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The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part four

Day six has drawn to a close. I can't sleep. My heart is broken. It's not that I even feel the need for it ever to be “repaired-” if such a thing is possible. While I was working on the story of my cats falling ill, another story began to form. Stories that follow along with a real person's life don't transpire in tidy little packages, so here I stop to inject something else before I get back to the mystery ailment.

Two nights ago I found a small, odd looking black growth on the edge of Spencer's right ear. In my foggy memory, I believe I saw it long ago, thought about running Spencer to the Vet, got sidetracked and forgot. There it was, this rubbery, creepy mass, well hidden by the dark fur along the cap of Spencer's head.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Back at the Vet for a second time.

At first I thought it was a tick, then realized there were two masses, one “tick sized” and the other much smaller. I knew this was something that Dr. Larry needed to take a look at so yesterday morning I took Spencer back to the Vet for the second time in less than a week.

Super Deb entered the exam room first. After working with Spencer the other day, she realized that he was calmer if we didn't cover him during procedures. She got to work taking his temperature and he was basically calm. He had no fever.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The growth was easily overlooked. Follow the left edge of Spencer's ear. Where the fur gets dark you'll see a tiny black area where there is no fur. That's the growth. It's just right of center of the photo.

She weighed him and he'd lost 4 ounces in five days. Not surprising, but a reminder to keep him eating as much as he wanted while he recovers from his illness. His fluffy rear end, which had become soiled yellow from having diarrhea, was looking cleaner. Perhaps he was feeling better?

Dr. Larry entered the room and I was relieved to see him now that he's back from his vacation. He's been my Vet for more years than I can remember. Though we may not always agree on things, he's open minded and in return I'm very respectful of him. We've had some difficult discussions about my choice to feed a raw diet to my cats. It's unfortunate that even now I have to be on the “down low” about it, but there is so much fear mongering going on about it that it's just easier not to talk about it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. She didn't even buy him dinner first! Spencer gets his temperature taken.

On this day we HAD to talk about it. He approached the topic carefully. I felt myself taking a step back, crossing my arms over my chest as he spoke. What is sickening my cats could have been caused by the raw food. Though rare, salmonella could be a culprit, yet we did NOT see any indications in the blood work to show us it was a possibility. It could be e.coli or other bacterial culprits. To really know for certain, Dr. Larry asked if we could get a stool sample on Spencer and run a PCR test on it. Though expensive, running over $200.00, the test would show us what was causing the diarrhea. If we could manage, he wanted a sample from Nicky, as well. Using that information we could get a better picture of what happened and how to NOT let it happen again-IF it's something we can control.

I said yes to the test and I told Dr. Larry that we stopped feeding raw the day the cats got sick. We've discussed how we prep the food and saw some minor things we can and will correct. We're going to throw out the litter pans and start anew. We've been feeding raw for many years and the cats have NEVER gotten sick, but in case we did something to cause this, we will find a way to do right by them.

Before we went too much further down this path we agreed it might still be something else and NOT the food.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least he's starting to eat again.

Then Dr. Larry examined Spencer's ear. He measured it and said it measured out larger then he expected. He didn't “like the look of it” and said we should remove it. He looked at Spencer's teeth and mentioned Spencer really needed a dental cleaning. I asked him to look into Spencer's ears because I noticed they appeared a bit dirty.

Spencer fussed and hissed angrily as Dr Larry looked into his ears. The right was dirty and irritated. Dr. Larry told me that some times cats can have an over production of a greasy residue in their ears. The ear gets dirty and very itchy. Certainly Spencer would need drops to get him feeling more comfortable.

Next, Dr. Larry looked at Spencer's left ear. As Spencer fussed, Dr. Larry adjusted the angle of the scope. He stopped for a second and removed the scope.

“There's another mass in Spencer's ear. It's very small, but I think we need to get in there and remove it.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Measuring the growth.

I felt a lump form in my throat. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself. I brought my cat to the Vet to look at this weird thing on his ear. Hopefully it was just a funky benign mole or something, but with the discovery of a second growth I knew what that could mean and I didn't know if I could get the words out to ask the question.

“Is this cancer? Does Spencer have CANCER?”

Dr. Larry has this serious expression I've seen too many times before. He had it when he examined Bob's belly and said it didn't feel right. It turned out Bob had a cancerous tumor engulfing half his liver. Dr. Larry never makes light of a diagnosis like this. Being conservative and I'm sure not wanting to upset me, he would only answer; “I don't like the look of this. It could be benign, but…”

He said if it was cancer that the rule of thumb would be to excise enough tissue to get a clean margin. It would mean removing Spencer's ear or ears. It was too much to imagine. I had to keep it together. I said if it was malignant, what was the point of cutting his ears off? His lovely little elfin ears…how could I do that to him? We didn't talk much beyond that. It was too soon to go down that road.

First Spencer had to get well and recover from whatever was causing his gastric issues. We'd schedule a dental and surgery for sometime near the end of the month. He wished me well and left to attend to the next patient. I put Spencer back into his cat carrier and went to the lobby to pay the bill, not sure I could get out of the clinic without bursting into tears.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My little pouff-waiting, wondering and scared.

Although I have no idea how I'm going to pay for this surgery, I will find a way. The overriding thought in my mind as I waited to hand over my credit card was; this can't be cancer. I just lost a cat to cancer 11 months ago. I just watched my dear Bob slowly die over the course of a horrible year. I can't go through that again.

