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Digging Out. Part 1 of 2.

Digging out from the mental detritus of the past month has been tougher than I imagined. Last week, to be honest, I was suicidal. Not only was I at an all time low, feeling depressed and upset about the shooting, but the annoying run on “truthers” with their garbage being spread around the net really got to me. Adding to that sour mix was relentless anxiety about my seemingly never-ending financial failings—am I going to lose my home? How am I going to get through this year?

I couldn't focus on anything for more than a minute and I didn't want to work. I couldn't get up the energy to write. I wanted to sleep or watch movies to numb my pain between long crying jags.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Snow shadows.

This is not written to be dramatic or to get sympathy, it’s to share an experience, to dissect these feelings hoping to make sense of them, and possibly to help someone else if they’re feeling the same way.

Last week I gave up. For years I’ve struggled to get Kitten Associates off the ground and to find a way to do that AND write my precious blog AND somehow make a living. I’m very good at two out of the three, but where I fail is in making a living. I beat myself up about what I “should” do, which stops me from doing everything else. I try to give myself space to just do what I feel is best for me even if that means eating a lot of spaghetti and losing sleep over not being able to pay every bill on time. In my heart I feel close to being able to make a change for the better. I still have hopes of reaching my goal of better providing for myself through writing.

The post I wrote about the “truthers” pushed me into a very bad place and I also believe that the shooting affected me more deeply than I first thought.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I will forever be from Sandy Hook where “that terrible tragedy took place.” I still see signs posted up in our town and neighboring towns wishing us love and support, but seeing them makes me cry. I can’t even afford to leave, whether it be for a weekend or for the rest of my life. I recognize there is little joy and only more sadness ahead, more creditors getting angry, more worries about how to keep things going without my home collapsing on my head from disrepair.

Perhaps I need to give up completely? I did little last week. I stayed away from my computer; did the least amount possible on Facebook. I stayed in the foster room with the kittens and either slept or watched terrible movies on Netflix. Sam stopped talking to me and I stopped talking to him. We both have problems, both at the same time. I need support from him that I don’t get and I’m guessing he felt the same way about not getting support from me.

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©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. The last trip to Bulls Bridge with my Mother.

I missed my parents so badly that it made me sink deeper. If only I had one person I could go to, one person who really knew me, who could hold me for a while; tell me it’s going to be okay. One person who would make me a cup of tea, just as my mother often did, and who would let me talk about my worries and who would find a way to soothe my soul.

But I’m a big girl now and my parents are dead and other than Sam there’s no one close by I have that connection with and certainly no family any more. This is not a pity party. I’m just trying to sort things out as I always do.

In the worst moments I thought about what if I wasn’t here any more. Would it matter? I suppose only to me. I’d like to think I left a worthwhile legacy, but mostly I feel like a loser. I ask myself why I didn’t do the things I dreamed of-like to go Italy or get any of my book projects finally finished. Then I realize all this struggling and feeling bad doesn’t get me anywhere closer to any of those things. It leaves me feeling inert.

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©1964 Judith Feminella. A somber moment or was depression already part of who I was?

I must find a way to survive my own damaging thoughts.

The only thing that helped me begin turn this around was on Saturday when a mom and her daughters came to visit the kittens. I didn’t want to see them and, in fact, I thought about canceling the visit. I couldn’t imagine how I would be friendly and smile when all I wanted to do was lay down and cry some more.

But I had to do this-at least my drive to be a “good girl” was still intact. I made a commitment. I needed to keep it.

It took most of the visit, but by the time the family was leaving I had the first smile on my face I’d had in a long time.

Not long after that I spoke with Gene Rosen on the phone. Considering this man has had threats, someone hacked into his phone, changed his outgoing message and re-directed all his calls; Gene was defiant. In fact he sounded quite chipper. He wasn’t going to let those jerks get him down. He changed his number. The police are keeping an eye on him and are ready to make sure he stays safe.

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A group set up a special page for Gene on Facebook called Gene Rosen is a Hero and We Support Him. Some are calling him “America’s Grandpa!”

Gene told me that people wanted to do something to honor him further so he suggested that if they raised money it should be directed to Kitten Associates and that he would love it if “the goodness of the American public was bestowed on us [Kitten Associates]” so I created The Gene Rosen Fund in his honor.

I can learn a lot from Gene. He can take lemons and make lemonade. He remembers all the hugs he gets, the pats on the back and he knows he has the support of the world and won’t let a small group of pestiferous twits ruin his day.

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Shortly after I finished speaking with Gene, a woman named Annette called me from Pennsylvania…“I have 13 kittens. Can you help?”

to be continued…


Suicide is a VERY serious matter. I've lost three family members to suicide. If you're struggling or want to help someone who is seriously depressed, here are a few links to help you speak with the right people who can help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (there are options for deaf and hard of hearing by visiting their web site.)

SAVE: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Befrienders Worldwide-USA Listings and Global Website

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!

Here's the Story of a Lovely Lady

[I wrote this post the night before the shooting rampage in Sandy Hook at our Elementary School and decided to share it now as a way to give us all a break from focusing on such sad news. Later today (I hope) I will be sharing some experiences I've had, living here during this madness, from being surrounded by Press to more about my determination to make things better here-again. Stay tuned.]

Molly sits alone in a small bathroom along with her litter pan, a plastic bowl filled with Meow Mix®, some water and a few old towels to rest upon. This is Molly's life now that her caretaker passed away. Molly, like so many other pets, lived with someone who hadn't made plans about what to do should they no long be able to provide a loving home. It's something any cat guardian would fear imagining, but what if it happened to you? Where would your cats go? What would happen to them?

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©2012 Jessica.

Molly wasn't kicked out of her home to wander the streets. A family member, the granddaughter of Molly's caretaker, took Molly home with her. She was four months pregnant with her boyfriend deployed overseas. Her family thought Molly would keep her company while her boyfriend was away. Jessica knew she was mildly allergic to cats, but went ahead with the adoption.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My first moments with Molly.

