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Kitten Associates

In a Perfect World.

When I think about Laney and look into her owly-shaped pale-lime colored eyes, I feel relief. She weighs a bit over 10 pounds now. Her fur is sleek and silky, her expression sparkles with vitality. The fleas and parasites that plagued her body over a year and a half ago, are long gone. Her womb is no longer filled with a rag tag mix of kittens. Her fourth known litter was her last because we had her spayed. Instead of trying to scrape together a meal, living outdoors with filthy pest-covered kibble to sustain her, her meals are nutritious and brought to her twice a day.

2015: Year in Review. 2 of 2

(continued from part 1)

August

After a month of tests, I continued on, but this time weighing about 20 pounds less. The pain wasn’t as severe and I was a pro at checking my blood glucose every day. I never saw it go beyond a normal reading, but I was also terrified to go out to eat (so I didn’t). I cooked more than I cared to, but if I controlled what went into the food, I was “safe.”

I was lost trying to sort out what to eat, what not to eat. I hadn’t had sugar or much white flour. No more pasta, no more nuttin’. I had terrible cravings, but I knew that if worked very hard, it would go away and I’d make new routines eventually…yeah, right. We’re talking about me, a self-confessed “foodie” who felt like her whole life was over.

At least I got to rescue a kitten we named, Tink. She came flea-infested from Animal Care & Control in NYC. It was our first rescue-pull from them and it was a proud moment for me because if you’re going to rescue a cat from a tough place, NYACC is it. They do a great job partnering with an organization called HOPE, to get the animals OUT of their facilities, but you can imagine they are overloaded day and night.

Tink went to foster care and her foster mom fell in love so Tink’s adoption was sealed.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Think, a mini-Freya, bright light in an otherwise dreary world.

Meanwhile, I wasn’t too sick to notice that my cat, Gracie wasn’t eating well. No matter what we did or tried to feed her she was clearly off her food. I took her to the vet and they said she needed a dental cleaning right away. Other than the fact I hadn’t been working and was low on funds, there was nothing to be particularly concerned about as it was a routine procedure.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Minus most of her teeth after a dental, now Gracie was facing something much more dire.

September

 

Something was wrong with Gracie after her dental. She wouldn’t eat, was depressed and after going back to the vet a half dozen times in two weeks, they noticed she had a very enlarged liver. I might as well have let her go the second I saw the look on Dr. Larry’s face as he examined her. He shook his head. “I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all.” he said.

 

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. At one of a million vet visits, each one giving us hope that we'd find the answer of what was ailing our girl.

And so began a torturous two months of trying to save Gracie’s life. It was so hard on me that I couldn’t eat or sleep. I had such bad anxiety because we couldn’t find what was going on, but could only guess it was neoplasia (cancer), somewhere. If we didn't know what was slowly killing my sweet cat, we couldn't TREAT it. The clock was ticking. I’m not a loser when it comes to my cats. I will fight and fight for them but nothing I did helped Gracie get any better.

 

I cared for her around-the-clock. Sam and I took turns medicating and feeding her. Every morning I wondered if I would come down the stairs and see Gracie had passed away over night. Every morning I hated myself for partly wishing it would be the case and it would be over, but I also had to work hard to find joy in our last days together because this was all we were going to get.

 

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2015 used with permission. Woody on his mom's lap. He's where he was supposed to be all along.

There was a moment of joy. Woody, the last of Mia’s kittens, finally got adopted after a 18 months. Woody’s siblings, Greta and Lil’ Snickers had been in their forever home for 6 months, but their mom, Nicole and been aching over the fact that Woody was left behind. She and her family agreed that Woody needed to join them. I couldn’t believe it when she called, but indeed that’s what she really wanted all along.

It was a shaky two weeks because Woody had to leave his mother, Mia. I hated separating them, but truth be told, Mia is not friendly enough to be adopted and this was Woody’s best chance.

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2015 used with permission. Wood (on recliner) reunited with Lil Snickers (front) and sister, Greta (sofa).

Woody is doing great and his siblings remembered him after a few days. Mia is showing signs of coming around, too, so maybe one day she’ll find her family, too.

October

Lex & Lucy got adopted even though I was pretty much checked out of running Kitten Associates. I was glad for them because the couple was great and I’ve heard the kitties are doing well, but it also meant the remaining foster cats were well beyond being cute kittens. They were all over 8 pounds and too big for their prime adoptable time.

Togetherness
Used with permission. Lex & Lucy together always, in their forever home.

I began taking an online class with the Humane Society of the United States. It was 10-weeks long plus 5 hours of course week, at least, every week. At the end of it I’d be certified as a Cat Behavior Counselor. The question was, could I do it when my heart was breaking and my mind was numb from stress?

Our sole remaining feral cat, Bronte showed up looking frail and sickly. We put out a trap so we could get her to the vet, but instead of trapping Bronte, we got this big tom cat who had been hanging around our house for months. I was able to learn he was being fed down the street, but the person at that home said he wasn’t her cat. Since we had the cat and to get back at him for ripping my screen window open a few days before, I took him to be neutered (okay I wasn’t getting revenge, but…).

Barry comes a courtin R AF Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Barry sat outside my office window (before he ripped it open) and cried. Meanwhile DOOD and Blitzen egg him on.

I named the cat, Barry.

I figured I’d let him go back outside after he recovered from surgery. What I didn’t expect was that Barry was friendly, so then I was faced with what to do with him.

Bronte after Vet
©2008 Robin AF Olson. Bronte, the last time we were able to trap her and get her vetted.

Sadly, we never saw Bronte again. She’d been with us for seven years. We had heated cabins for her in our screen porch and heated water dishes. We fed her every single day and now she was gone. We couldn’t even say goodbye. I still find myself looking for her when I go outside.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Cricket with frankenbutt.

One night I looked over at our cat Cricket. I saw blood all over his rear end. It was bad enough we were doing vet runs and fussing over Gracie, but now Cricket was in big trouble. It was clear he blew out one of his anal glands and needed surgery to repair the wound. We had him stitched up the next morning. He needed 17 stitches and was just in time for Halloween.

 

And two days later, as October became November, Gracie died in Sam’s arms as I was driving us to the vet to have them release her from this life.

 

Sunny Side Up
©2006 Robin AF Olson. The most beautiful, sweet-natured cat I've ever known. I miss you, Gracie, so much.

November

I suppose the best news of the year was that after repeating my blood work it was determined I didn’t have diabetes after all. I didn’t even know I could hope for that outcome. I'd lost about 45 pounds and still need to lose more, but the change in my body was starting to be pretty clear since none of my clothes fit me any more.

I knew I still had to be very careful because I can become diabetic due to my family history, so I can’t go back to eating things I used to like, but at least I can have a cookie or some such thing once in awhile.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Is this my future?

On the flip side, the bad news is there is trouble with my heart, a lack of blood flow that is either a small or moderate in area in the lower part of the muscle. My cardiologist wanted me to take a fist full of medications, but after careful consideration I decided not to take his advice. As of this writing, I’m still on this journey trying to find out what this pain is from. It’s mostly gone these days, but not entirely. I’m getting out for walks more, but not enough. I’m still eating well, too, but I don’t know what is really going on. Hopefully some day I will. I’m getting a second opinion.

Poor Petunia was getting picked on too often, even after the surgery. I decided to create a penned off space for her near the living room. She has her own litter pan, water, cat tree, scratcher, heated bed, cozy hut to hide in. Pretty much the second she realized the other cats couldn’t bother her, she calmed down and never missed the litter pan once. Though it’s not a perfect solution, it stopped the insanity. I don’t feel stressed out because seeing the cats go after Petunia upset me a lot. Now I can relate to Petunia differently, too. She’s not soiling anything and I’m not unfairly vilifying her. I learned I can start over and re-introduce her to the other cats. It’s going to take a long time, but in the meantime she’s calm and content and that’s what matters.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Petunia watches DOOD from a safe distance. After I took this photo, I covered the pen with towels to give her more separation from the other cats. As for the other cats, I had to suck it up and take my beloved boy Spencer in for a dental. I had put it off after the disaster following Gracie's final cleaning. Spencer HATES to go to the vet and is very tough to handle. They got the job done, but I have to say I was very upset until he came back home. Even then I noticed he's showing his age. He's 14 going on 15 and I just can't "go there" when I think about how we lost Gracie and she was younger. Spencer has the early signs of kidney issues so he'll be going back to the vet for blood work again soon.

