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Santa's Team

Cavalcade of Cute Arrives

Okay. I have 20 cats in my house. That's a lot of cats. It doesn't seem that bad because over half of them are split into two separate rooms. At least I don't have to share my queen sized bed with all of them.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ruby or Max, not sure which one, but this kitty is VERY SWEET, regardless of the name.

A few days ago I got a call from my BFF's at AID. Once in awhile something happens-a cat gets an upper respiratory and all HELL breaks loose. In a shelter, they'll euthanize sick animals to keep the others from getting sick, too. AID doesn't do this-EVER, but what do they do if they have a kitty with a runny nose and it spreads to other foster cats? We all only have so much room for foster cats, after all.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beardy. Beardy? Is that a name? For reals?

I had the same thing happen to me almost two years ago when I rescued the now notorious “Santa's Team.” Of the nine cats that came off transport, ALL OF THEM were VERY SICK. A few almost died. My cats got sick, too. Then some of the fosters broke with ringworm on top of it. It was during Christmas and New Year's. I was having a nervous breakdown between vet runs every other day, the fear I'd lose a kitten and the constant care they all required--and all the extra crap that goes on during the HOLIDAYS!! The Director of the group I was with basically watched me crash and burn, saying if she didn't get a break from fostering cats SHE was going to have a nervous breakdown, too. Of course this is after she spent a few months not fostering any cats. I later learned she was just getting back at me for daring to want to make changes to her rescue group by rescuing cats right through the winter, instead of closing down for a few months. I was happy to put in the work. She just had to pay for vet care. I did everything else, but the one time I really needed help, she turned her back on me.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Conference cube meeting in session. DND.

I was very lucky all the cats survived. I couldn't have managed if Sam hadn't helped me. I was angry, I cried and flipped out. It was NOT the way to learn how to care for cats with URIs. I could have handled it better than I did, but I didn't know what I was doing. It's one of those things where you have to go through it and on the other side, you've learned and can handle it better when it happens again. Was the Director doing me a favor letting me struggle so much? No. She hung me out to dry. She said "you're on your own" when I asked if I could rescue those cats, but I took it to mean, I would care for them and get them adopted, but heck, if they were near DEATH, certainly that voided any agreement we had? Guess not.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beardy likes Auntie Ingrid's present!

So when another rescue group was in a similar jam, I didn't turn my back on them. Doing cat rescue is not about playing games or being passive aggressive to make a point. It's about the CATS. That's why I started Kitten Associates, so we could truly be about the cats and that's it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spot. Where is the spot this cat is named after?

On Saturday afternoon, Connie arrived with a giant cat carrier with little bitty kittens in it. They're already 8 weeks old but they seem tiny compared to Amberly's kittens. They're sweet little love muffins. I didn't expect it to be such a pleasure to have 5 more cats in the house. They're in the DOOD's old bathroom and get to use his nifty cat tree. (thanks to our friend, Amy for donating it!) The energy level in that room is amazing. I sat with them, taking photos, while they played around my feet. EVERYTHING in the room had the potential to be a toy. What a great mantra that would be for how we live our life-to look at everything and see the joy in it.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ruby, BB and Max.

I'm not sure of the names of these babies. From some reference photos I was sent I think they are BB, Beardy, Spot, Ruby and Max.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

There's not much more to say about them, other than it's nice to have them here and I hope they'll all find their forever homes soon. Until then I've reached my intake limit on cats!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Wave to your new friends!

I hope...

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Enjoy the photos!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Watching the washing!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Spot, you're sooo cute!

Update: Remember Cupid from “Santa's Team?”

In December of 2009 I rescued nine cats, not all related, from a kill shelter. I named them after Santa's reindeer and as a group, they picked up the nickname, “Santa's Team.”

This was the fundraiser poster I created for this rescue. You can see the entire gang!

When I picked them up off the transport, it was clear they were all very sick. I have my reasons as to why this happened, but I can't say why without facing repercussions-other than to say, the transporter was not even looking at the cats for the 36 hours they were on the road or giving them fresh water and probably not any food, either.