I can't go through that with SPENCER. He's only 11 years old. He's the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair. He's my love, my dear friend.

I thought about what my lawyer said to me on the phone when we were talking about a car accident I was in two years ago. The case is either going to be settled or go to trial. He asked me my age, then told me the insurance company figures that based on my current age I have 29 more years to live which is how they will base my settlement offer. At first it really bothered me that there's a computer program that bets on how long I'll live. After we ended our conversation, I started to think maybe that was too many more years; more years of witnessing the pain and suffering of my dear cats.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. After the exam, Spencer sat in the window, trying to regain his composure after being poked and prodded.

Last night Spencer came over to me as I laid in bed. He did his little routine of laying on my arm, with his fluffy ruff in my face, purring loudly next to my ear. I tried to hold back, but I began to sob. I wondered how many more nights we would have together like this-where he is himself, not broken or wasting away. He is my beloved cat and together we have a simple joy that is deeply profound.

Spencer got up and walked to the end of the bed. I gave up trying to sleep, got up and went downstairs to my office and began to write. Between writing and tears I heard a sound. I turned to look and Spencer was there in his cat bed next to me. He was purring away like nothing was wrong.

I hope he's right.

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The PCR test results are due in a day or two. I won't know about Spencer until we biopsy the mass towards the end of the month. The sliver lining has to do with a surprise adoption. Find out who it was and about their forever family in the next installment (unless something ELSE happens first).

BREAKING NEWS: Global Domination Phase One

As a Professional Member of the Cat Writers' Association, I'm pleased to announce that I've been nominated to be part of CWA's Council of Directors for a two-year term starting in November of this year.

If I garner enough votes to win, I will finally realize my plans for global domination. Okay, maybe it's going to take another 10 or 40 years to achieve total domination, but being on the Council of Directors is a good start.

I'm proud to be called to serve and pleased to be in such good company. Congrats to my peeps, Janea Kelley of Paws and Effect and Angie Bailey of Catladyland for also being part of team.

©2011 Robin Olson,CiCH, Spencer_tiny.jpg

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Here's the Press Release from CWA

The 2012 CWA Nominating Committee proudly announces the following slate of officers:

President - Susan M. Ewing

Vice President - Dusty Rainbolt

Secretary - JaneA Kelley

Treasurer - Allene Tartaglia

Council of Directors (four open seats) - Joan Miller, Allia Zobel Nolan, Angie Bailey, Robin A.F. Olson

Executive officers are elected annually. Council members hold two-year terms. Because JaneA Kelley accepted the nomination for Secretary, leaving her Council seat vacant for the remaining period of one year, the committee had the option of appointing a person to fill the vacancy or select someone for a full two-year term. Since we had a tremendous outpouring of interest, we chose to select a fourth seat in the Class of 2014 for a full two-year term.

According to the CWA Bylaws, once the slate is published, officers are elected at the next annual membership meeting -- this year it will be November 3, 2012, at the CWA Conference in Los Angeles, Calif. Only professional members may vote, and they may vote prior to the meeting by mail if they wish. However, when the election is uncontested, no ballots are mailed. A majority of the members present and voting at the annual meeting can conduct business, including the election.

This year's Nominating Committee was Ramona Marek (chair), Fran Pennock Shaw, Nancy Peterson and Lyn Garson. We thank the large, record-breaking and outstanding pool of candidates and sincerely hope to see such positive interest for leadership positions next year.

Respectfully,

Ramona Marek

Chair, CWA Nominating Committee

Better Connecticut, Worse Me.

Today proved that I will do just about ANYTHING to help cats whether it be go broke or wear an ill-fitting, too tight promotional shirt on television just so my rescue group name gets seen by the viewers. I had to ignore my vanity and fear of being fat on TV and just go for it. It's all about the cats, not me, right?

The show is called Better Connecticut and it's hosted by Scot Haney, the sunny, yet madcap weatherman and his co-host, Emmy-award winning journalist, Kara Sundlund. It's an hour long program that covers a wide range of topics. Our segment was devoted to talking about the need all rescues have for foster homes. To help illustrate the point, Enid, from The Queenie Foundation and I brought cats. Enid chose Munchy, a cute year old black and white cat and I brought Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. There must have been 10 SUVs in this fleet. I had no idea Connecticut had so much News to cover.

I arrived to the set at 9am; about an hour before taping and 30 minutes before the audience arrived. The stage manager, Bob, showed me to the Green Room (which is not painted green) where I was able to transfer the kittens from their carrier into a small pink crate and give them time to relax.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The Green Room.

I took a moment to reflect. Was it a good idea to feed the girls this morning? I fed them at 7AM and they had until 8AM to use the litter pan. Maybe they would get sick on the Host's nice suit? I feared they would poop in their cage while we were filming, but I didn't want their blood sugar to dive so they had to have something to eat. I offered them a portable litter pan and one of them used it, then dumped half of the litter onto the sofa. I cleaned it up as best I could, then looked around and tried to figure out what to do with my nervous energy.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Scot & Kara go over the day's entertainment news.

