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The Best Worst Thing Ever. Fire at Animalkind.

Late in the evening of May 1, 2012, on the third floor apartment where a caretaker lived, a small fire broke out due to the hot embers of a cigarette coming into contact with bedding. The fire was extinguished before the fire department even arrived. The building didn't burn to the ground, but something equally terrible occurred. The building-wide sprinkle system was activated, releasing a torrent of water, not light rain showers, but a flood of water throughout the building.

On the second, first and basement levels lived the cats of Animalkind, a non-profit cat shelter located in Hudson, New York. Most of the cats were allowed to freely roam their adoption areas. Terrified from the onslaught of water, the cats climbed onto the horizontal vents from the brand new $50,000 HVAC system that was installed to control the spread of disease. The cats huddled in the rafters, terrified; but what was worse was the fate awaiting the most fragile of the cats—the mamas and kittens. They were in the basement and all the water from the floors above pooled there, inches deep. The families weren't free to escape, they were in cages, trapped in the water at risk of drowning.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Still lovely, the exterior of Animalkind.

No one perished. No cats died. In that, it was a miracle, but the building was gutted. The once pink and yellow cheerful walls of Animalkind were soaked, ruined, crumbling to the floor. The joy that had filled the building, all the years of hard work and loving care, vanished in a matter of hours. The building that once held 150 cats was destroyed.

As early as 2am Katrin Hecker, the Director and Founder of Animalkind, her volunteers, staff and residents of Hudson, New York, gathered together and quickly began to capture as many cats as they could.

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. Moving the cats into their new location.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a local merchant, The Warren Inn, a nearby hotel, turned its' office space into a temporary shelter space. It was just a few steps away from Animalkind's headquarters. Cages were assembled and cats were tagged and given a place to recover their shock. Many cats needed to go into temporary foster homes and people throughout the area opened their doors. The townsfolk jumped into action along with everyone from Animalkind. Though heartbreaking, the staff was buoyed by the support.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The irony of the sign on the bottom of the window isn't lost on me.

In the following days, amazing things happened. Cats who'd been at AK for YEARS were getting adopted. Adoptions on the whole went way up. About 60 cats found homes right away. Folks started to show up from out of the blue to help any way they could. As the news spread, I heard about this terrible tragedy. In an odd coincidence, I'd been only a few miles from the fire delivering Leo to Animalkind's neighbor, Aslan's Sanctuary.

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. The basement.

Like so many other people, the devastation bothered me deeply. I couldn't imagine how any rescue could recover from such a loss. I'm just one person. What could I do to help?

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. One of the shelter spaces, empty of cats, filled with water.

I got in touch with Animalkind and Bob Mechling, a Designer and key member of the shelter, got back to me right away. I asked him what they needed and told him I'd do what I could to help him get it. I couldn't believe I was saying those words. I don't have two sticks to rub together, but in my heart I knew that after all these years of blogging and writing pet product reviews that somewhere I MUST know someone who could help me scrounge up a few donations.

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logo-01.gif and Halo come to the rescue!

World's Best Cat Litter-YOU ROCK!

I got to work. Within a few days and after many phone calls I got the logistics worked out. Right away, Kelly Ausland of and said he would be delighted to help with a donation of 350 bags of kibble from Halo. He wasn't doing this for a write-up on my blog or a pat on the back. He sincerely was concerned and wanted to help.

Next up were my associates at World's Best Cat Litter, who also did not hesitate to help once I alerted them to the problem. I was very impressed by how quickly they jumped into action! Now the cats had a supply of food and litter coming in the door. I reached out to a few other companies, but sadly they were not able to offer any assistance.


If you'd like to help put a smile on the faces of shelter cats in your town, you can get a SPECIAL DISCOUNT of 10% off on any size case of Stretch and Scratch scratchers, plus you get reduced shipping. Use CODE: CATS to get the discount! If you'd like to gift AnimalKind more scratchers (they LOVE THEM), please go HERE to get their shipping information:

I also reached into my own fairly empty pockets and ordered two cases of Stretch and Scratch cat scratchers. I knew that the cats would be stressed out in cages and having something to scratch could make a world of difference to their well being.

©2012 Animalkind. Used with permission. The Adoption Room circa 2004..

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Welcome to the Adoption Room 2012.

As Animalkind began the difficult work of assessing the damage and speaking with their insurance company, things got very busy for my little rescue. I didn't hear much from Katrin, but she was never far from my thoughts.

Recently, I made the 100 mile trip north to meet Katrin and Bob and see how things were going. What I saw broke my heart and compelled me to do more.