Some of the cats had raging high fevers, one had ringworm, which basically gave it to all my cats and my foster home's cats, too. It was a nightmare, to say the least, but all the cats lived and went on to be adopted into good homes. You can read more about them by doing a search for “santa's team.” Here are a few links: The Curious Case of Cupid and The Foster Cat Journal

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©2011 Dave Musen and ©2009 Betsy Merchant. Cupid in her home and Cupid in the kill shelter with her babies.

Part of the rescue included a mama, I named, Cupid and her four offspring, Dancer, Donner, Prancer and Blitzen. Cupid was emaciated from being nursed on for too long. She weighed just five pounds. In a week she gained about a pound, once I gave her better food and got the kittens off her. That was only the beginning of a startling transformation.

©2011 Dave Musen. Every day is filled with fun surprises!

It took a few months before Cupid got any applications offering to adopt her. At the time, I was with another rescue group. They had a different idea to what makes a good adopter than I did. For this group, I had "special" permission to get what I wanted: NO going outdoors and I was really going to grill the family to make sure these cats were going to the best home. My plan did not work for all the cats. I think I made one adoption of two of Cupid's offspring that I still regret, but the cats are doing fine, it's just not my ideal.

©2011 Dave Musen. Yes, that is a DOG next to Cupid. Hee hee!

The other thing I am very careful about is adopting to home where there are very young children. It's just not safe for the child or the cat, so if I see on an application there is a toddler, even though I still process the application, I usually don't move forward with it.

©2011 Dave Musen. Toying with her dad's foot.

We had an adoption event around Valentine's Day. I met a man with his 9 year old son, his wife and their baby. The man had a connection with Cupid, but because of the baby, I wrote them off. He said they were thinking about getting a cat, but not sure. It seemed to be just a radom thing, nothing would come of it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My boy Blitzen is Cupid's son. Notice any resemblance?

Over a month later, I got an application on Cupid from that same man. His name is Dave and he lives here in town. I went through the motions, but really didn't think it would be a good idea. They had two dogs and a baby. Would Cupid be happy?

I called the family and spoke to Dave and voiced my concerns. He told me that he is often home working and that they had a Nanny to look after their baby and the nanny loved cats, too. That the baby has constant supervision of three adults. Their Vet reference was really great, too. They did everything for their dogs and they were willing and interested to feed Cupid a raw diet (they do for their dogs, too).

©2011 Dave Musen. Merry Christmas, Cupid! I see you got some gifts, too!

I told him he could come meet Cupid with his son, but I couldn't promise the adoption would go through. They came to visit twice and both times the son was very sweet and loving and Cupid seemed to like both of them. The wife was a harder sell, but she came along. Dave was really the one smitten with Cupid and I could see it in his eyes.

I went through with the adoption. A few months later, I got an update that Cupid was doing great and that they were really impressed with how sweet she was with the children and their dogs. That was almost two years ago and I've since left the group I was with so updates would stop coming, too.

©2011 Dave Musen. Cupid loves her doggy buddy.

The other day I was at my local pet food shop and who should be there, but Dave, getting food for Cupid and the dogs. We had a great chat about everyone. Cupid is doing fantastic. She has probably gained four more pounds and is up to about ten. Her coat, as you can see, has filled out to the extreme. Although she always seems to have a sad look on her face, she is living large, that is for sure. From what I hear, she is very very happy.

©2011 Dave Musen. Looking simply divine, Miss Cupid.

She has the BEST life, loves the dogs, loves her people. She will never want for anything. After what she suffered, she deserves this amazing home, with a dedicated, loving family. It doesn't get any better than this.

I'm glad I was able to work through my own hesitation about this adoption because this truly was the perfect family for her. I am very grateful to them for providing for her and for making her life the best, ever. Thank you!

Now can I just find a home this nice for Mazie? For Phil? For Cara? Well...Cara may have found a home, but that's another story for another day.

The Best Seat in the House is On Me, So to Speak.

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If anyone wants to know why my back hurts and I can't get my work done, here's one of my many excuses. (see above)

Yes, this is me, in my office and behind me is BLITZEN, where he's decided he would rather sit even though there are SIX cat beds and a big windowsill in my TINY OFFICE for him to enjoy! No. He needs to perch on the back of my chair and lean on me.

