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Little hunter.
I find myself longing for our next meeting and trying to think of an excuse to go check on them. I know our time is running out. Soon they'll be adopted and all I'll have are these photos and my memories.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Is my butt too heavy for this cat cube?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello!
These are the ones who remind me that my capacity for love is infinite. It doesn't run out when I feel heartbreak. It always comes back full, complete and profound.
If we didn't have the power of imagination just think about what a dull world it would be. We'd probably all still be living in a cave, wearing animal hides. There are times, though when I wish I didn't have the ability to imagine, especially when it comes to thinking about our latest rescue, Bongo.
X-ray of Bongo's damaged leg.
In the week we've had Bongo, I've only heard good things about him. The first few days made me sad when I heard he stayed in his litter pan, comforted by his own scent-something common to cats who are confined in cages at animal shelters. In time, Bongo realized he was safe and loved and began to spend his days relaxing on a soft bed or playing with toys. He walked holding his right front leg off the ground. It doesn't seem to function properly. You can see a video of it HERE.
If you compare the front legs, you can tell one has good muscle mass and one does not.
Yesterday Bongo met with Dr. Alan Cross, a noted Orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Cross reviewed Bongo's x-rays and did a careful and thorough examination.
It could NOT have been from being hit by a car. Bongo's leg had to be grabbed and twisted by force.
I tried not to imagine who did this to him or why. I tried not to imagine that this person is still doing this to other cats. I did allow myself to imagine what I'd do to the person if I ever could find out who did this to such a sweet and innocent creature.
©2012 Maria S. Sweet Bongo.
Dr. Cross felt the best solution in this situation would be to amputate Bongo's leg. It's only in his way and over time it will become more and more of a hinderance. Bongo has NO sensation in his paws, which we originally thought he had. I've never had to make this choice for an animal and I'm not overjoyed it has come to pass. For Bongo, I will do whatever it takes to help him live the most comfortable life possible.
If there was any way we could save his leg, it would be done. I know Bongo won't mourn the loss of his leg as we will because we can imagine what life he could have had, but perhaps we can begin to imagine a new life, on three legs, that can be just as full of love and joy as it would have been on four.
Somewhere out there is a very special person who can accept the pain of loss as part of the cycle of life. Someone who doesn’t run away from fear, but can sit with it, feel its’ vibration run through their veins and not fall apart. They may wince or shudder, but they can stay in place, take a breath and have faith that another breath will follow. That in this moment everything is okay—even if one day there will be moments of great sadness.
They realize that their experience on this mortal coil is not all about them, but about helping others and being present in the moment and cherishing every second of what remains.
This person could look at a situation like the one I’m facing with Jackson and accept that life with him will be bittersweet.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson's ever the scamp with a big personality to match his big heart.
The test results are back. Jackson’s thyroid function is normal. It takes off the table any hope that his heart problems stemmed from something else that we could control or even cure. It also doesn’t resolve why he attacked my cats or why he still howls at night. His kidney function is slightly off—not a concern right now, but may be in the future. Jackson has a worsening bacterial infection, possibly in his gut, but we’re not sure. It will mean a longer course of antibiotics as he only got Baytril for a week. It may be why I caught him peeing outside the box once or twice and explain why he’s been fairly quiet the past few days.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Larry.
The lasix, ACE inhibitors and aspirin (a tiny amount every 3 days) haven’t caused any positive changes to his enlarged heart. It’s only been 10 days, but I was hoping to see more signs showing the medication was helping him—although he does seem to be more comfortable. Dr. Larry feels that Jackson's always had a bad heart and that it didn't stem from a virus or other issue.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
The other thing Dr. Larry mentioned was how difficult it is to handle Jackson. When he’s at the Vet, Jackson gets amped up. They can handle him for a few minutes but to do more than that Jax begins to get nasty with the staff. His heart rate soars and his breathing becomes labored.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Taking a break at Dr. Larry's, but even with a hands off approach Jackson is still vexed.
That’s why I chose to have extra blood tests done since we had the sample available. I don’t know when we’ll be able to draw more blood. I don’t know how we’ll be able to repeat Jackson’s echocardiogram in a safe way next month.
©2012 Betsy Merchant. Jackson at the Kill Shelter.