December

I got the flu for Thanksgiving. Not a surprise, really. After all the stress with caring for Gracie, no wonder I got sick. I lucked out and was just well enough a week later to meet Mike Bridavsky and see Lil Bub again. I’d designed Bub’s BUBblehead box and was really proud to be part of her world, even in some small way.

I got home and went back to bed. Sam joined me. He had just been hit by the flu, too.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. The bright spot to an otherwise sad year-seeing Mike & Bub again.

Somehow I managed to graduate my class! I got a 98! I’m a Certified Cat Behavior Counselor. Now I can help people keep their cats instead of giving them up when times get tough.

The results of not working much and a lot of sick cats hit my bank account really hard. Christmas ended up being mostly just another day. I was grateful that at least I could keep things going with Kitten Associates. I had some folks interested in wanting one or two of the cats. I’m hoping it will pan out in the new year.

Laney and family had been here so long they needed their vaccinations boostered. I had Dr. Larry and Super-Deb do a house call. I figured it would be a routine visit. No big deal.

I was wrong.

Laney needed a dental. Winnie and Piglet had severe stomatitis and needed not only dental cleanings ASAP, but they both were going to lose teeth. Just how many teeth would be taken was to be determined. There went $2200.00 in vet care I hadn’t figured on.

Barry sounds “bad.” He’s getting x-rays of his lungs done in a few days.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Barry, no longer the "feral" cat, is making his home in my bathroom until we complete his vet care (and he quits biting me!).

The “good” news I found out today is that Winnie has raging bartonella. It’s good because it means she probably does NOT have an immune disorder that will effect the rest of her life. We’re going to re-test Piglet because she was a +1, when Winnie was a +4 (+4 is the highest level of infection). Since the protocol is to not treat for a +1 and it’s been 9 months since we tested Piglet, it’s possible Piglet had it, but we caught it early and that now she, too may be a +4 (which would explain her bad mouth).

If it means neither cat will have to lose all their teeth one day, I’m all for it.

Moving Onward

It was a really tough year. I miss having kittens so much, but I needed a break without being able to really take one. I helped about 45 cats, mostly behind-the-scenes. I was going to end the year by rescuing this super cute ginger boy in South Carolina but happily for him he got adopted before they found out we’d take him.

I faced my mortality in a way I never did before. I made many difficult choices and ended up deciding to give myself the respect I never could before. I'm trying to treasure this body I have, faults, extra padding and all. It's been the toughest thing I've ever done and I have a long way to go, but for the first time I think that maybe, just maybe I'll get there and end up being the girl who really liked herself instead of loathing the face in the mirror.

My dreams for 2016 are a mixed bag. Firstly, I want to get as healthy as I can and get to the bottom of the chest pain. Second, I hope 2016 will be a re-birth of sorts. This humble blog has been far overdue for a re-design and Kitten Associates' web site needs a facelift, too. I'd also like to take my writing to the next level-which means a book project. Will you read a book if I write it? I've got to do this. If I can't make this one dream come true I never will.

 

And I'm still dedicated to making lives better for cats, for rescuing them and giving them safe harbor, for helping their humans understand them better so they can be happier and so those cats don't lose their home. I may not run the biggest rescue with the highest number of adoptions, but as the story of the starfish goes...

 

...The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.” The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Necklace from my friend, Adria.

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.

Rough Retouch of illustration E 475

 

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.

 

Lovely Freya R Olson 1200
©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.

The Cat No One Wanted was Wanted All Along

I truly believe that sooner or later every cat will find their forever home. In some cases it's taken months and in two rare cases it's taken more than a year. Typically I'd expect it to take longer when we have an adult since without a brick and mortar shelter for people to come visit, the cat would have to be very appealing to cause someone to come over to my house to meet them (after the person goes through our screening process first). It's not ideal, but I also want to make certain the match is a good one, one that lasts a lifetime.

Enter Woody Jackson.

Photo with mama
©2014 KittenAssociates.org. Mia after giving birth. What a great mama!

Woody was born on the last day of March in 2014 to a feral mom named Mia. Mia was toughing it out on the grounds of an apartment building where we were told they were going to start poisoning the feral cats to get rid of them. Mia, swollen with her unborn kittens would have perished if not for the efforts of a small team of very caring people. Once in our program, foster mom, Moe got to work preparing a space for Mia to safely give birth.

We were lucky in that Mia didn't lose a single kitten when she gave birth just two days after being rescued. Her kittens were a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns. We reached out to some friends and asked them to name the kittens so their names would be as varied as they were.

I am Born
©2014 KittenAssociates.org. I am born. Baby Woody.

This family was like many of our others, but what was better was that they were quite a bit healthier and more robust. The months passed as the kittens grew, opening their eyes, taking their first steps, being weaned, getting their vetting done, learning to be confident kitties of the world.

The only problem with this family was Mia. She was too wild to be a pet, but I couldn't just leave her behind when it was time for her kittens to join the 1100 mile transport to my home. My job is to find the forever homes for the kittens AND mom, but what if mom wasn't adoptable?

Baby woody yawn
©2014 KittenAssociates.org. Woody Jackson, named in honor of Jackson Galaxy, the stunning white cat we rescued in 2012 who passed away a few days before Woody was born.

I knew it would potentially cause me many problems to have a cat I couldn't handle mixed with friendly kittens who were ready be adopted. I also knew I couldn't work with Mia if she was with the kittens, so they needed to be adopted first.

It didn't take long before Ivy got adopted. Not long after the start of the New Year, I met a family who was interested in adopting Snickers, Woody or Greta or some combination of the three. Not everyone in the family was ready to adopt three cats, though they'd had as many as four in the past. They'd set their sights on Woody, but as they agonized over which ones to take, my hopes that Woody would be chosen began to fade.

In the end, the family adopted Snickers and Greta, leaving the mom with tears in her eyes as she left. She vowed to come back for Woody and she told Woody not to worry because he would be reunited as soon as she could get her husband on board. I'd never push an adoption like that because everyone has to agree it's something they all want. I told her not to worry and resigned myself that maybe this wasn't Woody's family.

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©2014 KittenAssociates.org. Ivy (bottom left), Greta (tortie), Woody (center), Fernando (top center), Lil' Snickers (center right).

It took a few more months before Fernando was adopted. He went with Astro, who was one of Celeste's offspring. I'm glad to report that they're doing very well together.

That left Woody and Mia.

As Woody's first birthday approached, I began to worry that his home might not be out there. After nine months of living with me I'd never even gotten ONE adoption application for him. I couldn't understand it because Woody is a gem. The cat is friendly, handsome, maybe a bit too chatty, but smart. He either had an elephant head or a heart in the cow pattern on his back. What's not to love?

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©2014 KittenAssociates.org. Woody and Snickers were very close. We hoped they'd be adopted together but that didn't come to pass.

I had fifteen more cats coming and needed to make room for them. Woody and Mia had to be moved to the small blue bathroom, which is where I normally have a mom and kittens. This year I couldn't rescue any pregnant cats or nursing queens because there was simply no room.

I began allowing Woody a break from being confined to one room to explore the rest of the house. He slowly began to meet some of my cats. The first two friends he made were Freya and Fluff Daddy. He was particularly close to Freya. Each night I'd let Woody out of his room. He'd start meowing frantically since he'd been bored being shut up all day. He'd race around the upstairs and play Tag with Freya. Eventually, Woody made himself a place on a soft bench next to the bed and slept near me every night.

©2015 Robin AF Olson. Woody vs Freya.

Most every morning, around 4 or 5 AM, he'd also wake me up, crying to be let back into the blue bathroom so he could be with his mom. Mia was his world now and each day that passed meant it would be that much harder for him to be separated from her.

Woody and snickers 6 weeks
©2014 KittenAssociates.org. BFFs.

I even tried to get Mia into a situation by herself where she might become socialized but it didn't work out. After two weeks Mia returned. Woody was delighted to see her again, but I knew that it meant Mia might never leave us and both cats would be here for years. I had to do something.

