Jackson made it to the Vet without dying, but he cried pitifully once we entered the waiting room and were met by two big dogs. I blocked Jackson from seeing them as much as I could, fighting off the urge to grab the dogs and run them out of the building and release them into the parking lot while their owners ignored their interest in my cat.
One of the Techs took Jackson into the back room. This time I wasn't invited to join them. She came back out and we discussed Jackson's symptoms. We'd noticed he was a bit off and on over the past few days, but he'd maintained his good appetite until that day. He'd regurgitated his food after eating two days ago, but other than that he was just a bit more quiet than usual.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At the Vet, now would he survive the Exam?
That was it. Now we wait. We wait for two cats who are at some risk of having a really bad day. I asked after Spencer, but they hadn't gotten his blood work back yet, which would either allow them to do his surgery of have to postpone it. Sam drove us home. Neither of us spoke a word. I closed my eyes and tried to rest. I realize stress is a killer and I have to work on how I deal with situations like this. What I really wanted to do was crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.
When we got home, as I walked in the door, I stepped on my stupid-jeans again, re-igniting my irritation. If it hadn't been such a cold day I would have yanked them off then and there. Instead, I got to work and focused on keeping myself busy. I kept looking at the clock, trying to imagine what was being done.
Shortly after 2PM Dr. Larry called me. He's just finished working on Spencer and wanted to give me his findings.
Spencer's mouth was a MESS, his gums were like “hamburger meat.” Spencer needed two molars removed which were very difficult to get out. The other teeth looked remarkably good. I need to insert a note here that I've recently learned that the theory about WHY cat's teeth are SO BAD is because they no longer gnaw on food as they would if they were killing a mouse or chewing on a bone. They can't crunch dry food and canned is too soft. Since their teeth have no real pressure on them the blood supply is reduced, hence poor oral health. To solve this if you're like me, you'd give the cats raw chicken necks, wings or turkey necks or wings to give them something to sink their teeth into. NOT COOKED with brittle bones-just rinsed with cold water and served raw.
Dr. Larry removed the small wart on the back of Spencer's leg (that I discovered as I was loading him into his cat carrier that morning).
…and Dr. Larry didn't feel comfortable taking it now. We'll keep an eye on it instead.
The good news was that Spencer's blood work was “very good,” ”nothing remarkable.” Considering Spencer is about eleven years old, having good blood work results is something to be proud of-Go Raw Diet!
Dr. Larry offered to give Spencer a shot of Convenia to which I adamantly opposed. He doesn't like it for oral issues anyway so I'm to give Spencer Clindamycin for the next two weeks as well as give him pain meds for a few days. Spencer is to get cage rest and wear “the cone of shame” until “he doesn't need to any more.”
By 6PM Spencer was ready to come home, but what of Jackson? I hadn't had any update. I didn't even know if he was ALIVE. When we reached the Clinic the first thing we asked was; “Do we have one or two cats to bring home tonight?”
The answer was TWO.
Okay, good start. They brought Jackson out. He was sitting up, meowing loudly. He looked GOOD, perky, ready to go HOME. Dr. Mary did his examination and talked about how she worked hard not to upset Jackson, which also meant she couldn't do many tests other than an examination and get his temperature. She gave Jackson more lasix to help move the fluid out of his lungs and around his heart. Jackson sounded VERY WET when he coughed and I'd already spoken with Dr. Larry about changing the dose, but he wanted to wait. Cats don't do that well on diuretics so adding more has to be done very soberly and thoughtfully.
After the injection, Jackson took a big pee, then perked up. Because his lungs are really wet and they could be breeding bacteria, she also gave him antibiotics (which I will continue for two weeks). We discussed changing Jackson's meds and will work something out there. For now he was to go HOME, get something in his belly and see how he does.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feel beter, Jackson Galaxy!
It would answer the question of why he yowls just as we go to bed each night. He can't hear where we went off to and wonders where we've gone. He may be causing fights with the other cats because he can't hear their cues/warnings to get away. I said we'd observe him and report back. My goodness Jackson's certainly keeping me on my toes.
They brought Spencer out and he was growling a little bit, clearly whacked out on painkillers. They forgot to give me the cone of shame and I silently hoped he wouldn't pick on his stitches. Ears can bleed a lot and if he messed with the stitches I'd have to get one on him right away. He can get very crabby. Having to cage rest him for a few days would be asking too much of him already.
I had my boys back home and I hoped they were changed for the better. It was back to watch and wait to find out if they'd benefited some long term positive results. I had a better idea of what I was dealing with and they both survived the day.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer in his pen with Blitzen wondering what's going on.
Once home, I was finally able to take off my annoying jeans and toss them into the laundry. Next stop the dry cleaners to get the dammed things hemmed up or maybe dig out some duct tape to do the job?
Stay tuned for part three!
©2012 Robin A.F Olson (photoshop goofiness only). What if the Mona Lisa was Covered in Cat Hair? Leonardo would have been dismayed having to paint in all that extra detail, but maybe he would have invented the first lint roller?
Let's face it, even I, the self-proclaimed High Priestess of Covered in Cat Hair, am not a fan of having to buy lint roller brush refills by the case, just so I can wear black. Loving cats means being covered in cat hair. It's a given.
