Friday, January 30, 2015

Josie's Head-start on the Weekend

It’s Friday at last. My work-place is going through a slow period right now (it often does following Christmas), so I was given an unscheduled holiday on Wednesday - unpaid, of course. It’s nice having a day off in the middle of the week, but I’ll feel it when I receive my pay-cheque today.

But regardless, I’m glad it’s the weekend. I am looking forward to it, even though I had Wednesday off. I’ll be watching a movie, reading, writing, listening to music, spending time with cats (probably not in that order) and doing some of what my Chubs is doing here - except in a different position. Ouch.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Feel the Knead

It’s funny what some cats develop as habits. Renn, for instance, is no different than other cats in that he likes to knead when he is happy. But he does it only in one condition. He will sometimes paw the air, swimming, like Kola does, but actually kneading an object is done only in one place and to one thing. Unfortunately, that thing is me.

I sit in a corner of the sitting room couch when I relax. I like the armchair, but there is little room for cats, so it gets used less than the couch. Whenever I sit on the couch, my big boy, whose hearing must be as mighty as his sense of smell, comes in from wherever he may be and joins me. Sometimes, he lies down in the other corner; sometimes, he lies next to me. But sooner or later, he will start to knead.

He will sit beside me, put his forepaws against me and push and push. He is not a light animal. His weight is not insubstantial. And he is healthy so his claws grow rapidly, and always seem to be sharp. He doesn’t mean for them to come out when he kneads but of course that action extrudes those little rapiers. Straight into me.

I usually have a swath of puncture marks along the right side of my torso. Often, it resembles a rash, and I’m waiting for the time a doctor questions whether I have been to the tropics recently or am allergic to arugula. And I’m sure my starboard kidney resembles a professional boxer’s after a tough fight. It’s my own fault; I should be more current in cutting Renn’s claws. But I forget, and then am reminded when my big boy kneads me.

But then, we all need to be kneaded by someone, right?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Out of the Frying Pan...

My Siamese princess isn’t getting a break these days. Her ordeal with a hairball is done, but now she is suffering a cold.

The hairball is, I believe, defeated. There are no positive signs of its conquest but, as with Josie’s similar condition some time ago, it’s what I don’t see or find that persuades me that she is finished with it. Cammie hasn’t thrown up for days and her appetite is better.

But now, she has a cold. Her eyes are leaking and her nose is clogged. She periodically relieves this by shaking her head. She also sneezes. At first, watching her shake her head, I thought there may be an itch in her ears, an infection, perhaps. But she hasn’t scratched her ears, her head or anything else. She is just trying to clear her nostrils.

I think there may be something in her system that comes to the fore when she is stressed. She had what was reportedly a cold when she was in Regina - and that situation must have been the most stressful she’s been in for years. The hairball probably created some ill feelings emotionally, which was undoubtedly exacerbated by my necessarily forcing hairball remedy into her. So now the Camster looks sadder than ever.

I can usually tell when she feels poorly because she retreats to her cylinder-house downstairs. I would like to bring that cat-tree upstairs to the ground floor because the basement is much cooler than elsewhere, but part of its appeal to her is likely its isolation.

And Cammie does come upstairs, even in her misery, benefitting from the warmed cat-bed in the sitting room. And she makes time to lie on my lap at least once a day, and still purrs at the attention I give her, now and then spewing snot over me. Nonetheless, I am confident that though what she is experiencing may be making her feel badly, it is not serious.

Even better than continued lap-time is Cammie’s continued appetite. It’s less than I’d like, but she is still eating. She consumes a little at the usual meal-times, but I give her some soft-food whenever she sits on the food mat. I see that she is eating some hard-food, as well: she throws about debris from the bowl whenever she chooses kernels from it.

As long as my princess is getting nutrition, and is spirited enough for some affection, I’m not very worried about her. But I think she’s had enough bad luck recently. And the other cats are complaining that a certain Siamese royal is hogging the blog.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kola Loves Swimming

Kola is an expressive cat. He’s talkative, and there isn’t much about him that he keeps hidden. For instance, when annoyed (such as when a human tries to comb out matted hair near his rear), he will bleat like one of the Billy Goats Gruff. But usually, he is in a good mood.

