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This Precious Life. Chapstick the Kitten.

Life is precious and should be revered in all its forms, whether it be a plant, or bug, a whale or amoeba. It’s also natural and expected that all forms of life draw to an end at some point, whether it be after only a few moments or many years. Death must occur to make way for new life to emerge in an endless cycle.

When a life comes to an end we may not even notice. We might step on a bug on a walk to the bus, while the end of another life form might break our hearts, making living our own life difficult, if not impossible.

When faced with losing our own precious life, we fight, we take medication, we have a surgery, we ask for prayers. We may also do the same thing in honor of a life we want to protect that’s in the balance. It might be our child or our friend or in this case that of a tiny newborn kitten who was found inside a dumpster with his sibling.


Someone who did not consider life to be precious had a pregnant cat. The cat gave birth far too soon. Perhaps she was highly stressed or sick. She may have even died due to complications from the delivery. Her kittens were smaller than normal by more than an ounce, when a birth weight of a newborn kitten should be at least 3 1/2 ounces. Being down 1/3 of normal weight meant those kittens had a high probability that they would be robbed of having a normal life span.

The person, for whatever reason, chose to take the kittens away from their mother and put the two of them into a small box. The person then brought the box to a dumpster near a gas station and hide it under more trash knowing full well that the unusually cold early spring weather in Connecticut would end the life of these kittens very soon. The person left them there to die on purpose.

I want to know what sort of monster would do such a thing. Why was throwing away a precious life was the answer to their problem. What other things was this person capable of? What excuses did this person give himself or herself so that person could feel like their choice was acceptable and they would remain blameless for their heartless actions?

But what the person didn’t expect was that a man named Sal went to the gas station some time later. While he was getting gas he heard crying. He thought the high-pitched sound was made by birds at first. He went to investigate, and to his surprise, he unearthed the box of kittens, who were so small their umbilical cords were still attached.

He has a dog and cat at home. Life is precious to him. He brought the kittens home and called a Vet who gave him some idea of what to do and what to feed the kittens, not understanding that these kittens were newborns, called neonates, and that they needed more care than a kind-hearted soul could give them.

I got a call about Sal needing help so I called him, concerned about what I’d heard. I had no idea how serious the situation was either, but I asked, truly urged Sal to let my rescue, Kitten Associates, have the kittens. I’d called Jeannie, one of our foster moms who has a lot of experience with kittens, far more than I do, and she was on standby to take them.

Sal wanted to try to provide care. His girlfriend was home all day and would stay up and watch over the kittens. Less than a day later, I got a call that the kittens weren’t doing so well. I rushed to reach Jeannie and she changed plans to take the kittens as soon as possible. I worried we were too late.

Within an hour of Jeannie getting the kittens, one of them died in her arms. A little black and white kitten who didn’t have a name, who didn’t live more than a day. That life was over before it began and we were all heartbroken.

The prognosis for the other kitten wasn’t so good either. This little black kitten was very thin and not very lively. Jeannie took a photo of him for me. She put a Chapstick next to the kitten to show me just how tiny he was. It was a shocking sight.

Jeannie stayed up all night with him, trying to get him to take nourishment, trying to get him to warm up, but he wasn’t responding very well and seemed depressed. We all knew about Failure to Thrive or Fading Kitten Syndrome-when due to illness, gestational issues (born too soon or developmental issues) or some times it’s not even known why, some kittens just don’t make it. They are too weak, too fragile and once that process starts they usually die very quickly.

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©2014 Jeannie G. The lone survivor moments after entering our rescue.

By morning I got the call that the second kitten was dying, too. I fell into a long crying jag. I’d never even met the kittens, yet my anguish in losing them was not diminished. I was told the kitten was struggling to breathe and that it was just a matter of time.

I wanted to hurt someone, specifically I wanted to hurt whoever robbed these innocents of their life. They didn’t ask to be born, but they were here, so let us respect that. Ask for help from a local rescue. Reach out to SOMEONE. There are many resources where you can get help. Why would anyone THROW THESE KITTENS AWAY? I don’t understand. I don’t understand how cruel this person could be and I worried about the mom cat. What became of her? But I could do nothing other than sob for what will never be–two kittens having a chance to grow and thrive and live a wonderful life. Now it would not happen and as bad as this was, I worried about what this heartache would do to Jeannie, too.

Early that afternoon I texted Jeannie. I hadn’t heard from her that the kitten had died so I wanted to check in. I asked if he was gone and she answered, “no.” I asked; “is that good?” and she replied, “no.” I knew it meant the end was near. I hung my head and cried some more. That was all I heard for a few more hours, until my phone rang. It was Jeannie.

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©2014 Jeannie G. First look at Midnight after surviving the second night.

“Well you’re never going to believe this.” she said. “The guy who found the kittens, well he put an ad on craigslist looking for a mom-cat to put the kittens with and he found one. He gave me their info so I called them and I brought the kitten over to them. This couple really knows about kitten care and the guy is like some sort of crazy cat whisperer. He’s got the kitten and he is going to do everything he can to keep him going.”

“Wait…so the kitten is not DEAD?”

“Right. He’s alive, but I have to tell you I don’t think he’s going to make it.”

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©2014 Jeannie G. Little Man.

I didn’t want to shoot off fireworks and proclaim all was well with the world, but I had a glimmer of hope that somehow he would make it. Jeannie told me that she had stayed up all night and tried to get the little kitten to eat every hour or so. By morning he was doing so poorly and she was so tired, she finally gave up. She let herself sleep for a few hours, leaving the kitten in a warmed up blanket in a box next to her bed. She knew when she woke up that he would be gone, but when she woke up and touched him he cried. He was hungry. She fed him, but he was still very weak and probably fading away.

With nothing to lose, Jeannie brought the kitten to Jonathan and his wife Christal. Over that night we heard no updates. In fact I was wondering if it was some crazy tall tale and that this guy didn’t even exist. I couldn’t get his contact info, but I knew Jeannie was exhausted so I didn’t bother her to get it. I called Sal and asked for the info but he never called me back. Almost a day later I got the number from Jeannie, but she said the number was disconnected. I called it and sure enough, the phone was off! What happened to the kitten? I had to know.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Unable to right himself, Midnight wobbles. I assure you we quickly helped him adjust his position (see below), but I include it so you can see how TINY his legs and paws are.

Jeannie said she was going to go back to the home. I asked to go with her but she said it wasn’t necessary and that these folks were very private. I was jumping out of my skin, but there was nothing I could do. I had to keep waiting and wondering what I’d find out.

Not long after I got another message and a new phone number. The couple had recently moved here and had coincidently just gotten a new phone number. Not only that, but Jeannie had just been to the home and believe it or not, the kitten was STILL ALIVE. She said in 15 years of being a nurse, of working with little kittens, she was impressed with what this guy did to keep the kitten going. She said the kitten looked a little better, still very week, still far too tiny; that he was put with a mama-cat who accepted him and 4 new sisters who crowded around him to keep him warm. I was thrilled and anxious to offer support. I couldn’t let this good deed go unrewarded.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson.

I was finally able to get in touch with Christal while Jonathan tended to the kitten. I offered them food, goat’s milk, whatever they needed. I offered to help them with placing and vetting the kittens and getting mom spayed one day. I couldn’t do enough to help them, but they were probably shocked that a stranger would want to do so much, so it took a few emails and calls and finally we set it up so that the next day I could bring them supplies as a gesture of thanks and of support.

Thanks to some donations we already received, I was able to buy a few cases of cat food, some hybrid grain-free dry/raw food and some goat’s milk with probiotics in it. I bought the kitten and his family a very soft, flat bed, no sides for him to get hung up on. I had some toys that were donated to us so I grabbed a bunch for the adult cats and the kittens for when they got bigger. I knew the couple had children so I packed up a donation of plush cats so the kids weren’t left out.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My trunk loaded with goodies.

My rescue has been very lucky to be on the receiving end of many acts of generosity, but it was nice to be able to pay it forward. It had only been 2 days since the kittens were found and here I was in a part of a nearby town I’d never been to, hoping what I’d heard was really true and that this kitten was still with us.

I expected that when I met Jonathan he’d be tired, but this poor guy was loopy from being exhausted. He came out and met me after Christal had welcomed me into their home. He’s a young man, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, barefoot, with his hair askew. He apologized for just waking up even though it was mid-afternoon. I told him not to be sorry and that I truly appreciated what he was doing. I couldn’t wait to find out how the kitten was doing when he quickly left the room and returned, holding the little guy out to me in his hands.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Literally and figuratively-Midnight is in good hands now.

What I saw didn’t make sense. I’ve seen plenty of little kittens in my day, but this one was so tiny I didn’t know how it was alive. This little guy was born VERY EARLY. He had to be premature. He was weak, but feisty. We put him on the cat bed and he wobbled around. His paw was maybe ¼ the width of my finger, but he had tiny claws just like a grown up. I couldn’t make out much of his face because he was all black. Then I saw it-a white locket of fur on his chest. It was barely the size of a pencil tip but it was there. It made me gasp as my own cat, Cricket, bears the same mark. I had only a moment to see him before he was put back with his mom to keep warm, but in that moment I was completely in awe.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Fussy feeding time while Cupcake looks on.