Within a short period of time, Jessica's allergies got worse so she tried to find Molly another home or a rescue to take her, but no one would help. She didn't want to be cruel to the cat, but she felt she had no choice other than to put Molly in the bathroom, where's she's been living for months.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Molly is suspicious of the lady who brought a cat carrier with her.

It's very difficult to place an adult cat who isn't a fancy breed. Molly is a pretty white and gray cat with subtle stripes in her tail, but she's not going to compete against Siamese or Maine Coon cats…or kittens…you know how it goes.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Before the meow-a-thon began.

Jessica put an ad on Craigslist which is a BIG NO-NO. Cats fall into harm's way via that publication and I believe they don't allow posting of animals on their site for that reason. We have folks who check CL every day to alert all the local rescue groups to intervene and hopefully help the cats listed there. That's how I came to rescue the DOOD.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. 16.8 pounds-in case you were wondering.

Molly was lucky that someone from Mary's Kitty Korner felt they could find Molly a new forever home, but their problem was getting Molly to their Vet to be boarded until a foster home opened up for her. I saw the email asking for help and I don't live too far from Jessica, though the total trip is about 150 miles. Even though I have too much going on, I had to help Molly, maybe because she reminds me of one of my cats, maybe because I just like to help.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Checking out the Vet's office.

This morning, I met Jessica and picked up Molly. I tried to be respectful, not sure if Jessica would cry over the reality of Molly leaving. I held Molly before placing her into the carrier and asked her if she wanted to say goodbye, but she didn't seem too perturbed that her cat was leaving for good (which is upsetting to me and maybe you, but this lady said she wasn't someone who had cats in the first place so I'm not going to vilify her…just gonna move on to the rescue pat of the story). She was very appreciative of the help and said she did want to visit Molly at the Shelter once she was settled. Whether it was the truth or lip service it didn't matter to me. Molly was safe and that's all I really cared about.

Then I started driving. Molly cried the ENTIRE trip, non-stop, every second or two. Some of her cries sounded like I was trying to murder her, while others sounded like she was gargling and meowing at the same time. She must have broken off most of her claws from trying to get out of the carrier, but thank GOD she didn't blow her bladder or worse.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Once we arrived at New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care (that's a mouthful!) Molly settled down. I brought her into an exam room and found out she weighs 16.8 pounds. I thought she was over 20.

Molly was frantically pacing the room, I'm guessing looking for an escape route, but between her pacing, she came over and said hello, let me pet her and she started to purr. I liked Molly a lot better out of her cat carrier!

Molly would be a great addition to any family. She seems pretty laid back as long as she's not in a car. If you're interested in Molly and live in CONNECTICUT, please contact Mary's Kitty Korner to find out how you can adopt this lovely lady.

That Which Doesn't Kill Us-Part Three

The first morning after Spencer's surgery I went over to his crate and opened the door so he could stretch his legs. I hated having to confine him, but it's only for a few days. There's a pen attached to his crate once the door is open. It gives him more space, but keeps him from running around. He's supposed to rest. He's supposed to wear that damn “cone of shame.” He's supposed to be feeling awful for a few days.

I started placing the dishes out onto the counter. I count to myself the numbers 1 through 9. I have enough plates. Next is to get the raw food thawed so I go over to the refrigerator and pull out a package of food that Sam made up a few days ago. I hear a weird sound and turn. I don't see anything so I go back to what I was doing but something caught my eye. It was Spencer. He was sitting in his “spot” where he usually waits to be fed. He looked up at me and gave me the ever-familiar silent meow, letting me know he was hungry. The sound I heard must have been him jumping over the pen when just the night before there was no way he could manage.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. “This is your cat on drugs.”

It would be a good hour before the food was warm and Jackson, too, was fussing about wanting to eat. Who am I to say no to them after the last day we had?

I grabbed a few cans of one of their favorite canned grain-free foods and scooped some out on a dish. I hid Spencer's antibiotics and Jackson's pile of pills into the food after I'd coated them in my favorite stuff-Flavor Doh. It really works to hide pills! I put the food down and within two seconds, pills and all, it was gone. Spencer ate normally for the first time in MONTHS. He'd been chewing out of once side of his mouth, a telltale sign of some sort of dental problem. Here he was, like nothing ever happened. Meanwhile, Jackson was chowing down, wanting more. I couldn't be happier.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Purple-buprenex-haze.

Later that morning, as I sat at my desk, Spencer ran over and jumped into his favorite cat bed which is at table top height and is right next to me. I was so glad to see him, even though he was supposed to be in his cage resting. He seemed very comfortable even though he was still on Buprenex and was a bit loopy. Blitzen and Nicky were also in my office fast asleep. I felt safe again with them here. I couldn't get over how dreadfully lost I felt without them less than 24 hours ago. We were a family again and everyone was basically okay.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson, back to his old self.

All that remained was to wait a few more days for Spencer's biopsy results to come in. I knew it was probably cancer. I just didn't know what kind it was or if we could treat it or if it would mean disfiguring Spencer to save his life.

I've said it many times before that my finances are in the shitter. Part of it was due to how much we spent trying to keep Bob Dole (my cat) alive, along with some other very costly Vet visits. I knew if Spencer had cancer I'd have a very very very hard time paying for his care. I would find a way, but when you're in a deep hole already, you don't have much energy or tools to dig deeper.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My lovely floor.

Meanwhile Jackson was back to his old ways. He was LOUD, meowing the second we went to bed, then starting up again very early in the morning. He wants his pills/snack at 7:20AM. I do not need an alarm clock with him. He's almost spritzed cat urine in the bedroom but I watch him like a hawk and have stopped him a number of times. It's exhausting. I don't know what it would take to get him to stop doing it. There's competition for the bedroom and he rarely stays the night. He's probably trying to scent the place so he can take over. Meanwhile it's pee pee pads by the front of the bed to protect the rug and a lot more policing then I'd like to do.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yummy goodness, but naughty boy.

