Who Approved That?

PRODUCT REVIEW and MYSTERY: The Case of the Neko Flies String

Your cats are bored. They get into fights. They bite your ankles or the just lay around with a glazed look in their eyes. They're little hunters with nothing to hunt (unless you let them outside, but please don't do that!). Can you imagine not having an outlet for your deepest desires? To be crass, that would really stink.

I try to have play time with my cats every night, but getting them to chase after a toy can be daunting because my cats are either 2 years old or 12 years old or older. What would I use that appeals to all of them?

Some cats are “air hunters” while others prefer to stalk prey at the ground level, so I'd need a toy that works well dragged on the floor, mimicking the movements of a bug, and something I could gently whip back and forth to get my air hunters to jump.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan is the consummate high-flyer when Neko Flies are around.

Usually I've solved this problem by having more than one toy in my arsenal. I still believe that you should offer options for your cats, from small balls to faux mice and catnip laden toys. That said, I can only hold so many toys in my hand at one time and I needed something that covered all the bases. At last I've found a series of interactive toys that gets cats off their big behinds and turns the lights back on in their eyes. I give you, Neko Flies!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel inspects mysterious package.

Unlike many wand toys I've used in the past, Neko Flies feel well made. Their clear plastic rod has a comfortable rubber grip. At the opposite end of the grip is a clip with a charming braided green and black cord that's attached to a variety of “Lures” that resemble and move like real bugs or mice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey grabs her Kattiepede.

Ellen, the creator of Neko Flies, underscored the importance of creating unique, carefully crafted (some elements are done by hand) toys that are as safe as possible for cats. She told me they constantly look for ways to improve their product, from finding ways to use less glue (they already only use a few drops), to finding thicker material for the wings of their Kragonfly cat toy as well as for better ways to anchor the loop into the toy so it doesn't pull free when cats tug on it. Ellen seems almost obsessed with designing toys that truly appeal to cats and are not just a collection of feathers glued to a string or that utilize materials that are so cheap they fall apart after one use.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?!

It was tempting to write the world's shortest review by stating: I LOVE NEKO FLIES. Rather, my CATS love Neko Flies.

But then something happened…

One of the cats bit the green and black cord, severing one-third off it, along with the Kragonfly. I took the fly away so they wouldn't eat it, thinking I would just trim the end of the cord and reattach the Fly to it. In the meantime, since I was cooking dinner and trying to play with the cats at the same time, I would just have them chase after the string, without the toy attached because they seemed to like it just fine.

Ahhh…hindsight is 20-20 vision, as they say.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love at first bite.

I'd gotten into the habit of hiding the Neko Flies where the cats couldn't get at it to keep them from destroying it. These toys are SO ENTICING you can't leave them laying around. It's just not safe. Really. If only I had READ THE BOX the Neko Flies came in because I would have seen the WARNING on it. I didn't read the WARNING on their web site, either, which I'm sharing with you here:

Some cats become so enamored and hooked on NEKO FLIES that they have been known to try and get the toy off a shelf by themselves! This is an interactive toy for a human to play with the kitty, so keep your Neko flies tucked safely tucked away in a drawer or closet until you are ready to play with your cat again!

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[Neko Flies Lure is attached to a card with this warning printing on it. See? They told me so!]

“Neko Flies are designed as a toy for you and your cat to play with together. The lures at the end are designed to move in a lifelike way which is a great part of their appeal, even to cats who usually are not interested in toys or playing. However, these toys are not intended to be left with a cat to chew or destroy (as she would actual live prey). Once your cat manages to catch a toy you should praise her and then get her to release it right back to you by offering her a really tasty treat - doing a "bait-and-switch" the way you would with a human toddler or a dog who have gotten something you don't want them to possess. Because the Neko Flies lure toys are so enticing to cats, there is a warning that they should never be left anywhere your cat can get to them without your participation. This is a wand toy, not a chew toy! Neko Flies satisfy your cat's primal instinct to hunt and chase - but it is up to you to then protect the lures from your cat's instinct to "kill!"”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I turned my back on my cats to check on dinner. I didn't even leave them alone for more than a minute. I looked back and the green and black cord was one-third the length it had been. Clearly, one of the cats had chewed it off and possibly EATEN IT. In decades of being a cat-mom, this was the first time I ever had to worry that a cat ingested such a large part of a toy.

I searched the living room. I knew the culprits were either my tiny foster cat, Mabel or my big bruiser, the DOOD. I had a bad feeling it was DOOD because he's, well, not the sharpest pencil in the box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley goes nuts for Neko.

I couldn't find a thing. In a panic, I called Neko Chan, home to Neko Flies. Ellen, herself, called me back right away. We talked about what materials were used in the cord (polyester).I called the ER Vet and told them about what material I believe one of the cats ingested and they suggested I bring both cats down, spend $1500.00 per cat on endoscopy-that was IF they could get an internist to come to work late on a Sunday night. They also told me to get a cat to vomit is some sort of “holy grail” treatment because the chemicals they might use to make them vomit usually kills them.They told me to watch for the cat to become listless, vomit, not eat and if that happened to RUSH them in for EMERGENCY SURGERY because the cord could twist up in the intestines and basically KILL the cat.