But I got sick and my heart was acting wonky. Then my cat Gracie got sick. Planning an adoption event or even getting Woody's photo in the local paper just seemed to be too much to do. It was August 2015. Woody was almost a year and a half old. He wasn't getting along well with all my cats. He even began to protect the bedroom as his space, which was going to be a big problem since my other cats wouldn't tolerate that. I knew that we'd possibly start having inappropriate elimination issues crop up in the bedroom, or cat fights in the middle of the night. I couldn't come up with a solution.

Woody Intense R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Handsome young man.

One day I was going through email and one stood out to me. The subject message said "Woody." I opened it up. It was from the husband of the family who adopted Great and Snickers. He said they were ready to take Woody and when could they come get him. Nine MONTHS had passed since their adoption and just now it was time for Woody? I couldn't believe it.

It took some time before I could talk to his wife. I wanted to be sure this was a family decision. It was. Not only that, but even their two children had been asking about Woody all these months. They'd never forgotten him and they all knew that the only thing that made sense was to reunite the kittens with their brother. I couldn't have been more pleased. If Woody was adopted, then maybe I could work with Mia, at last and maybe there was a chance that Mia could eventually be ready to be adopted one day, too.

Woodys back r olson copy
©2015 Robin AF Olson. What do you make of the patten on Woody's back? Micky Mouse elephant?

Friday night Woody's new mom came to get him. I expected to be a wreck having to let him go after all this time. I loved Woody dearly and considered him part of my family, but I also knew it was grossly unfair for him to be in a small room for a better part of the day and not be with people who would love him, play with him and give him the chance to be with his siblings again. I knew it wouldn't be effortless to reunite them. It would still take some time, but I also hoped that it would be fairly easy for them to remember each other, even after all these months.

Laundry hat
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Woody always helps with the laundry.

Sam and I packed Woody up into his new cat carrier. I gave him his blanket that smelled like his mom. I kissed him goodbye but I did not cry. I was happy for Woody because now he could really have fun in ways that I could not provide for him. As I said goodbye to his new mom, she told me if Mia came around to let her know. I couldn't imagine her being reunited with her kittens, but heck, maybe anything is possible if you give it enough time?

With Mia cuddling r olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Woody with his beloved mother, Mia.

It's strangely quiet with Woody gone and sadly, the only sound I can hear is of Mia. She's crying. In all the time she's been here I've only heard her hiss. She's looking for Woody. I wish I could tell her how sorry I was and that I'd like to be her friend. I knew this would be the terrible part of the adoption process, but if Mia is to have any chance at being socialized it had to be done.

Now I can focus on her and hope that one day her story will have as happy an ending as Woody's. I've already gotten an update that Woody is a love-bug and doing well. His new family is overjoyed to have him where he was meant to be all along.

Bye bye woody475
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Ever the rascal. Our last night together.

©2015 Robin AF Olson.

If you'd like to read more about Mia and her family you can read
Mia's Very Long Road Part 1 and

Mia's Very Long Road Part 2

Celebrating a #CatsTrueNature

I've spent the better (and I do mean: Better) part of my life living with cats and it wasn't until I was asked to write about their true nature when I realized why I love them so much.

If you think about it, cats should be terrifying companions. They've got razor sharp claws and piercing teeth. They can see in conditions that leave us in the dark and their sense of smell and hearing is far more acute than our own. We could never hide from them if they were hunting us (or if we were in the bathroom with the door closed). But it's how they're so willing to show us who they really are, and in the same moment treat us like part of their family, never giving us reason to fear them, that I love most. In fact, most of us sleep with these formerly wild beasts without a second thought.

Flyin Felines
©2012 Robin AF Olson. Fred, followed by brother Barney, two of our former foster kitties showing off their flying skills.

Instead of looking at your sweetly slumbering cat, marvel at how their body can flex into amazing positions as they rest, ones that give them the advantage over their prey once they awaken. Take delight when you see your cat jump off the floor, covering many more times over their own body-length, to reach a high perch. And as they show off their hunting skills, see if you notice how they grab their favorite toy with their paws, then quickly shove it into their open mouth, giving it a death-bite. Sound terrible? Not at all. It's amazing!

My Precious
©2012 Robin AF Olson. Fred. Our best flyer, really knew how to capture toys in the blink of an eye.

Let's celebrate how fortunate we are to witness these magical creatures, up close, not on a safari or not as photos in a book. They're right here in our living room, each one a marvel of catness.

In honor of our fabulous felines, Purina wants you to join their Pro Plan® community here at Cats True Nature where you can check out Darren Dyk, of Beyond Slow Motion, who got some amazing footage that highlights awesome cats in slow motion. You can also find tips for capturing photos and videos of your cat (which is always handy in my book).

Once you've got your Cats True Nature photos or video to share head over to the Pro Plan Cat Twitter and Instagram pages where you can tag your images with #CatsTrueNature. Make sure your images celebrate cats in four different scenarios – leaping , sprinting, stalking and performing one other “wildcard” pose like chasing or catching – for a chance to be featured in the Pro Plan community.

Coco with Feather Toy R Olson copy
©2013 Robin AF Olson. Coco, another former foster kitten loved hunting feather toys.

AND DON'T MISS THE EXTRA AWESOMENESS-A SPECIAL PRIZE PACK!

If you pop over to our Facebook page (don't forget to LIKE our page) where you can enter the same photos or videos for a chance to Win a Special Prize Pack featuring a GoPro Camera and more! Deadline for entries is June 11 at 12:12 PM EST so don't delay! A winner will be chosen by me, so make it good!

And don't forget to celebrate your #CatsTrueNature.

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This is a SPONSORED post for which I was compensated. It promotes a campaign and GoPro prize pack giveaway for Purina's #CatsTrueNature. This is NOT a product review about any types of cat food. This sponsored post is MY OPINION, ONLY.

15 Months in the Making, a Possible Breakthrough in What Ails Blitzen.

Fifteen months ago I wrote a piece that I never posted. I felt too much shame to dare allow anyone to read it. I’m going to share it with you now because I want to illustrate a few important points that I hope will help you if you're facing something similar in your life.

1. Things change. It’s the ONLY thing you can count on happening-ever. So. If you’re feeling bad, depressed, upset, this is not how you will feel forever. Why is this important to state? Because when you feel down, you never feel like you will ever be “up” again. Trust in this simple fact: that your feelings WILL change given some time. Perhaps you can get through dark days, as I struggle to work though this myself. (I do not mean to be glib or make light of the fact that there are people who have serious mental illness and need counseling and medical assistance to get through each day beyond simply trusting that their feelings will wax and wane over time).

2. The other point is regarding the next health crisis you have with your cat. I’ve recently experienced a very challenging health issue with my cat Blitzen, that was not possible to diagnose completely, which left me scratching my head, even today as I write this. The goal of this point is that there are times when giving it time is the best thing to do. Taking a step back is sometimes a good option (of course as long as it’s not a life threatening emergency).

From the dark corners of my heart, here is a portion of that post I didn’t want to share:

March 5, 2014

For the past 4 years I’ve worked very hard to get Kitten Associates off the ground. The first year I paid for many of the expenses out of my own pocket. I gave up opportunities to work a 9-5 job or to take on taxing freelance graphic design gigs at home because of the amount of time it takes to care for our rescue kittens 24/7/365.

6 2011 Mac
©2010 Robin AF Olson. MacGruber one of the kittens we rescued the year we opened for business.

I do not regret my choice, but over the past year I’ve only made $850.00 and I’ve lived off whatever money I had put aside for a rainy day. I don’t go anywhere on vacation. I can’t remember the last one I had. I think it was a few days in Maine in 2006. I don’t drink or smoke. I stay home. I care for the cats. I write stories that I hope entertain and educate all of you. I work on ways to keep Kitten Associates afloat (and that has gone well so far). My day ends around 12:30AM or later when I finish spending time with and feeding the kittens for the last time of the day.

I help many people find rescues or homes for their cats that I don’t even post about or help them find a way to live better with their cats when there’s a behavior issue.

I don’t get paid a dime for anything I do.

There are people who would say I’m a moron for the financial corner I’ve gotten myself into. There are those who would say I’m irresponsible for having any of my own cats because as of this moment, for the first time in years, I have a cat who needs medical attention and I have no way to provide it for him.