Jackson is not deaf. He MAY be hearing impaired to some degree, but I'm not sure how severe it is. He CAN hear me, especially if I YELL at him to NOT PEE on the BED. As for more subtle sounds, he may have a problem. More testing needs to be done.

For now it's simply watch and wait—make sure everyone stays out of trouble, eats their food, takes their medicine. Spencer's been very good about not picking at his sutures and for that I continue to be happy.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer with the only Friskies I allow in the house.

I also have one more thing to be HAPPY about.

Lauren called from Dr. Larry's office. She asked me how Spencer was doing, then told me the biopsy results were in a FEW DAYS EARLY. I had NO TIME to ready myself for the news, but she sounded very cheerful so she was either a sociopath or had good news. Spencer's growth is BENIGN. It has “no content,” to which I interjected, “You mean like my life?” Lauren laughed. “It means it's NOT CANCER.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Soulful Jackson.

I could barely speak and I had to hold back my tears as I thanked her profusely and hung up the phone. I ran to Sam to tell him, the tears falling freely, before I could get the words out, leaving him to think it was the worst before he realized it was the BEST NEWS EVER!

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Not only was Spencer just fine and dandy, but the weight of worrying about how I would pay for his care lifted. What a great gift! It was completely unexpected and so very very sincerely appreciated. My boys were back home with me, just where they belong. I wanted to hold each one tight and never let them go.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me and my baby. It's going to be okay.

I may not have ever had human children, but I suddenly felt like I understood how the bond between a Mother and child-how it must feel to almost lose someone you love very much, then yank the back from the edge of the cliff at the very last second. It's been quite a week and this time we get a happy ending. I know it won't always be like this, but for now it's all good.

That Which Doesn't Kill Us…Part 2

Jackson made it to the Vet without dying, but he cried pitifully once we entered the waiting room and were met by two big dogs. I blocked Jackson from seeing them as much as I could, fighting off the urge to grab the dogs and run them out of the building and release them into the parking lot while their owners ignored their interest in my cat.

One of the Techs took Jackson into the back room. This time I wasn't invited to join them. She came back out and we discussed Jackson's symptoms. We'd noticed he was a bit off and on over the past few days, but he'd maintained his good appetite until that day. He'd regurgitated his food after eating two days ago, but other than that he was just a bit more quiet than usual.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At the Vet, now would he survive the Exam?

That was it. Now we wait. We wait for two cats who are at some risk of having a really bad day. I asked after Spencer, but they hadn't gotten his blood work back yet, which would either allow them to do his surgery of have to postpone it. Sam drove us home. Neither of us spoke a word. I closed my eyes and tried to rest. I realize stress is a killer and I have to work on how I deal with situations like this. What I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

When we got home, as I walked in the door, I stepped on my stupid-jeans again, re-igniting my irritation. If it hadn't been such a cold day I would have yanked them off then and there. Instead, I got to work and focused on keeping myself busy. I kept looking at the clock, trying to imagine what was being done.

Shortly after 2PM Dr. Larry called me. He's just finished working on Spencer and wanted to give me his findings.

Spencer's mouth was a MESS, his gums were like “hamburger meat.” Spencer needed two molars removed which were very difficult to get out. The other teeth looked remarkably good. I need to insert a note here that I've recently learned that the theory about WHY cat's teeth are SO BAD is because they no longer gnaw on food as they would if they were killing a mouse or chewing on a bone. They can't crunch dry food and canned is too soft. Since their teeth have no real pressure on them the blood supply is reduced, hence poor oral health. To solve this if you're like me, you'd give the cats raw chicken necks, wings or turkey necks or wings to give them something to sink their teeth into. NOT COOKED with brittle bones-just rinsed with cold water and served raw.

Dr. Larry removed the small wart on the back of Spencer's leg (that I discovered as I was loading him into his cat carrier that morning).

He removed the ugly black growth on Spencer's left ear and sent it out to be biopsied. He DID NOT remove the growth INSIDE Spencer's right ear-why? IT SHRANK. It was TOO SMALL to excise without a scope and a laser…

…and Dr. Larry didn't feel comfortable taking it now. We'll keep an eye on it instead.

The good news was that Spencer's blood work was “very good,” ”nothing remarkable.” Considering Spencer is about eleven years old, having good blood work results is something to be proud of-Go Raw Diet!

Dr. Larry offered to give Spencer a shot of Convenia to which I adamantly opposed. He doesn't like it for oral issues anyway so I'm to give Spencer Clindamycin for the next two weeks as well as give him pain meds for a few days. Spencer is to get cage rest and wear “the cone of shame” until “he doesn't need to any more.”

I HATE CONE OF SHAME, but not as much as Spencer does!

By 6PM Spencer was ready to come home, but what of Jackson? I hadn't had any update. I didn't even know if he was ALIVE. When we reached the Clinic the first thing we asked was; “Do we have one or two cats to bring home tonight?”

The answer was TWO.

Okay, good start. They brought Jackson out. He was sitting up, meowing loudly. He looked GOOD, perky, ready to go HOME. Dr. Mary did his examination and talked about how she worked hard not to upset Jackson, which also meant she couldn't do many tests other than an examination and get his temperature. She gave Jackson more lasix to help move the fluid out of his lungs and around his heart. Jackson sounded VERY WET when he coughed and I'd already spoken with Dr. Larry about changing the dose, but he wanted to wait. Cats don't do that well on diuretics so adding more has to be done very soberly and thoughtfully.

After the injection, Jackson took a big pee, then perked up. Because his lungs are really wet and they could be breeding bacteria, she also gave him antibiotics (which I will continue for two weeks). We discussed changing Jackson's meds and will work something out there. For now he was to go HOME, get something in his belly and see how he does.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feel beter, Jackson Galaxy!