I’m tempted to look at this situation and think that Jackson was meant to be with me. I saw his photo in a mass emailing, asking rescue groups to save this cat at a Kill shelter in Georgia. Something about him made me want to save his life. Then cruel thoughts emerge—maybe he would have been better off if they euthanized him at the shelter? Was it worth all this stress, transport to Connecticut, living in a shelter, being moved back and forth in cars because his previous adopters traveled a lot, then losing that home and coming to mine—only to have little time left to live?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Home from the Vet, Jackson still prefers to hang out in the cat carrier.
If I hadn’t been so diligent about finding out why his breathing looked odd to me, Jackson would probably be adopted with a ticking time bomb inside him that would destroy his unsuspecting family.
We know what ails Jackson, but we don’t know if there’s anyone who lives close by (we can’t transport him far ever again) who would want to open their home to a cat who probably isn’t going to live a very long time. Dr. Larry said months, years if we’re lucky.
Truly only someone with the heart of a lion would adopt Jackson and I hope very sincerely they’re reading this post. Jackson deserves a home where he doesn’t have to vie for attention as he has to do here. He’d be happy with a cat or two to make friends with, but that’s a quiet place full of love and compassion.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I don't know why Jackson prefers cardboard, even after I bought him a nice new cat bed, but he likes what he likes.
I turn my head and see Jackson curled up in a cardboard canned cat food tray that’s on the floor. It’s not fancy, but he likes it. He’s resting quietly. All is well. I look at him and tears burn my eyes as I struggle not to cry. My life is about rescuing cats, about saving their lives and finding them wonderful families to share their life with. It’s not supposed to be like this.
I wrote most of this post yesterday before Dr. Larry told me about the severity of Jackson’s heart condition. After a brief discussion…
He shouldn't have to endure the stress of moving to another home and trying to adjust. He has his home here with us. It’s not perfect, but we do love him. We’ll keep him in our program because we honestly can’t afford to provide for another cat and had no plans to add to our family. We’ll set up a special donation page for him and continue to update everyone on how he’s doing since I know so many of you care about him and ask after him.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson holding his catnip heart.
I had no idea that one day I’d say I was living with Jackson Galaxy, cherishing him and protecting him until his last day, but there you go. Life is full of irony and surprises.
I’m just trying to keep my chin up and be brave for Jackson and enjoy every moment we have together until there are no more.
[if you missed part one, you can read it HERE]
The agenda for the rest of the day included presentations about Hill’s Philosophy of Precisely Balanced Nutrition and about their Promise of Quality & Safety.
Hill’s has 170 different products for dogs and cats that are divided into two distinct lines: “Science Diet®” and “Prescription Diet®” (which is only available through a Vet). Does that blow your mind, too? Does it seem like a bit much? Sure there are different nutritional requirements for a kitten than for a senior cat and for a dog who’s a couch potato versus a dog who does agility training, but do consumers really need to choose from 170 different products?
I had to take a deep breath. Does it make sense that there needed to be such clearly defined types of food? There’s food for cats who have kidney problems, cats with thyroid problems, cats who are fat, cats who have skin allergies. There’s wet, there’s dry, there’s more versions of the same for dogs.
But why not take a step back? Treat the underlying cause for these issues. What CAUSED these problems instead of treating them using the same mindset as a pharmaceutical company—don't cure the problem, manage the symptoms and keep the patient comfortable.
©2012 Hill's. Black cat in group home. (used with permission)
From my standpoint, there really only needs to be one wholesome food that branches out to a variety of single, unique proteins with slight tweaks of additional ingredients you can rotate feeding. That way the cat or dog doesn’t get bored and it ensures the animal gets a balanced diet since some proteins are higher in fat or other vitamins and minerals and some are lower in differing ratios. Rotating the proteins, again, just common sense (and yes there are Vets who support this notion as well).
My father, who was a microbiologist and in charge of Quality Assurance for a major corporation in the dairy industry always said this to me about proper nutrition; “Everything in moderation.”
If I was going to get on board with the need for a growing number of different foods, then I would be very impressed with how Hill’s goes about creating them. They do palatability tests. They have humans learn to sniff out different flavors, then do testing on those flavor combinations to see what goes over well with a cat versus a dog. They have the ability to “map” out flavor combinations and create charts that show what cats prefer versus dogs. Turns out cats love grassy scent, but not earthy. They like fish, but not if it’s too fishy. They have teams of people who just work on the science of taste. That was quite impressive, but is it really necessary?