Diane, who arranged for me to be on the show arrived and started talking up a storm. My brain started to swirl. I felt like I couldn't remember what I needed to say. It only got worse once Enid arrived and they jumped into a heated discussion about Lennox, the Pit Bull, who was unfairly and despicably euthanized in Belfast the day before—simply for being a Pittie. As much as I am angered, furious and heartbroken about this, I didn't want to forget the talking points I'd been practicing. We could talk about Lennox after we were done shooting. We shared 4 minutes and 45 seconds of air time. That's it. Make the point that ALL the rescues and shelters in Connecticut are in DIRE need of foster homes and give the viewers information on how to find rescues in their area where they could volunteer.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Pano of the studio before the audience arrived.

I kept thinking about Lennox until they quickly changed the subject to something else. I wanted to talk about our segment and go over the points. Since that wasn't happening, I tried to hide. I looked out the door of the Green Room and hoped for clarity of mind. The past month has wiped me out and getting up at 6AM after another night of not sleeping well didn't help the situation.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

At 10: 20 AM it was our time to go. The crew set up my huge Kitten Associates banner on the set. It looked GREAT! Scot sat on a sofa and Enid and I sat at an odd angle on another sofa facing him. They placed the pink crate with the kittens inside it onto the floor. I suggested they put it onto a table so I could stand in the hopes that my rolls of gut fat would slide to my ankles and I'd look less like the Michelin Man. They said it was fine on the floor. I sat on the sofa, a mix of adrenaline, fear and determination buzzed around in my gut. What were we talking about again? What was my name? Un oh. Brain melt.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Peeking out the Green Room window.

Harlin, the sweet guy in a headset who seemed to be in charge, must have got some direction from the control room. He had Enid count to 10 into her microphone, then asked me to do the same. In the blink of an eye he told us to get to our places and Scot introduced us, then began a blur of questions. I felt like I was in a batting cage with balls flying at my face, swinging a child-sized bat in my hands.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

During the segment, Scot decided to open the crate and take one of the kittens out. He murmured so the audience couldn't hear that it was okay to let them out. LET THEM OUT? Black kittens in a BLACK WALLED STUDIO with nooks and crannies where they could disappear forever? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Ready for my close up?

He grabbed Dahlia and she began to squirm. I had Belly and suggested he take her since she was a bit calmer. We did the switch and I almost lost Dahlia before I could get the crate door shut! Scot continued to ask questions while he jiggled, petted, and basically tossed Belly around. Thank GOD she took it well and didn't flip out. In fact, she went a long with his antics as he mugged for the camera, then went on and on about how cats rip up the furniture! Great! This will REALLY help people want to foster cats! Ack!

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

And then it was over, almost as if it never started, the time passed so quickly. In my mind, I thought I did well, answered the questions on point and did a pretty good job not saying too much. Of course, as soon as we were done, I started to realize how very tired I was. There was another 45 minutes to go before the taping was finished up, so I restlessly traveled between the Green Room and the audience. I'd check on the kittens and watch them taping the show. I was amused at how different the set looked compared to how the show appears on television. I had a good time and thought that I'd like to do it again if I ever got the chance.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The girls chillaxin' in the Green Room.

That is, until the segment aired.

We all have an image of how we think we look to the world. We may look in the mirror for hours on end, admiring our firm physique or we may, as I do, not spend much time looking because we're too scared at what we might see. It's very difficult for me to talk about being fat. I was never a skinny kid and I've struggled to try to keep myself from getting truly huge. Not to blame, but to explain, my father killed himself and my mother probably did, too, but I will never be able to prove that. I think maybe I am too stressed and depressed to do what it takes. I don't drink much or smoke. I guess my comfort comes from food, but I don't even do nutty things like eat a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips. I just don't exercise and like most people, I could do better with what I do eat and when (we eat dinner late at night here which is bad, I know).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Scot…well that's Scot…with Belly.

As I watched myself on TV, I heard my voice, but I saw it coming out of this disgusting mountain of flesh. I wanted to pay attention to what I said, but I kept getting distracted by what I looked like. The angle they shot me at was probably the worst they could have chosen. I tried to sit up straight, but I was sitting at an awkward angle. Could that really be ME? Was I "that" fat? I was so horrified I wanted to turn off the TV and run for it (which I suppose would have been good since I'd get some exercise).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Sam was very nice and said I did well and agreed I didn't look that great, but that I didn't look as bad in real life. Of course he would say that. I'd say that to him, too. But I just sat there hating myself more than ever. Struggling to accept that I must do something about this is very tough for me, cats or no cats, but what can I do?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Scot Haney and me after the taping.

I know how to lose weight. I know about exercising. I don't need tips for what to do or how to do it. It's my journey and I have to at least try to help myself. I can put myself out there “for the cats” but I can't keep looking at my own reflection and feel shame and self-loathing. I wish that it wasn't an issue and that our culture didn't care. You are what you are, peace to everyone. Everyone is beautiful…but in our culture if you're fat, you're not all that. Maybe if I want to help cats, then in the end, maybe I have to help myself, too? Right now I'd like to hide under a rock for awhile.

It takes a lot for me to share this link with you, but it's part of my journey, warts and all. Here's our segment. I hope you enjoy it.

WFSB Channel 3

For the Love of Tater

Tater Tot's life hangs in the balance. Since I first broke the news a few days ago that Tater may have FIP, his foster mom Maria and I have been working around the clock trying to find out if this diagnosis is accurate. Because he may have FIP, we have more questions than answers. It seems every moment something changes and throws us into a tailspin of fear that this IS FIP. It really IS.