The one thing they wanted to add was something quite surprising-JACKSON MAY BE HEARING IMPAIRED OR DEAF!

It would answer the question of why he yowls just as we go to bed each night. He can't hear where we went off to and wonders where we've gone. He may be causing fights with the other cats because he can't hear their cues/warnings to get away. I said we'd observe him and report back. My goodness Jackson's certainly keeping me on my toes.

They brought Spencer out and he was growling a little bit, clearly whacked out on painkillers. They forgot to give me the cone of shame and I silently hoped he wouldn't pick on his stitches. Ears can bleed a lot and if he messed with the stitches I'd have to get one on him right away. He can get very crabby. Having to cage rest him for a few days would be asking too much of him already.

I had my boys back home and I hoped they were changed for the better. It was back to watch and wait to find out if they'd benefited some long term positive results. I had a better idea of what I was dealing with and they both survived the day.

I made the right call about Jackson. Who knew how bad his condition would have become if we hadn't acted so quickly? Jackson probably would have drowned in his own fluids. I guess it wasn't so crazy to run him to the Vet because he missed a single meal.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer in his pen with Blitzen wondering what's going on.

Once home, I was finally able to take off my annoying jeans and toss them into the laundry. Next stop the dry cleaners to get the dammed things hemmed up or maybe dig out some duct tape to do the job?

But what happened once Spencer was back home? Did he blow his stitches out and bleed all over my ancient oriental rug? What about Jackson? Did he relapse? Is he really deaf?

Stay tuned for part three!

The Sweet Farewell-Bandit & Honeydew

An email came in on the local rescue list asking for help for a pregnant cat. The woman who found the stray was willing to do what it took to help this cat survive, but she really needed a good rescue group to step up and make certain any kittens were placed in good homes. It was one of those situations where I got a feeling I needed to reach out to this person. She wasn't looking to dump a problem on a rescue, leaving them to pay for all the vet care and related costs. She was willing to partner with a rescue so this cat and her kittens had a chance to live a good life-she even offered to adopt the mom after the kittens were weaned.

©2012 Donna Masi. Winnie, a friendly stray who was rescued by Donna and taken on into the foster care program of Kitten Associates.

I exchanged a few emails with this lady, her name is Donna. I immediately knew this woman was going to be great to work with, instead of a drain on my financial and emotional resources. Donna was easy going, well-versed in cat care…REALLY knowledgeable but she hadn't been around a mama cat or kittens for a very long time. I promised to give her support as long as she could give this mama a place to live indoors for the next eight weeks, at least.

©2012 Donna Masi. Five kittens. None died. All healthy, happy and thriving-a true blessing for all of us.

We had to overcome a few hurdles, like what to do about fleas without endangering the newborns. What to do about getting the kittens letterbox trained? What to wean them with? There were many questions, but for the first time in a long time I (for the most part) knew what to tell her.

©2012 Donna Masi. Bandit, just two weeks old.

Winnie, the mom-cat, gave birth on August 10, 2012 to five healthy kittens. Donna and her husband, Paul had the job of carefully handling each kitten, monitoring their weights and giving them loads of love. What I couldn't know then was just how GOOD they were at their jobs.

©2012 Donna Masi. Honeydew at two weeks.

Both Donna and her husband, Paul were so easy to work with it was a dream come true. They never pushed back about anything I asked. They never challenged me, but they did offer some opinions, which were all very sound. They fussed and fretted over the kittens and because they were home most days, they could spend plenty of time with them.

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©2012 Donna Masi. Almost a month old already and look at that face!

By the time the first few kittens were ready to came here, they were all very social and friendly. Each one was sweet, adorable and charming. One by one they got adopted. Charly, first, then Buttons. Pinky was going to stay behind with Donna, she just couldn't let her go. Bandit and Honeydew were the last two of the litter and they've been living with Sam and me for a few weeks.

©2012 Donna Masi. And a few weeks later the face we know and love.

The second I put the kittens on Petfinder, my inbox was full of inquiries about Bandit. Honeydew had no interest at all. The focus was on Bandit-and truthfully, I was not surprised. Bandit is tiny for her age, adorable, friendly, playful, affectionate. For a cat who's only 16 weeks old, she WANTS to sleep ON ME. Will come running to me if I call her. She'll climb into my arms while I'm sitting at my desk, oblivious to the fact that I have to work, she just wants to purr and be loved.

©2012 Donna Masi. Honeydew already looking long-legged.

I realize Bandit won't be with me for very long so I indulge her. I let her relax, stretch out belly up, completely trusting me as she falls into a deep sleep. I lean my chair back and adjust her so she doesn't fall off me. Where our bodies touch, it gets very warm. Being cold in my house, it's a nice change to feel the warmth. I cradle her in my arms until they get stiff and my back hurts from sitting awkwardly.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Bandit arrives at my house and I worry I won't be able to let this kitten leave!

I don't care about the pain. It will pass. In time Bandit will awaken and want to play. Both her energy and that of her brother, Honeydew, fill the house. They had no problem adjusting to living with my nine cats. They thread themselves between the others as they race through the living room. They climb up the eight foot tall cat tree and peer over the top. They wrestle and writhe over each other. They get up and race up the stairs. Some of my own cats react by getting energized, too. I've seen Spencer actually PLAYING for the first time in years.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. With her clean squirrel (private joke).

There's something intoxicating about them, their exuberance, their joy. I can't frown when they're nearby. I can't be upset when they climb my pant leg, hungry for their next meal.

Everything in my home seems to be charmed, vibrating from their glee. They're not just kittens, they're more than that. They're sprites, sprinkling happy dust all over my house.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Back with her squirrel a week later.