They’re also very serious about food safety and have extremely strict protocols for each and every ingredient they purchase, strict guidelines their vendors must attain and everything is tested before it even ENTERS their manufacturing plants in the US and eastern Europe.
What we didn’t get to learn about was Hill’s nutrigenomics because their lead person had left the company recently. We saw a chart while walking in the hallway and a tech from that department told us how they take the DNA from a cat or dog and have ways of seeing how it reacts when specific nutrients are applied to it. From their web site it states: “For Hill's, nutrigenomics is promoting lifelong health through targeted nutrition. We strategically formulate our pet foods to address the genetic processes that help keep our pets healthy and promote longevity. Nutrigenomics is not to be confused with just making food targeted to a pet's breed…
©2012 Hill's. Christina Scott with Mauer and Jane Victoria(on shelf). (used with permission)
… One of our therapeutic weight control pet foods, Hill's® Prescription Diet® r/d® Canine, is another example of our use of nutrigenomics technology. The nutrition in Prescription Diet® r/d® Canine features targeted nutrients that support healthy metabolism, thereby helping dogs burn fat more efficiently.”
This is where my head started to spin. Wouldn't a wholesome diet help an animal burn fat appropriately? My concern here is that by affecting the metabolism so that it “burns fat more efficiently,” what does that do long-term to the animal? Is it as simple as helping dogs burn off fat? What if this changes the dog's metabolism permanently, even after this Prescription Diet® r/d® food is no longer fed? There may be a tipping point in the life of that dog where fat burning becomes a problem, not a solution.
I asked about the length of clinical food testing trials they do on the animals in their care. The trials last no more than 6 months and are done on a handful of animals, with one exception where they followed a group of dogs that lived as the single pet with a family for 5 years.
How can you know what a food will do to a cat’s teeth when they do dental cleanings on ALL animals EVERY year? No pet guardian does that in “real life.” How can you know your dry food doesn’t cause dental problems or cause obesity if they only get it for 6 months or, if they get so many other foods to test, how can you say what causes that animal to gain weight? Which food gave the cat diabetes if they’d been tested on 10 or more over the past number of years?
©2012 Hill's. Dr. Stone and HotBot with exercise pen in background. (used with permission)
We had a very interesting presentation by Dr. Bill Schoenherr, the Principal Nutritionist at Hill’s, who has a long background in the cattle feed industry and more recently in the pet food industry. He talked about how to read a pet food label and the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines for food ingredients that AAFCO approved manufacturers must follow. Each and every ingredient is listed as to what it can be and cannot be, what form it should take, from what part of the animal or plant and so on. You have to be a member of the Federation of Animal Science Societies to purchase a copy of the AAFCO guidelines that were last updated in 2008.
How to read a pet food label could easily be book in and of itself, but some of the big things you should know are that ingredients are listed by weight-heaviest weight is listed first. If the food lists “chicken” first, it’s no different than the AAFCO definition of “chicken meal” (which certainly sounds worse than just Chicken to consumers). “Meal” is the dry form of chicken. It’s nutritionally similar, it weighs less and is cheaper and easier to ship, but consumers see the word “chicken” and assume it’s the same as what they would eat. WRONG!
©2012 Hill's. Dr. Burris with Hug Me Jeff and Fraizer. (used with permission)
The chicken our pets get is not very appetizing. It’s no feathers, heads or feet (feet are in by-products), but it’s not organs or much muscle meat. It’s a lot of bones and the ash content can differ by supplier.
He spoke a lot about food descriptors like, “gravy, dinner, platter, entrée, formula.” What he didn’t talk about was what sort of goal Hill’s had regarding these ingredients or descriptors. It was said over and over again their only goal was “complete and balanced diet,” but they didn’t say how they made that happen for obligate carnivores using ingredients like corn, wheat, soy or cellulose in foods that were often over-cooked to the point of a breakdown in nutrients.
I was disappointed by the presentation by Dr. Julie Churchill who is a Vet Nutritionist at the University of Minnesota. Her presentation was about nutritional assessment of dogs. She started by saying to the effect that she was not being paid by Hill’s to say what was on her mind about nutrition, and that she hoped they would invite her back again, suggesting she was about to say something mind-blowing about animal nutrition. Silently, I was rooting her on, hoping she’d say the “R” (raw) word.
