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Freya 2.0. Freya and Friends

There are things I never planned for when I first opened my non-profit cat rescue, Kitten Associates. One of them was what to do when I encountered a cat that for some reason, finding a forever home would be difficult, if not impossible. I assumed that because we’re a small rescue we’d never have to put a cat down (boy, was I wrong about that) or encounter horrible illness (wrong, again) or cats I’d be scratching my head about who I can't put up for adoption (yep, wrong).

All sweetness and light King
©2012 Robin AF Olson. King, the day before leaving for his forever home. King had some health issues after his adoption, but I'm glad to report he is doing great now.

Along the way we’ve had cats like King, who was born with no back paws. He was barely getting by on the grounds of a palette factory in Georgia, where he dodged fork lifts and ate scraps. I wasn’t confident we’d ever find him a placement, but in the end King found the most perfect home with his mom, Judy who lives 1300 miles away in New Hampshire. I’ve come to see that there IS a home for EVERY cat no matter what. It just might take a great deal of time to find that home.

It’s relatively straightforward to provide care for kittens. Yes, often times it can be touch and go. During those early days the odds are greater for loss to occur and sadly we have lost more than I’d care to recall. What surprises me is that those cats who are the most difficult and emotionally draining to care for are the ones I love the most, even if it meant a lot of tough times as I witnessed their struggles, riding wave after wave of joy and anguish.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Lady Saturday after she was released from ICU and only needed day to day monitoring at Dr. Larry's.

Last year I innocently offered to help my friends with a senior cat they found on the side of the road who was nearly starved to death and seriously ill. I had no idea that 14 months and MANY thousands of dollars later, that cat would still be with us. Lady Saturday’s recovery was a miracle, but it also left us with a dilemma. Saturday is over 10 years old. She’s deaf. She doesn’t do much more than eat and sleep and purr during petting-time. She’s been available for adoption for most of this year but it’s very unlikely we will EVER get an adoption application for her. Her foster family loves her very dearly, but they cannot afford her care so we’ve picked up the tab and will continue to do so. We’ll need a way to keep our commitment to this deserving tuxedo cutie, but in truth, fundraising for a senior cat isn’t usually very successful.

First Photo of Freya
©2014 Randy Szendy. Used with permission. First known photo of Freya before rescue.

 

Then there’s Freya. Who knew that my last blog post about her (HERE), which revealed the surprise that Freya no longer needed additional surgery and was stable enough to be adopted, would cause such a passionate firestorm of comments. Every one said the same thing; “You’ve GOT to KEEP FREYA. She loves you and you love her. How can you let her go? Who would provide the right care for her because she’ll always be a special needs cat?”

 

Some of you even cried at the news, as I did when I wrote that final line. I walked around like a Zombie the day I realized that all the hard work was probably over and that Freya really didn’t need me as she once did. I looked at the first photos of her the day I met her and I cried again. What a journey we’ve had.

Forelorn Freya
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Little Freya the first day she was with me.

What I do as a cat rescuer occurs in phases that repeat over and over again. I come to the aid of cats and kittens who face dire situations or health crises. Then we all work together to support those animals until their time comes to find their forever home. Along the way I help the cat learn to trust and love humans, be comfortable getting claws trimmed, treat their parasitic infections, their upper respiratory tract infections, keep their belly full.

I teach them to be confident and emotionally balanced and when I feel they’ve accomplished these things and are in good health, then it’s time for them to be adopted. I’ve fostered close to 500 cats by now and you all know that I can’t keep every one.

 

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Weighing just over 7 pounds, Freya has grown into a lovely little lady. She will always be very small, but her big personality makes up for it.

Over the years a few kittens have gotten under my skin and I’ve had to keep them here, but we’re already beyond the limit of what we can provide for. There’s also the issue of the stress it causes on some of our cats and the resulting inappropriate elimination nightmare that follows. Our cat Petunia can get so stressed she gets struvite crystals in her bladder (which we had surgically removed earlier this year). Is it fair to her for us to keep Freya? Is it responsible to keep Freya even though we cannot afford her care? Will Freya get enough attention from us? These are things I must consider. Ultimately, I will always aim for what is best for our foster cat, not me.


©2015 Robin AF Olson. Something to giggle about...

I agree that there aren’t going to be a lot of people in our area who can provide care for Freya, unless they already do rescue work or are very experienced cat guardians. They would have to monitor her diet and track her output. She’ll have more problems as she ages because of her spinal deformity and bowed legs. She’s already hearing and probably vision impaired, though she doesn’t let anything get her down. One day she may need acupuncture, medications and/or surgery to keep her comfortable as she grows older.

I love Freya very much and our journey has been one of the most meaningful of my life.

Without being arrogant, I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to do for her and it inspires me to perhaps change course from rescuing more kittens, to focusing on only one or two who need a lot of care to get them back on their paws. Freya’s story has helped other kittens like her and even some young children who have atresia ani. It’s an honor to know that she serves as an inspiration to others to not give up even when the Vet says “she’s got a 10% chance to survive.”

 

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Spring!

As I sit at my desk writing, I hear Freya’s familiar me-ow. She wants my attention so of course I turn to see what she wants. She can’t reach up very comfortably so I bend over and carefully lift her. I place her on my chest and sit back so she doesn’t slide down to the floor. She walks on me purring away, not caring her butt is in my face. She turns and rubs her wet nose onto my cheek. I give her a few pets while being careful not to let her slip. Although I have to stop writing, I enjoy taking a moment to interact with her.

Freya often makes me smile and this time is no different. I put her gently back down on the floor and she runs off looking for her favorite spring toy. I ask myself how I can let her go. How I can be okay with never seeing her funny little wiggle-butt-action or how silly she looks when she suddenly stops, mid-step, then stretches out her back legs perfectly flat and straight, before going back to racing off just for the fun of it.

 

Rational “I should do this or that” thoughts aside, Freya is part of our family and I think I’ve found a solution that will make it possible for her to stay with us.

 

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Adorable as always.

I’ve created the Freya & Friends Fund. It’s a special fund that will only be used for cats like Freya, who cannot be adopted, and who need long-term care. Lady Saturday will also benefit from this program because she WILL need a lot of support since she’s already a senior cat (and she needs fluids at least once a week for the rest of her life). It will also help us provide for Mia, who has not improved in over a year and is clearly not going to be social enough to find her forever home any time soon. In fact, she may never be adoptable as she’s still too fearful of humans. We need funds to cover her care, too, but these are things that are not easy to fundraise for and that is my fear.

We need about $15/day to cover the basics of food, litter and a tiny bit towards regular vet care for these cats. We’ll have to do special fundraising as our cats age or as infirmity or unforeseen health issues occur.

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If I didn’t have to worry about how we were going to afford to provide for Freya, then keeping her here would be possible, but if I can’t be certain we can always provide for her then it will be more difficult.

 

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Please keep me with you always!

The bonus, of course, if we keep Freya, means you’ll always be able to stay in touch with her and watch her journey as it continues to unfold. She has a lot of growing to do and new friends to make.

Knowing she’s been an inspiration to others makes it even more important to keep her with us. She could eventually visit our local schools to help children not only learn about compassion for animals but to see that just because a cat is different doesn’t make her any less lovable—perhaps it makes her more lovable.

 

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. A few nights ago with her family, the DOOD and Spencer.

 

I guess that’s what it comes down to in the end-love. Love trumps reason. Love overrules “should.” I love Monkeypants and now I hope you’ll help me keep her where she belongs by joining Freya & Friends as a supporter.

 

 


FRIENDSHIP OPTIONS

 

If you'd like more information about this program visit our web site HERE. Kitten Associates is a 501c3 non-profit so your gift is tax deductible. Our IRS EIN is 27-3597692.

