These are the stories of my life, rescuing, socializing, and standing up for the rights of cats everywhere. It’s an amazing journey, one of inner and outer tribulation and triumph, of heartache and hope. As I struggle to make ends meet, get my Non-Profit cat rescue off the ground and simply find my way in the world; I extend my hand out and ask you to join me in my dream of finding a home for every cat and to stop the insanity of euthanizing adoptable animals as a way of population control.
And I do all that while caring for my own 8 cats who leave me somewhat cranky and perpetually Covered in Cat Hair.
The “Anniversary” approaches. We here in Sandy Hook, Connecticut don’t need more of a description than that. We know the anniversary referred to is of the horrific shooting that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December 14, 2012. It was a tragedy that wiped away the lives of 20 children and 8 adults.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the thousands of messages sent to help Newtown heal.
I realize some folks would have difficulty that I include the 2 people who caused this horror in my tally—the 1 who actually pulled the trigger and the other who arrogantly had an arsenal of guns in her suburban home combined with a son who she KNEW had mental illness and severe social issues. They died, too. The horror that occurred is unforgivable, but I gently suggest that after a year has passed, perhaps it’s time to include those people in our heartbreak and include them in our mourning as we struggle to move forward.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
What we have learned in twelve months is that people love our town. People who didn’t even know where Connecticut was, let alone Sandy Hook, sent us truckloads of letters and cards expressing their sentiments. These people are from all over the world, who just wanted to let us know how much they cared. They reached out to us and held us. They gave us gifts. They donated many millions of dollars to funds that go to the families of the fallen, that will help our town government run and more (GE “donated” 5 employees to our town to help our First Selectman with anything she needed).
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love, the theme of so many messages of support.
As the sheath of heartbreak begins to fall away, what lies beneath that is what has been their all along-love; love that we may have previously held close, that we protected, fearful to express it. It was a love we may not have felt we had enough to share, but with the tragedy behind us, this love has grown bigger and grander and more open and fearless. It is more welcoming and accepting than any love we have ever known. It is because we don’t try to forget what happened, we use it as a reminder to cherish our fragile lives and the lives of everyone around us. It reminds us to not be afraid to reach out a hand and offer it to a stranger, not asking for anything in return, but having confidence that helping others helps us, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
Our town is already bracing for an onslaught of media coverage. Pat Llodra, our First Selectman, asks them to stay away and let us grieve in peace. The local Catholic church has signs in their yard warning: “No Media Beyond this Point! Police Take Notice.” In some ways I agree with that request, but for one reason I disagree. I would like the media to come here and focus not on the pain, but on the ways we have been helping each other and to use the media to remind others to mark this sad day by doing at least one good thing for a stranger. The families of the fallen ask for 26 acts of kindness, 1 for each person who was killed, and they ask that everyone do these things for people in their own community. We don’t need more things here, we need more love and that love should be expressed by helping others, simple as that.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A Christmas card I came across. What a lovely message.
Last year my non-profit cat rescue, Kitten Associates, helped others the day after the shooting and it continued on for 5 months. We opened our home to anyone who needed us by creating what became an award-winning program called Kitties for Kids. Kids, parents, now-grown former students of Sandy Hook Elementary came to us. They played with our foster kittens. They petted our cat Nora’s big belly. The saddest of the children eventually smiled, even if it was a shy, tentative smile. It was the beginning of them finding their way back to the world from the darkness of a broken heart and we were honored to be part of that journey.
In a few days we will be re-opening our home. Kitties for Kids will begin again and for the next 2 weeks anyone who needs us will find open arms and new furry friends. Inasmuch as we know our community needs us, we need them, too. Hearing children giggle was an unexpected gift that gave us the fuel to continue to help others.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our town hall turned into the display area for all the cards and banners. There were too many to read each one. I've heard they photographed every single piece, but my mind boggles at the thought.
Although blazing gun control legislations weren’t passed in the last year and we learned we may never know why Lanza chose Sandy Hook Elementary to express his rage, the love that has blossomed out of the heartbreak is magical and we hope it will radiate throughout the world.
©2013 Maggie Russo. The lovely lady who keeps my hair looking great shared this photo with me. A stranger bought everyone at Salon Michele their morning coffee.
And may I humbly suggest that we don't stop there. Let’s continue to look for ways to help each other EVERY DAY and change the course of history, from one fueled by greed and selfishness to one of compassion and love.