In fact, all she did was talk about scoring a cat or dog’s physical condition and that optimal nutrition was the cornerstone of good health—DUH. Her presentation featured images from the AAHA’s (The American Animal Hospital Association) web site regarding a study that was paid for by Hill’s. I kept waiting for her to say something about what makes up optimal nutrition, not just that an animal needs it, but what IS it?
I didn’t have the nerve to say something in public but as we began the tour of the facility, I asked her what makes up optimal nutrition and she wouldn’t answer me directly, only saying it was a good question.
Our tour included seeing the housing for Hill’s “Pet Partners” (research animals)—420 dogs and 500 cats. Their facility is 40,000 square feet. We saw about one half of it. They mostly house beagles from known breeders and domestic short-haired cats, again from breeders or they breed them in-house. They also take animals from other labs when their tests are completed. They’re too concerned about bringing illness into their facility by rescuing shelter cats or dogs to get animals from those places.
©2012 Hill's. One of the many group homes. (used with permission)
The animals are in group homes with spotless platforms to lie on, big windows and plenty of space to move around. We were not allowed to take photos of these areas, but were provided a few by Hill's.
The dogs have outdoor access and they have 2-hour breaks outside, then are rotated inside so another group can go outside.
Anyone who works at Hill’s can take a dog for a walk or work on their computer and hang out with certain cats. The cats get new toys weekly and have a few rather scant cat trees and soft places to rest.
As we walked near the glass walled enclosures for the cats, some of them ran over to rub up against the glass. Everyone cooed over their actions, but I felt sad. The cats and the dogs are supposed to get enrichment, which includes time with humans, but how can they ever give them enough? I saw a staff member enter a room and all the cats got up and ran over to her, desperate for attention. The cats would live there for lifetime, with an exceptional few who can be adopted into a home when they’re too old to be tested. I wanted to scoop them up and get them out of there. It’s hard to see animals who clearly need love, not be able to get enough of it. I understand that the people at Hill’s do their very best to provide for these animals, but in the end, it’s difficult to imagine how 65 people give 900 animals enough love and attention.
©2012 Hill's. Daphne. (used with permission)
I asked about what happens when a cat gets too old to be tested or develops health problems where they can no longer provide good test results...
…find out in my final post tomorrow.
We all had a very bad scare a month ago when Tater fell ill. The Vet felt it was the “wet” form of FIP, a fatal disease. We were all heartbroken and scared, but determined that if there was ANY chance Tater could survive, we would make that happen no matter what we had to do.
©2012 Maria S. Still got that belly, but we're not concerned that it's FIP.
Miraculously, through a twist of fate and our foster mom, Maria's careful observation, we were led down a path to a possible answer. It was NOT FIP, but a double-whammy parasitic infection along with a very nasty upper respiratory infection. We began treatment right away and sure enough, Tater's condition began to improve.
©2012 Maria S. Mugging for Maria.
Tater began to EAT again, then began to play; two big signs he might survive. The Vet finally took the FIP diagnosis off the table and we all breathed a sigh of relief for the remainder of July. Sadly, a few days ago Tater relapsed or is battling something new.
Tater was carefully examined. His lung sounds were not good. The Vet wanted to take x-rays and do blood work. We had that done and the Vet decided to put Tater on strong antibiotics for the next THREE weeks. This poor kitten can't catch a break. I asked if we had to consider the FIP diagnosis once again-terrified of the answer.
©2012 Maria S. and Robin A.F. Olson. Check in with Tater, ChiChi and Latte, too.
Due to the costs for care and to also provide care for Willow, who is still struggling with a URI,
The ChipIn for the fund is below and is also in the RIGHT sidebar on my blog. PLEASE do not feel badly if you can't donate at this time. That's why we're only asking that everyone chip in a small amount. That way it will add up to a great donation if everyone takes part!
©2012 Maria S. Tater getting some comfort from his new buddy, Sammy.
Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.
If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Tater Tot" mail it to:
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.
©2012 Maria S. Love that little curl in Tater's tail.
Day six has drawn to a close. I can't sleep. My heart is broken. It's not that I even feel the need for it ever to be “repaired-” if such a thing is possible. While I was working on the story of my cats falling ill, another story began to form. Stories that follow along with a real person's life don't transpire in tidy little packages, so here I stop to inject something else before I get back to the mystery ailment.