I am beyond mortified. I am heartbroken, angry, frustrated and I feel hopeless. I don’t understand why someone who works as hard as I do has nothing to show for it financially.

I’ve made some changes and am working on ways to get my income stream back. I’m pitching clients for work and I’ve cut back my hours with Kitten Associates (well, I try to cut it to only 5 days a week instead of 7 but I can NEVER cut back on cat/kitten care), but finding paying work won’t happen overnight.

A few months ago, my 3 year old cat, Blitzen started doing this funny thing with his paws. He’d lift the right, then the left. Something was bothering him so I took him to the Vet. She found he had a rodent ulcer on the side of his mouth and that his middle toes on his front paws were very slightly swollen. It appeared to be due to an allergic reaction to something—what that something was, would require a lot more testing.

©2013 Robin AF Olson. First signs of trouble.

We decided to go easy and try something simple-just some Benadryl. It seemed to help and he was doing all right. We gave him antibiotics for his mouth. I thought he was fine, but it came back. This time we opted for a very low dose of steroids, but within a few days Blitzen contracted a very nasty URI since his immune system was compromised and he began urinating all over the house and was aggressive to some of the cats. It was a side effect of the steroids.

PEED ON THE SOFA
©2013 Robin AF Olson. Bad reaction to steroids brought on behavioral problems.

I took him off the drugs and went back to square one. More Benadryl…for 3 weeks, then 2 weeks of clavamox (an antibiotic) and boy was he tough to pill. It didn’t cure the problem. In the meantime I tried to figure out if we were feeding him something or if he was getting into something that would cause this, but why ONLY Blitzen and not our other cats?

There was enough reduction in his paw pain and mouth for me to try some fish oil because our vet thought it might help. It didn’t. Now both sides of his mouth are swollen and tender. He’s depressed. Tonight he was seriously limping on his left paw. It broke my heart to see it. I had a very small amount of buprenex on hand so he’s resting now, but he needs to get to the vet ASAP. I can’t let my cat be in pain like this.

June 16, 2014

The next part of my post is a fundraiser, begging for help so I can raise the funds to get Blitzen vetted. I estimated it would cost about $1100.00.

After careful consideration I decided to scrap the idea. Instead I became determined to find the cause for Blitzen’s problems on my own. It had been going on for over 6 MONTHS. The paw-raising, the rodent ulcers, waxed and waned. I’d think he was okay then he’d get worse. I decided that his mid-day snack of grain-free canned food would stop. He’d only be on raw food. I knew that it was possible he was having a reaction to his food so now his snack would be raw, too.

Blitzen mouth sore
©2013 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Mary examining Blitzen's rodent ulcers.

The other thing Dr. Mary said was that it could be a seasonal allergy-which shocked me since he’d never had this problem before and six months had passed. She said we could do allergy testing, but something was nagging at me that this wasn’t the problem.

Since antibiotics and steroids hadn’t worked I wanted to give Blitzen time for his body to recover from the medications he’d been on. I did not want to continue doing any tests, like skin scrapings or biopsies until I gave his body a chance to heal on its own.

And then came the day I saw something I’d seen, but not “seen.” Every morning Blitzen would go over to the blinds that hang over the kitchen window and chew on the cord that opened and closed the blinds. He’d gnaw on it. I wouldn’t encourage him to do it but it never clicked with me that it was anything other than benign behavior.

Blitzens Mouth R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Rodent ulcer on Blitzen's mouth.

That’s when I did a high-speed flashback over the past few months. Blitzen often chewed on the cords of the other blinds as well. The cord would rub on the corners of his mouth, right where the rodent ulcers appeared. Some of the other cats may have been chewing on the cords, too so swapping all that bacteria around made me wonder if between the irritation and the bacteria if THAT was the culprit.

I went on a mission to tie up and move ALL the cords on all the blinds all over the house. The following day I watched Blitzen as he struggled to get to the cords. Over a few days he stopped trying to get at them and some time after that I noticed that he stopped limping and his mouth sores began to go away.

The thing that also seemed to happen was that concurrent with his sores and limping I saw behavior that was indicative of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, the same disorder that Lux the Cat on My Cat From Hell was diagnosed with having.

In Blitzen’s case, IF he has it, it is VERY MILD. But during the worst of the limping and the sores, he’d also have these odd “fits” where seemingly out of the blue the fur over his back would ripple. Blitzen would jump up and race across the room in a frenzy. He’d stop for a moment and lick at himself quite furiously as if an imaginary creature was making his skin crawl.

Careful observation, even note taking is important when you’re trying to understand what’s going on with your cat. In Blitzen’s case, stopping his OCD chewing behavior MAY have helped lessen his other symptoms. I also made an effort to spend more time doing soothing behaviors, like gently brushing him, but not for so long that he became over-stimulated. He visits me while I’m writing and reaches up to be held. I will stop what I’m doing, pick him up and give him 5 or 10 minutes of cuddling and focused attention. It helps him relax.

Blitzen lives with 9 other cats. It’s important, especially for him that he doesn’t feel left out. I can SEE it on his face when we’re having playtime and he feels overshadowed by the DOOD or Mabel. He sits back and doesn’t take part but now that I’ve been helping him feel more important he started playing for the first time in a very long time.

IMG 6510

©2104 Robin AF Olson. Back at the Vet with Blitzen.

We recently weighed Blitzen and the other cats so we can track if any of them need more or less to eat. He’d gained a bit of weight but was still within normal limits. The thing that was more astounding to me was his coat. It was thicker, maybe even a bit longer. Instead of being hunched over he slept stretched out with his belly up in the air. He simply looks amazing.

I’m still watching Blitzen for signs of any of these issues returning. He’s had grain-free canned food and hasn’t had a reoccurrence of the rodent ulcers (so far knock wood). The other night I saw his back fur ripple and he looked like he was going to have another mysterious attack, so I distracted him quickly, then sat with him and gently petted him, soothing his anxiety. The attack stopped and he recovered very fast. Other than that his other changes have been just shy of amazing.

Now I wouldn’t suggest ignoring your Vet, but there may be situations where taking a step back and doing detective work pays off, as it did with Blitzen. He was never in danger of dying from anything we tried or didn’t try. I felt like I could give myself time to simply observe Blitzen because he’d recovered enough where he was not in pain and not limping.

What I DID avoid doing was going down a financial rabbit hole running test after test for something that most likely was a psychological problem that blossomed into a physical problem. By making changes in his environment and care he responded positively. He’s a much more stable cat now and clearly seems to be much happier.

As for the depression and anxiety I wrote about earlier in this post, I too am feeling much better these days. I AM getting some paying work and I’ve made some changes in my eating habits that I believe are helping me feel more cheerful and be able to take things in stride.

While I didn’t solve world peace, I found peace in my heart. I hope this helps you find your way there, too.

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A year later…just about June 2015 Blitzen gets sick again, but what is causing his symptoms to return?

You won't believe what happened next. Find out in our conclusion coming up next!

Freya 2.0. Dreams Really Do Come True. Part 17

continued from part 16

I didn’t want to take Freya to the Vet. I was sick with worry about it. If Freya was a “normal” cat I wouldn’t be so concerned, but we already know that Freya has lots of deformities so it wouldn’t be surprising that her ovaries or uterus had some issues. I knew she’d be in very good hands because Dr. Chris, our Board Certified surgeon, was going to do the procedure. He’d also be the final word on whether or not Freya still needed to have her right inner ear CT scanned and if she'd also needed surgery on her ear canal to drain any remaining infection.

Freya 1 8 15 R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Our Freya.

I love Dr. Chris, not like I want to run away and bear his children love, but I really cherish working with him. He’s always smiling even though the poor guy has often had to soothe my fears about Freya. He’s extremely smart and talented and I trust his opinion (okay and he’s really cute, too, but that has nothing to do with it. I’m just dutifully relating information as any good writer would).

Freya and Dr P goofing off copy
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Chris last December with Freya.