The Floof King loves to have the back of his neck rubbed, and then all the way down his spine, with a firm but not intrusive touch. He also likes a chest-rub, a chin-rub and of course a face-rub. I noticed early on in our acquaintance that he will knead the air very quickly upon being given something he likes. His purr comes second. It is still a secondary means of showing his pleasure. I find that strange, since most cats I know resort to kneading second. It comes between purring and drooling in terms of demonstration.

But never mind. Kola wants to show his enjoyment, and he does it by kneading the air, which looks to me like swimming. So join him, won't you? Come on in, the water’s fine!

Health Is Up, Illness Down

Those who expressed wishes for Cammie and Kola’s recovery from their recent health problems have done some good, because both are much better.

Kola continues to spend the night locked in the parlour due to Tucker’s periodic bullying, so I was able to monitor the Floof King’s waste management. This morning, his poop was firmer and more formed than it has been over the previous few days. The troubles with poop being softer or even liquidy seem to come and go with different cats, and though Kola is clean in his habits, even he cannot get everything on extreme occasions. So I am glad for his well-being, and my furniture, that he is improved.

Cammie too spent another day in isolation, so I could monitor her habits. She is eating once more, with a good appetite that had her consuming both hard- and soft-food in decent quantities. She was playful last night, battling with both a string-toy and a laser-pointer, and was using her usual spots for snoozing.

I am astonished at Cammie’s progress in trust. I gave her a hairball remedy for three days. Last night was the final dose. It is horrible stuff, to judge from my beasts’ reactions, and Cammie growled and hissed during the ordeal of its delivery. But last night, her resistance was much reduced. Perhaps she connected its provision with feeling better; perhaps she knew now that the treatment is over in a minute. I don’t know the reason, but she was much easier to handle. Immediately afterward, she let me pet her, and less than a minute subsequent, she was on my lap, purring.

The best thing about this, I think, is that if I ever need to force-feed her, I know I will be able to. Putting food into a cat by syringe is sometimes a regrettable necessity, as many cat-fanciers have come to know. I was afraid that I was going to have to do this with my Siamese princess in another day. I couldn’t have had her go without food for much longer. I did not have to resort to that drastic action, but I now know that, though Cammie will put up resistance, it won’t be either complete or dangerous. She is more trusting and I am more confident.

I am grateful for my cats’ improved health, and hopeful for its continuance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Trouble with Hair: Cammie and Kola

Having just written about Cammie’s ordeal breaking the bowl, I have to describe another ordeal through which she’s going. I believe that the earlier incident was the start of this one: she seems to have a hairball that won’t come out.

She has been feeling poorly for a few days, and eating less and less. Yesterday, she ate hardly anything at all, and was growing lethargic. Tempting her with different flavours of her preferred soft-food was failing, and she was eating very little hard-food. She had been spitting up clear foam, and then pinkish foam, so, having taken counsel with the rescue-group of which I am a member, it was decided to treat her for a hairball.

I was reluctant to do so. Cammie has just reached the stage at which she will not fight being picked up, as long as she doesn’t remain too long off the floor. Now, I had to pick her up and shoot hairball remedy into her. This is a viscous goop which manufacturers and veterinarians say has a flavour that cats love. Manufacturers and veterinarians are wrong. I treat Renn and Josie regularly with it, and they act as though they are being given their last meal before execution, and the cook ruined the main course.

I ambushed Cammie yesterday by picking her up off the dining room chair where she was squatting and taking her to the bathroom. She was stunned by the swiftness of the action and I was able to use a syringe to put the proper amount of goop into her. This morning, she was ready to fight.

And yet, she did not. The character of this cat astonishes me. She screamed as though I were cutting her in two. She twisted and turned and pulled. But she didn’t scratch or bite. She could have. Her claws need cutting again and I could have been flayed alive. But once again, I got the required amount of goop into her. After which I carried her - still screaming - to the bedroom where she was placed in isolation. I did it yesterday, too, in order to determine if she ate anything. She is alone in there with a litter-box, food and water. I will be able to tell if she takes anything in at one end or gets rid of it from the other.

It may be wishful thinking on my part, but my Siamese princess seemed better this morning than yesterday evening. She was hungrier - though not hungry enough for my liking - and was grooming herself. The day before yesterday, in my first and unsuccessful attempt to give her hairball goop, much of it got on her fur. She was too apathetic to clean it off. This morning, I saw her trying to wash herself. When I left her, she was lying on a cat-tree, and consented to let me stroke her fuzzy head. What a good cat she is.