Jonathan spoke at a rapid fire pace. I asked him how he got this far and he told me so much that it made my head spin. He said he’d lived on a farm and had raised hundreds of kittens over the years. He knew about fading kitten syndrome but he was not about to let that beat him. He told me how he slowly but carefully got the kitten’s core temp to rise, how he made up some homemade Karyo syrup to get his blood sugar up. He gave the kitten, who he calls Midnight, an extremely minute dose of amoxycylin and something that helped perk up his electrolytes. I was aghast. Whatever he was doing resulted in this little guy latching on to his new mom for a moment. It caused this little guy to allow being syringe fed a tiny amount of milk. This kitten was reacting to the world around him even though he was far too weak to do much more than wiggle against sensations like being held or being syringe fed that he didn't understand yet.

Jonathan felt the kitten had been depressed from being alone, but now had become more energized now that he was with his new family. The fight was back in his heart. This little kitten wanted to live again and Jonathan was going to do whatever it took to keep him going.

I wished I could take Jonathan home with me so we could write everything down-so this information would not be lost, but I also had to wonder if there was just something about him and his wife, too, that was something more than just knowledge—maybe it was their faith? I told them that I’d posted the photo of the kitten on Facebook and asked for good wishes and prayers and that almost 30,000 people had been rooting for this little guy to live, but the news didn’t effect them. They were so focused on this one fragile life that that was all that mattered. I also knew they were both exhausted.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. So very tiny!

I thanked them again. I didn’t stay long. Jonathan needed rest and the kitten needed more meals. I promised to help them cover the costs of the vetting, spay/neutering of their current litter of cats AND the second litter (yes there’s a second pregnant cat in the home-they assumed the cat was a boy because it was an orange tabby and it’s less common for the orangies to be female). I will help them find good homes. I offered to take some of the kittens into our program but right now they want to see the kittens placed themselves. I honestly am so indebted to them I would move mountains for what they’ve done. I know it may not last. I know this kitten is far from being out of the woods, but I am trying to have faith that he will be okay.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Ready for more nourishment.

Day four, I get news. The kitten is still with us. Not only that, but they sent me a photo that says it all-there is little Midnight, front legs stretched out, attached with all he’s got on his new mom’s nipple, drinking in mouthfuls of life. In his joy, I was told he purred. I can’t believe it was possible, but after what has transpired over the past few days, I better learn to believe that at this point, anything can happen.

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©2014 Christal P. Midnight surrounded by his new siblings.

Day six. Guess who is still with us? Midnight eats more from his new mama now and is a little bit bigger. Christal estimates he’s the size of a 2-day old kitten. She feels he can go the distance and frankly nothing would make me happier if that truly came to be.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I was honored to have a moment to be able to meet Midnight's sisters who are all adorable torties. They are almost the same age as Midnight, but so much bigger.

Midnight, his new mom, his 4 new sisters, a dad and another mom and her as-yet-to-be-born kittens will all need to be spayed or neutered, vetted and have proper food and care. I would like to be able to provide that care for these families, which I estimate to cost over $1000.00 as long as no one gets sick or needs critical care. I’m passing around the hat in the hopes that in honor of this precious life we all are blessed to have, that you will consider sharing your love with this family.

And as for little “Chapstick,” you go boy. You get big and strong and have a wonderful, precious life.

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©2014 Christal P. I love this photo. Midnight stretching out on his mom while her sister (who is also going to give birth soon) reaches out to comfort the little guy .


March 26, 2014 UPDATE

A GENEROUS FRIEND OF KITTEN ASSOCIATES IS OFFERING TO MATCH YOUR DONATION DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR UP TO $500.00! So far we've raised $200.00 so our target is just $300.00 more!


March 27, 2014 UPDATE


Fundraising services either ask for a donation towards their service to direct your funds to PayPal or they take a percentage of your funds before it goes to PayPal. PayPal also takes a cut.

To maximize every contribution, we’re asking you simply go to our web site and press the Donate button which will take you directly to PayPal. Once we reach our target, I will update this post and end the fundraiser.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. One of Midnight's sisters.

March 26 UPDATE ON MIDNIGHT, “Chapstick”

HAPPY ONE WEEK BIRTHDAY little one! Midnight has lived a week, is growing and eating much better. He also doesn't sit still for photos.

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©2014 Christal P. I will never stop being amazed to know that Midnight lived another day. Look at how much bigger he is today!

The Discarded Cats Diary. Ch 2

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©2013 Maria S. Mochachino with her kittens after rescue.

What makes up a family? Is it simply based on who a mother is…who the father is or is there more to it than that? Over the years I've come to think that family is what you make of it. I don't have parents any more and I'm pretty much on my own when it comes to blood ties. I have a small circle of close friends who I consider to be my self-made family and I don't see any difference in how much I care for them than I did my blood relatives.

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©2013 Maria S. Meet our new kittens, Linzer, Pizzelle & Nanaimo.

Perhaps that's what happened to Biscotti? After being literally thrown away in a hot metal dumpster like a piece of trash, Biscotti found himself alone in the world. If Betsy hadn't rescued him and I hadn't offered to help him, he would have perished. Because he's so young, Biscotti desperately needed a family to accept him if he was going to have a chance to thrive. Alone, he might live, but he'd never do as well as he would with a family to call his own.

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©2013 Maria S. Little Pizzelle.

Maria had a few days to observe our new mama, Mochachino and her kittens, Linzer, Pizzelle and Nanaiamo before Biscotti joined them. They were eating well, using the litter pan, grooming themselves, playing-doing everything a normal, healthy cat would do. Mocha is friendly and so are the kittens. Hopefully the fact that they don't have to compete for food and have a safe place to live in means they will be more accepting of a newcomer.

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©2013 Maria S. Biscotti, with the burns on his nose starting to heal.

Maria and I talked about how to introduce Biscotti to the mix. We knew that scent would play an important role so Maria rubbed Mocha and her kittens with a soft cloth, then rubbed it onto Biscotti, then vice versa. Knowing that Mocha could reject and possibly hurt Biscotti, Maria was very careful with putting him too close to her to start. She put Biscotti near the kittens, hoping their scent would rub off on him. Macha gave a warning hiss, but didn't growl.

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©2013 Maria S. This is about as close to twins as I've ever seen. Meet Linzer and Nanaimo (Nah-NYE-mo)


Biscotti, oblivious to the potential danger, began to play with his new brothers and sister as if he had been born with them. He sniffed around his new mom. She hissed again, then laid back down. Biscotti, starved for the comfort of his mother, went to Mocha, sniffed at her belly and helped himself to a nipple. She looked at him momentarily, then went back to her nap.


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©2013 Maria S. I gotta mama!


Biscotti was home, as if it was meant to be.


Maria didn't leave Biscotti alone with his family the next day. She chose one kitten and put her with Biscotti in a cat carrier, along with a litter pan and food and water. They were safe from Mocha, but she could see them and they could see her. Maria went to work and hoped nothing terrible would happen while she was gone. I told her we needed to get another Dropcam so we could watch the family remotely, at least. She agreed we needed to add another channel of our very popular SqueeTV.

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©2013 Maria S. Biscotti and friends.

Maria got home in a panic, but found that everything was fine. She let Biscotti and his sister out of the carrier and no one seemed bothered. Still keeping a close eye on the family we waited through the weekend. Everything was still fine. It seemed Biscotti was going to be all right.

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©2013 Maria S. Meanwhile, Linzy and Nanny go back to playing.


I owed it to Maria to let her know if I'd take this family into my cat rescue's Program. Even though I'm scared about taking too much on, I already love this family and couldn't imagine them going anywhere else, so I'm very glad to report that they will be our next rescued family. Welcome to Kitten Associates!



Oh wait…they're already old news. They're not our latest because today I'm picking up two more kittens whose owner is losing his home and has to give up his cats.


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©2013 Maria S. Biscotti with his new brother.

Maybe it's a good thing I don't have a “traditional” family because I have a feeling they'd be giving me a lot of grief about taking on more cats. See? There's a bonus to making your own family. I know my new family will love me for taking on more cats because they're all enablers!

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©2013 Maria S. Biscotti looks like he was meant to be with this family.

We've rescued seven cats in a week. We need funds to fill their bellies, to get them vetted and all that good stuff. We'd also REALLY like to get another DropcCam + 1 yr service. It costs $149.00 plus $99.00 for the service. I put the dropcam onto our Amazon Wishlist if you want to check it out.

We'd be grateful if you can help with a small donation to our families. If you can't right now, no worries! Share our message socially and that can help us, too. Every dollar counts so don't think donating the price of a good cup of coffee isn't enough. That's fine!

Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-profit corporation. Our IRS EIN IS: 27-3597692

Checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates and mailed to P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. If you have any questions about this fundraiser, just contact me at

Thank you for supporting our lifesaving programs!


Breaking news:

We just got the sad news that Dale, pictured here with Biscotti just a few days ago, passed away yesterday unexpectedly. His family is devastated to lose their 13 year old friend and we are very sad to know a great dog has gone over the rainbow bridge.

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©2013 Maria S. Rest in Peace, sweet Dale. You will be missed. Our deepest sympathies to your family during this heartbreaking time.

The Purr Machine. Remembering Bob Dole.

I told myself I wouldn’t write about how Bob died on the second anniversary of his passing. I wouldn’t try to remember that last year, which was filled with one Vet visit after another, one more hit on the credit card, one more wish that maybe we’d find a way back to health, but it was not meant to be. I wanted to remember just the happy moments we shared and be positive, but I struggle with being able to do that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's shrine, featuring the precious "BOB"blehead that was made of him by Royal Bobbles.

What I hate about death is there is no second chance. You don’t get to, at least, see the person once a year on the anniversary of the day they died. It would be so wonderful, wouldn't it? You could have that time to catch up, tell them how much you miss them, love them. As the sun set, they’d go back to the great beyond for another year, but you’d have something to keep you going. The pain of loss wouldn’t be able to carve a hole into your heart.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. So many Vet visits. Bob was always such a good boy no matter what they did to him.

No. You can’t have any more time with them, as desperate as you may feel, as much as you tried to be a good person, hoping maybe the rules didn’t apply to you if you were a good girl or boy. That bottomless well of despair can never be healed. With time, perhaps it may take longer to reach that familiar place, but once arriving, that pain is still as sharp as ever, the longing just as fresh as it was when you first had to say goodbye.

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob by the fire.

Bob wasn’t just an ordinary cat. He was a human in an orange striped long-haired coat. He had a quality about him that was almost unsettling. When he looked at you with those brilliant green eyes, it was really into your soul. If he suddenly spoke to you, it might not even be that surprising. You just knew he understood what you were saying. He could relate to people so effortlessly. Everyone loved Bob.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, this is how excited Bob got about chasing after wildlife.

Bob had a huge personality. He was “the boss” to the other cats and had a firm paw, but it was rarely used. He constantly purred, loudly. I called it “burbling.” I don’t know how to describe the sound. It was musical, bubbly, with a million tones blending into one. Even a few hours before he died, he purred. That was Bob: the purring machine.

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. In his full glory and on favorite place, his blankee on the deck.

Bob loved to be outside. After my mother died in 2006, I brought Bob home to live with me. It wasn’t planned to be his forever home because I thought I was at my limit with six cats, but over time I realized, Bob would never get good enough care anywhere else and his being outside (and intact for many years until I had a fight with my mother about it and got him neutered), lead to him contracting FIV. I couldn’t let him roam freely outside any more. It was dangerous when he lived with my mom, but it is far worse here because the back yard of our home is a state forest.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Incorrigible-Bob.

So Bob wouldn’t be miserable, I set up a space for him on our deck. It’s almost 17 feet off the ground and Bob, as well as Spencer and Nicky, could sleep on cushions or nibble on the plants and I didn’t have to worry about them running off. They watched the birds flit back and forth to the feeders, but they didn’t bother with them at all.

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and new BFF-Nora.

Bob would go outside every day from the first warm day in spring and continue to go out every nice day until winter. As he grew sicker and weaker, I made sure he could still spend the days in the sun, some times carrying him or adding steps so he could get onto the lounge chair. I knew our days were numbered when a big crow landed on the deck, cawing excitedly at Bob. Bob barely moved and I knew this bird saw what I was trying to not see…Bob was going to be gone soon and there was no way in Hell I was going to let him become crow-food so that was the last time he went outside.

I just realized that we don’t go on the deck any more. Not the cats. Not us. I guess it doesn’t feel right without Bob.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. With Blitzen.

I’d never had an orange cat before Bob, but I admit I have a very soft spot for them now. If you know me even a little bit, you know I’ve rescued a lot of orange tabbies in his honor. It’s something I'll keep doing because in some way it’s like keeping Bob alive. They can never replace him, but I admit to looking at each one and wondering if maybe one of them will look back at me in the same way Bob did. If I can’t see him once a year, it won't stop me from looking for him every time I meet an orange cat.

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I'll remember you always.

There are some things even the best writer can’t do justice to by using words and one of them is in describing how amazing Bob was. I tried to give you an idea, at least, and maybe I’ll find the right words next year when I sit down to think about him on this sad anniversary.

I hope to see you again one day, my dear Bob.

Her Last Rescue. Jenna's Wish.

A few years ago, I read an urgent plea about a cat who'd just been hit by a car in Greenville, South Carolina. He was a young white and tabby cat who needed a rescue group to get him out of animal control, then to get him to a vet for the care he needed. It was one of my first big rescues, before I even started my non-profit. I didn't have much experience in what to do or how to get the job done, but thanks to two people on the scene, Jenna, a long-time dog rescuer and Dr. Carol Anderson, who runs a clinic in Greenville, we worked together we were able to do great things for this cat we named Will.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Will after rescue.

Will changed my life and inspired me to take on rescues from wherever they needed help, not just from my own community. If you want to read the touching story of what became of Will and how he also changed the lives of others, read this post. It's one of my favorites: The Best Thing.


Jenna contacted me a few days ago, with a heartbreaking story about some very fragile kittens whose lives were hanging in the balance. Not all of them survived, but for the ones who have, she is in dire need a forever home for them or for a rescue group to take them on and find them homes. With her permission, I'm sharing her poignant words in the hopes that it reignites the flames of inspiration—that one of you will read these words and know that these are your kittens, the ones you've been looking for for so long and that you can open your heart and home to them.

Jenna is a senior citizen and her husband is in his 80's in failing health. This is Jenna's final rescue, her swan song, as she calls it. Let's make it her best rescue by helping her find ONE home for TWO tiny kittens.

Sampson and Delilah

[ROBIN's NOTE: There are graphic descriptions of what happened to neonatal kittens below, please be prepared]

The call came in to Concerned Citizens For Animals of a mother who
had not been seen and babies with their eyes still closed. Nothing
more other than an approximate location was given. The emailer gave
no information of themselves and when we tried to contact them we got
a return mail response.

I rushed over to the church with the empty parking lot looking for a
trash dumpster where the emailer said they would be found. A teeny
orange kitty barely able to cry anymore probably because he had been
crying for a day now was on the sidewalk. He was covered in blood
and dried on sticky afterbirth.
Mama had just given birth maybe a
day ago. Looking through the bushes I found another, a tortie very
stiff unable to move covered in blood, I thought she was dead, but
their was still life in her.
Further inspection lead me to two more.
One was covered in maggots. Rigor mortis had set in and still another
that I thought was in that same condition a tortie was found. When I
picked her up she opened her mouth and tried to cry and she moved her
arms, but I knew she was too far gone. The maggots were coming out
of her mouth, they had already claimed their prize.

I rushed to the vet nearby. Euthanasia was what she told me to do.
They have less than a 1% survival rate and the little tortie female
would probably not make it through the night.
They were covered in fleas and
maggots everyone in every orifice possible. They also had never had
the benefit of any time with mother in that the afterbirth on them
indicated they had just been born and for whatever may have happened,
mama was gone.

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©2013 Jenna Gutierrez. Used with Permission. Syringe-feeding Sampson.

I wanted to try, so I took them home. The next morning even after Revolution was applied the ears on the little boy were pools of blood. I had a suspicion of what it was and as I began to squeeze, maggots came out. So many came out, I
thought he would never hear, and the vet confirmed it was a
distinct possibility.
We all struggled those first weeks as any person has
been through who has nursed but struggled because the insects on them
and in their intestinal tract had started their death toll. Enemas,
and every sort of thing we did, worked to keep them alive.

Brother and sister copy.jpg
©2013 Jenna Gutierrez. Used with Permission. Raised together, it is Jenna's wish that they be adopted together, too.

We have reached five weeks now and my prayer through the feedings is
for one more miracle. You see I have come to love them in a way that
I cannot begin to tell you. But I cannot keep them. My 80 year old
husband has some mental issues that are demanding more and more of my
time as he progresses through this disease. I know I, too, will not
outlive these kittens.

Looking up copy.jpg
©2013 Jenna Gutierrez. Used with Permission.

I have been doing rescue now for ten years and this is my swan song.
I have seen some horrible things down south in my time and I have
seen some beautiful things with animals who have been given a second
chance at life. But this, this is so very difficult for me to do,
that is give these babies up. But I love them enough to do that, for
I cannot give them the life they deserve. This is a fitting swan
song for me because I have never , ever seen animals struggle to live
more than Sampson and Delilah. They are extremely loving and
affectionate, sweet and tender, and they are an attestation to the
never ending will to live and the miracles of God.

In lap copy.jpg
©2013 Jenna Gutierrez. Used with Permission.