The one and only Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, has a new WEEKLY web video series, called Cat Mojo that delivers cat-centric tips, stories and more. The series launches TODAY, Dec., 9, 2013 and is sure to become an instant hit. Jackson's teamed up with the Animalist network to bring you his new show which hints at sharing stories about more than just cats! Make sure you check out the trailer to give you a taste of what's to come.
Jackson is finally going to tell us what Cat Mojo really means. Watch his new series to find out!
You can check out the trailer here and make sure you subscribe so you don't miss an episode!
Can't wait? The first episode just aired! You can check out right here!
On December 14, 2012 my neighbor was murdered in her bed. Her son took off, armed to the hilt and for reasons we may never know, headed for our local elementary school and murdered some of the staff and 20 children.
From the moment I heard the news, I knew I had to do something to help my community. I didn't have much to offer, other than a house full of foster kittens, but what I take for granted, I knew other people might find unique. What I also knew is the healing power that resulted in spending time with kittens. Pet a kitten. Watch them play. You can't be sad when you're in a room full of kittens. The day after the tragedy, my program Kitties for Kids was born. A year later I can say that it was possibly the best thing I've ever done in my entire life.
I had no idea we'd get accolades from the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association or that I'd meet someone I look up to-U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who also awarded our program with a Special Certificate of Recognition. I just wanted to help my broken-hearted community and had no idea or expectation that anything would happen to me as a result of giving back.
Our program was extended into the spring of this year, then it faded away when our dear kitten Fred, grew ill and later died from the dry form of FIP. I didn't give Kitties for Kids much thought. I was too busy grieving. We didn't get requests for visits and I thought it was time to close the program.
This summer, I was surprised when Susan Logan, the Editor of Cat Fancy contacted me and asked me if I'd be interested in having them do a story about our program for their December 2013 issue. I didn't hesitate to offer to write the article myself, but in all fairness she said it would be better reporting if she sent someone to me to do the story. I agreed, though as a cat writer, I admit to being a bit frustrated to being so close to writing for a national publication I'd admired since I was a kid.
I met with Kellie Gormly, a cheerful, chatty, cat-lover early in April. We talked at great length about not only doing rescue work, but how the residents of Newtown were coping. I took her on a tour, showing her the Newtown Healing Arts Center where the arts were used to help the children express their feelings and where many donations of artwork were displayed from around the world. I showed her other areas that were about being positive and hopeful, instead of focusing on a tour of where grisly events unfolded. We paid respect to the little fire station near where Sandy Hook Elementary once stood. On its roof are 26 bronze stars, one for each of the victims in the school. It was a cold, bright day, not unlike the day of the shooting. I didn't want to be anywhere near this place and was glad to leave it behind.
Kellie got to work on the article while the design staff at Cat Fancy reviewed the photos I sent them and made their selections for what would make the issue. At the time I had no idea which photos were going to be used where, nor how long the piece was going to be. I hoped for at least a 2-page spread, but had no idea what they'd end up doing.
The article about Kitties for Kids starts on page 16!
My dear friend Ingrid King sent me an email with the subject saying something to the effect of: "OMG DID YOU SEE THIS??!” Ingrid had attached a scan of the article. Unbeknownst to me, Cat Fancy came out early to subscribers and Ingrid hadn't known Kitten Associates was going to be featured. I imagined her turning page after page, then seeing someone she recognized…there's ROBIN and Spencer!
To quote my mother, I think I “plotzed” when I saw the scan. There, on the very first page of the article was a photo of me with Spencer. It took up more than half the space. When I envisioned the photo being used, I assumed it might be a thumbnail-size near the end of the article. Oh no…it was me in all my glory. Holy moley. I wondered if this is what it's like to be a celebrity? I admit to feeling a mix of delight and horror. Yes, I need to be out there in the public so my rescue can get more help, but wowie it is a strange feeling to see yourself in a magazine you often read.
Here's a sneak peek of the December 2013 Issue of Cat Fancy. To get your own copy, visit Cat Fancy online.
The next day I had to bring some kittens to Dr. Larry's and the second I walked in the door, I ran over and grabbed their copy of Cat Fancy. I asked if I could do "show and tell" during my appointment and they looked at me like I was crazy (which they are also used to by now). I went into the exam room and looked at the article. It blew me away. Kellie did a great job and I loved the layout. It is 4 pages long and full of photos from our program. They even honored Fred's passing, which meant the world to me.