OR…it might pass on its own…out the “other” end.

Great.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey prepares to pounce.

The next few days were absolute Hell on my nerves. I ripped apart the living room the next day and checked everywhere I could, but no string was found. I hovered over the DOOD and Mabel, but they ate as usual and seemed unaffected. Then I started to worry that maybe it wasn't them, but another cat. I have 9 cats running around! This was going to end badly, I just knew it.

Ellen checked in with me, hopeful I had good news, but there was no sign of the missing string. I thought maybe I was getting Alzheimer's and this was the first sign? I was so paranoid that I carried the remaining section of cord in my purse, in case I had to take one of the cats to the ER so they would know what to look for yet still…nothing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Joey enjoying their new toy..

Six WEEKS passed. I was getting breakfast ready for the kittens and I saw a GREEN ball with pale colored ball next to it on a paper towel on the counter. I asked Sam what it was and he said he found it when he was scooping the litter pan. I looked at it for a moment, then the alarms went off in my head. It was cat excrement with the STRING from the Neko Flies in it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah. Green Poo (and no ham).

Being the offspring of two scientists, I HAD to get a magnifying glass out and inspect the green stool. We feed our cats a raw diet so their stool is VERY pale, hard and dry. I teased apart the green ball and saw fibers. I put the section of string I had in my purse next to the questionable object and the color matched. Whoever ate the string passed, at least some of it out. Thank God.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Six weeks later, the green string is found.

Although I'll never know if that was ALL of the string, hopefully it was enough so that it won't adversely effect the cat who ate it (most likely the DOOD). I don't know if the raw diet slowed the process down since the cats don't pass much stool or if it helped. All I care about is that my cats are fine and my pocket still has a few bucks in it.

After all this would I still tell you to go out and buy Neko Flies. Absolutely, YES I would! I want you to know about my foolishness so that you truly appreciate the warning from NekoChan. Their toys are so enticing we must be careful in how we use them and our reward for that mindfulness is that our cats will get the exercise they need and have their hunting desire sated. I'm still using the Kattipede today and hope to add more Lures to my collection soon.

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If you'd like your very own Neko Flies: Foxifur Kittenator with Rod, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what's the weirdest thing your cat has eaten or just give me a good reason why you should win. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE FOXIFUR KITTENATOR with ROD. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA and CANADA (yay Canada!) only (sorry guys outside of those areas!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. DOOD.

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ (I can only hope there will not be any ER Vet visits!).

The Squee Diaries. Ch 8. Paint the Town Brown

The miserable heat wave has vanished, replaced with blessedly cool and drier air. The windows are open for the first time in weeks. It feels more like autumn than the middle of July. I’m grateful for the respite, even if it will just last until morning.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The gang at 7 weeks: Confetti Joe, Yukon Stan, Lil' Gracey, Precious Pete & Jellybean Mel (front).

Minnie’s kittens continue to delight me. Even without their mother’s careful tutelage, they surprise me by being willing to accept me as their surrogate—at least in as many ways as are appropriate. For a little over two weeks the kittens have been mine alone. Minnie has completely turned over her duties to me, without a look back or regret. She moved on before any of us were ready. Her sudden apparent rejection of all her kittens, first brought on by the pain of her illness, then perhaps due to her hormones, urging her to procreate again, was rather shocking. It was as if a switch was flipped and with it her motherhood came to a premature end. The kittens and I were lost for those first few days. Neither of us wanted to give up on her so each day I offered her one kitten. I held the kitten out to her with the door opened to her room. At first she would act out violently, hissing and growling, scaring the poor kitten badly. I’d soothe its fears and put it back with the others. Minnie would go back to her place and lay down, grooming away her anxiety over being presented with an unwelcome guest.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie between vet visits.

I tried each day for a week to get Minnie to accept her kittens again. Minnie didn’t hiss as much, but reacted by retreating further into her room. The kitten would cry to her and she would reply with a tiny almost-chirp. Maybe she was telling the kitten that it’s time to grow up and be on their own and to trust that mama knows best.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey.

What I didn’t expect was how the kittens immediately rallied, focusing their interest on me. When I’d previously entered the room, they would look up, maybe run past me, but now, they run over to me, try to climb up my leg or cry at my feet, hoping to be lifted into my arms for a cuddle. For seven and half week old kittens, they are all very friendly and affectionate. I realize that this will be better for them in the long run. Bonding with a human will serve them well one day when their families come to find them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Eating raw.

Weaning kittens is always a challenge. They make a horrendous mess by running over their plate and tracking food all over the floor. Their litter pan habits still have a few kinks to be worked out so there’s “that” to be cleaned up as well. The literal dark side of weaning is that the kittens are also getting their digestion working, or not. The result for those tender tummies were piles of mushy brown splats all over the bathroom. At first I blamed it on parasites so I checked a stool sample out and the test came back negative. I still de-wormed the kittens with Strongid, which doesn’t get all the parasites, but it’s gentle enough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Stan! Swoon!

