Friday, July 31, 2015

How I Don't Learn, Part 482

You may have read on here a while back that Noah inadvertently scratched me while I was holding him. He was startled and leaped out of my arms, using my chest as his launch pad, and his claws as, well, claws. I was gashed on my chest and jaw, though not badly, as it turned out.

This week I was moving some furniture in the parlour. I set an electric fan on the ottoman and picked up Noah - who must see from very close range everything that is going on - to carry him out of harm’s way. The furniture I was moving was heavy and I didn’t want him underfoot. The other cats kept their distance; they know the sounds of heavy object movement. Besides, they’ve seen it often enough not to have to witness every instance of it. Noah still likes to observe all.

I took up the boy and was about to put him outside the room when my leg brushed the electric fan. That weighty article fell with a crash to the floor. Noah, startled again, threw his legs into a windmill imitation in an attempt to escape the noise, and my clutches. Cammie, as she always does when there is a clatter, hurried to investigate and/or chastise. I knew enough not just to let Noah fly off of me - he was as likely to land on the princess as not (and that would have resulted in all sorts of trauma), so I held him at arm’s length (something I could not do to all the cats, I know).

It was too late for my skin, however. Two deep scratches had been inflicted, this time on my stomach. They do not constitute serious damage, of course, but they are annoying, and I have holes in another shirt.

Noah is not to blame; he was reacting as his reflexes demanded. They are very good reflexes. I will have to learn to stand still while holding him, I think. Or get better reflexes myself.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Personalities at Rest

My two perma-cat boys love their sleep, as most cats do. But how they achieve it is rather surprising. Renn you have seen before while he’s been sleeping. He enjoys a number of positions, but when in the armchair, he likes to lie on his back and throw his forelegs out. He will doze off like that.

Tucker has long enjoyed lying at an angle. I think a cat’s legs would be such that gravity would cause them to ache after a while. This is apparently not the case.

In this photograph, I caught both mancats at their snooziest. (A good caption for the picture may be "New Year's Day: too bright, too early".)

The girlcats in my household, meanwhile, are more conventional when they sleep. Perhaps they are better mannered. After all, modesty is not to be seen when the boys sleep as they do. Everything else may be seen, but not modesty. But a cat will do what a cat wants to do. That too is plainly to be seen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Many Sides of Renn

The calendar of the Lethbridge PAW Society, the rescue-group of which I am part, is taking shape nicely. All the cat pictures have been taken and submitted. Renn is in the calendar this year, as I have mentioned before, and I thought that I would share his photographs with you. They were all taken by Tanya Plonka, of Puppy Love Pet Photography, here in Lethbridge, Alberta.

This first image shows my big boy full length. He was surprisingly comfortable with a stranger near by, and did not seem troubled at all. You can see that he is relaxed here.

In the next picture, he appears to have regressed into kitten hood. The angle of the photograph and the way it catches Renn lying on the bed telescoped everything, so that he is not only smaller, but his features are stubbier and less adult, while his forelegs are short. It is a neat and unintended effect, but doesn’t make for a good calendar photo. It is, however, what I imagine Renn to have looked like as a child-cat.

Here Renn is looking up. This was not a good picture, but does illustrate that he was interested in what was going on but not unnerved by it. He has come a long way, my brave boy has.

Cleaning himself, Renn is demonstrating even further that he is unconcerned by the photography session. Perhaps he was grooming himself so as to appear at his best.

The next series of pictures are the ones that I consider good for the calendar. Initially, I thought the one immediately below would be fitting, as it shows his often lazy demeanour and his magnificent whiskers - though only on his left side.

Then I decided this photo was the best for the calendar, as his expression is similar to the one above, but there is more of his face showing.

But this one puts Renn in a lionesque pose and gives a good view of his right-side whiskers. But I don’t know whether it shows him at his best.

This picture is an excellent likeness of his handsome face, but his whiskers are nowhere to be seen. The choice of image to end up in the calendar is a tough one, as you can tell.

Personally, I like the last photograph. I don’t know if it is suited for a calendar, but it does show my big boy curious and alert, as he often is. He sometimes crosses his paws while lying stretched out, and that and the look on his face give him a kind of angelic air, which is not usually a far-fetched comparison in his case. He also looks like a sheep guard-dog, of which he always reminds me.

