When 2012 kicked off, Bonnie, Clyde, and the Sluggers kittens were still rocking the villa…
…though maybe we should have called this group the Snugglers, as Molina and Albert demonstrate.
Willow, Cruz, and Albert liked to hang out with their peeps before bedtime.
A week into January, Albert went home along with his sister Willow...
… and Clyde was adopted along with his sister Bonnie. Both pairs of kittens were very lucky.
It didn’t take long for Willow to get comfortable in her new home.
Back at 50K, remaining Sluggers Molina and Cruz explored the back room (and its uneaten dog food) when Khola was outside.
Cruz joined Martha for breakfast...
…and quickly learned how to share food and drink with her peeps.
A mellow older girl named Poppy came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. We set her up in the bunkhouse, then gave her the playground as well.
Cruz and Molina got bigger and stronger. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of 50K viewers who helped fund Molina’s echocardiogram, and relieved that the test showed only minor abnormalities.
On Feb 24, we said goodbye to Molina...
…and Cruz, who were adopted together by a great young couple.
We celebrated the end of the Sluggers era with bubbly. We’d had three of them since they were a day old. Two of the original six had died at another foster home, and we’d been afraid Molina wouldn’t make it. So it had been a challenging litter.
But the real challenge of 2012 began two weeks later, when Martha was diagnosed with breast cancer.
With the villa free again, we took an older kitten named Groundhog, who had lost nearly a third of his weight while fighting a near-fatal case of panleukopenia. After a trip to the vet, some powerful meds, and a couple of sketchy days, we knew he was going to recover.
A teenaged pal of Groundhog’s named LB joined him in the villa for moral support. LB was one of the nicest cats we’ve ever met, and he proved impervious to the virus that almost killed Groundhog.
LB also enjoyed fishing on the iPad.
As Groundhog recovered, he ate like a fiend. He quickly regained all the weight he’d lost and then some.
When Groundhog was well enough to go home (along with LB!), we fostered a nice teenaged girl named Splinter for a week or two.
Splinter found a home quickly, with a new mom who gave her a much nicer name: Emi.
On April 4, Ted drove to the Iwo Jima Memorial to meet a rescue-group coordinator. She handed off a nursing mom-cat and seven tiny kittens that she’d rescued from a Washington, DC rowhouse frequented by free-ranging cats. We set them up in the villa and named them Mata Hari and the Spies.
Mata Hari was young and small, and seven kittens is a tough assignment, even for big, experienced mom-cats. So April Dancer and her sibs needed to hit the bottle on a daily basis.
But after a good meal, the Spies were happy campers. Galore was one of our more robust Spies.
While they continued to nurse until they were ready to go home, the Spies started down the weaning path by emulating their mom. April Dancer was nibbling canned food by the time she was four weeks old.
In mid-April, we agreed to foster four older kittens who were recovering from upper respiratory infections. We set them up in the bunkhouse to make sure they didn’t infect the Spies.
The Z-kittens had wacky names (Zariela, Zofi, Zander, Zane) and adoption applications pending. They seemed healthy and active to us, and were ready to go home after only a week at 50K.
Back in the villa, Mata Hari kept the mom-bar open for her growing Spies.
Bond, Smiley (or was that Ilya?) and Larrabee regularly tested the 50K cute-o-meter.
In early May, we said goodbye to 14-year-old Khola (left), after losing Chase in Oct ’11. Khola was the last survivor of the three pets that pre-dated our relationship.
Even after fostering them for weeks, we had trouble telling the wise-guy orange Spies apart.
Two weeks after starting chemo, Martha noticed her hair had started falling out. So she got a buzz cut at Ted’s barbershop.
Galore, Larrabee and the other Spies fought off a viral infection and got big, strong, and gorgeous.
As the summer heat kicked in, Martha demonstrated a range of natural and wiggy hairstyles.
During our canine-free months, the Spies enjoyed cruising and snoozing in the back room.