So this morning I sat in the now so very familiar waiting room at NVS with Freya at my side, who was snuggled inside her Robin’s egg blue cat carrier. Dr. Chris came out from the back of the building to escort us into an exam room. Just seeing his radiant smile made me feel more relaxed. I hadn’t seen him for a few months and it was good to see him again. After we said a quick hello, I found myself focusing on the mental laundry list of things he needed to know about Freya. As I spoke I noticed he was looking at Freya as she ran around the room. He was smiling, then remarked how great she looked. After all she’d been through I didn’t see her transformation as clearly as Dr. Chris did.

Box of Monkeypants r Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya's nickname is Monkeypants, so this is a box of monkeypants.

Dr. Chris examined Freya as we spoke about what should be done today. We went over the costs which would range from $1800.00 to $5100.00, the low price being only the spay. Of course many of you who do rescue know we can get spays done for under $100 at a clinic, but Freya couldn’t go to a clinic since we didn’t know what was yet to be discovered inside her.

Freya at the Vet again R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. At the vet yet again. At least Freya's not scared being there.

It was a tough nut to swallow, but I knew we had to do what was right for our kitten. Dr. Chris said that he didn’t feel Freya should have the CT scan yet. Clinically she was doing very well. She was playing, eating, passing stool. She no longer had a head-tilt, though she does have some deafness, which could be something she’s had since birth. Instead of spending that money on the CT now, he thought it was wise to wait and give her more time. If she relapses then we’d have to do the scan, but for now the less we do to her, the better.

All that was left to decide was when to do her spay surgery. Again, I was surprised by the answer. Dr. Chris felt that Dr. Mary or Dr. Larry could do the spay and that as a rescue it would be better for us to bank the savings so we could rescue more cats than spend it on having him do the procedure. I asked if he felt it was safe to have our G.P. Vet do the surgery and he thought they could easily handle it. He also said I could bring her back and he would still perform the procedure if our other vets didn’t feel comfortable taking her on.

Freya and Raccoon R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya meets the raccoon.

He added that it was very unlikely Freya would ever need the “twist” surgery that Dr. Pavletic pioneered to aid her rectum function. The plan was for it to be her final surgery when she reached her first birthday. Since she never ended up developing megacolon, which would have been corrected during her spay, there’s no need to do that either. So instead of needing three surgeries for her colon/rectum, she was done after just the one we did last year. Wow!

I agreed to call Dr. Larry and to determine whether or not we could have Freya’s spay performed today since she was already fasted and ready to go. Then, what I never expected happened. In my writer’s mind I'd describe a romantic scene about being alone in the exam room with Dr. Chris; about how our eyes locked in an intense gaze across the room, the passion building between us, undeniable, magnetically drawing us ever closer, but also knowing his peers and my friends might read this; I’ll have to keep a more detailed fantasy to myself. In truth, what really happened was very straightforward, COMPLETELY professional and G-rated.

Loving Aunt Nora R Olson
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya loves Aunt Nora.

Dr. Chris is leaving NVS. I will never see his smiling face again.

It was a bitter pill to swallow after such a long journey. After discussing the results of a million x-rays of Freya’s colon, after a hundred tears worrying about my kitten, after all this; it was over. Dr. Chris said his residency is wrapping up in Newtown and he’s accepted a position in Miami and will be leaving in July (in that heat?!).

Resigned to this disappointing news, I gave Dr. Chris a hug goodbye and told him I was sorry to see him go (along with my silly schoolgirl crush). He walked us over to the reception desk, smiling politely as he said goodbye, then turned, greeting the next couple waiting to meet with him.

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Two hours later.

Freya and I were in the exam room at Dr. Larry’s office. As he entered the room I could feel the energy shift. I knew that Dr. Larry’s in-law had passed away a few days ago and that he was truly hurting. He looked visibly thinner and tired. Before we could talk about Freya I reached out and gave him a big hug and told him how sorry I was for his loss. Dr. Larry’s my brother from another mother and I hate to see him suffering. I felt badly for even asking him to spay Freya. He should be home with his family.

What is this tail thing
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya's tail obsession goes into overload when she sees Spencer's tail.

I gave Dr. Larry the rundown and explained to him why I felt it was okay to at least try to spay Freya. We had a few rounds of blood work done in the past that were very clean. She’d had a 2-hour long surgery and did well. She was eating and playing normally. She went into “heat” so that meant something was working inside her. We just didn’t know how well it worked or if there were other surprises.

Dr. Larry listed his concerns, which all made sense. He told me she could have part of her reproductive organs fused to other organs or her digestive tract or a whole host of other issues that could kill her.

Freya watches Deadliest Catch
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Yes, Freya watches TV.

In the end I agreed that he should consider this an exploratory surgery and if she was well enough to be spayed, to do so and if not I’d take her to Dr. Chris for a surgery at a later date.

He told me that he’d call me right away if there was a problem and that if she did all right he’d wait until he was done to let me know how things went. Basically if there was no news any time soon, that was good.

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Three hours later.

Dr. Mary, Dr. Larry’s partner, called me. She sounded as cheerful and bubbly as ever. She said; “Well, Miss Freya is all set. We did the spay and she’s recovering now.”

Fluff Fight R Olson copy
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya vs. Fluff Daddy.

“That’s it?”

Yes, she did fine. Everything was normal. She may act a bit odd for a few days since she her hormones were still elevated, but other than that she’s doing well. You can pick her up later this afternoon.”

After I hung up the phone it hit me. It’s OVER. Freya doesn’t need any more surgeries and hopefully will never need a CT scan. She’s spayed. She’s had her shots. She’s been de-wormed. She’s passed all the milestones our other foster cats have passed. It just took a lot longer and we never were sure we'd make it this far.

Tuesday Morning w Freya R olson

No more worrying about if she’s going to survive her surgeries. She did. No more worrying about her being able to pass stool. She does.
No more wondering if she’ll ever hold her head straight or have both eyes open. It’s all good.

Then I recalled something I wrote in my very first post about Freya:


“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 for once, my dream came true due in part to so MANY generous donors who offered not only financial support but sent cards and gifts to Freya, who put tires on my old car, who sent us emails and called and told us they cared so very much about our little foster kitten. To our amazing Vets: Dr. Chris, Dr. Larry, Dr. Mary, Dr. Pav, Dr. Deb and Dr. Cory--yes, it took all your expertise to bring us to this fine day and I appreciate it so much. To Chelsea and Randy, who gave up their kitten because it was the right thing to do for her, even though it meant giving her up (and it was Chelsea's birthday that day, too), thank you for your bravery and trust in letting a rescue take over when you weren't able to.

I guess there's only one thing left to do. It’s time to put Freya up for adoption.

Freya after Spay R Olson b
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Home from being spayed, Freya gets some much needed rest.

Mia's Story. A Very Long Road Part 2

Before I could do a thing I got a call from my friends over at Animals in Distress about a kitten with a serious birth defect and could I just foster her for a weekend?

Continued from Part 1

That was the day I met Freya and you know what happened after that. Freya required round-the-clock care, specialized surgery and lots and lots of vet visits. Freya is still here 8 months later and is now part of the Kitten Associates family. Sadly, once again, Mia would have to wait to be socialized and I felt terrible about that.

Monkeypants
©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya.

Mia’s offspring began to find their forever homes and so did a few of Celeste’s. Whichever cats were still waiting were moved over to the big foster room. Mia was nonplussed with newcomers. In fact I began to wonder if she had a vision problem because she didn’t react to anything. Her eyes were often dilated when I thought they shouldn’t be. She didn’t seem to look at toys if they weren’t making sounds, as if she was blind. I did a few tests but I’m not sure if she saw me or only has shadow vision. She’s too fractious to take to the vet and our vet said unless it’s pretty obvious (like cataracts) it’s tough to tell the degree of vision loss a cat has.

The Gang R Olson 650
©2015 Robin AF Olson. The first group of Laney's kittens arrive. Jules, Jasper, Jasmine and Junipurr (are all adopted now!).

We began transporting Laney’s family north from Georgia earlier this year. The oldest four came up first and were quickly adopted because they were outstanding cats. One of them, Jules, was adopted along with Wallace, the once tiny kitten we’d taken from the Danbury Fire Department after they’d pulled him out of a concrete wall. Fernando and Astro were adopted together and so were Jasper and Jasmine.