Every night and day I am praying and praying for a very special home
for them. They will be fully vetted when they weigh enough and have
no special needs. Yes, Sampson can hear................


The kittens were vetted yesterday. They are neg/neg for FIV and Feline Leukemia. They got their first vaccination and they both weigh about 1.5 lbs. At 6 weeks of age, they really should go to a rescue or AFTER they are 8 weeks and big enough to be spayed and neutered, to a VERY experienced home. Jenna needs our help and after all she's done, it's the least we can do for her. I urge you to please share this socially with all your friends. I KNOW there's someone out there who can help these kittens. They just need to read this story.

If you'd like to know more about Sampson and Delilah OR if you're with a non-profit rescue organization and would like to help these kittens, please contact:

Jenna Gutierrez


phone (864) 801-3177.


UPDATE: August 16, 2013. The kittens are going to be adopted! Their forever home has found them! Hurray!

If Wishes Were Horses. Steven Leon Olson.

Caring for my cat Fred, as he slowly weakened and until he died, was emotionally crippling. One of the worst aspects of providing palliative care for a cat is you can’t talk to the cat about what you’re doing and why it has to be done. They can’t understand why they have to bear the discomfort of syringe-feeding, in the hopes that the food will comfort and maintain life. You can’t tell your cat; “This is for the best. This is because I love you so much.” They may understand the loving tone of your voice, but they can’t understand the meaning of the sounds. They can’t forgive you for forcing irritating drops into their eyes. They can’t know that the nasty medicine might cure what ails them.

But what do you do when it’s a human, not a cat, who is nearing the end of their life? What do you do when that person was your ex-husband and you can’t talk to him because his wife would flip out, but you want to say goodbye and offer him some comfort?

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve ready to bowl. We loved to visit old bowling alleys. Steve was pretty good (though I admit the view from the rear as he was throwing the ball was my favorite).

My brother-in-law called me this morning. I don’t refer to him as my “ex…” because I still have a heart-connection to the Olson clan in Minnesota. We may not speak often, or get invited to a family wedding, but when the need arises, we are there for each other. We still care. We still say, “I love you.”

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©1987 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve in his studio holding his cat, Chanel.

He told me that my former husband, Steve, was on his deathbed. Salivary gland cancer first reared its head as jaw pain and maybe a bad toothache that went unchecked last year. Steve didn’t have insurance, so he wouldn’t go to the dentist. When he finally went to the ER, in excruciating pain, they told him he had a suspicious growth in his jaw that needed to be checked out. With no way to pay for expensive care, his second wife urged him to go to her homeland of Bulgaria, thinking they could get the treatment Steve needed for free (it didn’t turn out that way, sadly and still cost over $10,000.00 just to get started).

So Steve found himself in Bulgaria, hoping to find a cure. They diagnosed him as being in Stage IV, which has a very few percent chance of survival over 5 years. Life expectancy is typically much less.

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Chanel on the stairs (yes, we let her outside back then).

I was told that a few family members are hoping to make it to Bulgaria to see Steve one last time. His parents are in their late 70's/early 80's. It would be too hard on them to travel so far, where they don’t speak Bulgarian and I’m not sure they have a very comfortable relationship with Steve’s wife. Steve made a choice to remove himself from the people who love him most and who are hurting over their inability to do anything more for him. If only he had stayed in the USA, his brother would have found a way to pay for his care. I was even going to tell him he could live here with us and we could take him to Yale New Haven hospital for care.

For me, the problem is that I can’t even call him or email him to say goodbye. I know his wife would freak out, as she has the handful of times I’ve ever tried to talk to him. I even had to change my phone number because of her angry calls in the middle of the night after I talked with him once. It’s ironic that she was the one who wanted him so badly, to get her precious Green Card. I bet she figured she had a good meal ticket in Steve since he was a workaholic to the extreme. She’d get to live in the USA and have someone pay her way, but she ended up getting the short end of the stick when the job market dried up and Steve was left floundering and scrambling to avoid bill collectors.

But here I go, thinking dark thoughts, when I should let this all go. It’s time to put aside the bullshit and focus on life lessons.

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Scenes from our wacky wedding featuring a cake with bowling ball trophy figures on the top.

Before the cancer and the mistress and the all the misery of divorce, was a beginning—a story of two people who thought they were in love forever, who got married in a renovated Munsingwear Underwear factory and who had bowling ball centerpieces on each table at their reception. Steve and I were that happy couple who left on a 6,000 mile road-trip-honeymoon in our 1951 Pontiac Chieftan Deluxe, we called Morticia. It was a fresh start buoyed along with a trunk full of maps, bowling balls, the tingle of a new journey and dreams of a magical future.

Steve was a snappy dresser. He loved to preen in front of the mirror. What a narcissist, but I thought it was also charming that he dressed better than I did. He kept me on my toes.

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve, smoking. Oh how I wish I could have stopped him doing that, perhaps this story would have ended differently.

He often wore a wide-brimmed Fedora, his red, white and blue vintage 1950’s high school letter jacket, tight black jeans, a black shirt with bold geometric patterns on it, and his signature Tony Lama cowboy boots. He always wore glasses, which he needed but made him look even cooler. With dirty blonde hair and clear blue eyes, the glasses gave him a know-it-all-look hence my nickname for him - Mr. Peabody (Of course I was his sidekick, Sherman).

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. My mother with Chanel.

Steve was gregarious and loved art and design. He had a cat named Chanel; the first guy I ever dated who had a cat. I could talk for hours with him about anything. We got along so well that I did everything I could to get him to fall in love with me. It was stupid and desperate, and though we didn’t have great physical chemistry, we had this amazing ability to be together without any trouble at all. We loved doing the same things, especially going to flea markets and tiny antique stores that dotted the Midwest, where we lived at the time. We would drive 1000 miles in a weekend, before Ebay, before cellphones. All we had were flyers, maps and the lure of the open road. Steve taught me it was okay not to know your destination; that the journey could be better than the goal and he was often right.

Paul Bunyan and Babe PC.jpg
A post card from our honeymoon. Paul & Babe the Blue Ox are in the Trees of Mystery in Klamath Falls, CA.

Steve also smoked constantly. My father smoked, so I was used to it, but I didn’t care for it and I often encouraged him to stop. After our first year of marriage he decided to quit. He ended up weeding the entire yard and eating so many carrot sticks I thought he was going to turn orange. There wasn’t a nicotine patch then, so he had to do it cold turkey.

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©1990 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and I dressed up for the Star Trek convention where I ended up sitting on James Doohan's lap.

He managed to quit for almost a year, until a friend came to visit who offered him a cigarette. Steve thought he could have just the one, but not long after that he was smoking again, though not in the house. It was too nasty on all our collectibles and on me. Now I wish he had managed to stop for good, or even stopped after we divorced.

It’s so difficult to look back and clearly see the mistakes you’ve made. You can’t do a thing about most of them and it’s fairly likely that you won’t be able to stop yourself from whatever destructive path you’re on now. It’s so tough to see things from a point of clarity as they're happening.

Steve was my peacock and sometimes I really wished it had worked out, but I wanted something from him I could never have-and that was him to stop being a workaholic and be willing to be part of a relationship instead of avoid any confrontation or partnership with me. Steve was perfect about knowing exactly what to say to get me to back off, but do it in a nice way. He always told me he loved me and that his working for days in a row without a break would end and we’d have time together, but it never happened. He’d often fall into a death-like sleep after his work-jags. I could not wake him up.

Steve and Chanel R Olson copy.jpg
©1989 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and Chanel share a cat nap.

He slept through our First Wedding Anniversary and didn’t understand why I was so upset (because you never have another First!). He slept through my birthday and I had to go to a concert at the last minute with a friend. He was either working or asleep and rarely available to me, to us. I knew he wasn’t cheating on me because we often worked together, but what I couldn’t fathom was that I was some times his boss or his co-worker and I could go home at 5 or 6pm and still have a life, whereas he had to stay and work with a coffee in one hand and a cig in the other.

He would clean his desk and organize his files all night long and not do any real work. He never got anything done until the VERY LAST MINUTE when everyone in the office was screaming at him to hurry up to make the client meeting or deadline. He always made it at the last second, coming up with a brilliant concept that always wowed the client. Although his talents were truly special as a Creative Director, how he accomplished his work had ripple effects that gave me such horrific anxiety I went into therapy. After all, I was part of the design team so what he didn't do, I had to get done. I ended up realizing I was “managing” his life and turning into a nagging harpy—something I never imagined or wanted to do.

Robin and Steve Cool.jpg
©1989 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and I a million years ago.

I gave up who I was to be with him and when I realized I was okay with that, I knew I was in trouble. Steve was never there for me when I needed him and the less he was there for me the more neurotic I became.