Animalkind still needs help. In some ways, things are worse now than ever. In part two I'll share what I learned during my visit and introduce you to some VERY special cats.

Update on Leo

I'm thrilled to let you know that on Thursday Leo had the surgery he's needed for a few months. Until recently, he wasn't well enough for the procedure to repair his inverted eyelashes. This happened due to the most hideous, horrible upper respiratory infection I have ever seen. It sealed his eyes closed, then MOSS grew over his closed eyes. We don't know how long he suffered like that, but are ever so glad this friendly stray was rescued and given proper Vet care.

©2012 Hilary Harris. Used with permission. Leo after his surgery.

Leo is positive for Feline Leukemia which also makes every procedure a bit more risky. Now that Leo is on the mend we couldn't be happier.

Leo wouldn't have had a chance if not for the loving care he receives at Aslan's Sanctuary in upstate New York. Aslan's is one of the few sanctuaries that takes on Feline Leukemia positive cats. They are in short supply of just about everything you can think of so if you'd like to thank them for what they do for Leo and others, you can donate HERE.

I had the privilege of transporting Leo to Aslan's and he certainly left a paw print on my heart. If you want to know Leo's backstory and see him before he got any treatment, read my post HERE and follow up, HERE.

Way to go, Hilary and HURRAY FOR LEO!

The Kindness of Strangers

A woman named Donna lives in a nearby town. She loves her cats and always provides them with the best care possible. Like so many people have reported this year, Donna suddenly discovered she had a friendly pregnant cat visiting her yard and was concerned about what to do.

©2012 Donna M. Winnie.

This is Winnie. She usually lives at a home nearby Donna. Winnie got pregnant and had a litter of kittens, then another. Winnie is pregnant for the third time, but this time it will be different. Donna spoke with her neighbor about spaying and neutering and instead of arguing that the neighbor was doing a bad thing by leaving her cat intact, she simply offered to get Winnie spayed after her next kittens were weaned. Winnie's guardian agreed that it needed to be done.

©2012 Donna M. Babies on board.

What Donna wasn't sure of was what to do with the kittens once they arrived and how to keep them all safe and not put any of her own dear cats at risk of picking up any diseases or vice versa. I found out about Donna's situation and thought about what I could do to help. Clearly, this wasn't the sort of person I usually run into-the kind that wants to dump a problem on a rescue, offers no other support and wants them gone. No. Donna wanted to help, to contribute and to make the entire rescue much easier on whoever helped.

©2012 Donna M. Winnie and kitten number one.

What she really wanted was a reliable way to get the kittens adopted into good homes instead of putting them on Craigslist, which is not allowed in the first place and which is dangerous to do. Those listings can be answered by anyone and adopters aren't screened so the cats could be given away to labs for testing or for other nefarious purposes.

©2012 Donna M. Welcome to the world little ones!

Donna worked out that Winnie would have a home no matter what, but that if she could have guidance and eventually have the kittens go into foster care, that's what would be best and I agreed. If Donna could provide a home for now, I'd work on finding a foster home or hope, pray, beg that enough of my own foster cats would get adopted by the time Winnie's were ready to find their homes.

©2012 Donna M. Teenie tinies!

Five kittens were born on August 10th-little gray and white cow patterned kittens and one who's black and tabby cow patterned. So far they're all doing well and Winnie, no surprise, is a great mama. On Wednesday I've offered to have Winnie seen by one of our Vets to get tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV, to be checked for fleas, get de-wormed and have all the kittens examined to make sure they're all doing well, too. With any luck, everyone will be just fine and we can focus on giving Winnie great nutrition so she can support her offspring. Snap testing mama cats always distresses me, but it must be done.

©2012 Donna M. Kitten pile!

This lucky family found safe harbor under the roof of a loving couple and although they are a bit nervous about having such small wards, I'll be offering advice and doing some hand-holding as was done for me so many years ago when I first started fostering mamas and their kittens.


©2012 Donna M. It doesn't get any cuter than this.

In two months (or possibly sooner) we'll need a foster home for these kittens.

If you live in or near Newtown, CT, please contact me at for more information on how to be a foster home. It's really fun. It's not a big time commitment and you're saving lives!

I want to thank Donna for doing the right thing for this family and for not turning her back on them or trying to dump them on a floundering rescue with no resources. Your willingness to take on this responsibility makes my job so much easier and lets me stretch my limited resources a bit further.

If only everyone who found a pregnant cat was so devoted to their care!

Meet Milo!

