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Kitten Associates

Bunny Boo Boo's 14 Month-Long Road Home

Once in awhile you get a foster cat who doesn’t cause any trouble, who doesn’t have serious behavioral issues, who gets a bit…meh-sick…but not really ill. They might not stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it takes more than simply spending time with them to see how they stand apart, but in this case I didn't see this cat's magnificence until I saw her through other people's eyes.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bright-eyed Bunny.

I’m referring to Bunny Boo-Boo, the now full-grown brown tabby who started her story with us as a little 4-month old kitten, dumped in the parking lot of Target in McDonough, Georgia. Bunny’s family, for whatever reason, thought that dumping their cat was the answer for whatever issues they had with her. Was it that they couldn’t afford to take care of her? Couldn’t keep her in their apartment due to regulations? Were they just cold-hearted fiends?

What I do know is in September of 2012, our intrepid foster mama, Maria, was shopping at Target when she saw Bunny, just moments after she got dumped. Seeing cats running loose in her town is not uncommon. It’s a sad fact that there is rampant cat overpopulation in the south and Maria has helped as many as she can (most end up coming to our rescue, Kitten Associates). I don’t know how Maria does it, but she jumped into action, even though she was already fostering other cats for us—even though she has more than enough on her plate.

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Bunny's Adoption Flyer featuring photos of her when she was a kitten. What a cutie!

Maria called me to ask if I could take the kitten and at the time I had to say no, but I did say I would help her find a home for Bunny. Maria got Bunny vetted and I designed a flyer she could hang out at work and share around town. Bunny did very well in Maria’s home. In fact, Maria became very fond of her little tabby sweetheart. A few months passed and Maria felt hopeless about finding Bunny a home. She asked me again if I could help and since I had space I told her I would take her on, knowing I might have a hard time finding Bunny a placement. She was much bigger now and as you know, the bigger they are, the harder to find cats a home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sleepytime.

Bunny arrived in Connecticut in February of this year, along with her new buddies, George and Bongo. They were all adult cats, but I wanted to see if we could make a go of adopting out cats that were older than kittens. It took a few months, but Bongo and George found a great home together. By then we’d had some changes in our foster spaces and with poor Barney alone, after his brother Fred died, we put him with Bunny and they got along great.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny and buddy, George.

During all these months since Bunny arrived, a friend of mine in Boston named Michelle, had told me she was looking to add a kitty to her family. She and her husband, Pat had a sweet cat named Sunny. Sunny was submissive and shy so when they brought a new kitty into their home, Sunny stopped eating. The new kitty was marvelous on her own, but she was too much for Sunny and they began to worry about his health.

Though they tried everything they could, they realized it wasn’t a good match. They had no other choice but to return the cat to the shelter, but the good news was the kitty was not at any risk and the couple gave the rescue a huge donation and returned their adoption fee. The kitty was adopted again shortly thereafter.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny has a "necklace" of black fur that encircles her neck, then runs down her back, all the way down her tail.

The couple truly suffered after that unfortunate experience and decided to take a very careful, long look for another cat. After they shared their story with me, I suggested a few different cats for them and we talked at great length about each cat’s personality and how it might work with Sunny’s. At the time, Bunny was still in Georgia, so I offered other cats we had as options. Then, nothing came of it.

I didn’t hear much from Michelle for months. I didn’t pester her. I figured she adopted from another place. What I didn’t know was that Michelle had a death in her family and there were a lot of expected issues surrounding that so she stepped back from thinking about adopting a cat for a long time. Meanwhile, Bunny continued to be overlooked as many of our other foster cats got adopted. After the first year passed, I wondered if we'd ever find Bunny a home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny with new buddy, Confetti Joe.

A few weeks ago, I heard from Michelle. It had been about 10 months since we first started talking about finding her a good match. I told her about Bunny and sent her photos. She used our web cam to observe Bunny’s interaction with her new foster friends, Gracey and Joey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny snoozing with Minnie's kittens.

Michelle and Pat thought that maybe it was a sign that this was their new cat because they already called their current cat, Sunny-Bunny and they loved how sweet Bunny was with the kittens. She often groomed them and slept with them. If she was so friendly with Minnie's 5 kittens, Barney, George and Bongo, certainly there was a good chance that Sunny would someday be her new best friend.

We set up a time to meet and I thought it might be Bunny’s adoption day, but the couple wanted to drive down from Boston just to meet this kitty and to really, truly make sure that this was the kitty of their dreams.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I oftener watched the kitties sleeping together via our Dropcam.

I liked that they wanted to meet her without the pressure of deciding. They know what a commitment it is to adopt a cat and they take it very seriously. I had a good feeling about it when within the first few moments of entering the room, Bunny walked over to Pat and rubbed up against him! Bunny had been quite a shy kitty when she first arrived in Connecticut and as the months passed she’d become more friendly and outgoing. I was delighted to see her out of her shell, but I also knew that she had to win Michelle over, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny is very good at making funny faces.

I left the couple with Bunny to have some private time with her. I thought about how she’d been in our program for over a year and that in all those months she’d only had ONE adoption application that fell through right away. Bunny has beautiful coloring, a deliciously soft coat and is in prime health. She’s also very charming and has a high-pitched me-ow that I find amusing. I don’t know why she never had a line out the door of potential adopters, but in truth, all she needed was one good one.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Licking Gracey's tail.

Michelle called for me to join her and her husband in the foster room. I asked them how it went and they were very pleased. I asked them “Is this your cat?” and they said YES! Though they weren’t ready to take Bunny home with them that day, we did sign the contract, sealing the deal.

Bunny had her forever home, at last.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Bunny.

Michelle and Pat wanted time to get their home ready, buy a few things for Bunny and arrange to take a few days off to help ease her transition. I was very impressed and thrilled when they talked about how they plan on spoiling her, too. Clearly, there was something about Bunny that stood out from all the other cats they could have adopted. Maybe I didn’t see how special she was until I saw her through their eyes as they began their lives together. I hope it works out for both Bunny and her new friend, Sunny, but only time and careful introductions will tell.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny the spy.

I’m off to drive Bunny to Massachusetts to start the next chapter in her life. Though it took a very long time for Bunny to find the right place, I’m happy about how things worked out for her. Bunny will have lots and lots of love and the companionship of both humans and a new kitty friend that will bring her great joy.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny often sat on a shelf on the bookcase near the door. She liked to greet me when I entered the room.

From dumped in a parking lot in Georgia to a loving home in Boston—not a bad end for this cat’s rescue tale.

Update: Bunny was delivered to her new mama last night and I've already heard that Bunny was ready for pets and play time not long after she arrived in her new home. I feared she would begin her new life by hiding under the bed, but she just enjoyed getting to know her new family. Go, Bunny! Hurray!

The Clementines Battle One Thing After Another Part 3

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

Blossom was up on her paws, walking. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Just hours ago she’d appeared to be near death and now she was looking up at me like I had a bad dream because certainly everything was right as rain.

Of course, being that Blossom is part of a litter of 6, I knew that the odds were good that another kitten might fall ill. At least if they did, I knew what to do for them and that with supportive care, they should be fine in day or two.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Puttin' some meat on their bones.