Robin and Freya R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. The night before Freya's surgery I knew I could never let her go.

Staying Strong for Gracie: Part 8. The Decision.

(Continued from Parts 1, 2 and 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)

Last week Gracie did really well. She started eating again; a good amount. Sam and I got into a routine of getting her medications to her on time and I continued to make notes in my log book about how she was doing. In the back of my mind was the weight of the decision about whether or not to have “one last test” done on Gracie’s liver (an ultrasound guided Tru-cut biopsy) or whether we should decide to focus on providing only palliative care and let her go when that no longer was effective. I’ve been sick about this decision. I even asked all of you to offer your advice.

For the most part, many of you were supportive and caring. You understood that the only way we can know what treatment Gracie needs is to know what Gracie is suffering from. The tiny liver biopsy will provide that information to us.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Gracie up and perky last week. What a delight to see her like this again!

One person was pretty cruel and accused me of being a Drama Queen and that I was unnecessarily harming Gracie by taking her to the Vet so many times. It’s really painful to hear something like that, even if I know it’s not true. I appreciate those of you who went to bat for me letting this person know that you had my back. I would rather not have to write this story at all. I don’t need attention, I just need my cat to be okay.

On Saturday, Gracie’s appetite started to fade. She’d done this just a week ago so I wondered if it was from her overdoing it. She’d been walking around a lot more the day before and maybe one of her liver cysts had started to bleed. We decided to give her another round of Yunnan Baiyo, a Chinese herb that helps stop bleeding. We also began to syringe-feed her, just as we had the week before. Once again I hoped that the same cycle would end and she’d begin to eat on her own after she’d had a few bigger meals in her belly.

I admit the one thing I like about syringe feeding is I can control what Gracie eats. I could blend together one of her favorite foods and add a bit of raw chicken liver and goat milk to the mix. It would help boost her iron and give her tummy some comfort. Though we had some struggles, Gracie was pretty calm about being fed, which was a good sign.

Yesterday Gracie ate a little bit on her own, but she wasn’t as perky as she had been so we continued supporting her while I wondered if she would even be in good enough shape to have the biopsy done. The truth is she’d have a transfusion first so she should be feeling quite good after that, but if she didn’t improve we’d have to re-think what we were going to do.

Gracie spencer and dood nap
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Gracie, surrounded by Spencer and DOOD.

Last night after giving her some dinner I gave Gracie a kiss and told her to hang on. She was still Gracie, still chirping, purring away, maybe getting up a few too many times to lap at water, but she was still there. I went to bed with a heavy heart. I knew that in the morning I’d have to face the music. Either we do this or we give up. Wednesday is the day of her appointment.

This morning I didn’t want to get up. No surprise. Freya heard me moving around and jumped on the bed. She curled up next to me wanting some snuggle-time
so I gave myself an excuse to delay getting up a little while longer. Freya drools like a fountain when I pet her so needless to say I got up a short time later.

I made my morning trek down the stairs, pausing on the landing to look across the living to see if Gracie was still there, still okay, still alive. Yep. She was sitting on her heated bed looking up at me.

Morning chores take forever so I got started: warm up cat food, scoop litter pans, clean up Gracie’s area, then put out freshly washed bowls with fresh water, add new litter if pans need them, clean up any “surprises” from the night before, go out to the garage to feed Barry and scoop his litter pan, then prepare some food for Gracie and pray she eats it (and that's only for OUR cats, then I do it all over again for the remaining foster cats, too).

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Resting in the sunshine.

Gracie DID eat, not as much as usual, but she ate. That was a good sign. I decided to keep syringe-feeding her because she’s getting thin. She looked perky and was doing about as well as I could have hoped, but today is the day we decide about her future so Sam and I sat down to talk about it once again.

Sam was surprisingly blunt. He felt we needed to do this or we needed to prepare to put Gracie down in about a week. She can’t go on as she is and she needs help-more than what we can do for her at home. Yes, it’s a risk and yes it could end badly, but we need to help her and that means we need to do the biopsy.

And now I will be blunt. We need help to make this happen. Our fundraiser for Gracie only brought in about $200.00 last week. We need to raise at least $1200, even though it will cost $1500+ for tomorrow’s procedure.

Perhaps you’re not sure it’s worth it to help this time because there are no guarantees of a happy outcome. I get that. But if you look beyond it, you could help just because you like what I’ve been doing, the cats I’ve rescued, the stories I’ve entertained you with. At this point of Gracie’s crisis, I hope you’ll find a way to share your love with us because we really need it. It doesn’t take much if a lot of people chose to donate. $5 here and $10 there can really add up.

For every person who donates more than $100, I will send them a special thank you treat (while supplies last and I have quite a few goodies!). I have some fun cat-centric things from books featuring cats to cute goodies and cat products.

We get more of your donation if you donate directly using our PayPal address: info@kittenassociates.org or if you go through our DONATE page on our web site.

You can mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Put a note "for Gracie" it so we can direct the funds to her.

Just SHARE this post with your friends who have kind hearts and love cats. That helps Gracie, too.

Your donation is Tax Deductible. Kitten Associates is a non-profit rescue and our IRS EIN is 27-3597692.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. This is the face that inspires me do what it takes to help my sweet girl.

We will stop our fundraiser as soon as we’ve raised $1200.00, which we hope will cover Gracie's care. Any funds we don’t use for Gracie, we'll set aside for other kitties in our program who need help, like our recently rescued big guy, Barry.

Thank you.

Staying Strong for Gracie. Part 7. Between a Rock.

(Continued from Parts 1, 2 and 3, 4, 5, and 6)

Both of my parents were scientists. I think that’s why when one of my cat’s gets sick I spend a great deal of time trying to sort out what is going on if we don’t have a clear cut answer. I’d been keeping a diary of when Gracie should have her meds, which meds she should get, what time I tried to get her to eat, if she ate and how much she ate. I also added other notes about her, like “Perky today” or “Kinda limp.”

When she’d do badly for a few days I'd look back over my notes for clues. Nothing added up. I also never knew if “this was it”-sort of decline or if she could rebound. We had no idea which, if any, of her medications were helping her. She’d go through periods of not eating for a day or a bit longer. I’d syringe-feed her and she’d perk up and eat again, getting her energy back, too. Though she didn’t return to her “old self” she'd sit up and meow at me when I came near or she’d, at least, walk over to the kitchen, far beyond her regular spot in the living room where she spends a majority of her day. One day I gave her a rainbow shaped catnip toy and she loved it. She even fell asleep with her head on it. She was still a cat by all definitions.

Gracie with Rainbow
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Although the catnip toy didn't make Gracie get frisky, she did really enjoy it and even nibbled on it with the few teeth she has left.

Monday arrived. Test result day. Once again my gut was in a knot. I had my phone ringer turned on and turned up. I carried my phone wherever I went. Every time someone else called me I jumped out of my skin. Would this be the day I find out my cat has a deadly cancer or would it be treatable? We’d been down this road before but truly this time we’d KNOW.

Or would we?

Dr. Carolyn called early that evening and told me that the test didn’t tell us much. There was, once again, no sign of cancer in the spleen. Gracie didn’t have hemolytic anemia. Gracie didn’t have a portal shunt in her liver. What DID Gracie have?

“We don’t know just yet.”

Dr. Carolyn went on to describe our next options. We had three:

1. Do a Tru-cut ultrasound guided biopsy of Gracie’s liver because most of the Vets on this case agreed that the culprit still is her liver. Yes, she has benign cysts there that we know of but there’s a chance there's more going on than we realize. A needle aspirate can't get enough tissue to give us a more complete picture, which is why we only found out there were cysts when we had that done a month ago. The Tru-cut would tell us what's happening in the surrounding liver tissue. Doing this type of biopsy, while gets good results, isn’t as accurate as doing a “wedge” biopsy (see below).