OR IS IT?

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©2012 Maria S. As we found Tater, laying on the pavement, sick and flea infested a few weeks ago.

I flat out don't know. This is the first case of FIP I've ever encountered (again, IF that's what is ailing Tater). I feared Tater was going to die a few days ago, but it's Thursday and he's still with us.I just found out if he has FIP he can live for a few MONTHS like this so any hope I had of it not being the wet form of FIP is dashed again. I feel like I'm losing my mind trying to sort this all out.

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©2012 Maria S. Tater this morning.

Tater had a fever as early as Sunday or possibly before that, but Maria only started to check his temperature when he showed physical signs of not feeling well. From Sunday to yesterday morning his temperature ranged from 103.4°F to 104°F. Yesterday morning his fever broke and his temp. fell to 101.5°F and today it is a normal 101°F.

So NO fever for over 24 hours. Does that mean this is not FIP?

Tater hasn't eaten for a few days. His sinuses are stuffed up. He can't smell. He walks over to his food and looks at it-so he's interested in eating, but Maria has to syringe feed him. He didn't move his bowels for two days. Today he finally started doing that again, but it's a bit soft.

We discovered that Tater has Tapeworms AND Coccidia so he was de-wormed on Tuesday. [note: we have de-wormed him twice since rescue, but our dewormer doesn't work on tapeworms or coccidia]

Tater is on clavamox since his lungs sounded crackly. I know it can cause tummy upset so we have yet another call into the Vet to find out if we should change course or give him a minute amount of Pepcid to settle his belly after his meds?

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©2012 Maria S. Unable to share his space with his sister, Tater's only comfort is knowing she's nearby.

The problem is we just don't have enough information to make certain we're doing the right thing for Tater. Maria has barely slept. She moved a cot into the foster room with Tater so she can keep an eye on him and continue giving him his medications throughout the night. She can't keep doing this. I'm lucky she's off work this week. I don't know what we'll do next week when she has to return to work.

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©2012 Maria S.Tater on Tuesday morning and today (right)

Tater still purrs. Maria watched him as he licked his paw, then rubbed it against his face. That he is grooming himself is another check that goes under the column of “Maybe NOT FIP?”

We MUST do more tests. Nothing is definitive, but getting more information will help us possibly rule FIP out. Tater needs a complete blood workup done and we need to sample his abdominal fluid and check serum protein levels.

Between the emergency Vet visits for Opal's kittens and the daily Vet visits and medications for Tater, then more for Choco, ChiChi, Coco and Latte, most of the funds we just raised are getting depleted quickly. We don't get much discount on blood work so it will cost at least $500.00 to do the tests (I added more to the ChipIn because I fear we may end up needing to do more.). If we don't do the tests, we can't give Tater the appropriate care he needs. It would also be heartless to ignore that it would help Maria be able to handle what may yet come to pass if she can understand better what is wrong with Tater instead of playing a frustrating guessing game.

 

If everyone bands together to help Tater by providing a small donation, then it would really add up to making it possible for us to get additional Vet care for this sweet little guy.

 

 

If you can help Tater, please use the ChipIn widget, below.

 

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©2012 Maria S. Tater would thank you for your help but he needs to rest so he can get better.

 

Your donation is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as my rescue, Kitten Associates is a 501©3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.

If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Tater Tot" mail it to:

Kitten Associates
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.

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©2012 Maria S. We just want our sweet boy back to his old self. This is Tater a few hours after we started treatment.

 

If you can't make a donation, you can help us by getting the word out. Every dollar helps and every Re-tweet or FB Share does, too. THANK YOU for caring about Tater Tot!

 

Off to BlogPaws 2012

Somehow I'm willing myself to leave the house in another hour to get on a plane and fly 1000 hours to Salt Lake City to attend BlogPaws 2012. Sam and I will be doing a Presentation about Analytics (which will be FUN!). Sadly, the grip of fear of flying has crushed my insides and I'm torn between wanting to throw up or fall into a puddle of tears. Mr Xanax is helping me remain somewhat calm, though it's not making a big difference. Please remind me next time I think I can fly somewhere further than 2 hours away, not to do that! Or drive instead …yes..driving…oh boy…well…it's been nice blogging for six years and you guys are the best. I appreciate all your support over the years so very much. If I don't survive these flights back and forth, it's been a good run.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer fell asleep on my suitcase so I should stay home, right?

Assuming/hoping I will survive this, you are Cordially invited to watch the Live streaming video from BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards on this Saturday, June 23 at 6pm MDT (8pm EST)! Since you guys helped me get nominated for TWO Awards, you can root me on from the comfort of your home! Go Team Covered in Cat Hair! http://www.ustream.tv/channel/blogpawslive-preview

Over and out…

Maria to the Rescue

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©2012 Maria S. Chased up a tree by a Pit Bull, this kitty needed help-and FAST!

In the past week Maria, our amazing foster mom in Georgia, has kept running into cats who need a helping hand. My rescue, Kitten Associates, has offered to help take on every cat she's found so far. All but one of these cats came from the SAME property. To date we've rescued 5 kittens and one adult. Though we have few resources, we're making room. Somehow it will all sort out. We can't and won't look away when a cat needs us.