I checked in with one of our Vets, asking him if it was okay to get the kittens their second, in a series of three, Distemper combination vaccinations called FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) He felt it was safe to vaccinate because it was rare to have a complication after the injection and since Blossom seemed well again that we should go ahead.

On Wednesday, October 16th I took the cats to the Vet for their shot. They had a grand time exploring Dr. Chris’ office, though he did not particularly care for them ripping his furniture with their claws. Each kitten got their vaccination in their right front leg. I packed them up into their carriers and brought them home. It was a quick visit.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Mandy gets weighed in.

I knew the kittens might feel a bit off, a bit more tired than usual, or picky about their food, so I didn’t worry about checking on them right away after I got them home. I waited about ninety minutes before I checked our web cam, Squee-TV Channel 2, to see how they were doing. They were all huddled onto one cat bed. They looked unusually flat. Concerned, I turned off the camera remotely and went into their room.

Something was terribly wrong.

All the kittens were flat. I tried to get a few to walk and they limped on the leg that got the shot, then laid down in place. They felt hot to the touch. They were crying. I knew there was a chance of an allergic reaction to the vaccination and Dr. Chris had closed for the day. I grabbed a kitten and took her temperature. It was 105.2°F. I called the Cat Clinic and Dr. Feldman spoke to me directly. He said he’d make time for them and to bring the kittens in right away. If they were having an anaphylactic reaction they could die.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sherbert feels awful and Mandy can't even get up (background) they are feeling so poorly.

I raced over to the Clinic, swearing under my breath that if this vaccine killed any of my kittens there was going to be Hell to pay. The kittens cried the entire trip to the Vet. At least I knew they were alive.

Dr. Feldman and his assistant examined each kitten. They all had very high temperatures of over 105°F. High normal for a cat is over 102°F. They were all lame in their front leg. I worried that the vaccination trigged Calici, which is what might have made Blossom lame a few days before or if the needle used for the shot was too big. I didn’t know if the vaccination had expired or was otherwise hurting my kittens. All I knew is seeing them all suffering was heartbreaking.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango and Meri are miserable.

Though rare to have such a bad reaction, Dr. Feldman suggested we give each kitten a shot of Dextramethasone, a steroid, to combat the high fever and comfort the lameness. He said I might read that it would invalidate the effects of their vaccination, but at this point we had no other options. The kittens might overcome their fevers on their own, but at what cost? I knew steroids were NOT what I’d ever want my kittens to be given, but I had to hurry to make the decision. They were suffering so severely and were affected so quickly after their vaccination that I felt our hands were tied. We gave them the steroids.

Dr. Feldman is very compassionate. He made sure they used the tiniest needle possible on the kittens. It looked like the width of a single human hair. The kittens cried getting another shot. I felt so badly about causing them any more pain, but we had to do it. I was told to observe the kittens and report back the next day unless they got worse. The thought was that we’d have to repeat the FVRCP vaccination again anyway, so we would just move on, give them time to recover and in a few weeks try it again.

We could also pre-treat them with antihistamines before they got the next shot. To be safe, we recorded the lot number and date of the vaccination they got and compared it to what the Cat Clinic would be using when we did the next one. The date of expiration on the vaccination that made them sick is December 2014. Cat Clinic’s expires December 2015. I had to wonder if the vaccination had already gone bad and that’s what made the kittens so sick. It's on my "to do" list to contact the manufacturer and report this problem.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Since they've arrived a month ago there hasn't been one day when ALL the kittens were well. Here's Blossom, Buttercup and Mandy in better days before the vaccination.

By the next day, the kittens had bounced back. They were eating and wobbling around. Clearly they were still sore, but doing much better. My goal now was to focus on fattening them up, since they were still looking like furry skeletons, and get them ready to be spayed and neutered. I wanted them up for adoption soon while they’re still small.

Little did I know that this little upset in their lives was nothing compared to what was about to occur…

Part 4 coming up next where I face the real possibility that one or more of the kittens will lose an eye due to illness.

The Clementines Arrive with Unwelcome Guests Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

We got home around 1 A.M.

The kittens were ready to explode out of their carrier and I felt badly confining them to a large dog crate for the night, but I had to contain the fleas, as well as the kittens. I got them settled and brought them food, wondering if they would even eat. I knew they’d been fed all sorts of dry food and that transitioning them over to grain-free canned might be tough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our first look at Buttercup, the sole buff colored kitten.

The kittens went crazy for the food and ate so much I had to keep bringing them more. For six little guys they ate three, 6-oz cans of food. If nothing else, they would be able to rest now that they had a full belly and a soft bed.

The kittens had been removed from the shelter in two groups. The first one to get out was a solo kitten named Blossom, along with a dilute calico who was on her own and not part of Blossom’s family. They left the shelter and entered rescue days before I even knew about the Clementines.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Out of the cage and ready for fun.

Because Blossom got out earlier she had advantages over the others-access to better food and more of it, a less stressful environment and a lot more love. As a result, Blossom grew much larger than her siblings as they continued to wait in hopes of rescue. It meant, at least, Blossom should do better than the others, but I was wrong.

Blossom was the first to get really sick.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

The next morning all I had to do was feed the kittens and load them into the carrier, but I needed a few minutes with them before we left. I wanted to have a chance to at least get a good look at the little guys, maybe grab a few photos. Even knowing about the fleas, the poor kittens wanted to run around so I let them out of the crate. They raced around the room, exploring every nook and cranny. Each one came over to check me out, too. A few were purring at the slightest touch. The energy in the room was one of joy and I couldn’t help but feel charged up by it.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The littlest, Mandarin (Mandy).

My joy was short-lived when I saw Mango. His left eye was runny and swollen. The folks in Kentucky had mentioned eye issues in two of the kittens and that the Vet had put “salve” on them. I cringed wondering if it was vasaline or if it actually was medicated and I wondered why they didn’t include the meds along with the kittens. Due to the laws in Connecticut the kittens had an appointment to see one of our Vets in a few days to be issued a health certificate, but looking at Mango’s eye, I knew it couldn’t wait. I called for an appointment to see Dr. Mary and asked our new foster mom if I could delay getting to her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This can't wait a few days. Off to the Vet with Mango and gang.

The kittens had fun at with Dr. Mary. She examined a few of the kittens and we discussed treatment plans. I asked about treating them for fleas but she said there was no way we could do anything more than bathe them at this point. I was to treat everyone with eye drops and hope that would do the trick. She said she wished we could get terramycin because it’s the “go to” medication for this sort of conjunctivitis, but it’s on some sort of universal outage for vets. They can get it for newborn babies, but that’s about it. In fact there’s a program in Philadelphia where a hospital donates their one time used tubes of terramycin to animal shelters so they can get access to the drug. I don’t know why this is going on. Is Pfizer causing a shortage on purpose to make a buck? I didn’t understand. All I knew is that Dr. Mary had just met another vet who said they could get it but it was very tough and if they didn’t respond to the current treatment we’d get the medication.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Spring fling.

The plan was to take the kittens to their new foster home and see how the meds worked. I was very relieved they were out of my house because the cat population was up to 22 cats and that just didn’t sit well with me. Every spare room was loaded and I was grateful that Jeannie offered to help. Without her home I would increase the risk of illness racing through the other cats. The more cats, the more stress, the better the chances that things will go downhill fast.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttercup gets a bath.