That didn’t work so I began adding a probiotic based in dehydrated goat’s milk to their food. The kittens liked it a lot, but it didn’t help, at least for the few days I fed it.

It got to the point where I didn’t want to enter the foster room. The poo-piles were always somewhere tough to get at, like behind the toilet and the smell could be bottled and used as a chemical weapon. I was very worried when I saw blood, some of it mucousy, in their stool. The kittens had very wet bottoms and many cried while in the pan. It’s one thing to work with one sick cat, but five sick kittens is a test of how to stay calm when in your mind you imagine that the kittens have the beginnings of something terrible and not just simple loose stools.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. After a day of raw (inset), canned food moosh-poop.

I kept the kittens clean and I scrubbed the floors a few times a day. I decided to take the kittens off whatever I was feeding and put them on a plain, raw chicken diet that also had proper vitamins and minerals added to it. They attacked it with such vigor that I was taken aback. Within 24 hours their stool showed signs of improvement AND they stopped using the floor for their toilet.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Joey. Straining and crying in the litter pan.

On the second day, I saw less blood, but in a somewhat formed stool. The kittens behinds looked cleaner and the litter pan wasn’t as loaded. I went back to a new de-wormer and started them on that to see if it would help. I knew I might have to use something more powerful if I couldn’t get the blood to stop, but for now the kittens were racing around, gaining weight and having fun. No need to flip out.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My little rock stars.

What was interesting to me was that I ran out of raw food and had to feed the kittens one meal of canned late at night. The next morning I found stool puddles all over the bathroom again. I wondered about the food being the culprit or was it just that the raw was easier on their tummies?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey with mousey.

While I was trying to sort out what to feed the kittens, Minnie’s health took an odd turn. She went into heat and stopped eating. I haven’t seen a cat in heat since I was 9 and we were told to wait until our kitten was almost a year old before we should spay her. She went into heat and my parents thought it was amusing that she got so very friendly with my dad-especially. What it told me was that now with Minnie on her own, I couldn’t even spay her so she’d have to remain in her room without any cat-companionship for a while longer. Spaying a cat in heat is difficult because the uterus is engorged with blood and can tear easily. Since Minnie had just barely recovered from a terrible infection, I didn't want to put her into any higher risk for her spay.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many cats are in this photo? Hint: there is MORE than one.

I took Minnie to see Dr. Chris, who thankfully gives us an amazingly generous discount, and he told me that we could end Minnie’s estrous by stimulating her ovaries. I gave Dr. Chris a funny look then said; “You’re not even going to buy her dinner first?”

Then I wondered how this was going to be done. Next I thought…I don’t want to know.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Chris.

Dr. Chris grabbed a thermometer and a cover for the tip then gestured for me to hold Minnie in place. He inserted the thermometer into Minnie’s vagina and twisted it around. Minnie started to vocalize loudly, her eyes wide. I thought she was going to bite me, but then quickly realized she was too busy getting her funk on with Dr. Chris to bother with me.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan and Mel.

In all the years I’ve done rescue, this is one thing I’ve never had to do. Dr. Chris told me that we had to irritate her, just as a male cat’s barbed penis would and it would end the cycle and we could spay her safely sooner.

Of course, I blurted out that if humans had barbed penises there would be three humans on Earth. He didn’t make a comment and I simply blushed.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mine! Mine! Mine!

We opted to give Minnie her Rabies and FRVCP (distemper combo) vaccinations. I thought she’d be fine, but she had a nasty reaction to the shots. Her right front leg went lame and she didn’t get up for the next 24 hours. Worried, I called two Vets and they said to give her another day. By the second day she was up on her paws, but not eating well. I sat down next to her to give her some reassuring pets when I noticed a big red lesion under her left front leg-nowhere near where her vaccine was given.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie.

Either she was having a nasty allergic reaction or somehow Minnie had gotten the dreaded “RW” (ringworm). Just as I thought Minnie was finally out of the woods, she was back in it again. I raced her over to Dr. Chris and he took a look. He thought it was an Eosinophilic plaque-possibly brought on by the vaccine OR it was “RW.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A foreign lesion.

…but he was leaning toward the plaque to which I almost told him I would make out with him I was so happy. Ringworm means lots of fear it will spread to ALL of us..not just the cats but to me and Sam, too. No ringworm means Minnie can be with other cats much sooner and hopefully with some treatment she will feel much better, too. Fortunately for me, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t embarrass myself further. We did a culture of the fur near the lesion and we'll have to wait about 10 days for results.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joe & Gracey.

In the meantime I will keep fumbling along, trying to right this tipping ship and hoping I can prepare myself for the kittens to be ready to go up for adoption soon. I knew I would get attached and now I have to figure out how to still love those babies to pieces without shattering my own heart.

NOTE: there were SO MANY PHOTOS I didn't have room in this post, so the next one will photos-only and please don't forget to VOTE so we can win a $1000 donation for our kittens!