Our marriage lasted for 11 years, but most of that was spent living apart. Even when it was over and we were with other people, I longed for the way Steve and I could just be together. I think we could have been really great friends and not husband and wife. One of the last times I saw him, I gave him a book that changed my life. It’s about the Tibetan form of Buddhism called Shambhala. After reading the book and beginning my journey to become a less neurotic person, over the years my path focused on becoming a Buddhist. I was finally able to step back and focus on forgiveness and understanding. I also began to live independently, something I protect about my life even now. I'll never live in someone's shadow ever again or foolishly believe I can change someone. I know better now.

Sadly, once Steve’s girlfriend (he hadn’t married her yet) found the book she freaked out and threw it out the window into the street below. I think it would have helped Steve a lot to read that book, but it was not meant to be.

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©1998 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the last photos of us together.

I had to forgive myself and him for our failings and move on with my life.

This morning after I hung up the phone, I looked around the room. Most of the décor in the house were things Steve and I bought on our trips. We divided a lot of things up in the divorce, but he left some of it behind.

I look around and I see an item that sparks a memory of a trip to Iowa or one to Wisconsin, what we bought, the songs we listened to, the diners where we never tired of ordering the hot beef open-faced sandwich. We joked about doing a glossy book featuring photos and reviews of the hot beef sandwiches of all the diners in the country. We’d just drive, write, antique, take photos, eat at diners. It could have been a perfect life.

And now my dear Steve, your last days are here. I look back at photos from our Wedding and know all the sadness that would come after that day-all the people who have passed away, the divorces, the misfortunes. It makes me wish I could have cherished that day, instead of be worried and upset about whatever stupid things I was bothered with at the time.

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©1989 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and his beloved, Morticia. I hope there are gorgeous classic cars in heaven and that Steve can drive a different one every day.

I look back and I wish so many things. I sadly recall something my mother often said to me about “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.” I wish I could see you one more time and say goodbye, but I’m grateful my message got to you and that you had a few last words for me. My brother-in-law told me that Steve sent his eternal love and that I’d know what he meant.

I think I know that he did love me, even if it wasn’t going to be a happy ending for us. He put the bitter days behind him and I did, too. We can rest in knowing there is peace between us that brings stinging tears to my eyes. It is a goodbye to what once was and what will never be and I have to be okay with that and so does Steve.

Steve can no longer speak. The cancer stole his voice, but he understands and communicates by writing or nodding. I’ve been told he’s on pain medication and the doctors are keeping him comfortable. I don’t know if he’s in a hospital or in his own bed, or if he even HAS a bed. I just know if he could hear me, I’d tell him I love him and that I’m so very sorry for everything and that if I could I would take this pain away.

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I burned most of the cards Steve gave me because I felt betrayed and angry during the dark days of our divorce. Going through photos, I came across this lone survivor written not long before we called it quits. His words cut me through the heart. Now I can read them and accept them, but then I could not. Did he really mean what he said? I'll never really know because that leads to a road of what could have been that shall never be. In his own words: “I want to put that sadness behind us whatever that takes, whatever that means. I know our relationship is at a crossroad right now. I know that new roads lie ahead, I also know that I would like to travel those roads with you. I truly love you, Robin. I always will.”

When it comes down to it, Steve taught me a lot-a lot about myself, about graphic design, about music and about letting go of expectations. I thank him for that and for the Olson name I've had all these years. Now it's time for me to say my goodbyes and to wish him a very sweet, painless journey to whatever lies beyond.

…a few weeks later…

June 26th 2013, 5 AM, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Steve is gone. He died peacefully in his sleep. It’s too soon to know if there will be a funeral or even what country his body will find it’s final resting place. All I know is my ex-husband is dead. The man who made me an Olson is on his journey to the Great Beyond. My heart is broken, even after all these years of being apart. I can't stop crying. I look around and see all the silly things we bought on our trips. They remind me of him-of what once was and what is now gone forever. There is no putting something off until tomorrow. This chapter, as Steve used to say, is closed and the story is over.

Rest in Peace, my sweet-Steve. You will forever be in my heart.

Steven Leon Olson

April 28, 1956—June 26, 2013.

A Very Good Dog, Indeed

The last time I felt like I had a family was in the late 1990's. My parents were alive, I had a career, our pets were thriving, relationships were intact. Clichè as it may be, I didn't realize what I had until it was gone, though it didn't disappear overnight or all at once. My family began to vanish with one loss, then another. With every change I scrambled to find a way to feel like I still had a family with whatever remained.

The Other Side

The past month has been one of the worst of my life. Although I’ve witnessed the slow decline and eventual passing of my own senior cats, and all the fear and sadness that brings, I’ve never watched it happen to a mere kitten. It is so much worse because there’s the added tragedy of the full, long life that never got to be lived. The family I imagined coming to adopt him, never came to the door. The joy he’d have being loved and cherished for a lifetime, was taken away by a fatal disease.

Yesterday afternoon, Fred made his journey over the Rainbow Bridge.

The past month, I’ve had to face Fred’s decline, despite so many efforts to revive him, find an answer, at least keep him stable for a while longer. I’ve had to watch him as he lost use of his back legs. He could still get around after we made changes to his living space to make it easier on him to still have some freedom.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney often tried to get Fred to play, which I discouraged. Eventually, Barney realized his brother couldn't play with him any longer.

He became incontinent. Not surprisingly because he couldn’t get to the litter pan. We just made more adjustments and bought a lot of “wee-wee” pads. The goal was to keep him comfortable, hoping we’d get enough time for the test results to come back or to start another treatment.

I set up the web cam so I could watch him when I wasn’t in the room, but felt sick to my stomach every time I looked in on him. Seeing him struggling broke my heart. There was a time I saw him slip and fall off the pet stairs onto the floor. I raced up to the room to help him back up. He seemed so confused about how such things could happen to a once agile creature. I kissed him and told him to hang on that I would find a way to make it better.

I realized I was running out of things to hope for last week. I realized how ridiculous it was to find myself hoping Fred had lymphoma, instead of FIP. Both were fatal, but at least with lymphoma Fred could live longer, maybe over a year. It was crazy to hope that, at least, Fred wouldn’t lose use of his front legs, too, but eventually he did. He could sit up, but other than that, he didn’t move around. Sam and I took turns changing his position or location in the room. I’d place him on a bed in the sunshine and he’d groom himself, perked up by the joy of being in his favorite place.

Fred hadn’t eaten anything on his own over the past week, not even his favorite chicken treat. Sam and I fed him three times a day via a syringe. He struggled at first, but as the days passed, he just took his food without a fuss. Sam would hold him against his chest, shielded by a pad because Fred would often urinate when we held him up to feed him. We’d cheer him on when he peed because that meant his body was still functioning normally. A few times we even got him to poop, which caused us to be even happier. He still had some strength. It wasn’t time. We still had a chance.

I would focus on coming up with the tastiest, most nutritious, combinations I could put into the blender to make Fred enjoy his food. He would take a taste, then smack his mouth with his tongue. He’d look up at Sam with this silly, sweet expression and Sam would look down so lovingly at this little cat. I’d syringe a tiny bit more food into him and he’d swallow some and dribble some onto his fur. Between syringes of food, I’d carefully wipe Fred’s face with a paper towel I’d wetted with very warm water. I wanted to recreate the feeling of his mama washing his face. He seemed to like it and often purred.

When we finished feeding, there were the many medications, eye drops, bad things. I washed Fred again and we’d put him on a soft bed. We’d take turns brushing him, again, anything to help him feel clean and comfortable. Some times Barney would come over and lick Fred’s face, ears, or paws. Fred almost smiled at Barney’s attempts to connect with his brother.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred (front) and Barney (by the pillows).

I found I couldn’t focus on work or eat much. My only respite was sleep and I couldn’t get to sleep unless I was exhausted. I’d get a few hours, only to wake up as the first glow of sun peeked over the horizon. My gut would go back to its familiar ache. Should I look at the web cam? Is Fred still alive? Did he pass away over night?

Eventually I’d work up the courage to look and I’d see him in his bed, so very still. I’d race into the room to find him still with us. I hate to say that some times I wished maybe he’d have left us over night and it would just be over and done. I kept reminding myself that the other side of this means how I live my life without Fred, knowing he is gone. The sheer Hell of watching him fade away would be over, but a new Hell-one of grief and remorse would take its place.

Time was quickly running out for Fred. Tests kept coming in negative for lymphoma so for certain it was FIP. Fred’s condition got much worse on Tuesday night. We had to hold his head up to get him fed. He was much weaker. I’ve never seen a cat, while still alive, who was so very limp-everywhere. Fred couldn’t lift his head or lick his paw. He could flick his tail ever so slightly-and that’s how I knew it was time to change his wee wee pad, but that was it. After we fed Fred, got him cleaned up and on a fresh blanket, we left the room. I broke down in tears and said to Sam that it was time. He agreed. We were taking turns changing Fred’s position every hour and making sure he wasn’t urinating on himself. I was to call Dr Larry in the morning to make the appointment for that day. We couldn’t wait any more. Now my last hope was that we could end Fred’s life in a peaceful way and without pain or fear.