Jeannie is great. She’s got a big smile and friendly, chatty demeanor. She’s fostered all sorts of kittens in all sorts of situations. Nothing fazes her. She actually wanted to bathe the kittens and has a routine all set up. I knew I could learn from her and was eager to get these kittens cleaned up.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Yikes.

We set up an assembly line. Jeannie bathed the kittens and picked off the fleas. I dried the kittens and placed them into a big cat carrier that was lined with a thick blanket and had a small space heater blowing warm air into the space. Jeannie cooed over each kitten, talking to them about how we’d get those nasty fleas off them, and saying how cute each one was. It wasn’t until we bathed the kittens that I realized how very underweight they were. They were basically skeletons with fur, made more extreme by seeing them wet. One of them, a tiny little girl, seemed so fragile I worried if she got sick we’d lose her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh the humiliation!

One by one the kittens got bathed. They were either relaxed by the warm water and got sleepy, or being so malnourished they went limp in my arms since many struggled against being in the water. It was rather unnerving to see them like that. It took them awhile, but with the warm air and being clean they slowly began to groom themselves and show signs of life.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Did you ever have “one of those days?”

Jeannie was ready to take over the helm and I had to race off. Why? To help another family of kittens who were arriving on a transport from Georgia get to a temporary foster home for another rescue group. It meant having a chance to see our dear friend Bobby and I couldn’t pass it up.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

A few days later I had to bring the kittens to another Vet for their health certificates. I told Jeannie I was going to bring them back to my house after the vet visit because we’d been fortunate enough to adopt Lolly and Clark and their room was now open and it would give me a chance to get a few photos of the kittens and see how they were doing. I’d bring the kittens back in a few days or we’d take on other kittens for her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wet and flea-free.

The vet visit was unremarkable in nature. What we’d already started doing based on Dr. Mary’s orders was fine to continue doing. I went home thinking things would be all right.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Having fun wherever they go.

On Friday, Blossom seemed picky about her food. On Saturday, clearly she wasn’t feeling well. Jeannie and her friend stopped over to see the kittens and we examined Blossom. We took her temperature and it was 105.2° F but then her friend reminded us that Blossom had been laying on a heated bed. Relieved it probably wasn’t a fever, we still noticed she seemed lethargic and depressed. Jeannie has a medical background and suggested taking Blossom home with her where she could give her round-the-clock care for the next day or two. We went back and forth about what would be the best thing for Blossom. Would it be safer on the others if she was separated from them?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What? We're not doing anything!

I was ready to let Blossom go with Jeannie, but then we got her to eat a little bit. I knew if Blossom got worse I’d have to run her to the Vet anyway so I told Jeannie I’d take care of her.

The next morning, Blossom didn’t want to walk at all. She was like a limp rag in my arms. She wouldn’t get up to eat and she was crying. I tried to get her to walk but her back right leg was tender and she favored it. I’d read about kittens limping being a possible sign of Calici virus and I started to panic. Dr. Mary and Dr. Larry were off, being that it was Sunday, so I took her to their associate, Dr H. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of Dr. H, but she is the only game in town, unless I wanted to spend $1000.00 or more going to the ER Vet.

Dr. H. barely looked at Blossom and talked to me about what she wanted to do. I had to ask her to watch Blossom try to walk and talked to her about my concerns about it being calici. What sort of exam is it if she’s not even looking at the kitten walk or checking out why she is lame?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Trying to get Blossom to eat.

I felt like she was ignoring me and talked about levels of care and their costs. She wanted to do full blood work, x-rays, repeat the snap test, and a PCR test and pain meds. I told her it was very clear to me it was calici and I didn’t want to do all these tests. Yes, Blossom could have fallen but there was no obvious sign of injury and she was painful all over her body, not just her leg.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blossom's x-ray shows good growth plates but no issues.

Dr. H. wouldn’t let up so I said to go ahead with the blood work and x-ray. Both were normal. Now I was out $500.00. I was really pissed. I was to take Blossom home and give her sub-q fluids a few times over the next two days. If it was a virus, giving her antibiotics wouldn’t help, but the fear is secondary infection. I said no to the antibiotics, but got pushed into getting pain meds. She wanted Blossom on Buprenex because letting her suffer wasn’t fair. Again, I felt it was off base. When I get a bad cold, I feel like crap, but I don’t want to load myself up with drugs that give me more problems than help and this was a little kitten. I thought supportive care was what she needed, not more drugs that really only make her loopy and possibly lose her appetite…which again..does not make sense. Why make it harder for Blossom to recover by taking away her appetite? It was the only thing she had going for her. At least if she couldn’t get up I could feed her if I held the plate next to her mouth as she laid on the heated cat bed.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor sweetie. Blossom was wiped out from the virus.

I feared that Blossom was going to die she was so weak and then I started to wonder if this was going to become my worst fear—some sort of terrible virus wiping out the whole litter and Blossom was only the first to go.

I thought to myself; “Baby steps. Just breathe. Keep her comfortable and fed. Give her fluids and hope she can beat this on her own. Don’t freak out. Just focus on keeping her comfortable.”

The next day I didn’t believe what I saw when I entered the foster room. When I looked at Blossom all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

Part three next…

The Clementines Arrive with Lots of Unwelcome Friends Part 1

Three weeks ago Sam and I drove to Philadelphia. With miserable traffic on a Friday night and rainy roads it took 5 hours instead of 3, but we were determined to get there. Our goal was simple, eat a big sandwich at Tony Luke’s and pick up 6 orange kittens who were scheduled to arrive via a legged transport. They were nicknamed the Clementines, but some might have called them the Lucky Ones because we had rescued them from a small rural animal control in eastern Kentucky just hours before their lives were scheduled to end.

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There were six kittens from one litter and one kitten (the dilute calico pictured here) from another litter. The dilute was “pulled” from the shelter by a rescue group right away, leaving the orange kittens behind.

I’d never done a rescue from Kentucky before and I had to trust people I didn’t know who promised me they would make sure the kittens were quarantined properly and vetted before they arrived. It left me feeling very uneasy because I had no choice but to hope that the kittens were really cleared of fleas, de-wormed, given their first vaccination and checked before leaving for Connecticut. I feared that coming out of a shelter they would be sick, but was assured they were healthy. The last thing I wanted to do was put my other foster cats or my own cats at risk of getting a disease or parasite.

Before we even started our trip, I got a call from my friend, Izzy. She and her hubby, Mark, will frankly drive just about anywhere to help cats in need get to their home and on this day they’d offered to drive from Pennsylvania to West Virginia and back to Philly to rendezvous with us. I’ve depended on them many times as my link to make some of these rescues happen. Izzy’s voice sounded a bit funny as she started to speak. I knew something was wrong.

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©2013 Friends of Powell County. Not a life for such lovely creatures. I'm so grateful we could get them out thanks to the efforts of people in Powell County.

“Did these kittens get treated for fleas, by any chance?”

I told her they had been bathed only and a vet had seen them just the day before to give them a clean bill of health.

“Well I just killed a little bugger coming off one of the kittens and now I’m seeing another one.”