The Gift from Santa's Team That Keeps on Giving...




Note: this is a SMALL, dime-sized lesion on my side. Sorry the photo is crappy, but do you REALLY want a nice, clear image? No. I doubt it! I started treating it two days ago. Hopefully it won't SPREAD.

Ah...ringworm. You suck.

Foster Cat Journal: The Last of Santa's Team Goes Home...Part Two

If you read my last post, you know that Blitzen found his forever home yesterday. If you read my last post v-e-r-y carefully, you might have noticed something else, too.

I said I cried when the Adoption Agreement was signed, which was true. I didn't say whose signature was on the paper or if my tears were sad ones.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson

It's something to consider.

The other thing to consider is how sweet, friendly and loving this little cat has become. He always seems to have a sunny outlook on life. Everything is interesting and exciting to him, to be explored and enjoyed. Every time I look at him I smile. I could find a way to let Blitzen go, but life is too short. Why do I have to say goodbye? I have a lot of cats, what's one more? Will it ruin my life or ruin my other cats life? Probably not.


So the signature, one of two, is mine. The other, not seen above, is Sam's. I cried because I was happy and maybe a tiny bit scared to make this commitment.

My old boss said; “It is what it is.” I think that sums it up nicely. Sure, I could go nuts worrying about how this cat will impact our lives or do calculations that tell me it's going to by tough on our budget to have an EIGTH cat, but it is what it is. We'll find a way to manage.

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson “Blitzen 4.23.10”

I guess I got tired of having to say goodbye and longed to say something new.

“Welcome to the Family, Blitzen!”

The last of Santa's Team has found his forever home.

...and it's with us.


Foster Cat Journal: The Last of Santa's Team...Goes Home

Part One of Two.

Here we are in April, almost May, and little Blitzen is not so little any longer. His siblings and Mama are long since adopted and he's been here with us, finishing up treatment for ringworm and mingling with our resident cats.

Just over 4 months ago, litle Blitzen, below right and his sisters, Donner and Prancer with their Mama, Cupid—just part of the 9 cat rescue from a Georgia Kill Shelter, I called ”Santa's Team.”

Sam and I have discussed whether or not we should adopt Blitzen. Of course, he's been here way too long and we've grown attached. We've wondered if we're being selfish and if we can really afford another cat (probably not). Blitzen seems to be getting long fine with everyone and they're working out how they get along with him.

Regardless of our decision, one thing is for certain. Blitzen needed to have a Vet check to clear him to be adopted. I brought him over to visit, er, get a check up with Dr. Larry. Super Deb spent some time with us before Dr. Larry got back from his lunch. Super Deb looked Blitzen over. He purred and purred as she weighed him, then sat with him on her lap and clipped his claws. Super Deb did something I rarely see-she smiled; a big, I-let-my-guard-down-smile. It was a Cheshire Cat smile-there and gone in the blink of an eye, but I saw it. Even though Super Deb said I shouldn't keep Blitzen, I didn't think she really meant it.

I came to understand she was concerned about the other cats and how they were doing. She imagined an angry piss-festival, lots of loud screaming fights and poor Gracie's skin erupting in blisters from being stressed out. It hasn't been a picnic in the park here, but it's not as bad as all that. I assured SD that the cats were working it out-and they are, but that I did agree, adopting another cat was NOT in our plans.

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Then Dr. Larry came in to the exam room. He took one look at Blitzen then made some God-awful whistle-chirp-something-sound. Super Deb and I looked at each other with a “WTF” look on our faces. The sound freaked Blitzen out so we scolded Dr. Larry, who was oblivious to what we were saying. He was too busy focusing on Blitzen, who calmed down and went back to purring and looking around the room.

”You should definitely keep him.”

“You're kidding, right?”

“This cat is...a-w-e-s-o-m-e! He is a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l cat and what a sweeth-e-a-r-t!”

Then Dr. Larry asked Super Deb for her opinion and she said No. I would be nuts to keep this cat, but did admit that he was ”Okay, nice, but I really shouldn't adopt another cat.”