Sam and I discussed what we would do, how it would be done. I made a promise to Fred-no more Vet runs and that the Vet would come to us. Sick to my stomach, I made the call. Dr. Larry was out sick that day. My only option was to bring Fred to them and have Dr. Mary put Fred down. Sam and I discussed it and felt we could keep Fred going on more day, so we made the appointment for yesterday afternoon.

When you know your cat is going to die and you know when, you can’t focus on anything else going on in your life. Any other issues fall to the wayside. The irony is that through this past month, Sam and I have been working on refinancing our mortgage so we can stay in our home. I’ve been so sidetracked I ignored all the calls and paperwork. I even put off the Closing last week so we could watch over Fred. We managed to get everything taken care of and in the end it saved us a lot of money. We should have been happy since it’s been a constant worry for us for a long time, but we were both like zombies, signing papers, nodding yes or no to any questions our Lawyer had, hoping we’d just get it over with. We got the job done and raced home to be with Fred because we knew we had less than 24 hours to be with him.

The last twelve hours were spent with Fred. He was not left alone, even for a second. Around 10pm on Wednesday, we put or pajamas on and set ourselves up in the foster room with Fred and Barney. Fred was either on a cozy cat bed between us or on Sam's chest. We each were petting him or holding his little paws. They were starting to feel cooler and I wanted him to feel the warmth of my hand. We didn’t say much.

Trying to lighten the mood a little I blurted out, “tell me a story.” and Sam began reciting bits of Dr. Seuss books he read to his daughter 30 years ago. “Look what we found in the park, in the dark! We will take him home, we will call him Clark. He will live at our house; he will grow and grow! Will our mother like this? We don't know.”

I thought Clark would be a good name for the next cat we rescue, then I caught myself. The next cat? Would there be one after this?

We tried to include Barney or play a little bit with him. He was somewhat curious about what was going on, but eventually settled down on a blanket near Fred, too. We formed a circle of loving kindness around Fred. His breathing was slower. He reacted to less and less. I started to hope that Fred would hang on because I didn’t know how the FIP would kill him. Would he suffocate and struggle? Would his heart just give out? I just wanted this one thing since I couldn’t have anything else. I couldn’t have Fred rebound or recover. At least he could die without pain.

Sam slept with Fred that last night. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t see him in such terrible condition for hours on end. I still got up at 4am and again at 7am to check on Fred and to clean him up because he was urinating on himself. Every time Fred peed we still cheered him on. “Good boy! Okay, let’s get you cleaned up. Oops! Here’s some more! Get another pad. Okay, good boy, Freddie!”

But this was it, the morning of the end. I did all the chores getting our other cats feed, watered, boxes cleaned out, so Sam could stay with Fred. I was so busted up that seeing him was killing me, too. I had to go back and face him because time was running out. We got the room cleaned up and got ourselves washed and dressed. Fred was very frail now. We both sat on either side of him, petting him, talking to him. Telling him we loved him. He was barely conscious. It was devastating.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sam holding Fred before we start feeding time. You can see how limp he is in Sam's arms.

It was a gray day. I was hoping for some last rays of sun for Fred, but it rained. Around 12:30pm, the clouds opened up and it started to pour. I saw Dr. Larry’s car come down the driveway and my heart sank. This was it. It was time. I got up to answer the door, but my legs felt weak. Dr. Larry and super-Deb said hello as they entered the house. My mouth opened to reply, but no words came out.

We went upstairs to the room where Sam was waiting with Fred. Dr. Larry was quiet, then sighed and looked at Fred. He and Deb got to work. I had to sign a form saying Fred hadn’t bitten anyone in 15 days and that I was giving my consent to have him euthanized. Dr. Larry talked about how tough cats are and that he could see Fred living a few more days even though he was barely alive. He said that Fred’s body condition looked really good because we’d been constantly feeding and cleaning him, but that, too, it was clear it was time for Fred to be helped to pass away.

I asked if Dr. Larry could take a look at Barney first. I was worried that Barney could get sick, too, because I’d heard that FIP can hit siblings since they have the same DNA. He and Deb examined Barney and felt he was okay, but we would keep a close eye on him going forward. He suggested we thoroughly scrub down the room and get rid of the cat trees and bedding, just to be safe. We couldn’t risk having an unhealthy environment since I still have three adult foster cats in my bathroom who would benefit being in a bigger space. Although I knew it meant more fundraising to replace all the cat furniture, I agreed it made sense.

There wasn’t anything else I could do to put off what was to come next. It was time to let Fred go. Dr. Larry explained that we had to be calm because Fred’s veins were compromised by the steroids and that the needle might blow out a vein and that we had to not get upset. Sam was still sitting on the bed next to Fred so he lifted the cat bed with Fred on it into his lap. I gave Fred a few kisses and moved aside to hold his front paw while Dr. Larry slipped the first needle into his vein. Dr. Larry fussed over the placement, but the vein held. Fred didn’t even react to the sting of the needle. Fred was already so far gone that when he passed, none of us even saw him go.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred's last night. Sam held him for hours.

Dr. Larry listened to his chest and there were no more signs of life. He said, “okay, it’s done.” as I burst into racking sobs. Some how I had enough strength to remember one last thing as I cried. I had cut sections of green and white ribbons, which are the colors that are associated with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I tried to tie a bow around Fred’s neck, but my fingers didn’t work. It took five tries but I finally got it done. Fred was our Mascot for Kitties for Kids. He made so many kids happy. Super Deb remarked, now all the children who were killed will know Fred when he arrives in Heaven and I agreed.

I kissed Fred a few more times and told him I was sorry and how much I loved him. Deb carried him out in her arms. He was still on his comfy cat bed. She said she didn’t want us to see her put him in the black plastic bag and I agreed I didn’t want to see that either.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Fly free, sweet Fred. We will love you and miss you, always.

I closed the door and came close to fainting. I was crying so hard I couldn’t stand. I willed myself to go back to the foster room, which had so often been a place of joy, to find Sam on the bed, weeping.

I sat on the bed, in the same place I’d spent the better part of the last day, but now we were on the other side of this journey, the side where the questions are answered and where the real pain begins.

A loud rumble of thunder traveled through the house. I said to Sam; “that was Fred. He’s on his way to be with the children and they’re celebrating his arrival.” He looked at me through tear-filled eyes and nodded “yes.”

And just like that…he was gone.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A week ago we rushed Oliver to the vet. This is the last photo I have of him.

Barely a week ago I learned that my nephew Ryan's cat, Oliver was having difficulty breathing. I saw Oliver's x-ray and it was clear something was terribly wrong. At the time I hoped that perhaps Lasix would move what looked like fluid out of Oliver's chest cavity. I thought back to my experiences with Jackson, his scary x-ray showing an enlarged heart and fluid in his lungs. Oliver's lungs were white on x-ray, meaning they were fluid filled or that there was a mass in his chest. I really hoped we weren't too late and that we could do something to help Oliver.

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©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver was one of the most mellow cats you'd ever meet.

After a long discussion with Ryan we decided to take him to see one of my Vets the next day. That night I barely slept I was so filled with fear. The Vet who had examined Oliver told Ryan to “prepare for the end.” They didn't do blood work, they didn't go into what they thought was going on with his cat or if there were any treatment options available.

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©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. He has the same “rub my belly” attitude our cats Nicky and Nora have-and that makes sense since Oliver is their “uncle.”

Ryan has been around animals his entire life. He has an excellent rapport with cats, in particular. He can hold the most fearful kitten who will melt in his arms. Now that Ryan is almost 20 years old, he's ready and eager to take on the responsibility for his cat's well being and I was proud to be able to offer him advice and help him see that many times there ARE options in addition to simply letting his cat pass away.

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©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Taz, who was waiting for Oliver at the Bridge, gives Oliver a friendly sniff.

The following afternoon we met with Super-Deb and Dr. Mary. They were both really terrific with Ryan-not that they aren't always that way, but in this instance, when it was vital that Ryan learn that getting a second opinion could be worthwhile. It also helped him see that Dr. Mary and Super-Deb were both doing everything they could to give Ryan options for Oliver.

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©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Santa's Goofheads: Ryan and Oliver.

Dr. Mary is so cheerful that even when she told Ryan the bad news that Oliver clearly had a large, firm mass in his chest, that it was pushing his organs out of their normal position, that it still seemed like we could help him. Oliver probably didn't have long to live-maybe months. Seeing a Vet Oncologist could help or Ryan could try steroids which may reduce the mass enough to keep Oliver comfortable longer.

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©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver is no sure he liked what he got for Christmas.

Looking at Oliver on the exam table with his big, pleading green eyes, it was tough to see he was sick at all. He was bright and sweet as ever. Oliver was 14 and was one of the most easy-going and friendly cats I've ever met. I always found it amusing to tell people that Oliver is the "Uncle" of two of our cats, Nick and Nora. In fact, Nicky and Oliver are very much two peas in a pod.

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©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovey-eyes! We love you, Oliver!