My heart sank.

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©2013 Foster Home in KY. Just for the record, this is NOT QUARANTINE.

During the supposed two week quarantine, I learned that the kittens had been brought outside, Vet’s orders. He said they needed 15 minutes of fresh air every day. When I learned that I just about popped. What kind of foolishness is this? I sent my contact a number of emails, furious that they kept breaking quarantine by going outside. She wouldn’t understand why that was wrong. I saw photos of them in a cage outside in someone’s yard, but when I saw photos of then running around in the grass that just infuriated me. You can’t have quarantine if the cats go outside! Am I crazy? I felt like I was losing my mind. They just didn’t get it and I knew they were exposing the cats to who knows what. So much for having “clean” kittens arrive. It also made me very worried-did they REALLY get ANY vetting? How could a vet see them the day before, say they were ready to travel, when they were crawling with fleas? You might get a stray flea after seeing the vet, but a lot of them? No way.

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©2013 Foster Home in KY. Blossom enjoying "quarantine."

“What do you want to do?” I asked.

“Well, we can stop at Walmart and I can get some supplies and bathe them while we’re driving.” Izzy said without skipping a beat.”


“It won’t be perfect but it will be something. I’m seeing a lot of fleas.”


So Izzy rigged up a small container with apple cider vinegar and a drop or two of dish soap and water. She soaked the kittens up to their necks as Mark drove 65 mph towards Philly. She picked off and killed as many fleas as she could while I sent off an angry email to the folks in Kentucky.

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©2013 Izzy. Fleas anyone?

Once I had time to let the news settle I became fearful I was now going to have to deal with an explosion of fleas throughout my house.

I made a few calls and talked to some of my rescue friends. They assured me it’s not that big of a deal, but to not take it lightly, either. There would be a great deal of vacuuming in my future and washing all the linens that the kittens were exposed to.

Due to having limited space for fosters, I had planned to crate the kittens in the one room we NEVER allow cats. It’s the room that has the expensive family heirloom rugs and precious family items I can’t risk cats destroying. I didn’t want the kittens in the room, but thought for just one night it would be okay since they had been vetted. Now I had to worry about the kittens dropping fleas all over the rugs and them getting into the nearby linen closet. I just didn’t have much experience with fleas. You’d think I had after over ten years of doing rescue, but most often the cats have been quarantined before I get them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The photo is not great, but the dark blobs in the photo are clumps of dead fleas. The bottle was full of them

I had a big tub of diotamaceous earth. It’s fossilized algae and it gets onto the exoskeleton of the flea and basically dries them out and they die. It’s very safe for pets so I sprinkled it liberally all over the room, the bedding where the kittens would sleep, anywhere that made sense. The plan was to re-bathe them at their new foster home that would open up the following morning. I just had to keep the fleas at bay for one night.

This foolishness cost me. I had to buy 16 doses of Revolution® to cover my cats and the foster cats. I could not risk letting one flea start a nightmare throughout my cats. I had to buy another 12 doses (for now) to cover the kittens (a 2-month supply) once they were big enough to be treated. I didn’t dare do it right away because I was told they were all very underweight and probably a bit too young for much more than a bath.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. After three tries I finally named all the kittens. We have: Mango (top left), Sherbert (below Mango), Marigold (center), Mandarin/Mandy (lower right), Buttercup (top right) and Blossom (not in photo) .

I couldn’t give them Capstar, which kills fleas in 45 minutes, because they were too fragile. It was very frustrating.

We arrived in Philly around 8:30pm and had a few minutes to eat before Izzy and Mark arrived. The sandwiches we’d been looking forward to were VERY spicy, not at all what we remembered. Just as we gave up on finishing them our friends arrived.

Izzy got out of the car. She was holding a plastic bottle that at one time held a beverage. She showed it to me. It was the wastewater from bathing the kittens. It took me a minute to make sense of why the water was MOVING. There were probably over 100 fleas wiggling around in the fluid. I felt sick.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sherbert before things got really bad for him.

“I didn’t get them all, but I got a lot of them, nasty buggers.” Izzy said as she shook her head.

I bent down and looked into the cat carrier. It was dark and tough to see the kittens. I could barely make out their faces, but I could see their coats were ratty and they were anxious, unsure of what had been happening. I told them it would be okay and that they were almost home, but I feared this was just the tip of the iceberg with having problems with the kittens and sadly I was right. Having fleas would be nothing compared to what was to happen next.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The first sign of problems to come. Blossom's eye is infected. Will this happen times 6 kittens?

Part two next up…

The Squee Diaries Ch 11. The Lonely Room Part 3

Minnie’s kittens have been with me since they were 4 days old. I knew that our journey together was temporary and I took refuge in knowing that the day was a long way off. I would focus on my job—to help them grow strong and sure and be ready to be adopted one day. It’s a fairly straightforward process and there are always blips (or weeks of diarrhea to contend with), but with any luck it works out fine.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Baby Petey.

Minnie’s were the first kittens I didn’t feed ANY grain to whatsoever. I didn’t give them milk replacer, which is full of sugar and rice. I took a chance on using goat’s milk and chicken baby food to wean them, then quickly started them on a simple grain-free canned food, then on to raw. The kittens took to it well and had great appetites. What stunned me was how BIG they got and how effortless it seemed. They were a pound bigger than Lolly and Clark, who are a month older. They FEEL robust and vibrate with good health. From handling them every day, even if it was only to weigh them in those first precious weeks, they are accustomed to being touched. If I have to clean a face or trim claws, they just sit there limply and wait until I’m done. In some ways I feel like I’m creating a new breed of kitten. Certainly NONE of my own cats are this relaxed or had such a good start in life.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Afternoon nap—something I was honored to witness.

I wasn’t in a hurry to find the kittens homes. I’ll admit it. Every time I was with them, my heart sang. They gave me a great deal of joy. All that I did for them, they gave back to me tenfold. Though I got many adoption applications, especially for Jellybean Mel, I kept finding fault or put off getting back to them and they adopted elsewhere. Honestly, I hate processing adoption applications because I have to talk to people I don’t know and possibly have a confrontation with them because they may not agree with our policies (no going outdoors except on a lead or in a “catio” for example).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

As the kittens grew into young adults I began to fret I’d waited too long, so I got more serious about the applications and found a great fit for Jellybean Mel. The family had come to adopt him, but he hid while they were in the room and Yukon Stan surprised me by stealing their hearts. It was completely unexpected and only just now am I realizing I never wrote about it. I just posted the news on our Facebook page while I returned to searching for good matches for the other kittens.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan (left), now named Oliver, with his new family-doing great!

Although I knew his departure meant the beginning of the end of my time with all the kittens, I knew it HAD to be done before the kittens were so big they’d be tougher to adopt.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mel gives himself and Petey a bath while Petey gets ready to push him away with a “bunny kick” to the head!