Two nights ago I found a small, odd looking black growth on the edge of Spencer's right ear. In my foggy memory, I believe I saw it long ago, thought about running Spencer to the Vet, got sidetracked and forgot. There it was, this rubbery, creepy mass, well hidden by the dark fur along the cap of Spencer's head.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Back at the Vet for a second time.
At first I thought it was a tick, then realized there were two masses, one “tick sized” and the other much smaller. I knew this was something that Dr. Larry needed to take a look at so yesterday morning I took Spencer back to the Vet for the second time in less than a week.
Super Deb entered the exam room first. After working with Spencer the other day, she realized that he was calmer if we didn't cover him during procedures. She got to work taking his temperature and he was basically calm. He had no fever.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The growth was easily overlooked. Follow the left edge of Spencer's ear. Where the fur gets dark you'll see a tiny black area where there is no fur. That's the growth. It's just right of center of the photo.
She weighed him and he'd lost 4 ounces in five days. Not surprising, but a reminder to keep him eating as much as he wanted while he recovers from his illness. His fluffy rear end, which had become soiled yellow from having diarrhea, was looking cleaner. Perhaps he was feeling better?
Dr. Larry entered the room and I was relieved to see him now that he's back from his vacation. He's been my Vet for more years than I can remember. Though we may not always agree on things, he's open minded and in return I'm very respectful of him. We've had some difficult discussions about my choice to feed a raw diet to my cats. It's unfortunate that even now I have to be on the “down low” about it, but there is so much fear mongering going on about it that it's just easier not to talk about it.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. She didn't even buy him dinner first! Spencer gets his temperature taken.
On this day we HAD to talk about it. He approached the topic carefully. I felt myself taking a step back, crossing my arms over my chest as he spoke. What is sickening my cats could have been caused by the raw food. Though rare, salmonella could be a culprit, yet we did NOT see any indications in the blood work to show us it was a possibility. It could be e.coli or other bacterial culprits. To really know for certain, Dr. Larry asked if we could get a stool sample on Spencer and run a PCR test on it. Though expensive, running over $200.00, the test would show us what was causing the diarrhea. If we could manage, he wanted a sample from Nicky, as well. Using that information we could get a better picture of what happened and how to NOT let it happen again-IF it's something we can control.
I said yes to the test and I told Dr. Larry that we stopped feeding raw the day the cats got sick. We've discussed how we prep the food and saw some minor things we can and will correct. We're going to throw out the litter pans and start anew. We've been feeding raw for many years and the cats have NEVER gotten sick, but in case we did something to cause this, we will find a way to do right by them.
Before we went too much further down this path we agreed it might still be something else and NOT the food.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least he's starting to eat again.
Then Dr. Larry examined Spencer's ear. He measured it and said it measured out larger then he expected. He didn't “like the look of it” and said we should remove it. He looked at Spencer's teeth and mentioned Spencer really needed a dental cleaning. I asked him to look into Spencer's ears because I noticed they appeared a bit dirty.
Spencer fussed and hissed angrily as Dr Larry looked into his ears. The right was dirty and irritated. Dr. Larry told me that some times cats can have an over production of a greasy residue in their ears. The ear gets dirty and very itchy. Certainly Spencer would need drops to get him feeling more comfortable.
Next, Dr. Larry looked at Spencer's left ear. As Spencer fussed, Dr. Larry adjusted the angle of the scope. He stopped for a second and removed the scope.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Measuring the growth.
I felt a lump form in my throat. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I brought my cat to the Vet to look at this weird thing on his ear. Hopefully it was just a funky benign mole or something, but with the discovery of a second growth I knew what that could mean and I didn't know if I could get the words out to ask the question.
Dr. Larry has this serious expression I've seen too many times before. He had it when he examined Bob's belly and said it didn't feel right. It turned out Bob had a cancerous tumor engulfing half his liver. Dr. Larry never makes light of a diagnosis like this. Being conservative and I'm sure not wanting to upset me, he would only answer; “I don't like the look of this. It could be benign, but…”
He said if it was cancer that the rule of thumb would be to excise enough tissue to get a clean margin. It would mean removing Spencer's ear or ears. It was too much to imagine. I had to keep it together. I said if it was malignant, what was the point of cutting his ears off? His lovely little elfin ears…how could I do that to him? We didn't talk much beyond that. It was too soon to go down that road.