My parents died many years ago and this is one thing I wish they had lived to see. All the hard work, the tears, resulted in something wonderful for Kitten Associates. When Dr. Larry looked at the spread, his face lit up. He smiled. He was really impressed and proud of me. In that moment I realized how meaningful it is to get a reminder that you're doing the right thing. It gives me fuel to keep going when times get tough.
Kitties for Kids hasn't come to an end. After careful consideration, we have decided to do a special 2-week run of our program. It will start on December 14th, the first anniversary of the tragedy and will run until December 28th. Though we hope no one will feel the need for kitty play-therapy because their hearts are healing, we'll be ready in case we're needed. If you live in Newtown, CT and would like to book a play therapy session, just email us at info@kittenassociates. org and we'll fill you in on how to sign up.
In any big city as you walk down the street, you might come across a street performer playing music with an open guitar case next to him displaying a small collection of spare change scattered inside it. You might walk hurriedly past the person, feeling uncomfortable to connect with a stranger, or, if the music is just right, you may become his audience, if only for a few moments. Before you part, you fish out a few coins or notes to offer him for his time, leaving it behind in the case.
James Bowen’s International Bestseller; “A Street Cat Named Bob & How He Saved My Life” chronicles his life and the divine meeting of the self-described recovering heroin addict and “busker” (in the USA we would call him a street performer) and a very special orange tabby cat he later named, Bob.
You can’t read a book about someone else’s life without comparing it to your own. In reading Bowen’s words, I was caught up in challenges of his life lived on the streets, to transitional housing in London, which allowed him to continue treatment for his addiction. Where one night his fate would be forever changed by meeting an injured Tom cat who was sitting outside the door of an apartment in his building. In the same way the busy London crowds might ignore a busker, Bowen could have chosen to walk past the cat and not get involved.
In fact, during Bowen’s first weeks with Bob, he often gave the cat chances to leave since Bowen could barely afford to feed himself, let alone provide vet care for an injured cat. Where this story takes a surprising turn is that regardless of how much Bowen protests or questions what he's doing with this cat, the cat, however has clearly made up his mind about what he wants. This cat is like no other. Instead of being fearful, he saunters along with Bowen down crowded streets, even following Bowen onto a bus. He keeps Bowen company as Bowen plays guitar in a public garden, hoping to earn enough money to get to the next day. With his new furry partner at his side, crowds begin to form around the curious duo and the contents of the guitar case show surprising results .
Photo courtesy of James Bowen & Street Cat Bob's Facebook Page
A Street Cat Named Bob is a quick read, especially if you speed-read the scary parts where a few worriesome things happens to Bob and Bowen (I won’t spoil it here) and you can’t stand waiting to get to the part where you hope they’re okay again. I found myself rooting for the two of them to see what was becoming clear-that they belonged together.
While the prose is a bit awkward and those of us in the USA might need to translate some of the terms (like moggie=cat), it’s an honest telling of the story. Bowen, himself, is not from a polished private school background built around decades of studying literature. I wouldn't believe the story if it was better written and it would have lost some of its charm. His voice rings clear, even though he did have some help from writer Garry Jenkins to structure the tale just right.
I had the opportunity to ask James a few questions about how he’s doing now and how he feels about his book becoming an International Bestseller and this is what he had to say:____
Photo courtesy of James Bowen & Street Cat Bob's Facebook Page
Nothing…I tried in vain to get answers to a handful of questions. I spoke with Mr. Bowen's Publicist via email a number of times. After two months I've given up that any of my questions will ever be answered. Though I'm definitely not thrilled to share this news with you, it does not diminish what I think about Mr. Bowen's book.
Considering we're about to hit a holiday here in the USA where we should remember to be thankful, A Street Cat Named Bob is the sort of story that reminds us to be grateful for what we have when so many aren't as fortunate. As for Mr. Bowen, his life is changing in ways he never could have imagined and with Bob by his side the future is looking bright.
A Streetcat Named Bob is available for purchase HERE.
UPDATE: LEAVE A COMMENT TO WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY OF A Street
Cat Named Bob! Winner chosen at random 11/27/13 at 6PM EST. USA Residents only.
She lives in a bad part of town south of Atlanta, Georgia in an apartment complex where she and her daughter are in hiding from her abusive husband. I can't say her name or mention her town to keep her safe. She doesn't have two sticks to rub together. She doesn't have a car. She barely gets by on her own.
3 to 4 Month old gray kitten-FRIENDLY.