I knew our days were numbered when I got an application for not just Bandit, but for Honeydew, as well. I did the Vet check and they describe the person as "perfect in every way." I talked to her on the phone. She was very nice, very excited, clearly already in love with both kittens.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Once out of the confines of my bathroom, these two took over the house, claiming the big old cat tree in the living room for naps and frolicking.

Being the protective foster mom, I challenged her about her two dogs and her very young son. I said I'd be willing to go to the next step-the home visit, but I couldn't promise anything just yet. She was cheerful and friendly and looking forward to the visit.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Zzz.

On Sunday morning Sam and I visited her home and met her dogs and their 21 year old cat, Bubba, who is deaf, but in very good condition. The dogs were well behaved and friendly. Neither were bothered by the cat or vice versa. We discussed that the kittens would benefit from a cat tree and certain other things. They showed me what they already purchased and were open-minded enough to listen to my comments and suggestions. In a way, I wanted to find something wrong so I didn't have to give up the kittens just yet, but that's not fair to them, so I told them the next thing would be for them to meet the kittens and possibly do the adoption.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Look at those legs. He's going to be a big kitty one day.

That night I got home and checked my email. They wrote saying they were going to build a cat tree, but changed their mind and found one on sale and what did I think about it? They sent a photo and I laughed. The cat tree was HUGE, dwarfing a good part of their sliding glass door. That they did this AND took up such valuable real estate impressed me a lot. Now all I had to do was meet the little boy and hope he was not a terror with the kittens.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Afternoon chillax.

They arrived last night. The son was all excited, his cheeks pink from anticipation. The woman, her boyfriend and son entered the house and smiled, looking around at the odd decor, then quickly spotting Bandit, they entered my office and began to pet her. She'd just woken up from a nap and wanted to play. The lithe boy walked around the living room wide-eyed seeing all the cats. He went over to Petunia to pet her, but he went slowly and seeing her tense up, he told her it was okay and he wouldn't hurt her. His mom warned him to be careful, but he didn't need any warnings. He slowly touched Petunia. At first she stiffened, then quickly softened against his hand. When I saw that, I was done for. Petunia rarely ever lets strangers, let alone a child touch her. She's very anxious, even though friendly, she usually runs off when she sees someone unfamiliar.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. With Gizmo (who is keeping Honeydew from nursing on his sister!).

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Furry paperweight being spied on by the DOOD.

I went upstairs and pried Honeydew out of my bed. He was fast asleep so I whispered to him it was time to meet his family and to do a good job.

He raced down the stairs and started to play with the young boy and his family. Bandit joined in and the giggles and gasps of joy began.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Honeydew growing up fast.

It's easy to take for granted what it's like to live with kittens when you do it most of the time, but watching people who either never have been around them or haven't been so for decades reminded me of how precious these times are.

With every leap or silly step, the boy laughed and the mom followed suit. Her boyfriend was engaged with the cats and kept a close eye on the boy making sure he didn't step on a cat or misbehave (he was a really good boy!).

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Sleeping with Gizmo.

The kittens showed very well and everyone seemed to like each other. I knew it was a done deal and asked them what they thought. They all agreed they would love to adopt Bandit and Honeydew.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. I've never known a kitten who was so great at posing for the camera. I love her little gray toe spot!

We walked over to the table to go over the paperwork and sign the contract. Everything went smoothly. I took a few photos and kissed the kittens goodbye. I didn't cry when they left because I really liked this family and thought it was a good match. It's vital for me to move cats OUT of my house due to the behavior issues my own cats have. I MUST take a break, too. It's been YEARS since I had one. I can be rational and logical, but I also know if I DO think about Bandit being gone, it WILL HURT a lot. When I walk through my bedroom and see all the toys scattered on the floor it makes me sad. I pick each one up and put it away. I know there are no cats who will want to play with them since they only seemed to be enjoyed by the kittens.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Squirrel!

As I pick up each toy, I imagine the kittens playing, racing around. The sight of Bandit's back end when she runs, the spot on each of her back leg bouncing up and down. Everything about this litter of kittens makes me laugh when I think about them. They each gave me so much joy.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Why I can't get my work done today.

But it was Bandit who really got to me, Bandit who seemed to love me, running up to me with her tail held high. Looking into my eyes with her soulful face. It was all I could do to not look away and try not to be seduced…to come up with a reason why she needed to stay. There were so many reasons, but I told myself I needed to just enjoy this time. Enjoy it, cherish it, treasure it, then let it go. It would be okay. All the love that Donna and Paul, then Sam and I put into these cats were coming right back tenfold and would keep coming back to their new family now.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Just another day looking cuter than ever.

This is how love works. You just give it away with all that you have and stay confident that it will return to you.

With Bandit, cradling her in my arms the last night, as she slept belly up, stretched out and content, I told her I loved her and would miss her very much. I thanked her for giving me joy during times that have been very sad. I told her she was leaving and going to live with her forever family now. She reached out her paw, the one with the sweet gray spot on the toe and touched my nose. She opened her eyes and looked at me with love. And in that moment, she took her place in my heart where she will live forever.

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©2012 Robin A.F Olson. The kittens with their new family-together always. Congratulations and best wishes to all!

From Meh to Meow: Tater Tot

The day has come at last. We begin with the end of the story. Adoption. The time to say farewell to our foster cat, Tater Tot. Along this journey, there were many fear-filled weeks when I wondered if this tale had any chance of ending with happy tears.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The goofy big lug we'll never forget.


Tater's rescue began when our uber-foster-mom-Maria spotted kittens in her neighbor's yard. It was a hot summer day in Georgia, too hot for tiny kittens to be in the sun. Seeing such tiny kittens gave Maria pause. She knew her neighbor wasn't paying much, if any, attention to the many offspring of his unsprayed female cats. Each year he promised to do something about it, giving Maria lip-service, saying some of the cats were placed with friends and the others "he would get around to fixing" one of these days. Maria offered to help, but she had to tread lightly. In the meantime, the cats continued to give birth to more litters.