With this procedure there's a risk Gracie could bleed more and possibly not recover. It’s a quick procedure and the least invasive. There isn’t even a suture needed, the opening created is so tiny. They'd also do another transfusion, this time doing it FIRST to give Gracie the best chance to survive and feel good after the procedure is done. If she starts to decline they would do a SECOND transfusion, which of course adds to costs and is no guarantee she will come out of it.

Dr. Carolyn felt that this test WOULD tell us once and for all what is going on and if we knew, then there would be a chance for some sort of treatment, though a cure is very unlikely. It would buy us more quality time and we could treat her with appropriate medications and stop giving her ones she didn't need in the first place. It would cost another $1500.00 or so.

2. Do nothing. Keep Gracie comfortable and she may become so anemic she'll die. We could try to up her dose of steroids, but that's not a fix and we'll never know what happened or if we could have done something about it. She'll have much less time with us and potentially be much more uncomfortable.

3. Do a wedge biopsy of her liver. This way a surgeon would SEE her liver and be able to take a sample that was big enough to test, as well as suture closed any bleeding issues. It would cost about $5,000.00. It would likely KILL Gracie before she was even out of sedation.

It was pretty clear we really only had two options, numbers 1 and 2. I wouldn’t cut Gracie open like that. Sure, they could see what's going on, but that’s no way to die. The problem was…what DO we choose to do next?

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Laying on a pet-safe heated bed and some sunshine helps soothe Gracie's discomfort.

I’ve had a number of conversations with all the major players in our story. Two of the three said YES, do the Tru-cut. Dr. Carolyn feels there's a very good chance Gracie WILL survive the procedure. Gracie's 13, not 18. We would finally know what's going on and know if there is more to be done to help Gracie feel comfortable.

Not knowing would be a continuation of the painful roller coaster we’ve endured for months. Gracie would take a turn and we’d wonder if “this is it” yet again. If we knew this was part of her disease, it would be easier on us, too. I could ride out the lows and I’d know better when Gracie was in trouble instead of being terrified all the time. We could treat her more appropriately instead of throwing everything we’ve got at her. She would respond better, too…but there are risks and the price could be her life.

One of the Vets said not to do it because it was too risky and that some times you just don’t know and that we could come in to see him and he’d discuss treatment options. For what? What are we treating if we DON’T KNOW what it is?! Frankly, I think he was back-peddling because he should have caught something worse was going on with Gracie over a month ago and he didn’t.

Sam and I have discussed this a few times. I’ve asked questions and still have more to ask. Three days ago Gracie was not eating and I wouldn’t have done a thing to her. Today she she's on her third day of feeling perky and eating again, but how long will that last?

I want to know what’s killing my cat, but to find out she may die anyway. There’s a very decent chance she'll make it and we’ll have answers, but I have to be willing to let my cat pay the price if I’m wrong.

So now I find myself like a deer caught in the headlights. I don't know what to do. I think we should do the Tru-cut biopsy since Gracie is stable. The costs are an issue. In truth, we need help to make this happen.

If you’d like to take Gracie under your wing and help with a small donation toward her care, it could mean a world of difference to her and would honor our hard work helping others.

We get more of your donation if you donate directly using our PayPal address: info@kittenassociates.org or if you go through our DONATE page on our web site.

You can mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Put a note "for Gracie" it so we can direct the funds to her.

Just SHARE this with your friends who have kind hearts and love cats. That helps Gracie, too.

Your donation is Tax Deductible. K.A. is a non-profit rescue and our IRS EIN is 27-3 597692.

We will stop our fundraiser as soon as we’ve raised $2000.00, which we hope will cover Gracie's care and allow some funds to be banked in case she needs a second transfusion. Any funds we don’t use for Gracie, we'll set aside for other kitties in our program who need help like our recently rescued big guy, Barry.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Gracie.

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to share their love, prayers and good wishes for Gracie. We can't do this without you. #ComeOnGracie #LoveYouGracie

Just One Person. How to Save the Lives of Shelter Cats.

Many years ago when I was first fostering, I’d heard about conditions cats and dogs face in the southern United States at overcrowded municipal shelters. At the time I didn’t want to know any details. I kept my eyes to the ground and just fostered a few kittens here or maybe an entire family, but never too many to feel overwhelmed. I was protecting myself from a heartbreaking truth that I was convinced I couldn’t do anything about because I was just one person. Fostering a few kittens meant giving back to my community and helping cats. I didn’t have to find them homes, my “boss” did that. I didn’t have to get too attached because I only had the kittens for a week or two.

In fact, there were times when I could have learned more about terrible conditions right here in my own state when the rescue I volunteered for helped out with a hoarder, but I couldn’t handle it. I told them not to tell me or “I’d lose it.”

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Clyde is an adult with very sad eyes who was pulled from a Georgia kill-shelter because Joan knew he was doomed. He turned out to be FIV positive, but is a sweet cat. He has been neutered and given his vaccines. This VERY lucky adult may even have a home waiting for him thanks to Joan!

Because I write this blog, invariably someone will see my words and it will effect them, which in turn will end up changing my life, too. That’s how I finally gained the courage to open my eyes to the plight of cats and kittens in the south-one person who already knew about the horrors contacted me, asking me to help. She ended up being one of our most important volunteers, our first foster home and the key to beginning to make a difference in the lives of cats from the south.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Polly is a tuxedo polydactyl who very sweet. She is due to be spayed soon, but otherwise is fully vetted and healthy. Please contact Joan to inquire about adopting this cutie.

 

The horrors these days, with Facebook abuzz with pleas for help, seems almost trivial because it’s not a secret: overcrowded shelters euthanize cats and kittens, even ones just born, to make space. Most don’t get more than a day or two to get out via a rescue or adoption. Since kittens get sick so quickly, with their lack of a mature immune system, often they are the first to die. It makes me cry to even write about it, even after all these years of facing the ugly truth that if people don’t spay or neuter their pets, this will continue on and on.

 

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. These kittens had runny eyes and were pulled in the nick of time right before the shelter killed 21 other cats and kittens. Without a foster home these kittens wouldn't have made it.

Even though my rescue is small, we’ve made a difference in more than 500 cats' lives by directly rescuing them from shelters or by networking online to help others. It’s like emptying the ocean with a spoon, but it’s something-and for those cats it means everything.

 

That’s why when someone else, who is “just one person,” reaches out for help to rescue cats in need, I will try to do something and that’s the case for my friend, Joan Flores.

 

Joan is based in Chattanooga, TN and has been helping dogs and cats for as long as I’ve known her. Even though Joan is admittedly flat out exhausted and trying to step back from doing rescue so she can work on rebuilding her business (which took a big hit earlier this year), she can’t let animals die without trying to do something, anything to help.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Happy and safe and no more sniffles, thanks to Joan.

 

Joan recently contacted me telling me the bad news-that this “kitten season” is one of the worst anyone can recall. Every week cats and kittens are being put down for no good reason other than there’s no place to put them all.

 

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. This little one, her mother and the rest of her family were put down before 8AM, before Joan had a chance to beg for their lives. She had no open foster home for them. That's all it would have taken to save them. This post is dedicated to these little angels.

I realize that this scary and sad news might make you want to tuck your head under the blanket, but I’m going to ask you to try to be brave with me, with Joan, with our foster mom, Moe, with Bobby, Warren, Mary Jo, Kendra, Jame, Dorian, Katherine, Connie, Connie S., Adrienne, Amy and SO MANY MORE “just one person” who is trying to make a difference by fostering cats and kittens. If you add up all the cats each of us has fostered, you’re starting to look at some very impressive figures. Be just one, of many and join us.