First Spencer had to get well and recover from whatever was causing his gastric issues. We'd schedule a dental and surgery for sometime near the end of the month. He wished me well and left to attend to the next patient. I put Spencer back into his cat carrier and went to the lobby to pay the bill, not sure I could get out of the clinic without bursting into tears.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My little pouff-waiting, wondering and scared.
Although I have no idea how I'm going to pay for this surgery, I will find a way. The overriding thought in my mind as I waited to hand over my credit card was; this can't be cancer. I just lost a cat to cancer 11 months ago. I just watched my dear Bob slowly die over the course of a horrible year. I can't go through that again.
I thought about what my lawyer said to me on the phone when we were talking about a car accident I was in two years ago. The case is either going to be settled or go to trial. He asked me my age, then told me the insurance company figures that based on my current age I have 29 more years to live which is how they will base my settlement offer. At first it really bothered me that there's a computer program that bets on how long I'll live. After we ended our conversation, I started to think maybe that was too many more years; more years of witnessing the pain and suffering of my dear cats.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the exam, Spencer sat in the window, trying to regain his composure after being poked and prodded.
Last night Spencer came over to me as I laid in bed. He did his little routine of laying on my arm, with his fluffy ruff in my face, purring loudly next to my ear. I tried to hold back, but I began to sob. I wondered how many more nights we would have together like this-where he is himself, not broken or wasting away. He is my beloved cat and together we have a simple joy that is deeply profound.
Spencer got up and walked to the end of the bed. I gave up trying to sleep, got up and went downstairs to my office and began to write. Between writing and tears I heard a sound. I turned to look and Spencer was there in his cat bed next to me. He was purring away like nothing was wrong.
I hope he's right.
The PCR test results are due in a day or two. I won't know about Spencer until we biopsy the mass towards the end of the month. The sliver lining has to do with a surprise adoption. Find out who it was and about their forever family in the next installment (unless something ELSE happens first).
As a Professional Member of the Cat Writers' Association, I'm pleased to announce that I've been nominated to be part of CWA's Council of Directors for a two-year term starting in November of this year.
If I garner enough votes to win, I will finally realize my plans for global domination. Okay, maybe it's going to take another 10 or 40 years to achieve total domination, but being on the Council of Directors is a good start.
Here's the Press Release from CWA
The 2012 CWA Nominating Committee proudly announces the following slate of officers:
President - Susan M. Ewing
Vice President - Dusty Rainbolt
Secretary - JaneA Kelley
Treasurer - Allene Tartaglia
Council of Directors (four open seats) - Joan Miller, Allia Zobel Nolan, Angie Bailey, Robin A.F. Olson
Executive officers are elected annually. Council members hold two-year terms. Because JaneA Kelley accepted the nomination for Secretary, leaving her Council seat vacant for the remaining period of one year, the committee had the option of appointing a person to fill the vacancy or select someone for a full two-year term. Since we had a tremendous outpouring of interest, we chose to select a fourth seat in the Class of 2014 for a full two-year term.
According to the CWA Bylaws, once the slate is published, officers are elected at the next annual membership meeting -- this year it will be November 3, 2012, at the CWA Conference in Los Angeles, Calif. Only professional members may vote, and they may vote prior to the meeting by mail if they wish. However, when the election is uncontested, no ballots are mailed. A majority of the members present and voting at the annual meeting can conduct business, including the election.
This year's Nominating Committee was Ramona Marek (chair), Fran Pennock Shaw, Nancy Peterson and Lyn Garson. We thank the large, record-breaking and outstanding pool of candidates and sincerely hope to see such positive interest for leadership positions next year.
Chair, CWA Nominating Committee
Today proved that I will do just about ANYTHING to help cats whether it be go broke or wear an ill-fitting, too tight promotional shirt on television just so my rescue group name gets seen by the viewers. I had to ignore my vanity and fear of being fat on TV and just go for it. It's all about the cats, not me, right?
The show is called Better Connecticut and it's hosted by Scot Haney, the sunny, yet madcap weatherman and his co-host, Emmy-award winning journalist, Kara Sundlund. It's an hour long program that covers a wide range of topics. Our segment was devoted to talking about the need all rescues have for foster homes. To help illustrate the point, Enid, from The Queenie Foundation and I brought cats. Enid chose Munchy, a cute year old black and white cat and I brought Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia.