Whatever the selection I make, these photographs all show Renn as he is: lazy, active, happy, apathetic, clean, canine, and, once in a while, young at heart. That’s my big boy.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sleepy Kings

The effect of Noah, my foster-cat, on Tucker has been both good and bad, though the latter does, I believe, appear to be diminishing. Tucker is a very sensitive animal, even for a cat. His use of the litter-box is excellent, but he sometimes relieves himself out of it when he is under stress. This still occurs but with less frequency than previous.

The advantage to Tucker of having Noah living with us is that the roly poly one has gained confidence. It hasn’t been much, and any number of things can send him scurrying for a hiding spot. Seeing the broom being carried about, for instance, or hearing a raised voice after he has jumped on Noah, will cause him distress. Yet his dictatorial demeanour toward the boy has given a bit of a boost to his ego, I think.

Witness his snooze on the platform of the cat-tree in the parlour. That room is not Noah’s, but it is where the boy stays during the day, to keep him separated from the perma-cats while I am not present to supervise. Consequently, to a cat, the room must smell strongly of the youth. Yet this does not deter Tucker, who will sometimes stroll into the parlour, while Noah is free and moving about, and stake a claim.

Such was his ease vis-a-vis Noah that Tucker felt quite safe enough to lie down by the open window, sniff the scents coming through the screen and then rest his head and his eyes with a bit of sleep. I have seen Noah sniff warily at a prone roly poly, but deliberately disturbing him is out of the question.

So in his own small way, Tucker has attained the status of minor nobility in our household, at least as regards Noah. He fears no foster-cat and rules his province firmly. He takes orders from his superiors, but nonetheless gives them, too. Now and then, therefore, perhaps in between waking and dreaming, he is a king, a little crown at a rakish angle on his melon-head, and his iron will obeyed by all. Or at least by Noah.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Personalities in Motion

The relationships among the cats in my household always interest me. I’ve written about them before, I’m sure, but they evolve and, with the introduction of a new cat, they can change quickly. Noah has been with me two months now. He has progressed in many ways, and his relationships with the perma-cats have changed.

The most interesting aspect of the boy’s stay is how Tucker has come to dominate him. I would never have suspected the roly poly one to have a bit of the tyrant in him. But, following upon his successful browbeating of Kola, my previous foster-cat, Tucker decided that Noah too needed placing in the hierarchy - and that place is beneath Tucker. The latter launched himself at Noah frequently at the beginning, but now does so only periodically, to remind the youngster of the situation. Noah, usually, becomes immediately submissive, and Tucker stalks away, satisfied.

This, however, leads to problems with Renn. My big boy, despite his size and streamlined appearance, is no fighter. Noah, thwarted at being the top mancat of the house - if indeed the thought occurred to him - was nevertheless not going to settle for the bottom rung. He has assaulted Renn several times without provocation, so that Renn growls warily whenever he sees Noah approaching.

Cammie similarly received unwanted attention from Noah early on. The boy ambushed the princess as she was coming away from the litter-boxes. Since then, Cammie has been on the defensive with regard to Noah, growling more ominously than does Renn, her ears flat back and her demeanour definitely menacing. Noah will avoid her on these occasions. Yet there is a fascination between the two, I can see. It is not the rule that Cammie will not tolerate the boy’s presence. Indeed, she will follow him sometimes, while Noah will lie as close as he dares to her. At these moments, however quiet they may be, I dislike to leave them unwatched.

And finally, Josie. My Chubs doesn’t care for Noah, either. She will give her whining growl if the newcomer gets too close, and the two have exchanged blows. But their fights are not like those Noah has had with Tucker. There is little viciousness in them, and Noah seems either intent on getting to know the Great White, or simply annoying her, though this happens regardless, as far as Josie is concerned.

Seeing the interaction among the beasts change with time and circumstances is always intriguing. For as long as my latest foster-cat remains, I think our little feline society will evolve. There may even be less hissing, some day.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Shower Curtain Game

Noah finds fun in anything and everything. He enjoys the bathtub, as I’ve mentioned in a previous article, and he’s found it to be ideal for a new game.

