The Squee Diaries. Chapter 6. Happy Family No More

I feel like I really understand the phrase, “wrung out,” as I sit here, trying to write about what happened today. My body aches, my head buzzes from an overload of caffeine. I ate stupid junk just to keep myself fueled up with something since I didn't have time to eat until 3pm. I'm not whining, I'm just very very tired.

This morning got off to a terrible start. I walked down stairs, half asleep, I've been staying up far too late then getting up too early. I got to the bottom of the stairs and found a pile of poop. Of course. It was from Nicky. He's been doing this every day for a long while. He drops his "surprise" off in different places, most often the entryway to my office. It's not a big deal, just an irritation, but once I took a few more steps into the kitchen, my heart sank. The cats had urinated into a cardboard cat food tray that was on the floor. It was covered in plastic but the urine seeped under it and RUINED the wooden floor-turning it black. I lifted the try in disgust. As I tipped it onto the garbage can the urine splashed onto my pajamas. When will I learn? The cats like to sit on the tray in this spot, then others pee on it. Then I get mad and clean it up. Stupid me.

I thought that Sam and I had made great strides in working with the cats so they didn't pee all over the house. Yet the tray was nothing compared to the scene around the island in the center of the kitchen. There were puddles of urine all around the base. I've never seen it so bad. I was furious. Great way to start the day.

©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sorry for the yucky photo..just multiply this by was all over.

Sam and I cleaned up, but I was in a race to get to Minnie's room so she could get fed. I don't like to let her or the kittens go too long without some food so they're always my first concern. I got their food ready and opened the door to the blue bathroom. What I saw didn't click at first, but when the images slowly made sense, I recoiled in horror.

Everywhere I looked there was vomit. Vomit on the side of the tub, in the tub, near the tub, on the floor, on the bedding, on the cat tree, under the cat tree. It looked like a bomb went off. Some of it was clear or pale colored, some was reddish-food colored. The kittens seemed active and normal, but Minnie was by herself looking a bit forlorn. The day before she'd been a bit quiet, but now she seemed even worse. If she had been the only one vomiting, clearly she was very sick. Much of the vomit was in small puddles. The kittens certainly could have done it but they seemed just fine.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

It took about 45 minutes to get the room cleaned up. I took Minnie's temp and it was 101.4°F, not a fever but what was making her vomit? I replayed some of the DVR footage from Squee-TV and at 4am I saw her vomiting violently four times. I called Dr Larry's office and made an appointment. They could see us in an hour. I was to bring the kittens, too.

I wasn't certain, but I thought I heard Minnie growling at the kittens. She wouldn't go near them and didn't seem to care about them, either. I showered quickly and got the kittens packed up into a carrier and put Minnie into her own, worried she would be harmed by the kittens. I had pressed on her mammary glands and they felt subtle and warm, not hot and hard. I'm paranoid about her getting mastitis and have been trying to get the kittens weaned fast to prevent Minnie from getting an infection from their claws or teeth. I tried to sort out what it could be, but I had no idea.

©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

Dr. Larry examined Minnie. It was clear from his expression that something was wrong. When he said as much I wasn't surprised, but what he said next made me sick to my stomach. He felt that her intestines felt gassy and mushy, as if inflamed. He rattled off a number of tests he wanted to do: X-rays, CBC, repeat her snap test. Minnie's gums were dry and tacky, a sign of dehydration. He wanted to put her on an IV right away so I nodded, hoping we'd be able to raise money for her care. I knew it was going to be expensive, even with our discount.

Then Dr. Larry said it could be FIP. I tried to be strong. I didn't cry, but inside my head I imagined pulling my hair out and screaming, followed by sobbing and curling up in a ball on the floor. I challenged him about it, but he said it's one thing it could be and that it was good that the kittens were 5 1/2 weeks old since they didn't need her any more. I took offense and he quickly offered that he meant that she could be away from them and stay on an IV for the day. “Okay..sure”…that's all I could say back.

Super Deb took Minnie away. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Dr. Larry looked at the kittens and was quick to say how adorable they were and that whatever was troubling Minnie, was unlikely harming or effecting the kittens. Then he wanted me to take a photo of him with the kittens so he could send it to his daughter. He scooped up 4 of the kittens and smiled as I took the photos. At least, for now, they were safe. I just had to pray they'd start eating for me soon. Mel hasn't eaten cat food yet and the others don't eat much of it.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

I didn't have to wait long before I got news-Minnie has a raging White Blood Count. She's at 60,000. High normal is about 5,000. SHe had two other indicators of inflammation/infection that were showing us she has a wicked bacterial infection of "unknown origin." Thankfully, her organ function tests were normal so her liver and kidneys were still working. Dr. Larry wanted to do more tests, but he was very worried. He said Minnie is basically septic right now so we have to hit this hard. He gave her an injection of Baytril, a broad spectrum antibiotic. She'd need a lot more medication and we'd have to discuss whether it was safe for her to ever feed her kittens again at another time.

For now it was sit and wait and hope that Minnie would begin to respond to treatment.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

Later in the day, I got another call. Dr. Larry was worried that Minnie has pancreatitis which is very tough to diagnose. I asked about Minnie's uterus-was it infected? Not even KNOWING about Pyometra! He said, yes, it could be that, too. He didn't bring up FIP and I didn't ask. I asked about doing an emergency spay surgery on her, but he felt she was too sick to risk it.

He asked to run more tests on her urine and a FPL Idexx Test on her pancreas so I said yes, while my mental adding machine went haywire adding more and more figures to the mix. Those tests would take a day to get back, but in the meantime he wanted Minnie to come home (since they don't have overnight hours) with her catheter in place. She would come back in the morning for another day on an IV while we waited on test results.

I just want to save Minnie's life and I feel sure that we need to spay her-which would also allow us to do an exploration of her abdomen and see what the infection is from. It's a careful balance of doing it too soon and not doing it soon enough. We don't want to make the infection worse, but we need to get that uterus out if it's indeed the culprit.

I asked if Minnie could still nurse the kittens after her spay and was surprised to learn that she could. I couldn't imagine her doing that after having her belly laid open, but I'd leave it up to her to choose to do that or not. I loved watching Minnie care for her kittens. She was so loving and watchful and it's heartbreaking to think those days are over so soon.

I brought Minnie home, hoping for a happy reunion, but what I saw next broke my heart. I saw Minnie lash out at little Mel, trying to kill him. (I didn't know this was going to happen as I shot a video of what I thought would be the happy reunion. It's too upsetting to watch) He was shocked and upset. The other kittens took off and hid, cowering from their once loving mother. Minnie growled and hissed at them, then at me, too. I tried to imagine how much pain she's in and I told myself that she just needed time to heal and feel like herself-maybe even better than that and it would be okay.

For now Minnie is alone in the last tiny space I have in the house. The kittens are crammed into one cat bed comforting each other. They won't eat so I will syringe feed them tonight. We had 5 weeks of bliss, Minnie, the kittens and I, and it's tough to see that vanish overnight. I can only hope it won't always be this way.

