Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Guests for Dinner

They were actually a bit behind the time for dinner, so it’s more of a late supper for these two. They came to the food bowl about eight-thirty. I had left the outside light on for my cats, as they seemed to like viewing with some illumination. I usually do not leave the light on, and won’t often in the future. But it allowed me to see this pair.

I thought some owned cats may have been coming by during the day to sample the food I’ve left out, as all of what I offered yesterday had disappeared by the time I returned from work. But we have some community cats in the neighbourhood who don’t seem to have homes. I think these two may be included in that category. I have no proof, but they had a combination of confidence and caution that suggested ferals who know their way around the outdoors.

Are they siblings? Mother and daughter? They are either mostly black or dark grey. The slightly larger one ate first; in fact, the other didn’t eat at all, though I suspect they returned when they had less of an audience, or when the audience had less of a chance to see them. You can observe Tucker’s reflection in the glass of the window, though in fact he could not view them from where he was sitting on a cat-tree; the angle was wrong. Parker could, and was much interested in the intruder-cats, but I explained to him that they were not intruders. They were our guests.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Bottomless Pit

When Tungsten came to live with me ten years ago, I had little idea just how far down the bottomless pit of cat-care I would fall. Not only have I adopted five cats in the past decade, but I have fostered or otherwise sheltered nine others for varying amounts of time. I have joined a rescue-group and spend most of my time and revenue caring for cats. It’s true that I have not done a great deal compared to many, but neither did I expect to be doing this much.

And now, I am taking care of cats I don’t even know. I am not inviting them in to my home for the Saturday night movie, but I began leaving water out for them in the summer. Then, come the cold weather, I bought a heated water-bowl for their sustenance. And now, my latest descent, is food. I have purchased some hard food for them. I haven’t seen any cat eat it, no more than I have seen a cat drink from the heated water-bowl. But the amount of food has diminished each morning. The food isn’t the best that money can buy, but it’s better than average and, I think, better than they could find on their own.

I don’t think raccoons or skunks are at it. I am told that they leave a bit of a mess behind and, except for the odd fleck of dirt in the water, and a pebble in the food, none of it has been spoiled in that manner. And I have seen cats near the refreshments, even if I have not seen them partaking of it.

To be honest, it is a small thing to do. But small acts by one can mean much to another, and I hope that this will be one of those acts for the community cats. And, as I had a spare bowl, I thought I may as well toss that too down the bottomless pit. It’ll keep all my spare time and money down there company.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Steady as She Goes

Every pilot needs an aeroplane, and every aeroplane needs a rudder in its tail. It’s only the cleverest flyers, however, who provide their own rudders - and only the cleverest of the cleverest whose rudders are their tails.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Why It Took Me Four Hours to Make the Bed

I make my bed every day, of course, but when the sheets need changing, or when the other bedclothes require washing, it is stripped. The comforter, the cover of which is also sometimes washed, is set aside. That’s when a cat usually finds it. This time, it was Cammie. She didn’t rouse herself from her nap - or at least from her perfect situation - for four hours. That’s all right; I had other things to do.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our New Water-bowl: the Sequel

After leaving the new, heated water-dish outside for a couple of days and nights, I came home yesterday after work to see tracks in the snow. I think they were headed toward the bowl, though I didn’t see any leading away.

It looks as if the creature - I will assume it was a cat - walked along the parapet of the concrete ditch to reach the water. Now, it seems, at least one animal knows that a source of fresh water is available in the cold. Hopefully, it will become a bit of a watering hole. This will have the added advantage of entertaining my beasts - and driving them crazy (which I figure is only fair.)

Monday, November 6, 2017

How a Princess Dines

Cammie loves her heated cat-bed. Like Tungsten before her, she spends a great deal of time in it, though, unlike the orange one, my princess is not weak and thin. She lolls in the luxurious warmth simply because she likes it.

