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The Clementines. Now We are Five.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. This is how I start my morning kitten feeding ritual with the Clementines, the ½ dozen orange cuties I rescued from a kill shelter in Kentucky last October. I count heads. I have to count them because for the life of me, I can barely tell them apart. Okay, one is buff color, so she is easy to spot, but the others, my GOD, other than all black cats, these are the toughest cats to tell apart. If you look carefully they ALL have the same “ring” of darker orange around their chests. They have the same number of rings around their legs, in the same place. Their faces are VERY similar, too, with only slight variations. Now that Mandarin, Blossom and Bert have popped their ID collars off, it’s definitely a challenge. The only one I know for certain is Bert because the poor kitten is chronically SICK.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the very few photos of ALL the kittens together.

So I count heads. If I have 6, then that means Mango didn’t bust out of the room, which he often does. That cat FLIES over the barrier on the staircase, down the stairs, across the living room, then down the spiral staircase into Sam’s office in less than 3 seconds. He finds it very amusing. He has no fear of the other cats. They all follow him trying to sort out if he’s a threat. He just swings his rear end from left to right, his tail swishing back and forth with big boy pride. Yes, Mango is HUGE. He's the biggest of the litter, the chattiest, and has quite the personality. I admit I have a mad crush on him and just this evening, as I was retouching photos of the kittens, I realized he looks a lot like my boy, Bob, the cat we lost a few years ago to cancer.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Woe is Mango.

What’s curious to me is that I had initially named the kitten Bud-almost Bob. I wonder if on some level I had a sense that Bob had returned, but surely he wouldn’t look at all like his former self. What are the rules of reincarnation? I have no idea. I just know that the name Bud wasn’t quite right so I chose the name Mango. Though it still takes me a moment, I can tell Mango from the others because of his size and because he often stands on his hind legs on the bathroom counter and reaches up for me, asking to be held. I wish he wouldn't do that. I just makes me love him all the more.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Bert and Mandy, the two sickest of the litter.

It’s been over 3 months since the Clementines arrived. They should have been long since adopted by now, but their eye infection and upper respiratory infections continue to wax and wane (you can read more about their struggles HERE and HERE. Many of the kittens are doing really well and some of them are FINALLY ready to be adopted. Mandarin, the smallest of the litter, still struggles with the sneezes and poor, poor Bert. He almost lost his right eye, then we saved it, then the infection went into the left eye. Now it goes back and forth with no end in sight (pardon the pun).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Bert, still smilin' even though his eye infection has gone on for months.

I finally was able to do a more sensitive test on his tears to find out what the heck Bert’s got. After a week-long wait there were NO RESULTS. This tells us whatever is going on is not too bad, but it could be chronic. It also means its time to bite the bullet and put him on antibiotics, which I have been fighting to do for a long time. If his issue was viral, then what’s the point? Luckily, Dr. Mary is fascinated with eye issues and has done research and chatted with many other vets about Bert’s situation. Instead of going to a specialist right now, she got a rather good number of vets to agree that we need to try the dreaded Doxycycline for 3 weeks and see how it goes. For those of you who have never used it, Doxy is VERY acidic. It can literally burn the esophagus and cause something called strictures-basically a swelling that makes it VERY TOUGH for cats to swallow food and it's very painful. To “cure” the problem it costs about $6000.00 in repeated endoscopic treatments. How do I know this?

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttercup.

Because we did it to a kitten named CaraMelle, by accident, and it took about 6 MONTHS to find out what was wrong, then treat it. Meanwhile her growth was severely stunted and she spent weeks vomiting and miserable while I tended to her round-the-clock.

If you have to give Doxy, make sure you get it compounded into a liquid AND make certain you follow that with a syringe of water-a few mLs should work fine.

We’re going to treat Bert and one other kitten, whichever seems to need it. We’re also going to move the most healthy kittens into a new foster home (or different room in my house) so they can’t repeatedly infect each other. Do I like doing this? No. One of the pleasures of my day is spending time with the Clementines and I hate to break them apart, but as always, it's not about ME. It's about what is best for them (especially after their application checks out and it turns out that they are friends with Dr. Larry).

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mandy, Mango & Bert.

I know from doing this hundreds of times over the past few years that I have to continue to let these foster cats go when I find a great home. I can’t always have 22 cats in my house. It’s very stressful on both myself, Sam and our cats (who have also gotten sick from the Clementines). When that right home comes along, I owe it to the kittens to jump on it.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The fairest one of all…

On Wednesday I made the first “jump.” One of the kittens found her forever home and though I was sad to start separating the kittens, it was time. When someone says to me; “HELL, YES THAT’S MY KITTEN” after seeing the kitten for the first time, I know I’d be a fool to say no to them.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango.

What was curious was that they came over twice to find their kitten. The first time, the family, a great mom and dad and their daughters, didn’t connect to any of Mochachino’s kittens. They had hoped to adopt one of them, but something was missing. I could tell while they were here, but they weren’t ready to say it wasn’t a match. I urged them to go home and think about it and a day later they said they were going to go back to the drawing board. In my heart, I realized I knew which kitten would be a better choice. It would either be Marigold or Mandarin. There was just something about those 2 girls that felt right.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango is clearly offended by his cat toy.