But what can your cat do to get rid of all that excess fur if he can't use a lint roller on himself? Try as they might, the best they can manage is to lick it off and they NEVER get all of it-which is why we go around saying cute things like “In my house cat hair is a condiment.” Yecch. What's worse is they often throw up a jam-packed fur-sausage at some point, days or weeks later, usually in the middle of the night when you're trying to sleep! Double-yecch.
©2009 Robin A.F Olson. How many cats are in this photo? Even Nicky isn't certain.
The sad truth is that what once was simply gross or somewhat entertaining (if your nasty mother-in-law or ex-boyfriend-to-be stepped on a newly minted, wet hairball barefoot), belies a potentially serious health issue. Could this be the first sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease or worse…Lymphoma? Studies are showing a strong link between cats vomiting out hairballs and illness caused by an inappropriate diet!
©2009 Robin A.F Olson. Recycle your cat fur. In the spring the birdies love to line their nests with cat fur. I put my “fur mains” into a suet feeder and the birds can help themselves (and entertain my cats who are watching through the window).
In short, feed your cat an appropriate diet and watch the hairballs disappear. This means, at least a grain free canned food that's high in protein and low in carbs. Ideally you should feed your cat a raw diet. If you do, not only will you rarely ever see your cat struggling to blast out a hairball, their coat will shine, feel like silk and their poo won't smell any more-BONUS! Visit our friends over at Feline Nutrition Education Society for more information on species appropriate diet for your cat.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. All this fur only took about an 30 minutes to get off my cats and I could have easily gotten a lot more off a few of them.
The fine folks at FURminator® (say that five times fast) suggest that you brush your cat to prevent hairballs. I think that's part of the solution, but I suggest you try feeding an appropriate diet and monitor the changes. Where I find brushing is the most important aspect of caring for your cat is it gives you an opportunity to develop a deeper bond with them. In general, myself included, I don't think we spend enough one on one time with our cats. Brushing them is a great way to not only get rid of the excess fur, but it's a way for you to show love for your cat without giving them fattening treats.
After a stress filled day, skip the Appletini and kick back with your cat. Give her some loving attention and you'll be rewarded with a purring, confident, happy cat.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Yes, we were so goal oriented we made TWO Fur-lebrities. Teddy especially liked Jackson Galaxy.
The sweet thing about Furminator's deShedding solutions is that they have a Long Hair deShedding Edge and a Short Hair deShedding Edge. Originally, they had ONE tool and it did NOT work on long hairs at all. In fact it was terrible, but it worked GREAT on short haired cats. Now that they've modified their design, long haired cats can benefit, too. I was supplied with a Long Hair deShedding Edge to use on my super pouffy cats: Spencer, the DOOD and Blitzen and they all enjoyed it (though the DOOD got so excited I had to stop brushing him or he would have taken off my hand at the wrist) These tools are NOT for removing mats, but they ARE for getting the undercoat thinned out without stripping the top coat (though be careful not to overdo it and cause a bald patch!). My favorite is to use both my long haired and short haired tools in the spring or fall when the cats shed their winter coat or summer coat, respectively and it doesn't hurt that these tools are beautifully designed and come in awesome colors.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Didn't you just KNOW this was going to happen?
And then there was the creation of our Angelina Jolie made out of cat fur. As you know, FURminator invited us to have some fun creating a Fur-Lebrity out of cat fur and enter it into a contest that celebrated National Hairball Awareness Day. [See all the behind-the-scenes images of how we created Angelina Meowy on a previous post I wrote] HERE. My friend Irene and I worked very long hours for a week to create her and we were very honored to be chosen as one of the five finalists. Though we did not win first prize, we had a blast and I learned that you can do a lot with cat fur, which gives me more reason to keep brushing my cats.
In fact, I've been so inspired I may start making a life-sized Fur-Lebrity. I'm thinking I would enjoy re-creating Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Of course I'd have to MEET HIM and do some very careful studies, take measurements of his body, so I would get it right. Anyone know his agent?
My sister cat-bloggers have gone over this topic more eloquently than I have and in more detail. Click on, “See More Fur-lebrities Here.” to view a blogroll of other blogs who are participating in National Hairball Awareness Day and who have taken the time to put together some fabulous tips for you .
After careful consideration, from time to time I write a product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO compensation for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am usually supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.
As the three to five inches of snowfall turns into more like ten, let's take a break from stories about sick cats or cats who need a rescue and just have a laugh. I certainly could use one.
The cats aren't allowed in the Pantry. I guess the DOOD forgot the rule and decided he wanted to get into the shipping container where I stashed my last box of Raspberry Whippets.
You realize he thinks I can't see him, right? Oh yeah, the DOOD is feeling better, isn't he? Yes, he is!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The Cookie Thief, aka, the DOOD.
Next up, I share a few moments with Spencer, Blitzen, Justin and the DOOD as they investigate their new cat tree (which was just donated to us!)
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. SBlitzen and Justin/Snowball.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, Blitzen and the DOOD.
Other than the fact that we're trapped in the house, things are looking up. Bobette is more energetic than ever and it's only two more days until her bandages come OFF. I can't WAIT (and hopefully I'll be able to get out of the driveway by then).