Cammie will spend so much time in the heated cat-bed that she will forego her soft-food meals in order to stay lying in comfort. As she is on the frontiers of kidney failure, I try to have her eat as much soft-food as possible. Certainly, she drinks a good amount of water, but I encourage the consumption of soft-food nonetheless. Sometimes, I will be able to coax (ie. force) her out of the bed for the few minutes that she will consent to dine. This time, I could not.

So ensconced in her curled comfort was she that she declined to be evicted. Instead, I had to place the dish on her legs. The princess then moved her head and mouth enough to eat the food. When she had eaten as much as she could reach, she stopped. I had to turn the dish around, so that she would finish the remains of the portion that had been pushed to the far side. After that, she lie down again, steadfastly refusing to move for a second helping. She would not even raise her head.

Cammie is not ill. She does step out of her royal bed to climb the tall cat-tree when she has a mind to look out at the wide world. And she plays swat-the-stick pretty actively. And of course she rockets about the apartment  - like her tiny orange predecessor - after a visit to the litter-boxes. She simply has no desire on a cold autumn’s night to abandon a perfectly warm bed, even if the apartment is toasty enough for a furless human not to feel the outside chill. And when she has no desire to do something, she doesn’t do it. Cammie is, after all, a cat, and my princess at that.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

When Water Doesn't Freeze

The cosy apartment has become much cosier over the last week with a blizzard that dropped several inches of snow on southern Alberta and reduced temperatures to double digits below zero (Celsius). There are a number of stray cats in my neighbourhood, and several others who have homes but who are allowed outside. For these, I have been placing a bowl of water on the patio (concrete ditch) outside my apartment for some months. Now, that water freezes every night.

I bought a heated water-bowl this weekend. It’s actually a dog’s dish, but I have placed it outside for the benefit of the neighbourhood’s cats; I hope they don’t disdain it because it was originally meant for canine drinkers. I ran into a problem immediately, as our apartments do not have outside electrical outlets. As strange as it is, there is no way to have barbeques, radios or other appliances outside during the warm months, unless an extension cord is used to connect them to a power-supply inside. And in the cold months, even that solution cannot be used, as it is far too cold to leave doors open, even by a slender amount, for the passage of a cord.

However, conversing with a fellow tenant, who has a similar water-bowl put out for similar purposes (though on another side of the building), I learned of a means around this problem. I followed his example and purchased a light-bulb socket with integral outlets, and plugged my new bowl’s cord into that. I must remember to leave the outside light switched on at all times, but simply loosen the bulb enough so that it does not shine continuously.

Furthermore, I can place the bowl on the parapet of my ditch, thus obviating the need for an extension cord to the socket. This morning, after a night of water being left in the bowl, I noted that the water had not frozen. It was cold, but definitely liquid. There were no paw-prints in the snow around the bowl, however.

To be honest, I don’t know if any cat ever took advantage of the refreshment I made available. But several times at night, I noted my beasts staring into the darkness, at the spot where I had left the bowl. They were staring in the way cats do at other cats, intruder-cats, so I think some thirsty animals have visited the bowl in the past. If they choose to do so in the winter, they will find it filled and ready for them.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Gift that Keeps Giving

In several ways, Cammie is my most interesting cat. Most prominently, her means of showing affection, at least toward me, are evolving processes.

She has for some time, liked to lie on my chest and purr; she does this especially at about eight o’clock on Sundays, or Saturdays, if I sleep to that hour. When I am lying on my stomach or side, she will push her head against my cheek, to let me know she is present, and would like me to roll over on to my back. She is also more ready to jump on to my lap when I am sitting, and knead my midriff.

But the latest advance took me by surprise. Cammie has never been fond of being picked up and held, but I do so now and then, just to keep her accustomed to it. This past week, she has started to purr when I hold her. This is new, and it has occurred twice, so I know the first time was no accident.