When the family came to visit again, I put Mandy and Mari into a pen without the other Clementines so the family wouldn’t be overloaded by all 6 kittens racing around. I lifted Marigold out of the pen and the mom looked at her and swooned. Marigold sat calmly in her arms and purred while Mandy played with a toy. I didn’t have to ask if they wanted Mari, because it was clear that this was their kitten. I eventually brought ALL the Clementines out of their room and even though it’s tough to tell them apart, the family KNEW their girl. Over and over they picked her out of the crowd. There was no question that Mari would be the first kitten adopted. Little Marigold, who never got very sick, who never caused any trouble, was going home. The quiet little kitten who watched play time more than she took part, would be heading off to a loving home where she’d meet her new kitty and human friends.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Thanks to the folks at Tiger Teasers for sending us a donation of their toys. The kittens LOVE them so much they growl during playtime-a sure sign they are guarding their coveted "resource!"

I ended up bringing Mari to her family and spent a few hours with them, going over every tip I could think of, getting her set up, then making sure she was settling in well. The other cats in the home knew she was in the room and were frantically scratching at the door, demanding to know who was in there. Her new family understood to take the introduction slowly and Mari’s new mom already told me that Mari would be moved out of the office at night and would sleep in her room so she wouldn’t be alone.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. They never tire of their Teaser!

Later that night, I got a few text messages from the family, along with a few photos and a very funny video of Mari sitting on her new dad’s shoulder. She was purring and licking his ear. He was almost giggling. I can tell Mari is going to have a great life and continue to know lots of love. It’s what I hope for for all my foster cats.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mari and her mama, Suzy.

The next morning I counted heads: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…then realized there was no 6. The kittens realized it, too. For once Mango didn’t bust out the door and run down the stairs. He was very chatty. The others were very subdued. They ate their food quickly as they always do, but something was different with them. They knew their sister was gone and perhaps they were wondering who would be next.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. The little orange family starts to find their forever homes.

I wondered that, too as I started to imagine the day when I have to say goodbye to the next Clementine. They are dear, dear kittens, so very affectionate and joyful. To spend time with them is a gift I cherish and greedily I wish it would last and last, but as always there are more kittens waiting in the wings and I have to make room for them soon.

It’s time to do more rescues.

Mari and new sister R Olson.jpg
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Mari finds comfort in the arms of her new sister.

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I can just feel how difficult it must be to start finding Forever Homes for the Clementines. I've been following their story from the beginning and have fallen in love from a distance (Texas). I can feel your happiness and sadness (is that a tear in my eye?). Thank you so much for all you've done for these little guys, and other cats you've fostered, and for chronicling it on FB.

Thanks again,

Thanks so much for the work you do to look after God's creatures.

I adopted a rescue 3 years ago who had a rough life in a cat colony in a big city.  He ended up getting injured and was rescued and partially rehabilatated.

He was with us for 3 weeks, with snarling, scratching and much blood shed on my part, before he realized that no harm was going to befall him, and that he had landed in the 'feather bed' of catdom.

He did go outside (his choice, not mine) and got into several fights with a stray.  We didn't find out until his second Vet visit that he was FIV positive.

His demeanour and behaviour changed drastically after a year, and we knew the FIV had taken hold.  He started urinating in my husband's bathroom daily, obviously marking territory against another male. His liver enzyme readings were 600 instead of normal 30.  He gave me a nasty scratch on the cheek very close to my eye, and we made the tough decision to have him put down.

It always comes down to the battle of - is it more kind to lose them, than to keep them when we know they are in discomfort, that is not treatable.

Again, I applaud your lifework and wish you well.

Kind regards,


They are some of the most stunningly beautiful cats. Of all the cats I've had over the years (since the age of 5), I've never had a ginger. Trying to convince my husband for another addition!

My eyes are all watery but so happy for Miss Mari... I was remembering when we first met them in that horrible cage and looking with joy on their beautiful faces... So alive with possibility of future happiness that you have given to them...  Thank you for all you do.  

Awww, love and *PRAYERS* for Mari to have found her loving forever home! A bittersweet victory, I know.  Wonderful photos, especially of the "growler" (and that happens here, too, so I relate so much to your comment!).  

Doxy sounds very scary.  *PRAYERS* for your little oranges to thrive!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought doxycycline was also available as an injectable liquid; this would require regular (possibly daily) visits with the vet to administer, but that would take away the risk of damage to a cat's esophagus and stomach. Worth considering?

Oh Robin. What you do for all your rescues is truly astounding. More astounding to me is that you can let them go when the time comes. I admire you and what you do so much, am so grateful for all you manage to do, and deeply respect that you probably have to sacrifice a LOT to do it all. I'm sure all your cats that pass through your life will always have a big place in your heart; it just shows how big your heart is.

As her new Daddy I would just like to say, "Thank you" to Robin and Sam for their never ending support. You guys are the best!!!

The kitten is doing GREAT!!! She is walking on my key board as I type this. Now she is laying on my desk directly in front of my monitor watching me type. We LOVE her and she is now one of my girls. I have four daughters and now three cat daughters. She has DEFINITELY found her forever home.


Peace and Prosperity,


A lovely story, these ginger kitties are very lucky to have you in their life as foster mum!  I'm glad too, that Mari has found her furrever home.

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