Sunday, June 17, 2018

When is a Cat Like a Hobbit?

Some cats like adventures, and are always straining to get beyond the closed door, to see what the next corner is hiding. Other cats do not care for adventures. These cats are quite like Bilbo Baggins, in The Hobbit – indeed, the title character of that book (which is nowhere near as inflated and padded as the recent movies based upon it) – who declares that adventures are “nasty disturbing uncomfortable things.” These cats, like Hobbits, prefer to stay home, where it is safe, and meals are regular and, if so desired, frequent.

Renn is like Bilbo Baggins.

I harnessed the big boy to the newly acquired leash this afternoon, to give him a taste of the outdoors, as Parker enjoyed. You can probably guess, from the first paragraph, where this is going. Renn did not like his adventure. The leash and harness themselves did not bother him so much as did what they portended. Once outside the apartment, merely in the corridor, he cringed at the door, facing it, as it trying to push himself back underneath. I had to carry him outside.

Things did not improve. Renn immediately crouched against the grass – not caring that it was fresh and green and fragrant – and pulled at the leash toward the building’s door. He started crying.

Well, enough was enough. I had not wanted to distress the poor fellow, merely show him an avenue of fun he may not have travelled. It turns out, he did not wish to travel it. I picked him up again and hastened inside. After he was released from his bonds, his back arched, his tail shot up and he wagged his body as big boys do when they are pleased with events. To test him further, I sat on the bed; Renn jumped up and was purring a minute later. There was no harm done.

I must admit that I was surprised by the extreme reaction he felt. I thought that, while he probably would not have quite the unbridled enthusiasm Parker did (if I can use the adjective of a cat who is, indeed, bridled, in a way), I thought he might be intrigued in a wary fashion. This was not the case. Renn will of course not be forced to undergo such an ordeal again. He is and will remain an inside cat, even when the outside is limited by a leash.

It turns out that Renn is very like Bilbo Baggins, right down to the furry feet…

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Comb Hither

My holidays are time off from my job, not from work. During my three weeks, I am kept busy with a number of chores that, while I could perform them during a Saturday or Sunday, would take up the majority of what little free time I have on those days. If they take up the same amount of time on my holidays, it seems much less tragic, as I have more time available.

The biggest chore is always the cleaning of the cat-trees. I feel like it should be a communal task, like the scouring of the White Horse in Berkshire, when whole villages would gather to clean up and uncover the ancient carving of the horse cut into the turf. Unfortunately, my fellow villagers are four-footed, furred and expect me to do all the work. Which I do.

But this year the chore was made easier, thanks to the advice of a fellow cat-blogger. In the past, I have used the wet rubber glove method. But Mary Anne, at Feral Cat Behavior (, suggested I use a curry-comb on the trees. This is a hard-tined comb - perhaps it even qualifies as a brush - that is normally utilized on horses. In my case, I dampened the surfaces of the tree in question (to keep the hair from flying away) and combed them out. It’s still hard and time-consuming work, but it does not take as long as the other method, nor do I think is it as strenuous an action. In any case, I am indebted to Mary Anne for the tip.

The big job of cleaning the cat-trees is done. Now the beasts can get busy with the simple task of undoing it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Parker's Great Outdoor Adventure

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But he did go outside. His was the first expedition of my long-held plan to let my cats outside – on a leash.

The leash and harness apparatus I used is a simple device, one that has been used by many when taking their cats outside. I have seen better harnesses, safer ones, no doubt, but  I thought I would try this particular kind. If I felt that it was insecure, I would replace it.

The first task was to select a cat for the bold experiment. That was not really difficult. Parker has wanted to escape through the apartment’s front door for some time. His eagerness was apparent; as well, from his temperament, I judged that he would not be unnerved by the experience.

Secondly, I had to put the harness on my foster-cat. That was trickier, as he kept lying down in a form of passive resistance. This turned out to be directed more against my fiddling with buckles and straps than against the actual harness. Once it was in place, Parker seemed untroubled by it.

Then, we were out the door. The orange boy was incredulous that I was permitting him to leave the confines of our home. I walked him up and down the corridor outside the apartment first, to see how he would behave with the harness and the leash. He was accepting of the former, though he was unsure of what the tugging on the leash indicated. He adapted to such unwonted commands quite rapidly.

And so to the great outdoors. Parker enjoyed himself. He smelled everything; his nose was always going. Indeed, there must have been a great deal to smell. A strong but warm wind blew this evening, and it must have brought exotic fragrances from far away to the sturdy boy’s sensitive nostrils. He rolled on the grass several times, purring. What a fresh, aromatic carpet he had found.

We saw cats. Initially, we saw Renn and Tucker. They appeared bemused as to why Parker was outside. They did not seem envious, just mystified.

Parker observed cats far above, too, in a fenced-in balcony on the third floor. I don’t know how he recognized them as fellow felines, since they could barely be seen, but he knew what they were and, I believe, they knew his kind, too.

Around the building, we came across another cat. This one was on a lower balcony and, to be honest, I don’t think Parker saw her. He didn’t look at her, but he knew a cat was around. He started grumbling and even growling; we were upwind of the cat, and I’m certain it was the smell of another of his species that induced his reaction. Perhaps if he had seen it, as he had the other felines, he would not have been as hostile. It may have been the fact that he couldn’t see her that caused him to give off warnings.

But soon, we were home. Parker didn’t beg to go out some more; in fact, his behaviour has not acknowledged that he was even outside. I was afraid that I would be faced with an animal constantly crying to be released, and that may yet come. But for now, he seems simply to have enjoyed his little adventure.

For my part, I am satisfied with the harness and leash. At one point, Parker may have noticed something stimulating, since he threw himself forward; if he had not been secured by a leash, I likely would not have seen him again. But the leash was untroubled; Parker was pulled up short – ‘up’ being an accurate word; he hit the limit of the strap and flew into the air, no doubt an unexpected event for him – but was unhurt. I had made sure that the straps that circled both his chest and neck were secure, but not too tight. It was a good test.

I suspect that Parker will want to explore further beyond his home. I will offer the same adventure to the others, with the exception of Cammie. There is something about her temperament that suggests I should keep her inside. I may be wrong, but she is perhaps too confident to be allowed out. Renn may like it, Josie possibly, Tucker probably not. But we will see. Someday, all of my cats may be outside-cats – as long as the outside extends only so far as a six foot long leash.

Monday, June 11, 2018

'Ears to Adah

Some of you may have been wondering about our tiniest rescue, Adah. The ringworm that attacked her and some other cats in her foster-home is waning now, though it is fighting as it goes. Adah’s foster-guardian has been key in forcing the ringworm into retreat, especially since the kittens are too young for the medicinal treatment right now. That will be coming soon, but things are already looking up.

Adah is active, alert and playful, spending much of her time with her pal, Tucker; not the big, sausage-shaped one living with me, but a dark grey one, with plenty of floof. He is about twelve days older than Adah. That’s him on top of the kitten-pile, and Adah down below.

As you may be able to tell from the remaining photographs, Adah’s ringworm is plainly not as bad as it had been; compare these images to that from my blog of May 23. Her appetite is very good – though her table manners are rather awful, I understand. She will likely always be small, but if her current state is an indication, she will make up for her size with energy. I hope she will at least grow enough to catch up to her ears. Look at those things: they resemble Sally Field’s headgear on The Flying Nun. It’s a good thing Adah is and will be indoor only; otherwise, the slightest breeze will have her airborne.

Everyone concerned is pleased and relieved at Adah’s progress. She is well cared-for, and, except for the ringworm which is slowly on its way out, healthy and vigorous.