The one thing she does have is a love for cats and their well-being. Against the rules of the apartment complex where she lives, she takes on the stray cats that show up in endless numbers and tries to do right by them. Last week I found out that 3 more kittens, probably litter mates, had shown up and were living off dumpster food or scraps they could beg at the nearby McDonald's. It's no life for any cat, but this woman is trying to get help for them and is feeding them what she can until we can get a rescue involved.
I'm left scratching my head about what to do. I've got 22 cats in my house. More than half are rescues. I'm not getting adoption applications. I'm worried I won't find homes for the cats I already have.
I want to help this person, partially because I know she's risking her home by helping these cats. I want to help because I love cats too and will do as much as I can.
3 to 4 Month old medium-haired orange kitten-FRIENDLY, but a bit shy (just needs a bit of lovin').
We all see pleas for help every day so I know it's asking a lot. These cats face either being returned outside or given up to the local kill shelter where they will probably never get out. I'd like to give them a chance and I hope you'll help me simply by sharing this news with any of your cat loving friends-especially ones that do rescue in Georgia.
Let's Make a Deal
What I Will Do in Return
The cats weigh about 3 lbs, so it means they are about 3-4 months old (yes they look bigger in the photos). They are all friendly, though the orange one is a bit shy. They will need vetting, but I'm not asking for any rescue to pick up the tab.
3 to 4 Month old black and white kitten-FRIENDLY & GOOFY.
I will ask those fans to offer donations to your organization and look at your cats for adoption. There is a chance that these 3 cats will not cost you a dime and may help you place other cats, too.
Rub ma belleh.
If you're with a rescue and can take these kittens, please contact me, Robin Olson, at email@example.com
Thank you and please let your friends know about these kitties. This woman has given everything she has to save these cats from death. In her honor let's help these cats find a life.
All the kittens get along well with each other. Can you help us find them a rescue?
WARNING. THERE ARE GRAPHIC IMAGES OF ONE KITTEN'S EYE INFECTION BELOW. EACH IMAGE HAS A BLACK PANEL OVER IT SO NO ONE HAS TO SEE THE IMAGE IF THEY DON'T WANT TO. TO VIEW THE IMAGE WITHOUT THE PANEL, YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON THE PHOTO.
Shelter kittens get sick pretty much every time I bring them into foster care. There’s just no way to keep viruses out of shelters. I wish there was and I hope there are some shelters out there doing a great job of keeping their rescued cats healthy, but I expect that sooner or later (usually sooner) I’m going to see upper respiratory hit the kittens.
I had a nice break from sick kittens with Minnie’s family. They were born on a sidewalk and never saw the inside of a building until they entered foster care on their 4th day of life. They were treated for parasites, but I don’t think they had any. They had some loose stools, but that was about it.
I look back on some of our first foster cats—Polly Picklepuss, her sister Cara Melle and brother Chester Cheesetoes. Polly and Cara are STILL sick to this day (years later) from the wicked viral “thing” they got in a shelter. It’s a miracle they survived. Cara had about $5,000.00 of vetting to keep her alive, not to mention round-the-clock care for a few weeks that required I medicate her every 6 hours.
With the Clementine kittens, they got off transport with a few minor eye issues. I had been treating them with Neopolydex drops and thought that was the end of their care. A few days later, they had bad FVRCP vaccine reactions and one of them, almost overnight, broke out with very swollen conjunctiva (the tissue the lines the inside of the eyelid). The victim was Sherbert, one of the two male kittens. Bert looked terrible so I brought him back to the vet AGAIN. This was about the 7th Vet trip in the 3 weeks I’d had this litter of kittens.
Dr. Mary said she really wanted to treat him with Terramycin® ointment, but it’s no longer available. I asked why and she had no idea.
Dr. Mary gave me the option of trying a different eye drop to see if that would do the trick. I asked if there was any way at all to get the ointment and she said she had a connection that could get it compounded but it was very expensive and time consuming to get it.
I tried the new drops for a few days, but Bert’s eye got worse. I’ve never seen a cat’s eye look so monstrous. In fact, looking at it gave me the shivers it was so gross, but I HAD to overcome my squeamishness to help him. I was terrified he would lose his eye and I promised myself, arrogant or not, that there was no way in Hell he was going blind on my watch.
I took Bert back to Dr. Mary for a re-check and we decided to order the Terramycin, but it would take a few days to get it. I heard you could buy it online for $12 for 3 tubes. It was imported from Turkey. Yes, I realized it could be counterfeit and do nothing but I’d rather blow $12 and hope it works. I put rush shipping on the order because Bert’s eye was so swollen I thought it was going to pop. We started him on another eye drop in the meantime, hoping it might do the trick.
