Friday, August 26, 2016

On the Nose

Tucker continues to claim most of my attention with his latest physical ailment. I don’t think this one is serious, though it is puzzling, and therefore something to watch closely.

A few days ago, the roly poly one developed a small but vivid redness on one side of his nose, like a small scratch. That is, in fact, what I believed it was. It would not have been the first time he had annoyed another cat enough to have received such punishment. But the next day, the ‘scratch’ had grown, and last night I noted that it covered even more area.

This morning, it is no larger, but it is still present. It resembles a random pattern of blotches, very small and on the right side of the front of Tucker’s nose. I have applied Vaseline to it twice, as it looked a little dry, as well as red. I did this before when his nose suffered a bit of a crack during his time with a cold. Then, he did not mind me putting some ointment on his nose; this time, he reacted differently, and I wonder if the skin there is tender or otherwise sensitive.

Since the ruddiness has spread since I first observed it, I have ruled out a scratch. It may be an infection of some sort, or an allergic reaction. Tucker has not eaten or drunk anything unusual recently, so I suspect it is not an allergy. He remains the same in all other aspects: he is happy and cheerful, plays and retains a good appetite.

The pictures were my attempt to photograph the redness on his nose. Readers may want to enlarge the images by clicking on them. When happy, Tucker likes to rub his face on the spindles of the chair’s back, purring all the while. These were the best I could achieve, and what anyone sees of the nose and its mystery is, I'm afraid, minimal.

I will keep an eye on the nose, and if it changes any further for the worse, I may have to take the roly poly one to the veterinary hospital, something which we both want to avoid. The problem may be a passing thing; Tucker has had enough physical troubles, and I would like to see this one simply fade away. We will remain vigilant.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Their Personal Best

In keeping with the recent Olympic Games, held in Brazil, this past weekend saw a record established in a sporting event held at my apartment. All four of my cats threw up within a twenty-four hour period. I couldn’t be more pleased at their success.

I don’t believe any of their actions were indications of health problems. Each of their upsets was different, and can’t even be traced to a similar cause. This indicates the individuality of their sporting events, and how they approach them, in a disgusting sort of way.

Josie vomits the most. She also regurgitates the most. She has a very sensitive stomach, and some days, she will throw up all her food, though the next she will keep it down. Hard-food, soft-food, it doesn’t matter; some days, it all comes back up. Often, she will yodel before puking. This time, I didn’t even hear her, and found a neat little pile on the bedspread later on. I had to wash the bedding anyway.

Tucker was next. He too usually gives a warning; in his case, it is in the form of heaving. Not this Saturday. It was like a quick flip in a judo competition. It was done in a second. It was done on the sitting room rug. Like my Chubs, the chuck he upped was soft-food, but of a different brand, and at a different time of day. It was on the same rug, though.

Cammie surprised me. She rarely throws up. She sometimes chokes while gobbling her hard-food; I wish she would chew the kernels more carefully. This time, however, something disagreed with the princess’s stomach rather than her throat, and she left a mess on top of a bookcase. At least it was easier to clean than a rug. And hard-food was the culprit.

Finally, there was Renn. My big boy vomits least of all the four. Perhaps he didn’t want to be left out this day. His actions have to do almost exclusively with hairballs. He coughed one up, in keeping with his tradition. But his technique was spectacular. I was privileged to have witnessed it. It exploded out of him and hit the cats’ favourite Kick-a-roo dead-centre. A champion archer couldn’t have done better.

After washing, wiping, pouring, scrubbing - and laundering a bedraggled Kick-a-roo - the rest of the day was uneventful; my furry Olympians took their leisure. Everyone was fine after they, literally, got it out of their systems, but, unlike the human athletes in Rio de Janeiro, there was no partying; the beasts went to bed early. They didn’t even wait for the presentation of medals.

Monday, August 22, 2016

His Sense of Playfulness

The comic actor Martin Short identified a necessary characteristic of the ‘buddy movie’ genre. He said that at one point in the film, the two leads (constituting the ‘buddies’ of the genre) have to be in a moving automobile, look through the windshield and simultaneously scream in terror at what is hurtling toward them.

I am reminded of this to an extent when I interact with Tucker. He has a playful quality about him that reinforces the impression that he is a big, albeit furry, baby. He will be sitting or lying about and I will approach him with the clear intent of seizing his head, or grabbing his face or ears, or some such thing. He knows it is in fun and will squeal like a film character being attacked in a horrible but amusing manner. Think of Bill Murray being slimed in Ghostbusters.

If it is true that cats vocalise only to humans, as has been discussed on this blog recently - and this is an assertion which I don’t doubt - then Tucker can be screaming only for my benefit (and maybe his own) and must be pretending. He knows that he is not about to be hurt (he is purring all the while), yet reacts as if he is going to be dealt a mortal blow. It’s part of our game.