In trying to work more with my cat's social issues, one sign of things going in the right direction is seeing just about every cat in the house, on or near the bed. Sure, it's cold and I don't have the heat cranked. The only thing to warm up the room is a weak space heater and fluffy comforters on the bed, which act like a cat-magnet. There's little room for humans, but it's worth sleeping scrunched up to see them back on the bed.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I'm sorry the video is so dark. Any attempt to lighten it up makes the image fall apart. Below is a still showing most of the crew.
Enjoy this little slice-of-life…
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (Left to Right) Spencer, Gracie the dark blob in the front, to her right is Blitzen, then to his left and near the foot of the bed are Nicky & Nora. It's tough to see but the DOOD is behind Nora in a big cat bed on the storage chest at the front of the human bed. Petunia (unseen in photo) is to DOOD's left. All that's missing is Cricket and he has never come into the bedroom in his life. Maybe one day he will. Yes, that's a cow on the TV and a siamese cat TV lamp on the Art Deco vanity on the right.
I started to write a “Year in Review,” thinking I could get through it with some effort. A lot of things happened in 2011, but many of them were just too heartbreaking to look back upon in much detail. Today I write as a brokenhearted, tired rescuer with a very bleak outlook for 2012. I've decided that too many years have passed where I've been near broke and exhausted. 2012 is going to be better, damn it! I'm overdue for a wonderful year and for things to finally get better on the economic front.
That's not too shabby considering we did the hands-on rescues basically with just a small group of people, placed the cats by teaming up with our “sister” shelter Animals in Distress or via KA and we got the word out about many other cats in need by depending on THOUSANDS of folks who read this blog and who jumped in to help spread the word. It made a difference and it WORKED. We did some AMAZING things!
©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control. Cow mama and her babies just before rescue.
There was our “cow mama” from Henry County Care & Control who no one would rescue regardless of our pleas for help. While other mamas and their babies got out, she did not. I didn't have many resources, but at the last minute, in the middle of the night, I got a name of someone named Jennifer H. at Humane Society if Forsyth County in Cumming, GA. We worked out the logistics and the next morning, at the very last second before the family was to be put down, they were busted out. Today they are all doing well and have been adopted into loving homes.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Big boy with hand model, Lauren from Dr Larry's office.
We went to bat for two giant kitties who were dumped off at my Vet's office. Within a few days, they were adopted by someone who had two big kitties just like the two who were dumped. Her cats had passed away and the day she got the call about them was the anniversary of one of the cat's passing away. She knew it was kismet and they were adopted.
©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control. Sweet mama who gave birth to a kitten with a deformed leg.
Another mama had a kitten with a club foot who could barely walk. We loved this family so much we figured waving money around would help get them a rescue. Though it wasn't the sole reason for their rescue (they ARE an adorable family!), we raised $500.00 IN ONE DAY to cover the costs to remove the misshapen leg. This family was placed with a no-kill shelter and some were adopted into good homes, but sadly Prince William needs MORE SURGERY to correct his other damaged leg. If you can help this little guy out, please consider making a donation to his ongoing care! You can read about him and donate HERE. This poor guy has been in foster care for most of this YEAR! Let's get him the help he needs.
©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control.
Some of the mamas we blogged about who all got rescued.
©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control.
All these kitties are safe now.
©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control.
We got the word out on a number of families in crisis. Every single one was rescued by a no-kill shelter or rescue group. We are so grateful that by helping get the word out, the rescues who do have the facility and resources to help, find out about these families and jump in to do their part. Our hat is off to these groups.
©2011 Bobby. Bella and Barney
Who can forget, Bella & Barney, the toilet flushing cat! It was through our massive push to get the word out on these cats that King Street Cats heard about their plight and offered to take them in just 48 hours after the story broke. I've never had a story shared and re-tweeted so many times. This proves that through a simple click of a mouse, we can help save lives. These cats were facing being given up to a kill-shelter and now they are safe and sound waiting for their forever home.
©2011 Warren Royal. Buddy, what a love.
I loved the story about Buddy and his journey as an FIV+ stray into the home of our good friends, Warren & Terri royal, who rescued him and found him safe haven with a no-kill shelter. Buddy found his forever home, along with another FIV+ kitty. They are best friends.
©2011 Betsy Merchant-Henry Co. Care & Control. Basil and Nigel just before being rescued by KA.
Basil & Nigel, just two big lugs, looking' for love. Their bellies were scalded by urine from being confined in a cage for who knows how long. They both tipped the scales at well over 25 pounds. Being somewhat timid on top of that, made their rescue a miracle in the making. Somehow I was able to get enough favors pulled and folks interested in their story to help make a dream come true. Basil and Nigel have slimmed down to just about 20 pounds each and are doing well in foster care. Basil is still very timid, but if he can overcome this his foster family indicated that they would like to adopt the boys one day soon.
©2010 Amy Sikes. CHEESE!