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A Little Love Goes a Long Way for Chloe

Chloe’s been living with foster mom, Angi for six weeks. The fact that she’s in the same home is in and of itself a wonderful thing. With her aggression issues, Chloe could easily have been sent back to Animals in Distress and possibly been deemed unadoptable, leaving her to possibly face a grim future. Her former "guardian" had called around to the local Vets asking for a house call to euthanize the cat. Thankfully, though they are not bound by law to do so, all the Vets he contacted would not do a “convenience-euthansia,” especially for a cat they had never seen before. How did they know the cat wasn't aggressive due to an underlying illness? I was dismayed to learn that my own Vet said there are some Vets who will do anything for a buck. Sadly, cats are still considered personal property, which means that said property can be disposed of at the owner's discretion. Luckily for Chloe she has a few Guardian Angels looking out for her, especially her foster mom, Angi who has stuck by Chloe through thick (and we’re working on thin).

Since this is Angi’s story, then some of the words should be her own. Here are some excerpts from emails discussing Chloe’s ever-improving progress. We last left off with Chloe starting her life at Angi’s house and Angi having to protect herself from Chloe’s attacks as she entered the room. Angi had to have a cardboard shield in front of her just to get near Chloe. She could have become fearful and given up, but Angi kept at it, slowly gaining Chloe’s trust. After two weeks, I got this email:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Chloe, relaxed and enjoying her toys.

April 21

“Chloe let me pet her, brush her, and play with her a bit with her catnip carrot. She purred throughout nearly the entire exchange, rolled around playfully, even, and I think I have identified her "pay attention to me" meyow over the "I'm gonna get you!" war-cry yowl.

She's still a bit nippy, I utilized the catnip carrot & brush a lot to give my fingers a little distance, but she's not as determined with the nipping as she was when she took that chunk out of my foot!”

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April 25

“Baby gate is going well. Rudie's popped in to be a minor nuisance a few times, but only minor. Some hissing, but everyone's keeping their distance. I have to pick up Chloe's food to prevent the oranges [note from Robin: two of Angi’s cats are called “the oranges”] from scarfing everything up (they're sort of garbage disposals!).

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Rudie checking out Chloe's room. Should he jump the baby gate or not?

Chloe meowed around mid-morning, and I decided to try something. I put the baby gate in the hallway, and closed off the other bedroom. If she got up to the gate, she'd just about be able to see me working at the desk but not able to come in, and would have access to about half the hallway, and the bathroom. She roamed the bathroom a bit, and then there was a bit of hissing with Rudie and she retreated back into the guest room. Figuring it might be just a bit too much too soon, I put the baby gate back in that doorway.”

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May 6

“I'm actually starting to suspect she'll love anyone that plays with her a few times a day, as well as offers scritches. I really do think that being able to interact via some cat toys was key to her getting her "frustrations" out. Really, I think she was starved for quality interaction for a long time.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Bring on the skritches.

I've been opening up the "baby gate" area to include the hallway and my office, but she's not really taking me up on it that much, not after the initial interest. The other day she wandered out, spent a little time in the office with me (I put a pillow out for her, but she left after spending a few minutes hissing at Smudge (who was up in the cat-basket at desk-top level) and retreated to her room - I've been trying to put some of "her stuff" in the hallway to help her explorations, but it hasn't helped so much so far.”

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The next morning

“hah! I wrote this this morning & didn't send it immediately because I got distracted, and Chloe just wandered into the office while I was talking on the phone! She's on a cushion behind me! Rosie is in the basket, and they're both minding their own business.…”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. A happy kitty thanks to foster mom-Angi.

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May 14

“Chloe is doing even more amazingly awesomely. So much so that I'm not taking so many pics & video anymore because it's losing the "OMG!" factor.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. While working, Angi looks down and sees Chloe, reaching up to get her attention!

I've opened up her room during the day and while I'm awake & around, she has the run of the house. She's stayed upstairs except for the one time she chased Rudie halfway down the stairs (I'm sorry, but it's crazy how fast she can move when she wants to), and will sometimes follow me around the house, if I leave the office to go make lunch or something. I can even "call her" and she'll come. I've got some low-laying cushions on the floor in my office, and she'll hang out while I work, just like the other cats (who tend to stay up high, on my desk, shelves, etc…). She's found some peace with Rudie & Rosie, which is good, but also not so good, as she no longer chases Rudie away from her food when he goes into her room (really, she scared the bejesus out of him on a few occasions early on, even leaping off the bed to chase him out of the room!). I'm tapering off leaving food out for her because of that.”

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Completely vulnerable with her belly up, Chloe lays on the sofa and watches TV with Angi. Is this love?

“…Chloe's even come up on the couch while I watch TV, or gone up there while I'm working in the office. The Oranges will keep some distance if I'm watching TV, but will sit on the back of the couch or on the other side of me. Even the nibbles are fading, and are even more "affectionate" than ever, and not mean. I can pick her up (slowly and supportively, as she's still so big!), pet her without worrying about my approach. She even lets me pet her kinda "roughly," I really don't feel like I have to be careful around her at all.”

