The Purr Machine. Remembering Bob Dole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. With Blitzen.

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

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I'll remember you always.

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

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

PRODUCT REVIEW and MYSTERY: The Case of the Neko Flies String

Your cats are bored. They get into fights. They bite your ankles or the just lay around with a glazed look in their eyes. They're little hunters with nothing to hunt (unless you let them outside, but please don't do that!). Can you imagine not having an outlet for your deepest desires? To be crass, that would really stink.

I try to have play time with my cats every night, but getting them to chase after a toy can be daunting because my cats are either 2 years old or 12 years old or older. What would I use that appeals to all of them?

Some cats are “air hunters” while others prefer to stalk prey at the ground level, so I'd need a toy that works well dragged on the floor, mimicking the movements of a bug, and something I could gently whip back and forth to get my air hunters to jump.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan is the consummate high-flyer when Neko Flies are around.

Usually I've solved this problem by having more than one toy in my arsenal. I still believe that you should offer options for your cats, from small balls to faux mice and catnip laden toys. That said, I can only hold so many toys in my hand at one time and I needed something that covered all the bases. At last I've found a series of interactive toys that gets cats off their big behinds and turns the lights back on in their eyes. I give you, Neko Flies!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel inspects mysterious package.

Unlike many wand toys I've used in the past, Neko Flies feel well made. Their clear plastic rod has a comfortable rubber grip. At the opposite end of the grip is a clip with a charming braided green and black cord that's attached to a variety of “Lures” that resemble and move like real bugs or mice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey grabs her Kattiepede.

Ellen, the creator of Neko Flies, underscored the importance of creating unique, carefully crafted (some elements are done by hand) toys that are as safe as possible for cats. She told me they constantly look for ways to improve their product, from finding ways to use less glue (they already only use a few drops), to finding thicker material for the wings of their Kragonfly cat toy as well as for better ways to anchor the loop into the toy so it doesn't pull free when cats tug on it. Ellen seems almost obsessed with designing toys that truly appeal to cats and are not just a collection of feathers glued to a string or that utilize materials that are so cheap they fall apart after one use.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?!

It was tempting to write the world's shortest review by stating: I LOVE NEKO FLIES. Rather, my CATS love Neko Flies.

But then something happened…

One of the cats bit the green and black cord, severing one-third off it, along with the Kragonfly. I took the fly away so they wouldn't eat it, thinking I would just trim the end of the cord and reattach the Fly to it. In the meantime, since I was cooking dinner and trying to play with the cats at the same time, I would just have them chase after the string, without the toy attached because they seemed to like it just fine.

Ahhh…hindsight is 20-20 vision, as they say.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love at first bite.

I'd gotten into the habit of hiding the Neko Flies where the cats couldn't get at it to keep them from destroying it. These toys are SO ENTICING you can't leave them laying around. It's just not safe. Really. If only I had READ THE BOX the Neko Flies came in because I would have seen the WARNING on it. I didn't read the WARNING on their web site, either, which I'm sharing with you here:

Some cats become so enamored and hooked on NEKO FLIES that they have been known to try and get the toy off a shelf by themselves! This is an interactive toy for a human to play with the kitty, so keep your Neko flies tucked safely tucked away in a drawer or closet until you are ready to play with your cat again!

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[Neko Flies Lure is attached to a card with this warning printing on it. See? They told me so!]

“Neko Flies are designed as a toy for you and your cat to play with together. The lures at the end are designed to move in a lifelike way which is a great part of their appeal, even to cats who usually are not interested in toys or playing. However, these toys are not intended to be left with a cat to chew or destroy (as she would actual live prey). Once your cat manages to catch a toy you should praise her and then get her to release it right back to you by offering her a really tasty treat - doing a "bait-and-switch" the way you would with a human toddler or a dog who have gotten something you don't want them to possess. Because the Neko Flies lure toys are so enticing to cats, there is a warning that they should never be left anywhere your cat can get to them without your participation. This is a wand toy, not a chew toy! Neko Flies satisfy your cat's primal instinct to hunt and chase - but it is up to you to then protect the lures from your cat's instinct to "kill!"”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I turned my back on my cats to check on dinner. I didn't even leave them alone for more than a minute. I looked back and the green and black cord was one-third the length it had been. Clearly, one of the cats had chewed it off and possibly EATEN IT. In decades of being a cat-mom, this was the first time I ever had to worry that a cat ingested such a large part of a toy.

I searched the living room. I knew the culprits were either my tiny foster cat, Mabel or my big bruiser, the DOOD. I had a bad feeling it was DOOD because he's, well, not the sharpest pencil in the box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley goes nuts for Neko.

I couldn't find a thing. In a panic, I called Neko Chan, home to Neko Flies. Ellen, herself, called me back right away. We talked about what materials were used in the cord (polyester).I called the ER Vet and told them about what material I believe one of the cats ingested and they suggested I bring both cats down, spend $1500.00 per cat on endoscopy-that was IF they could get an internist to come to work late on a Sunday night. They also told me to get a cat to vomit is some sort of “holy grail” treatment because the chemicals they might use to make them vomit usually kills them.They told me to watch for the cat to become listless, vomit, not eat and if that happened to RUSH them in for EMERGENCY SURGERY because the cord could twist up in the intestines and basically KILL the cat.

OR…it might pass on its own…out the “other” end.


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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey prepares to pounce.

The next few days were absolute Hell on my nerves. I ripped apart the living room the next day and checked everywhere I could, but no string was found. I hovered over the DOOD and Mabel, but they ate as usual and seemed unaffected. Then I started to worry that maybe it wasn't them, but another cat. I have 9 cats running around! This was going to end badly, I just knew it.