Boogie has two brothers, Otis and Milo. They all lived in a kennel at my Vet's Office. Dr. Mixon of the Newtown Veterinary Center decided to take them in since they were surrendered by a good samaritan a few months ago. I couldn't help him with them right away, but a few weeks ago I started by trying to work with Boogie, which I detailed HERE. He was very fractious AND sick and things didn't go very well. Boogie was so sick that I had to bring him back to the Vet until he could recover.

The good news is that Boogie had a fan in Mandy, one of the Vet Techs at Dr. Mixon's practice. Mandy adopted Boogie and reports that although he is still hissing, she is able to handle him and is in no rush to get him socialized. She can take it at his pace and hopefully, in time, he'll be used to human contact and actually enjoy it.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Unhappy Boy.

Otis was able to find his forever home and has been with them for a few days. That left Milo, a lovely orange tabby mix with medium length fur. I'd heard that Milo's personality was somewhere between Boogie's fearfulness and his brother Otis's friendliness. I was somewhat concerned what that might mean, but since it was just one kitten I decided to take him on. I brought him home today.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo photo bombed by his cat dancer toy.

Milo is very pretty. He's three months old, but looks like he may grow to be a big kitty one day. Milo cried furiously from inside his cat carrier, scratching at the walls of it to get out as I drove us home. Nothing I said would soothe him. I hoped he would quiet down so I could sneak into Panera Bread and buy a few treats since I hadn't had anything to eat since last night. I knew bringing a cat into a restaurant would be frowned upon, but it was too hot to leave him in the car and I thought I'd be in and out before anyone was the wiser.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello Milo!

The second I walked in the door, Milo began CRYING. I walked up to the counter mentally tracking how much time was passing. I acted like nothing was going on. The women in line ahead of me were looking around. One started to rub her watering eyes. I started to panic. Could an allergic reaction happen this quickly?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You can almost see Milo's tail. It's VERY long and fluffy.

Milo was bouncing around inside the carrier that was slung over my arm like a big purse. He meowed frantically. I said something to the ladies about how I'd only be in the store for a minute and they agreed he should not be in the car and thankfully did not point at me and scream that their runny eyes were from the cat being there!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

The young woman at the counter was in a daze. She had NO idea I had a cat with me and took forever to fulfill my order. I beat cheeks out of there while Milo continued to protest.

I got Milo settled into his new home. He was out of a cage at the Vet's office and in my bathroom. He'd have sunlight and fresh air and lots of toys and a cat tree. Sadly, he would be on his own for awhile. I want to make certain he's not sick, then I'll start to introduce him to the girls, Beauty, Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia. Once that is done, he can live in the room with them as long as he's friendly and doesn't need me to work with him.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo liked his Spot's Stew cat food (thank you Halo and

I let Milo out of the carrier. He stopped crying. He sniffed around with his tail down, but not tucked between his legs. I didn't know if I could touch him so I simply observed him. After a few minutes I spoke to him and he meowed back at me. He sniffed at the food I gave him and had a few bites. When he came over towards me I reached out to pet him. He reacted by raising his back to meet my hand! Once he did that he relaxed and so did I.

Milo got a few more pets, then I took out a toy for him to play with. He was engaged right away, the stopped playing and ate more food. I'm not worried that he'll need work. He's in good shape already.

Dr. Mixon provided all of Milo's Vet care for no cost so there's nothing for me to do but find Milo a great home. If all rescues could be this easy…:::KNOCK WOOD:::


If you live in Connecticut or the surrounding states and you're interested in adopting Milo, visit my rescue's web site HERE for more information.

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part five

I think we all need a reason to smile after everything that transpired this week. It's fitting that I have some good news at last. A week after all Hell broke loose there are promising signs that things are changing for the better.

This morning ALL the cats showed up for breakfast. They sat in their usual places, near their food plate, clearly hungry. Though we're not feeding their regular diet, they were all receptive to the grain free canned food we put down. Each cat walked over to their plate, sniffed, then licked at the warm mound of food, tentatively, then with more gusto.

The cats I'd been most concerned about were Gracie and Petunia. They've eaten the least amount of food and been afflicted the longest. Knowing that they ate their breakfast was a tremendous relief. Perhaps the worst is over?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Meanwhile, my foster kittens "help" me make the bed in their room.

The PCR test results are not in yet, but we hope to have news that will guide us to an answer. We may never know what happened to our cats, but today I learned from our foster mom, Cyndie that some of her clients had similar problems with both their cats and dogs down in Georgia. Our cats had zero contact with these animals, so I wonder if there's an odd virus out there or this was just another red herring?