That night I went to check on the kittens and I saw something coming out between Bert’s swollen eyelids. I didn’t know WHAT it was but I was horrified at the sight. It looked like a piece of his third eyelid was protruding from between the eyelids. I carefully wiped at it with a gauze pad but it didn’t move. I didn’t want to pull at it because I feared it might be Bert’s eye, perhaps it had ruptured after all! I felt like I was going to be sick. It was almost 11 PM. I knew it meant taking Bert to the Emergency Vet, who would charge at least $125.00 to just examine Bert’s eye. I feared it was going to cost about $1000.00 when they were done with whatever they had to do, but I couldn’t wait until morning. The infection wasn’t responding to anything. I had to help this kitten.
I called the Emergency Vet and told them what was going on. The woman who answered the phone said they could get the Vet Ophthalmologist to come in if needed (and I’m guessing it would be out-of-this-world expensive to get someone out of their home late at night to tend to a sick kitten). There was a General Practitioner on duty in the meantime.
Sam and I rushed Bert to the Vet. They weren’t busy when we got there, but shortly after we arrived a woman came in with a dog. He must have been in more serious shape than Bert so they took the dog first. Sam and I were put into a waiting room. A tech came in and looked at Bert. She was pretty cold to us and didn’t say much about what she thought was going on and she didn’t tell us not to worry. She said to wait.
While we waited, Bert was fussing. I could tell he needed to go to the bathroom because he almost did it in the cat carrier. I asked the lady at the front desk to get me a litter pan and the second she brought it in Bert used it and took a big pee. Sam and I laughed. These kittens seem to constantly need a litter pan during their Vet visit. Our laughter was cut short when Bert returned to the tiny tray and took a very watery, smelly poop. There was NO air in the tiny waiting room and it quickly turned into a noxious death trap. I asked the receptionist to please take the tray away while I opened the door to the room a little to get some air flow.
Bert wanted to get OUT of the room, so we had to take turns either holding him or playing with him to keep him from taking off. The open door didn’t do much to help the stench so we sat there with our eyes watering, while Bert played with some toys I found in my bag.
The Vet examined Bert’s eye socket, searching for his eye under all the swollen tissue. He could barely see a tiny bit of Bert’s pupil. The swelling was so severe it was impossible to tell if Bert would ever see again.
Although there was nothing more we could do, at least I knew what I was looking at. I had to work on being able to get over being nauseated while treating Bert going forward. I was so angry that he could go blind that it made me get over my own fear and decide then and there that I was going to kick this infection in the ass if it was the last thing I ever did.
The next day the Terramycin arrived. I started it on Bert and hoped that the convincing little box from Turkey was going to make a difference. I made an appointment to bring Bert back to Dr. Mary in two days, which was when the compounded version of the ointment would be ready.
I’m not sure if the Turkish terramycin worked or not. Bert didn’t seem to improve after two days. I couldn’t risk it being Vasaline in a tube, so as soon as the compounded version of the medication was ready, I loaded Bert up with it.
Dr. Mary showed me how to rinse out his eye and clean out the gobs of pus. She wasn’t sure if his vision would be saved and my heart sank at her words. I took Bert home and gave him a kiss. I told him we’d fight it as hard as we could and that if he had to go blind in that eye, so be it. We’d still find him a great home when he was feeling well again.
Over the next few days the swelling in Bert’s eye went down a bit. I kept taking him to see Dr. Mary for re-checks because I wanted her to witness his progress in case it wasn’t going as well as it should. I was being very protective over my little ward and it was worth the extra vet costs to make sure we didn’t miss anything.
Bert’s siblings were contracting the conjunctivitis, too. Blossom, who’d been so sick the week before, got the infection in her left eye so we began treating her. Then little Mandarin got it. She hated being medicated and struggled and cried every time I treated her, but ANY sign of redness around the eye meant that kitten was getting medicated.
Every day, a few times a day, Sam and I went through the routine of cleaning the eyes, medicating the eyes, dolling out antibiotics and hoping to see some sign of improvement.
I kept thinking the swelling was going down on Bert’s eye, but I wasn’t certain. One morning as I entered the room to give the kittens their meds, I couldn’t figure out which kitten was Bert. Bert’s inflammation had improved to the point where his eye was open and I could SEE Bert’s eye!
We were due for another visit with Dr. Mary, but this time felt more like show and tell. I was so proud of myself. I was fairly sure Bert was going to be all right.
Now I could cry, but it would only be tears of relief and joy.