Ellen checked in with me, hopeful I had good news, but there was no sign of the missing string. I thought maybe I was getting Alzheimer's and this was the first sign? I was so paranoid that I carried the remaining section of cord in my purse, in case I had to take one of the cats to the ER so they would know what to look for yet still…nothing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Joey enjoying their new toy..

Six WEEKS passed. I was getting breakfast ready for the kittens and I saw a GREEN ball with pale colored ball next to it on a paper towel on the counter. I asked Sam what it was and he said he found it when he was scooping the litter pan. I looked at it for a moment, then the alarms went off in my head. It was cat excrement with the STRING from the Neko Flies in it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah. Green Poo (and no ham).

Being the offspring of two scientists, I HAD to get a magnifying glass out and inspect the green stool. We feed our cats a raw diet so their stool is VERY pale, hard and dry. I teased apart the green ball and saw fibers. I put the section of string I had in my purse next to the questionable object and the color matched. Whoever ate the string passed, at least some of it out. Thank God.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Six weeks later, the green string is found.

Although I'll never know if that was ALL of the string, hopefully it was enough so that it won't adversely effect the cat who ate it (most likely the DOOD). I don't know if the raw diet slowed the process down since the cats don't pass much stool or if it helped. All I care about is that my cats are fine and my pocket still has a few bucks in it.

After all this would I still tell you to go out and buy Neko Flies. Absolutely, YES I would! I want you to know about my foolishness so that you truly appreciate the warning from NekoChan. Their toys are so enticing we must be careful in how we use them and our reward for that mindfulness is that our cats will get the exercise they need and have their hunting desire sated. I'm still using the Kattipede today and hope to add more Lures to my collection soon.


If you'd like your very own Neko Flies: Foxifur Kittenator with Rod, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what's the weirdest thing your cat has eaten or just give me a good reason why you should win. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE FOXIFUR KITTENATOR with ROD. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA and CANADA (yay Canada!) only (sorry guys outside of those areas!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. DOOD.


After careful consideration, from time to time I write 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 (I can only hope there will not be any ER Vet visits!).

Christmas in August Thanks to 1800PetMeds

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh boy! What's in the boxes? What's in the boxes?!!!

It's one thing to order a little something special for yourself, then anxiously await its arrival. The doorbell rings and the delivery person leaves a box by your door. You have a moment of joy anticipating what's inside the box, even if you already know what it is.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What is it?

So imagine for a moment what it's like when you open your front door and there's an enormous stack of boxes sitting there and you don't know where they came from. You start searching your mental database of what the heck you did. Did you have a late-night pity-purchase jag that's going to set you back even further into debt? You know you're credit card is in a lock box because you really can't be using it right now so where on Earth did these boxes come from?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Embarrassment of riches!

You brighten, realizing you behaved yourself, this one time. It's not some crazed shopping spree, it's a donation from 1-800-PetMeds®. Wait…THIS IS A DONATION?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This Igloo Cat Bed is so nice I don't want to let the cats use it.

As I opened each box, they revealed eye-popping delights—a very fancy Refined Feline® Igloo Cat Bed, Omega 3 Capsules (much needed by my cat, Gracie, who suffers from skin issues), a SmartCat® Garden and Peek-a-Prize (the kittens will love this), 1800PetMeds treats, catnip, and as I opened the final package, the trumpets blared, Ta-Da!, a box containing a much desired Refined Feline Cat Clouds Cat Shelf™.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not the Starship Enterprise! It's a Cat Clouds Cat Shelf!

It would be one thing if I could go out and buy all these things for myself, but I can't. Putting gas in my car is a big accomplishment, so these items mean even more to me and my cats. I'm not sure which cats will be enjoying some of these items, but with eight cats and nine fosters, I'm sure they'll all benefit in some way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen likes the boxes, best, of course.

These days not getting bills in the mail is a good day, but finding a stack of huge boxes by your door from a well-meaning company is a humbling delight. Thank you Dana and friends at 1-800-PetMeds for really making my week, if not, month and thank you for offering up some lovely products I can use or donate to my rescue.

BarkAid Has Gone to the Cats

A few months ago I got an email from a cat-loving friend of Covered in Cat Hair who lives in Rhode Island. She told me that she wanted to help out Kitten Associates, but didn't have a lot of resources to make a donations. Instead, she told me about a program called BarkAid and suggested I contact the Founder, Patrick Lomantini, and ask him if Kitten Associates could be part of his fundraising efforts.


BARK. AID? Isn't that for dogs?

After visiting BarkAid's web site, I came to understand the following:

Patrick owns Lomantini the Salon in Wichita, Kansas. He loves animals even though he couldn't have one as a child AND he's somewhat allergic to cats. He wanted to make a difference helping animals in need, but didn't want to focus just on his local rescue. Sure, he could do a cut-a-thon, something he'd done in the past, but it would only help one rescue. It wasn't enough.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Three years ago, Patrick had the crazy idea to get in his car and travel to one state per DAY, team up with a local salon, cut hair for 12 hours and charge just $20/haircut. At the end of the day he'd donate the money to a local rescue group. Yes, it's nuts, but Patrick is a physical specimen of manly hunkatude who can handle the challenge he set for himself. His 6-pack abs have abs and his biceps would make Popeye blush. Patrick has close-cropped hair and wears tight black t-shirts and jeans, with a big hunky watch. His blue eyes could charm anyone he meets. There's a bubbling energy about him that's contagious, which won him over with folks as he blazed a trail across the country.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick decided he had 50 days to accomplish his mission and somehow he pulled it off. What is more impressive is that he decided to do it again the next year and again this year, with a small team of volunteers at his side.