That left Mia and Woody, the kitten no one seemed to want. Because Laney and gang were set to arrive I knew I’d have to move Mia and son into the blue bathroom so Laney’s group could have the bigger space. It meant no sunshine for Mia and Woody since the room faces north. It’s one of the reasons I wish I had more foster homes because this really isn’t an ideal room for a cat.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Woody with his mama-Mia.

With Woody vying for my attention, I could only do a little bit with Mia. I’d tempt her with treats and lightly brush her paw with my finger. I was careful to be at ease with her and not tense. I wanted her to be used to me being around but she always hid in a corner if she heard me coming. She never climbed on the cat tree, which added to my suspicion about her vision. It might also make socializing her much harder if she couldn’t see me very well, if at all.

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Laney and the gang have been here for about 2 months and I hopefully have a lead on ONE home for two of the kitties, but that’s it. Poor Woody, Mia’s remaining son, who has been with us over a YEAR, has never had even one application. I don’t know why we can’t find him a home because he’s amazing, but sadly he’s also keeping me from working with his mom.

During these past few months one of our adopters, who has become a good friend, came to visit the kitties. Her name is Kendra and she teaches art to children. She’s a wonderful artist in her own right and has volunteered to create torn paper portraits for many of our donors (she even did a big one for us of our dearly departed kitten, Fred that you can see on her ETSY page). Kendra is adorable and when she’s with our cats she her voice takes on a magical quality. It sounds a bit like a cross between a little girl and an elf. The cats love it. Even my shy boy Cricket will sit in her lap while she tells him how handsome he is.

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©2015 KendyBo. One of Kendra's many awesome portraits. This is of Jayne Dog, who I wrote about HERE.

I spoke with Kendra about my frustrations with Mia while we were in the blue bathroom with her. Without hesitation, Kendra reached out and started petting Mia while we were talking! WHAT????!!!!

Yeah. She was petting Mia. Mia who had been in our program for over a year and in one second Kendra is petting her.

Did Mia like it? Meh; not so much.

Did Mia bite her or swat at her or growl? No.

It was shortly after that when Kendra contacted me and offered to foster Mia, hopefully unlocking the key to help socialize her. I had my hands more than full and she wanted to help. Kendra’s boyfriend, Brian, had been around feral cats all his life. She referred to him as the “feral cat whisperer.” Once we worked out the details we set a date to begin.

Saturday, Kendra came over to pick up Mia, but first I had to get Mia into a cat carrier.

I was lucky that Mia was in the bathroom because removing hiding places is the key to getting a cat into a carrier when you can’t pick them up. The first thing I did was move Woody out of the room, then move the cat tree, litter pan and anything else giving me full access to Mia. I also knew that because fearful cats feel safer in a small dark space that if I controlled where the small dark space was, then she’d go to it sooner or later.

I knew, too, that Mia had already had this happen to her before so even with a plan of action it might prove difficult.

As I moved things out of the way, Mia dashed across the floor and hid behind the toilet, which was the only thing I couldn’t move. I put the open cat carrier to her right. It was covered with a big towel so it was nice and dark inside. Mia wouldn’t budge.

I had to get the broom. I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t risk being bitten. I tried to keep Mia calm, but she shot between a small space between the toilet and the cat carrier and jumped into the bathtub. She was very scared but didn’t growl or try to attack me. I kept at it, coming towards her, slowly herding her back to the cat carrier.

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©2015 Robin AF Olson. Freya peeks in on Mia.

She was so afraid her bladder let go. I felt so badly when I saw the pale yellow fluid run out from under her tail. I wanted to rinse her off, but it was make or break and she needed to get into the carrier. I used the broom to carefully push her towards the open cat carrier. She wouldn’t move at first, but then suddenly made a run for it, this time into the cat carrier. I closed the door behind her and made sure it was closed properly.

I told her I was very sorry and I truly was. I opened the door to the bathroom and Woody entered. He was distressed, too. He knew his mom was leaving him, but this was her only chance to blossom and to finally enjoy the loving touch of a human. With Woody left in the room it was time for him to leave, too. I’d begin to transition him to meeting my cats since he was so easy-going and it was far less crowded than adding him to the room with Laney and family.

Kendra had a room ready for Mia, with no places to hide. I waited for her to get home and update me on how things were going. Within a few minutes of her arriving, she sent me this video.

©2015 KendyBo.

Later that night I got more images and videos. Brian was working on becoming Mia’s BFF. He “forgot” she was feral and picked her up. She just hissed, confused by the sudden contact. Brian and Kendra are both able to pet Mia, not just on her face, but on her back and even on her paws. Even Kendra's 8-year old son could pet her! Mia is stressed, but has moments where she closes her eyes and relaxes. It seems that it’s just a matter of time before we see even bigger changes. Maybe by tomorrow she’ll be ready to go?

All joking aside, we can’t give up on Mia. Maybe I wasn’t the person who could help her overcome her fear, but I was the person who was ready to take action when an opportunity came up that would give her the chance of a lifetime. Now I have hope that maybe one day Mia will be ready to find her forever family. For now she's got a great team, working hard to help her overcome her fears.

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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!

2014: The Year in Review

January

The year began with our litter of chronically sick orange kittens nicknamed The Clementines. They’d arrived from Kentucky, months before, supposedly after being in quarantine, they arrived to my home covered in fleas and with bad eye infections. A kitten named Sherbert got so sick we thought he’d lose his eye. What I couldn’t have known then was that 2014 ended up being “The Year of the Vet Visit” with so many sick and injured cats. What I thought was a lot of vet runs in January was nothing compared to what happened throughout the year.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. The Clementines.

Our black, white and gray foster cats, Mochachino and her son, Pizzelle fond their forever home together with an outstanding family here in Newtown. Soon after that, Mocha’s other sons, Nanny and Linzer found their home together, too.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mocha finally getting some rest now that her kittens are safe after being rescued from being sealed up inside a tiny cat carrier, left in the street in the hot summer sun of Atlanta for a few days. It's a miracle they survived.

It left Biscotti on his own so I let the Clementines share his room. Of course Biscotti got the eye infection from the Clems so it was back to the vet and weeks of terramycin eye ointment (it was on national shortage so the only way to get it was to have it compounded at a pharmacy for $60 a tube-we went through over half a dozen of them).

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Biscotti, rescued out of a hot metal dumpster, burned, to this gorgeous, friendly creature.

By the end of the month, after many discussions and visits, Minnie, our lovely mama-kitty got the chance to move out of her former foster home where she was being frightened by other members of the household and other cats in the home. I couldn’t move her fast enough and luckily I found a quiet place with Susan and her hubby, Barry. The challenge for me was that Susan was pregnant and would it be a wise choice to have Minnie be part of a family with their first baby on the way? Susan wasn’t sure that Minnie was her forever-kitty, too, after still mourning the loss of her previous cat a few years prior, so the plan was to foster Minnie for a few weeks and see how it would go. The first goal was that Minnie had gotten a bad allergic reaction to something in her former foster home and if she couldn’t heal from it, then Susan would have a harder time if Minnie needed a great deal of care. It wasn’t because Susan wouldn’t provide the care, it was just really bad timing and I didn't think it was fair for her to have a sick cat and be pregnant. I worried that Minnie would become unhappy with a new baby, but there was something really special about this couple and they were determined that it would work out well so I gave it a chance.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Minnie, with scratches from other cats and sores on her face from some sort of allergic or stress reaction.

February

If February is the month of Love then it was no surprise when I got a call about a cat named Popcorn who would make me gush. He was listed on Craigslist-which is a dangerous way to find a cat a new home. A rescuer offered to take him from his family who had not provided care for him and as a purebred Himalayan Flame Point, not being groomed is not an option.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Two hours of grooming and this cat just let us do what we had to do.

I had a potential adopter for Popcorn so I worked it out for the cat to go straight to this woman’s home, do the adoption and call it a day.

But the cat’s coat was in horrific shape. The rescuer called me asking if I had clippers and that could she stop by and trim the cat before she took him to his home. I had clippers so she came to my home first.

The end.

Okay, maybe not the end. Popcorn was in such bad shape the matted fur had trapped urine from escaping very far so his behind was always wet and his skin was literally melting off his back end. It must have hurt SO BADLY and also been the reason why his former jerk-owners sprayed Axe body spray on him because he smelled terrible.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Mr. Cranky just after being groomed.