Next up…as Bert recovers the 5 remaining kittens get the infection. Will it EVER go away? What will it take? Will another kitten be at risk of losing her vision, too, or worse, will this horrible disease hit one of my own cats…hard.
Twenty-four cats were seized as part of an animal cruelty case in North Carolina. Due to the Court System and the former owner, who would not stop fighting the case, the animals were left to suffer at Animal Control for TWO YEARS. Many got upper respiratory infections, almost half ended up losing their lives. Of the thirteen cats who survived, one came to my home (a cat I named Mabel, who had been one of our former fosters) and the most of the rest went to Wake County SPCA (who I'd been working with behind-the-scenes to help these cats). If you'd like to read more about this story, you can visit this LINK.
Today I'm thrilled to share with you an email I got yesterday from Elinor. She adopted one of the other cats named Jethro and she wanted to give me an update. Her story and photos are used with permission.
©2013 Iredelle County Animal Services. Our first look at Jethro.
“I recently found your blog about 12 kitties caged for 2 years.
I wanted to send you a big thank you for finding shelters to take these cats. My husband and I adopted Jethro from the Wake County SPCA in June. He is such a smart, playful, friendly cat.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
I saw him at the SPCA, a little cat sitting on a chair watching over the lobby. I petted him briefly, he was sweet. When I moved on to some other cats, he got out of the chair and came up to me for more petting. When I left the room, he followed me to the door and looked through adorably. He was just begging me to take him home. I took a picture with my phone and looked at it a lot. We came back the next day and adopted him.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
When we first got him, he was temperamental from switching environments. He had some of that pet me/don't pet me attitude, but he really wanted love. Slowly he started to trust us more, let us pet him and request attention. As I'm writing this, he's in my husband's lap purring loudly. He is one of the smartest cats I've met and eager to please. He follows me around the house, sits for treats and plays fetch with a ball. He loves climbing on things and running up and down the hallway. I've learned that exercising him is important or he runs around all night.
©2013 Elinor Angel.
Once in awhile we get to take a moment to look back and realize that all our efforts, our tears, were so worth it. This one cat has the chance to live the life he's deserved since the day he was born. It's clear that thanks to Wake County SPCA, this cat and most of the remaining twelve cats have the same chance at a happy life and for that I will always be grateful.
What didn't pass unnoticed was something magical. It's Elinor's last name. Angel.
Once in awhile you get a foster cat who doesn’t cause any trouble, who doesn’t have serious behavioral issues, who gets a bit…meh-sick…but not really ill. They might not stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it takes more than simply spending time with them to see how they stand apart, but in this case I didn't see this cat's magnificence until I saw her through other people's eyes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bright-eyed Bunny.
I’m referring to Bunny Boo-Boo, the now full-grown brown tabby who started her story with us as a little 4-month old kitten, dumped in the parking lot of Target in McDonough, Georgia. Bunny’s family, for whatever reason, thought that dumping their cat was the answer for whatever issues they had with her. Was it that they couldn’t afford to take care of her? Couldn’t keep her in their apartment due to regulations? Were they just cold-hearted fiends?
What I do know is in September of 2012, our intrepid foster mama, Maria, was shopping at Target when she saw Bunny, just moments after she got dumped. Seeing cats running loose in her town is not uncommon. It’s a sad fact that there is rampant cat overpopulation in the south and Maria has helped as many as she can (most end up coming to our rescue, Kitten Associates). I don’t know how Maria does it, but she jumped into action, even though she was already fostering other cats for us—even though she has more than enough on her plate.
Bunny's Adoption Flyer featuring photos of her when she was a kitten. What a cutie!
Maria called me to ask if I could take the kitten and at the time I had to say no, but I did say I would help her find a home for Bunny. Maria got Bunny vetted and I designed a flyer she could hang out at work and share around town. Bunny did very well in Maria’s home. In fact, Maria became very fond of her little tabby sweetheart. A few months passed and Maria felt hopeless about finding Bunny a home. She asked me again if I could help and since I had space I told her I would take her on, knowing I might have a hard time finding Bunny a placement. She was much bigger now and as you know, the bigger they are, the harder to find cats a home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sleepytime.
Bunny arrived in Connecticut in February of this year, along with her new buddies, George and Bongo. They were all adult cats, but I wanted to see if we could make a go of adopting out cats that were older than kittens. It took a few months, but Bongo and George found a great home together. By then we’d had some changes in our foster spaces and with poor Barney alone, after his brother Fred died, we put him with Bunny and they got along great.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny and buddy, George.
