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“I promised myself that I was going to take a break this winter,” said Robin Olson, president of Kitten Associates in Sandy Hook.
The local resident has been dedicating her time and energy into running the animal nonprofit for more than seven years and has yet to take a vacation or day off.
She made the decision to hold off taking in more cats until the springtime, but when she got an unexpected phone call about a feral kitten found on a construction site in town, she knew she had to help.
The owner of the business explained that the kitten had been discovered in the hood of a diesel truck on the property and there had been other cats spotted nearby, potentially his siblings and parents.
Ms Olson went to see the kitten, with the intention of just doing a courtesy deworming, but quickly saw the kitten was in need of further experienced care.
“He was just a filthy mess,” she said. “It’s very normal for kittens to have parasites passed by their mother that live outside; it’s no big deal usually. But he was really, really badly bloated, and he also was skin and bones under all that.”
Worried for his well-being, she immediately took him to the veterinarian.
It was there she had to make the decision of what to name the six-week-old kitten for the medical records and decided on Pistachio, a play on his mustache-looking marking below his nose.
Now safely settling in under Ms Olson’s care, Pistachio is already overcoming his shyness and making milestone accomplishments, like purring while getting brushed, in just a matter of weeks.
“When I took him in I never had any idea that he would turn so fast, have such a great personality, and be so adorable…” Ms Olson said.
She has even given him a soft stuffed animal cat to snuggle with, which replicates what his mom’s heartbeat would sound like, over a microwaveable disk that she says causes him to lay upside down and joyfully “make muffins on the ceiling.”
Social Media Star
Not only has Pistachio made positive progress at Kitten Associates and inspired Ms Olson to continue to take in more fosters during the wintertime, but he has even gained a large social media following thanks to the Bruno and Boop Instagram account.
Ms Olson said Bruno and Boop is run by Pamela May, who had recently adopted a special needs cat named Frida from New York City rescuer Paul The Cat Guy. Ms Olson was following their story, along with thousands of others, and fell in love with Frida, rooting for her to overcome her hardships.
Unfortunately, Frida died two weeks after being adopted from Ms May, due to oral cancer.
“It wrecked me,” Ms Olson said. “Doing rescue is heartbreaking so much. That’s why I wanted to take a break. I was so affected by this cat [Frida], because I’d been there with cats and seen cats in terrible shape. But they usually blossom and go into their forever home and it’s a happy ending.”
So when Ms Olson took a photo of Pistachio at his first vet visit, she posted it to Instagram with the description, “I wasn’t going to rescue any kittens until spring but I was so sad about @brunoandboop losing Frida that when I got called about this little guy who was nearly starved to death I saved him. This is in honor of #Frida and @paulthecatguy too.”
As a result, Bruno and Boop have been helping spread the word and have begun posting Pistachio’s picture and story on its social media. One picture of Pistachio on Bruno and Boop’s Instagram from January 7 has nearly 9,000 likes and one posted just earlier this week already has more than 4,600 likes.
Also, Pistachio will soon have a familiar face to see at Kitten Associates, because after many long hours of tentative trying to trap the remaining cats at the construction site, Ms Olson and Katherine Reid, president of Animals in Distress in Wilton, were able to rescue his “half-stache” sister, who they have named Catshew, on January 20.
Ms Olson hopes to continue to help the remaining cats in the feral colony (whether through rescuing and fostering or through a Trap/Neuter/Release program) and hopes Newtown residents understand that despite local groups like The Animal Center in Newtown closing, there are still feral cats in need of help in Newtown.
“The minute we stop doing what we’re doing, the problem is going to bounce right back,” Ms Olson said. “This whole thing is a team effort.”
Pistachio and Catshew are not eligible for adoption at this time. To learn more about adoptable cats at Kitten Associates, how to donate, or how to become a foster visit kittenassociates.org.