Two hours later, after a miserable time trimming him, this cat never hissed or bit me. After he was shaved he looked so adorable that between his china-blue eyes and silly expression I fell in love. I knew Popcorn would need serious vet care and though we did bring him to his new home, I told the woman to bring him to the vet the next day so she could use our discount. When she balked at being able to afford ANY charges, I realized I had to get this cat back. At the vet I made her realize he was better off with me until he was healthy. She couldn’t lift him to get him cleaned and every day his rear end needed to be medicated. It was just “for now,” right?

March

We renamed the cat, Fluff Daddy, even though it was only supposed to be his nickname, the name stuck. Fluff had lots of health issues, but nothing severe. He was so easy-going I let him leave confinement to hang out with my cats. Even though he’s half the size of my guys, he doesn’t take crap from any of them. I’d never had a purebred cat in my life, ever, and it seemed everything he did was unusual and fascinating. He also loved the foster kittens so I started to think that maybe he should be our rescue mascot.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Fluffzilla.

The Clementines were still sick. I started to wonder if they’d be with us for eternity. They were all so lovely, I wasn’t sad they were still here, but it also wasn’t fair to them to be here for so long. Biscotti also struggled with the repeating eye infection, too. It was endlessly frustrating.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. I will never forget you, Jackson.

On March 27, 2014 I got the call I’d been dreading. Mickey, the devoted and loving mama to Jackson Galaxy, a cat I’d rescued from Georgia, called. Jackson almost died a few times from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Mickey had been the needle-in-the-haystack adopter who wasn’t phased to adopt a cat she knew wouldn’t live for many years. After a year and a few months together, Jackson cried out in pain. He was rushed to the vet, but there was nothing more to be done and he was released from this world surrounded by love, even his Vet cried. Jackson who had always been fussy at our vet, loved his new vet and had charmed everyone there and they were all so saddened by his passing. Jackson was one of the most special cats I’d ever known and to this day I get a lump in my throat when I think about him.

April

Biscotti got adopted twice in April, once to the WRONG family and at last to the perfect family, a super-smart-talented-writer named Amanda, came all the way to Newtown from Massachusetts and fell in love. Biscotti was smitten, too. It was one of the most perfect adoptions we’d ever done.

Then the call from Susan, they wanted to make it official. Minnie was adopted, too!

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©2014 Warren Royal. Maggie (grooming) and Junie (center orange) were part of a 5-cat rescue. Two of the cats went to another group and my rescue, Kitten Associates, took the remaining three cats.

The Clementines started to find their families, Maggie, Junie and Purrcee, from Georgia arrived and began finding their homes, too.
We took in a semi-feral mom named Mia and she gave birth to five kittens, Mickey named one of them Woody Jackson in honor of her sweet boy Jackson.

Photo with mama
©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Mia and family.

May

Our first pregnant rescue was a gorgeous chocolate point Siamese named Celeste. She was dumped outside and a good Samaritan found her and asked for help. She was willing to cover the cat’s vet care and would even adopt the mom after she was done weaning her kittens. I felt it was a great fit and I was eager to see kittens being born.

Celeste outside
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Pregnant and dumped by her family, Celeste needed rescue right away.

On May 13th, just days after Celeste arrived, she gave birth to five kittens. I could tell right away that something was wrong with one of the kittens. I also realized I was in way over my head when I tried to get that kitten to nurse on Celeste, who never ignored her kitten, so I thought if I could get him to latch on he’d be okay. I tried to feed the little guy, but he was much smaller than the others. I named him Fiorello and I stayed with him all night, keeping him warm and urging him to eat, but he would not. I think we all knew he wasn’t going to make it and by the next morning he was gone. In grief, Celeste reacted by furiously scratching all the litter out of her pan. She growled and hissed at me and for a few days I knew she was mourning the loss.

Thankfully the other kittens, Twinkle-Twinkle, Little Star, Astro and Hubble were doing well.

Celeste and Fiorello R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Celeste with Fiorello.

June

When the Danbury Fire Department got a call about a weird sound in a wall, they responded. They had to break a hole into a concrete basement wall where they discovered a tiny kitten. With no mother or siblings to be found they took the cat to a vet for help. They vet wouldn’t help unless the care was paid for so they called me.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Wallace.

Enter Wallace, the tiny tabby who needed to be bottle fed. After losing Fiorello, I didn’t want to bottle feed again. Lucky for all of us Chris, a Vet tech offered to help. She and her Great Dane, Nina became Wallace’s new family until he was weaned.

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©2014 Christine C. Wallace with surrogate mom, Nina, the Great Dane.

July

A crazy month. Our foster mom, Moe told me about neighbors who had a cat that never got spayed. She’d had at LEAST 4 litters in three years, probably more than that. Kittens were dead in their yard or sick. None were getting vet care. I told Moe I didn’t want to add more cats to our program but I couldn’t say no. One by one, Moe got the cats. Six of them were older kittens, covered in fleas, really sick. There was the first mama, Laney and her daughter, Winnie and they were both pregnant. We had a few other of the older cats vetted, then began the arduous task of vetting everyone else while we waited for the kittens to be born.

Cat Names Corrected
©2014 Foster mom Moe. The J's, the first group of 15 cats we took from ONE family's yard just because they didn't spay their female cat.

Meanwhile Celeste’s kittens were weaned and were spayed/neutered. I had to cancel Celeste’s appointment because she was in heat, which ended up being a temporary blessing.

I gotcha mayhem Robin AF Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Hubble (far left), Twinkle, Astro and Star (far right).

August

Winnie has her first litter. Two kittens-one was stillborn, one was very tiny and pale. She was named Piglet but we didn’t think she’d survive because Winnie wasn’t interested in caring for her offspring. Being so young herself, we understood her reluctance to nurse her baby. We also knew she was mourning, too.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney and Piglet.

Thankfully for Piglet, his grandmother, Laney, began to care for him. As she did, Winnie took interest. Both cats mothered Piglet and a week later when Laney had six healthy fat kittens, her first concern remained that little Piglet got the best care.

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©2014 Foster Mom Moe. Laney (left) and her daughter Winnie (right) with all their kittens.

Minnie’s mom, Susan gave birth to a son, Henry. I held my breath, waiting for bad news that Minnie would have to go, but it never came.
Instead I got photos of Minnie, sitting next to the baby, seemingly protecting him while he laid in his mother’s arms. Susan reported that Minnie was fantastic with the baby and that she was already telling her newborn son that he should be gentle with Minnie and love her like a sister.

Susan Henry Minnie
©2014 Susan Whalen. With son Henry at her side, Minnie, completely relaxed keeps her family company.

September

If I knew then what I know now I would have moved to the North Pole.

In late August, kitten Twinkle got her leg stuck in such a way that she panicked, then ended up breaking a tiny bone in her leg to get free. She caused everything I’d stacked on top of the washer and dryer to fall to the floor as we heard one of the kittens screaming. I didn’t know which kitten it was until I looked at her and she cried, trying to stand, but fell over. It was late at night and I rushed her to our Emergency Vet. They wanted $5000 to fix it with 75% up front. I didn’t have it.

Before surgery
©2014 Robin AF Olson.

At 3AM, after I got home from the Vet, asking them to get her stable until the next morning and give her pain meds, I started a fundraiser hoping we’d get enough to get us half way there. I honestly didn’t know what I would do if we couldn’t raise the funds.

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In less than 24 hrs we had the full amount. I’d never raised that sort of money, ever. I made a tearful, kind of embarrassing video thanking everyone for knocking one out of the park for Twink. She made a full recovery after being on cage rest and in a cast for over a month.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. With daddy Sam.

Ten days later, more screaming, but from a different foster room. I am sick to say our web cam captured what happened. At the time all I knew was to run upstairs and find out who got hurt. It took all of a second to know it was Fernando because all I saw when I looked at his face was that one of his eyes was covered in blood.

Another Emergency Visit, another few thousand dollars later, Fernando’s eyelid was ripped in three. When I viewed the footage of the accident I cried. He had been upside down, wrestling with Wallace. Somehow his eyelid caught on the metal “finger” of a dog crate divider I had stored out of harm’s way. At least that’s what I had thought. It’s in the dump now.