The boy will slip under the hem of the shower-curtain and hide among the folds. Either that in itself is fun, or he has more patience than I thought. He will sit there until he sees something to attack. Sometimes, it’s my hand, probably the only part of me visible from his limited vantage point. Sometimes it is the plastic drinking-cup on the counter by the basin. Other times, it is, apparently, nothing at all. There is no damage done by his mauling. The goal seems to be simply to seize an object very briefly and then flee to the safety of the curtain once more.

As with all imaginative children, Noah doesn’t need anyone else’s participation to play. It helps if he can catch someone, or somecat, unawares (I have heard Josie’s angry squeals as she’s been surprised trying to drink water from the little bowl by the tub), but it’s not necessary. The boy can have a grand time all by himself.

Watching his antics is a delight - most of the time - but the perma-cats seem to disagree. Noah is beginning to realise that living in an old folks’ home can often be rather boring.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Chubs in Warm Times

The weather in southern Alberta has been warm. It sometimes reaches into the mid-30s Celsius, but more commonly stays about the high 20s and low 30s. This is still warm. My cats behave accordingly.

Except for Josie. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles here, my Chubs is a special case when it comes to heat. It’s true that she sometimes lies in the corridor, where the hardwood floor is cool, and on the bed, which is made comfortable now and then by a breeze through the open window. But even more frequently, she resorts to spots that must be warmer than she should like on a hot day. The rug by the front door, for instance, and my favourite, one of the furry cat-beds in the sitting room.

Why the Great White selects these locations, when her ample weight already provides her with insulation, I don’t know. She will perhaps die of heat-stroke one day, when the temperature hovers at 40° Celsius, and she is tucked up snugly under a blanket and quilt. But I know, at least, she will, under those circumstances, die happy, and pass to the next life being the unique cat she is.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Danger: Cats Crossing

Cats can be dangerous. I have been injured numerous times by them. Most of the injuries have been accidents, and those that have not, have been my fault: putting a hand where it shouldn’t have gone or rushing trust when it required more patience. Just normal events in the life of a cat-owner.

I pick up Noah, my foster-cat, now and then. When I started doing it, I could tell that he was uncomfortable with it merely because he was unaccustomed to it. His case was not like Josie’s; my Chubs dislikes being held and her reactions to it are quite different than Noah’s. I usually hold the boy so that his forepaws rest on my shoulder, and I stroke his head and neck. He has grown to tolerate and even enjoy the treatment. His natural kittenish exuberance is, I hope, thus combined with an appreciation for quieter moments. This will, I think, allow him to mature without losing his youthful energy.

Last night, I was doing just this when we saw a crow fly past the window. Noah was interested by the flash of black, so I carried him closer to the window for a better view. I did not know that Tucker had approached, and was crossing in front of me, perhaps looking for a pet or two himself, or maybe heading for the food-bowl. In any case, I stumbled against him, my grip on Noah shifted, and the boy no doubt thought himself falling. His legs flailed and he flung himself away from me.

To get a better grip, Noah used his claws. These of course left their marks on me. Two tore small holes in my shirt and scratched my chest, while a third dug itself into the skin of my jaw. That one bled excessively. In fact, it was minor damage. I’ve done worse shaving. But at the time, it looked most impressive, as did my bloodied garment (the stain of which came out in the wash). None of the wounds are even sore today. I don’t think they will leave scars; in some cases they have.

The cats fared better. Tucker scurried away, thinking he had been punished for something and, though Noah was also unhurt, he didn’t see any more of his crow. I checked the beasts to make certain that they were all right, and to assure the roly poly one that he was not in trouble.

This was just another reminder that cats can be dangerous, just another evening in the life of a cat-owner. And I was holding Noah again a few minutes later.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Renn of the Month

The rescue-group to which I belong, the Lethbridge PAW Society, publishes a calendar as a fund-raising effort. This will be its third year, and so far, the calendars have done well for the Society. The pictures featured are always of cats who have been rescued by and adopted from PAW. My cats, Tungsten and Josie, have been in the past two calendars, respectively.

