Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dinner and Conversation

I had noted previously that Neville eats while lying down. Another characteristic of his dining is his talking. About two thirds of his meals are narrated by what sounds like a running commentary on the food, the service, the company, whatever strikes his fancy. The monologue is in the form of a low, throaty rumble, the sort that can continue even as he eats.

The other beasts noticed this mumbling right away, and I think it disturbed their repasts a bit. Now, however, they ignore it; Nevsky has fit in that much. Well, if he wants to talk while he eats, I won’t stop him. I just wish he’d speak up, so I can understand him.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Marvellous Evolution


I have previously said, or written, that cats are creatures of habit: they will follow a routine religiously – until they don’t. The truth is that cats’ behaviour evolves, usually along with their personalities. Cammie is a good example of this.

Her world changed fundamentally after her stroke at the end of May. She recovered, at least superficially, from all its effects save for her blindness. She cannot see. At first, I thought this might lead to her remaining stationary as much as possible. But I didn’t count on her spirit, a spirit which demanded that she rule her principality as a princess should. I have described how she will ‘make a progression’ (as it was called when the Tudor monarchs did it) through the length and breadth of the realm simply to take a drink of water from her favourite cup. Even so, she has changed, though how much this has resulted from her sightlessness I can’t say.

She has become a lap-cat. She can often be found in one of the two heated cat-beds these days – it’s cold outside now, and my princess is, shall we say, mature – but she waits at certain times of the day for me to sit on the couch. After dinner, for instance, I relax for a bit with a cup of tea. When she hears me sit, she gets up and makes her way over to me, climbing up her little staircase and lying down on my lap (getting up and walking away only to return a couple of times in the first one or two minutes…). Initially, she lie diagonally across my lap, so I needed one hand to support her, and keep her from falling off as she relaxed and the other hand to pet her. Now, she situates herself more centrally, and I can actually hold a book to read while she lies on me. Sometimes, she will stay with me for half an hour, purring the whole time.

Cammie’s meal-times have changed, too. She doesn’t always want soft food; now and then, she simply doesn’t feel like it. But when she does, she will sit up in her bed, or at least raise her head, showing some interest. I tell her, “Cammie, up up, up up.” Very often, she will walk to the sitting room’s couch, once more ascend the stairs and wait for her food. That’s where she usually eats now. I don’t know how this evolved, but I am pleased by it. It allows me to keep a ready eye on her, to see if she wants more food, to see if she is eating at all and, most importantly, to see when she is finished. When she finishes, she gets down and, though, since she was struck blind, she rarely tries to eat anyone else’s food, that is still a danger, so having her where I can observe her permits me better to guard against her ingestion of food that will cause one of her episodes.

Finally, there is the moment when, early in the morning, I must go to work. To relieve her of the stress of negotiating an apartment full of cats when I am not present, and to encourage her to eat the special hard food she is given, I isolate the princess in the bedroom. She has there a litter-box, food and three water-bowls (though I think she uses only her favourite.) Since I have started installing a heated cat-bed each day before leaving, Cammie is much less reluctant to go into the bedroom at the appointed time. In fact, now she frequently does it unbidden. I will sometimes see her slowly walking toward the bedroom of her own volition, or will find her already there, in the cat-bed or waiting for it. There, she has all the comforts and is, for the day, an ‘only-cat’, as is her fervent desire.

My Cammie’s habits change, as do those of other cats; sometimes slowly, imperceptibly; sometimes over night. I am thankful that her evolutions have been beneficial, helpful not only to herself but to me. When I think back to her arrival in my life, and how I was actually afraid of this hissing, yowling animal, I think that her time with me has been filled with marvels. But then, that is to be expected, for Cammie is a marvel herself.


Friday, November 8, 2019

When Change Isn't Terrible

Neville is becoming more and more comfortable with living in the cosy apartment. He has begun using the litter-boxes in the store-room, the ones the other beasts use, and not just the box in the library, which was his sole box during his brief confinement in that room. To me, this suggests that he is starting to think of himself as acceptable by and accepting of the others.

The Thin Man also has been exploring his small world more, not restricting himself to the top of the tall cat-tree in the sitting room. I find him sometimes relaxing on the couch; he will now and then eat his dinner on the shorter cat-tree, and he has been up on a dining room chair. As well, he has jumped on to the bed at bed-time twice. He seems a bit bewildered as to what should happen next, and even rather disappointed that all that follows is sleep. He has on both occasions soon jumped down again. But the important thing is that he leaped up in the first place.


Neville is comfortable around the other cats. I attribute this to their almost complete apathy toward him. I think he enjoys that. At his previous foster-home, he was one of many cats, too, but several annoyed him, without meaning to; one, in particular, an eager little kitten, thought of Neville as a playmate, or perhaps a play-thing, which led to stress on Nevsky’s part and, in turn, bad blood-sugar numbers. Now, he wanders about, briefly stared at by some, and verbally savaged by Cammie if he is in her way, but otherwise unnoticed. I believe that this has permitted not only a remission in his diabetes, but an ironic kind of welcome. A cat who isn’t definitely rejected by a group soon finds his own place in it.