How this game developed I can’t say. Other cats may play similarly, but squealing in fake fear is not something I’ve heard about in other animals. Why Tucker does it can only be due to a sense of playfulness, to a quality special to his roly poly personality. It may change, it may disappear, but for now, he and I are enjoying ourselves.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Unbusy Bee

My cats aren’t very playful. They do play; I play with them, and they play by themselves, now and then. Rarely, they play with each other. But they don’t play often or for long.

I try to interest them in different things. I change the toys that I use. I provide toys with which the beasts may amuse themselves. They use them: Cammie will carry about the yellow and white mouse and deposit it near her cat-tree in the bedroom. Tucker enjoys knocking the plastic rings from milk jugs about; there are usually half a dozen under the microwave oven stand at any given time. But by and large, the animals are a passive lot.

I alternate the entertainments available and produce new ones; these changes create some excitement, sometimes, for a while. My latest attempt has been a toy called The Busy Bee. It is a simulated bee on a narrow plastic wand, suspended from a clamp that can be fixed to a door handle or furniture leg. I could not find the Cat Dancer in my town and so thought I would try this substitute.

After the initial and predictable period of all the cats looking at the new device for varying amounts of time (I think Cammie hissed at it once), they largely ignored it. Renn did play with it intermittently the afternoon I brought it home. My big boy can be most energetic when he wants to be, and he jumped and grabbed and chewed at The Busy Bee, briefly. Since then, the new addition has been unused. I think I’ve walked into it ten times more often than any of the cats contemplated playing with it.

And so it will probably join the other toys and would-be attractions worth which I attempt to stimulate the energy of my lethargic pets. It, as are the others, are brought out at different times, and are joined by new purchases, but I feel rather like the parent who buys a room-full of toys and gadgets for his children, only to hear them complain of their boredom. The Busy Bee will go into storage for now, to be dusted off in a couple of weeks or a month and shown to the reluctant recipients again. Given the frequency and directions by which my beasts change their minds, the toy may experience a busy day yet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Walk a Mile in Them, Renn

I came across Renn trying on my shoes during the weekend. It’s not a habit of his, but it reminded me that I had seen him do something similar six years ago, when he had first come to stay with me. I have no idea why he lie on my footwear in 2010; I have no idea why he was doing it now; I have no idea why he hasn’t done it much in the interval. But the pair of photographs make for good then-and-now pictures. He hasn't changed much to look at, has he?

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Intelligencer

Almost every night, she takes up her position. Cammie sits on her haunches, or lies with her legs folded under her, on the carpeted shelf by the sliding door in the sitting room. The door is open but the screen, of course, is closed. She trots in as twilight coalesces, and takes her place.

I can’t believe that the princess sees much from where she reposes, almost at the floor. Sometimes, she lies on the top perch of the cat-tree next to the screen, but usually on the shelf, ten inches or so above the floor. I think what she may observe is secondary or tertiary to what she hears and smells, two senses which, for a cat, must be as open to stimuli as sight, if not more.

So she sits there, usually for a few hours, collecting the fragrances and the sounds, and the odd sight, from the neighbourhood, as it closes for the night. She learns what the deepening dark tells her; her spies come to her on the breeze. Now and then, there is excitement: an intruder-cat to be warned off, or a passing human warily to be watched. But usually, this is a retiring time, with the world providing information and gossip quietly, and in small pieces.

Cammie will miss the open door come the cold months. But the apartment has advantages over the old house, with its storm-windows and screens that came and went. Even when the temperatures drop, a slight aperture may be arranged in the sitting room, a little window within the window, large enough for a small black nose, or a twitching ear. The duties of the intelligencer know no seasons.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Little Miss Needy

Josie is much more demonstrative in her affection than she used to be, but today, she was very needy. I had only to come into the room in which she was lying for her to waddle over to me, purring, and flop down in front of me for some attention.

The morning and early afternoon I spent in accomplishing chores, including cleaning the kitchen, but after all the work was done, in the mid-afternoon, I was able to give my Chubs some time. I lie on the bed next to her and rubbed her chin, her favourite form of attention, for about twenty minutes straight. At some point, Cammie came in and, seeing me lying down, figured my chest was free, so she settled there for a while, despite her proximity to Josie. Petting two cats simultaneously is rather like that old trick of patting the head while rubbing the stomach, but a human with more than one cat masters some surprising – if narrowly valuable – actions.

Eventually, the princess left and Josie seemed to fall asleep. After I left, she actually was calling out to me, so I came back and gave her an epilogue of attention. Then, she seemed sated.

I don’t always give in to the beasts when they demand my time; to do so would require more hours in the day, never mind just those I had free. But at the back of my mind is the knowledge that some day, these roommates of mine will no longer be with me, and though I will have anyway regrets over doing or not doing various things for them, I don’t want to remember any of them and think that I should have taken these few minutes or that quarter-hour to spend with them. It’s why whenever one rubs up against my leg, I acknowledge it. One day, it will be the last time it is done.

So, I like to indulge the cats when I can. Fortunately, they are not always so demanding as Josie was today. This evening, she seems happy to have me pet her when I see her, rather than having me always with her. I seem to be on call, rather than in attendance – at least until the next time Little Miss Needy summons me.