Cheese. A great name for a sweet cat whose owner gave him up, thinking it was temporary, then realizing in a few months it had to be for good. She lost her home and job and couldn't take Cheese back. One of our friends, Amy Sikes, fostered Cheese until another one of our readers offered to adopt him. Cheese was transported from Virginia to New Hampshire where he lives with a few Papillons, who he finds annoying, but he's gracious about it as long as they stay out of his food bowl.
©2011 Maria S. Muddles & Cuddles.
Muddles & Cuddles were rescued by our foster mom-Maria. She took them from a neighbor who wasn't particularly interested in SPAYING her cats or providing them with even basic care. It was a very tough choice for Maria to risk taking on adult cats when she has her own cats to care for, so we jumped in and helped her with them. They made their way to CT and to AID where they both found great homes.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Phil!
Phil was five years old and a huge cat. It took all of FIVE days after he arrived in Connecticut to find him a GREAT forever home with a retired couple who has another cat named Tiger. Phil and Tiger quirky became best friends. His family is thrilled and so are we. Phil has a new name, they call him Big Poppy after a baseball player on the Red Sox.
©2011 Maria S. Amberly and her family. Our most amazing rescue yet.
Amberly and her family's rescue was a miracle. This amazing family had the most beautiful copper eyes I've ever seen. Each kitten was sweet and Amberly was a doll. She was a skinny wreck when she first arrived and a stunning beauty when she left for her forever home. Amberly's journey is like so many others, but the mark this family left on my heart will be there forever. Amberly and her five kittens are ALL in great homes together. Amberly went with her son, Jack. Periwinkle and BlueBelle, the prettiest kittens I've ever had went together and Truffles and Blaze found their home together, too. This was one wonderful family and Maria is amazing for doing what it took to find Amberly's kittens before it was too late. You can read more about them HERE.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Peri & Blue with their new family.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blue, Jack and Peri-you are sorely missed.
Amelia and Noelle (a kitten injured when she was discovered under the hood of a car in 2010) came to CT and were placed in a great home, together thanks to our friends at AID!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Amelia just moments after arriving in CT.
The highlight of my year was winning the 2011 Dogtime Media Pettie Award for Best Cat Blog. I wish you could have seen my reaction when I won. I was dumbfounded-completely shocked and thrilled. Some times I think I sit here in my jammies and talk to myself, but apparently I was wrong about that (maybe somewhat wrong about that). If I haven't said it enough times, let me say it again-THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR MY BLOG. It really means a lot to me to get some recognition for my efforts. I get so much love and concern from all of you already, this was an amazing bonus and I am deeply grateful for it.
Clare and Sally just had to be rescued! Look at those faces! I thought they were Siamese. Little did I know they were snowshoes-a breed I've never even heard of! I brought them north and AID had no problem finding them a great home-which only lasted a few days. The girls came back to the shelter and found an even BETTER home with a new family just as quickly. Their only failing-they let their child rename the cats. Meet Pillow and Rainbow!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Clare and Sally.
Oh Bob. My dear, Bob.
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob a few years ago, looking magnificent as always. Rest in Peace my Angel.
We had real heartache this year, too. First, we lost our dearest boy, Bob Dole to lymphoma. His death was a long, slow process. He passed at home with both Sam and I petting him and talking to him to ease his journey. Through Bob's life I learned many things about good feline nutrition and learning to let go of being afraid of seeing Bob die and taking some joy that his passing was beautiful. I never wanted Bob to leave us and today I still miss him terribly. My heart is broken.
Not long after Bob died, I rescued an orange mama cat and her six kittens in his honor. Bobette was sick, but it wasn't right away that we understood what was going on. A week after the rescue, three of her six kittens died within hours of each other, before we could even give any of them a proper name. Maria named them Sammy, Rocky and Red. They were cremated. Their ashes are with Maria while I care for the remaining family.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. Bobette and her family at the shelter.
Bobette's secret pain was that she was hit by a car or abused to the point of it moving her kneecap far out of position. On a scale of 1 to 4 she's a 4-meaning BAD. I see her limp and stretch out her leg to try to get the kneecap in place, but it won't go unless she has surgery. Thankfully, our generous Vet, Dr. Mixon, has offered to do the procedure for $100.00, instead of $2500.00!!!!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Teddy with his new mom and dad.
Another orange tabby had good news, too. Rocco, who I rescued in 2010, was returned. It just wasn't working out. Through the twists and turns of fate and timing, I ended up finding a wonderful home for Rocco, one I hope and believe will be his FOREVER home. Rocco spent his first Christmas with his new family, just a day after he was adopted.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rocco on his mom's winter coat just before he got adopted.
I love black and white cats, but in 2011 it seemed to be the Year of the Orange kitty. MacGruber, who I rescued in 2010, found his forever home, along with Polly Picklepuss in 2011. They are doing GREAT with their family. Every update is happier than the last. Both cats love life and are happy in their home. I miss Macky-G very much. He was a marvelous kitty and best buddy to my cat, Blitzen.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. MacGruber. One awesome cat.
Mazie, Polly, Cara & Chester-some of the sickest cats I've ever had. Cara was chronically ill to the point where I thought she would die. Mazie got an infection and soaring high temperature that almost took her life, too. For months and months I worried, ran to the Vet, gave them one prescription drug after another. They got better, they got worse, they were with me for almost a year. One by one they slowly got well enough to be adopted and one by one they left for their new homes.