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May 25

“… the landmarks are getting smaller now that she's so much more normalized, but I thought this was worth mentioning:

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. She's just a cat, doing regular cat things. That this happened is far from regular.

Today, very briefly, I caught Chloe playing by herself. She was in the office with me while I was drawing. There's a cushion I have on the floor that she likes, I keep it near my computer chair. There was one of those furry mousies half underneath it. She pawed at it to get it out from under the cushion, and then played with it for a bit. It was only for maybe 30 seconds, and she stopped by the time I got to the camera. But still. A sign of a much happier cat.”

Looking Back

When I met Chloe back in March I couldn’t even touch her. She was ready to attack me with whatever she had, claws or no claws. If I hadn’t seen her behave normally and confidently before she went into defense mode, I would have been hard pressed to even consider giving her a chance. In that glimmer of sweetness, I saw hope and we had to try to help her. I’m so very glad I stepped in to assess Chloe because if her former “owner” had his way, Chloe would have been dead by now. Instead, Chloe is finding out what it’s like to live a life without abuse or neglect, a life that has richness, love and companionship.

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©2013 Angi Shearstone. Friends at last. Way to go Angi & Chloe!

 

Chloe was willing to give us a chance, too, even if perhaps we didn’t show well when we first met her. It just goes to prove that with patience and a lot of work, every cat can blossom in time.

 

Go Team Chloe!

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

If you'd like to catch up on Chloe's story from the beginning you can check out these posts:

1. http://coveredincathair.com/content/we-owe-it-chloe

2. http://coveredincathair.com/content/what-we-live-chloe-update

3. http://coveredincathair.com/content/baby-steps-chloe

4. http://coveredincathair.com/content/chloes-big-adventure

All photos and email-quotes Used with Permission.

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

Freedom for the Iredell County Cats

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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.

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©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:

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©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.

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©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.

Red Boy is a real trooper. Of his ten front claws, seven of them were grown into his paw pads. Ouch! It was quite extreme to say the least. He had surgery yesterday and after one more week of cage rest and an e-collar he should be cleared for adoption.

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©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.”

These cats have waited a long time. Our last act should be to make sure they all find good homes. If you'd like to adopt any of these kitties, please call or visit SPCA of Wake County.

LOCATION:

200 Petfinder Lane

Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 772-2326

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The Brink

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.

The Vets scratch their heads and say that if Fred has the dry form of FIP, the only way to really know it for sure is POST-MORTEM.

 

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©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.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

I cry as I force the liquid nourishment into Fred's mouth. He is frustrated and angry. I am trying to be gentle, loving, sweet, not miss his mouth and squirt the warm fluid all over us. I tell him he's a good boy, that I love him. I tell him I'm so sorry all the time. I hate that he tries to run away from me when he sees me or Sam. He thinks we're going to give him the painful eye drops again or shove a pill down his throat. It MUST be done to keep Fred stable enough for the last tests we can do: an MRI and a spinal tap to test his spinal fluid.

 

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

 

I have vowed to do what's right for Fred, regardless of what that may mean. If Fred has to die, he will die at home with his brother, Sam and I by his side, if we have anything to say about it. If he can have ANY CHANCE to LIVE, I will make sure he has it.

 

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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!

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We Owe it to Chloe

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.

Chloe weighs 30 pounds. She’s so fat her shape is reduced to that of a blob with a cat head stuck on one end and a tail at the other.

It’s completely heartbreaking to look at her.

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©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.

First, the caretaker said he was allergic ONLY to Chloe and not Lucy, the other cat in the home. If you find that as bizarre as I do, then join the club.

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.

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©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.

She looked up at me with big round blue eyes. Her head is so out of proportion with her body that I wanted to laugh, but my mirth was short-lived. She approached me in such a friendly way that I put out my hand, back of my hand first, not with fingers in her face, to offer her a sniff of my hand. The second she sniffed me she backed away, growling and hissing. She made motion as if she was going to strike me so I sat back in my chair and made sure I didn’t give her any threatening eye contact.

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.

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©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.

Right or wrong, I believe there is a home for every cat. Some cats need a lot more time in foster care to be ready for that home and clearly Chloe might be the toughest case any of us have ever faced.

It’s one thing to deal with a feral cat, but a fearful cat is a different thing altogether.

Add to that the news that Chloe was DECLAWED made me realize we were faced with an even more difficult task. Not only couldn’t Chloe run away, she couldn’t even scratch her opponent! All she could do was BITE. No WONDER she was biting people!

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.

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©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.

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I got an update on Chloe. She’s doing about as bad as any of us had feared. She is SO FEARFUL that she urinates and defecates on herself if she SEES Katherine or if Katherine tries to clean Chloe off.

Last night, Chloe BIT Katherine through her jeans, into her leg.

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.”

Wendy said it was if Chloe has PTSD from what happened to her. Wendy’s heart was broken to know this cat was suffering so much and suggested we do not touch her AT ALL, even if she gets a bit soiled. Whatever happened to Chloe had deeply traumatized her.

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©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.