Patrick NEEDS a big, fat corporate sponsor for these events, but right now Patrick is paying for the trip out-of-pocket. He wants each rescue to get as much money as they can, so he donates 100% of his profits to them, only asking for tip money to go to the volunteers to pay for gas (last year was $6,000.00 alone) and food. He hopes that the rescue groups will be able to put his team up for the night, too, to help offset costs.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach, Patrick (Center) and Alexis.

As fate would have it, just a I was contacting Patrick to ask him if Kitten Associates might take part he happened to be looking for a rescue group to work with in Connecticut. Apparently he hadn't had the easiest time here and was hoping for a better match this time around. I told him we're a TINY rescue and that there are bigger ones in town that could do a lot more, but Patrick had faith in us and said that the smaller rescues always worked a lot harder to publicize the events and support his team.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I figured I'd give it a try IF I could secure a salon for his team to set up shop. My first and only choice was Salon Michele, where I get my fancy-pants hairdos from time to time. I ran the idea past Maggie, who has been doing my hair for a few years now. She is a cat lover, so it wasn't tough for her to say YES. Of course we had to ask the owner, Michele and I realized it would be basically asking her to shut her salon down for the day and let me use it to raise money. Thankfully the date they chose for us was a Tuesday, so it was a slower day for business which might make it easier to give us the green light.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I gathered all my info and presented it to her. She didn't take long to think about it and said YES! From that moment on was a whirlwind for me. I had to do a lot of planning, getting permits to put out directional signs, finding out how to get a 25-ft long banner hung over the main street in town, making list after list of what needed to be done, who needed to be told. I struggled with how to get the word out and my dear friend Mary Shafer of Word Forge Books helped me get the Press Release sorted out.

For two months I was obsessed, but my biggest challenge was HOW to explain this event and NOT have people think that it was either Haircuts for DOGS or a fundraiser for DOGS?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I got everything sorted out and spent a lot of late nights working on this. I began to realize right away that we'd have to spend a good deal of money on advertising-YES, not just doing free ads online. Our town paper, The Newtown Bee, was the key way to get the word out to everyone in town. After all, we are the hometown cat rescue and we knew they'd help us. As luck would have it, an ad space opened up that was PRIME location and it hit the streets a few days before our event. I worried about spending $450.00 for this huge ad. It would be on the front page of The Bee Extra, The Bee's free paper, as well as inside their main paper.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis with the Mascot-dog plush (a gift from Kitten Associates)

I had to take a risk. If we couldn't reach people, what was the point?

I was very glad my graphic design background came in handy. I put together designs not just for flyers, but for table top signs, HUGE window signs that would re-skin Salon Michele, directional signs and a twenty five foot long banner-the biggest piece I've ever designed.

It also dawned on me that this is something I was meant to do. When I was a kid, I put on plays for my parents, then when I was at school, I was in Student Government where I came up with events like "Bring your Camera to School Day." In High School and College I took it up a notch and planned big events. My pride and joy was a 1940's Prom with a big band for over 600 guests. Why couldn't I do a fundraiser for my own rescue group?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Because I had to take care of RESCUES, too!

In the two weeks before our event, I helped rescue about twenty cats and kittens. All of them went to other rescues, but I did a lot of emailing, phone calls, driving around with a car full of kittens. It seemed that Minnie, too, got the message because she relapsed and got sick again and ended up having to have emergency spay surgery a few DAYS before the event!(she's recovered now and doing well)

I was having all sorts of stress dreams. The worst was the morning of the event, I dreamt I was waking up with most of my hair laying on the pillow and no way to hide that I was bald.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Beth, one of our awesome adopters with Patrick.

When the banner was hung and the ads were printed, I knew I'd spent about $1000. and that was about half of all the money we had. I started to fear we might lose money, but my friends kept reminding me that getting our name out is valuable, too (tell that to the Vet when he wants to be paid!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Kathy, the super-star who works the front desk of Salon Michele contacted me and said we had 3 appointments for haircuts. My heart sank. We had one week to go and I worried not only would we lose money, but it would be embarrassing to everyone who gave up so much to support our group.

A few days later the banner was hung and more calls came in. We were up to 14 appointments, which was still far too few. We needed 50 to break even.

The Friday before the event, the big ad in the paper came out. Nothing happened for three days, then on Monday, the day before, we were up to 50 and rising. Between the banner, the ad and word of mouth, things were heating up. By Tuesday I knew we had over 60 with whispers that it might even go higher than that.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Busy Bees cutting hair and raising money for our kitties!

Tuesday morning, the BIG DAY, I drove over to Salon Michele to get set up. It really hit me that a lot of people had stopped what they were doing to help Kitten Associates and most of them I didn't even know. I fought off crying, but it was very emotional. When you work really hard and often have difficult situations to deal with, you don't have time to think about what you might get out of it. With cat rescue it's just focusing on helping the cats however you can. You know there are lots of people who love cats, but they wouldn't get their haircut because of that, would they?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. These cupcakes from the DOrazio Sisters Bakery tasted SO GOOD that I am craving one or ten right now!