Right now Joan is in DIRE need of foster homes in Chattanooga, TN area AND pretty much anywhere in central Georgia. I need foster homes HERE in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT. It doesn’t take much to foster but it will keep those cats from dying. Will you be sad when they leave? Sure. But I would much rather be sad that they left me and went to their forever home, then left a shelter in a black plastic bag never having known love or joy.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. The Redemption 5 These kittens were given 24 hours by a shelter (basically because they were messy eaters and they don't want to clean up after them). Thanks to Joan, they are safe but need funds to help with their care. BTW Bath tubs are the BEST place to raise kittens under 8 weeks!

Also, Joan is desperately trying to raise funds to provide surgery for a very pretty Siamese kitty named Amara, who, along with her little scruffy kitten, were destined to be put down. Thanks to Joan, they are safe, but Amara’s eye is in bad shape and she needs surgery.

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Amara and son. They tried optical ointments for Amara, but sadly her eye is too damaged to save. It's painful and she needs to have it surgically removed-after which time Amara and her kitten will be available for adoption. See Joan for details (contact info is below).

 

This is not easy or fun to write about, but I'm so passionate about this topic that I truly hope you’ll take a leap of faith and open your home to Joan, our rescue, or ANY rescue in your hometown. Try fostering. Save a life, or two, or four. You’ll feel blessed to be around tiny creatures who have no sadness in their hearts. You’ll find your smile seeing them thrive-even on your worst day. You will make a pledge to be brave, for them, for the little ones who have no hope to live without you.

 

 

Let’s Save Some Lives!

 

Chattanooga, TN area and Georgia friends: Please contact Joan Flores at mcnewappraisals@gmail.com if you’d like to know more about the kittens posted here for adoption or if you’d like to offer assistance by being a foster home.

Please contact ME if you live in Sandy Hook/Newtown, CT at info@kittenassociates.org if you’re interested in fostering for us!

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Don't make them wait for a rescue. Foster today!

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©2015 Joan Flores. Used with Permission. Adopt us, too! Contact Joan for details.

Letter from Zoe

Dear Friends,

I don’t know about a lot of things. You see I was just born a few weeks ago. My mom told me we were living in a, well, not-so-nice place before we came here. She said there were a lot of other cats and a lot of other things all over where we used to live. There was so much human stuff she couldn’t move around too well, but I guess that was okay.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Zoe with her Mama and brothers.

With so many cats in this place, my mom was scared to leave her hidey-spot. I know she was scared because she was going to have me and my brothers soon and she didn’t want to give birth in this place like the other cats did. She said that it seemed as though there were more and more cats being born, some of them went to Heaven right away and we should feel lucky that we didn’t go there yet.

She said that she counted how many cats there were and she counted one cat for every one of her toes, then she ran out of toes! So she said there were must be more than 18. I guess her sister had a kitten that went right to Heaven and then another sister got really really sick from being full of babies and she almost went to Heaven, too.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #06, Sweet Peaches, about a year old, who's looking for her forever home or a rescue organization to take her on and help her find one.

I don’t know why there are places like this—full of cats and full of dirty cat droppings and dirty human piles of things, because it doesn’t seem like the place where a little kitten like me would want to grow up.

My mother told me that before I was old enough to tell my own stories, some human-ladies came to our place. They carefully lifted us up and put us into a nice clean box with a handle on the top. Inside it there was a soft bed. It was nice and clean, too. They told us not to worry and that they would take care of us. I think one of the ladies had wet sparkles covering her eyes that she had to wipe away with a soft cloth. She seemed sad when she looked at us, but I think that’s because I look kinda funny.

07 Terrance 1200
©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #07, Terrance, about a year old male, who's looking for his forever home or a rescue organization to take him on and help him find one.

I’m really tiny for my age and I think I have bad things inside me that made me feel not my best.

The ladies that brought us to the new place gave us a huge metal box to live in so we can all stay together. It’s nicer than our old place and clean, too.

My brothers are small, but I am the smallest. The ladies said I am…I dunno. Something about bread, being in-bread? They say I should be more developed by now, but geez, I’m doing the best I can.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #05 & #09, Silly 7-month old siblings looking for their forever home or a rescue organization to take them on and help them find one.

The ladies are feeding me extra milk and they are getting me some medicine. I hope it will help me feel better really soon. I know they are worried about me going to Heaven and I’m a bit worried, too. I don’t know much about anything, like I said before, but I do know these ladies are really good people. They helped us when no one else could help, and they will take care of us so we can get big like my mom someday.

04 Phillip DSH Orange and White 1200
©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #04, Phillip, a sweet boy barely a year old.

The problem is there are so many other kitty-cats who came from the not-so-nice-place and they need something called a Rescue Group to help them go to a nice place to live. The kitties don’t need much, just somewhere clean and with good food, whatever food is. I only drink milk right now, but I hope you know what I mean.

10 DSH Tabby and White Friendly ALT1200
©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. #10 Very friendly female tabby, about a year old.

The ladies told me that to keep helping all of us they need donations so they can make sure we’ll get more good food, some of the kitties get special treatments called spay and some get neuter, and they all get vaccinations…and the donation-thing is something they really need help with.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. A Mother's Love can't heal everything, but hopefully we got to this family in time so that none of the kittens will be lost.

Well, I have to rest again. I get tired easily since I’m only 3 weeks old. I hope you can help me and my family and all our other kitty friends somehow. I’d like to have a chance to grow up and see the world, but I just don’t know if that will happen.

I’ll write again if I can.

Thank you for reading my story.

Your friend,


Zoe

--------------------

From CiCH/Robin:

This is a true story that began two weeks ago with a phone call from a person asking me for help to get a C-section for his cat. When I explained how dangerous that procedure was to the mom and babies and asked about the mother cat’s condition, he began to reveal what was really going on: He had more than 18 cats and none were spayed or neutered. Far more than I could take on myself, I reached out for help and my fellow rescuers answered the call.

PAWS in Norwalk sent a representative over to the home to begin the process of sorting out what needed to be done. This liaison was terrific, keeping us abreast of what was going on, but the true heroes are the staff at Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic, who offered to not only vet each and every cat, but they would travel an hour to get ALL the cats and have ALL the cats recover from their procedures on site, then stay on in their facility until legitimate rescue organizations could step in to help.

PAWS and our rescue, Kitten Associates granted funds to provide 8 of the cats spay/neuter surgery and vaccines, and the former owner of the cats provided funds to get 7 more cared for.

Considering this is a situation that Nutmeg normally can't get involved with and is so far from their facility, the staff deserves a huge round of applause AND especially, our support. They're still in need of $2,200.00 to provide complete care to all the cats...

...(a couple needed emergency spay surgery and had additional health challenges, plus all the cats were tested for FIV and Feline Leukemia, dewormed, de-fleaed and some needed special grooming). Nutmeg is in dire need of assistance from the local rescue community to help them place each and every one of these cats into a loving home.

Every cat is spayed/neutered, has their rabies and distemper vaccinations and NEGATIVE for feline leukemia and FIV. Many of the cats are very friendly and all are under the age of 3, with most being older kittens.

Please visit NUTMEG CLINIC to share your love for kittens like Zoe. Simply use their PayPal donation widget (DONATE BUTTON on left side of page) or mail a check to: Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic, 25 Charles Street, Stratford, CT 06615 and note on the check “For Zoe & the Kitties.” Any unused portion of donations will go directly to the other cats in Nutmeg’s care. Nutmeg Clinic is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so your donation is tax deductible as the law allows.

Connecticut and surrounding area rescue organizations, please consider taking just one or two of these deserving cats into your adoption program so the folks at Nutmeg can get back to doing what they do best—keeping the animal population under control with safe, effective sterilization and vaccinations. In the almost three years since they have opened their doors, they’ve already spayed or neutered almost 10,000 cats and dogs.