I'm still busted up about Spencer. He's feeling better and comes to me to tell me he's hungry every few hours. He's eating small meals, but eating with the enthusiasm he had before he fell ill. He hates getting ear drops, but he forgives me soon after I apply them. It was very lovely that so many people cared about him possibly having cancer. It means a lot to have such compassion and support when I felt like giving up. Thank you to everyone who shared their messages both here and on Facebook

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Human scratching post, NOT!

The silver lining began a week ago, before our cats began to get sick. My good friends Lynne and her husband, Steve, came over to visit my black foster kittens. It was their third visit, but this time I had a feeling they weren't going to leave empty handed.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fresh kittens ready to be adopted!

Steve had a cat named Clevie, who he rescued from a video rental store (which will give you a hint as to how long ago it was). Clevie was Steve's little girl and he loved her dearly. After he and Lynne married, Clevie became part of their kitty-family. Sadly, Clevie was diagnosed with cancer and a few weeks ago she passed away. Clearly this is not a time to adopt another cat.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You gotta sandwich there? Can I have a bite?

The first time the couple came to visit the kittens it was just for fun, but one kitten left a lasting impression. Lynne and Steve pushed their feelings aside, knowing it wasn't the right time.

After Clevie passed they came to visit the kittens again, but it was too soon. I couldn't push them to adopt and they were grieving. I think seeing the kittens helped cheer them up. Who can't smile when they see kittens being kittens?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A rare sight-kittens sleeping.

The third time they came to visit, they brought an empty cat carrier. The cat they'd fallen for was Cutie Patootie, partially because of her silly floppy, extra-toed feet and partially because she is very outgoing and loving. Cutie was the kitten I worried about most. I didn't think she'd survive her first few weeks and I was constantly bottle feeding her so she wouldn't have to compete with her five sisters for nourishment. Secretly, Cutie was my favorite and if she had to go, I was glad she was going with my friends. I'd get updates on her and even get to see her once in awhile. They're great people and so devoted to their cats. I couldn't ask for a better home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie.

Though Cutie would have two other adult kitties to play with, Lynne and Steve had other plans. They'd also fallen for Sabrina, the kitten with the cutest little black toes-the kitten with the goofy markings on her face. 'Brini was another gem, truly all the kittens of this litter are extremely loving kitties. When they offered to adopt Sabrina, I was delighted. The girls would always have each other and be in a loving home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina, growing up fast and looking lovelier than ever.

We did the paperwork and got the kittens ready to go. I gave them a quick kiss on the head and wished them happy journeys. For once, I didn't even cry when they left since it wasn't really saying goodbye, it was just saying goodbye for now. I knew I'd see them again one day.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve & Lynne with their new kitties.

-------------------One week later-----------------------

The girls have new names. 'Brini is now Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies), and Cutie is now Neko Case (Neko Case is a wild haired singer and just Neko means “cat” in Japanese). I'm told they're doing great, eating like piggies and keep trying to bust out of their room (just as they did here every day!). They can't wait to meet their new kitty family and be able to race all over the house to their heart's content.

-------------------Breaking News!-----------------------

Boogie, the feral kitten I was working with is doing better, but he won't be coming back here again. One of the Vet Techs where he's staying is going to give him a forever home and work with him to help him out of his shell! His brother, Otis, is getting adopted in a few hours by a young family and I've offered to take Milo and put him with my girls so he can have company until we find him a forever home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Otis is getting adopted today!

-------------------And More Good News!-----------------------

Update on KING: King is able to go UP AND DOWN the stairs in his new home! Not only that but his mama-Judy reported the following about King meeting the alpha cat-Yasmin: “At one point she was lying on my bedroom floor - she sort of lies on her side with all her legs stretched out in front of her - and King Arthur lay down in almost exactly the same pose about 2 feet away from her, they looked like bookends, it was cute. Then he kept looking at her, and he'd scootch over a little to be closer to her - then he would wait a minute and do it again. This went on for maybe 5 minutes until they were maybe 6 inches apart. I kept waiting for her to jump up and bop him one, but she didn't do anything - I'm sure she knew he was there even though her eyes were closed. If they were people, I'd say it was like a little kid trying to get closer so they could hang out next to the cool teenager (or cool old lady in this case). So they just napped there together for a little while - I thought that was kind of a breakthrough.”

I believe we have a Silver lining on quite a few or our dark clouds. It's been a Hell of a week. I wonder what will come next?

The Road Home is Paved with Love Part 2 of 2

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Traffic, traffic, traffic.

Judy needed time to think about it. Adding another cat to the mix should always be considered soberly and not in haste. As much as I wanted Judy to adopt King, I couldn't push her to do so. I told her to take some time and think about it. It ended up taking two weeks. During that time Judy asked me “what ifs” and I did my best to help her not feel pressured. Just before the end of June, on the anniversary of my sweet tuxedo kitty Stanley's passing, Judy said YES.