Fernando Dummy
©2014 Robin AF Olson. At the Vet for his final checkup after ripping his eyelid in three.

So now I had a cat with stitches and cone-of-shame and another in a cage with a cast. What’s next? I shouldn’t have thought about it, but then came the call that changed my life. A little kitten was at the Emergency Vet. She was messed up but the family couldn’t afford care for her. My friends at Animals in Distress had already told the Vet the couple could sign the kitten over to them, but then where would it go? I offered to go there since I live nearby to take photos and help do yet another fundraiser. They asked me if I’d foster the cat and I said no way I had too much going on.

Sweet Dreams R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. The first look at Freya. She was too tired to even worry that she was almost euthanized due to the rareness of and difficulty to repair her birth defects.

When I got to the vet the couple told me the Vet said the kitten had a 10% chance to live. That she had a rare birth defect called Atresia Ani and that only surgery would save her life, but it would be $5000.00. I asked the cat’s name. They said “Freya.” She was so tiny, almost pure white with an odd thumbprint of tabby on her forehead. The vets decided to give the kitten a few days to get bigger before they tried the surgery. She weighed just over a pound. Since it was “only a few days” sucker-me said yes, I would take her, not knowing her care would end up almost shutting down my rescue for the rest of the year.

October

Though the month got off to a happy start, with Kitten Associates winning the Dogtime Pettie Award for Best Cause Blog, things turned dark quickly.

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Celeste needed to be spayed, but I was overwhelmed with caring for Freya. I got an air mattress and basically slept on the floor with Freya every night. Celeste was at another foster home so I had room for Freya. I was so tired from all the cats who needed extra vet runs and care that I was having a breakdown. One of my friends said she’d take Celeste to be spayed so I could get a bit of rest.

Celeste got spayed, but no one at the vet told me they had a very hard time with her. They never told me she was 10 years old, not 2. They didn’t tell me her uterus was full of cysts and that those cysts would have caused her to be in heat 365/7/24. I only learned all that after the early morning call from her foster home saying something was wrong.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson.

Although I got Celeste to the vet within the hour, she died. I was devastated. Celeste’s blood wouldn’t clot. It might have been caused by severe stress, it might be hereditary, it might be from being so much older than we thought. We’d never know the real reason, but the kittens all had to be tested to make sure their blood clotted normally (all did).

After that day we made changes so that all our mama-cats get pre-op bloodwork and any other tests they might need. If they are fractious then our vets know to give them a day to relax and to call us if there are problems. As we all grieved this loss, I also continued to worry about Freya because it was a challenge to get her good nutrition without it adding to the stool that was slowly filling up her abdomen. Would a foolish mistake about her diet end up killing her?

Having Freya for a few days turned into two weeks, which turned into six weeks, which made it impossible for me to deal with finding adopters for our cats, work to make a living and write a blog post or two. I was making up my own idea of what a good diet would be for a kitten who could only pass less then a pea-sized stool out of her vagina. Every two weeks we did x-rays to see how Freya was doing and her intestines were getting more and more filled with dangerous stool.

Then just as October was coming to a close, worse news. Big Daddy, the charming, dearly loved cat had died due to complications from lymphoma. I’d been part of Big Daddy’s team, first finding him a rescue to take him after his daddy Warren trapped him and got him ready to be adopted. Having FIV meant it would be tough to find Big Daddy a home, but after reading my blog, Angels of Assisi in Virginia offered to foster him and find him a forever home.

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In the end, Big Daddy returned to Warren after it was discovered that Big Daddy had lymphoma. Warren had been missing his big buddy and with such a serious health issue it was decided it would be best for him to return to Georgia. Warren took Big Daddy to oncologists and researched treatments to get Big Daddy the best care possible. For a time Big Daddy did well, but other days were very tough. As with most cancers, it’s hard to know where it spreads until it’s too late.

Big Daddy’s life was not lived in vain. He still has a fan club and mission, through his devoted dad, Warren, to help remove the stigma of cats with FIV and provide education and awareness about this disease.

November

I was certain I was going to have a breakdown from nonstop stress, I somehow manage to pack up Freya and all our things and head to Boston where Freya would finally get her surgery. I felt like it was very possible these were her last days because even at three pounds, she was still small. The surgery was VERY RARE and had many risks. What I never expected was that Dr. Pavletic knew after a few minutes that she was still too small and he wanted to wait until January. After a hair-raising 4 hour drive to Boston, I had to turn around and go back home barely after I’d arrived. Part of me was wrecked by the news and the other part was relieved. I wanted Freya to have the best chance to survive, but I also knew the longer we waited, the more likely the stool build up would get worse.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Dr. Pavletic decides it's too soon to do surgery after examining Freya.

Sometimes I think I should never answer the phone. A friend contacted me about a cat his wife had found near the side of the road the night before. They asked me if I could help them with it since they weren’t sure what to do. I told them we could take the cat to my vet and we’d do an exam. I didn’t think it would cost more than $200. What I didn’t know was that the cat was very old, emaciated and VERY SICK.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. A very sick, skinny lady in ICU/Isolation.

So began the next rescue-odyssey. We needed a name for the cat right away so Betsy, who works for my Vet, blurted out “Saturday?!” At that point I didn’t even know if the cat would live so I said okay.

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©2014 Robin AF Olson. Erich, Saturday's foster dad, holding Saturday after she'd survived three weeks in intensive care and was finally stable.

For the next week, every day I expected the Vet to call and tell me the cat had died. I’ve rarely seen a cat in such poor shape live. She was a bag of bones, hunched over, snorting and coughing. Not eating. Three weeks passed and somehow, some way, Saturday got better and again, a bit better. She needed a tremendous amount of care and it cost over $3500.00. She still needs a dental to clean her teeth now that she’s stable and has gained a few pounds. The hope is to raise the funds for her teeth, then find her a sweet place to retire. We call her “Lady Saturday” now as she’s so regal and fine and sweet-tempered. She was one of our best transformations-a work in progress.

December

I honestly don’t know how I made it to December. I didn’t have a day off, certainly no vacation of any kind, really no break from anything. All the foster cats were huge because I hadn’t been quickly processing applications. Frankly, I just gave up. The kitties were safe and well fed and loved, but I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything. I knew that 2015 would have to be the year of saying NO and creating a better space to take time for my life and to just have some peace, but before I could do that, Freya’s bi-weekly x-rays told us that it was time to go to surgery. We wouldn't make it to January after all. With the holidays upon us we had to act quickly.

Robin and Freya R Olson
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Our last night before the big surgery.

On December 9th Freya and I left once again for Boston, this time through a Nor’easter that pounded New England and made the drive a dangerous nightmare. All I wanted was to rest the night we arrived, but I was so worried about surgery the next day, rest never came.

On December 10th, Dr. Pavletic proved once again that he is a genius. He performed Freya’s surgery in just under two hours. She did well and was coming out of her sedation. He was ready to release Freya that night but I insisted she stay, shocked that she could go home so soon. It was the first of up to three more surgeries, but it would be months before we knew how Freya would really do. Would she be incontinent for the rest of her life? Would she handle more surgeries? It was wait and see. At least now, finally, she had a chance to pass the stool that had been trapped inside her for months.

First Freya after Surgery copy
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Just after surgery, Freya is already back on her paws.

So here we are on the evening of the last day of 2014. It was a very tough, draining year. I won’t label it a “bad” year because I learned a lot and I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished. Though due to chronic illnesses of the kittens and lack of adoptions we only helped 64 cats this year, but we also created awareness about Atresia Ani, which is helping to save the lives of other cats with this very rare birth defect. We’ve also just been awarded one of the Top 50 Pet Rescues of 2014 by Entirely Pets, which is pretty darn cool considering we’re a tiny rescue.

All Four Robin Olson 650
©2014 Robin AF Olson. Jasmine, Junipurr (upper cat tree) with Josh (center) and Jules (below) just a day before three of them broke with bad eye infections and a URI.

Midnight, December 31, 2014 arrives and what am I doing? I’m putting terramycin in the eyes of a sick orange tabby bringing the year to some sort of strange perfect closure.

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If you'd like to read more about any of these cats, simply use the SEARCH box to the right and enter the name of the cat. You should find a list of posts related to each one.

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