Blitz got cleared for takeoff. No more ringy-dingy-worm. No ear mites, fleas, URI, tapeworm, roundworm, blah blah blah. Now I just had to find him a great home.

I knew Blitzen would be adopted easily. What's not to like? He's completely confident in his fur. He is happy and loving and oh so adorable. If I adopt him, I really can't get my “dream cat.” I promised myself that next year I would begin looking for a BIG Tuxedo Maine Coon to rescue. That would put us at NINE cats if we keep Blitzen. Even for me, that's too many.

So, I need to do what's best for everyone. I lucked out and found the perfect home for Blitzen. The Adoption Agreement was signed today. I cried as the signatures hit the paper. How could I not? This adoption isn't something I'm going to be able to maintain my poker face over.

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It's time for me to move forward. We have a few feral mama cats who have recently given birth. One had six kittens on Monday! It's been too long since I've had babies in the house and I miss fostering. It's Kitten Season, after all, and I need to get back to work.

These Shoes Were Made for Walkin'?

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Unfortunately, Blitzen cannot quite walk anywhere in Sam's shoes, but it doesn't stop him from trying.

I just hope the little sucker doesn't get into my lingerie drawer next.

Kittens Shouldn't Play with Their Food?

Do not play with your food!

Okay, play with it, but eat it when you're done.

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Bob LOVES frakenprey-which in this case is the neck and giblets of a chicken we were going to roast. I cut up some of the bits because Bob only has a few teeth. I don't have to worry about Blitzen, so he got a neck to gnaw on to help clean his chompers. He really had a blast dragging a chunk around, throwing it up in the air and carrying it in his mouth. No, not particularly hygienic, but I cleaned up after his playtime was over.

P.S. Bob and Blitzen LOVE their raw treats!

Foster Cat Journal: The Last of Santa's Team

Little Blitzen is the last of Santa's Team to be in foster care. The rest are off to their forever homes. Blitzen would have been long gone had he not needed treatment for Ringworm. His last dose of meds will be on Saturday. He's had no sign of any ringworm for a few weeks. Other than an occasional sneeze, his health seems good.

I also let him out of his room a few weeks ago, too. Once the others were gone, it was too unkind to leave a little guy alone for so long. I knew it put my cats at risk of getting ringworm, but since the stuff is airborne, I had to figure they've all had a snoot-ful of it by now.

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Blitzen loves the cat mat that Aunt Clare made him!

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I think he's wear it if he could.

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Bob's not too sure he wants to share the cat mat, even though there's one behind him...yes, it IS considerably smaller and Bob wants what Bob wants. Blitz is happy to have someone to roughouse with. Spencer is staying out of it this time.

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Open the door to the deck and all fighting ends. The boys love the fresh air.

Blitz has been trying to find his place among the other cats. Petunia is very angry about him being here and Spencer has ramped up attacking her. It's a complex situation having eight cats. Spencer wants to bully Petunia and so does Bob. I can't understand why, though I do believe that Petunia might want to be the alpha cat OR she is so fearful that she needs a nicer alpha cat, instead of a bossy guy like Bob or Spencer. Having Blitzen here doesn't help her, but it does give the big boys someone to play with and chase around, so maybe they'll leave her alone a bit more often?

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Someone's tail is growing faster than their body. I'm not sayin' who, though.

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And don't think for a minute that Blitzen is in any danger. In fact, the little squirt instigates many of the clashes. He's not aggressive. he just wants to play. I've seen Spencer race up and down the stairs with Blitzen hot on his tail! It's great to see the cats running around more. Even Bob and Nicky, who have been slow to warm to Blitz, have begun to show signs of accepting him.

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Blitzen and Nicky. Looks like the little guy has a long way to go yet before he's as big as Nicky-if that is even possible!

I feel bad for Blitzen. He's doing his best to fit in where there isn't a whole lot of room. He was sleeping between Sam and I most nights, but now he is under the bed. I think ”the girls,” Gracie and Petunia, had a talk with him and asked him to get lost. He won't even hang out on the bed and they rarely leave it. Something is up.

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I know you want to come outside on the deck, but you're too young! Talk about guilt!