During all these months since Bunny arrived, a friend of mine in Boston named Michelle, had told me she was looking to add a kitty to her family. She and her husband, Pat had a sweet cat named Sunny. Sunny was submissive and shy so when they brought a new kitty into their home, Sunny stopped eating. The new kitty was marvelous on her own, but she was too much for Sunny and they began to worry about his health.
Though they tried everything they could, they realized it wasn’t a good match. They had no other choice but to return the cat to the shelter, but the good news was the kitty was not at any risk and the couple gave the rescue a huge donation and returned their adoption fee. The kitty was adopted again shortly thereafter.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny has a "necklace" of black fur that encircles her neck, then runs down her back, all the way down her tail.
The couple truly suffered after that unfortunate experience and decided to take a very careful, long look for another cat. After they shared their story with me, I suggested a few different cats for them and we talked at great length about each cat’s personality and how it might work with Sunny’s. At the time, Bunny was still in Georgia, so I offered other cats we had as options. Then, nothing came of it.
I didn’t hear much from Michelle for months. I didn’t pester her. I figured she adopted from another place. What I didn’t know was that Michelle had a death in her family and there were a lot of expected issues surrounding that so she stepped back from thinking about adopting a cat for a long time. Meanwhile, Bunny continued to be overlooked as many of our other foster cats got adopted. After the first year passed, I wondered if we'd ever find Bunny a home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny with new buddy, Confetti Joe.
A few weeks ago, I heard from Michelle. It had been about 10 months since we first started talking about finding her a good match. I told her about Bunny and sent her photos. She used our web cam to observe Bunny’s interaction with her new foster friends, Gracey and Joey.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny snoozing with Minnie's kittens.
Michelle and Pat thought that maybe it was a sign that this was their new cat because they already called their current cat, Sunny-Bunny and they loved how sweet Bunny was with the kittens. She often groomed them and slept with them. If she was so friendly with Minnie's 5 kittens, Barney, George and Bongo, certainly there was a good chance that Sunny would someday be her new best friend.
We set up a time to meet and I thought it might be Bunny’s adoption day, but the couple wanted to drive down from Boston just to meet this kitty and to really, truly make sure that this was the kitty of their dreams.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I oftener watched the kitties sleeping together via our Dropcam.
I liked that they wanted to meet her without the pressure of deciding. They know what a commitment it is to adopt a cat and they take it very seriously. I had a good feeling about it when within the first few moments of entering the room, Bunny walked over to Pat and rubbed up against him! Bunny had been quite a shy kitty when she first arrived in Connecticut and as the months passed she’d become more friendly and outgoing. I was delighted to see her out of her shell, but I also knew that she had to win Michelle over, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny is very good at making funny faces.
I left the couple with Bunny to have some private time with her. I thought about how she’d been in our program for over a year and that in all those months she’d only had ONE adoption application that fell through right away. Bunny has beautiful coloring, a deliciously soft coat and is in prime health. She’s also very charming and has a high-pitched me-ow that I find amusing. I don’t know why she never had a line out the door of potential adopters, but in truth, all she needed was one good one.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Licking Gracey's tail.
Michelle called for me to join her and her husband in the foster room. I asked them how it went and they were very pleased. I asked them “Is this your cat?” and they said YES! Though they weren’t ready to take Bunny home with them that day, we did sign the contract, sealing the deal.
Bunny had her forever home, at last.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Bunny.
Michelle and Pat wanted time to get their home ready, buy a few things for Bunny and arrange to take a few days off to help ease her transition. I was very impressed and thrilled when they talked about how they plan on spoiling her, too. Clearly, there was something about Bunny that stood out from all the other cats they could have adopted. Maybe I didn’t see how special she was until I saw her through their eyes as they began their lives together. I hope it works out for both Bunny and her new friend, Sunny, but only time and careful introductions will tell.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny the spy.
I’m off to drive Bunny to Massachusetts to start the next chapter in her life. Though it took a very long time for Bunny to find the right place, I’m happy about how things worked out for her. Bunny will have lots and lots of love and the companionship of both humans and a new kitty friend that will bring her great joy.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bunny often sat on a shelf on the bookcase near the door. She liked to greet me when I entered the room.
From dumped in a parking lot in Georgia to a loving home in Boston—not a bad end for this cat’s rescue tale.