If you'd like to inquire about any of the cats, please contact Gilda at info@nutmegclinic.org

I’d like to personally thank Nutmeg for stepping up to a difficult situation and for being willing to house such a large number of cats. They aren’t a shelter so this is tough on them.

Lastly, to the kitten I nicknamed Zoe, I hope you make it, Little One! I look forward to reading your next letter.

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©2015 Robin A.F. Olson. Come on, Zoe! You can do it!

Let it Ride.

I’m not even sure when it started. In some ways it seems as though it’s been going on forever, a never-ending cycle of bad to worse. I don’t even know what triggered it in the first place. Was it a visit to the Vet? Was it stress-related?

All I know is that close to every one of my cats and my foster cats are sick with a viral upper respiratory tract infection and there isn’t much I can do about it.

DOOD resting from being sick
©2015 Robin AF Olson. DOOD sleeping it off, feeling lousy and stuffed up.

It began over a month ago, before Laney, Winnie and their 7 kittens arrived from Georgia. A few of my cats had a mild case of the sneezes. DOOD, Blitzen, Nicky were a bit quieter than usual with DOOD leading the charge with violent head-whipping sneezes. There's no way I can separate the cats from each other so I had to hope that as it spread from one cat to the other, it wouldn't be too bad.

But Fluff Daddy, with his shortened nose was hit the worst. Because it was likely a virus, the treatment is not to treat; to give supportive care, rest, and monitor him to make certain it wasn’t turning into a secondary infection or pneumonia. Fluff had already battled pneumonia last year and we couldn’t risk that happening again. This meant vet visits for Fluff-lots of them. Because he never had a fever, Dr. Mary felt we should let it ride and that eventually, being self-limiting, the virus would die off and Fluff would feel better.

Fluff Sick R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Poor Fluff on his "spa towel."

Throughout the day I would bring Fluff or DOOD into the bathroom and run the shower. The warm moist air would help their breathing. Fluff particularly enjoyed these sessions and would sit on a thick towel on top of the bathroom counter without fussing around as DOOD often would. I’d sit on the closed toilet and play solitaire on my old iPad. It wasn’t much, but it was something I could do to help them recover.

Fluff on his spa towel R Olson 475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Fluff Daddy, finally on the med but still a bit worse for wear.

I’ve cared for sick cats many times and there’s a tipping point where their care can become overwhelming. There are too many medications to juggle, too many vet visits and worse; too many late nights worrying that your sick cats will need urgent care. I hover, I fret, I try to be calm. I make mental notes about each one; are they eating? normal litter pan habits? will they play a little bit at least?

It wasn’t too much to support the cats, but then things took a turn that anyone who does rescue fears.

Laney, Winnie and their 7 kittens arrived. They’d been vetted prior to being transported to Connecticut from their home in Georgia. They were on a transport with other cats who supposedly were also vetted. I will never know for sure the actual cause, but within ONE HOUR of them arriving to my home, a few of the adults began sneezing. At first I thought perhaps the stress of the trip had pushed them over the edge and that maybe in a few days they’d be feeling better. They'd never been sick all the months they'd lived in Georgia.

Buncha Kitties R Olson 475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Piglet, Jelly-Belly, Lollipop, Lex and Lucy arrive. So much excitement to finally meet them after all these months.

The long winter kept me from opening the windows, which would be one of the first things I’d want to do when the cats get sick. Nice, fresh air keeps sickness at bay, but with a closed in room and nine large cats in a small space, of course they would all get sick in time. What I feared was that my foster cats got sick from another rescue’s cats on the transport. They could have been shelter cats and those guys can pick up a whole host of horrible diseases. My guys had never been in a shelter and now what would become of them? What had they been exposed to?

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. All 9 cats to the vet at once-a record number for me.

I had to bring all NINE cats to the Vet to get their CT Health Certificates issued on Monday. The Vet supposedly looked at each cat, but I wasn’t privy to seeing the exams as her techs brought the cats into the back of the clinic a few at a time to see the vet. I didn’t know if she was checking them well or barely looking at them. I’d given her information that said some of the cats had URIs and she was to check the cats for signs of it.

Larry and Louie R Olson 475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Louie, Larry and Lucy arrive from Georgia.

After waiting for about 90 minutes the vet finally came into the exam room. She talked about Piglet’s ear having an infection inside it. She mentioned Jelly Belly has a stage two heart murmur. She did not mention one thing about the URI only what to do to treat Piglet’s ear.

Lex and Lucy R Olson475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Lucy and Lex (right) before the virus hit.

The cats were supposed to get their claws trimmed, for which we were charged a lot of money, when some of our vets don’t charge for this. I got scratched. I started to look at the cat’s paws. The few I looked at hadn’t have their back claws trimmed completely. Nice.

Piglet starts to get sick R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Just before everything turned bad for Piglet.

So I was left feeling like the cats got a lousy exam and I didn’t know what to do about the URI. If their lungs sounded clear that was one thing, but if not I'd need to consider antibiotics.

Within a few days Piglet especially, Jelly Belly, Louie, Larry, Lex were really sick. Instead of going back to this vet I went to Dr Mary and Dr Larry. I took the two sickest kittens to start: Piglet and Jelly.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Super-Deb comforting Jelly.

Dr. Larry examined Jelly. He had a temperature of over 103°F. He listened to Jelly’s heart and agreed he had a heart murmur, but that many cats did fine with a murmur like his and that right now we didn’t have to do anything about it. The real shocker was when Dr. Larry looked at Jelly’s gums. They were RED and irritated. It was a sign to us that Jelly might have bartonella and if you’ve read any of my posts you’ll know that bartonella is the bane of my existence. It's often mis-diagnosed as something else because it has a wide range of symptoms ranging from IBD-like digestion issues to upper respiratory to no symptoms.

Piglet at vet sneezing R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Sneeze-attack.

Jelly was meowing and sneezing while poor Piglet hid under a chair. When Dr. Larry examined her, he saw the very nasty ear infection and again discovered that she, too, has the irritated gums. Her temperature was over 104°F which was getting dangerous. They gave her and Jelly sub-q fluids and we decided to test both cats for bartonella and because all 9 cats were sick, to spend the extra on doing a DNA test called a PCR, on Piglet’s secretions. It would help us treat her better to know exactly what virus she has. Because she only weighs 4 lbs 14 oz, roughly half what Jelly weighs, we’re starting her on azithromycin, which would be a treatment for bartonella. Even though we don’t know she has it, it may help her feel better. The test takes 10 DAYS to get back results and considering how frail she is we can’t risk waiting to treat her.

Jelly sick on the kitty R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Jelly Belly feeling lousy, too.

With the possibility that we’ll have to test ALL the cats for bartonella or just if we treat them, we can’t treat unless Dr. Larry examines them first so that means 7 times exam fees + 8 times more azithromycin costs. This medication is compounded and EXPENSIVE. It’s $46/cat for just 10 days of treatment and the full course is 21 days.

Piglet and Lex Sick R Olson 475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Going down hill fast. Piglet and Lex are both sick.

This could be bad, but what I fear more is what will become of Piglet. She is depressed and not eating that well. Her fever came down last night but I have to check her again today and she gets very agitated if we try to get her temperature. She's so tiny I just don't want to upset her while she's so sick.

Then add this to the fact that I have my 12-year old cat Petunia in a big dog crate recovering from serious surgery on her bladder and she’s not eating well, either. I can’t get antibiotics in her any longer and frankly she deserves more one on one time while she’s recovering. Sam has to take over that duty, besides I shouldn't be handling her. She can't get sick on top of everything else.

Piglet and Jelly
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Poor Piglet!