All within the same week, I got good applications for Barney, Willow, Jellybean Mel, Precious Pete, Lolly, Clark and Mabel. We did a flurry of home visits resulting in many of the cats being adopted with one exception. I put a stop to Mabel’s adoption because my gut instincts said NO. The family was nice. The home was spotless and large. Mabel would have been the only pet in the home, but the wife seemed angry and uninterested. The husband, who I had been dealing with, was nice but I didn’t think anyone would actually PLAY with Mabel and she needs that every day. They have a teenager who is close to being off to college soon. It left me feeling like Mabel would be loved but maybe not get much attention. After what she suffered through, being stuck in a cage for TWO YEARS at a Kill Shelter (READ ABOUT THAT HERE), I owed it to her to give her the best home I could—one where I had no doubts.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mabel has not a care in the world, for which I am very happy.

I wrote the man the nicest, most apologetic email I could. I started second-guessing myself that I was wrong and should go ahead with the adoption. On paper it was all good, but in my heart it wasn’t. The man hadn’t even met Mabel so I thought he would accept me suggesting another cat we have here OR I told him I’d send him to one of our other rescue friends if he didn’t like that option. He took offense and I didn’t hear from him again. It left me feeling badly and worried I’d made a mistake, but I have to do what’s right for the cats.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Must look nice. Adopters are coming!

Next we did a home visit of a young professional couple who hadn’t had cats since they were kids. They’d recently found a friendly stray and had enjoyed his company so much it inspired them to adopt their own cat. They found us through one of our Vets because they just so happened to bring the stray cat to the place where the cat had been vetted before so they knew his owner. They reunited the cat with his family and while they were at my vet’s office they asked where they could adopt two kittens and a match was made with our organization, Kitten Associates.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey looking divine.

The home is HUGE, new and almost empty as the couple just moved in not long ago. They showed me where they would put the kittens and we discussed things like cat trees and scratchers and why these things were important. They wanted to know everything I could tell them because they are determined to provide the best for their new family members.

They showed me a room off their family room. It had lots of windows and was very cozy. They talked about how they were going to get everything set up, order cat trees, toys, everything, so the kittens would have their own room until they were comfortable exploring the rest of the house. Even though they didn’t have a vet reference, it was clear they would do what it takes for whichever cats they adopt. They told me they’d been watching our SqueeTV Ch 1 and had their hearts set on adopting Jellybean Mel and Precious Pete. I wasn't surprised, but I didn't want to show any reaction either. This was getting real and I had to accept the fact that two of my boys might be leaving soon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Mellie.

I knew if I had to let those two kittens go, that they’d have to have the best and I thought there was a good chance that this was IT. I didn’t want to think about how deeply I loved both kittens or that Mellie had really gotten under my skin a very long time ago. I had to think about their future, what they deserve, not my own feelings.

I don’t care to have “favorites” in each litter of kittens, because that status often changes over time anyway. I have a bond with all of the kittens in this litter, but Mellie loved to sit on me. He’d drape himself over my arm, or lay against my leg, purring loudly and fall asleep. He gave me that lovey-dovey look. You know the one, the one that melts your heart.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mel and Petey, not even fully grown, are going to be big boys one day.

I tried to think of ways to keep him, but I already have too many cats. I also wanted to keep Petey because he’s just as amazing as Mel and oh so adorable. Thinking about not seeing them every day made me feel ill. When the day came for the couple to meet the kittens, I literally felt like I was going to faint I dreaded it so much.

I had no doubts about the couple at all, but I didn’t want to see the little family torn apart. Stan was already adopted but now the little clutter would be down two more and I knew things would be a lot different with them gone.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How to hold a cat, oops, or not.

An hour before the couple arrived I spent time with the kittens. As always, Mel came over to me and lay against my leg, stretched out, belly up. I thought about how this was the last time he’d do that with me and the last time we’d share this sweet time together. I petted him gently. He turned to look into my eyes. We held the connection for a moment as I struggled not to cry. He purred contentedly. We just sat there together with no need to do something more. I didn’t want to move, ever again, for the rest of my life.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Traci and Paul are getting the hang of it…almost.

Petey came over to us and spread out across my chest. Petey is a charmer and his fur is like silk. I stroked his tiger stripes and tickled his little niblet toes that he spread apart as my finger traced the outline of each one. His purr joined Mel’s, then Joey, Bunny and Gracey came over and all snuggled up together. It doesn’t get any better than this. I wanted to record this moment forever so I could play it back over and over, but there is no device to capture something this wonderful.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What's this?

The hour flew by quickly. There were only a few minutes left. Our time together was over. I had to get ready. I told Mel and Petey to have a wonderful life and that I loved them very much. As I left the room I heard a chorus of purrs, the sound softening as I gently closed the door. My heart was pounding. Could I really do this? Could I let my babies go?

The couple arrived with a huge cat carrier. It made me laugh. They’d lined it with a very soft cat bed. I was impressed. They spent almost three HOURS here in the foster room. They played with the kittens, talked to me about everything from what do they do when they have kids some day to best treats, toys, how to hold the kittens properly. Surprisingly, it was Gracey who charmed them and so did Joey. I started to think I’d get to keep the boys awhile longer. I kept urging Mellie and Petey to go play with their new family. They would run past them or rub their leg and dash back to me while Gracey stretched out with them on the bed and let them rub her tummy.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. As always, Gracey leads the way.

I thought I’d prepared myself for the boys leaving, but then started to realize that Gracey might be going and what would I do without her? I love her and Joey, too! I knew no matter how it turned out, two kittens were leaving. I just didn’t know which ones.

It was after 8 PM. I took a deep breath and asked the couple if they felt ready to make a decision, part of me hoping they’d take them all. They looked at each other and asked each other if they wanted to choose Mel and Petey even though Joey and Gracey had been very sweet, too. They realized that they loved Mel and Petey before they even stepped in the room and they knew, too, that in time both cats would be as affectionate with them as they had been with me so they were ready to choose.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey says goodbye to his brothers.

We did the paperwork and I didn’t feel sick. It felt right. I realized I’d been like a kid with a favorite toy that accidentaly got put in the washing machine and was ruined. I wanted things to be the same as ever, but I knew they never could be again. I loaded Mel and Petey into their new carrier, while Gracey made us laugh by trying to join them, too. The boys found their forever home. It was time to say our goodbyes.

After the couple left, anxious to get home with their new family members, I knew I had to feed the kittens and straighten up their room for the night. As I put my hand on the doorknob, I took a deep breath, trying desperately to hold back my tears. I opened the door and Gracey, Joey and Bunny looked up at me questioningly. I did what I needed to do without falling apart. I wished them a goodnight, giving each one an affectionate pet on the way out. I knew it before I’d even taken a step inside the room that things were different now.

The magic room was no more.

The Squee Diaries Ch 11. The Blue Room Part 2

The email was from a young man in a neighboring town. He’d been evicted from his home and needed to place his two, 5-month old kittens. They’d been bottle fed, which meant they were bonded well to humans. All I could see from the photo he included was that they were tabbies. One was medium haired and one short haired. I had the space to take them on, but if I didn’t adopt them out quickly, it would cause a jam with Mochachino’s kittens coming up here in a few weeks from Georgia. Going with my gut, I decided to help them out.

The Squee Diaries Ch 11. The Magic Room Part 1

A room can be described as having four walls, a window or two, some furnishings, a door, but when it’s the foster room, there’s an additional something contained in the space that only kittens can create.