©2012 Maria S. Too weak to stand, our first glimpse of Tater Tot.

She asked me if we could take the kittens into our Program and I agreed, in some way grateful they weren't coming from the local kill shelter we usually get our cats. At least these kittens wouldn't have upper respiratory infections, which is so common in shelter cats.

In total we planned to help ten cats from this one home. On one of the rescue days, two of the kittens were gone, never to be seen again. The remaining cats, two mamas and six kittens became Kitten Associates' wards.

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©2012 Maria S. Not happy about getting a bath, but Tater was full of fleas.

What I didn't plan on was how SICK these kittens would be. As Maria fired off photos to me 1000 miles away, she was assessing how serious the situation was. A buff tabby kitten was laying on the pavement, barely able to stand. He was riddled with fleas. His left eye was swollen. He was grossly underweight.

This is how he was being "cared" for by the neighbor—with indifference.

©2012 Maria S. Our sick sweetheart.

Maria spent weeks sleeping on a tiny cot in the room with Tater and his sister, Latte. I was going crazy from the stress, jumping if the chime on my iPhone indicated I'd gotten a text message or if Maria called me. From afar I did as much as I could. I did research, spent money on weird homeopathic treatments, did fundraisers for more and more Vet visits because this kitten was VERY VERY SICK.

In the end, it boiled down to our worst fear-that Tater had FIP, a deadly virus.

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©2012 Maria S. Another trip to the Vet.

We tried to prepare ourselves for the worst. I had the difficult task of asking Maria if she could be with Tater if I had to make the choice to have him euthanized. The Vet was fairly sure it WAS FIP and over the first week of July we watched Tater fade…

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©2012 Maria S. Getting used to car rides.

…until Maria saw that he had tapeworm and that changed everything.

Tater ended up having coccidia, tapeworm and a serve URI, at least.

The parasites bloated his abdomen, just as we would expect to see from the "wet" form of FIP. Once we began treatment, Tater began to improve.

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©2012 Maria S. This time we fear we'll be getting very bad news.

Over the weeks Tater's condition waxed and wanted. He finally began to have more good days than bad, but his left eye continued to run and his breathing was very loud. Tater also retained his big belly which made him look pregnant and was an odd mix with his long, skinny tail.

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©2012 Maria S. With new medications on board, Tater finally sleeps comfortably in Maria's lap.

As Tater grew stronger, his personality began to shine. He'd been handled so much by Maria that nothing phased him. He just wanted to be loved and enjoy life.

He was finally well enough to be transported to my home, along with his cohorts and sibling a few months later.

©2012 Maria S. Feeling better, growing bigger!

I remember seeing Tater for the first time in person. I gasped when I saw him. His eyes were the color of ripe pumpkins and so large and round. With his angular face it gave him a comical look. Tater also made funny noises almost constantly. He was confident, friendly and wanted OUT of the big dog crate we used for the transport. I knew I was going to enjoy my time with this stunning, yet silly cat and couldn't wait to get him home.

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©2012 Maria S. With buddy, Sammy, one of Maria's cats.

Tater's been here for four months. I haven't gotten a single adoption application for him. No one wanted him. I couldn't imagine why. Over the months I've come to know Tater as a real charmer, laid back, anything goes. He got on well with all the other cats. Nothing phased him. Life was good. The sad thing was that Tater never stopped sneezing and his eye wouldn't heal properly, either.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillin' in Connecticut.

We invested in a PCR DNA test of Tater's mucus and determined it was mycoplasma, which is a bacterial parasitic microorganism. We started treatment and he got better right away. After 30 days we stopped for two days and he began to get sick again, so we went for another 30 days (which will be done just before Christmas).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Growing big and strong.

Initially it was Willow who was supposed to be adopted three days ago. A family came to meet her and it went well, but it was Tater they had eyes for-Tater was "the one" for them. Though I tried to convince them to adopt Tater and Willow, they wanted to start slow and just adopt the one cat.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Realizing it's tougher to get off the ground the bigger you are.

This one cat who was near death in the road last June is going to live in a 5000 sq ft plus sized home with his own "in-law suite" to start, then full access to the house. Tater will have big windows to watch birdies. He'll have two little girls to be friends with. Tater's Mom and Dad are doctors and I may have been pushy, but I made his Mom promise me that she'd stay on top of Tater's health issues and that his runny eyes and sneezing would be taken care of right away. She easily agreed and had no problem continuing Tater's medication and making sure he was fed a good grain-free canned diet for the rest of his life.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Tater's family.

Although I wish Tater would have a kitty-friend, he may yet, one day. Until then he'll have plenty of human friends who will love him and protect him, just as Maria and I did. They will continue our good work and will keep him safe. They will care for him, not with indifference, but with loving kindness and respect.

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Tater Tot was our first poster boy in a series we did based on before and after rescue images showing what we do best. You can visit Kitten Associates to learn more about our programs.

A few of the backstories about Tater are
HEREand HERE. If you do a search for "Tater" here on Covered in Cat Hair, you can read even more about him.

The Mysterious Case of What Ails Bandit

I was finally well enough to sit at my desk and try to string together a few cohesive thoughts. Three days of a cliché cold: sore throat, stuffy head, lungs loaded and tight were in the rear view mirror now. The only thing remaining was the kind of headache that makes you wish you didn't have a head. I couldn't spend another day in bed watching episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs on my small iPad screen. I would muddle along.

I tried to catch up on e-mails and sort out what I needed to get done. I didn't want to do too much right away because relapse is not an option, especially this time of year. As I sat at my desk, the late morning sun was bright and warmed my feet. Cats came and went, searching for the prime spot to nap away the afternoon. I heard Bandit and Honeydew running around the house, chasing each other, wrestling, but eventually they, too, couldn't resist my warm office full of soft cat beds.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit keeps me company while I'm in bed with a cold.