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As for our fundraiser, THANK YOU to everyone who raced to offer us donations. We made our goal and then some in LESS THAN 12 HOURS. Yes, we may STILL need more, but I'm holding off on asking until I have more information. For now, I need to brace myself for what waits for me in the foster room. Will Minnie attack me when I try to medicate her? Will she be stable tonight? Will the kittens start eating? Have they been traumatized after all the weeks of my being so careful with them? I can't say..I just have to hang on and hope for the best.

Thank you for being there with me through this difficult day. I couldn't do this on my own.

The Squee Diaries. Chapter 5. The Last Days of the Blue Bathtub

The blue bathtub is empty. Once home to our little foster nuggets, it's now devoid of life, still lined with a soft thick blanket, a few motionless toys, and a tiny litter pan with kitten-safe non-clumping litter inside it.

As all kittens do and should do, they have grown quickly, and in their urgent desire to explore a slowly expanding world, the tub could no longer contain their curiosity.

But before that happened, let's take a look back on the last days of the Blue Bathtub.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Minnie's milk bar is still open for lunch.

As the kittens reached 4 weeks of age, the “drunk walk” they did began to become more confident strides. I was glad to see those days pass. Although endearing to see, it also reminded me of Fred's last days of not being able to walk at all. Seeing the kittens sure-steps gave me some relief, too. It meant their muscles and bones were growing stronger and more capable. With each day, another small miracle. Their weight continued to increase as their awareness of the world expanded.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Passed out pile of cuteness.

I placed a few simple toys in the tub with them, but they didn't understand what they were for. They were happy to use each other as a toy or alternatively a pillow when play time was over. They were still focused on mama-Minnie for everything and had no interest in any tempting foods I set out for them.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan washes his face while brother, Joe sleeps.

With Minnie being so painfully thin, my hope is to get the kittens weaned as soon as possible, so she can work on getting her health back. She's a devoted, focused mother who is gentle and friendly, but fierce if threatened. My day-to-day relationship with her is very good and affectionate, but one night I learned Minnie's true colors when out of curiosity, I played a cat meowing sound effect on my iPhone that mimicked Minnie's own cry to her kittens. Minnie heard it an immediately went on alert. She jumped towards the sound, landing on the counter near the bathroom sink. She'd never jumped that high before and quickly began to growl, flicking her tail, anxiously looking for a threat. I played another sound, that of a kitten crying and she really flipped out-racing around the room, frantically searching for the intruder. Her behavior was quite startling.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lil Gracey dreams her little kitten dreams.

I told her it was okay and felt like a complete idiot for testing her like that. Her tail was puffed out and her pupils dilated. She was on high alert and ready to fight, but just as quickly as she alerted, she began to calm down. I was afraid to touch her, but soon realized it was probably safe to do so. Within a few minutes, Minnie was back to watching over her “flock.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Shhh..nap in progress.

Minnie's appetite has also been difficult to predict. One day she's ravenous and will eat what I give her, but most often she's picky and reluctant to take a bite. I've used all my tricks, warming the food, sprinkling dehydrated chicken on it, mixing in some raw chicken liver, but it doesn't often help. I'll even put some on my finger and rub it along her teeth to get her to lick some of the food and get a taste for it.

If she eats at all, she can take more than 20 minutes for her to get the idea that it's food and start to eat, some times even longer. I find myself running up and down the stairs to get the food back into the microwave to re-warm it up, thinking the warm food will help her smell it. I can't seem to find the perfect food or combination of food that she will eat each time. I've been adding goat milk to the food or bringing her a small bowl of it and she seems to like that a lot and I do know it's helped keep her hydrated and given her some extra Vitamin D.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Hey! Do not disturb!

The kittens seem to be doing very well. Their weights are all in line if not ahead of what I would expect them to weigh at their age. Petey was the smallest so I worried about him. Stanely and Mellie are the big boys, each hitting a full pound in weight before the others. I was grateful that none of them were so off the mark that I had to intervene with syringe feeding.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mel (left) and Petey (right)

The kittens are starting to get their teeth and their eyes are blue, instead of dark orbs. They're starting to sort out what a litter pan is-besides a fun place to play. They seem to be okay with me in the room, but I always wonder if I'm handling them enough or too little. I want to keep them safe and calm until they're another week older. Then I need to get more people to visit so they don't get spooked at newcomers.

I should try not to worry so much about being perfect with them and just enjoy these precious weeks. I can't believe how they've grown and how it seems like overnight they've become little cats racing to see who the first will be to explore the world outside the tub.

And not surprisingly, Gracey seems to be leading the way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey, leader of the pack, begins her attempt to bust out of the blue bathtub.

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Stay tuned for Chapter 6.—coming soon.

Another Orange Family Needs a Helping Hand

I had just barely gotten Minnie and her five kittens settled in the now famous blue-bathtub you may have seen featured on my rescue, Kitten Associate's, 24/7 web cam called Squee-TV when I got an email from a friend of mine who does rescue in the southern USA. She sent me a photo of an orange mama-cat, not unlike my own Minnie, whose time was almost up-the delicate way to say she was going to be euthanized if we didn't get her out.

She also had kittens, older than my little guys, but no less deserving of being freed from their cage and given a chance to live a full life. The kittens had been separated from her because they were old enough to be weaned, but what we didn't know is that someone was putting them back with mama each night, which at first glance might seem touching, when in fact it was dangerous for the mama.

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I was asked if I could help get the mama-cat out of the shelter. I couldn't take her on, but I could help her if we could find a good rescue to take part. I'd offer up what I could, including asking our dear-Bobby to help by picking up the family if, indeed, we had time to make this happen at all. When time is up…time is up.

I hate calling animal control. I always feel like I'm going to throw up because I don't know if they are going to tell me the cat is "not available” (dead) or if for some bizarre reason I can't have the cats. I promised I'd call and ask for time, maybe a few days, to put things together. If I couldn't get the rescue sorted out, then I would let them know. They agreed to give me until the next morning. Oh boy…I had to act fast.

Thankfully, a rescue in the northeast offered to take the cats. They have been fully checked out and we know we can get the cats to them. The problem is money-we need to have the cats fully vetted to sweeten the pot for the rescue to take on the family. That's not a bad thing and some times we do this to help each other out.

What I couldn't have bargained on was the frantic call I got early the next morning. The mama cat was screaming in pain and would not allow anyone to touch her. The staff was going to put her down right then and there. Something was terribly wrong. They remembered I'd asked to put a rescue hold on this cat and one of the staff urged them to NOT put her down and to call me first. When I answered the phone and heard her anxious tone, I knew it was serious.

Without thinking I said “Hell, yes! Get her out of there! I'll have Bobby come over right away, hang on.” Had I just signed myself up for a multi-thousand dollar Vet bill? What was wrong with the mama?