And now, on to Kola…

Kola has been experiencing runny poop. I didn’t know it was his until this morning. He is a very clean animal, especially considering his long, airy fur. But this morning, his bum was matted with…unpleasantness. So it was his turn in the bathroom - right into the tub, actually, where I could use a wet cloth and scissors more freely. He fought me more than had Cammie. A tailed animal has a human at a disadvantage, using it to keep their rears covered. I had to keep Kola down with my elbow, use that arm’s hand to hold up the tail and the other hand to clean. Even then, it was tough going - for both of us. Yet after this, the Floof King lie down on the ottoman in the parlour and purred while I stroked his back.

The forbearance of cats is incredible. But then, I’m lucky in having the foster-cats I have.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Second Show, Starring Cammie

After the comedy routine with Tucker, I didn’t think that I’d have another so soon, or with Cammie, of all cats. But that’s what happened one morning late last week.

I was preparing to go to work. Cammie has been coming into the bathroom to look at the water dribbling from the tap and, periodically, to get a drink from it. She was finished with that chore and jumped down to the rim of the bathtub, over which I habitually drape the bathmat. That was when the action began.

Cammie started gagging, the usual hacking, choking sound of an impending vomit. When the other cats commence their little routine, I do one of two things. If I am too far away to affect matters, I let circumstances dictate the results. If near, I try to remove them from upholstery to hardwood or linoleum. I formerly attempted to do this no matter where I was. It merely led to the cats thinking that I was about to murder them for trying to toss a hairball; so much so, that if I do this now, they cower in fear. That’s not what I want. Besides, I often ended up causing them to run, and throw up as they go. Also not what I want.

But I was standing very close to Cammie, so I picked her up to remove her to the floor. My Siamese princess has come a long way in building her trust of people. She will allow me to pick her up without the hissing and growling that once accompanied the action. She still clearly dislikes being handled, and this is demonstrated in the immediate fixing of her claws in whatever material is directly beneath her. In this case, it was the bathmat.

On the bathmat was a small ceramic bowl, used to contain water and placed in the bathroom basin at night or when I am absent. It provides water for Tungsten, who may come up onto the counter to drink water from the basin. The bathmat now rose at the same speed as Cammie, while the little bowl went flying off at an angle. This distracted me, and Cammie dropped to the floor.

The Camster refused to move forward because not only was Tungsten in the bathroom, bent over the heating vent, but Kola had trotted to the door to see what the matter was. Turning after seeing the bowl break against the bottom of the tub, I didn’t notice that Cammie hadn’t budged, so my foot struck her in the bum. I imagine she thought I had kicked her and she ran out of the room, cursing all and sundry, to throw up on several of the steps down to the basement.

Though I was going to be late for work now, I wanted to make sure my princess was all right. She consented to let me spend some time petting her and, later that evening, was on my lap as usual, purring contentedly. Though she looks sad in these pictures, she was, in fact, happy in most of them. She doesn’t hold grudges and understands that things happen.

And I bought two replacement bowls, just in case things happen twice.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kola Has a Ball

In case any prospective adopters are reading this, I’d like to point out something about one of my foster-cats, Kola. He enjoys playing.

He doesn’t do it all the time. He’s eleven years old and, though that means a certain stateliness begins to be seen in cats, there is plenty of activity left in the Floof King yet. He enjoys the string toy most of all. He will wrestle and roll about with it, trying to bite it. He knows he has no claws in his forepaws, so he uses his feet to pull the toy to his mouth, where he can teach it a lesson.

That is his favourite activity but recently, I’ve seen another. He is braving the sitting room more, even in the presence of Tucker, and likes a romp with some of the fuzzy mice there. There are several of these in the parlour, too; I can tell he picks on them because they keep disappearing. I find them when I clean the room and move the furniture.

But now Kola has found the fun of a ball. The simple globe, whether a rubbery yellow one or a smaller fuzzy one (with most of the fuzz chewed off), gives him some novel delight. Why a cat will roll a ball into a tight corner where a human must be called upon to rescue it, I don’t know. It’s probably instinctive, like throwing up on upholstered surfaces. Kola doesn’t chase the ball, as Cammie or Tucker will, but will fight with it when on his own, or wait for it to be propelled gently into his long fur, if a human is handy to help in this.