With the gentle guidance of Katherine, and with lots of TLC, I hope that one day I can write about Chloe’s amazing recovery. Right now all we can do is pray for a happy outcome because right now Chloe’s life hangs in the balance.

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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: info@coveredincathair.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 wendy@wendycats.com for details

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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.

My Secret Shame. Part 1 of 2

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.

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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.

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©2010 Maria S. Cali-Mama our first rescued cat, just after her spay surgery. She is mama to Pattycake and Moonpie.

For years I had it drilled into my head that adopting out adults from a foster home is really tough and keeps one from rescuing more kittens. People don’t make an effort to go to a private home, by appointment only, to see an adult. In other words, don’t rescue mom-cats, just take on orphan kittens.

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.

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©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.

Then everything went to Hell.

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.

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©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.

In June of 2011, almost a YEAR later, I got a call from the adopter. She was very upset.

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.

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©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.

She was either a hoarder or really damn close to being one. Unbeknownst to me, she didn’t have two dogs and a cat or two, she had 24 cats and two dogs. If I’d done ANY sort of reference check I probably would have found out there was a problem, but I didn’t do that.

What happened next literally took a piece out of my heart.

Animal Control took ALL OF THE ANIMALS into custody.

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.

Shaking, I told her that it was my responsibility to provide care to Tansy. That I would do whatever it takes to get her back and that I was sorry, but that I felt I should no longer speak to her any more and I suggested she see a Lawyer. If Animal Control seized the animals, clearly something was missing from her story.

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.

The Truth Is…

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.

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©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.

Their capacity for self-deception is breathtaking. They crave attention, yet calling them “truthers” is a misnomer since they clearly perpetuate lies and only hurt people who are REALLY involved.

The case in point is what happened here in Sandy Hook.

Suddenly these bullies are appearing out of the woodwork and I will not give them yet MORE publicity by saying who they are. They declare that the shootings didn’t happen at all-that the kids aren’t dead! The 20, 6-year old kids are fine. They’re alive.

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?

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©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!

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©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!

What I say is this: there is too much heartbreak in Newtown and we're ALL struggling to find a way to move forward. We were blessed by so many people across the world who selflessly gave their love and support, food, toys, gifts, and donations.

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.

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©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.

They say; “we need to see photos of the bodies” because it can’t have really happened if there are no photos of bodies, yet if there WERE photos of those tiny figures under white sheets they’d say; “Oh those are mannequins, that’s not real. Show us the bloody, broken, heaps of flesh. Then we’ll believe it’s real.”

“But it could all be Photoshopped®,” they’d say next.

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©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.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Yes, you got a rise out of me, but here’s one for you.

I dare any of you “truthers” to stop your foolishness and apologize to the people of this town. Beg for forgiveness before the rest of the world turns their backs on you, shunning you for the cowards and hateful people you are. Shame, shame, SHAME ON YOU!

What slays me is that all this energy could have been spent finding a way to protect our kids, to protect our people, so they can go see a movie or go to the Mall and not be scared shitless they might DIE going on a simple outing.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

All this energy could have been used to share loving-kindness with each other or ask; “how can we soothe your aching heart?” instead of “show me the photos of the dead people so I can believe it’s true.”

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.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

The truth is, you don’t know jack about what “really” happened here and you can ask a million pissant questions, but it doesn’t make you a better person for doing so and it will never amount to anything more than static, irritating noise. We ALL enjoy the power of Freedom of Speech but that doesn't mean we ALL have to say EVERY STUPID THING that comes into our head.

I have better things to do with my time. I suggest you do the same.

The Dreaded M.D.

“Is that kitten missing some of his fur?”

I looked over at Barney. He was playing with a toy held by a little girl who was taking part in our Kitties for Kids program. Barney was oblivious to the fact that the fur on his side looked like it had been wiped away. He wasn’t completely bald and with his white and orange coat, it was tough to see how much he was missing at a glance.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney's naked patch.

I took a closer look and it was clear that Barney was licking off his fur, not just on one side, but on both.

Shit.

I’d noticed the foster cats have been itchy for a few weeks or more, but not so much that it caused alarms to go off. They’ve been checked a few times for fleas, but we find nothing, not even flea dirt. Last year was a VERY bad year for fleas so it wouldn’t be surprising that there were some in the foster room.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Dr. Larry takes a look.

What to do?

I’ve had a lot of experience with Miliary Dermatitis. My cat Gracie suffers from it. M.D. is basically “I don’t know that the heck it is” but it’s some sort of skin issue. Many times it’s related to a stress reaction, food or a mite or flea bite. In Gracie’s case, after YEARS of doing tests, seeing specialists, trial and error, only homeopathy worked to reduce the problem and steroids resolved it for a few weeks. The problem with steroids is-it will end up killing Gracie over time so for me, giving her more wasn’t acceptable.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred seems fine.

Gracie is covered with scabs. She stopped “barbering” (chewing) her coat and no longer has bloody lesions, but her fur is not plush and her skin feels terrible. I’m looking into acupuncture, but other than that I feel as though I’ve tried it all.