In no time at all Bobby picked up the mama and her six kittens. Mama was taken to the Vet. She had a very bad case of mastitis, an infection of the mammary glands. In her case it caused an ulceration of one of the glands, which is extremely painful. This often happens when kittens are too old to be nursing from their mama and their teeth puncture her skin and push nasty bacteria into the glands or the kittens claws can cause scratches or bacteria can go into the gland during rough nursing. It can be deadly and must be treated right away. Those nights of allowing the kittens on mama probably caused the issue when separating them might have kept her healthy.

Thankfully, we weren't too late. Mama is in a foster home with her kittens, though separated from them so she can heal. She's doing well and the kittens are free to explore the world beyond the size of a cage. They have a hopeful future, we just need to lend them a helping hand so they can be on their way.

This fundraiser doesn't need much to be filled up. I hope we can make that happen. If we all add a little bit to the pot, it will fill up in a jiffy! Just click the “GIVE NOW” button and you're all set.

Cats like Minnie and now, Ginger need our support. One day they will be spayed and chubby and in their forever homes. We're all part of the team that gets them there so they can find their happy ending.

Thank you for being part of our team and helping to save lives!

JULY 5, 2013 UPDATE: We made our fundraising goal AND in even BETTER NEWS, Ginger mama, her six kittens and SEVEN MORE ORPHAN KITTENS are on their way to the northeast to find safe haven in a rescue there! Our Bobby and Izzy and Mark are part of the team driving them over 1000 miles in the next few days so if you see a car full of kitties, give them a wave and let them know how AWESOME THEY ARE..and to Joan Flores who started this mission and was able to put a group together of strangers, all dedicated to saving lives. With the help of all of your donations and sharing this message, we DID IT!

A Home At Last for Bongo and George

In October of 2012, we rescued two cats. One cat was on “death row” at a municipal shelter and the other was toughing it out, a dumped stray cat, who chose to seek help at an apartment complex where the owner was considering poisoning the many homeless cats on the property to “deal with” the situation.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson (main). George with a lipstick stain on his forehead and ratty coat right after being rescued and now stunning beauty.

It's not easy for us to take on young adult cats because without a brick and mortar facility, where folks can come and see our cats, it takes a long time to find forever homes. People will make an effort to go through the application process and home visit for a kitten, but for an adult, that's another story.

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©2012 Maria S. (inset) ©2013 Robin A.F. Olson (main). I can't get over the transformation of Bongo! He weighed four pounds on intake.

So here we are, eight months later with our cats Bongo and George. They've both blossomed from being underweight, flea-covered, suffering with ear mites and tattered coats, to magnificent, radiant, affectionate beings. Looking at their before and after photos surprised me. I hadn't realized how far they'd come. It makes me proud to see their positive transformation.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh George, I will forever swoon when I think of you.

There were a few bumps in the road, particularly with Bongo. I noticed he'd pant after a short period of playing and at rest his respirations were far faster than the normal, roughly 20-40 per minute. This concerned me greatly because I'd lost a cat to HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the only sign I had that something was off was his breathing had a “hitch” to it. By the time I knew he was really ill, it was too late and he passed away during attempts to treat him. Ever since that horror, I've been more vigilant.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney and George.

I brought Bongo to visit a new Vet, Dr. J., and he examined Bongo carefully. They did some blood work, a chest x-ray and some tests. One of the test was for Heartworm and the other was for Bartonella, either issue could cause Bongo's problems though it was less likely that Bartonella had anything to do with his respirations, but it might have an issue with his chronic loose stools.

The tests showed that Bongo was negative for heartworm, but a STRONG positive for Bartonella which is transmitted by flea bites and IS contagious to humans. In humans it's nickname is Cat Scratch Fever.

I urge you all to learn about Bartonella (which can also be called, Mycoplasma) because it can mimic MANY other health issues in cats. Look out for upper respiratory issues that just won't clear up, especially eye problems. Look for digestive issues, too, like chronic loose stool. If you run a stool sample on your cat and it keeps coming up negative and you've de-wormed your cats according to your Vet's recommendations, then consider testing for Bartonella. I mention this because more and more Vets are starting to test for this. They're seeing cats with very few symptoms or NO symptoms and have it. I do random tests on my own cats and was shocked that some of them had it and they do NOT go outdoors.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The tail of tails.

We decided to do the treatment for Bartonella, then wait to see if Bongo improved before going to the next step, which would be doing an echocardiogram, the only way to see the thickening in the walls of the heart that is indicative of HCM.

Meanwhile, life in the foster room had improved for Barney, who during the past six months has been over grooming his fur, leaving shocking bald patches on his sides and belly. I'd been running Barney to see Dr. Mary and we did some tests, but nothing helped. I didn't want to put Barney on steroids because they truly harm so many systems in the cat that it's a last-ditch treatment in my book.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo-loaf.

Since Bongo, Bunny and George joined Barney and after a few days of hissy behavior, Barney began to enjoy his new companions and his over-grooming began to wane. Looking back I think Barney knew that Fred was sick before we did and his anxiety about it was reflected in him licking off his fur. With new friends who are healthy and can play with him, Barney's coat is filling in and he spends the day rubbing up against his new friends and enjoying games of “chase me around the room” and “Ooo! Chase me some more!”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Geogre can you stop being so pretty?

The pace of each day fell into a familiar routine. Each night I'd sit with them for a few hours. We'd have play time, snuggle time and a snack. Bongo and George would often lay in my lap and give me those lovey-eyed looks that made me want to keep them here for good.

But I was waiting. I knew I had a home for Bongo, not long after I rescued him. A friend of mine brought over a donation of cat food from a couple whose cat had recently died very unexpectedly. The FIV+ cat had had its' leg amuputated, and not long after, the Vet had over-prescribed medication for it, which ended up killing the cat.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. George and his mama-Beth.

I wrote the couple a very nice thank you note and sympathy card for their loss. A few weeks later, in late December of 2012, I got photos and a heartbreaking letter about their wonderful kitty. Clearly, these people LOVED their cat and even mentioned that “one day” they would want to adopt another 3-legged cat. I knew right then and there that Bongo was going to be theirs-maybe not today, but some day.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo and Mama.

Six months later, the couple reached out to us and asked about Bongo. They wanted to make sure they could adopt him, but could I hold onto him for a few weeks while they do some home repairs? The last thing they wanted to do was bring in a new cat and stress him out. I didn't mind the added wait and they graciously brought me cat food to cover his extra time with us AND a PIE (for me and Sam!).

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Newly minted brothers, Bongo and George.

Meanwhile George's adoption fall through, twice, with the same family. Though I was very sad it didn't work out, with George being available again, once the couple saw him, they knew that he needed to be part of their family, too. That meant Bongo and George would be brothers and have a wonderful life together.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney reaches out for a kiss goodbye, which Bongo graciously gives him-though it doesn't look like it in this photo!