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©2012 Maria S. Maria-super-cat-lady to the rescue!

When Maria contacted me about a cat who was up a tree and needed rescue, I couldn't believe it. It seems this year more than any I can remember, there are cats coming out of the woodwork-and now are they raining down from above? There are so many kittens that are turning up alone on a neighbor's front steps-even my own cousin found one in her yard, lost and sick-so covered with ticks he almost died. Thankfully she was able to get him the care he needed in time and he will be going to a rescue in eastern CT today.


©2012 Maria S. & Robin A.F. Olson. You MUST listen to the voiceover on this cute video of Maria saving little Willow.

We had to act quickly. Maria, with the aid of her neighbor, whose voice over on the video below is quite amusing, managed to get the kitty down without too much trouble. Sadly, it was very clear that this kitty was sick. Flea covered, dirty, with a runny nose and tearing eyes. The cat kept gulping, a reflex from having too much mucus in her sinuses.

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©2012 Maria S. It looks like Willow is telling Maria she's scared.

We couldn't know if this was someone's cat. She was very friendly so she'd known humans, but where was her family? If she had one, why did they let her get so sick? Why was she so thin?

Maria looked at the cat's abdomen. Her nipples were a bit swollen. One expressed a tiny bit of milk. As Maria was relaying this information to me we both realized this could be another “Amberly”-a found friendly stray who had kittens in the area. Finding Amberly's kittens was truly a miracle, but could we do it again?

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©2012 Maria S. Getting some much needed rest.

I had Maria take the cat to the Vet. We'd sort everything out later. The Vet did the exam. The cat, who we named Willow (thanks to a suggestion by our friend Judy), just rolled over and wanted to be loved. She didn't care about being sick, she just wanted to be petted. This kitty was so darling we all fell in love with her on the spot.

The Vet didn't feel she was pregnant and if she had kittens she was mostly dried up to the point that they are probably weaned by now. Sadly, we have no idea where Willow came from, but the following day Maria did put a harness on the little cat and walked her around the area, hoping Willow would lead her to her family. None were found.


©2012 Maria S. Willow loves the Vet!

Maria also asked around the neighborhood, but no one had seen the cat before. Willow was either lost or dumped. Whatever happened to her, we'll keep her safe and hopefully in time she will recover from her illness. She's been too stuffed up to smell her food so Maria has syringe fed her for a few days. This morning she's starting to improve enough to eat some on her own. She's still rolling over to get belly rubs. Whoever had her must have been kind to her at some point.

I hope Maria doesn't find any more cats who need help. We're really full up and funds are low-even with the awesome amount of donations we just got in. We have to be careful so we'll have enough for everyone as their need arises.

 

Then Maria contacted me again…the little kitten she saw at the neighbor's house where we just helped 5 cats, is about nine months old now and is pregnant. Can we help her too? All I could say is; “We'll find a way…”

 

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©2012 Maria S. Another unsprayed female, barely a kitten herself, needs our help, too.

P.S. Maria gave me the OK to show her to all of you in her PJs. She was glad she wore the ones with the kitties on them.

The Top 10 Names NOT to Give Your Cat

NOTE FROM ROBIN: just before I was going to upload this post, I got a number of urgent texts from Maria about a kitten who was in dire need of rescue. As you may know, we rushed this kitten to the Vet last night and after getting him on fluids and an injection of B12 and some antibiotics to help soothe his upper respiratory infection, he was sent to Maria's to begin recovering. He is seriously underweight, but he's eating and doing all right so far. What's ironic is that he'll need a name, so I better make sure I take my own advice about what name to choose.

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Running a Cat Rescue often requires that I name incoming cats and kittens. I love the challenge of coming up with something unique, that speaks to the personality of each foster cat, but after naming a few hundred cats it becomes a bit daunting.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. MacGruber.

The right name can make or break an adoption. If I have a somewhat shy foster cat, who does not rank very high on the must adopt list, meaning it's a black kitten or not a known fancy cat breed, the better the name, the better the odds are that I can get that cat adopted.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly Picklepuss.

Do adopters keep the name I give their cat? Often times they do, but it surprises me when I believe I chose a great name and they change it. I'm sure if you asked the cat, they wouldn't care. As the saying goes; “I don't care what you call me, just don't call me late for dinner.”

Keeping in mind that this is ALL IN GOOD FUN, if you named your cat something on this list, PLEASE do not be offended! You could simply consider changing your cat's name to something more clever and appealing to avoid feeling badly. (I'm joking about the name change unless your cat is named, Kitty!)

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©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob Dole-best cat name, ever.

THE TOP 10 NAMES TO NOT GIVE YOUR CAT

1. Kitty. Really? You can't come up with something better than that? Look around your home. Name the cat, “Maple,” “Cinnamon,” “Corian.” Anything is more creative than, KITTY! We KNOW it's a kitty. It's like calling a baby, “human” or “male.”

2. Max. If I had a $1 for every kid, dog or cat named Max, I'd be loaded.

3. Tiger/Tigger/Stripes. Firstly, it's not a tiger, it's a cat. Yes, it may have a striped pattern, but don't call it Stripes! Why not fancy it up? Give it pizzaz? How about LeTigre? Blaze? Some tabbies patterning looks more like herringbone. See? Herringbone is a much cooler name.