So I got to work. Patrick and his team were already there even though the first appointment wasn't for 30 minutes. They'd arrived at 1am and were already back up and ready to go at 7:30am. These guys were amazing and they hadn't even started!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I set up, everyone got to know each other. Zach, one of the stylists graciously helped me put out the directional signs at the perimeter of the parking lot. We got chatting and he told me this was the first time he'd been east of Montana and that his home state was Idaho! I couldn't begin to imagine how amazing and exhilarating it was for him to see so much, in so little time. What a wild ride. I was tempted to offer to join them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Alexis, one of the other stylists, offered to do something with my hair. It was really kind of her to help me look less like a mop and more professional, plus it was just plain fun to get fussed over after all the weeks of preparations were finally over and I could (sort of) relax.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Then, as they say, the rest is a bit of a blur. People were coming in, a few almost begging for appointments, we were filling up to the point of having to turn people away! From 50, to 60, to 70 haircuts. The day raced by. I answered a lot of questions about cats and around noon, Sam brought three of our kittens to remind everyone why we were there. They did great and had a lot of fun. Everyone wanted to take them home, but Irene, my faithful friend and volunteer, kept a watchful eye over them so none of the kitten “accidentally” left the salon.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. It's not a party unless you have tattoos!

I was really hungry. Our friends, the DOrazio Sisters from Brooklyn who opened a bakery here in Newtown, kindly and generously donated 4 dozen cupcakes. We had them set up on a lovely cupcake tower stand and it was tough not to eat them ALL. I managed to sneak one..okay two, but no more than three, when no one was looking. I still have a jones for another one!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

It was clear we were going to do okay. Somehow amidst the chaos, a lot of people were getting really nice haircuts. One lady donated her hair to Locks of Love, which really touched my heart. Another lady talked about being at the Sandy Hook Elementary on "that day" and I think it helped her with the healing process to have Patrick fuss over her and listen to her heartbreaking story.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

We had lots of kids come visit, too, who told me stories about their cats or other pets. Even though I've lived in Newtown for over 20 years, it honestly was the first time I felt like I was part of this community. Not having children, I never had need to go to any of the town events or schools. I've yearned to feel closer to the people in this town and surprisingly, that finally started to happen because of K.A. Kitten Associates is on the radar of more people in town. It was definitely a dream starting to come true.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

In total, Patrick and his team, as well as Maggie, Michele, Jackie, Mary, Kathy and others from Salon Michele helped get 84 haircuts done, which was the SECOND HIGHEST number of haircuts in BarkAid's 2 1/2 year history! I was really really REALLY thrilled! We were able to cover our expenses and the rest will go to caring for our kittens.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A donation for Locks of Love! What a wonderful woman!

By 8pm we all pitched in, packed up, cleaned up and were ready to call it a day. Patrick and team were professional, friendly, outgoing, charming, everything good. Thankfully Michele's salon wasn't trashed. It was respected by all and I think that we all parted with genuine smiles and goodwill for each other. Patrick said he was ready to do this again next year, as he hugged me goodbye. I just shook my head, wondering how he does this, because I wanted to go to bed and not get up for a few days I was so tired.

Michele and Patrick R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Patrick is on Day 20 of his trip. He's doing great work for the rescues in this Country. If you'd like to help support Patrick's efforts-they REALLY need donations to, at least, cover travel expenses, please visit their web site and donate HERE

In lieu of a proper photo album, enjoy some images from our big day!

Michele with Client R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Michele, owner of Salon Michele giving a great haircut and big smile to a customer.

Patrick Cutting Hair Full R.Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Patrick hones his craft.

Ruby and Alexis R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Alexis and Ruby (who was SO adorable!)

Ruby and Alexis with Sign R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ruby steals the show.

The Team with Kittens R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The team with Minnie's kittens: Gracey, Mellie and Joey.

Two Girls with 50 Sign R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Zach and Gracey R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Zach and Gracey.

Let Sleeping Kittens R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How to know it's time for the kittens to go home.

The Squee Diaries. Ch 10 Watch Me Soar

The kittens are 10 1/2 weeks old and today is the "big day." It's time for the boys to be neutered and Gracey to be spayed. Although it's vital this procedure be done, I dread it. I'd rather wait until the kittens are a few months old, but this is their best chance to be adopted, when they're still little. I could have done it even sooner than today, but I dragged it out as long as I dared. They're all at a good weight and the soft stool they suffered from for so long seems to have resolved by feeding them a raw diet. I think they're ready.

So while I put the kittens into their carriers and kiss their little faces, take a moment to enjoy this celebration of my dear kittens. To Stanley, the high-flyer, to Mel the comedian, to Gracey the tough-cookie, to Petey the rascal and to Joey the gentle soul, I honor your amazing journey; being fearless, taking delight in your ever-expanding world, and reminding me that joy can be found in the simplest of things. I love each one of you very much.

I present to you, my fearless flyers. Enjoy!

Woohoo Mousey R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible ladder.

Boing Boing R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Put your paws in the air like you don't care.

Watch Me R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible rope climbing.

Big Boy Pete R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey is a big boy now.

Double Jump R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Double dutch jumpers.

The Jig is Up R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Put your hands up!

Joey Pole Dancing R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Pole-dancer Joe.

Going Up Stanley R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Fans O Flyin R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I got it! I got it!

Gotcha Flyin High R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Extreme gotcha!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Going up!

Gracey at 10 Weeks R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lil' Gracey at 10 weeks.

Floating Weirdoes R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible pony ride.

Beware the Toilet Monster R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Beware the toilet-zombie!

Oops Wrong Way R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wrong way Mel.

I Got It R Olson .jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Invisible Recliner R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Invisible recliner.

Joey at 10 Weeks R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey at 10 weeks.

Marmalade Mayhem R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Marmalade mayhem.

Joey jumps for Joy R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Mellie at 10 Weeks R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie at 10 weeks.

Do da Twist R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Twist and shout!

Reach for the stars R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Catch me when I fly R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Catch me when I fall.

Petey at 10 Weeks R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey at 10 weeks.

If you'd like to catch up on The Squee Diaries, just visit these links:

Chapter One. We Are Born.