Though having fosters cats here for many months is not ideal and keeps us from helping more cats, knowing that these two will be going to a fantastic home, where their every need will be met, where they will be looked after and cherished, is a thrill. They're both such deserving cats, I can't help but smile thinking about them leaving us.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Barney still waits for a home. His Petfinder page is HERE.

I love both cats dearly and will miss them very much, but this time there are no tears. I won't be worrying that they won't get what they need as I sometimes do after adoptions.

My focus now is to find a home for Barney, who just had his first birthday and who still has no one interested in adopting him. It makes me so very sad. Barney is the sole survivor of his litter and is the most easy-going, friendly cat you'd ever meet. He makes me laugh with his silly antics. I just wish someone else would see that and want to open their home to him.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny is waiting, too! Here's her Petfinder PAGE.

Barney is also very close to Bunny Boo-Boo, who with her shyness is going to be tough to find a home for. She's sweet and playful and loves other cats, but she tends to hide when new people enter the room. Perhaps with George and Bongo on their way to their forever home, she'll have a chance to flower?

I guess we'll just go back to waiting and hope that one day the family for Barney and Bunny will contact me so they can find their rightful place in the world, just as Bongo and George have.

If Wishes Were Horses. Steven Leon Olson.

Caring for my cat Fred, as he slowly weakened and until he died, was emotionally crippling. One of the worst aspects of providing palliative care for a cat is you can’t talk to the cat about what you’re doing and why it has to be done. They can’t understand why they have to bear the discomfort of syringe-feeding, in the hopes that the food will comfort and maintain life. You can’t tell your cat; “This is for the best. This is because I love you so much.” They may understand the loving tone of your voice, but they can’t understand the meaning of the sounds. They can’t forgive you for forcing irritating drops into their eyes. They can’t know that the nasty medicine might cure what ails them.

But what do you do when it’s a human, not a cat, who is nearing the end of their life? What do you do when that person was your ex-husband and you can’t talk to him because his wife would flip out, but you want to say goodbye and offer him some comfort?

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve ready to bowl. We loved to visit old bowling alleys. Steve was pretty good (though I admit the view from the rear as he was throwing the ball was my favorite).

My brother-in-law called me this morning. I don’t refer to him as my “ex…” because I still have a heart-connection to the Olson clan in Minnesota. We may not speak often, or get invited to a family wedding, but when the need arises, we are there for each other. We still care. We still say, “I love you.”

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©1987 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve in his studio holding his cat, Chanel.

He told me that my former husband, Steve, was on his deathbed. Salivary gland cancer first reared its head as jaw pain and maybe a bad toothache that went unchecked last year. Steve didn’t have insurance, so he wouldn’t go to the dentist. When he finally went to the ER, in excruciating pain, they told him he had a suspicious growth in his jaw that needed to be checked out. With no way to pay for expensive care, his second wife urged him to go to her homeland of Bulgaria, thinking they could get the treatment Steve needed for free (it didn’t turn out that way, sadly and still cost over $10,000.00 just to get started).

So Steve found himself in Bulgaria, hoping to find a cure. They diagnosed him as being in Stage IV, which has a very few percent chance of survival over 5 years. Life expectancy is typically much less.

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Chanel on the stairs (yes, we let her outside back then).

I was told that a few family members are hoping to make it to Bulgaria to see Steve one last time. His parents are in their late 70's/early 80's. It would be too hard on them to travel so far, where they don’t speak Bulgarian and I’m not sure they have a very comfortable relationship with Steve’s wife. Steve made a choice to remove himself from the people who love him most and who are hurting over their inability to do anything more for him. If only he had stayed in the USA, his brother would have found a way to pay for his care. I was even going to tell him he could live here with us and we could take him to Yale New Haven hospital for care.

For me, the problem is that I can’t even call him or email him to say goodbye. I know his wife would freak out, as she has the handful of times I’ve ever tried to talk to him. I even had to change my phone number because of her angry calls in the middle of the night after I talked with him once. It’s ironic that she was the one who wanted him so badly, to get her precious Green Card. I bet she figured she had a good meal ticket in Steve since he was a workaholic to the extreme. She’d get to live in the USA and have someone pay her way, but she ended up getting the short end of the stick when the job market dried up and Steve was left floundering and scrambling to avoid bill collectors.

But here I go, thinking dark thoughts, when I should let this all go. It’s time to put aside the bullshit and focus on life lessons.

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Scenes from our wacky wedding featuring a cake with bowling ball trophy figures on the top.

Before the cancer and the mistress and the all the misery of divorce, was a beginning—a story of two people who thought they were in love forever, who got married in a renovated Munsingwear Underwear factory and who had bowling ball centerpieces on each table at their reception. Steve and I were that happy couple who left on a 6,000 mile road-trip-honeymoon in our 1951 Pontiac Chieftan Deluxe, we called Morticia. It was a fresh start buoyed along with a trunk full of maps, bowling balls, the tingle of a new journey and dreams of a magical future.

Steve was a snappy dresser. He loved to preen in front of the mirror. What a narcissist, but I thought it was also charming that he dressed better than I did. He kept me on my toes.

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve, smoking. Oh how I wish I could have stopped him doing that, perhaps this story would have ended differently.

He often wore a wide-brimmed Fedora, his red, white and blue vintage 1950’s high school letter jacket, tight black jeans, a black shirt with bold geometric patterns on it, and his signature Tony Lama cowboy boots. He always wore glasses, which he needed but made him look even cooler. With dirty blonde hair and clear blue eyes, the glasses gave him a know-it-all-look hence my nickname for him - Mr. Peabody (Of course I was his sidekick, Sherman).

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©1988 Robin A.F. Olson. My mother with Chanel.

Steve was gregarious and loved art and design. He had a cat named Chanel; the first guy I ever dated who had a cat. I could talk for hours with him about anything. We got along so well that I did everything I could to get him to fall in love with me. It was stupid and desperate, and though we didn’t have great physical chemistry, we had this amazing ability to be together without any trouble at all. We loved doing the same things, especially going to flea markets and tiny antique stores that dotted the Midwest, where we lived at the time. We would drive 1000 miles in a weekend, before Ebay, before cellphones. All we had were flyers, maps and the lure of the open road. Steve taught me it was okay not to know your destination; that the journey could be better than the goal and he was often right.

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A post card from our honeymoon. Paul & Babe the Blue Ox are in the Trees of Mystery in Klamath Falls, CA.

Steve also smoked constantly. My father smoked, so I was used to it, but I didn’t care for it and I often encouraged him to stop. After our first year of marriage he decided to quit. He ended up weeding the entire yard and eating so many carrot sticks I thought he was going to turn orange. There wasn’t a nicotine patch then, so he had to do it cold turkey.

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©1990 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and I dressed up for the Star Trek convention where I ended up sitting on James Doohan's lap.