I look at Barney and think about the MANY things that could be causing him to lick off his fur. I knew a trip to see Dr. Larry would probably be a waste of time, but I had to start there.

Dr. Larry agreed with me that it was most likely M.D. and made some suggestions. One startled me, but also inspired me. He said to let Barney be an indoor/outdoor cat. That the stimulation of being outside reduced the need to over-groom because the cat was having so much FUN!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Caught in the act.

What? I can’t let my cats outside!

Then I realized I have NOT been spending enough time with the kittens. Playtime is for five minutes here and five minutes there. I’ve been too busy to do more than that. I figured since I hear them running around they must be playing. There are five cats in the foster room after all.

I also thought about the Kitties for Kids program. Was the stress of meeting all these strangers getting to Barney? Thing is, he is the FIRST cat to go over to a new person and say hi! He’s very social. If he was upset by the visitors wouldn’t he be hiding instead of playing?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What the?!!!…the kittens are nursing on Willow!

What about diet?

Yes, that could be a factor. Since ALL the foster cats are scratching, something is making them itchy. The donations of food we’ve gotten lately is a mixed bag of canned, grain-free food. They get fed what I have on hand, not something consistent AND I’ve fed them a tuna based food recently for the first time. Did that set them off? Gracie seems to react to having fish.

The more I learn about cats, the more I sense that playtime is the key to more than we understand.

It reduces stress, stretches the muscles and the mind, it helps them have an outlet for their prey drive. If we simply shake a toy at them once in awhile, it’s just NOT enough. Their mind needs to be engaged if they stay indoors. I’ve seen Jackson get very nasty with the other cats when he’s clearly bored.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Liftoff during one of our Kitties for Kids visits.

Normally, what you do is change ONE thing and see if it works. If that doesn't work, then go on to the next thing. Because Barney is so young and should NOT be having this issue, I’m going to do a few things and hope that one of them is the answer.

I’ll start with an application of Revolution®. I like it better than some other flea treatments and it does affect mites and internal parasites, too. I realize it could make things worse, but Barney’s skin is fine. There are no open lesions. He does NOT have ringworm.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Coco shows how it's done.

I’ve already started ramping up playtime. I got a new Da Bird donated to us. It REALLY tires the cats out as long as I don’t let the cats catch the toy. If so, they destroy it in about 2 seconds. What I do is basically make them go nuts for at least 15 minutes. After the cats slow down or start to lay down instead of chase the toy, I start up with ANOTHER toy. I use a Cat Dancer and Rainbow CatCharmer or a laser pointer or both. I throw balls around, mouse toys, Kong® Cat Kickaroos. I want to see the cats get to the point of just about falling over they’re so tired. I’ll even open up my old iPad and play Game for Cats for them to further stimulate their minds. If I see Barney lick at himself I distract him with more playtime.

Lastly I’ve simplified their diet. Ideally I would feed them raw but that’s not in the budget. I’m cutting out fish and only giving them chicken/turkey. It’s very high quality grain-free canned food and I’m feeding them more often so they’re less stressed when they get their food. I noticed they were gulping at their meal the other day so clearly they need more to eat and more often.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Entertained by his Kong Cat Kickaroo.

The hope is that one or more of these things will work and Barney will stop licking off his fur. The fear is that he won’t and this will be a chronic problem for him. I’m also thinking about letting him run the whole house instead of just the foster room. The extra space might do him good.

Last night I let him out for a few minutes and he was terrified, so for now I’ll go more slowly and only open up smaller areas at a time.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor sweetie.

What is ailing Barney and making the others itchy? Is it dry skin or is Kitties for Kids going to have to be shelved? I can’t say right now. All I know is that I need to find an answer fast before Barney makes this into an OCD-like reaction that will require heavy-duty meds for years to come.

In my heart I feel like the key to keeping Barney healthy is more playtime, not just for him, but for ALL of our cats.

It (was) Nicer in Newtown

I live in Sandy Hook, CT, a district of Newtown, CT. I moved here 21 years ago from the Midwest. A few days ago, if I told you where I lived, you probably would have confused it with Sandy Hook, NJ or not had a clue or any sort where we’re located. Today the world knows exactly where we are. They know we’re a tight-knit small town of 27,000 (well 26, 972 now). They see our quaint New England church steeples and clapboard sided homes, then images of our hometown Fire Station draped in Christmas lights. It’s charming. It’s a sweet place to live. It’s safe.

It’s the scenes of SWAT teams brandishing weapons, K9 patrol officers like our Felicia, sending commands to her German Shepherd to find the bad guy. It’s the scenes of the people of my community hunched over, grief stricken, crying. It doesn’t fit this town. This is not OUR town.

Our town motto is “Nicer in Newtown” not “The Town Where that Terrible Shooting Happened.”

I was in New York City on 9|11. I suffered through escaping the city, then suffered the fear of returning to work until I couldn’t take it any more and decided to work from home, giving up all my NY clients and most of my billings.