Chapter Two

Chapter Three. The Unbearable Cuteness of Kittens

Chapter Four. The Pitter Patter

Chapter Five. The Last Days of the Blue Bathtub

Chapter Six. Happy Family No More

Chapter Seven. Let the Good Times Roll

Chapter Eight. Paint the Town Brown

Chapter Nine. How Do I Love Thee?

Her Last Rescue. Jenna's Wish.

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

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

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


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

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

Sampson and Delilah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Jenna Gutierrez


phone (864) 801-3177.


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

Miracle at Bridgeport Animal Control

Rescuing cats doesn’t only mean taking a cat off the street or out of a kill-shelter and giving it a home until you can find a forever home for it. There’s a great deal of behind-the-scenes networking going on, too, that doesn’t often get reported.

For a rescue like mine, that’s held together by a few very precious volunteers and even fewer foster homes, we can’t take on many cats because we don’t want to get into an overcrowded, unhealthy situation. We can’t expand until we get more foster homes so for now, we tap out at about 20 cats or less.


This year has been the most demanding, intense, scariest to date, with a seemingly record breaking number of calls and emails, asking for help for feral cats giving birth in all sorts of places, like basement level window wells, in a boat, under a shed. There are reports of injured kittens found, abandoned cats either cast outdoors or left behind in steaming-hot apartments or homes after the owner’s moved away. The heartbreakers are the senior cats whose sole provider passes away or is moved into a nursing home-those cats are the toughest to adopt out and often need a great deal of vet care.


Add to that…adoptions are at an all time low. We’ve had Barney since he was BORN and he just turned a YEAR OLD. Other rescues, loaded up, report one or two adoptions every few weeks, when in past years they were always ready to take on more cats because enough were finding homes. When you do the math, between the rise in abandoned cats or owners who get evicted, the natural rise of the unspayed/neutered cat population and the economy and you have a disaster in the making that has ended up with the cats paying the price with their lives.

Sad Buff Kitty R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. His owner died. Family members promised they would come back for him, but they never did. Leaving him depressed and alone, wondering what he did wrong.


Last week, I got an urgent plea, saying that the Bridgeport [CT] Animal Control was overflowing with 75 cats. Though they NEVER want to euthanize any animal, now they were faced with putting down perfectly adoptable cats and kittens because there was no longer any space to house them. Stories like this are all too common across the country. This is our answer to overcrowded shelters—we KILL the animals to make room for more, so they can be killed next.


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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. “Can't Keep.” Why?

Though I can’t speak for every rescuer, I’d bet we’re all very exhausted, particularly this year. Our spirits are broken, too. We used to be able to call an associate at another rescue and beg a favor. After a few calls we’d usually be able to find someone to say they could help and take on a cat we couldn’t help. We’d offer bribes-we’d pay for vetting or we’d drive the cat to their door. We’d make jokes or promise to use our social networking chops to let everyone know that this one cat is at a great rescue to help that rescue get donations…whatever it took.

Today we can make the calls, but often they go unanswered or if they are answered we’re told; “I’m so sorry, but we just can’t take another…did you try such and such rescue?” We all strive to help each other out, but we’re just lost about how we can keep doing this if people don’t start adopting cats again.

Feces and fear R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How can this cat take the stress of living in this cage? When I approached him, he came over and wanted me to pet his head. Leaving him behind broke my heart.


What we all really needed was some good news to keep us going and today we got some. After a tireless effort by T.A.I.L.S (who offered to pay for the spay/neuter and vaccinations of every cat adopted from Bridgeport), by myself, and MANY other rescues across Connecticut, by the local media, like Scot Haney of WFSB and a crew from Channel 12 News. The word got out-and it didn’t fall on deaf ears.


I made my usual calls asking for help and surprisingly enough a group here in town said they could take on a few kittens if I could go get them. I was told to take five, but then I was faced with having to choose which lives to save.

I’ve done a lot of rescues from Georgia, but I’ve never been to the state. I’ve never gone to animal control and chosen a cat to rescue. I’ve used photos as a guide, but there were plenty of times I didn’t even have that much to go on. This was the first time I would go into a place where I knew if I didn’t help, maybe no one would. As I drove to Bridgeport my task weighed heavily on my heart, but I was also excited to be part of something good happening to these needy animals.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Those are adult cats in those dark cages. They barely can stand. Imagine what it would do to their psychological state after being in there for a long period of time?

I met with Melissa, who runs animal control along with her associate Jimmy. I loved Melissa right away. She was smart, cute with dark curly hair and funky glasses. She was expecting my arrival since I’d promised her help and was finally able to make good on my words. She walked me over to a room that was having some construction done on it and told me to pardon the mess, but mess or no, I was immediately taken aback by what I saw.

Three Tuxes left behind R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I desperately wanted to take these guys, too.


The cinderblock walled room, was small, dark and filled with ungodly small stainless steel cages. Each held a cat that more often than not, barely fit inside it. The cats were stressed, some depressed, some reaching out a paw, asking for attention and hoping to be released from being confined. My heart sank. Of course, I wanted to take the black cat with the white locket on his chest, who was declawed, big, scared…so scared he was sitting in his filthy litter pan. I wanted to take the buff chubby kitty whose owner had died, leaving him on his own, even though family members promised to come back to get him-none of them ever did.


Litter of four at AC R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Do I chose this litter? YES!

Then there were the kittens-either all black or black and white. They were together as a litter, each clinging to the other, wide-eyed, looking at me, trying to decide if I was going to harm them or help. There were eleven kittens and I could only take five. One of the kittens, a sole longhaired black male, was sick, with green discharge from his eyes and his nose was runny. I asked to look at him and I checked his mouth for sores, the telltale sign of Calicivirus-which thankfully he did not have.