I made the reservation for King to get on the next transport north (as far as Connecticut) and let Maria know the good news. I decided to drive King from my home to New Hampshire so I could do the home visit and make sure King arrived safely. You can read about King's difficult trip and arrival to Connecticut HERE.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina & King meet.

On Thursday, Sam and I took the day off to make the four hour trip to Concord, New Hampshire. The violent thunderstorms the day before had finally cleared and King had been here long enough to feel settled and eat normally. I knew it was not going to be easy on King to move him only five days after he arrived, but at least he didn't have to travel from Georgia to New Hampshire without any break. I also think that it was good for King to meet the kittens. It seemed to perk him up each time they entered his room. He'd stand the second he saw them, then walk over to them as best he could. Noses would touch, the kittens would run off to play. King would settle back down, but I swear he had a smile on his face.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Sabrina meets King and the two bond instantly.

I set up a carrier for King with a double layer of puppy housebreaking pads on top of a soft towel. King HATES to be in the car, which he proved by peeing BEFORE we even left the DRIVEWAY. Sadly, King can't stand up to pee while he's traveling so he pees in place. The poor cat soiled himself he was so scared.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello? Anyone in there?

I got King cleaned up and tried to soothe his nerves. I covered him with another clean housebreaking pad and he seemed to calm down. For the next four hours King remained motionless. The only sound he made was when I uncovered him every so often to check on him. He'd look at me and moan pitifully. I petted him and he did his best to enjoy it, but he was too frightened to relax.

As Sam drove, I kept saying to myself that I hoped this home wasn't from an episode of Hoarders, that Judy was as nice as she sounded, that it worked out well enough so that I could leave King there and not be worried about his future. I had to prepare myself to tell Judy to her face that I could not go through with the adoption. I had to be brave. If it didn't work out, I'd just be clear and take King home.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Wishing he was anywhere but inside a car…

We arrived a few minutes after 4PM. Judy's house is a cozy, mint green Cape Cod style house that was built around the turn of the last century. I took a deep breath and tried to steady my nerves. This was it; the moment we'd been praying for. I knocked on the door and waited a beat. A moment later the door opened and a very cheerful woman answered saying her name was Lynne and that she was Judy's sister. As she welcomed us into the house, Judy appeared, clearly happy and excited as she tried to get a look into the carrier to see King. Sam held up the carrier as Judy and Lynne both “squeed” with delight.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Judy gives King his first belly rub.

Judy brought us upstairs to King's temporary room. The second I looked around I realized this was going to work out. The room was small and had cheerful blue painted walls. There was carpeting, as Judy promised, but it wasn't ugly at all. It was quite nice. Judy had put out a new litter pan with the litter King is accustomed to using. There was a clean bowl with water, a new cat bed, a cat scratcher and another cat bed. There was a large futon in the room and one of those “papasan” chairs everyone has or knows someone who has one from Pier One. (My brother had one of those chairs when he first got married.)

I put King's crate down and opened the door. King came out cautiously and looked around at all of us. I"ll be dammed but that cat can MOVE! In a flash he was in the far corner behind the futon! I moved the futon away from the wall and sat on the floor near King. He was trying to make himself invisible by putting his head under an end table, but the rest of his body was comically sticking out. I petted him for a few minutes and we all discussed what to do. I asked Judy to sit with him and I got out of the way. I was passing ownership over to her and this was the first moment she'd get to touch her new cat.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yasmin, King's new sister, getting her brush on.

Judy cautiously touched King, then, as he relaxed a bit, she began to explore his head and back with her fingers. We were all talking to King and telling him he was a good boy. Judy's sister couldn't resist being away from King so she came over to join in the petting, sitting opposite her sister on the floor.

For a good hour we talked, petted King and got to know each other better. The more Lynne and Judy spoke, the more I liked them and liked their family. They were both clearly dedicated to providing the best care for their cats. They were lively and cheerful and had that sweet sisterly banter that made me homesick for the family I no longer have.

King managed to get away and hide in a pile of boxes that Judy was storing in the same room. It took some time but we got him out, then re-worked the location of the boxes so King couldn't do it again. I put King into a cardboard box turned on its side and placed a cat bed in the box. I put King on the bed and petted him for a few moments then Lynne sat with him and petted him. Lynne must have magic fingers. Before too long, King was falling asleep. Judy pretended to get miffed that her sister “hogged” time with King, but it was all in good fun. When Judy took a turn petting King, he was out cold.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It took 6 hours to get home due to accidents and road construction. We arrived at 1AM, but it was worth the long drive to make certain King was settled in his new home.