He managed to quit for almost a year, until a friend came to visit who offered him a cigarette. Steve thought he could have just the one, but not long after that he was smoking again, though not in the house. It was too nasty on all our collectibles and on me. Now I wish he had managed to stop for good, or even stopped after we divorced.

It’s so difficult to look back and clearly see the mistakes you’ve made. You can’t do a thing about most of them and it’s fairly likely that you won’t be able to stop yourself from whatever destructive path you’re on now. It’s so tough to see things from a point of clarity as they're happening.

Steve was my peacock and sometimes I really wished it had worked out, but I wanted something from him I could never have-and that was him to stop being a workaholic and be willing to be part of a relationship instead of avoid any confrontation or partnership with me. Steve was perfect about knowing exactly what to say to get me to back off, but do it in a nice way. He always told me he loved me and that his working for days in a row without a break would end and we’d have time together, but it never happened. He’d often fall into a death-like sleep after his work-jags. I could not wake him up.

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©1989 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and Chanel share a cat nap.

He slept through our First Wedding Anniversary and didn’t understand why I was so upset (because you never have another First!). He slept through my birthday and I had to go to a concert at the last minute with a friend. He was either working or asleep and rarely available to me, to us. I knew he wasn’t cheating on me because we often worked together, but what I couldn’t fathom was that I was some times his boss or his co-worker and I could go home at 5 or 6pm and still have a life, whereas he had to stay and work with a coffee in one hand and a cig in the other.

He would clean his desk and organize his files all night long and not do any real work. He never got anything done until the VERY LAST MINUTE when everyone in the office was screaming at him to hurry up to make the client meeting or deadline. He always made it at the last second, coming up with a brilliant concept that always wowed the client. Although his talents were truly special as a Creative Director, how he accomplished his work had ripple effects that gave me such horrific anxiety I went into therapy. After all, I was part of the design team so what he didn't do, I had to get done. I ended up realizing I was “managing” his life and turning into a nagging harpy—something I never imagined or wanted to do.

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©1989 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and I a million years ago.

I gave up who I was to be with him and when I realized I was okay with that, I knew I was in trouble. Steve was never there for me when I needed him and the less he was there for me the more neurotic I became.

Our marriage lasted for 11 years, but most of that was spent living apart. Even when it was over and we were with other people, I longed for the way Steve and I could just be together. I think we could have been really great friends and not husband and wife. One of the last times I saw him, I gave him a book that changed my life. It’s about the Tibetan form of Buddhism called Shambhala. After reading the book and beginning my journey to become a less neurotic person, over the years my path focused on becoming a Buddhist. I was finally able to step back and focus on forgiveness and understanding. I also began to live independently, something I protect about my life even now. I'll never live in someone's shadow ever again or foolishly believe I can change someone. I know better now.

Sadly, once Steve’s girlfriend (he hadn’t married her yet) found the book she freaked out and threw it out the window into the street below. I think it would have helped Steve a lot to read that book, but it was not meant to be.

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©1998 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the last photos of us together.

I had to forgive myself and him for our failings and move on with my life.

This morning after I hung up the phone, I looked around the room. Most of the décor in the house were things Steve and I bought on our trips. We divided a lot of things up in the divorce, but he left some of it behind.

I look around and I see an item that sparks a memory of a trip to Iowa or one to Wisconsin, what we bought, the songs we listened to, the diners where we never tired of ordering the hot beef open-faced sandwich. We joked about doing a glossy book featuring photos and reviews of the hot beef sandwiches of all the diners in the country. We’d just drive, write, antique, take photos, eat at diners. It could have been a perfect life.

And now my dear Steve, your last days are here. I look back at photos from our Wedding and know all the sadness that would come after that day-all the people who have passed away, the divorces, the misfortunes. It makes me wish I could have cherished that day, instead of be worried and upset about whatever stupid things I was bothered with at the time.

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©1989 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve and his beloved, Morticia. I hope there are gorgeous classic cars in heaven and that Steve can drive a different one every day.

I look back and I wish so many things. I sadly recall something my mother often said to me about “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.” I wish I could see you one more time and say goodbye, but I’m grateful my message got to you and that you had a few last words for me. My brother-in-law told me that Steve sent his eternal love and that I’d know what he meant.

I think I know that he did love me, even if it wasn’t going to be a happy ending for us. He put the bitter days behind him and I did, too. We can rest in knowing there is peace between us that brings stinging tears to my eyes. It is a goodbye to what once was and what will never be and I have to be okay with that and so does Steve.

Steve can no longer speak. The cancer stole his voice, but he understands and communicates by writing or nodding. I’ve been told he’s on pain medication and the doctors are keeping him comfortable. I don’t know if he’s in a hospital or in his own bed, or if he even HAS a bed. I just know if he could hear me, I’d tell him I love him and that I’m so very sorry for everything and that if I could I would take this pain away.

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I burned most of the cards Steve gave me because I felt betrayed and angry during the dark days of our divorce. Going through photos, I came across this lone survivor written not long before we called it quits. His words cut me through the heart. Now I can read them and accept them, but then I could not. Did he really mean what he said? I'll never really know because that leads to a road of what could have been that shall never be. In his own words: “I want to put that sadness behind us whatever that takes, whatever that means. I know our relationship is at a crossroad right now. I know that new roads lie ahead, I also know that I would like to travel those roads with you. I truly love you, Robin. I always will.”

When it comes down to it, Steve taught me a lot-a lot about myself, about graphic design, about music and about letting go of expectations. I thank him for that and for the Olson name I've had all these years. Now it's time for me to say my goodbyes and to wish him a very sweet, painless journey to whatever lies beyond.

…a few weeks later…

June 26th 2013, 5 AM, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Steve is gone. He died peacefully in his sleep. It’s too soon to know if there will be a funeral or even what country his body will find it’s final resting place. All I know is my ex-husband is dead. The man who made me an Olson is on his journey to the Great Beyond. My heart is broken, even after all these years of being apart. I can't stop crying. I look around and see all the silly things we bought on our trips. They remind me of him-of what once was and what is now gone forever. There is no putting something off until tomorrow. This chapter, as Steve used to say, is closed and the story is over.

Rest in Peace, my sweet-Steve. You will forever be in my heart.

Steven Leon Olson

April 28, 1956—June 26, 2013.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Love Saves the Day

Summer's here; time to kick back, take a break and savor reading a good book. I'm always a fan of quirky summer romance where a crazy-haired, hard-working woman runs into (and sometimes over) the “wrong” guy (who, of course, is the “right guy” by book's end), but this summer I decided to try something different by reading Gwen Cooper's “Love Saves the Day.”

The Squee Diaries. Chapter 4 The Pitter Patter

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Yukon Stan is sitting up on his own! His cuteness is killing me!

Teenie tiny kittens are wondrous little blobs of fluff that look more like hamsters than cats in the making. I can't do much with Minnie's kittens at just over two weeks of age because frankly they're not ready to be handled for very long and they can barely walk, let alone play. Am I complaining about this? No, but I would admit to looking forward to when I can interact with them for longer than it takes to weigh them and say a quick “hello.”