And that's the thing. No amount of hand-washing, clothes changes, step baths of bleach are going to stop this mess. I've been as careful as I can be but when Fluff and Freya like to hang out near the door to the foster cat room and the air from the room goes under the door, into the hallway, what am I to expect? It hasn't stopped me from being as careful as I can but in the end there's nothing I could have done to stop this.

Freya Playing with Nora R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya still playful with Aunt Nora at her side.

With my cats slowly starting to improve I thought I could handle helping whoever needs it, but this morning I woke up to discover Freya, sneezing her little head off. Of course she’s sick now, too, even though she’s on week 5 of a very strong antibiotic called Baytril to help kill her ear infection.

You may think I run a bad rescue and that I’m sloppy about keeping foster cats quarantined, but I assure you I’m neither of those things. This is a horrible confluence of events that I didn’t cause and I’m struggling to do what’s best for each cat even though it’s meant I was at the vet 5 out of 6 days this week. Even if it’s meant I’m going to drive through the latest snowstorm to get medication for Piglet.

With a virus you often have to let it ride until it runs its course, but the difficulty lies in knowing when to stop and hit it with antibiotics that often cause digestive issues and open the cat up to more problems. The challenge for me is to find a way to survive the stress this is causing. Seeing cats so sick and not being able to fix it is heartbreaking. Worrying about the most fragile cats and worrying that I’ll miss something because there are just too many cats to oversee is terrifying.

©2015 Robin AF Olson. :-(

In all the years I’ve done rescue this is the worst it’s ever been and hopefully, like a virus, these tough days will run their course and we’ll have happy healthy cats once again.

We’re in dire need of funds to help Piglet and her family so we’re starting up a fundraiser.

We get more of your donation if you donate directly using our PayPal address: info@kittenassociates.org or if you go through our DONATE page on our web site.

©2015 Robin AF Olson. Sneezing and sneezing and...what??!

You can mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.

Just SHARE this with your friends who have kind hearts and love cats. That helps Piglet and her family, too.

Your donation is Tax Deductible. K.A. is a non-profit rescue and our IRS EIN is 27-3 597692.

We will stop our fundraiser as soon as we’ve raised $1750.00, which we hope will cover some of our costs and allow some funds to be banked for the medications we’re going to have to purchase. Any funds we don’t use for Piglet's family, Fluff Daddy or Freya we will set aside for other kitties who need help.

Wistful Piglet R Olson 475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. I hope we'll see Piglet looking beautiful and healthy again soon.

For Freya's Sake.

I just met a very nice young couple at Newtown Veterinary Specialists. They rescued two tiny kittens from a “friend of a friend” who let her cat outside and didn’t seem to care that the cat and her offspring were flea-covered and starving. The young couple wanted to help so they took two kittens and named them Pascal and Freya. The thought was that these kittens would become part of their family, so they focused on bathing them to get rid of their fleas and started feeding them consistent meals to help them gain some strength back after what the fleas did to them.

BLue eyed freya r olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My first glimpse of Freya and her sparkling blue eyes.

But there was something odd about Freya.

 

Although Freya is sweet and loves her brother dearly, Freya wasn’t eating very well. Add to that she seemed to be in the litter pan a lot and nothing would happen. She would strain and thrash about and little would come of it so she’d leave the pan, then go right back in moments later.

 

The couple knew something was wrong so they took the kittens to the Vet. The Vet got the kittens de-wormed, tested the brother for FIV/Feline Leukemia and said since he was negative then surely his sister was, too. The Vet began to examine Freya. Her eyes are little blue sapphires that dazzle against her mostly white fur, save for one tabby-patterned circle on her forehead. Everything appeared normal but has he continued the exam, the further he got to her back end, the odder things became.

Freya has no tail and the couple noticed she walked a bit oddly too. Upon examining Freya’s rear end it was discovered that she does NOT have a urethra and rectum. She only has ONE opening when there should be two. No wonder she was having trouble passing anything. It wasn't possible to tell where these two join together. The Vet knew that the kitten needed to see a Specialist and SOON. This was no easy fix. If this kitten couldn’t eliminate properly a whole host of problems was going to crop up fast. It was rather amazing that she was even alive considering the severity of this deformity.

Sweet Slumber R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Too tired and weak to run around.

Dr. Andrews, the surgeon who helped us with Twinkle, did the exam this evening. He told the couple that Freya might be helped by surgery IF the two areas were only joined together fairly close to where they end. If they are joined together further into her body, then depending on how far in, would depend on if they could do anything to repair it. I wasn’t there to ask if that meant she would have to be humanely euthanized, but clearly this is not something she could live a long life with if nothing was done.

Yucky back end A
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. WARNING: Graphic image of Freya's rear end. Click to view.

The costs for Freya’s surgery far outweighed the couple’s ability to pay for it. They faced having to put her down right then and there unless they could get a rescue group to take on responsibility for the kitten, so that’s when I got the call.

When I saw Freya laying in Chelsea’s arms I almost cried. She is so completely innocent. Fast asleep, probably exhausted and sick, she was nestled in her blanket. I took one look at the couple and knew they were loving, caring people who were really busted up that they had to give up their kitten to provide her with the care she needed. They were really great about it saying they wanted what was best for her and that they were truly grateful that they could get help, even if that meant they would not be taking her home ever again.

Freya and Chelsea R olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Freya likes belly rubs from her mom, Chelsea. Her tummy is wet because I just tried to kill off a few fleas.

I spent a long time with them, giving them tips about how to care for Freya’s brother, treat fleas, where to get him neutered one day. They were so appreciative and I was glad to pass on what I’ve taken years to learn. We talked about next steps for Freya and after that I let them have some time with her to say their goodbyes. I promised I’d keep in touch and I told them I knew how hard it was to let her go. They were doing the right thing and it really inspired me to do something for them and for Freya.

I’ve only had an hour to think about how to say this, so this is the best I’ve got: Remember how you guys told me you had my back? Here goes:

 

I know we just did a miraculous fundraiser for Twinkle-Twinkle’s surgery barely two weeks ago and I hate to ask for help so soon after we just did but that’s how rescue goes. One week a kitten breaks a leg, the next week we had Fernando rip his eyelid up. Now it’s Freya. We don’t have deep pockets so we won’t be able to help Freya unless we get some assistance.

 

Freya has been signed over to our friends at Animals in Distress, but we are partnering with them to raise funds and to hopefully provide a good foster home for Freya after her surgery is completed.

I’ve set up a fundraiser for this kitten’s care and I’m REALLY PUSHING hard to get the costs DOWN as much as I can. Where we get stuck is due to how the billing works at NVS. They have to bill us for 75% of the high estimate amount THEN they refund 20% back as our discount, plus any other discounts NVS can give us. We’re told that Dr. Andrews is going to donate a portion of his fees, but again, that doesn’t get cut from the invoice until AFTER we pay it up front. Crazy? Yeah! (and we don’t know how much he is donating yet...and BTW THANK YOU to NVS for giving us a generous discount in the first place and to Dr Andrews for being awesome-sauce!).

Wrapped up Asleep R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I love her little spot!

 

What does this mean in English? It means we need to come up with 75% of $4832.00 which is $3624.00. This doesn’t include other surgeries if she needs them or after care, but if we can knock this down, it will really be a big WIN for a little kitten.

 


©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. A few seconds with Freya.

Ways you can help Freya

Call NVS and make a donation directly to Freya’s Fund at 203-270-8387. Please note: you will need a PayPal account to donate. They can’t take credit cards over the phone for security reasons.

We get more of your donation if you donate directly using our PayPal address: info@kittenassociates.org or if you go through our DONATE page on our web site.

You can mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354.

Just SHARE this with your friends who have kind hearts and love cats. That helps Freya, too.

