Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Interview with a Fosterer - Robin A.F. Olson

Today I've got another great interview for you. I contacted Robin over at Covered in Cat Hair and founder of Kitten Associates to see if she might have some spare time (ha ha ha) to participate in my series, and I was very fortunate that she said yes!


Introduce yourself and where do you hail from? 
I’m Robin A.F. Olson and I’m a Graphic Designer, Cat-Blogger (www.coveredincathair.com) and I run a non-profit cat rescue. I live in Sandy Hook, CT (yes, “that” Sandy Hook).

What rescue group, shelter or sanctuary do you foster for?
I’m the President & Founder of Kitten Associates, a non-profit home foster mjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj%?*(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((;[[[[[[[[-=]63333333333333333333333333based cat rescue (my cats get on my keyboard when I’m not looking). I’m also the main foster home for my rescue.

What kinds of animals do you normally foster? 
Cats and kittens from high-risk situations like friendly strays that are pregnant, or kittens from kill shelters. I do work with cats that have behavior problems, terminal illness and disabilities, as well. I don’t do TNR or work much with ferals. I don’t think I’m good at that. I’m a good faux cat mom to kittens or a great support to mama cats.

How did your adventure being a fosterer begin?
 It’s been so long…gee…I offered to help a rescue with a kitty named Taz who was a miserable wreck. He’d been living in a junkyard for a long time and looked terrible. The Vet told us his fur would never grow back. My ex-sister-in-law ended up adopting him and he blossomed into the most amazing fluffy creature. He lived a very long, well-loved life.

How do you keep yourself from becoming too attached to the fosters you help?
It’s a fallacy that any of us have the power to not become attached to our foster kittens. Putting a wall around your heart is impossible, especially when you have a sick kitten you have to rehabilitate. The key is to remember that to do your job right, your only task is to prepare that animal to be adoptable. Once you do that, it’s time for that animal to find their forever home. That cat is not going to be loving towards its family if you don’t show it how to love. You should love them deeply and trust in the cycle of letting go, then starting anew with another cat/s. Yes, there are very sad days, sometimes there are tears, but I always say I would rather cry from missing them than from knowing they didn't live because there were no foster homes. After doing this for over a decade I can tell you there are lots of kitties whose names it takes me awhile to remember and they were the same ones at one time I cried about when they got adopted. There are a few I wish I hadn't let go of and there are still a much smaller number who never left, but only because I have the space and ability to care for them appropriately.

I wish people would stop being afraid of feeling heartbreak over kittens leaving. It’s probably the biggest obstacle of finding good foster homes and it means many kittens will die—that’s a heartbreak I can’t bear.

What is most frustrating for you as a foster? 
I don’t find fostering frustrating. It’s a lot of hard work. It can be long hours. You can’t take a day off from it unless you have someone who can cover for you. Maybe cleaning up kitten plops when they are learning their litter pan manners is annoying some times, but they are so much fun it’s worth the extra scrubbing.

What is most rewarding? 
It’s a tossup between being able to say “screw you” to the Grim-Kitty-Reaper because I’ve rescued cats right before they were killed or lost their lives due to the horrific conditions they were suffering in and having the honor of helping kittens become confident, grow strong, have a sparkle and joy about them because they never had to know a bad day or cruelty. I’ve often been told that our kittens are different than ones at other rescues because I spend a lot of time with them and because we spend a lot on appropriate nutrition and vet care. I’m VERY proud when I see our kittens running into a room, their tails held high, ready to love and be loved.

What experience moved or inspired you the most? A few years ago a family lost their 21 year old cat at a local diner when they had stopped to get lunch while on a trip to Maine. I joined a search for the kitty who was deaf and nearly blind. We set up wildlife cameras, feeding stations, nothing. No sign of the kitty. On the fifth day, the day we knew he would die if he didn't get help, I got up at 6 AM. Something in my heart told me to go back and look again and to hurry! I went back to the same area. I heard a branch fall. I looked…and sure enough there was Chester, almost lifeless under a tree. He was in very bad shape and I told him not to die as I ran with him back to my car. Chester somehow recovered enough after five days of intensive care to be reunited with his family. He lived another six months and passed away on Christmas surrounded by love. I will never forget Chester for the rest of my life.

Do you have pets of your own? How do they respond to the foster animals?
Anyone who fosters ends up with a cat or two. I have a “blended cat family.” Some are mine and some are my partner’s. They sometimes accept fosters and some times they will exhibit some inappropriate behaviors. It’s a tough balance to keep everyone happy which is why I try to have some slow periods so I have more time with my own cats and fewer fosters.

What advice can you give to someone who might be wanting to become a foster?
Do it. You've got to get past the fear of the pain of having to let the cat go. Usually you only foster for a few weeks to a few months so how attached are you going to get? You are literally saving their lives by offering to lend a hand. Our rescue needs foster homes so badly and they are nearly impossible to find. I have two foster homes I rely on and it’s taken me four years to find the second one we just added.

When you are not saving animals what do you like to do? 
I don’t really have any downtime, but I recognize I need to start adding some non-foster time to my life. If I did have time I would go on a road trip, discover a new place to eat (I’m a “Foodie”), go to the movies, visit a flea market or do my job as a Spotter for the National Weather Service—probably things most people take for granted, I rarely have time for and appreciate when I DO get a chance to do them.

And now the questions from Inside the Actors Studio:
  What is your favorite word? Cabbage or RESCUED!
  What is your least favorite word? Euthanize
  What turns you on? Um…foot rubs?
  What turns you off? People who don’t spay or neuter their pets.
  What sound or noise do you love? Purring
  What sound or noise do you hate? Pastels on Paper (yeah, I’m weird)
  What is your favorite curse word? Fu@k! (because it’s so very versatile)
  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Stand Up Comedy
  What profession would you not like to do? Be the “Grim Reaper” at a Kill Shelter
  If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “I’m proud of you. You did right by me.”


  1. Another great interview! We really love the story of Chester.

  2. My human and I love Robin - she is a very wise and wonderful cat rescuer and we are so proud to know her.

  3. Thank you for sharing my stories, now everyone get out there and foster some kitties!! :-)

  4. Great interview and Robin does indeed do some amazing things!

  5. Wonderful interview with two of my favorite foster moms!

  6. Because of Robin answering my plea for help 2 years ago when the neighbors pregnant cat ( one of many! ) gave birth on my deck, 6 more lives were saved. I am forever grateful to her for finding homes for 4 of the kittens. I kept the mommy & one baby. We all love Robin.

  7. Great interview ! Foster dads and moms, you're heroes ! Purrs

  8. Thanks for a great interview, and the most adorable photos. The orange and white leaping kitty was priceless. XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  9. true. How can you NOT fall in love with your fosters? They're lovely little cats! And they have to learn how to love. Great point! - Crepes.

  10. Wow. Incredible interview and we were really inspired by the way she views "love" and fostering. Bless you Robin for what you do to help cats and kittens. (Great story about Chester.)

  11. First comment didn't show up...

    Wonderful interview! I'm not in a place where I can foster now, but I have thought about it before. May God bless all the wonderful foster parents <3

  12. Wonderful interview! I am lucky enough to have met many fosters along the way and I never cease to be amazed at everything they to for the animals.

  13. A wonderful wonderful post. I really want to get back to foster work but cannot pull it off currently without burning out (Handicapped)
    Dad Pete


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