The door opens, but with effort because the kittens are HUNGRY and anxiously pushing their way OUT of the door as you try to open it inwards. They explode in a flood of fur and frantic limbs, while a few tiny cries punctuate the silence. Once freed, they turn around to scramble right back IN to the room because that’s where the food has magically appeared. They gulp, lick and maybe growl a bit, as they take in the nutrients that give them their robust physique. The energy they draw inside, radiates outwardly, refilling the room with a “buzz” that’s palpable.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie, Petey and the gang.

Any humans in the room may not consciously be aware, but they too are being energized by the kittens as they enjoy their meal. The energy amps up as the kittens wash their faces and ready themselves for playtime. They race around the room, increasing the sensation. They leap and we might laugh, surprised at how high they fly. They fall off the bed and get right back up. They fight over a toy until it’s shredded to bits. Meanwhile the room reflects all this energy to those in it making the space become somehow alive itself.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How high can you fly?

Then quiet. It’s time for rest. The kittens sleep in huddled puddles, purring on a heated blanket. We might rest with them, too. Our energy, abated. The room exhales, but still vibrates from the life inside it.

The foster room is like no other. I may have other cats in my home, but this space is sacred. It’s magical. I always feel refreshed after being around these precious lives in this special place.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. After breakfast Mel washes up before getting ready for playtime.

But one by one I know the kittens will have to leave, to be adopted and go to their “forever homes.” The magical room will fall silent until it is filled again. I dread entering the foster room when it’s empty. It feels sad and lost without its infant inhabitants. I’ve begun to notice that the kittens realize it, too. As a few kittens leave, the remaining ones fall silent, play a bit less, are a bit more tentative. They know something happened, but maybe aren’t sure what. Will their siblings return? Did something bad befall them? The routine has changed, too. Everything feels so confusing. The energy is less. Perhaps we’re all dreading what will come—the empty room.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our nightly ritual-the kittens on their human cat bed.

Last week Barney and Willow were adopted. Then, on Sunday, four more kittens left us for their homes. It was like ripping off a bandage and this one hurt more than most others. Perhaps I’m greedy for the love I got from them and just wanted more. Perhaps I was addicted to the joy I could depend on no matter how bad my day was.

All I know is the magic room is changing again and this time I dread opening the door.

…to be continued…

After 15 Months, a Surprise for Barney. Part Two of Two.

Read Part One HERE

I hoped that I could move Willow into the main foster room, once she was clear of any health issues, so she could be with Barney again. You see, last October Willow had had made fast friends with Barney. She'd become like a surrogate mother to some of the other foster cats, particularly Barney, who often went to her for a comforting lick on the head or to just rub up against her. Barney dwarfed Willow even in those early days, but clearly she hadn’t been intimidated by him at all. When Willow was adopted, I was sad that Barney hadn’t gone with her, but my hands were tied. I thought she would have a great home partly do to an odd coincidence that because she was found in a tree and her new dad was an arborist that this was a match (along with a good vet reference and good home visit).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney with Confetti Joe, Precious Pete and Lil' Gracey.

Willow’s introduction to Lolly and Clark wasn’t done correctly, I admit, but they managed to work it out without anything serious happening. I began to treat Willow’s upper respiratory infection and the flea treatments quickly helped resolve the crusty scabs that covered her head and base of her tail. Willow’s coat began to improve within the a few days and her breathing was easier, allowing her to smell her food and regain her appetite. Willow hadn’t even been here for a week when I got an application for her. It was from a cop who’d just been divorced and who loved animals. He shared custody of his two dogs with his ex-wife (who also had their two cats). His vet reference was impeccable. He is the kind of person who loves his pets as much as he could love a human family member.

He told me about a bulldog he rescued who had a broken back, whose teeth had been knocked out and who had been used as a bait dog for fighting pit bulls. He went above and beyond for that dog, not only providing medical care for him, but emotional care. To hear him talk about that dog sealed the deal. He would have gone to the ends of the earth for a dog who only lived another two years. He could live in a cave and I knew he'd give Willow the best home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lolly gets in her licks.

I asked him why adopt cats and he told me that he felt it would be unfair to his dogs to get more dogs. He said that they would come visit from time to time and he didn’t want them to feel like they weren’t important or that they’d been replaced. He was on very good terms with his ex so the dogs would still see him, but he couldn’t live without any animals and he loved cats, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Clark loves his toys.

I really liked this guy. He didn’t balk when I talked about raw diet. He jumped at the chance to set up cat trees and scratchers and told me they had to be by the window-he even knew that. He told me he just saw Willow’s photo and it called to him. She’d been on his list of favorites on Petfinder and he told me how he goes by his gut instincts when he looks for a new cat. I asked him if he would consider two cats since Willow needs to be with other cats and he quickly agreed telling me that was his goal to get two but he wasn’t even sure he’d be approved to adopt one cat! How could I NOT approve him?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Typical Barney expression.

I told him about Barney, about his sad life, about his deep friendship with Willow. I hadn’t put them together since Willow had returned, but I told him if they had been friends, it was possible they could be again. He saw Barney’s photo and agreed he’d love to meet them both.

So last night David and his girlfriend, Michelle came to meet the cats. Before they arrived I took all the kittens out of the main foster room so they wouldn’t be a distraction and also because I feared they would ruin the adult cats chance to be adopted. I also worked it out so that Willow would be in the small space where I do my laundry so Lolly and Clark wouldn’t interfere, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Willow being camera shy.

The first meeting was with Willow. I opened the door and both David and Michelle began to ooh and aah over the cat. Willow came right over to them, tail up. They petted her, held her, talked about how pretty she was. Michelle talked about her two cats, maine coons, and how much she loved cats. I’d asked David privately if they were going to combine households and he remarked jokingly “not until I retire.” Even if that happened sooner, I think they’d be able to handle it because clearly these folks were passionate about animals and would always do the right thing for them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and Joey were particularly close. They look like father and son.

It was time to bring Barney out. I warned the couple that there might be hissing, which would be expected, since the two cats hadn’t seen each other for six months. I opened the door to the main foster room and Barney stuck his head out of the opening. The couple started cooing over Barney, which scared him at first, but then he saw Willow and he came out to investigate.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting ready for the adopters to arrive.

I stood ready to break up a fight, hoping no one would be hurt.

Barney went right over to Willow and they both began sniffing each other with great interest. Willow’s nose went right to Barney’s behind. He didn’t mind at all. He turned to her and rubbed up against her, adding his scent to hers. He licked her head; she sniffed and licked his in return. Neither hissed or growled.

Their ears stayed up and their tails were held high. They continued some very “heavy duty” butt-sniffing which we all giggled about. The cats took turns coming over to David and Michelle where they eagerly held them and talked to them, saying what nice kitties they were.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't miss an inch!

Barney got a little cranky and I suggested we let him go back into “his room” where he might feel more comfortable. Sure enough, once inside the room, with Willow joining him, they both relaxed. Barney stretched out on the bed and Willow ran around the room, reacquainting herself with her old home. Bunny stayed in the shadows, which made me feel sad but I know we'll help her gain more confidence and find her home one day, too.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny makes a brief appearance before dashing behind the cat tree.

The couple remarked at how handsome Barney was, how charming. He laid down and allowed them to pet his belly. He rubbed up against them. I did not push the subject, but it was obvious they were in love with both cats.