I had to consider what the rescue would want, not me. They would want the youngest, friendliest kittens. I went back and forth, adding up which combinations I could take. I started off with the sick kitten, but realized he could affect the others so he had to go back into his cage…and trust me on this…it was not a good feeling. I had to push through my emotions and make a choice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The little sick kitten I thought I had to leave behind (who is now at a Vet getting the care he needs)

I called one of my friends who works with the rescue taking the cats and asked if I could, at least, take a sixth kitten since it would have been left behind when it was part of a litter. She said YES! I wanted to take three older long-haired black and white kittens, but the voice in my head said, no, take the younger ones. I felt the ones I left behind would easily be adopted as they were very pretty and friendly. I had to hope for the best.

Happy Tux with Toy R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This kitten was so friendly I couldn't believe he came out of such a high-stress environment.

We packed up the kittens. In the end I chose two litters: one of two kittens and one of four. I borrowed a second cat carrier so they wouldn’t be together. I looked at the sick kitten and he reached out a paw, wanting to get out of the cage. I asked Melissa to promise to tell me how he was doing and when he got out, but I felt terrible leaving him behind.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I drove the kittens to our new animal control where they would be quarantined for the day until the rescue could come pick them up.

We got them settled into their new quarters, which were easily six times larger than where they had been held. The kittens looked confused until we put food down and then all I could hear was the sound of their tongues lapping greedily at the food. One growled, protecting his precious resource, so we got more plates out and added more food. The litter of four ate 3, 5-oz cans of food.


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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I was at animal control, I mentioned the sick kitten and some of the others. I knew I did what I could, but the image of that little guy stuck with me as I drove home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. These kittens turned out to be cheerful, friendly and playful once they had a chance to get used to their new temporary home.

A few hours later, I got a call. Our dear animal control officer asked me why I didn’t take the sick kitten, too. I told her I had no place for him to go and she told me to go get him and that she would care for him herself and get him placed! I called Melissa and told her I had to return her cat carrier and that I’d do it the next morning. She jokingly asked if I’d like to fill it back up with more cats and I replied, yes and that I was coming back for the sick kitten.

Sweet Tux R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Twenty-four hours later, this little kitten is no longer depressed and fearful, but happy with a full tummy.


I helped get seven kittens into safety and felt like there was some good in this world after all. Three cages were empty, which gave all the other cats a chance to live a little bit longer. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. What I couldn’t have imagined was what I saw the next morning when I returned to Bridgeport Animal Control to pick up the sick kitten…



…a line of people waiting to adopt cats.


I had to wait to get my sick kitten and I got lost trying to find the room he was in. I walked past empty cages, then would see just one cat by itself. Confused I couldn't figure out what was going on, until one of the caretakers came up to me. I asked him about the empty cages. His eyes teared up and he said to me that in the nine years he'd worked at BPT Animal Control, this was the BEST DAY they'd ever had and that most of the cats were GONE. Gone? As in dead? He replied, no…gone as in rescued or adopted.


By the end of that day every single cat-even the saddest, oldest, scruffiest cats, were out of animal control. 75 cats were safe, ALIVE.


If only this story was being repeated across this country at every animal control and shelter…what a wonderful world it would be. Yet, I'm grateful I got to witness the breathtakingly beautiful power of what can happen when people come together to effect great change.

75 cats got to see the sunshine again, breathe fresh air, eat good food and be loved. It doesn't get any better than this.

The Squee Diaries. Ch 9. How Do I Love Thee?

The kittens are eight weeks old. Some of them hit the two pound mark indicating the time has come to get them ready to be adopted. They're big enough to be spayed/neutered and begin getting their appropriate vaccinations. I'll put photos and a description of each one on Petfinder and in the local paper, The Newtown Bee. I'm giving myself an excuse to wait until after 8/6 to do this because on that date my rescue, Kitten Associates is taking part in a National Fundraiser called BarkAid and my brain is already over-taxed. Best not add the stress of getting the kittens ready to go…also it means I just came up with a lame excuse to keep them here a bit longer.

In honor of my beloveds-a love letter to them, which I hope will help you understand why fostering kittens is one of the best jobs anyone could ever have and why I hope everyone will join me in helping save lives by offering to foster kittens in your home town.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Joey.

I love that you are everything in a big cat's body, but in a tiny, precious package. From your delicate, barely visible whiskers to your niblet-sized toes, all in perfect proportion to what you will be one day become.

I love to witness the blossoming of your shape from a formless furry blob into a refined feline. From watching your ear buds open to hear the first sounds or the shape of your tail change from a stubby triangle to a magical rudder. I never tire seeing your shaky, unsure steps become sure-footed and completely carefree. Every aspect of your day is about exploration, challenges, achievement and endless joy. Because you don't have to worry about where your next meal will come from or fear predators nearby, your life can be what I wish my life was—one that celebrates the wonder of simply being who you are without fear.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lil' Gracey ponders her paw.

I love that you reflect back to me the love I give to you. After a time our love becomes a purring resonance without a source. It travels back and forth between us without effort. It just is, pure and complete.

You trust me to care for you as you need to be cared for, with respect to your needs and never-waving concern for your well being. I'm not afraid of the responsibility but I am scared, deep-down, that I will miss something and you will suffer because I didn't notice the signs or symptoms. My goal is to never cause you to suffer even if I can't prevent my own suffering.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey gets ready to run for it.

I love your firsts—your first purr, the first time you look into my eyes and recognize me as a friend, the first time you react to my voice by running over to be near me. I love it when you reach up to me, asking to be held. It tells me I did the right thing for you because if you can love me, then you will love your new family, too, one day.