4. Boots/Mittens What's next? Naming your cat, “Underwear?” “Ear Muffs?”

5. Fluffy, Puffy, Fluff I named one of our foster cats Miss FluffyPants, which is a great example of how to use a hackneyed name and give it a memorable twist.

6. Lucky That name always connotates an animal with 3 legs or 1 eye (or both) and in my book, that's not particularly lucky.

7. Puss I wouldn't even say that name out loud these days.

8.Tabby. Good thing you don't have a black or gray cat. What would you name that one, Blackie? Gray-ie?

9. Harley This was a cool name at one time, but it's 15 minutes of cool are over.

10. Sooty, Inky, Midnight Only okay to use if the cat is NOT black. If the cat is black, how about choosing one our friend in the Philipines, who does cat rescue, called her black foster kitten: Skittles.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Periwinkle.

Then there are those out there who ignore social convention, common sense or good taste. They have no regard for how the cat might feel being called by the name they chose or the fact that their Vet will one day have to say this name out loud when talking about a serious health issue the cat is battling. “Mr. Jones, I'm very sorry to tell you that we found cancer in Douchebag.”

10 STUPID NAMES FOR YOUR CAT

1. Bong/Token

2. Douche/Douchebag/DB

3. Lil' Hitler

4. Rabid

5. Dick

6. Al Qaeda

7. Slutbutt

8. Pissy

9. Tabby Turdstockings

10. Redneck

I love to think up names that are unique or have a play on words. I have to wonder if a well-named cat gets slightly better Vet care. Every time I went to a new Vet with my cat, Bob Dole, EVERYONE who heard his name laughed, smiled and REMEMBERED him any time we needed to have a return visit. Maybe a cat's name is not such a big deal, but I believe it's worth taking time to come up with a name that's special to you and your family.

BOUNDRY-PUSHING NAMES I JUST MADE UP FOR COOL CATS

1. Count Chocula

2. Rehab

3. Kevin Scent or Kevin

4. Sultan of Swagger or Sammy Swagger

5. Sir Chunksalot

6. Roger That

7. Phil Opian

8. Richard Widmark (you would always have to refer to him by his full name, no nicknames or else it falls under number 5 of Stupid Cat Names)

9. Loaf

10. Dammit. My Mother always wanted to name a cat Dammit so she could let it outside during the day, then have the pleasure of calling it to come back inside each night. “Dammit, get in the house!”

11.(bonus!) Rocky Road

I could go on and on about cat names and perhaps one day I'll share some insight into what inspires my curious name choices. For now, please promise to still be my friend if your cat is named Mittens or Max or anything else on these lists. I want to inspire you to consider coloring outside the lines when you name your next cat. Give that cat a special name that makes you smile every time you have to scold that cat and say its' name out loud: “Richard Widmark! Get off the counter!”

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©2012 Maria. S. Now that we've discussed what not to name the cat, stupid names and cool names I've come up with; I've chosen to name our newest foster kitten, Tater Tot.

Not On My Watch: EMERGENCY FUNDRAISER FOR 2, 4 WK OLD KITTENS

 

BREAKING NEWS!

 

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©2012 Maria S. Lucky for him, Maria saw this poor little kitten laying in the street when she was driving home from work.

I just got these disturbing images of a VERY WEAK, sick, flea-infested, 4 week old kitten who is barely alive. He's VERY THIN and too weak to run off. Maria found him, along with his sister in the SAME YARD as where we just rescued a mama cat and 3 of her kittens a month ago. These folks have a track record of NOT caring for their cats at all. Last time two of the kittens we were going to rescue "disappeared" and were never seen again! We can't let that happen a second time so we've offered to take these two kittens before they DIE!

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©2012 Maria S. This poor little guy couldn't even stand.

We MUST get some funding to help provide for immediate Vet care (which will cost more money, but we can't wait until Wednesday to get them to our low cost Vet), along with funds to provide for their future Vet care.

There are TWO kittens. I only have photos of the one right now. The other is a shy Tortie!

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©2012 Maria S. How can the person who is supposed to be caring for this kitten NOT NOTICE the little guy is SICK???

 

If you can help us with a donation, we would appreciate it VERY MUCH!! EVERY DOLLAR HELPS!

 

The donation you provide to this Emergency Rescue is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE as we are a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue.

If you'd prefer to send a check, please make it out to: Kitten Associates and please note on the check the funds should go to "Two Kittens Fund" mail it to:

Kitten Associates
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Any funds not used for the care of this family will go into our General Fund.

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©2012 Maria S. What did he ever do to deserve this?

 

If you can't make a donation, you can help us by getting the word out. Every dollar helps and every Re-tweet or FB Share does, too. THANK YOU for caring about these little babies!

 

Follow Up: Saving Your Cat's Life with a Question

Last month I wrote Save Your Cat's Life with a Question, about how to work WITH your Vet, not just listen to what is told to you and follow orders accordingly. You have to do the research, push back, ASK QUESTIONS. YOU know your cat better than anyone else and it's up to YOU to take ownership of what's ailing your cat and make certain you understand both what your Vet is telling you and agree with any treatments or medications being handed out. It's easy to just let the Vet dictate, then find out later they were either way off base, want to use “off-label” medications on your cat, or don't tell you about the potential side effects.