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Hello, Joe!

The other day, I walked into the blue bathroom-home to Minnie and her kittens. I greeted Minnie and asked her how she was doing, then looked into the bathtub to make sure all the kittens were, well, alive. One of the kittens was looking up at me! I got a tingle down my spine. Here was the first sign of the blobs becoming little kittens! Not only was he looking at me, but he was sitting up, his front legs starting to hold his weight.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Stan head out on a mission to walk across the cat bed.

I've noticed some other subtle changes. Stanley discovered his tongue and will attempt to groom himself a little bit. Mostly, I think he's just exploring the sensation of tongue on fur and hoping to make sense of of this new urge he's experiencing.

The kittens are a bit more active. They scrambled to get out of their hooded cat bed so I removed it. That way none of them will be separated from the others. I want each kitten to have good weight gain and access to their mama and it's been working well so far.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Ever-adorable Lil' Gracey.

I was startled, too, by the discovery of a bright ORANGE “blow-out” of poo that got onto Confetti Joe, but came from Yukon Stan. I've never seen this before and after a frantic call to my friend, Katherine, we decided it was okay because their digestion is just forming and of course it could be effected by all sorts of things. Katherine was fairly sure she'd seen some bright orange poo, too, so I gave the kittens a quick bath and hoped to not see that again.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Eyes open, but ears not quite ready yet. Mel won't let that stop him!

Although I did see a small patch on Gracey's behind a day later, other than that, the kittens are still clean and seem to be in good shape. I must add that Minnie continues to be a marvelous mother. The extra good news is that in the two weeks she's been with us she's gained 12 OUNCES! Considering she's nursing AND the terrible shape she was in, this is a huge weight gain. She's still far too thin and though her spine has a very thin layer of padding on it now, she's got a long way to go. She's eating much more food and with more gusto. It makes me happy to watch her eat because every bite for her is going to help keep her lovely kittens going for another day, too.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Gracey vs Stanley.


If you're keeping track, the kittens, at 4 weeks should weigh about 1 pound. They're 2 1/2 weeks old now and they're at about 10-12 ounces, so a little ahead of schedule. I've tracked their weight daily-which is VERY IMPORTANT to do. It's the easiest way to see if the kittens are NOT doing well or which need more "mama-time" or which ones might be failing. Compared to the first few days when the kittens were gaining a full ounce every day, now the kittens gain 1/2 oz every day, which is a nice, steady pace.


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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Still rail-thin, Mama grabs a quick bite between feeding the kittens.


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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Stan & Joe check out the weird giant hanging over the edge of the bathtub with the crazy hair.

I've had some glimpses of the kitten's personalities, but I don't want to make any assumptions about which ones might be troublemakers or little Princesses just yet. They're also starting to awkwardly wrestle with each other. They still have a long way to go to gain the strength they need to walk confidently. They're very wobbly and fall over constantly. Normally this would be something I'd take delight in, but I continue to have flashbacks about Fred. I see him in my mind's eye, struggling to walk. His back legs went first, then his front. I've never seen anything so horrifying in my life and I'll never forget it. Part of me wants to not see the kittens for a few weeks until they get on their feet. I don't want to remember Fred like that-weak and helpless.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Gracey and Stan and some very sweet stripes.


I look at little Joe. The markings on his face remind me of Fred, too, but it's not a bad thing. I feel like I got to have a "do-over" and that I have another chance to raise kittens that will hopefully one day be strong and vibrant and be adopted into loving homes. I told myself not to think about FIP happening again with this family, or something else I haven't seen yet. Cats can get so many diseases, it's a wonder any survive.


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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Oh Stanley…swoon.

As they always do, the kittens remind me to take joy in witnessing this miraculous time in their lives. I am so determined to do everything perfectly for them, raise them to be confident and loving, not fearful or fractious. I want them to know great health and never know dry food. Somehow that's the only way I can forgive myself for how I failed Fred and the kittens that went to HEART.

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. I'm not sure I should caption this photo.

I just looked at Squee-TV , our web cam that's perched on the edge of the bathtub peering down onto the kittens. They're piled onto each other to stay warm, their bellies are full and they're peacefully sleeping. Minnie is nearby, always keeping alert to the slightest sound that will send her to the side of her newborns. She takes a few minutes out for herself and is back at their side every so often to lick them, nourish them and love them with a sincerity that is most profound.

[BREAKING NEWS: Dropcam is going to FEATURE Squee-TV on their front page! If you have a mobile device you can download their app and watch our cam when you're away from your computer! Just use the link to access our Featured-Feed]

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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. I'm so big now!


Sweet dreams, my little darlings. I look forward to tomorrow because you'll be part of it.


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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Good night, Mellie.


Don't forget to VOTE! If you like what we're doing here at Covered in Cat Hair, simply use this LINK every day until June 28th to cast your vote for BEST CAT BLOG, BEST CAUSE BLOG, BEST BLOG WRITING (here's a LINK to a good article or you can choose your favorite) and make sure you add KITTEN ASSOCIATES as your SHELTER NOMINEE! THANK YOU!!!

You DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT THE NOMINATION FORM TO VOTE! The $1000 prize donation could go a long way to helping us help more kittens like Petey, Gracey, Joey, Stanley and Mellie and mom-Minnie!


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©2013 Robin A. F. Olson. Kitten pile!

When Rescue is the Worst Thing that can Happen

When I started doing rescue over a decade ago, my goal was simple— save lives by home-fostering cats and kittens. Now that I run my own rescue, I have a great deal more on my plate. Because I recognize I can do a better job and help more cats if I network with others, a majority of what I do these days is to locate good shelter or rescue partners to work with in a variety of ways.

One of my dearest relationships is with Animals in Distress in Wilton, CT. I know the ladies that run the organization. I’ve been to their shelter many times and they’ve taken on some lovely young adult cats that I’d have a tough time placing because I don’t have a brick and mortar facility. Over the years, I‘ve come to trust and regard Connie and Katherine, who run AID, as both rescue-peers and good friends.

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©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission) Meet Romeo before he left Georgia for a rescue in upstate New York.

Sadly, earlier this year I learned a painful lesson about working with other rescues and it came with a price. What I never would have dreamed of happened- that just because a rescue steps forward and offers to help, doesn’t mean they’re going to provide the loving care I expect. They may not provide the health care or clean conditions I would insist upon. They might falsely represent themselves OR they may truly be good-hearted, cat-loving folks, but who have taken on too much and are overwhelmed, leaving the cats to fall victim to stressed and over-crowded conditions.

Two years ago I rescued a number of Siamese mix kittens from a municipal shelter in Georgia. The group was large so I placed them into two foster homes-one group went to super-foster, Maria.

Another person I’ll call Jane, who lives in New Jersey, offered to provide the funds needed to care for the cats, as well as make sure they would be safely transported to a rescue in upstate New York, called HEART. Great deal, right?