I love giving you challenges, but in measured amounts. I don't push you too far, just a little bit every day, so every day you can be more confident in the world whose boundaries grow further and further away from our little foster room nest. I know I can't contain you, so I don't try. You must grow beyond this little space to claim a new one for your self some day.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie turns to jelly.

I love to watch you play. I'm tempted to believe that watching you could cure cancer as you hop backwards with your back arched, practicing your menacing moves. It just comes off as the scatter-brained antics of a clown. I can't stop smiling as you race past me to jump onto your sibling, turning into a furry tumbleweed. Even if I don't know how I will pay my mortgage, you give me space to remember to smile; that life goes on and is still beautiful even in the darkest moments.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Look ma, one paw!

Although I don't love when the time comes to say goodbye, I have to love knowing that you're here because I opened up my home to you. You didn't have to lose your life before it had a chance to begin. You didn't have to live a shortened life outside, racing from one fearful moment to the next.

I have to love kissing you goodbye because it means that you've graduated from this phase of your life and with any luck, you're going to have a comfortable, wonderful rest-of-your-life next.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mad crush on Mel…

Part of loving you means facing my own fears-fear that I will never stop being sad after you leave, but it also means finding faith-faith that I will find others who need me just as you did. Together we will walk the path to those all too familiar moments to be witnessed again and again.

In some ways, you will never leave me. You are forever a kitten and forever my love.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson…and Petey.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Attacking the toe monster.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley plays the harmonica..I mean toy.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. At eight weeks Joey's eyes are starting to change color from baby blue.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Of all the kittens, Stanley LOVES to play more than the others.

Time is almost up! Please don't forget to VOTE so we can win a $1000 donation for our kittens (and so I can keep fostering!)!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey is as sweet as his photo suggests. He's got the most tender heart of the litter and he so reminds me of Fred who we lost on May 9th.

The Squee Diaries. Ch 8. Paint the Town Brown

The miserable heat wave has vanished, replaced with blessedly cool and drier air. The windows are open for the first time in weeks. It feels more like autumn than the middle of July. I’m grateful for the respite, even if it will just last until morning.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The gang at 7 weeks: Confetti Joe, Yukon Stan, Lil' Gracey, Precious Pete & Jellybean Mel (front).

Minnie’s kittens continue to delight me. Even without their mother’s careful tutelage, they surprise me by being willing to accept me as their surrogate—at least in as many ways as are appropriate. For a little over two weeks the kittens have been mine alone. Minnie has completely turned over her duties to me, without a look back or regret. She moved on before any of us were ready. Her sudden apparent rejection of all her kittens, first brought on by the pain of her illness, then perhaps due to her hormones, urging her to procreate again, was rather shocking. It was as if a switch was flipped and with it her motherhood came to a premature end. The kittens and I were lost for those first few days. Neither of us wanted to give up on her so each day I offered her one kitten. I held the kitten out to her with the door opened to her room. At first she would act out violently, hissing and growling, scaring the poor kitten badly. I’d soothe its fears and put it back with the others. Minnie would go back to her place and lay down, grooming away her anxiety over being presented with an unwelcome guest.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie between vet visits.

I tried each day for a week to get Minnie to accept her kittens again. Minnie didn’t hiss as much, but reacted by retreating further into her room. The kitten would cry to her and she would reply with a tiny almost-chirp. Maybe she was telling the kitten that it’s time to grow up and be on their own and to trust that mama knows best.

Gracy on the cat tree R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey.

What I didn’t expect was how the kittens immediately rallied, focusing their interest on me. When I’d previously entered the room, they would look up, maybe run past me, but now, they run over to me, try to climb up my leg or cry at my feet, hoping to be lifted into my arms for a cuddle. For seven and half week old kittens, they are all very friendly and affectionate. I realize that this will be better for them in the long run. Bonding with a human will serve them well one day when their families come to find them.

Eating Raw R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Eating raw.

Weaning kittens is always a challenge. They make a horrendous mess by running over their plate and tracking food all over the floor. Their litter pan habits still have a few kinks to be worked out so there’s “that” to be cleaned up as well. The literal dark side of weaning is that the kittens are also getting their digestion working, or not. The result for those tender tummies were piles of mushy brown splats all over the bathroom. At first I blamed it on parasites so I checked a stool sample out and the test came back negative. I still de-wormed the kittens with Strongid, which doesn’t get all the parasites, but it’s gentle enough.

Stanley Closeup R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Stan! Swoon!

That didn’t work so I began adding a probiotic based in dehydrated goat’s milk to their food. The kittens liked it a lot, but it didn’t help, at least for the few days I fed it.

It got to the point where I didn’t want to enter the foster room. The poo-piles were always somewhere tough to get at, like behind the toilet and the smell could be bottled and used as a chemical weapon. I was very worried when I saw blood, some of it mucousy, in their stool. The kittens had very wet bottoms and many cried while in the pan. It’s one thing to work with one sick cat, but five sick kittens is a test of how to stay calm when in your mind you imagine that the kittens have the beginnings of something terrible and not just simple loose stools.

Befor and after poo R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. After a day of raw (inset), canned food moosh-poop.

I kept the kittens clean and I scrubbed the floors a few times a day. I decided to take the kittens off whatever I was feeding and put them on a plain, raw chicken diet that also had proper vitamins and minerals added to it. They attacked it with such vigor that I was taken aback. Within 24 hours their stool showed signs of improvement AND they stopped using the floor for their toilet.

Joey Pooping R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Joey. Straining and crying in the litter pan.