One of my readers, Kari, has stated more than once that Cammie will surprise me as time goes on. A member of the rescue-group with which I volunteer said that Cammie keeps giving me gifts. This cat and I did not really appreciate each other when she first came to live with me. It took much patience from both of us to arrive at the point at which we now stand. But it has been and continues to be worth it. I would urge everyone who has a mind to adopt a cat to look at the shy ones, the mistrustful ones. They will come around, though probably not in the way you expect. They will give you the gift of trust and love. Like my princess, they are gifts that keep giving.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Giant Intruder Cat

This upcoming weekend is supposed to be a taste of winter, but the weekend that just passed, especially Saturday, was beautiful. There were repairmen working on the outside of my apartment building, and they brought along their immense dog. I met this fellow - he looks to be part great Dane and part pit bull - outside and he is very friendly. And when he saw my cats, he wanted to be friends with them, too.

The beasts were not sure what to make of him. He danced and twirled and rolled, trying to get the cats to come and play. His tail wagged the whole time. I’m sure if he could have met them ‘in person’, as it were, he would have had a wonderful time. I’m not so certain about my lot.

Only Cammie had an adverse reaction, hissing and making huffing and puffing sounds. But she was near a window that was open an inch, and could smell the dog, while the others could not. When I heard the princess, I hastened over to make sure she was all right. She kept close to me, but calmed down. I think even she would have become accustomed to such an amiable canine; well, probably better and swifter than she would with any cat.

Later, the dog came back and looked in my bedroom window. By then, all the cats were in the sitting room; even Josie venturing from her usual haunt in the bedroom. The dog looked through the window, at me, at the empty cat-trees, whined and looked very disappointed. But he found his pals a few minutes later.

I am convinced that most cats and dogs get along better together than do many cats with each other. The dog is of course of a different species, and therefore outside of a feline household hierarchy. And anyway, the only thing threatening about this big fellow is his size. Inside, he’s still a puppy.

Friday, October 27, 2017

This Idea Has Legs

Sometimes Tuckers fits himself very neatly and compactly into the nylon tunnel. Other times, he needs to spread himself out. Though there are no holes for the other side’s legs, I was waiting for the tunnel simply to stand up and walk away. Maybe if it were just a little narrower…

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Echo at Home

One of the responsibilities I have as a member of the Lethbridge PAW Society cat-rescue organisation is the writing and composing of the monthly newsletter. I enjoy this duty, as a pleasurable feature of it is that I write articles about the adoption of cats PAW has rescued and / or fostered, articles based on interviews with the adopters. This weekend, I spoke with Echo’s new human, B.

B is very happy with how Echo and Vinny have bonded - and it seems to have been a very swift bonding. At first, Vinny was unsure of the tiny dynamo, but it didn’t take him long to realise that this was the little sister he’d been waiting for. They are, in B’s word, ‘inseparable’.

Initially, while she knew Vinny would not hurt Echo, she wasn’t sure if he would actually like her, so the adoption was not immediate. But when she went to bed one night and saw the two of them curled into one another, with Vinny’s foreleg over Echo, hugging her, she knew the decision had been made.

The cats sleep together, eat together and play together. Echo will jump on Vinny, then run away; Vinny will give chase and, when he catches her, they wrestle. They are always on the go.

One day, B’s father came to visit, bringing his dog, who is very amenable to cats. The dog and Vinny are good friends. Even so, when Echo bristled somewhat at this new creature, Vinny hurried over and made the dog realise in no uncertain terms that he should keep his distance from Echo for now. I’m happy to relate that Echo was sniffing at the canine tail and much more at ease by the end of the visit.

It looks like a very happy beginning for Echo, with a caring human, a loving brother and a spacious home for her world: just what a kitten should have.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Teaching an Old Cat a New Trick

That Parker has had an influence on the perma-cats here is undoubted. But some of his effects have been unexpected.

The topography of every home is different, and the ways cats adapt to that topography can be interesting. Josie’s favourite room is the bedroom. She spends most of her time there. She is certainly not afraid of Parker or any other cat; she does roam the other regions of the apartment, but I think she simply does not find a need for the other rooms. My Chubs lies on the bed (she has different parts of the bed on which to lie, depending on her mood) and the saddles of the cat-tree.