After about an hour I coyly asked; “Are these your cats?” They quickly answered YES!

If Willow hadn’t been returned, Barney never would have found his forever home. I told the couple that if it didn’t work out I would always take them back. Michelle jumped in and said there was no way I’d ever get the cats back. “We adopt for life, that’s it, no matter what.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. David & Michelle with their new kitties.

They’d brought a woefully tiny cat carrier so I let them borrow one of mine. I used it as an excuse to go visit in a few days to get the carrier back and to see how everyone was doing. Though I’d said my goodbyes to both cats before the adopters arrived, seeing Barney leave was both miraculous and bittersweet.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meanwhile Mellie is hoping his adoption day will be coming soon, too.

Last night after Barney and Willow had left I sat with Bunny and the kittens. They seemed to be wondering why there was so much extra space on the heated blanket.

Barney’s spot on the bed, the corner by the door, was empty, yet the feeling of his spirit still filled the room. I thought about Fred and how he should have been adopted with Barney and how unfair it was that his story ended the way it did. I had to remind myself that Barney may have lost his blood-family, but he gained a new one, made up of people who will love him and a cat who will look after him. It couldn't end any better than that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This was the only shot I could get of Barney & Willow's reunion. I just wish Willow didn't look so suspicious!

As this story comes to a close I will continue my search to make sense of all of this and to find a reason why all these things lined up so perfectly for these two cats. It never ceases to amaze me how things work out. I should trust in that more often.

I've been writing for hours. I'm tired enough to head back upstairs to my bed. I’ll try to go back to sleep as memories of Barney fade into my dreams.

Happy life, my dear Barney and sweet Willow. Happy life.

Not on My Watch: My Darling Clementines

I get a lot of requests to rescue cats every single day. I probably get about 50 or more emails. Some times I can't even bring myself to look at the photos of the cats who need help because I can't stop and save every single cat that needs it. There's just not enough time or resources or space, so I find myself not looking at every request because it just hurts too much to look and know you can't do a thing.

In the past nine months I've helped nearly 80 cats-which is a record for me. Either I got cats into a rescue, helped raise funds for their care or took them on into my rescue, Kitten Associates. This month we've been lucky enough to add TWO MORE foster homes, so we can do even more, as funds allow, and I'm anxious and thrilled we can start to expand our efforts.

Two days ago I saw this photo (below) of five gorgeous fluffy orange kittens in a cage in a municipal animal control in Stanton, Kentucky. I thought to myself there is no way they will be there for another day. Someone on the local level will get them out. They're ORANGE! So adoptable!

But they were marked “URGENT”. Overcrowded conditions at the pound meant these kittens could be put down at any moment. I still thought someone would help them and I tried not to think about how I was going to sort out the logistics of doing a rescue from a state that was 800 miles away, where I didn't know a soul.

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Marked “Urgent” these five orange kittens are facing their last days in a municipal animal control facility in Stanton, Kentucky. One sibling, a female and the sixth kitten in the litter, was pulled by a rescue group while the others face death.

I posted a plea for them on Facebook and waited and watched and still, no news of them getting any help. I couldn't stop thinking about them, about what I could do to help save their lives. I offered $200 sponsorship to any legitimate rescue in Kentucky that would take the kittens. I offered to ask for donations from our friends at Covered in Cat Hair to sweeten the pot. Still there was nothing. No one stepped forward.

I had to accept that perhaps, like so many countless others, these adorable kittens were going to be put down for no good reason other than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is what I face every single day-knowing that if I don't rescue these cats maybe no one else will, either. Somehow I have to sleep at night knowing I can't save them all. I'll make some excuse as to why this is okay. I'll tell myself I'll save others in their honor so I don't lose my mind crying myself to sleep.

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This is no place for a kitten.

I thought about it for another few hours. I thought about how our adoptions are down, funds are limited, space is at a premium and I didn't care. I know it's a risk to take on this family for a hundred reasons. I don't know where we will get them vetted. I don't know if I can find a foster home. I don't know if they will test out positive for feline leukemia or FIV but I can't f'ing sit here and do nothing. I can't. I just can't.

And I won't do nothing. I will save their lives because some times you just HAVE TO HELP. You can't look away. You can't make an excuse as to why you can't do something. You have to take a step forward, stand straight, raise your hand up high and say; “I'm here. I will help. I am going to make this right-whatever it takes.”

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We have a plan in place to pull these kittens tomorrow, Sept 23. The sixth kitten is going to be reunited with this litter and we will take her into our program, too. Stay tuned for updates on their rescue!

...But I also need YOUR HELP.

To be able to afford to provide for this family we have to do an emergency fundraiser. Please visit our YouCaring page to make a donation or you can also go directly to our web site (to save YouCaring's fees) at and click on the "Donate Today" button.

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Chloe, After.

Each rescue story begins with hope and fear. There’s hope that this cat you’ve taken into your care will thrive, perhaps grow, perhaps blossom into something better than the poor creature who arrived at your door. There’s fear that they won’t do well, that you chose the wrong cat to save. It has behavior issues that will tax your every nerve. It’s older than you expected-so old you’re not sure you’ll ever find it a home. The cat has underlying health issues that will bankrupt you or worse-that will mean the cat has used up most of its nine lives and now it’s in your hands to make the choice to take its last one.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe last March (inset) and last week. Though still big, you can see definition in her face and her coat is lighter and healthier.

Six months ago, my journey with Chloe began. It was her “before,” the baseline for what would later come to pass. She was aggressive, fearful and severely overweight. Her guardian wanted her dead, even though he reported to me that she was very friendly with him. He said his caretaker was allergic to her, but not his other cat—that he was worried that if Chloe bit his caretaker, he’d get sued. This 10-year old cat had to die.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe much more relaxed than that last time I'd seen her.

You may know that I stepped in to change the course of this cat’s life. Chloe’s been in long-term foster care for six months, instead of being euthanized. Her guardian angel, Angi, has been working with Chloe, helping her gain confidence and lose weight. It’s been quite a ride, which I’ve chronicled here and here and here. But today we’re at the point of our story where things take another turn in the road that’s marked with a little sign that reads; “Chloe After.”

Chloe did very well in foster care, so well we all agreed it was time to put Chloe on Petfinder and work on getting her a forever home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Angi doing the unthinkable-holding Chloe in her arms without Chloe reacting viciously.


We knew finding an adult, still overweight cat, a home would take time so we sat back and waited…oh about a day or two! We got three applications for Chloe right away, which shocked me since I can’t get a 1-year old, friendly cat adopted. There’s something about Chloe that people are drawn to. We screened the adopters and narrowed it down to a lady named Pam. We set a date to get together. Pam could meet Chloe and we’d see how it went. If it was a match, great—if not, no problem.


It’d been a few months since I’d last seen Chloe in person and I was anxious to witness her transformation. I couldn’t wait to finally pet her without fear of being bitten, since as a front-declawed cat, it was how Chloe protected herself when she was afraid.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Chloe.