On the second day, I saw less blood, but in a somewhat formed stool. The kittens behinds looked cleaner and the litter pan wasn’t as loaded. I went back to a new de-wormer and started them on that to see if it would help. I knew I might have to use something more powerful if I couldn’t get the blood to stop, but for now the kittens were racing around, gaining weight and having fun. No need to flip out.

Rock stars R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My little rock stars.

What was interesting to me was that I ran out of raw food and had to feed the kittens one meal of canned late at night. The next morning I found stool puddles all over the bathroom again. I wondered about the food being the culprit or was it just that the raw was easier on their tummies?

Joey with Mousey R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey with mousey.

While I was trying to sort out what to feed the kittens, Minnie’s health took an odd turn. She went into heat and stopped eating. I haven’t seen a cat in heat since I was 9 and we were told to wait until our kitten was almost a year old before we should spay her. She went into heat and my parents thought it was amusing that she got so very friendly with my dad-especially. What it told me was that now with Minnie on her own, I couldn’t even spay her so she’d have to remain in her room without any cat-companionship for a while longer. Spaying a cat in heat is difficult because the uterus is engorged with blood and can tear easily. Since Minnie had just barely recovered from a terrible infection, I didn't want to put her into any higher risk for her spay.

What the heck R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many cats are in this photo? Hint: there is MORE than one.

I took Minnie to see Dr. Chris, who thankfully gives us an amazingly generous discount, and he told me that we could end Minnie’s estrous by stimulating her ovaries. I gave Dr. Chris a funny look then said; “You’re not even going to buy her dinner first?”

Then I wondered how this was going to be done. Next I thought…I don’t want to know.

Minnie at Vet Sniffing R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Chris.

Dr. Chris grabbed a thermometer and a cover for the tip then gestured for me to hold Minnie in place. He inserted the thermometer into Minnie’s vagina and twisted it around. Minnie started to vocalize loudly, her eyes wide. I thought she was going to bite me, but then quickly realized she was too busy getting her funk on with Dr. Chris to bother with me.

Stanley and Mellie R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan and Mel.

In all the years I’ve done rescue, this is one thing I’ve never had to do. Dr. Chris told me that we had to irritate her, just as a male cat’s barbed penis would and it would end the cycle and we could spay her safely sooner.

Of course, I blurted out that if humans had barbed penises there would be three humans on Earth. He didn’t make a comment and I simply blushed.

Joe Tail Tug R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mine! Mine! Mine!

We opted to give Minnie her Rabies and FRVCP (distemper combo) vaccinations. I thought she’d be fine, but she had a nasty reaction to the shots. Her right front leg went lame and she didn’t get up for the next 24 hours. Worried, I called two Vets and they said to give her another day. By the second day she was up on her paws, but not eating well. I sat down next to her to give her some reassuring pets when I noticed a big red lesion under her left front leg-nowhere near where her vaccine was given.

Jellybean Mellie B R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie.

Either she was having a nasty allergic reaction or somehow Minnie had gotten the dreaded “RW” (ringworm). Just as I thought Minnie was finally out of the woods, she was back in it again. I raced her over to Dr. Chris and he took a look. He thought it was an Eosinophilic plaque-possibly brought on by the vaccine OR it was “RW.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A foreign lesion.

…but he was leaning toward the plaque to which I almost told him I would make out with him I was so happy. Ringworm means lots of fear it will spread to ALL of us..not just the cats but to me and Sam, too. No ringworm means Minnie can be with other cats much sooner and hopefully with some treatment she will feel much better, too. Fortunately for me, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t embarrass myself further. We did a culture of the fur near the lesion and we'll have to wait about 10 days for results.

Joe and Gracey Posing Nicely R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joe & Gracey.

In the meantime I will keep fumbling along, trying to right this tipping ship and hoping I can prepare myself for the kittens to be ready to go up for adoption soon. I knew I would get attached and now I have to figure out how to still love those babies to pieces without shattering my own heart.

NOTE: there were SO MANY PHOTOS I didn't have room in this post, so the next one will photos-only and please don't forget to VOTE so we can win a $1000 donation for our kittens!

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The Squee Diaries. Chapter 7. Let the Good Times Roll.

The day before Minnie fell ill and required emergency Vet care, followed by two days on an IV at the Vet, I put this post together, chock full of photos of the kittens as they discovered their first tiny cat tree. The kittens are bigger, more sophisticated 6-week olds now, but here's a look back at them at 5 weeks having fun and exploring their ever-growing world.


Glimpse of Toy first R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Investigating their very first toy from Auntie Ingrid at The Conscious Cat.

Group Photo Crap Gracey R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Say “mousey!”.

Petey gets a claw trim R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey's first claw trim.

Stan in the cloud bed R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley.

Stan in the box R Olson rt.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My first cardboard box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey sleeping in the box (seen on SqueeTV)

Gracey holds a meeting R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and the boys.

Stanley Hears a Who R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley hears a Who.

Cute Mellie R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Pkee-a-Boo!

Hail Gracey Climbing R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. All hail Gracey!

Go Mel R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. He's lovin' it!

Mel on Top R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellie makes the summit.

Mels first jump r olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. !!!

Oops R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oops! No kitten was harmed during or after this photo was taken.

Gracey wants back R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The first one to get in and out of the tub-Gracey shows off.

The boys and their climber R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Huh?

My First Vertical R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Hey!

Stan Standing R Olson copy.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Assessing the climb.

Stan locked on target R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I think I can!

Stan and the blue ball R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Hi Stanley!

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Stanley Reaches the Sumit R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley makes it to the top of the mountain!

Boyz in da Bed R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey is camera shy.


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