I got a lot of comments about that post and one email I got from reader, Juli, really made me take notice. With her permission, I am able to share it with you.

Juli wrote (I edited very slightly):

“Hey Robin,

I am a Rescuer, so I have a lot of experience with sick, under the weather and cats that hide that there is something wrong. Well, to try to make 5 long stories shorter, I 'll probably omit a lot of info (easier to tell the stories than type). #1~Greyson was 15 yrs old, the vet said to prepare myself (he was my favorite), he wouldnt last another month. He said he had cancer. He lived to be 17 1/2!!

#2~ Orange was a male who was diagnosed with FIV after he was tested 2 years before that (neg-that is another story). When he was about 4, he stopped eating (he ate and pooped every hour !!). I knew immediately something was wrong. He spent 4 nights in hospital, the last night he had ripped his IV out of his vein but not out of his arm so he had like 300 mls floating freely in his arm. It was very painful and no one was at the clinic overnight. When I came in at 9am to see him and try to coax him to eat, I saw his arm and he had urine all over him. I told them to clean him up, get my meds and I will take him home. They had 3 different vets come in separately to try to talk me out of taking him home and putting him to sleep right now. Well, needless to say, antibiotics and pain meds was the answer. He got better and was his usual self…for another 2 yrs !

#3~ Barkley was 19 yrs old and spit up blood. I rushed him to the vet who said he was too old for surgery so no matter what was wrong (teeth or tumor), he'd have to be put to sleep now. I refused and asked for antibiotics in case it was a tooth problem. They looked at me like I was crazy and gave it to me since I wasn't going to be spending any money on a surgery. Barkley got better and lived another 11 months !

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©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Princess FiFi. One of our rescues who was deathly ill from an upper respiratory infection. Princess is happy and healthy today and living in North Carolina.

#4~Cube, who was 14 yrs old in 2009, was drooling so I took him to the vet. They told me he needed $1200.00 surgery to save his life. I didn't have $1200.00 right then so I asked for antibiotics and pain meds and took him home. It is 2012 and Cube is sleeping on the bed upstairs.

And #5~Quills was rescued May 30, 1997 at 3 months old, in the pouring rain, snot closing both nostrils, eyes crusted shut and crying at the top of his little lungs, in the middle of a grassy field. We rushed him to the Vet. He had lifelong upper respiratory infections. Nothing ever took it away. He got antibiotics and prednisone for life (on & off). Every time he'd go to the vet, they'd take X-rays and always say "no he doesn't have asthma" I'd say; “Even though he has all the symptoms?”.

Long story short, vet gave him 2 puffs of inhaler, his breathing rate went from 60 to 30 breaths a minute !! They couldn't argue about it anymore, that was proof he had asthma! All this time, 15 years of wrong meds, stuffed up nose and hard breathing for 15 yrs. 2 years before he was finally diagnosed correctly, I had rushed him in to ER at like 4am. They tried to talk me into putting him to sleep right then and tried to make me feel guilty that I wasn't doing what they said to do. Quills lived 4 years after this incident. His best years were once he had his own inhaler and could breathe like everyone else. I hate when I hear about when a vet tells people theres no other hope and they are suffering…”

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As with anything medical related, whether it be human or animal health, USE COMMON SENSE. I'm NOT telling you that Vets are stupid or always wrong. I have a great relationship and regard for the Vets I work with.

I'm telling you to take a breath when the Vets says; “there is no hope.” Ask questions. Be your cat's advocate and you'll never look back with regret over the choices you make regarding her health.

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As this post was about to go live, I got a note from Juli. Her cat, Cory, who was spayed when she was 10 months old (because she was a PREGNANT stray at just 6 months of age), has been diagnosed with mammary gland cancer. This type of cancer can occur when cats are spayed after six months of age. The cancer can metastasizes into the lungs and is always fatal. Cory is just 10 years old and the cancer is in her a mammary gland and under one of her legs. My deepest wishes for peace and love go out to Juli & Cory during this very sad time.

Saving Leo

There are times when something happens that stops you cold in your tracks. Whatever pressing engagements you had fall to the wayside without guilt or concern. You're driven by a mixture of shock and adrenaline. You must act immediately, even though you're not sure what to do.

On Saturday, April 28th, a couple noticed a cat wandering outside their apartment. The cat walked oddly and was very thin, but seemed to know they were there and didn't run away. When they got closer to the cat, they saw something so shocking they were stunned into silence.

The ginger tabby's eyes were sealed shut by a crust of some sort. His nose must have been running for a long time which caused it to seal shut, as well.

To make it worse some sort of green mold or growth had covered his nostrils, as if he was sprouting a nightmarish green mustache. The only way he could breathe at all was through his mouth. This cat was suffocating. He couldn't see to get around and was going to die and die soon if someone didn't help him.

 

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One of the saddest things I've ever seen. This is what Leo looked like when he was discovered. Click to view the image and click again to hide the image, BUT BE WARNED IT'S GRAPHIC and may upset you.

It's easy for some people to come up with a reason to look away-to not help an animal in need. They may not have money or time or experience in knowing what to do. This couple didn't have a cat, nor could they have one in their apartment, but that didn't stop them from helping a cat they'd only just met. They carefully approached the cat, who turned out to be very friendly, even though he could not see them. It didn't take them long to realize they needed to get this cat to the Vet right away.