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©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission) Romeo, struggling to survive, but still a loving, sweet kitty.

I was too quick to trust. I’d seen Jane around on the group emails and she was often paying for cats vet care and transport to either HEART or other rescues she worked with. She seemed reliable and trustworthy. She told me that HEART was a good place and Maria, made sure her kittens would be in a safe place by contacting the woman who runs HEART. She was assured they did home visits, were a non-profit rescue and truly loved and cared for their cats.

The kittens were vetted and transported. Maria checked in after the kittens arrived and heard that one of her kittens might stay with HEART and the other was getting adopted. We didn’t think twice about it, after all we had more kittens to care for. Everything was going great and now we knew if we had more Siamese mix kittens that we could get them off death row and head them north to find great homes.


But that’s not what happened.



A few months ago (which was two years after we'd sent our cats to HEART), I got an email that made me sick to my stomach. The woman who runs HEART had just been arrested and charged with Animal Cruelty. Over 80 animals had been taken from her home. Of them, a good number were cats, living in filth-and I mean FECES inches deep. The cats who had originally been healthy were now VERY ILL-MANY of them now had Feline Leukemia and other life-threatening conditions.



Sending these cats to HEART was worse than sending them to the Kill Shelter; at least death would have been swift—here death would come slowly and in horrific conditions.


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©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission) Meet Peppy. She was healthy and thriving before going to HEART and now, due to a severe URI had had to have surgery on her eye.

The Broome County Humane Society in upstate New York (Facebook pg is HERE) was called to take in all the animals. I contacted them and spoke with the Director, only to find out they had no microchip or photo match for any of our cats. Maria frantically wrote to the Director of HEART who said the cats had been adopted out and that there was more to the story but she could not comment on it at this time. We checked her Petfinder page, which was only working for a day after we found it. We saw our kittens listed under the “happy tails” section. It meant nothing because any administer of Petfinder can set the listing to adopted and it goes to “happy tails.” We had to hope that because it was two years ago that the cats got out before it was too late.

It’s easy to immediately vilify the Director of HEART for causing these problems, but we don’t know both sides. I contacted her to offer her a chance to make a statement, but did not get a reply. I thought about what would happen if I was taking on kittens from other rescues. I trusted them to test the cats for feline leukemia and FIV, but maybe they didn’t really test the cats, then I put them all together in a group room. All it would take was one cat to sicken the lot of them.

I’m not trying to defend what happened, but I have to try to be fair and give her the benefit of the doubt…but…

A rescuer from Georgia contacted me. Her name is Tina. She sent HEART a lot of cats very recently and many of them were affected by the disgusting conditions in the home. Tina was the one who contacted Animal Control and turned HEART into authorities, but wait…Tina lives in Georgia so how did she know?

Tina had been calling HEART for an update on her cats. She couldn’t reach anyone or got suspicious answers. Whatever she was told, it didn’t sit right with her so she got in her car and drove over 1000 miles to HEART's location What she found shocked her to the core.


I don’t know how Tina managed. Many of her once healthy cats were clinging to life. Some had to be put down, some cost her (and are still costing her) thousands of dollars in Vet care. Her rescue group is small, with few resources. One particular cat named Romeo was in severely compromised shape. Undaunted, she managed to get her cats from HEART and brought them back to Georgia, furious, horrified, and heartbroken.


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©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission). Teensy, a kitten who had to have her eye removed after the URI she had destroyed her eye. This could have been completely avoided if only she had been kept in a clean environment and provided with Vet care when she first fell ill.

A rescuer should never have to worry about what happens with their foster cats if they go to another rescue. We can look them up on the web, see their web site, see their 501(c)3 papers filed with the IRS, we can see their Petfinder page, we can ask to talk to their Vets. Somewhere along the line we have to trust that this rescue will continue the good work we started.


In this case it was sending them to a slow death. We also found out later that the person who ran HEART DESTROYED ALL THE PAPERWORK she got from the rescues so none of the cats could ever be traced. We'll NEVER really know what happened to OUR FOSTER KITTENS.


It begs the question: How do you find a reliable rescue to work with? How do you trust again?

This is by all means not a complete list of what to look for and I welcome comments and suggestions because this is something we need to sort out together.

1. GO THERE. Go to the rescue group and take a look around. If they’re located too far away, then you’re going to have to do more work to determine if they’re legit.

2. Do they have a working website that is CURRENT or is it many years old and out of date?

3. Will they give you references to Vets they work with? What about adopters? What about fosters or volunteers? Some of that information may be private, but the more they are willing to give you the information you require, the more likely they are also transparent about how they do business

4. Do a Google search on them. Look for negative comments or positive ones.

5. Do they have a Facebook page that’s current?

6. Ask your friends that do rescue if they have heard of them-word of mouth can be very important

7. Make sure you have email, phone number and physical address. Using Bing Maps you can see an ariel view of the facility/home. You can also use Zillow to look up their residence.

8. If you have funds you can do a background check for criminal records. There are many websites where you can do that in a matter of minutes.

9. GuideStar will also show you if the rescue is a non-profit

10. Ask to see a copy of their adoption application or don’t they have one? That is a problem to not have a screening process for adopters.

11. Ask for photos and video of the facility if you have no other way to see it. It’s not foolproof but again, if they won’t do that, then there’s a problem

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. You can see our kittens any time via our Web Cam.

With my rescue, Kitten Associates, for example, we have a web cam going 24/7. You can SEE the conditions in the foster room. You can also see what we’re up to via my blog or facebook page. We have a Petfinder account. I welcome questions and challenges about anything we do, any time. Our web site has our tax number and other information about us on it and you can easily contact me and I can give Vet or volunteer references. Being transparent about our operations and earning the trust of our peers and our community is something I take very seriously. It’s our credibility that’s on the line and I’m really proud of our good reputation.

With HEART, I can’t say what happened or if they were ever up to snuff. They seemed to be legit, but I never went there and I will NEVER let another cat go to a rescue unless I HAVE been there or I have a trusted friend go there and send me photos and videos. Even with that, the conditions can go to HELL. At some point you have to have faith they are doing a good job and will continue to do so and you have to keep checking in with them to make certain their facility maintains proper health standards and care for their cats.

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©2013 Tina B. (Used with permission). Romeo, sick, clinging to life, needs very specialized surgery that only one place in Georgia can do and it's very expensive.


As for Romeo, the year old cat who’s suffering from multiple-severe health issues, a YouCaring Fundraiser has been created by his foster mom, Tina. She details Romeo’s journey on her fundraiser page, but this excerpt explains why Romeo needs our help so very much.