I happened to glance down to my left. Bandit was belly up, apparently asleep. She was trembling. Amused, I thought she was dreaming, but her movements weren't the quirky-jerky shifts I've seen other cats do. I shot a video of her, at first trying not to wake her, then worried something was wrong. I woke her up and she was still shaking. I wondered if she was cold so I cradled her in my arms as her body continued to quake.

I petted her and talked to her. For a second or two she'd stop, then start up again. She seemed sleepy so I sat back in my chair and held her, falling ever deeper in love with this tiny little kitten. She's half the size of her brother and light as a feather. She would wake slightly, but the shaking didn't stop. I called the Vet and they said to watch her, keep her warm, let them know if it keeps going on.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. If you're not in love with Bandit there's something wrong with you.

I called out to Sam and the two of us began to set up a heated bed for her. I worried she was feverish so I took her temperature. It was 100.6°F which is normal.

Bandit seemed to be perfectly all right, except for the fact that her entire body was shaking.

After fifteen minutes passed, with Bandit still shaking, I called my Vet again. They could see her at 5pm. It was barely 12:30pm. Something in my gut said not to wait. I asked if I could bring her and leave her in case they could see her sooner and they agreed, offering I could see Dr. Mary right away if I didn't want to wait to see Dr. Larry.


As I raced to the Vet, I started to run through what could be troubling Bandit. Was she fighting off an infection? Was a toxin coursing through her? Did she get hurt? I said a silent prayer for Bandit to please be all right. Not Bandit. Not this sweet angel of a kitten. I also hoped this wouldn't cost too much. Our finances aren't the best and I knew too well how one Vet visit could easily break the bank.

Thankfully it was quiet at my Vet's office. They immediately took Bandit in the back room to check her temperature. It had gone up to 101.4°F which is still normal, but on the rise. I felt panicked and weak. I realized I hadn't eaten anything and my stomach growled loudly. I didn't care about eating, but the stress and low blood sugar was making me feel faint.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit appeared to be dreaming, but then I realized she was awake and shaking badly. I rushed her to the Vet shortly after this was shot.

Dr. Mary and Super Deb began a careful examination. Dr. Mary talked about everything she was doing and what she was or wasn't finding. “Her heart and lungs sound normal. I'm palpating her abdomen and she's not complaining so there's no pain there. I don't feel anything abnormal.” Dr. Mary continued on as Super Deb comforted Bandit and kept her from wiggling off the table. She put Bandit on the floor and we watched her walk. I called to her and she ran over to me with her tail up high.

We were all confused by how well she seemed until she was at rest, then the tremors would start again. First, her feet would shake, then her abdomen. Her head would shake because the rest of her body was shaking. She looked up at us with the most innocent expression-one of complete helplessness. It was heartbreaking.


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

They ran a complete blood panel and re-did her snap test. I sat in the waiting room with my heart pounding. Every time a door opened I jumped-wondering what the news would reveal. Those fifteen minutes passed, taking a few years off my life as I worried. When Dr. Mary came to discuss the results I almost jumped out of my skin.

The results had minor “blips” of outside the normal range, but Dr. Mary said it was nothing to worry about and something she'd expect to see on a growing kitten's blood work. Bandit's snap test was negative (again) for Feline Leukemia and FIV.



So what was going on?


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Super Deb comforts Bandit.

Dr. Mary began researching toxins. The only thing I could think of were a few plants-none were an issue and an open (empty) bottle of Dayquil that I remembered I'd left on the counter. Dr. Mary was very worried about that and said that the blood work wouldn't show if Bandit had been poisoned, depending on what she ingested and when. My heart sank. Surely this kitten wasn't going to DIE?!

We discussed everything from epilepsy to birth defects to the dry form of FIP. Red-faced, I told her that earlier that morning Bandit almost jumped into an open toilet and I'd had no other choice but to pin her against the vanity with my leg to keep her from falling in. I felt terrible. Did I cause her internal damage? What the HELL was going on?

I had to leave Bandit with Dr. Mary. They gave her pain meds and sub q fluids. Dr. Mary felt if she could calm Bandit down and soothe her pain she would stop shaking, then hopefully it would not resume once the pain meds wore off. If not, Bandit would have to see a neurologist and get a CT scan. I knew if that happened we were done for-the costs-$1200 to $1400 just for the scan. Bandit had to get better.

It was a long afternoon. I kept running things over in my head. What did I do? What did she get into? Facebook friends gave suggestions or left supportive comments, praying for Bandit to be ok.

I had the difficult task of calling Donna, Bandit's rescuer and first foster mama to tell her the news. I knew she'd be just as upset as I was and I struggled, trying to be calm and not burst into tears. She took the news well, but I knew it was killing her, too.


Dr. Mary called shortly before 6pm. She said that Bandit responded well and she'd seen Bandit shake only once as she was re-taking her temperature. It was time to bring Bandit home and see how she did.


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bandit says goodbye the to the staff at Dr. Larry's.

I felt so happy and light, not bothered by anything as I drove along the crowded highway, a journey I've probably taken a thousand times over the years. This was a good trip. I couldn't wait to see Bandit. I got to the Clinic, smiling and anxious. One of the staff told me that Dr. Mary wanted to talk to me. I said I'd just spoken to her on the phone and she said she knew that, but that the doctor still wanted to talk about something. My heart sank.

I went in the back room where only staff were usually allowed. The walls are lined with varying sizes of stainless steel cages. It's brightly lit and spotlessly clean. I zeroed in on Bandit. She was far off to the left, curled up on a heated pad in the back of her 2' x 2' cage.

Dr. Mary's face said it all-Bandit had started shaking again and was no better. I could still take her home, but if she didn't get better by morning, she'd have to see a neurologist. Something was terribly wrong with Bandit. We just didn't know what it was.


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After a long, difficult day, finally some rest.