Dr. Mary felt that Oliver was very stable, but needed to start treatment as soon as it could be arranged. I was grateful we didn't have to put Oliver down and truly thrilled that Ryan felt empowered to do something for his cat.

The next day we were hit with a blizzard and 36" of snow carpeted our town. Ryan began making plans for Oliver, but couldn't get him to a Vet for a few more days. He thought about it and decided to start Oliver on steroids once the roads were open again in the hope that Oliver would have more time.

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©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Ryan demonstrates the vertical belly rub maneuver.

Oliver started the steroids two days ago. I don't know if they helped or if they were started too late. I only know that very late last night Ryan's mom picked Oliver up and shortly after that Oliver passed away peacefully. It may have been that Oliver's aorta ruptured when he was lifted. Ryan and I had discussed not picking him up because we didn't want to put pressure on his chest. Maybe being picked up had nothing to do with anything. Maybe he was already dying and his mom lifted him to give him comfort in his last moments? I don't know. I'm not blaming anyone. All I know is within a few minutes Oliver slipped away from us and went to the Rainbow Bridge.

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©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. Oliver with my scarf. Looks nice on him.

It all seems to have happened so suddenly, but most likely Oliver was sick for a long time. We all know cats are great at hiding illness and Oliver did what Nature dictates. It's just tough to lose another great, big, orange kitty with a heart of gold.

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©2004 Robin A.F. Olson. A big orange tabby; the best gift ever.

To Ryan, his mom and everyone who loved Oliver, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Oliver was definitely one of the good ones and we will miss him very much.

Fly free, sweet angel. Tell Taz, Bob, Stanley, Squeegee, Sasha, Blue, Chanel and Tugger we send our love and will see them again one day.

2012 The Year of Heartbreak and Hope Part 2


July was even more difficult on us than June. Maria had taken in two more kittens from her neighbor who were very sick. A buff tabby named Tater Tot was the most ill. The Vet told us it was the “wet” form of FIP which is fatal. His sister, Latte was struggling with a terrible upper respiratory infection. Maria took time off from work to care for the cats around the clock. Neither of us slept much. I researched alternative treatments, testing, anything I could think of while we expected that Tater wouldn't be with us for much longer.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our amazing survivor-Tater Tot.

Because Maria is so good at what she does, she noticed that Tater had tapeworms. We ran more tests. His belly was big and round from the tapeworms, giardia and what was almost pneumonia. Once we started treatment he began to show improvement. It took a few weeks but we were very happy to take FIP off the table as we saw Tater eat on his own and gain weight.

King arrived in my home for a few days. He was quite the charmer, but he wasn't meant to be here for very long. Sam and I drove King to New Hampshire, to his new home where his mom, Judy was waiting to adopt him. I loved this home for him and this good woman and her sister. I never thought King had a chance and here he was 1400 miles from the palette factory in a safe, loving environment.

Two of my dear friends adopted Sabrina and Cutie Pie. Their mom, April, found a home in Brooklyn, NY and their sister Bon Bon was adopted in June.


We took on another pregnant mama named Winnie and got a new foster home here in CT. Donna and her husband, Paul are great foster parents. Winnie had five amazing kittens on 8.10.12 named Buttons, Bandit, Honeydew, Charly and Pinkie.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama, Winnie (inset) waiting to see Dr. Chris. Buttons flying high while Honeydew and sister, Bandit look on.

I took another fistful of Xanax and flew to Topeka, Kansas to tour the Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center. I tiptoed through the “dark side,” but made some good friends and learned a lot more about pet food ingredients.

Something horrible happened to my cat Spencer. He stopped eating and hid. X-rays showed a strange mass in his sinus. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. It turned out to be a false alarm which added many more gray hairs to my head.


I was honored to be chosen as one of five members of the Animal Control Advisory Panel, overseeing the operations of our brand new town's Animal Control facility here in Newtown, CT. We had our first meeting and I was delighted to be nominated as Co-Chair of the committee.

Just as I was about to get inundated with kitties from Maria and Cyndie, I found a foster home for two of the remaining black kitties and the final one, Hello Dahlia, was adopted. We got the word that Miss Fluffy Pants found a GREAT forever home and Coco, Chichi, Choco, Tater Tot, Latte, Fred & Barney, and Willow arrived!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (inset) the DOOD resting in his cage while his mysterious back injury slowly healed and a few months later enjoying the new cat tree in my office.

Chichi and Choco got adopted right away into a great home.

One morning, the DOOD couldn't get up and walk and was in terrible pain, growling or crying if we touched him. We did x-rays that showed nothing and began talking about taking DOOD to a neurologist or starting him on steroids. It took six long weeks, most of it forced cage rest, before he was well enough to walk again without pain. I think he fell down the spiral staircase to get into the basement where we store food for our feral cat, but we'll never really know what happened.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson getting oxygen before we raced him to the Emergency Vet and Intensive Care (inset). Jackson at home feeling better.

Jackson fell ill with a temp of 105.1°F. We put him on antibiotics and waited two weeks to do a re-check. At his re-check, since Jackson did NOT like to be messed with, we had to sedate him to get a good x-ray. I didn't like the way his chest looked when he breathed. That day Jackson went into heart failure from the effects of sedation and we almost lost him. He had undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and was in poor condition. The next day Jackson was supposed to be adopted. Instead, Jackson fought for his life in intensive care at an emergency Vet. We took Jackson home later that night, unsure of how much longer we'd have with him.

With Maria having space in her home open, we took on a kitty named Bongo who has nerve damage to his front leg. It had been a Hell of a month, but we kept on.


Opal went to a sanctuary and is doing well. She is becoming more friendly each day and she may one day be put up for adoption.

There was troubling news about King. He'd been struggling with chronic, severe and frankly bizarre ear infections. He had to have surgery, loads of daily cleanings, antibiotics. The other cats in the home weren't too sure about him. King faced losing his ears and his home, but his mom never gave up on him.

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©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo (inset) with Bongo (left) and George (right)-who are all ready to be adopted! Email for more info.

I rescued a knockout silver tabby Maine coon mix named Nico from a kill shelter in Georgia because I knew I could find him a home and I wasn't going to let him die.

Maria found a kitten in a parking lot she named, Bunny Boo Boo that she rescued on her own and we took on another cat whose former mom was going to lose her home if the landlord found out she rescued a cat from the parking lot nearby. We named him George and he and Bongo and Bunny Boo Boo are great friends.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hurricane Sandy, no power for almost a week-just a bad flashback to the year before when we got nailed at almost the same time by “Snowmageddon.”

Hurricane Sandy killed the power and made life HELL for a week making a mess of my home in Sandy Hook, CT.


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You are deeply missed, sweet girl.

More vet runs, some of Winnie's kittens found forever homes, but all that didn't matter after learning the shocking news that Bobette, who was now named, Kissy, had passed away shortly after surgery to remove the same leg we'd tried so hard to save. JaneA drove five hours to be with us over Thanksgiving so we could all mourn together. I had a breakdown, sobbing uncontrollably, saying I wished I could make it better or could have done something different. JaneA comforted me when I really wanted to comfort her. I'd rescued Kissy over a year before and suffered when three of her kittens died a few days after rescue from a kill shelter. Here it was just over a year after I'd saved her life. I'd never worked so hard or for such a long time to make a cat's life pain free and happy and now she was lost to us forever.


Nico arrived and was adopted a few weeks later. The rest of Winnie's family found their forever homes. There were lots of inquiries about adopting kittens since the Holidays were approaching. Tater Tot, in a surprising twist, got adopted instead of Willow, who the family had come to meet. Willow, Fred & Barney and Latte were still with us waiting for their forever homes.

I got good news that King overcame his severe ear issues and was finally settling in with his new family. The other kitties were slowly accepting him and King was finding his place. His mom is the sort of adopter I always wish for-after a very rocky start, loads of vet bills and difficulties, she kept on. She never complained. She was completely devoted. My only hope is that her reward is enjoying the love of a very dear cat and hopefully a much easier future.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our mascot of Covered in Cat Hair and my baby, Spencer before and after surgery.

Spencer had a very challenging dental cleaning where he lost two more teeth and surgery to remove a mass from one ear and another from inside the other. I prepared myself for bad news, but the shock came as the test results indicated it was an apocrin gland cyst with “no content”-meaning NO CANCER.

Sam and I cleared out the garage of recycling one bright sunny morning. After we were done we went to Panera Bread to have a late breakfast. While we were sitting there we saw police cars racing past. I knew something bad had happened and a few minutes later I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which you can read more about HERE and HERE.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My home town will never be the same again. The school is a few miles from my home.

Wanting to reach out and help heal the broken hearts in our town, I created “Kitties for Kids” a kitten-therapy for the children, first responders and residents of Newtown, CT. We were featured on national television news and major news outlets online. We got loads of donations of plush toys and the first children and parents began to arrive to visit our kitties.

Although we had no Christmas and sent out no card (for the first time in my adult life), the joy of knowing I was helping people and the overwhelming honor of so many people reaching out to us was my gift.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. We will never forget and find a way to heal our hearts.