I arrived to the set at 9am; about an hour before taping and 30 minutes before the audience arrived. The stage manager, Bob, showed me to the Green Room (which is not painted green) where I was able to transfer the kittens from their carrier into a small pink crate and give them time to relax.
I took a moment to reflect. Was it a good idea to feed the girls this morning? I fed them at 7AM and they had until 8AM to use the litter pan. Maybe they would get sick on the Host's nice suit? I feared they would poop in their cage while we were filming, but I didn't want their blood sugar to dive so they had to have something to eat. I offered them a portable litter pan and one of them used it, then dumped half of the litter onto the sofa. I cleaned it up as best I could, then looked around and tried to figure out what to do with my nervous energy.
Diane, who arranged for me to be on the show arrived and started talking up a storm. My brain started to swirl. I felt like I couldn't remember what I needed to say. It only got worse once Enid arrived and they jumped into a heated discussion about Lennox, the Pit Bull, who was unfairly and despicably euthanized in Belfast the day before—simply for being a Pittie. As much as I am angered, furious and heartbroken about this, I didn't want to forget the talking points I'd been practicing. We could talk about Lennox after we were done shooting. We shared 4 minutes and 45 seconds of air time. That's it. Make the point that ALL the rescues and shelters in Connecticut are in DIRE need of foster homes and give the viewers information on how to find rescues in their area where they could volunteer.
I kept thinking about Lennox until they quickly changed the subject to something else. I wanted to talk about our segment and go over the points. Since that wasn't happening, I tried to hide. I looked out the door of the Green Room and hoped for clarity of mind. The past month has wiped me out and getting up at 6AM after another night of not sleeping well didn't help the situation.
At 10: 20 AM it was our time to go. The crew set up my huge Kitten Associates banner on the set. It looked GREAT! Scot sat on a sofa and Enid and I sat at an odd angle on another sofa facing him. They placed the pink crate with the kittens inside it onto the floor. I suggested they put it onto a table so I could stand in the hopes that my rolls of gut fat would slide to my ankles and I'd look less like the Michelin Man. They said it was fine on the floor. I sat on the sofa, a mix of adrenaline, fear and determination buzzed around in my gut. What were we talking about again? What was my name? Un oh. Brain melt.
Harlin, the sweet guy in a headset who seemed to be in charge, must have got some direction from the control room. He had Enid count to 10 into her microphone, then asked me to do the same. In the blink of an eye he told us to get to our places and Scot introduced us, then began a blur of questions. I felt like I was in a batting cage with balls flying at my face, swinging a child-sized bat in my hands.
During the segment, Scot decided to open the crate and take one of the kittens out. He murmured so the audience couldn't hear that it was okay to let them out. LET THEM OUT? Black kittens in a BLACK WALLED STUDIO with nooks and crannies where they could disappear forever? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
And then it was over, almost as if it never started, the time passed so quickly. In my mind, I thought I did well, answered the questions on point and did a pretty good job not saying too much. Of course, as soon as we were done, I started to realize how very tired I was. There was another 45 minutes to go before the taping was finished up, so I restlessly traveled between the Green Room and the audience. I'd check on the kittens and watch them taping the show. I was amused at how different the set looked compared to how the show appears on television. I had a good time and thought that I'd like to do it again if I ever got the chance.
That is, until the segment aired.
We all have an image of how we think we look to the world. We may look in the mirror for hours on end, admiring our firm physique or we may, as I do, not spend much time looking because we're too scared at what we might see. It's very difficult for me to talk about being fat. I was never a skinny kid and I've struggled to try to keep myself from getting truly huge. Not to blame, but to explain, my father killed himself and my mother probably did, too, but I will never be able to prove that. I think maybe I am too stressed and depressed to do what it takes. I don't drink much or smoke. I guess my comfort comes from food, but I don't even do nutty things like eat a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips. I just don't exercise and like most people, I could do better with what I do eat and when (we eat dinner late at night here which is bad, I know).
As I watched myself on TV, I heard my voice, but I saw it coming out of this disgusting mountain of flesh. I wanted to pay attention to what I said, but I kept getting distracted by what I looked like. The angle they shot me at was probably the worst they could have chosen. I tried to sit up straight, but I was sitting at an awkward angle. Could that really be ME? Was I "that" fat? I was so horrified I wanted to turn off the TV and run for it (which I suppose would have been good since I'd get some exercise).