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Leo after his face was cleaned for the first time. No one even knew if he could see or if he'd gone blind from the horrific upper respiratory infection he was battling.

They named him Leo.

Leo was in sorry shape. The Vet began to carefully clean away the crusts covering his eyes and nose. Leo was too weak to make a fuss. He had probably been unable to eat for long time. They put him on an IV and a combination of antibiotics. The protocol for vetting an unknown cat is to perform a combo test to test for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia, so they did that, too. The test came back positive for Feline Leukemia which is contagious to other cats and ultimately fatal. Leo was also neutered, which meant he had a home at some point, but where was his family now?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Leo under the lights at Home Depot.

As with every positive test, Leo would need to be re-tested at a later date to prove his Leukemia positive status, but the problem was that there was no where for this cat to go-IF he survived treatment. Who would take a Feline Leukemia positive cat who was battling a horrific upper respiratory infection? Maybe Leo would be better off if they euthanized him?

Calls were made, emails sent out. All the rescue groups in Long Island alerted all the rescues in New York and Connecticut. They needed a foster home or an amazing adopter or an amazing rescue to take this cat on, knowing full well he would require expensive Vet care. They chose to try to save his life if they could find a place for him to go. When I saw the photos of Leo, my heart broke. I couldn't do much, but I contacted Gina, who rescued Leo and told her about Aslan's Cats Sanctuary in upstate New York. Their rescue takes only feline leukemia positive cats. Maybe they could help?

I also offered to help transport Leo to Aslan's should it come to pass.

Leo was on an IV for a few days. Gina and her husband got a bill for $1500.00. When I told them we'd do a fundraiser, they said to donate any money to Aslan's because Leo will need much more Vet care and they had secured a placement for him there…and oh, by the way, could I drive two hours north that very night? Leo was stable enough to be moved.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our first real look at this lovely “apple-head Tom.”

So barely twelve hours after I first heard about Leo, I was driving to the Home Depot in Brewster, New York (along with Sam) to meet Gina by 8:30pm. Gina bought a crate for Leo and a blanket that she wanted to donate to Aslan's. She gave me his paperwork and I peeked inside his carrier. His eyes were open just a bit, which was an improvement over the last photo I'd seen, but he looked like he was in rough shape. His right front leg was bandaged. I could see he still had a catheter in his leg. It reminded me of my cat, Bob, which immediately made me feel sad. I started to pray Leo would not die before I got him up to Catskill, New York where Aslan's is located, but I had a two hour drive ahead of me and plenty of time to worry.

I-84 and I-87 have seen better days. There were bumps and potholes aplenty. I kept saying “I'm sorry.” to Leo since I needed to drive “enthusiastically” if I was going to get to Catskill before 11pm, but driving at highway speeds made every bump even more obvious. Leo didn't make a fuss. I always consider that a bad sign when a cat is quiet in the car.

About 30 minutes into the drive I heard an odd sound, then I heard it again. I realized Leo was wheezing, but it was not the sort of wheeze I had ever heard before. Since I was driving I kept asking Sam to check on Leo. Is he sitting up? Is he looking fairly comfortable? Is his nose running? Is he ALIVE?

Leo was uncomfortable but did not appear to be in any danger. I made good time and we arrived at Asland's at a few minutes after 10 pm. Hilary Harris, the Director, met us with open arms. She's the kind of person you can warm up to right away. I brought up some of my Halo Spot's Stew canned food donation to offer her and we started talking about appropriate food for cats. We talked shop. She introduced us to many of the cats-and there are 60 of them. She knew every name and where every cat came from. It felt peaceful there, but I felt very sad, too. Here is a house full of cats who have a terminal illness. Many will never have a home to call their own, but being at Asland's is a very good option for them. [I'm going to go into more detail about Aslan's Sanctuary at another time because they deserve a blog post solely about what they do and about the tragedy that befell them last autumn.]

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Leo, severely underweight and weak, gets a lift from Sam.

I finally got a chance to see Leo for a moment as Sam lifted him out of the carrier and placed him into a nebulizer tank, which is basically a plastic tub with a tight fitting lid. There's a hole in one side for a tube to enter the tub, which is attached to a nebulizer. It's a way to deliver medicine to the sinuses and lungs that will help decongest Leo and ease his breathing. It's also very unnerving for a cat, but it had to be done.

As Leo got his treatment, we got to know each other. Hilary told us she could have lived offsite from Asland's but prefers to live with the cats. She has a small bedroom and tinier office space in Victorian home she shares with the cats. There are few human comforts. It's all about the cats and keeping them happy.

Everywhere we went the cats followed us, reaching out for attention. I was slow to touch them, thinking about how I was going to decontaminate myself and not bring anything into my own home later that night. After awhile I forgot about the URI's or the leukemia. They were all sweet kitties who needed the same love any cat did. I wished it wasn't so late so we could have stayed longer, but Leo needed to get settled and the next morning he was due to go to a new Vet for more supportive therapy and another checkup. We said our farewells and as the rain began to tickle our shoulders, Sam and I got back into my car as I set the GPS for HOME.

More on Leo and his struggle to survive tomorrow…

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If you'd like to help with a donation for Leo's care you can visit Aslan's Cats Donation Page. They are a Non-Profit 501©3 and accept PayPal or you can mail a check. Their address is included on the donation page.

 

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