©2010 Betsy Merchant. The last time I hope to ever see Mazie in a cage. She and her family are all doing great in their forever homes.
Chester was renamed, Boris and has a big pet family he adores. Polly is with MacGruber and Cara was adopted by her Guardian Angel, Connie.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie on her rag bed the night before she left us.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Triple trouble!
We had a White Christmas this year after the arrival of four white kitties we nicknamed the Angel Babies. One of the four, Princess, was just adopted a week ago. She is doing fantastic and loves her two other kitty friends. She's even sleeping with them! We're still hoping her brothers find their homes soon. They are awesome, lovey-dovey cats and if you know what I mean when I say, they are like The Borg, you'll understand what kind of crazy cats they are…one mind…three bodies.
©2011 Chris from Greengirlz Pet Photography. Christmas Kitties!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet little Hannah.
Hannah and Macy were rescued off the streets in Bridgeport, CT. Hannah was so tiny and sick we thought she would die. After being bottle-fed by one of our volunteers and a lot of love and care, both Hannah and Macy recovered. They were also the first kittens I observed being spayed!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Macy.
And lastly there's the DOOD. This kitten came from Cheshire, CT. I thought he'd be a quick kitty to find a home for so I took him into my rescue group. the DOOD turned out to test POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia-which shocked me completely. I refused to accept the test result and two days later he tested NEGATIVE. Even with that, he HAD to be quarantined for TWO MONTHS to make certain he did not have the disease. Thankfully, DOOD's test was NEGATIVE and he was allowed to meet our other cats. He and Blitzen are buddies who love to wrestle and groom each other.
After all that time here, I'd been working with him, to calm down his aggression towards people. I found out his former owner's kid kicked him and chased him around the house. I was filled with rage when they admitted the truth. They asked how he was doing and I never replied. They don't deserve to know what happened to their cat. Thank goodness I got him or he would have been put down by now for being aggressive.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ryan meets the DOOD.
You can see he's a sweet cat (okay, some times) in this video featuring my nephew, Ryan. You can also see he went from a little kitten to an eight month old MONSTER, tipping the scaled (over) at THIRTEEN POUNDS!!!! He is going to be a HUGE CAT one day.
I'd hoped to announce that the DOOD was going to be living here with us, for good, but due to issues with our other cats, that may not be possible. We're going to give it a few more weeks and see how things shake out. I may have to just move away with the DOOD so we can stay together. Considering how my love life was this year, I may not be making much of a joke with that statement.
What about 2012?
• Bobette will get her surgery and hopefully she'll be walking normally by March.
• Somehow I will find a way to pay my bills.
• I'm going to re-design Covered in Cat Hair so it's easier to follow stories and stay in touch. Plus, this web site design is years old. Like anything else, it needs a facelift!
• I'm going to take a few days off. I don't know how. I don't know when, but I am in DIRE need of a holiday. I haven't had a trip away from home, other than for business for years. I think 2012 has to allow some healing time for me, just so I can stay strong and do more rescues.
• I may start rescuing from one of the most notorious and horrible kill shelters-the dreaded AC&C in New York City. Rescuing from here is not for the faint of heart, but they need all the help they can get.
• Take a deep breath and try to prepare for what we will soon find out about our cat, Nicky. Does he have lymphoma and are we on the start of another painful journey?
• And Bob. Well there's news about him, too. We've found a way for Bob to live on and I will be sharing that joyous news with you soon.
As ever-stay tuned…and Happy New Year.
A life spent with as many cats as I have, is not always easy. Often it's disappointing or irritating. There's one thing after another that needs to be cleaned or fed, fights broken up, nerves soothed. The fine red lines that run across my body, are a written history from years of being foolishly close to razor sharp claws.
But then there are those moments, those perfect jewels of bliss. Watching a chubby kitten sleeping contentedly with a full belly and no fearful dreams to disturb his slumber, makes up for the scars.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The DOOD.
The difficulty of the day is lost in soft fur and soothing purrs; in being covered by cats. Their ease is mine. We rest as one. Tomorrow will come along and push me around, but that's okay. I have this moment, this fine moment.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Nicky...what will we find out about you next week? Do you really have lymphoma? Please do not let it be so.
After a stifling loss a few months ago, my heart is still quite heavy. I'm thankful to the ones still with me for reminding me that I must continue to love, for their sake, if not my own. Perhaps they're teaching me not to close down, not to give up. I'll try to listen as best I can.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen, my little “foster fail.”
I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know how much longer I'll have a roof over my head. I'm grateful for what I've had for so many years. I'm greedy, though. I want it to keep going on as it has, my little house, full of purring cats.
I'm thankful for my friends, even the kinds that don't purr; the ones who I can talk to, spend time with, whose presence comforts me simply by knowing they're out there.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Gracie.
I'm thankful to Sam for not giving up, for putting up with someone who is probably semi-feral, at best, who wasn't taught about love or given much of it, but who tries in her way to make up for her failings.
I'm grateful I'm not alone; that my words are read and that sometimes they help make someone else's life better. It means so much to me to know I make a difference, maybe one that is not measured in history books, but in my own heart. I know I've done some good to make up for some of the bad; and I hope the former will outweigh the latter in time.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, now 10 years old. My boy.