Sam was very nice and said I did well and agreed I didn't look that great, but that I didn't look as bad in real life. Of course he would say that. I'd say that to him, too. But I just sat there hating myself more than ever. Struggling to accept that I must do something about this is very tough for me, cats or no cats, but what can I do?
I know how to lose weight. I know about exercising. I don't need tips for what to do or how to do it. It's my journey and I have to at least try to help myself. I can put myself out there “for the cats” but I can't keep looking at my own reflection and feel shame and self-loathing. I wish that it wasn't an issue and that our culture didn't care. You are what you are, peace to everyone. Everyone is beautiful…but in our culture if you're fat, you're not all that. Maybe if I want to help cats, then in the end, maybe I have to help myself, too? Right now I'd like to hide under a rock for awhile.
It takes a lot for me to share this link with you, but it's part of my journey, warts and all. Here's our segment. I hope you enjoy it.WFSB Channel 3
Tater Tot's life hangs in the balance. Since I first broke the news a few days ago that Tater may have FIP, his foster mom Maria and I have been working around the clock trying to find out if this diagnosis is accurate. Because he may have FIP, we have more questions than answers. It seems every moment something changes and throws us into a tailspin of fear that this IS FIP. It really IS.
OR IS IT?
©2012 Maria S. As we found Tater, laying on the pavement, sick and flea infested a few weeks ago.
I flat out don't know. This is the first case of FIP I've ever encountered (again, IF that's what is ailing Tater). I feared Tater was going to die a few days ago, but it's Thursday and he's still with us.I just found out if he has FIP he can live for a few MONTHS like this so any hope I had of it not being the wet form of FIP is dashed again. I feel like I'm losing my mind trying to sort this all out.
©2012 Maria S. Tater this morning.
Tater had a fever as early as Sunday or possibly before that, but Maria only started to check his temperature when he showed physical signs of not feeling well. From Sunday to yesterday morning his temperature ranged from 103.4°F to 104°F. Yesterday morning his fever broke and his temp. fell to 101.5°F and today it is a normal 101°F.
So NO fever for over 24 hours. Does that mean this is not FIP?
Tater hasn't eaten for a few days. His sinuses are stuffed up. He can't smell. He walks over to his food and looks at it-so he's interested in eating, but Maria has to syringe feed him. He didn't move his bowels for two days. Today he finally started doing that again, but it's a bit soft.
We discovered that Tater has Tapeworms AND Coccidia so he was de-wormed on Tuesday. [note: we have de-wormed him twice since rescue, but our dewormer doesn't work on tapeworms or coccidia]
Tater is on clavamox since his lungs sounded crackly. I know it can cause tummy upset so we have yet another call into the Vet to find out if we should change course or give him a minute amount of Pepcid to settle his belly after his meds?
©2012 Maria S. Unable to share his space with his sister, Tater's only comfort is knowing she's nearby.
The problem is we just don't have enough information to make certain we're doing the right thing for Tater. Maria has barely slept. She moved a cot into the foster room with Tater so she can keep an eye on him and continue giving him his medications throughout the night. She can't keep doing this. I'm lucky she's off work this week. I don't know what we'll do next week when she has to return to work.
©2012 Maria S.Tater on Tuesday morning and today (right)
Tater still purrs. Maria watched him as he licked his paw, then rubbed it against his face. That he is grooming himself is another check that goes under the column of “Maybe NOT FIP?”
We MUST do more tests. Nothing is definitive, but getting more information will help us possibly rule FIP out. Tater needs a complete blood workup done and we need to sample his abdominal fluid and check serum protein levels.
Between the emergency Vet visits for Opal's kittens and the daily Vet visits and medications for Tater, then more for Choco, ChiChi, Coco and Latte, most of the funds we just raised are getting depleted quickly. We don't get much discount on blood work so it will cost at least $500.00 to do the tests (I added more to the ChipIn because I fear we may end up needing to do more.). If we don't do the tests, we can't give Tater the appropriate care he needs. It would also be heartless to ignore that it would help Maria be able to handle what may yet come to pass if she can understand better what is wrong with Tater instead of playing a frustrating guessing game.
©2012 Maria S. Tater would thank you for your help but he needs to rest so he can get better.
Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.
If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Tater Tot" mail it to:
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.
©2012 Maria S. We just want our sweet boy back to his old self. This is Tater a few hours after we started treatment.