The floofy one is an excellent example of how a cat whom veterinarians call ‘senior’ can be just as active as a youngster. It’s true that he isn’t tearing up the floorboards with his speed all the time. But there is a vitality about him that has nothing to do with seniority. Kola often thinks like a youngster. I hope to take some pictures of him waiting impatiently to box with me, or excitedly hiding behind the nylon tunnel daring Josie to come and get him. For now, take my word - and these photographs - for it: this is one senior who is not ready for retirement.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stick Around for the Second Show

Sometimes, life is like a slapstick comedy and my cats are Buster Keaton.

Tucker has always been timid. He will often come over to me and rub his fuzzy head against my leg, just to tell me he likes me. But if I move as he is approaching - I sometimes don’t see him coming - he will take fright and retreat. Noises startle most cats - except Tungsten - but they scare Tucker and send him seeking cover.

Because of Tucker’s physical condition, I check his nether regions now and then, to clean him so as to prevent infection. Naturally, he dislikes this. Last night, I took him into the bathroom to do the necessary chore. He was nervous enough to begin with.

Then, I knocked a plastic cup onto the floor. This made the roly poly one scramble for the door. I caught him between my shins, but as I did so, I elbowed a roll of toilet paper off the counter. It struck Tucker on the bum and made him squirm out of my hold. As I turned to grab him, my knee caught the toilet-seat lid, lifted it briefly and dropped it. The bang that resulted shot Tucker out of the bathroom and into the corridor beyond. I managed to seize him, inadvertently taking hold only of his tail. Fortunately, it’s a strong one but it nevertheless caused a squeal.

By this time, Cammie and Kola had come to see what the fuss was about. Cammie, who detests any sounds of struggle, was hissing at all and sundry, while Kola appeared to be enjoying the discomfort of his enemy. The others were hiding on the bed in anxiety - except for Tungsten, who was sleeping.

At last, I scooped up my tubular cat, eased him over on his back and cleaned him. He wasn’t very dirty, after all.

A few minutes later, the uproar was forgotten. The cats were settled peacefully again and the roly poly sausage looked like this. Take a bow, Tucker.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Catching Up to Her Reputation

I can’t remember why I decided that Josie might be a good choice for a second cat. I initially met her in neutral territory: she was brought to the house of a member of the rescue-group of which I am now a member, and I visited her there. I was impressed by her lively and friendly nature. She went from one person to another head-bumping, and purring tremendously. She struck me as a cat who demonstrated her feelings openly and readily.

The deceptive little cow.

In my home, she was much more subdued. That was not the effect of being introduced to a new environment. That was how she was. Josie has never been unfriendly; in fact, she has always been very amiable. She enjoys meeting new people and often acts as a greeter to my guests. She likes being petted and fussed over, but her purring was quiet, and I often had to feel her throat to determine if she was happy. She had misled me as to her exuberance. It was lucky for her that I already was too fond of her to return her for another model.

In the six and a half years that my Chubs has been with me, she has changed. She has always had an active purr but, as I mentioned, one had to search for it. The affection she may have had for me was demonstrated in a low key. I felt that she was content with her life. Now, things are quite different. 

Now, Josie will ask for attention as soon as I walk into a room. She will stand, amble about in a circle then flop over on her side. If one didn’t know her, one would conclude that this fat cat had just had a stroke. But no, this is the Great White asking for pets, especially a chin-rub. She previously did not care for chest-rubs, but now submits to them for short periods. She will waddle over to me periodically and rub against me, a relatively new development. And her purr starts quickly, when the top of her bristly head is scratched, and will build in strength and volume, becoming a strong, two-tone thrumming, a deep bass providing a background for a tenor.

Has it taken Josie this long to feel secure? Or is it merely a matter of a cat changing with age, mellowing, as a young adult human might as he advances into his middle years? Josie will be twelve this summer, which I think is a good age for a cat. She is confident of her place in the household, unafraid of the foster-cats, respectful of Tungsten’s top position, holding her own in disagreements with Renn over the nylon tunnel and even playful now and then with Tucker.

At last, when I pet my Chubs, I see again that enthusiastic cat I met for the first time long ago. I’m happy that she has returned. But then, she had never really been away, had she?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dreams in a Box

I’ve published pictures of Kola sitting in a box, but they don’t convey how comfortable he can become in his cardboard container. His latest piece of furniture is the lid from a mandarin orange box. This one, in keeping with the continual cheapening of everything provided to consumers, is as thin as it can be without being called paper. Therefore, it is relatively pliable. This quality may contribute to its popularity with the Floof King.