My wish to all of you is that you take a moment to really look around at your family, at your life. Drop all the little worries you might have about the turkey being overcooked or that you forgot to buy cranberry sauce. Look into the eyes of those you love and savor that moment. You have a precious life and you are loved. Today is about appreciating what we have-try not to be in such a hurry. I don't want you to miss the good stuff that's right in front of you.
2013 UPDATE: Nicky did not end up having lymphoma, but he does have a mass in his spleen (not cancerous) and he has renal disease, so that means his kidneys are failing. His dad, Sam, has been giving Nicky fluids every other day since this post was written. Nicky gained a little bit of weight and has been doing fairly well-another reason for us to be thankful on this special day.
It began simply enough. I was trying to take some photos of Mazie. She's taken to sleeping in the little basket that hangs off the cat tree. Most of the cats are too heavy for it. Nicky tried it once but the results were less than stellar (in his mind...to me the results were hysterical!). I need to update Mazie's photo for Petfinder. She's been here for almost a YEAR! We gotta get her a forever home!
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Umm...yes you are!
As I photographed Mazie, Spencer and the DOOD had to investigate. Mazie, content to literally hang out, wasn't bothered. I snapped a few photos, then noticed that Spencer and the DOOD were getting into a playfight.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mellow Mazie in her hanging bed-basket.
Of course I had to capture the antics as long as no one was getting hurt and the fighting was kept to gentle bitch-slapping and not claws out and ready to rumble
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. You can tell it's Spencer by the overabundance of pouff.
What was almost as amusing as Spencer and the DOOD going at it was the fact that Mazie continued to sit there, unfazed by the the ruckus. Blitzen lurked in the background. He was probably smart to avoid getting into the middle of it.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Three cats, one cat tree. Now that's a good use of a cat tree!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer and the DOOD begin warming up. Mazie just sits there.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The only thing missing is the sound of Spencer snorting while he tries to breathe and smack the DOOD at the same time. Blitzen's on the left. See him?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie? Are you just gonna sit there? I guess so.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Gotcha!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Gotcha big honkin' tail! (Hi Mazie! Still sittin' there!)
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer's got that fed up look on his face (so does Mazie, it seems). This won't last much longer.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Shot looking UP from underside the second level of the cat tree. DOOD!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, the mascot of CiCH declares playtime is over. Time for the napping phase of the day to begin (again). I hope the DOOD leaves him alone! Mazie is STILL in the basket!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Blitzen at 1 1/2 years old.
While I am over-the-moon-thrilled that Covered in Cat Hair is a FINALIST in the Petties 2011 as the Best Social Integration Blog and BEST CAT Blog, I had to stop celebrating for a moment and pay homage to my own rescue (aka, foster fail) boy, Blitzen.
Isn't he handsome?
WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES A POTENTIALLY UPSETTING TOPIC. PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION. YOU'RE “SAFE” UNTIL THE SECTION AFTER THE UPDATES ON THE FOSTER CATS, NEAR THE END OF THE POST.
I'm very sorry to not have been tending to my Blog over the last week and a half. Every day that passes that I don't write, bothers me a bit more.
Initially, my plans were to talk about the lovely birthday party-a SURPRISE party, that Sam held for me, now over a week ago. He really pulled the wool over my eyes. I had no idea until the very last second-when I hoped, against hope, that maybe even though he had a bad cold, even though he said there could be no birthday this year, even though most of my friends said they were busy that weekend, it would happen.
It was Connie's doing, too. She called me around noon on my birthday, to say her cat, Big O was very sick and could I come over and help her give him a bath? Oh yes and “Happy Birthday.” Big O was covered with poo! She sounded so sad, I realized it didn't matter if it was my birthday, so I got changed, grabbed some things to help with the bath and told Sam I was off. He knew I was hungry so he said he'd come with me and we could go eat afterwards.
Connie lives a mile away. As I started to pull up her driveway, I realized that Sam had asked me to “kill” a half hour before we went to lunch, then Connie called me, it was too much of a coincidence. Maybe something was going on at her house? Surely not. No. I was going to break up with Sam. I was really mad at him. He'd hardly talked to me for weeks. He didn't even notice when I got my hair done (like a porn star-that's what my stylist called it)-and it wasn't just because he didn't give me a birthday party. The near-silent treatment was killing me!
Then I noticed two cars in the driveway, but certainly it couldn't be cars I knew. It must be a...then I saw it...a “Happy 50th Birthday” banner over Connie's front door. There stood Marcia, Super-Deb and Connie, all waving and shouting Happy Birthday and here I am in a t-shirt with a glow-in-the-dark Cheshire Cat on it and crappy pants. Thank God I had a change of clothes with me! I looked over at Sam and was torn between slapping him and kissing him. I never had anyone throw me a surprise party in my life. It was really nice.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
No sooner than we walked in the door, I realized there was no sick cat, so I got changed, then we all left for lunch. As I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I saw my dear nephew, Ryan and my sister, Anne! Another suprise, yay! This was going to be a nice day after all.