Martha opted for a sleek look, and gave Bond a little TLC at breakfast.
In the last week of June, we sent Mata Hari home along with orange boys Bond and Smiley. The family’s young baseball fan renamed the trio George, Herman, and Ruth.
Larrabee and Ninety-Nine went home together, to a couple of very experienced cat owners.
Ilya gave Martha moral support as she endured chemo-induced hives.
April Dancer looked like a super-model kitten to us.
Between Martha’s chemo and radiation regimens, we headed out to California for a week, visiting friends in Lake Tahoe and hiking for a few days in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
When we got home, April Dancer had been adopted and Ilya and Galore were paired off at another foster home, leaving us free to take in a friendly mom-cat and her four small kittens. The Olympics had just started, so we called them Athena and the Olympians.
Spitz, Flojo, Rhodee, and Bolt lined up at the starting gate, ready to roll.
With no immediate travel plans, we were ready to tiptoe back into canine territory, starting with foster-dog Scooby Roo.
Scooter needed a short-term foster home, so we welcomed him to 50K as a pal for Scooby Roo. He was adopted within a week or so, and Scooby Roo found his home soon afterward.
In the villa, Flojo demonstrated her big-cat attitude right from the start...
…while Athena kept Bolt and his Olympian siblings in line.
Rhodee and Flojo enjoyed the rassling on the villa’s new cat tree.
Spitz and Flojo mastered their tree-frog pose.
Athena got some mom-cat love from Martha...
…and her Olympians ruled the back room, after Scooby Roo and Scooter went home.
Martha and Flojo showed stripey solidarity...
…and the Olympians conquered the villa’s highest ground.
In mid-September, we asked Homeward Trails to pull a dog named Keeta from a South Carolina shelter. He won us over within two days, and we renamed him Orrie.
Mom-cat Athena (yay!) was adopted along with her Olympian boys Bolt and Spitz, a few days after Orrie’s arrival.
At the end of September, Rhodee and Flojo went home with a young couple, bringing the Olympian era to a successful close.
Foster-dog Fifi came to visit for a few days, but her off-the-charts energy level (at 50K anyway) was more than we or Orrie could handle, so she went back to her foster home, where she acted much less crazy.
After taking Orrie to several adoption events and watching him interact with other dogs, we brought coon-hound Dahlia to 50K for a test drive. She stuck, and we renamed her Della.
We welcomed our third nursing mom of the year into the villa, along with her five kittens. Since it was October, we called them Chimay and the Brewmeisters. Fritz and Blue Moon proved difficult to tell apart.
Fluff-ball Stella was the smallest Brewmeister, and she often hung out with buff brother Hops.
Chimay stopped ducking under the futon when we appeared, giving us hope she’d eventually warm up to her peeps. Luckily she didn’t pass her human-phobic attitude along to her kittens.
Della and Orrie devoted part of each day to canine martial arts in the back room.
Hops and Dunkel mastered the cat-tree’s upper tiers, as the Olympians had before them.
And lookalikes Fritz and Blue Moon enjoyed the high life as well.
Hops and Stella continued to cozy up together.
Fritz went home first. His new mom adopted a shy female kitten to join him.
Then Blue Moon and Dunkel headed home together in mid-October...
...on the same day that cuddle-buddies Hops and Stella were adopted together.
And while Chimay had the quiet 50K villa to herself, both before and after her spay, Hops and Stella kept an eye on their exciting new world.
Chimay will spend the holidays at another Homeward Trails foster home, where she'll join some friendly, well-socialized adult cats. We hope that being surrounded by confident peers will help her take another step toward overcoming her shyness.
We’re off to Santa Fe for a short vacation, leaving our housesitter in charge of the staff cats and our entertaining new canines. Thanks for following our adventures during a memorable and rewarding year. We hope you and yours have a great holiday week, and all the best for 2013!
filed by: Ted, Martha, Reggie, Mia, Yogi, Orrie, and (awwhooo!) Della