I’ve seen what guns do to people you love-so very dearly-the gore, the horror. There are images in my head I have to keep a bay or it will drive me mad…and now this.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The view down Yogananda-about 1/2 mile from my house where the shooter killed his mother.

It was a brilliant, sunny morning with crisp blue skies. It was much colder but just as cheerful a day as on 9|11. Sam and I were driving to the town landfill to drop off our recycling. There was nothing out of the ordinary until we saw police cars with lights and sirens blaring, racing down Route 25. I wondered what was going on and not long after that my friend Mary called with the shocking news.

Later that day some of the details became clear—a monster had been unleashed on our town. No, it wasn’t Big Foot or Vampires or Zombies. It was much worse. This monster had no heart and a cache of guns. In cold blood he shot his Mother in the face, then drove to our little Sandy Hook Elementary and massacred some of the staff and twenty innocent children.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is too surreal. CNN, AP, all the CT stations and now NBC NY was there, too.

He is the kind of monster that keeps us up a night-the one who pops up in demonic-wear at a mall or in a movie theater and kills strangers for deranged reasons, who makes us not want to leave our homes, ever.

HE LIVED DOWN THE STREET FROM MY HOUSE.

One of my good friends told me her daughter went to school with him, but had no idea he would do such a thing.

Did I cross his path? Did he walk past my house as many of the local kids do? Did we see him on the road this morning between doing his terrible deeds?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lined up and sniffing the air for news. I tried to stay off to myself, but some reporters heard me say something to Sam and that was it-I had microphones and cameras in my face even though I kept saying I had no story for them.

Adam Lanza took more than just lives, he took the heart out of our town and stomped on it. He must have been in such a rage, so unbalanced to do such a heinous act-at least that’s what I tell myself so I can find a shred of compassion for him. Who could do such a thing to little kids?

I don’t know his story. I barely know the details of what he did. I can only think about my friends and family, our adopters and their children. I contacted one particular family and discovered their son would have been in that classroom, but he was placed in another school even though his mom had wanted him to go to Sandy Hook Elementary. He’s barely five years old, with big blue eyes, straw blonde hair and pink plump cheeks. I thought about what could have happened to him today and I started to cry yet again.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I couldn't find the correct spelling of her name, but this is Pei-Zhe Chang from WVIT our NBC affiliate.

I thought about the first day I met him. He reached up and held my hand, both surprising and delighting me. He barely knew me but trusted me to guide him along the sidewalk to a local shop while his mother and sister followed suit. How could I not love him right then and there?

I thought about all the parents in this town who are not so lucky tonight. They will never hold their child’s hand again or guide them, keeping them safe.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This guy was walking his dog and he was descended upon by news crews.

Tomorrow we find out who died and I hope it’s no one I know…but it also doesn’t matter if I know them or not. They are part of MY TOWN and their loss is mine. I share their tears and heartache and I yearn to find a way to make it better for them-to find a way to erase the stigma of what has been cruelly bestowed upon our town.

I’ve posted an invitation on Kitten Associates to anyone in Newtown with children over 4, who would benefit from a play session and petting session with our foster kitties. If they can’t come here I could go to any of the schools that need us and offer up the kitties to them to help ease their suffering. I know how wonderful kittens make me feel and I think it could help some kids remember that not every day is filled with fear or bad things.

I’m going to develop this program and possibly set it up so we can give the kids a stuffed animal when they leave so they have something to hug. I don’t know what more I can do, but I’m thinking about it a lot. I need to give back. I need to help. I can’t just sit here and do nothing.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This woman's home was just pass the police tape. I helped her get the attention of the reporters and Troopers so she could go home. I felt so badly for her as she was quite upset.

I have a picture in my head that I can’t shake. A friend told me she spoke with a State Trooper who was in the school today—the same concrete and tile building where Sam and I once took Ballroom Dancing classes, the one that’s down the street from the Fire Station where we have Lobster Fest and Pancake Breakfasts to help raise money for our volunteer firefighters.

He said he’s seen some crazy things in his day, some true horrors, but what he saw today, that’s a new level of Hell.

He said the Kindergarten class was seated at their tables as if nothing was wrong—if you discounted the fact that they also happened to be dead where they sat.

The shooter must have gunned them down without hesitation, immediately upon entering the classroom. Those babies didn’t have a chance and now the first responders and families of the victims will have nightmares for the rest of their life and those of us who live in Sandy Hook, a district of Newtown, CT, will bear the scars of this day in their hearts.

It WAS Nicer in Newtown until 9:35 AM today. I know that one day it will be so, again, but right now it’s a Nightmare in Newtown, one that I wish I could wake up from soon.

This is so surreal, so wrong, so insane. I want to cry constantly. I need a hug. I’m afraid of what the news tomorrow will bring.

Today started off so happily. Spencer doesn’t have cancer. Jackson didn’t die on Tuesday. I transported a poor kitty to a rescue group so she would have a chance to find a new forever family and now none of that matters much and I wonder when things ever will again?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Give everyone you know a big hug today. Treasure your life with all its complications. We have so much more than we realize, except on days like today when it’s clear how much we take for granted and how easily it can all slip away.

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