But then I walked into the dining room at the restaurant. There sat Mary. My other sister. I didn't see anyone else for a moment. My mouth fell open. Mary had LIED to me, first saying she was coming to take me to lunch and there was no way I'd be alone on my birthday, then she begged off saying her cat was sick not 6 hours later. She had been in Baltimore for a book show (Mary is a Writer and Graphic Designer)! Then I realized she must have driven up from there. What a shock!..and there sat her partner, Shelly...and my friends Irene and Jennifer I.! I love those babes! I was literally speechless and it took all my reserve not to burst into happy tears.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nephew Ryan shoots the flames while his mom, Anne watches.
We ate at a Hibachi style restaurant and had TWO chefs taking turns either trying to set fire to the place or tossing food bits at our faces (since most of us couldn't hope to catch the food in our mouth). Everyone was happy and getting along well. I never wanted it to end. I had a nice lunch and lots of lovely gifts. I missed my Mother and Father so much, but they were there, too, in spirit (and later that day, I discovered my Mother had sent me a message, too. More on that, in another post).
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The cake on the left is what I ordered for myself, thinking there would be no celebration of any sort. I cut out the frown and turned it upside down later that day.
I have a lot to tell you about the cats-especially Bob. The short version is, to me, he seems to have turned a corner and is doing better. He seems to have gained weight. Tomorrow he gets Chemo #9. I'll find out if he gained any weight then. A surprise blessing is that some of his fur is growing back ever so slowly. It's just peach fuzz on his head, but I can see the subtle stripe of his tabby pattern in the fur.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and the gang on the electric blanket
I took him to a Dermatologist and she confirmed he as a terrible case of ringworm and that only he can really fend it off and with cancer and a bad immune system, the odds aren't great. We give him baths and add a special lotion afterwards. He's lost half of his coat, but I think, just maybe it's slowed down. He seems comfortable and he seems a lot more like his old self.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
The kittens are still struggling with URI's and this and that. Cara has grown some, but one of the kittens has been vomiting. I don't know if it's Cara. We're closer to the day we can call her healed, but we're not there yet. The kittens are as big as their Mom, now. I think Chester will be even bigger. He is the most darling cat in the world. He really is sweet.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and Chester, bigger and better every day.
MacGruber is still here, too. Got a tiny dot of ringworm on his paw, so he seems to stay here another month and another month...he's a bit like gum stuck on the shoe...but very cute gum.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Okay. I'm suppose to adopt this cat out! Really?
I'm bringing Noelle to Connecticut next week, along with Amelia, another Henry Co. Cat we rescued last year. It's time for them to get their forever homes. I need to write more about that soon.
The main reason I need to write is I need to tell you what happened and why I haven't been able to write more than this post-we had a family tragedy and I'm struggling to cope with it.
A few days ago, Sam and I were to visit his Mother in Manhattan. We were going to have a belated birthday party for me and Sam's adult daughter, Kate, whose birthday is two days before mine. The day before we left, Sam told me his mother was having trouble walking. The pain from her hip, which she broke six years ago and has long since healed, was back. We worried that if she couldn't stand for a long period of time, that we needed to come up with ways for her to fix meals that didn't require much effort. The plan was to finally buy her a microwave whether she liked it or not. Get her some wholesome meals she could just pop into the microwave and eat without standing over a stove or getting up and down to check on a pot on a burner. We put a lot of time into planning how we'd manage to get all this stuff into her apartment, since we'd have to double park to get the car unloaded. Parking is a bear on the upper West side on a weekend.
We thought we had it all worked out. We got a bit of a late start, but we got everything done. Sam called his Mom to tell her we wold be there soon. She didn't sound right. She said she might need to go to the ER. Sam pressed her as to why. All she said was, “You'll find out when you get here.”
This was not something his Mother would say. She has always been the most polite and kind person I have ever known. She was raised in the south and that sweetness never faded away even though she's lived in Manhattan most of her life. What was going on?
Sam drove as fast as he could to NYC. We had an hour to go. I texted his daughter. She called her Grandmother and found out that she was asked to get there soon. Clearly something was terribly wrong. Had Sam's 82 year old mother re-broken her hip? Why didn't she call 9-1-1? Why was she waiting?
When we got to the apartment building, I got a txt. Kate was there. I said we would be right up. I stayed with the car, as Sam ran up to her apartment. A neighbor came out and signaled to me to follow him up the block to take his parking spot. As I was about to try to park the car, I saw Sam in my rearview mirror. I got out of the car. Something was wrong-really wrong.
“It's bad up there. It's a mess...you need to be calm about this, but get up there now. I'll park the car.”
“She slit her wrists. Prepare yourself. She's alive, but it's a mess. Just get up there.
No one had called 9-1-1. I think everyone was in shock. As much as I wanted to help, I had a bad flashback and my heart started racing. Years ago, my Father took his own life. I didn't want to go through this again, but I went upstairs and walked into the apartment filled with dread and absolute fear.