He is also warming to me. He enjoys play-time, and especially meal-times. I pet him as often as possible and, when I do, have noticed that his purring starts sooner. He doesn’t like being held, and may never do, but merely twists and turns in my grasp; he doesn’t scratch or bite. Neville is a cat of moderate patience. I can cut his claws, though he begins to end the procedure after one paw is done; even so, I can do both forefeet without much trouble.

As Neville and I grow more acquainted, and accustomed to each other, I will learn more about him, and his trust in me will increase. So far, his integration into life at the cosy apartment has been good, from my point of view; I hope it is from his, too.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Rebus Redux

To be honest, he may be Philo, but Rebus’s name provides alliteration.

In any case, I was able to re-trap one of the black kittens this morning. I’m sure he’s kicking himself for falling for the same trick twice, but the temperature dropped to -12° (-4° F) last night, so if he can be tamed, it will be the last frigid night Rebus will have to suffer.

There are still Philo and Rhombus to re-capture. The latter I have not seen since I released him subsequent to his neutering, but I will plan for his trapping, too. In the meantime, I will hope my luck holds. If I am lucky, then the remaining pair of kittens will be, as well.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Their New World

It’s been a number of days since I began Operation Déjà Vu - my attempt to re-capture the previously trapped and released kittens in the feral colony. So far, it has been a failure. As I feared, the three youngsters - Rebus, Rhombus and Philo - are now wary of the trap, and are avoiding it. I will continue my efforts, as it means the difference for them between life in the wild and a safe and healthy home.

In the meantime, progress on the parts of their brother and sister has been very good. Medallion had a head-start on her sibling, formerly named Phineas, now Phocas (due to a Finnegan being in the same household, and the names being too similar), but the little boycat has caught up. They have been out of their cage and on laps, where they have experienced the joys of being petted. Both have responded with hesitant purrs. They were reluctant to eat on their own, and were being hand-fed. Last night, however, they took the big step of eating a meal on their own. In the lower photograph, Medallion is a bit difficult to see because of her colouring, but she is in front and to the right of her brother.



Medallion and Phocas are in a foster-home which is very successful at socialising cats. The people there have brought around shy cats and kittens numerous times. When captured, the other three will go to another foster-home, whose person is equally patient and knowledgeable in the ways of cats.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Finally, Phineas

My luck has held, and the last of the kittens from my work-place’s feral colony has been captured. This is Phineas.


As you may remember, a concern was trapping Rhombus again, and thinking he was Phineas, as the pair, undoubtedly brothers, resemble each other closely. But I had two others here at my work-place confirm that I had someone different. In the picture of Rhombus, below, you will note the narrow black patch under his chin, like the tiny beard that used to termed a ‘thumb-piece’. As well, the white patch above the bridge of his nose is wide. Phineas has the narrower patch of white and a completely white chin. By the end of today, all five youngsters will have been fixed.


But the story doesn’t end here. An individual has come forward to take in four of the kittens and socialize them, so that they will stand a chance of being adopted. Medallion, whose progress has been such that she acquiesces to being petted - warily, but without strong signs of fear - will stay in her current foster-home. This new situation developed only after Rebus, Rhombus and Philo were released; this couldn’t be helped. Now, then, Operation Doctor Moreau is replaced by Operation Déjà Vu. I have three more kittens to trap - again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Just One of the Gang

When I arrived at work this morning, I saw no sign of the ‘feral’ kittens, not even their paw prints in the snow. But there were three adults waiting for breakfast. I served them and that’s when the kittens came out. I saw at least the two black ones - Rebus and Philo - and possibly one of the black-and-whites, though it is hard to distinguish them from a couple of the adults when everyone is running away from a human’s sudden appearance. But I know they are ready to be trapped again - well, available to be trapped again - and I will prepare accordingly tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I’ll share with you how one of the former members of the feral colony is doing at the cosy apartment.

Raleigh has never been bothered by the other beasts, and, except for when Cammie bumps into him, neither have they been bothered by him. Peachy tried to be friends with Neville but the Thin Man - less thin all the time - didn’t reciprocate and spends most of his time at the top of the tall sitting room cat-tree; there is little opportunity to foster friendship. So Raleigh contents himself with finding comfortable spots about the apartment, one of which is the bed.

As you can see, his integration is complete. It was, to tell the truth, an easy one, as has been Nev’s. I have been fortunate with these two. Raleigh’s main concerns seem to be nothing more than a full tummy, a warm bed and a human who treats him decently. Fortunately, I have been able to provide all three for this little Peach.