I really want Blitzen to be happy here. Sam is ready to adopt him. I see some definite benefit, but I also see the problems. He might not get as much time and attention from us as he would from a family with only one other cat, but he will have other cats to interact with here in addition to his human family. The problem is that this sweet little guy has had a few cats hiss at him, so now he's confused about being friends with other cats. I really hope he can find one or two of my guys to be closer to. I'm sure he misses the closeness he shared with Cupid and his sisters and it's not fair for him to go without cat companionship.

Blitzen has done very well adapting to a much bigger space, lots more cats and challenges. He remains a sweet tempered kitty and he always makes me smile.

I have to ask myself if I can be happy letting him go and knowing he's in a great home, that's not mine; or decide that although we weren't looking for another cat, that one found us.

It's time to adopt him or put Blitz on Petfinder.

Foster Cat Journal: Winners and Losers

I made the call last night at 5:25pm and spoke with the adopter. I was so nervous, that I ended up just reading off my typed up script. I got to the point of asking to return the cats and I heard the adopter telling his wife “she wants the cats back.” After that point, there wasn't much more to add. I offered to return their adoption fee and to waive any future fees if they wanted to adopt more healthy cats, since it is not our policy to adopt out sick cats in the first place. The adopter said he would call me back.

So I waited.

I didn't let the phone out of my sight. I even did things, thinking it would make the phone ring. Back “in the day” we used to light up a ciggy at a restaurant to make the waiter appear with our food. Nothing helped. The phone didn't ring. I checked my email over and over. Nothing but emails from friends concerned about what was going on.

I tried to second guess what would happen. I tried to be positive that I would get the cats back, though the more time passed, the more I felt it was unlikely that I would get the result I was hoping for.

I went to bed. Little Blitzen sleeps between us now, right next to my pillow. His purr is so loud it fills the room. Spencer and Nicky were at the foot of the bed. While there wasn't much room for us, it was comforting to be surrounded by them. I passed another restless night, wondering if the phone was ever going to ring.

This morning, just about 10:00 am, I got an email. It was a long, clearly written statement, point by point going over the reason why the family was not willing to return the kittens to The Animal Center at this time. It was obvious from what was said that even though I did not say ANYTHING even close to suggesting that the family was neglecting or harming the kittens, that indeed, that's how they heard what I said. As I read their points, it was clear that they are determined to provide an excellent home for the cats. Perhaps my asking for the cats back, caused them to take notice that they DO need more than they are being provided?

Instead of getting into an email war, I called the adopter. If yesterday was tough, today was worse. I told him right off the bat that my request was in no way directed to them, as a family, and that if nothing else, I wanted him to understand that this is about my making a mistake, not what they are doing (unless they let them outdoors!). After that I could tell that any stress or animosity between us was gone. I told him that while I respected his decision that I would still like to request that he make a few small changes. He was willing to listen, so I asked him to move the cat bowls away from the cat litter, to make sure Donner goes to the Vet to be checked out and that if it wasn't being too pushy, that I had some toys for the cats that I wanted to drop off.

He thanked me for the suggestions and welcomed me to stop by and drop off the toys. He said he wanted to keep an open line of communication and I offered to be of any help at any time he needs it.

Considering how badly this could have gone, starting up some sort of legal trouble or very bad blood, it was a small success. I didn't get the kittens back, but I do feel a bit better that they are going to get better care. I will also know that they'll have a lot more toys and a cardboard scratching pad and I have to be okay with that. I'll drop those things off later today.

I shed more tears after I got off the phone, but it's done now. I did as much as I could. I made my points clear with them and I heard their concerns and got assurances that they would be taking great care of the cats. I also got permission from my Director to do home visits, as I deem necessary. I believe this will help me a lot moving forward. It just won't do much to stop me from looking back on this with regret and some embarrassment or shame over my own stupidity.

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Donner and Me. Taken before she was adopted (©2010 photo by Ryan Feminella).

In the end, I can't say there was a clear winner or loser or if that even matters. It's all about the cats-always. If this family is determined to provide a good home for the kittens, that's all I can ask. Maybe having their reassurance is enough? Okay, that and moving the litter pan away from the food bowls!


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