“...Then last month (4/1/13) Romeo turned worse after a short stay in boarding. He had stopped eating and playing. Romeo seemed much more congested and having trouble breathing. He also started gagging if he tried to eat. I suspected his esophagus was burned from an antibiotic. I started med's and syringe-feeding again but he was not improving like expected. I finally took Romeo to a specialist this week (5/21/13). The specialist found two very bad things that seem inter- related. The first problem is that his nose has completely closed over (choanal atresia) from chronic rhinitis so that he can no longer breathe through it or smell, hence the problem eating. The second problem is that he has a hernia - his stomach is coming up into his esophagus, probably because of him trying so hard to breathe. To get an idea of how hard it is to eat and breathe at the same time, try plugging your nose and seeing how hard it is to breathe and then try to eat something. It is hard and awful! No wonder Romeo is having such difficulties, but he definitely still wants to live.

The only fix is surgery to put a stent in his nose to open up the passageway. A stent is needed to keep it open permanently, otherwise, it would scar closed again. This would relieve the pressure and most likely ALSO fix the hernia. The cost is close to $4,000 which includes a CT and $2,000 for the stent alone. It is a complicated, although relatively short, surgery with great success and would give him immediate improvement. Right now, Romeo is on 3 different medications to keep his esophagus from getting more damage and he is being syringe-fed. ”

Your donation is tax-deductible and I hope you’ll be able to add your donation to the many already pouring in. We’re only to the halfway mark and Romeo’s time is running out. I just heard the Romeo is doing worse and we can't get him the surgery until we have ALL the money we need. Please SHARE if you CARE!

If you'd like to follow Tina's long-journey trying to re-save the lives of all her foster cats, you can visit her Cat Whispurrer Rescue & Consult's web site blog page.


Tina and I have both learned a heartbreaking lesson. As with all troubling news, the light at the end of the tunnel is that there are LOADS of TERRIFIC rescue groups and shelters that do amazing work, that are filled with devoted, loving volunteers and who will go to the ends of the Earth to provide appropriate care for the animals under their roof. To those organizations, I applaud you, as I hang my head in shame.




My Cousin Mary has to go into a rehabilitation home for her knee. She has 4 lovely cats who are in dire need of a TEMPORARY FOSTER HOME. Mary WANTS her cats back after she gets out of rehab and she does not want her sweet cats to spend, what may be a few months, in cages, boarded at a Vet.


Mary is praying that someone who loves cats and has space in their home can take Mary's cats until she can take them back.


Food & Litter is PROVIDED and a small boarding fee can also be arranged. All we need from you is to consider giving these cats a temporary loving home. You will NOT get STUCK with these cats.



The Cats are in Bayside, Queens, New York, then Mary will be bringing them back to Rockaway, Queens, New York on Thursday (6/27). They will stay at the vet until she can get a good temporary foster home.

She can't say exactly how long the cats will need a foster home, but she will take the cats back, if the need arises, before she is ready to leave rehab if something comes up with the foster home.



The Cats


• They don't need medications and are in good health.

• They get along with each other and other cats.

• They get along with dogs (there were dogs in their foster home).

• They all have proper litter pan habits.

• She updates shots every two years, but will bring them to get their annual before they go to a foster home.

• She may be able to transport with access-a-ride depending upon the location of the foster home, but help is probably going to be needed with transport.

Johnny Jet ( male) (10 years old) and has been blind almost since birth. He has no trouble navigating. He is an indoor cat and is chipped. Very tame.

Helen Kelley (female) (10 years old) is partially blind but can see shadows and has no trouble navigating. She is an indoor cat and is chipped. Very tame.

Alice Annie Sullivan (female) (10 years old) She is an indoor cat, chipped and very tame. She is very affectionate.

Henry Orient (male) (about 6 years old) He is an indoor cat, chipped. He has no knees but strong muscles in his hind legs. He is faster than the speed of light.









Please SHARE this with any cat-loving friends you have in Queens, NY, New York City or the surrounding areas. THANK YOU!

P.S. I have 20 cats in my home right now and I'd have to shut down doing rescue to take these 4 kitties on-which is why I'm hoping we can find that special person who can be gracious enough to help my Cousin out.

The Squee Diaries. Chapter 3 The Unbearable Cuteness of Kittens

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey meets the chick.

The kittens are almost two weeks old and have been with me for a week and what bliss this week has been. I'd forgotten what it's like to be near such unbearably cute creatures. Even though I can't hold them for long periods of time and they're still a few weeks away from being ready to start playing, just watching them sleep or take nourishment from their mom, Minnie, heals my soul. Whatever lousy things are going on outside of the foster room, can wait as I marvel in the wonder of tiny toes and eyes opening upon the world for the first time.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Box of Joe!

I managed to capture a few photos of the kittens. Keep in mind I don't have a photo studio and I literally have 1 to 2 minutes, tops, to get a photo. After that point the kittens get fussy and Minnie, alarmed, will start chirping at them. Yesterday she got fed up that I took too long, came over and grabbed the kitten by the scruff and took him back to the safety of his siblings! I had to laugh and also be humbled by this protective mama.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey.

Speaking of mama, Minnie is doing much better. Her appetite is greatly improved and today when I weighed her she had gained 2 ounces. It's not a lot of weight, but it's the start of a trend upwards to health for both her and to insure health for her kittens. She even seems a bit less scruffy. Her coat is slightly cleaner and softer. She seems much more at ease. She can focus on caring for her kittens which she does with amazing dedication. This is one very impressive mama-especially for one that is so very young.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Joey getting sleepy.

All the kittens eyes are open and their ears are starting to grow larger. This morning for the first time when I entered the room, they all looked up at me and in that first moment of connection my heart melted even more. I love these babies and am so glad I could open up my home to them while another family, with an orange mama who could be Minnie's sister, was about to be euthanized in a shelter in Georgia.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

After MANY emails and phone calls yesterday morning, the mama, who was literally about to be put down, was spared because I'd called and asked them to hold the family. Our intrepid Bobby picked them up and whisked them off to the Vet where Mama, who was suffering from mastitis, could get the care she needed and the kittens could get their first vaccinations and check up. I couldn't live with myself if I knew that I could enjoy Minnie and her family while another, just as deserving family, died. Another tiny battle one. Seven more lives saved.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Watch out! Joey likes to drive fast!

Although I can't invite you to my home to meet our amazing family, you CAN watch them on our brand new web cam I call Squee-TV. I have it running 24/7 so you don't have to miss a wiggle, purr or meow. I've been told it's very addicting so be forewarned!.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The chick tells Petey a secret.

Don't forget to VOTE! If you like what we're doing here at Covered in Cat Hair, simply use this LINK every day until June 28th to cast your vote for BEST CAT BLOG, BEST CAUSE BLOG, BEST BLOG WRITING (here's a LINK to a good article or you can choose your favorite) and make sure you add KITTEN ASSOCIATES as your SHELTER NOMINEE! THANK YOU!!!

You DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT THE NOMINATION FORM TO VOTE! The $1000 prize donation could go a long way to helping us help more kittens like Petey, Gracey, Joey, Stanley and Mellie and mom-Minnie!

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