We decided it was time to make the final decision and it was clear Judy made it before we even got there. I knew this would be a good home for King-one full of love and one where he would get whatever he needed. If he couldn't manage the carpeted stairs, then Judy said she would carry him downstairs during the day and bring him upstairs at night. Hopefully Judy's cats would come to accept and hopefully be friendly with King. We discussed at length about letting it take the time it needed to take and not be on some deadline. Judy was going to try and that's all we could hope for. It's was up to the cats to see how they would get along. I knew King would want a friend and would accept the girls. We had to be patient and hope the girls would see what we all did-what a great cat King is and give him a chance.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It's been a long road for King, but well worth the journey.

I didn't have much of a farewell with King. I went to check on him before I left and he was sitting behind the futon, but not in the corner. I told him goodbye, but I'd kissed him and told him I loved him in the car, so I was ready to go. I didn't want to distress him by grabbing him and getting a photo of us together. Cameras seem to scare King so I didn't push it, though I was disappointed. Judy didn't want her photo taken so I teased her and said I'd do an “artist's interpretation” of the two of them together in lieu of a photo. She promised to stay in touch and let me know how King was doing.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This image is burned in my heart and how I will always think of King.

We said our goodbyes to Judy and Lynne and got in the car to head home. As Sam turned the car around, I saw a large lilac in the corner of the yard. It faced the street and stood as a sentinel guarding Judy's home. To me it was the last sign I needed—my Mother was telling me again that this was the right place. She loved lilacs. There must be a hundred photos of her standing near a lilac or holding them in her hands. I didn't question whether or not I did the right thing. It was clear that King was home. His long journey escaping a cruel life at a palette factory in Georgia was over. He would never be hungry or scared or without love ever again.


Have a wonderful life, King. It's been an honor to know you.



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The Road Home is Paved with Love Part 1 of 2

I picked up all the bedding and loaded it into the washing machine, then added bleach to the load and pressed the small grey buttons to change the setting to “hot water.” I closed the door and the machine hummed to life making odd clicks and whirring sounds.

I grabbed the broom and started to sweep the floor, getting lost in the ritual that is so familiar to me now. When one cat leaves, I prepare the space so the next cat can arrive. It can take an hour or a few hours depending on how sick the previous tenant was or how messy they were in the litter pan.

Although I like to put things right and enjoy seeing bright surfaces shine, I can't help but reflect, missing the cat who is no longer with me.


Even though I didn't know him that well, in a short time I came to love him and perhaps moreso, admire him. He might feel afraid, but he'd work past it. I was always able to pet him even if he was scared. He never once nipped me or clawed me. He didn't care if I rubbed his paws or his belly. He talked to me some times when he was fearful by uttering a mournful, deep meow. I'd comfort him right away because I wanted to gain his trust-which he freely gave me. He'd settle down and go back to mooching another ear-scritch from me in moments.

What a special cat.

A few months ago I got an email from a woman named Judith. She was inquiring, only, not ready to even consider filling out an adoption application, for one of my foster cats. I admit I'm a person who sees, or perhaps tries to find, the interconnectedness in all things. When I saw her name, something clicked. Her name was my Mother's-Judith and my Mother's maiden name was King.

The cat she was inquiring about was named King.

Coincidence? Sure. A human searching for the pattern in things. Sure. But there was more than that and my heart recognized it, even if a scientist couldn't have run a test to prove it.

Judy explained that she read Covered in Cat Hair and saw King's story. She was so moved by his struggles that she had to reach out to me to see if anyone had come forward to offer to adopt him. Sadly, in four months (six months as of this post), no one had. Judy has two other cats; Sassy a fearful calico who was hoping to find a kitty-buddy to play with and Yasmin, the boss, the long haired tuxedo beauty who might not take kindly to a stranger. Judy wasn't sure if her home was right for King, but she did offer that she had wall to wall (in her words “ugly”) carpeting which was one thing King required to be able to move around.

I let Judy know that we guarantee our adoptions for life and if it didn't work out I would take King back. She had to think about it but shortly after our email exchange, she filled out the Pre-Adoption Application. On paper she looked good, but there was a catch-Judy lives in New Hampshire. I insist on doing home visits. It was 200 miles to her house. This could be a problem.