In keeping with chronology, Renn is the next of mine to be featured. He was adopted third. The picture below is not one of those taken by the calendar’s photographer, Tanya Plonka. Ms Plonka owns Puppy Love Pet Photography, and provided her professional services free of charge as a donation to PAW and its cause. Her images are excellent, and I will share some of Renn’s when they are finished. In the meantime, you’ll have to be satisfied with one of my home-made jobs.

Renn was a much better model than I had anticipated. He stayed put and was almost nonchalant about the whole business. My big boy has grown braver and more confident with visitors over the years. I’m sure his pictures will turn out well, as he is undeniably a handsome mancat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Thank you, Constable

Every year, in the spring, I replace the storm windows in my house with screens. They are in frames that fit snugly into the larger window frame; snugly but not tightly. I am always afraid that a determined cat would be able to push out a screen and escape. If he were pushing enough to throw the screen to the grass outside, then the cause of such activity may be enough to attract him into the back lawn, and even farther afield. I therefore secure the screens with screws and t-shaped plates.

This process has not been tested until now. The screen in question is in the parlour, where my current foster-cat, Noah, is confined during the day. It is telling, I think, that this energetic youngster is here at the time when I noticed something different about the screen.

It has been forced outward, to such an extent that the metal plate holding it in the window frame has been bent. The screen itself is tough; it is not the soft mesh that one often finds these days. I believe the screen is as old as the house; that is, about sixty years, and was made when durability was highly rated by manufacturers. It has remained firmly in place, and, thanks to the precautions I took, so has the frame.

I take no credit for such measures. As when one has children, a cat-owner knows that whatever trouble a cat can get into, a cat probably will get into, especially a nine month old kitten with a young adult’s strong body. And just as a policeman may never be called upon to prevent a crime on the beat he walks, it is good to know that he is there in case something untoward occurs.

Thank you, constable.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Youth and Age

The perma-cats are slowly growing used to Noah, though ‘slowly’ is the significant word. Each has his or her own reaction to the boy, and none is overly friendly.

Tucker is determined to show him that he, Tucker, will not be on the bottom of the totem pole ever again, and so periodically attacks Noah. The roly poly one knows very well that I do not like such bullying and runs to hide when I break up the fight. But no one has been hurt, and I think it may be something that I won’t be able entirely to prevent - and I can never stay angry at Tucker, anyway. And there are even moments when peace reigns.

Renn, on the other hand, growls whenever he sees Noah. The latter has jumped on the big boy several times; despite his size, Renn is not a fighter. Noah may be thinking that if he has to give first place among mancats to Tucker, he’ll make sure he’s at least in second. Renn will refuse to budge if it means crossing Noah’s path, even though he could crush the foster-cat easily enough if he tried. But that isn’t Renn’s way.

Josie doesn’t care for Noah, either, but Noah will simply play with my Chubs - however much the latter wants nothing to do with the boy. Noah will run at Josie, then stop and trot away. Josie will squeal her old lady complaints, which are as frightening as a lung-fish on helium. Really, if one can barely hear a growl, one isn’t going to take it seriously.

Cammie has been ambushed by Noah once or twice, and my princess holds a grudge, so I don’t expect friendship to blossom any time soon. But Cammie stays out of Noah’s reach, and I am not worried about the two of them.

Noah’s high spirits are to blame for much of this. He is not a bad cat, certainly, nor a ferocious one. He is not much of a fighter himself, but likes the rough-and-tumble of fast play. All of my cats are now ten years old (except for Renn who is approaching that milestone) or more, and their idea of playing is to lie in one place and attempt to catch a string-toy as it swings by. They are as thrilled with Noah as the occupants of a retirement home who’ve just been invited to a Metallica concert. The boy would be perfect for a young family, a single person with energy or, especially, someone who already has a young and rambunctious cat. Noah doesn’t get enough time from me, regrettably, and would benefit from more.

But even so, now and then, I see how things might be, given time. Noah may get used to the old fogeys he’s rooming with. He will probably never stop provoking them to play, but he grow accustomed to them telling him to shut up and settle down, the young whipper-snapper.