When I got to Angi’s house and took a seat in her living room, she left to fetch Chloe. A few moments later, Angi entered the room HOLDING Chloe in her arms. Chloe looked smaller, lighter in color and had a bemused expression on her face. Angi put Chloe down on the floor and I said hello, extending my hand, fingers pointed down, for her to sniff. I was ready for her to give me a nod of approval or allow me that much-desired stroke, but she reacted as she had the day I first met her-with an angry HISS.

Angi was shocked. Chloe had been getting along with everyone she met. Even Angi’s mom, who is adorable, by the way, had been sleeping with Chloe every night! Worried it was the scent of other cats on my hands; I went to the bathroom and washed up. I came back out and tried again. Again, Chloe hissed at me with great vigor. I retreated to my spot on the sofa and sighed. What would this mean for Pam? What would this mean for Chloe?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Angi + Chloe.

Pam arrived a few minutes later and Chloe’s reaction to her was pretty much the same as it was to me. Pam is a very caring person and wasn’t bothered that Chloe didn’t come over to her. She knew Chloe’s story and didn’t expect a lot from her right away. She knew it would take time and was willing to give that to her. She talked about how she felt seeing Chloe’s photo on Petfinder and why she wanted to give her a home. From the tone of her voice I could tell it was a love-connection right then and there.

We sat in a circle around Chloe and talked. Angi played with her for a time, then we decided to try giving Chloe treats. Pam began to carefully offer Chloe a treat, praising her softly and making her come to her to get the treats. Chloe got closer and soon Pam was giving Chloe gentle pets. At one point, Angi had distracted Chloe, and with her back to me. I reached down and petted Chloe at last.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Chloe had changed so much she was willing to show us her belly-those tiny feet, in comparison to her relative size always make me smile.


Chloe didn’t even flinch. I didn’t pet her for too long, but it was long enough to be shocked at how soft and clean her coat was. The grain-free canned food and grain-free dry (hey, you do what you gotta do) had worked some magic. Chloe’s coat was also no longer brown, which I see in cats that have nutrition deficiencies. She was silvery and cream. Angi mentioned that Chloe could finally groom herself now that she’d lost OVER TWO POUNDS and had gained flexibility. Chloe even jumped on the sofa and chased after toys. Her mobility was greatly improved, but the big surprise was in her eyes.


Chloe had always been so fearful her pupils were dilated to the point of not being able to see her iris. Now that she was calmer, her blue eyes were dazzling. They looked crystalline. I’ve never seen that before and found myself caught up in their beauty. I sighed, as I admired her from afar, still forlorn that she just didn’t dig me.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting to know Pam. Chloe allows some one on one.

We had a long visit. No one wanted to rush Pam, but it was clear she was going to adopt Chloe, issues and all, warnings to go slow and all, and then the reality hit Angi and me.


Chloe was going to her forever home. Right now.


I’m glad I’ve had hundreds of adoptions under my belt because I would have been a wreck when I realized I was witnessing a miracle. This cat, who was slated to die, now had the door open to her to have a wonderful life.

Poor Angi had been through the wringer with Chloe. Chloe charged her, bit her, scared her, made her life very difficult, but in the end Chloe had loved her, trusted her and even allowed her to rub her belly as they snuggled on the sofa to watch TV late at night. Katherine, Connie and I had been hoping maybe Angi would keep Chloe, but this wasn’t a good time for her to add to her family. In truth, as I said to Angi, trying to comfort her as tears welled up in her eyes, that her job was done. Chloe needed Angi to help her learn to love and trust again and that job had been done for a while now. It was time for Chloe to continue to blossom, but she could only do that in her forever home.

It was a testament to how much Chloe was loved by how broken up Angi was about her going, but being ever-thoughtful, Angi kept her tears at bay in front of Pam as much as she could. I jumped in and suggested that maybe Pam should invite Angi to visit some day, to which she cheerfully agreed. We all promised to keep in touch and help Pam as she begins her life with Chloe. Chloe was going home, but we didn’t have to lose the connection to her entirely.


Angi asked me to take a few photos of her with Chloe so I obliged. She put her face down close to Chloe’s and looked towards the camera. I got a nice photo of them together, but wanted to take a few more, just in case. I got a bit too close and Chloe turned towards Angi, opened her mouth wide and HISSED! Angi responded by laughing. Yep, that’s our Chloe.


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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Maybe the best photo I've ever taken...

Pam signed the contract and we packed up Chloe’s things. I fought back the tears and made jokes to try to keep things light. It came time to put Chloe into the cat carrier and Angi didn’t want it to be the last thing she did to Chloe, so she asked me to do it. Me, the person Chloe has hated from day one; me, the person whose role in her life was now going to be as Chloe’s nemesis, probably forever.

I put the carrier on the sofa in front of Chloe’s face so she was aimed in the right direction. I took a deep breath, scruffed Chloe quickly and gave her a great shove. She protested. She cried. It was such a pitiful sound, but I got her into the carrier and shut the door. I looked down at my hands and saw 10 fingers…yep…still there.

Chloe was upset, which made Angi upset, which made me hurry to get her outside and into Pam’s car. I said that this was the worst time for Chloe and I reminded her it would get better soon. Angi told Chloe she loved her and was welcome back any time. I wished Pam well and told Chloe I was sorry for putting her into the carrier as a lump grew in my throat. Angi asked me to stay behind as Pam drove away. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves and followed her inside.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Goodbye and good luck, Chloe!

I sat with Angi and gave her a hug. I felt awful that she felt so sad. I did everything I could to let her know that Pam really was “the one.” I had no doubts. There are times when I just know an adoption is right and this was one of those times. Pam knows not to expect too much right away and she’s willing to give it time and she knows Chloe has a place to go if things just don’t work out and Chloe reverts back to the way she once was. When you foster, there will be tears, but I’d much rather cry because Chloe went home than because Chloe was put down.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Go Team Chloe!


The next day we got an email from Pam. Chloe had lunged at her. She hadn’t eaten or left her cat carrier. Instead of flipping out, Pam said it was all right. We gave her suggestions and she said she’d go slowly and give it more time. Chloe had reverted back to her fearful ways, but we hoped that perhaps she hadn’t gone back to square one.

The following day Pam reported that Chloe had eaten and used the litter pan. She was not venturing out of her cat carrier, but it was a start and it was an improvement compared to how she behaved at Angi’s in those first days.

Though it’s far too soon to know if Chloe has found her final home, she has every opportunity to prove she can love again and enjoy being loved again by a new friend. If it doesn’t work out, Angi, Katherine and I will be there for her.


That’s the thing about Chloe-even though she's challenging to work with, we all love her and maybe that's enough fuel for her journey to continue along the right path. With Pam's help, Chole has every chance to reach the final stop on this road, next to the sign that reads, “Home at Last.”

Nov 2013 Update: I'm thrilled to report that even though Chloe bit Pam very badly, Pam knew to give Chloe more time to settle down. Chloe acclimated quickly to her new home. Not only that, but Chloe LOVES her new daddy (maybe even more than mom, Pam!). Chloe's met lots of Pam's friends and family, even kids. She's been friendly and affectionate to everyone she meets. This is a HUGE triumph for Chloe. I hope to see this very special kitty again one day soon. If she FINALLY likes me I'm going to file this rescue under: "MIRACLE." If not, well, that's our Chloe...



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