He will lie in his box in preference to the heated towels with which the comfy couch in the parlour is provided, though he may resort to them in the chill of a night. During the day, however, he enjoys his box, not minding at all that his face is resting on a nearly knife-like edge. I don’t know if he actually sleeps in this position, but he may, perhaps when left undisturbed while I am absent and the other cats excluded from the parlour. He certainly rests in it for extended periods, and clearly suffers no discomfort.

The other beasts will examine the box-lid, and Cammie periodically steps into it and sits, a little self-consciously. It is, however, to Kola that the box belongs, and he takes full advantage of it. I think if I were to provide it with soft sides and a downy bottom, he would abandon it. Sometimes a mancat just likes to rough it.

A Tale of a Tail

Cats are very expressive, as we all know, and have a thousand ways of telling us what they are feeling. Despite this, I, at least, am at a loss as to their desires half the time. But I am aware of the slowly whapping tail and what it means. Kola, for instance, loves being petted, having my fingers run firmly down his spine. But when he’s had enough, his floofy tail starts slapping the surface on which he is lying. It’s time for me to stop.

Yet this indication of annoyance is not universal. Cats are individuals and Josie is no exception. She enjoys being fussed over, and receiving chin rubs more than most other attention. She has an interesting tail; I call it a rat-tail because it is so wide at the base and is short, relative to her body. It’s thick and strong. And she whaps it when she is enjoying her attention.

At first I thought I was doing something wrong. But stopping led to unmistakeable protests, while resumption returned the tail to whapping. My Chubs will lie on my lap for quite a while, almost still, and bask in the good feelings of a chin-rub. All the time, her tail is slowly whapping.

Her complaints are more vocal than visual, and why she uses her tail the way she does, I don’t know. If I were less acquainted with her, it would be misleading. It simply goes to show that cats are indeed individuals and, though we can generalise about them, to be fully aware of each, we must learn about each. The same may be written about people.

As an addendum, another interesting thing about Josie’s tail is its pattern and colour. It is ringed, black and what I call ‘tabby grey’, with a black stripe down the length of its top. I recently saw a picture of another cat who had Josie’s body colouring (white with ‘tabby grey’ patches) and a very similar tail. This little beast lived two thousand miles away, so a family resemblance was most unlikely. I wonder if the pattern of tail accompanies the type of body colouring.

Even so, my Chubs is unique, from the tail up.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Warm to the Touch

I think I may have mentioned previously that Tungsten will warm herself over the heating vents. Her favourite spot for this has become the bathroom. This is due to an unusual reason. In order to keep her weight up, she is offered a hard-food that appeals to her more than the other hard-food I give her roommates. It’s tasty, and therefore appeals to the other beasts, as well, but I don’t want them eating as much of it as Tungsten should. So she is fed her meals, whenever she likes, in splendid isolation - in the bathroom.

While there, she discovered the heating vent, that, she undoubtedly reasoned, was similar to the one in the bedroom, which she frequented last winter. She now may be found in the bathroom enjoying the warm air, or waiting to enjoy it. She has her heated cat-bed, of course, and that’s for extended periods. It does its job admirably, and I am glad to have it.

But there is something extra pleasant about a draught of warm air. It’s like a breeze from summer in the cold winter. Naturally, Tungsten wants to experience it as much as possible. But there is something pathetic about an old cat lying on a vent, waiting patiently for warmth. I think she is trying to embarrass me into keeping the heat on all the time. If she shows up with a tiny shopping cart full of tinier tin cans and bottles in bags, I may have to give in...

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Last Look

Another year has begun, and that of course means another has ended. Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and tomorrow is Epiphany. I took down my Christmas decorations yesterday.

This is always a bit of a melancholy moment for me, as the special time that is the Yuletide is now done. I remember when I was a boy, I used to sit and look at the Christmas tree with all of its light illuminated. Last evening, I noticed someone else doing that.

I tend to think of Tucker as the baby of my feline family. He’s not the youngest; Renn is. But his shape and his behaviour, and the sounds he makes, tend to give the impression of a tubular, furry infant. It was perhaps fitting then that I saw the roly poly one gazing at the Christmas tree, just before it came down. He was not looking at it as Renn had done. My big boy stared at it as if it were interesting, intriguing. Tucker looked at it with wonder. He was probably trying to decide if there was something on it he could eat. But he looked innocent and awestruck.

Good-bye Christmas for another year.