As the year draws to a close, we have saved over 60 lives by networking, rescuing, fostering…and many of those cats were tough to place. I also helped people keep their cats by offering them suggestions on how to work with their cat's behavior and health issues. I even covered the Vet bill of a few cats in dire need so they would keep their homes, too.

It's been quite a challenging and painful year. I realize that 2013 may be no easier. All I can do is hope that I'll be better able to handle what is yet to come and that for the cats out there who need me, that I'll have the resources to help them when the time comes.

Happy 2013 to All!

2012 The Year of Heartbreak and Hope Part 1


We began the year with a rescue, going beyond our comfort zone by taking on an adult, instead of an easy-to-place kitten. The cat was a huge, white, “biscuit head” tom-cat from Henry County Care & Control. I saw his photo and saw something about him that made me take action. I named him Jackson Galaxy in honor of the Cat Daddy/Cat Behaviorist on Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell.”

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©2012 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson was a miserable wreck when we first took him into Kitten Associates as our first rescue of 2012.

Jackson had a rough start. He frightened Maria but we realized later it was because he was in great pain. He had a terrible infection from his neutering and he needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and get him back on the road to good health. By the end of the month, Jackson was on the transport headed to Connecticut to find his forever home.

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©2012 Bobby Stanford (inset). ©2012 Miss Fluffy Pants shortly before being adopted.

Our friend and volunteer, Bobby Stanford, told me about two cats living outside a palette factory in McDonough, GA. They were living in poor conditions and in danger of being hit by any one of the numerous fork lifts that raced around the premises. One of the two cats, a dirty, thin tuxedo we named King Arthur, seemed to be missing his back paws. Completely horrified I decided we'd help him and the other cat on the premises, who we named Miss Fluffy Pants, because we worried she was pregnant.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset). King's mama, Judy. King's journey has been quite amazing. I'll be doing a more in-depth update on him in January.

I was fostering a little orange tabby spitfire named Bobette, along with her two boys, the third had just been adopted. Bobette needed surgery to repair her luxated patella, so I sat in on the procedure and helped her in recovery and for the next few weeks while she healed.


February was a month of discovery. We learned that King's missing paws were due to a birth defect. He didn't need surgery or prosthetics. He could walk on carpeting, but who would adopt this cat? King began to clean himself and gain some weight. He loved being petted until Miss Fluffy Pants came to join him.

Miss FP was not pregnant. We thought the two cats were friends at the factory, but they were not happy to see each other. With some quick thinking and the donation of a cat tree, Miss FP could sit high up, away from King and both cats relaxed into their new foster home.

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©2011 Henry Co. Care & Control (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette with one of her kittens while at the kill shelter and after surgery in Sam's loving arms.

We also learned the Miss FP was FIV+ which we knew would put a roadblock in our ability to find her a good forever home. With her taking up valuable foster care space I got to work trying to figure out what to do for her that didn't mean putting her in a sanctuary.

We were heartbroken to learn that after some behavior issues gave us a clue to trouble, Dr. Larry diagnosed Sam's cat, Nicky with Chronic Renal Failure. We began giving him sub Q fluids every few days and began to learn more about this condition and ways we could lengthen his life.

Jackson arrived in Connecticut and was placed with my friends at Animals in Distress, but fell ill after arriving there. They thought it was a mild upper respiratory infection and in time he was feeling better. By the second week of February, Jackson found his forever home with a loving family. We were all delighted.

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©2011 Maria S. (inset) ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Two of Bobette's boys, Jakey & Teddy.

Bobette continued her recovery, but was still limping. I had to separate her from her boys because she hissed and growled every time she saw them. The boys, Jakey & Teddy had a blast hanging out with my cats while I continued to try to find them a great home.


The saying is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but this March was the opposite; quiet for a few weeks, then things started to go crazy.

Bobette had the staples taken out of her leg and due to a problem with the bandage removal she ended up biting my hand so badly I had to see a Doctor.

I found a blueish growth on my cat Gracie's abdomen. She had a dental done and had the cyst removed. It ended up being an Apocrine Gland Carcinoma, but was considered to be completely excised and of no further concern.

Jakey & Teddy were adopted together and Bobette was glad to see them leave.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy.

On March 26th, a few days before my birthday, Jackson Galaxy emailed me and asked me out to lunch (which ended up being dinner). It was one of the best days of my life, but that wasn't all that happened. That night in the frigid cold in nearby Trumbull, CT, six mostly black kittens were born to a gray mama named April. I didn't realize it at the time, but they would be my next foster family.

The next day, still buzzing from my visit with Jackson, I was honored by with a donation of a full palette of Halo® canned cat food! The press came to document the event and I started to wonder if the foster cats would eat it (they loved it!).


The Worst Birthday Ever was followed by picking up April and meeting her mostly all black female kittens for the first time. Three kittens were polydactyl and there was no way I was going to be able to tell most of them apart for the next eight weeks.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. April and her kittens.

I rescued a senior cat named Leo who was an adorable long haired tuxedo. The poor cat was forced to live outside on scraps when his owner's wife had a baby. I begged my friend Katherine to take him into Animals in Distress if I paid the Vet bill. We worked something out and Leo was saved. A few months later, Leo and a second cat found an amazing home with a family I found for them here in town. They are doing GREAT.

A missing cat alert showed up in email with a very familiar name, Amberly. One of my former foster cats was MISSING and the family didn't have the nerve to tell me. I leapt into action. Thank GOODNESS Katherine has good instincts and lived nearby the family. By the next DAY Katherine found Amberly and the family promised to work harder to keep her inside.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Coco, all grown up with siblings Choco and ChiChi (inset).

Maria contacted me about a tortie mom cat we named Cami and five kittens in her neighbors yard. She was very worried about them so I told her to find a place to put them and we'd take them on. By the time Maria got back to the home, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. We named the surviving kittens Coco, ChiChi and Choco.


On May 1st a shelter called AnimalKind in upstate New York suffered the total loss of their facility after a small fire caused the sprinkler system to flood the 3-story building. Through my contacts a pet product companies I was able to provide them with palettes of food and litter. Later in 2012 I visited their facility and met with their Director, Katrin Hecker. You can read about my visit HERE.

I travelled to New Jersey to attend Bottle Baby Bootcamp at Tabby's Place. The timing was great because the black kittens needed help since poor April was having a tough time feeding all the kittens. I worried the littlest one wouldn't make it, but Cutie Pie surprised me and began to do well. I named her sisters Sabrina, Bon Bon, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia (in honor of my friend, JaneA's cat Dahlia who had recently passed away).

Then a crazy thing happened.

JaneA came to visit us and instead of falling in love with her cat's namesake, she threw me a curveball, clearly falling in love with our little spitfire, Bobette. She adopted her the next morning before she left for her home in Maine. It was a one of the happiest adoptions I'd ever done.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her girl, Bobette (who she later named, Kissy)

By the end of the month there was more somber news. Jackson the cat lost his home and was being returned. Since I had space I offered to take him back since AID was full up.


June will forever be a tough month for me since it's the anniversary of my Father's passing and of my favorite cat's passing. I hoped that this June would not be under such a dark cloud but it was not meant to be.

Thankfully it wasn't all bad news. After months of searching, begging, dealing, I was able to get Miss Fluffy Pants transferred to Good Mews in Marietta, Georgia.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) and Robin A.F. Olson. Willow is still looking for her forever home! You can visit her Petfinder page HERE

Maria, our cat-magnet, rescued a cat from a tree. She named her Willow and we added her to our group of rescues in Georgia. Meanwhile, I got a curious email from a lady in New Hampshire inquiring about King. She had a fully carpeted home. She had two cats. Did I think King might be happy with her?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me, Jill Delzer (center) and Ingrid King (far right). Inset: Joanne McGonagle, Me with Gracie the cat.

And for the first time in many years, I took a fistful of Xanax and boarded a plane headed to Salt Lake City where Sam and I were Speakers at BlogPaws 2012. I was up for two awards that I did not win, but I had so much fun and made a great new friend. In those few days I was re-energized enough to keep doing rescue work once I got home.

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©2012 Cyndie Tweedy (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fred & Barney and Barney at six months. The boys are still looking for their forever home! Visit their Petfinder page HEREand HERE

Maria removed another cat from her neighbor (with his consent)- who NEVER spays or neuters his cats. Maria has tried repeatedly to get the cats taken care of but he just puts it off and his cats get pregnant. A nine month old kitten named Opal, who had become almost feral, was pregnant. Our new foster mom, Cyndie offered to take her in and help her along. Sadly, the stress of being in a home pushed Opal in to premature labor. Four kittens were born, but after extensive attempts to save their lives, only two survived. She named them Fred & Barney. We had their siblings Pebbles and Bam Bam cremated and their little wooden urn is here with me placed next to my cat, Bob's ashes.

Stay Tuned! 2012 has more surprises in store and some so shocking their effects rippled throughout the world in the final part of this post.


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