Update: Bunny was delivered to her new mama last night and I've already heard that Bunny was ready for pets and play time not long after she arrived in her new home. I feared she would begin her new life by hiding under the bed, but she just enjoyed getting to know her new family. Go, Bunny! Hurray!
Blossom was up on her paws, walking. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Just hours ago she’d appeared to be near death and now she was looking up at me like I had a bad dream because certainly everything was right as rain.
Of course, being that Blossom is part of a litter of 6, I knew that the odds were good that another kitten might fall ill. At least if they did, I knew what to do for them and that with supportive care, they should be fine in day or two.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Puttin' some meat on their bones.
I checked in with one of our Vets, asking him if it was okay to get the kittens their second, in a series of three, Distemper combination vaccinations called FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) He felt it was safe to vaccinate because it was rare to have a complication after the injection and since Blossom seemed well again that we should go ahead.
On Wednesday, October 16th I took the cats to the Vet for their shot. They had a grand time exploring Dr. Chris’ office, though he did not particularly care for them ripping his furniture with their claws. Each kitten got their vaccination in their right front leg. I packed them up into their carriers and brought them home. It was a quick visit.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Mandy gets weighed in.
I knew the kittens might feel a bit off, a bit more tired than usual, or picky about their food, so I didn’t worry about checking on them right away after I got them home. I waited about ninety minutes before I checked our web cam, Squee-TV Channel 2, to see how they were doing. They were all huddled onto one cat bed. They looked unusually flat. Concerned, I turned off the camera remotely and went into their room.
All the kittens were flat. I tried to get a few to walk and they limped on the leg that got the shot, then laid down in place. They felt hot to the touch. They were crying. I knew there was a chance of an allergic reaction to the vaccination and Dr. Chris had closed for the day. I grabbed a kitten and took her temperature. It was 105.2°F. I called the Cat Clinic and Dr. Feldman spoke to me directly. He said he’d make time for them and to bring the kittens in right away. If they were having an anaphylactic reaction they could die.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sherbert feels awful and Mandy can't even get up (background) they are feeling so poorly.
I raced over to the Clinic, swearing under my breath that if this vaccine killed any of my kittens there was going to be Hell to pay. The kittens cried the entire trip to the Vet. At least I knew they were alive.
Dr. Feldman and his assistant examined each kitten. They all had very high temperatures of over 105°F. High normal for a cat is over 102°F. They were all lame in their front leg. I worried that the vaccination trigged Calici, which is what might have made Blossom lame a few days before or if the needle used for the shot was too big. I didn’t know if the vaccination had expired or was otherwise hurting my kittens. All I knew is seeing them all suffering was heartbreaking.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mango and Meri are miserable.
Though rare to have such a bad reaction, Dr. Feldman suggested we give each kitten a shot of Dextramethasone, a steroid, to combat the high fever and comfort the lameness. He said I might read that it would invalidate the effects of their vaccination, but at this point we had no other options. The kittens might overcome their fevers on their own, but at what cost? I knew steroids were NOT what I’d ever want my kittens to be given, but I had to hurry to make the decision. They were suffering so severely and were affected so quickly after their vaccination that I felt our hands were tied. We gave them the steroids.
Dr. Feldman is very compassionate. He made sure they used the tiniest needle possible on the kittens. It looked like the width of a single human hair. The kittens cried getting another shot. I felt so badly about causing them any more pain, but we had to do it. I was told to observe the kittens and report back the next day unless they got worse. The thought was that we’d have to repeat the FVRCP vaccination again anyway, so we would just move on, give them time to recover and in a few weeks try it again.
We could also pre-treat them with antihistamines before they got the next shot. To be safe, we recorded the lot number and date of the vaccination they got and compared it to what the Cat Clinic would be using when we did the next one. The date of expiration on the vaccination that made them sick is December 2014. Cat Clinic’s expires December 2015. I had to wonder if the vaccination had already gone bad and that’s what made the kittens so sick. It's on my "to do" list to contact the manufacturer and report this problem.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Since they've arrived a month ago there hasn't been one day when ALL the kittens were well. Here's Blossom, Buttercup and Mandy in better days before the vaccination.
By the next day, the kittens had bounced back. They were eating and wobbling around. Clearly they were still sore, but doing much better. My goal now was to focus on fattening them up, since they were still looking like furry skeletons, and get them ready to be spayed and neutered. I wanted them up for adoption soon while they’re still small.
Little did I know that this little upset in their lives was nothing compared to what was about to occur…
Part 4 coming up next where I face the real possibility that one or more of the kittens will lose an eye due to illness.