Poor Kate was kneeling on the floor, next to the sofa. She wasn't saying a word. I could see Sam's Mother's white hair on the arm of the sofa. She must be laying down. I walked over to her and tried to be calm. It was very gorey, but she was conscious. I asked her what she did and she told me that the pain was so bad in her hip that she just couldn't take it any more. That she felt so bad she couldn't do anything any more and didn't want to get in the way. I asked to see her wrists. I saw that the blood was congealing. This was good, but she injured both wrists and up her arms. I talked to her for a few minutes. Everyone was calm, almost matter-of-fact. As if nothing terrible had happened at all. It was surreal.
I told her that we all loved her and it would be so terrible if she left us without letting us even say goodbye...that we didn't know she was hurting so much and that we wished she could have told us so we could help her.
Then I did something weird. I'd bought her a hyacinth. It was in bloom and so fragrant. I held it up to her nose and asked her to smell it. She smiled as she smelled the sweet flowers, even though her skin was as pale as a sheet and her robe was crimson. I reminded her that it was finally spring. That even on our worst day, another day will follow and maybe that day we will smell the sweetness of a flower or see the sunny sky and it will remind us to try to get to the next moment, and the next after that. To not give up.
I calmly told her she needed some help and that I was going to get that for her. She said it was ok, if I really thought she needed help I could do that (as if anyone could to STOP me from calling for help!!!) I left the room and called 9-1-1. In less than 5 minutes, 5 NYPD officers were at the door. A few minutes later, the EMS arrived. I had to stay away from them so I could completely fall apart and cry. I felt so bad for Sam and Kate and his Mom. I worried about Kate, who found her Grandmother just moments before we arrived. I was in a bad place, myself. I couldn't believe it. It was not about me, it was about his Mother and getting her help. I pulled myself together and did whatever I could to help until she was ready to be taken to the hospital.
It was about 10 hours before we could get his Mother admitted. We waited in one room after another. She barely was tended to at all. We had to fight and make a fuss for every little thing. No one was “supposed” to make a decision or do what was needed. I never so much “passing the buck” in my life.
She's stable now. She had to be admitted into the Psych ward, though she is the last person on this Earth I would ever think belongs there. I don't know for sure, but I think she just wanted the pain to stop so badly that maybe this was the only way anyone would really hear her? If that's the case there's a big disconnect that needs to be fixed. Between her Doctor putting her off for almost a week, to even our relationship with her. We all need to learn to stop being polite and start getting “real” with each other.
Since Sunday, my life, Sam's life and Kate's have been turned upside down. There is so much to do, so much to try to figure out. Will Sam's mom ever be able to live alone again? How can we get her help? Who can pay for these things? And who is going to clean up the apartment?
The last question, I answered. I cleaned it up. I didn't want Sam or Kate to have to do that. Even though I've known her for almost 20 years, I was still the person most removed from this situation, so I got to work. I just did what I needed to do. I started to clean away more than just the accident scene. I started to clean everything. I wanted to put life back into that apartment. I wanted the space to feel happy again. In a way, it was like cleaning my Mother's house after she died. It was so nice, freshly painted, re-carpeted, sparkling, even. It made me sad she never go to see it. I hope that Sam's Mother gets to see this. Her home, which was dark and sad, will be clean, fresh and even have lots of color and comfortable places to sit. Perhaps the gloom, washed away, will give his Mother something she's needed in addition to being free of pain, maybe it will give her some joy, some delight in her day to day life?
Perhaps this is the start of her new life? Perhaps it's a new start for all of us?
I don't have the answers. I can tell you I had a breakdown the night after I cleaned things up. I couldn't stop crying. Other than my little birthday lunch, it's been one bad thing after another for more than a year. Every time I feel down, I look to the positive. I get myself back up. You guys lift me back up, heck you catapult me back up! But with all of those blessings, that love and generous support, sadly there is a darkness that remains in my heart. The same thing that drove Sam's mother to do what she did, the same thing that drove my Father to do what he did...it's there, waiting. I am terrified one day I will lose this battle to stay in the sunshine, but I am equally determined to not give up and to help Sam's mother do the same.
One of my friends said something to me once in jest; “Life. It's not for everyone.” He couldn't have been more right.
I don't know if the cats realize that Bob is sick with lymphoma. Nor do I know if Bob has become more needy towards us and some of the other cats because he's not feeling well.
Last night Bob climbed into a cat bed next to Nora. She turned on her side and casually rested her back leg over Bob's belly. They napped together for awhile, but every time I get up, Bob follows me to see if he can get another snack (the answer is usually, yes).
But something unusual happened next. Bob went back to the cat bed, which was now empty. A few moments later, Blitzen climbed into the cat bed next to him. Blitzen has NEVER done this before with ANY of the cats.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and Blitzen share a snuggle.
Blitzen began to groom Bob's back. Bob settled down, not protesting a bit. I thought about Blitzen getting ringworm, but it's too late to worry about that. Blitzen seemed to want to comfort Bob. He snuggled in close, eventually “spooning” with old Bob. As I watched them cuddle, everything suddenly felt right with the world. Bob didn't have cancer any more and I finally had cats that liked each other enough to sleep cuddled together. Even though the moment didn't last for hours, that it happened at all and I got to see it...well, that's enough for me.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The old man and the new kid in town.
It was also the first time I've seen Bob really close his eyes and sleep in months.
Sweet dreams, boys. Sweet dreams.