I called Judy's Vet (who I found out later is a single guy and very cute which is only important to know if you live in New Hampshire and prefer your Vet to to be a hottie). His Vet Tech gave me a glowing review and said he wished Judy would adopt HIM she was so great. Judy had pushed back on her Vet when Yasmin became diabetic. It was Judy who demanded to change Yasmin's diet to a grain free canned diet, going against the recommendation to feed her grained D/M dry food. Judy's research ended up putting Yasmin into remission from Diabetes. This is someone I'd want to adopt one of my foster cats! If only she would say YES!

Find out what Judy decides in part two…

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King of My Heart

It's hard to believe that we rescued King from a palette factory in Georgia six months ago. In that time, King has been transformed from a thin, filthy rag of a cat into a lovely, chubby cuddlebug.

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©2012 Maria S. King getting settled prior to transport.

King is very special to me, even from afar. Knowing he must have had a difficult life living outside, handicapped by a deformity that robbed him of his hind paws, made me imagine the worst. How he must have suffered trying to get around with two stumps for back legs-especially with trucks, cars and fork lifts buzzing around him. How did he manage? How did he not get run over and killed? How is it that he's so darn friendly? I know the folks at the factory fed him scraps when they could and they put a piece of cardboard down under an outdoor staircase so he's have some sort of shelter, but someone handled this cat. That much is clear.

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©2012 Maria S. Not so sure about going for a long ride.

Six months is a long time to be in foster care waiting for a forever home, but Maria and I both knew that finding King the right home wasn't going to be easy. In fact, a small rescue like mine shouldn't even take on anything other than cute little easy-to-adopt-out kittens. We don't have the staff or the foster home space to take on a cat we can't find a home for within a short amount of time. If we had a brick and mortar shelter we COULD take on more adults. If we took on as few as three adults who would be tough to place, it would prevent us from saving MANY more kittens from Kill Shelters. It's a very tough place for us to be in, but I know in time we'll take on more adults when we have the resources. I'll still help the few I can and get the word out on other adults I can find another rescue to take on.

©2012 Maria S. Maria watches the transport make it's way north.

But King had something about him, from the moment Bobby called me, describing this cat's plight. Bobby had seen him a year ago, then not again for a long while. When he saw him again, he knew he had to ask me, knowing full well that this is not a cat I can usually help. I understood that taking King on would cause some issues for us, but I couldn't say no. I'd never sleep at night thinking about him out there struggling to survive.

I had lots of questions and concerns. What could I do for him? Would he need surgery? Was he semi-feral? What was I getting myself into? I'd cared for a cat who had a limb amputated but not one without back feet who could not walk on a floor unless it was carpeted.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I saw many black dogs come off the transport. Black animals in the south still carry the stigma of being bad luck.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. King arrives, though not very happily.

On Saturday, King's transport arrived. Whatever concerns I had about him would be put to the test. The Vets and Specialist declared there was nothing more to be done for him. What would I do with a cat who couldn't jump or run around-who could only travel as far as I placed rugs or towels on the floor? Would I feel strange touching him…seeing his back legs end prematurely into rounded stumps that showed signs of a paw pad and deformed toes-but which didn't function as such?

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet King.

The trip was tough on King. He was crying and upset off the transport because it was filled with barking dogs. I HATE to put him through that, but the trip ends and the damage to his nerves won't last forever. It's a necessary evil if I want to get King here reliably and safely for a reasonable amount of money.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Getting to know King.

King was clearly confused and upset, but once he was in the car with me, without the sound of the dogs, he got very quiet and just sat towards the back of his carrier. I spoke to him as we drove along, but he didn't move or make a peep.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. He loves to be loved. King has a heart of gold.

I brought him upstairs to the bathroom which would be his temporary home. He hid and cried.

I got him something to eat and sat with him. I wasn't sure I could pet him, but I had to try. The second I touched him, he softened up and pushed his head back into my hand. I scratched his neck and he flopped down on his side, rolling against me. It took a few minutes, but I coaxed him out of his hiding place. Watching him walk made me sad. His little back legs can't get a grip on a smooth surface so he slipped a little bit trying to reach the cat bed I'd put out for him. He climbed into the bed. It was the first time I really got a good look at him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You know what King wants!

King gained FIVE POUNDS since we rescued him and I could feel the weight of him as I stroked his back, then his sides. He quickly turned over, opening himself to me by showing his belly. He had no reservation allowing me to pet him there, too. He wriggled around, keeping eye contact with me. He loved being scratched under the chin and behind his ears. If I hit a certain “right” spot, his back leg would twitch and dig at the air, just as a dog would do.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillaxin' on his "throne."


My heart sank as I realized King could not scratch himself, EVER. He had no way to do that. Of course he'd LOVE it if someone would scratch him so I spent a long time scratching every part of his head and neck, allowing his twitchy back legs to guide me to the right places.