Your donation is Tax Deductible. K.A. is a non-profit rescue and our IRS EIN is 27-3 597692.

Any funds we don’t use for this surgery we will set aside for Freya’s future needs. If there is still anything left after that, it will go into our general fund and help provide care for the 27 other cats in our program OR it will go to Animals in Distress. We are still working that out.

 

In my mind’s eye I can see Freya, sleeping on a soft bed that is bathed in sunlight. She’s comfortable and plump. She looks like she’s smiling as she sleeps away the afternoon. She is healthy and well and these dark days are over for her. She didn’t have to die, she got to live. That is my dream for Freya and I hope you can help me make it come true.

 

Sweet Dreams R Olson
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I hope this is one of many happy moments little Freya will have.

 

 

UPDATE: DUE TO CHANGES MADE by PetCaring.com on how they process funds we have decided to shut our PetCaring Fundraiser down. PetCaring forces us to use WePay to process payments and they HOLD donations for UP TO A WEEK. We can't access any money we raised on that account last night! This is NOT acceptable. Please make donations directly through our DONATE page on the Kitten Associates web site so we get funds right away. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

 

What if this Happened to You?

I have nightmares. Many of them revolve around me losing my home to foreclosure, of having to move out with nowhere to go. I tremble and thrash around in my bed as I see in my dream the doors fly open and my terrified cats escape outside into the woods. I know their lives will come to an abrupt end without my care and protection. They can’t fend for themselves and now I can’t either.

But what if I woke up and that was true? What would I do if I lost my home? Where would I go? I don’t have any family who would help me and I couldn’t ask my friends to take on me AND my cats, too…but I couldn’t LIVE if my cats weren’t with me. It’s not an option.

I met a lady on Facebook named Barbara who has 5 cats. A long while ago she baked me some bread and made some granola for me as a “just because” gift. I always thought of her as a kind person, but I also knew times were tough for her.

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©Barbara Hayes.

She recently left a comment on my Facebook status message that really shook me up. She said she was about to become homeless in a little over a week. Her house had been foreclosed and the bank was selling it. That the new owners legally could evict them and their cats and she had run out of ideas of how she could keep her family from being tossed out onto the streets.

My friend Mary Shafer who captains a freelance marketing consultancy and commercial copywriting shop called The Word Forge heard about Barbara’s plight and offered to help. She summed up their situation thusly:

Barbara Hayes and her husband Kenneth are in their 60s and have been married for 40 years. Like most middle-aged couples, they were hoping to be able to slow down a little to plan enjoying their retirement in their Deerfield Beach, Florida, home. But then in 2012, her husband developed a large cataract in his good eye (the bad eye has had two retinal detachments and required several lens replacement surgeries). As a reward for 12 faithful years on the job, his employer fired him when he told them he was going blind.

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©Barbara Hayes.

He was already suffering health issues from a brain injury he received in 1978, when he was run over by a tow truck. Blind Services paid to have the cataract removed and the lens replaced, but by this time, he had slipped into such deep depression that he couldn't get out of bed for a year. His brain injury worsened, and he now receives disability because he can't work.

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©Barbara Hayes. Ken.

Barbara is also disabled, but because she had no guidance to navigate our country's overwhelming bureaucracy, she waited too long to apply for SSI, so now she only receives $84/mo in those benefits, as well as Medicaid. Which is fortunate, because she has A-Fib, a heart problem that has required hospitalization for procedures twice in the last year. Her third hospitalization this year was to remove her gallbladder. She also suffers from arthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetes. Not surprisingly, she has consequently developed clinical depression and social anxiety disorder.


Neither of them can do much physical work, but Barbara does what she can to sustain them by baking bread. The problem is that, with all the disruptions to their lives and loss of income, they were unable to pay their mortgage and now their home has gone into foreclosure. In ten days, they will be forced from their home.

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©Barbara Hayes.

It's bad enough for them, but the biggest problem is that they have five cats who have helped them stay sane and brought some small measure of happiness. And of course, there will be no apartment owner who will accept them with the cats, so they're left with either finding another house to rent, or becoming homeless, because they will not allow their own misfortune to force them to give their cats away.

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©Barbara Hayes.

Anyone who's a pet parent and really loves their companion animals can understand this. I certainly do. I'm asking that you please consider giving whatever you can to help the Hayeses raise enough money for the first and last month's rental and security deposit on a house. They believe they'll be able to make it if they can just raise this money to help them bridge the gap between where they are now, and where they'll have to relocate.

------------

From Robin

I realize that barely a week ago I asked all of you to save my little cat rescue and Twinkle our injured kitten who needed emergency surgery. You did that for us without batting an eye. I realize, too, that it’s asking a great deal to ask for anything right now, but this is truly a crisis and these folks just don’t have any resources.

I feel a moral obligation to help them because I believe that in the United States of America we SHOULD NOT HAVE ANYONE LOSE THEIR HOME, EVER. Everyone should have a clean, safe place to live with clean water and light. Everyone deserves to have a life of dignity, not where they are treated like garbage because of their physical disability and difficulty earning a living. This could be our MOTHER or FATHER, our BROTHER or SISTER. I hope we can join together to make a positive difference in their lives.

If any of you are in the DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA area and can help even run an errand in their car (since the Hayeses have no car) or if they know of any low-cost housing where they CAN have their cats, please email me and I will get the word to them. info@coveredincathair.com

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©Barbara Hayes.

You can help Barbara and her family by making a donation to their fundraiser OR you can visit their Amazon.com wishlist and purchase some items to help them once they get into a new home. They just need the basics, like soap and cat food, so please feel free to do some shopping just like you’d do for yourself, but this time do it for them.

Thank you everyone. Let's help these people and their beloved kitties stay off the streets.

Twinkle-Twinkle's Unlucky Break

It's almost 2AM. I'm so tired I want to fall over, but I have to tell this story now. I don't have the luxury of time. Tonight Celeste's daughter, Twinkle-Twinkle broke her leg and with that it could mean the end of Kitten Associates.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a responsible person. I always do my best to provide for our foster kittens no matter what it takes. I gave up my career to rescue cats and I gave up any easy kind of life. I don't have two nickels to rub together, but I'm not complaining. This is my life's work. All of my resources are gone. I have been really proud of what I've accomplished with Kitten Associates. We've always paid our bills in full and on time. We've always found a way to raise money when we really really needed it. People have always helped us and without all of you we would have sunk a long time ago.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle still wants to run around, get petted and was even purring when I left her tonight. She's on pain meds and they will be bandaging her leg to keep the damage from getting worse until the orthopedic vet can see her.

But we do not have the luxury of a nest egg to fall back on. We have enough to vet all our 28 foster cats. We have enough to feed everyone because we get food donations when we ask. With something like a serious surgery, we do NOT have funds to cover that. My hope was that if we could squeak through this month, that maybe we would be lucky enough to win a Pettie Award or that some of our friends would win or both. The $1000.00 per award would go a long way to helping us, but I can't count on that now. I don't even know WHEN they will announce the winners.

We are in DIRE STRAITS if we can't raise the money to repair Twinkle's leg. I HAVE to provide surgery for her. I will NOT amputate her leg to save a buck-not when she's a kitten and could regain function. I HATE HATE HATE asking for help, but I have no other choice. If I had the money, I'd pay the Vet out of my own pocket, but I have no resources of my own.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Twinkle's "hock/ankle" has a sharp fracture. See the radiologist report for details and lots of big words I've never seen before.

The facts are:

I do not know how Twinkle broke her leg. I reviewed our Dropcam footage and what happened occurred on or near the washing machine. I have a clip saved where you can hear her screaming, then see me enter the room less then 30 seconds later. I'm not going to share the video. Hearing her scream is heartbreaking.