Whatever joy I may have felt evaporated into the frosty night air. The drive home in the darkness did nothing to soothe either myself or Bandit, who cried, desperate to get out of her carrier. We set up a dog crate for her, hoping she would rest and do nothing else. I offered her a litter pan and she peed away all the sub q fluids. I gave her something to eat and she didn't hesitate to enjoy her dinner. I shut the door to the crate and she sat there, mild tremors coursing through her body. I resigned myself to it being a long night and began my hyper-vigilant watch of her every move.

Over the next hour or two it was clear that Bandit was not happy being confined. Each time I opened the crate door she'd slip past me and dash around the living room. I decided to bring her to my bedroom and close the door so I could watch her and she'd have space to move around and not feel stressed. I offered her toys and she wanted to play. She jumped on the bed. She chased her brother, then her brother chased her. She wouldn't sit still long enough for me to see if she was shaking. She seemed like her old self, yet I couldn't believe she was suddenly just fine.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.


Somewhere near midnight Bandit jumped on the bed and laid down, finally tired. As she began to doze off, I shot another video. It's not very exciting, but to me it was worthy of an Oscar. Bandit wasn't shaking-not even a toe.


I didn't want to believe it, but she seemed fine. This morning she was playful, hungry and just as loving as ever. As I sat at my desk, trying to put this story together, she climbed into my arms, fussing about until she found a comfortable position. I cradled her just as I had a day before, but this time the only vibration I felt was from her deep, blissful purr.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This morning with Bandit in my arms.

Giving Tuesday

With all the shopping madness ramping up and the rush to get ready for the Holidays, it's lovely that organizations who really need the help, have their chance today with Giving Tuesday.

My Non-profit rescue group, Kitten Associates, has been blessed with an early number of donations of food, treats and toys that came in after we broke the news about our Amazon Wishlist two weeks ago.

There's still LOADS of things we really need and the list grows weekly. We blow through food at an amazing pace and toys have to be discarded to prevent spreading diseases between the groups of foster kitties.


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Simply click here or on the graphic, above, to be whisked away to our Amazon Wishlist.

What I love about our Wishlist is it allows YOU to choose what we get and there are items at just about every price point. We'd love your help and you'll see, below, how our kittens feel about your donations, too!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah! This is WAY bigger than what we even asked for! Yipee!


There are few feelings that are as precious as giving help to someone who needs it. Thank you for helping us be part of Giving Tuesday. I hope you'll enjoy the special video I created to honor today.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Not even the DOOD is sure how to put it together, though.

This is a riot!

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.



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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The energy in the room increased tenfold after the cat tree was in place. The kittens LOVE IT! Thank you Tereza & Larry for donating it to us!



Last year I reviewed Mike Bender and Doug Chernack's wonderfully warped book, Awkward Family Pet Photos which hit the market on the heels of their New York Times Bestselling book: Awkward Family Photos.

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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. Pretty in Pink..and blue and purple?

Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Wall Calendar

This year the purveyors of preposterous are back, just in time for the Holidays, sporting a dazzling duo of 2013 Calendars. One is a well designed, colorful, 12-month Wall Calendar whose message, “Celebrating the Special Bond Between People and Their Pets” is achieved in the most twisted and sometimes downright creepy fashion. Each month celebrates a particular species. The year begins with dogs. In April, they celebrate bunnies or animals dressed a bunnies. One month features monkeys but I won't spoil it by telling you which month it is. Can you guess which one it is?

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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. I hope they get matching cars one day, too.

I'd like to know the criteria Bender and Chernack use to choose their photos. The process must be a delicate one, walking the fine line between photos that make you shudder with delight versus photos that are simply vintage images including pets.

Perhaps they have an inner guidance system that recognizes they're on the right track when scrutinizing a family's precious photos? They might wonder aloud; “Why did they do that to their hair?” or “Did they really wear that sweater with the image of the cat rear ends on it, then send it out as their Holiday card?”

If Bender and Chernack ask themselves “What were they thinking?” I'm guessing it seals the deal and the photo is accepted into their collection.

Clearly the people and pets featured in this calendar never asked themselves these sorts of questions and we are all the richer for it.

©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. Well said.

The beauty in projects like Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Calendar is that it reminds us that we're not as cool as we think we are. Everyone has a photo (or in my case albums full) tucked in a drawer somewhere they'd rather no one else ever see… and no, I don't mean that kind of photo!


Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Day-to-Day Calendar

If you can't get enough Awkward Family Pet Photos, then check out the 365 days of screwy-louie-weirdness in their 2013 Day-to-Day Calendar. Each day reveals a new image of the curiously clueless. I love it. Unlike some desk calendars, this one is in full color so you can appreciate the awkwardness even more. The only thing lacking is that it should be in 3-D and come with a pair of glasses. Maybe they'll do that next year?

9781449420475 3d.jpg©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC.


If you'd like to WIN a copy of “Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Day to Day Calendar” simply leave a comment below and tell us about an awkward moment (with pets). Increase your odds by emailing me an awkward pet photo at Share your awkward photo if you dare! ONE comment or photo will be selected to WIN! You can only email me ONE photo for one chance to win OR make ONE COMMENT HERE describing an awkward family photo. Voting ends NOVEMBER 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA, only (sorry guys-licensing issues!). Rules subject to change without notice.


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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. I want to see the photo that was taken 30 seconds after this one.

Oh, and make sure you check out May 16th if you get a copy of the Day to Day Calendar…I'm just sayin'...


In honor of Awkward Family Pet Photos, I thought I'd share a special one with you from my archives.

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©1992 Judith K. Feminella. My dad in his underwear reading the Sunday paper---if Blue the cat will let him.

If you want an even bigger Awkward Family Pet Photos fix, visit their Webby Award winning web site HERE or Like them on Facebook and let them know Covered in Cat Hair sent you!


After careful consideration, from time to time I write a product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.


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