The longer I scratched, the happier King got. He seemed grateful for this small gesture. He couldn't get up and run off or jump on the cat tree and look out the window. He could sit next to me and be my buddy and he seemed fine with that and I did, too.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Such a good boy! (by the way, King is going to the Vet this morning to re-check why his third eyelids are showing)

Although I still feel sad when I see King's back legs, it hit me all of a sudden-of course it really didn't matter that he's handicapped. He's a great cat, paws or no paws. King doesn't know what he's missing. He never had it in the first place. He doesn't let that stop him from living his life to the fullest.

King is here today because Bobby and Maria offered to help him, but the gravity of this rescue hit me. If I hadn't said; “I've got your back-yes I'll take you into my rescue,” this never would have happened. I looked down at King. He flipped over and showed me his belly again. He looked into my eyes and in that moment nothing else mattered. As the tears slid down my cheeks, I fell in love with this cat. This once miserable wreck of a beast, with no hope in his life, laying before me, completely surrendering himself to me, trusted me to do right by him-and I know I did. I felt honored. I felt humbled. I felt hopeful that a cat as sweet and gentle as King would find his forever home soon…

…maybe sooner than I imagined.

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Tater's Tale

It feels like a month's worth of time has passed over the last 10 days since Tater Tot first fell ill. Between sleepless nights, emails to colleagues, calls and visits to Vets; we teased out a possible answer to what has been ailing our little foster kitten.

Tater has Coccidia, Tapeworm and a bad Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (and maybe pneumonia). Three days after we began treatment, Tater's temperature dropped and by day four, his temperature was within a normal range.

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©2012 Maria S. Tater on the way to the Vet yesterday.

On day four of treatment, Tater began to eat on his own. By day five, Tater gained back some of the weight he lost.

We brought Tater back to the Vet for a re-check and to discuss what sort of testing we should consider doing. We have a suspicion Tater has Bartonella, which is now called Mycoplasma haemofelis ("feline infectious anemia").

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson & Maria S. Tater's Tale. Tissue Warning.

The Vet didn't feel we needed to do tests just yet, but to continue with treatment though she did agree to change Tater's antibiotic to Doxycycline which would fend off the Bartonella, if that's what he's been battling. There are no conclusive tests that will tell us more than just levels of exposure to the Coronavirus if he has FIP or if he has Bartonella.

For now she wants to stay the course and see how he does. Tater is NOT out of the woods, BUT he is also NOT close to death as he was just one week ago today. It will be a long road to recovery, if we are lucky enough to get him healthy. I know for certain that Maria and I are dedicated to his well being and that he should enjoy a happy future.


I asked the Vet if we could take FIP off the table and she said, YES based on a number of clinical factors.


I know we have a long way to go, but for now we can rejoice that Tater is with us—hopefully for a long time to come. We've learned a lot about FIP and perhaps what is NOT FIP. Nothing is certain, but in time all this will make sense.

BREAKING NEWS: Happy Birth Day. Our first Kitten is Born!

Very early this morning, Cyndie, our new foster mama in Georgia emailed me to let me know that Opal, our latest rescued kitty had given birth to her first kitten! We weren't expecting kittens for a few more weeks because the Vet indicated that she wasn't quite ready yet. Hopefully the kittens aren't being born prematurely, but only time will tell.

Maria, had today off, thank goodness, so she was able to get over to Cyndie's house and help out. Cyndie has a pet sitting business and had to take care of her client's. Maria will stay at Cyndie's to make sure everything goes all right. It's been about 10 hours since the first kitten was born and the Vet said she could go 12 hours between delivering the next kitten. In the video below you can see Opal's side wiggling. I think we have another kitten to meet very soon!

©2012 Maria S. Watch Opal's side move!

Maria is in constant communication with our Vet. I know most folks who have witnessed this process just say to “let nature take its course” and not worry, but I'm 1000 miles away so I'm worrying! Maria couldn't get Opal to feed her kitten so she supplemented the little one right away. Cyndie fed the kitten a few times as well and the kitten is warm and sleeping comfortably now. I'm so grateful to have two capable women caring for Opal. I wouldn't have a clue what to do!

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©2012 Maria. S. Happy Birthday little one!

Our first kitten is white and peach colored and seems to be ok, but is only 2.4 oz-which is a little bit small. We're going to hold off on naming any of them until everyone is born. Right now it's watch and wait, while poor Maria is starving. I gotta find a way to get her some food delivered! I think it's going to be a long day.

Stay tuned for more updates!


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