At first I didn't realize she was the one injured because her screaming caused her brothers Astro and Hubble to claw their way behind the washer and hide so well they had to practically be pried out of hiding. It was only after they were safe that we checked the other kittens. Twinkle looked up at us, tried to walk and fell over on her side. I knew this was not a sprain. I got her to the vet within 20 minutes fearing internal bleeding.

Her "hock"/ankle is broken and the ligaments that attach to it may be damaged or may be pinched under the broken shards. The Vet at the ER did NOT know how it is repaired. We have to wait until later this morning to speak with Dr Andrews, the orthopedic surgeon. He will have to do more x-rays (according to the radiologist report shown here) or possibly an ultrasound before he figures out how to repair this leg IF it can be repaired. Then we'll find out what the costs are.

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Radiologist report. If anyone can translate this I would appreciate it.

As a non-profit, Kitten Associates will get a 20% discount but only after the bill is paid in full. We've paid $939.00 already just for tonight's exam and x-rays. I honestly have no idea what the surgery will cost. Maybe $4000? I don't know. All I know is I am terrified that we won't be able to pull this off. THEN WHAT HAPPENS? What happens to Laney & Winnie, their 7 kittens? Mia's kittens? All the other kittens?

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Tonight's invoice. We paid $939.00 so far. That is 75% of the full amount. The rest will be due when we sort out the surgery/aftercare costs. THEN we get 20% off the total.

We need a miracle.

Please consider sharing your love for Twinkle. You donation IS tax deductible. My rescue, Kitten Associates, a 501c3 non-profit and our EIN is 27-3597692

If you do not want to make a donation using the PetCaring widget below, you can also make a donation via OUR web site at: Kitten Associates Just use the donation button on the right side of the page and it will go directly into our general fund.

You can also mail a check to Kitten Associates, P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470 and put a note on the check "For Twinkle".

You can also CALL Newtown Veterinary Services at 203-270-8387 to verify this need or to make a donation to Twinkle's care.

Thank you everyone for sticking with us and for believing in what we do. For all the love and good wishes and prayers. If you can't share your love with a donation, then just share this post socially. Maybe other cat-loving people will see it who can offer support, too. It all helps.

The Accidental Feral. Ch 5. In this Moment.

It’s never easy to care for a cat when they fall ill. Regardless of your resources or skills, managing your own heart is probably the toughest part of seeing your dear companion weaken and eventually die. Perhaps it’s a blessing that cats live the moment. They don’t ponder the “what ifs” about their life or fret over the bad choices they’ve made. If they’re breathing and on the right side of the grass, it’s all good.

Sadly, we often know what lies ahead and that’s why it’s so difficult on us. It’s why I’ve found myself crying when I’m out running errands and I have a few moments to myself. A mournful song plays on the stereo and I think about what is yet to come for a very special cat named Big Daddy and my heart breaks.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Our first glimpse of Big Daddy.

I’ve followed Big Daddy’s journey from just after the moment his caretaker and BFF, Warren trapped him, to the long phone calls over the past few days discussing what should be done next for him—relieve his suffering from aggressive nasal cancer or find a way to fight the battle anew.

What began as a near-death scare a few months ago, going temporarily blind and having a lung collapse, was only the beginning of what has been one heartbreak after another for this soulful looking creature. For a young cat like Big Daddy, hearing the word “cancer” was a devastating blow even though Big D has plugged along as best he could whatever came his way. He’s just “that kind” of cat.

Big Daddy started chemo and did fairly well. There was a reduction in the spread of the cancer as the swelling in his lymph nodes went away, but what we didn’t know was the mass that was either removed or only partially removed months ago had come back and was growing dangerously large. More tests confirmed it was in his right sinus and pushing on his right eye and next…his brain.

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Last week's CT Scan. The dark area between Big Daddy's eyes is clear sinus and the gray area that is similar to the black is the mass located.

But Big Daddy didn’t know this. He couldn’t breathe very easily and his sense of smell was so weak he lost his taste for his favorite food. He still played, not as joyfully, but he didn’t let the mass completely stop his love for life. Warren knew that if something wasn’t done, Big Daddy’s time was almost up.

Big Daddy and Warren
©2014 Warren Royal. Warren & Big Daddy.

Warren and I had a long talk about giving him radiation. The truth is it may only be palliative. It’s not a cure. Big Daddy has terminal cancer. The question we don’t know the answer to is when he will die and how long we can put it off and keep him happy and comfortable in the meantime.

We reached out to professionals. Warren spoke with a radiologist who said that nasal cancer responds very well to radiation and, “knock wood” so far she’s never seen it NOT reduce the size of the mass. Dr. Gerald Post, our oncologist Vet who worked with Fred, also weighed in and agreed that Big Daddy’s treatment should be radiation along with chemo. The chemo would stop the spread of the cancer to his GI tract and the radiation would reduce the mass. It would mean 5 days in a row of radiation for Big Daddy and some discomfort, but the hope would be in a few weeks time, that Big Daddy would no longer be struggling to breathe and his vision would remain intact.

Warren’s only concern is quality of life for Big Daddy. He does not want him to suffer. Warren gave up on going to important business trips to stay home and make sure Big Daddy got to his Vet appointments and so he could continue to provide care. For a professed former dog lover, Warren’s tune has certainly changed. I have rarely ever seen anyone so dedicated to providing the right care, whatever that may mean, for a cat.

Big Daddy near Red Turbo
©2014 Warren Royal. Taking a break to catch his breath.

Considering what the costs involve for the chemo, the CT scan, the radiation, I’m ever in awe that Warren just won’t give up. He knows if he doesn’t do something right now, Big Daddy is lost to us all.

We’ve “gone to the well” a few times very recently, asking for donations to help Big Daddy keep going. No one wants to ask for help but the truth is, Vet care is expensive, especially when you’re dealing with cancer.

The good news is that Warren has a surprise up his sleeve and I have one, too.

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Warren’s company, Royal Bobbles, produces custom bobbleheads. While he’s been busy researching and caring for Big Daddy, he and his team have been creating a Big Daddy bobblehead. The final design has just been approved and the exciting news is that EVERYONE who donates $50.00 (either as a sole donation OR if you’ve donated a few dollars in our last fundraiser and donate again to reach that $50.00 mark) will get a Big Daddy bobblehead of their own. It’s a special Thank You gift Warren wants as many folks as possible to have. They will start shipping in 90 days.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Some special one-on-one time.

My surprise is that Chris C., a dedicated supporter of my rescue, Kitten Associates, has offered up a fundraiser challenge! She will match, dollar for dollar, every donation that comes in up to $500.00! That means if you donate $10, it will mean $20 for Big Daddy!

Our starting point for the matching funds challenge will be when the YouCaring fundraiser reaches $500.00 total.Thank you SO MUCH, Chris! You’re part of the team making a big difference in Big Daddy’s life.

You can donate via Big Daddy’s fundraiser below OR you can also call in a credit card to Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners at 404-459-0903 OR mail a check to them at: 455 Abernathy Road NE, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. MAKE SURE you put “For Big Daddy/KittenAssociates” on the note section of the check so they know to add your donation to the account.

Because we know what Big Daddy faces we choose to do something about it. Although the day to day struggle to not lose faith remains a big challenge, I’m proud to say that Warren will slay dragons for Big D. That much is clear. What else is clear is that Big Daddy is a Hell of a lucky cat, even with the darkest days yet to come. He could have been lost to us so long ago…alone…dead…behind that Home Depot where Warren first discovered him. Because of that I try to take some comfort in the joy that we all get to know a truly special cat through Warren’s photos and updates, instead.

Let’s try to be like Big Daddy. In this moment, everything is all right. That's what matters.

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