To travel from the bed to the cat-trees sometimes depends on the position of the chair at my desk. If it is pulled out, Josie first hops onto the chair and then over to the cat-trees. I frequently pull the chair back for her to use, if I see that she wishes it to bridge the distance from one spot to another.

If the chair is not pulled out, she will climb down from the bed, using the steps at its foot, then walk over to the cat-trees and climb up to her preferred level. She makes this seem a laborious procedure. I think she is like the koala, and descends to the floor only when there is no other choice.

Enter Parker. My foster-boy, from the first, found his own way to move from the bed to the cat-trees (though, in fact, he largely eschews the trees and goes straight to the window). He uses the desk as a platform by which he crosses to the ledge under the window. Clearly, Josie has seen him do this several times, and has now decided that there is some merit to this method. I had my suspicions one day when I came home from work and found what seemed to be cat-litter powder in front of my computer-screen. Parker had been in the library the whole day, so he was blameless in this matter. The mystery was solved when I saw the Great White exercise her new option later that evening.

This route causes me no inconvenience and, while I have witnessed Josie hesitate to use it, probably due to worry that she will fall off the desk as she walks, there is little danger in it. I have to give credit to her for learning, even at her age. For her, an old cat can truly be taught a new trick.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bending the Rules

My cats are allowed to go most places in the apartment. They are permitted on the furniture, in the bathroom, on the bed and, as readers may have seen from previous entries, on the dining table. But they may not be on the kitchen counters. In my previous homes, they were allowed on a counter very briefly, in order to jump further onto the top of the refrigerator. But in this apartment, there is not the room for a cat on top of that appliance, and therefore their excuse for climbing onto the counters has been nullified.

There are exceptions to every rule, however. In his continual quest for food, Parker likes to explore the kitchen counters and cupboards. (He is not starving; his weight has been constant for several months, despite my attempts to reduce it.) I discourage this, and when I heard from the bedroom noises in the kitchen that indicated my foster-cat was again hunting, I emerged to admonish him once more.

But the orange boy was not after food this time. For the past few days, we had had tremendous winds, tremendous even for southern Alberta. They stripped the trees of their leaves, ready to fall as they were, and tossed about those on the ground. At my kitchen window, a small dust-devil seized the debris and threw it circles, even against the pane. This attracted Parker’s attention, and he wanted a closer look.

I like to see the cats interested in things, distracted from the routine. I couldn’t, therefore, tell the sturdy-boy to get down from his perch while he was so enthralled by the show being put on by nature, inches away. As you can see, he became quite involved in it. So, for several minutes, I bent the rules for him, and he enjoyed himself. After all, if something bends, it doesn’t break, right?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again

The days are becoming shorter, the sun is rising later and setting earlier, and the nights are colder. It’s that time of year again: the time for the heating pads to go into the cat-beds.

The two cat-beds in the sitting room are used throughout the year, but not every day. Come the autumn, though, and the insertion of the heating pads, the beds become popular once more. Renn prefers the bed by the micro-wave oven stand, while Cammie may usually be found in the one by the small, central bookcase. It’s interesting that initially I heated only the cat-bed by the micro-wave oven, and the princess lie in that one. But feline traffic past that spot is too great; she’d rather be out of the way a bit.

Also interesting is that I thought of putting a cat-bed among the towels on the library couch, for Parker’s use during the night, and during those days when he is sequestered in that room. That was why only one of the cat-beds in the sitting room had a heating pad at first. But my orange foster-boy didn’t seem to like the heat. Each day and night, I found the towels pulled around, and no evidence that he ever used them for sleeping. I think he disliked the extra heat and was trying to find its source. Since I have removed the heating pad, Parker has resumed using the towel-bed.

But whatever makes the beasts happy will be done. Those who like the extra warmth will use the pads; for those who do not, there are many other comfortable locations in which to snooze. The wind has been howling lately, the dark comes sooner each day, and it’s good to appreciate having a snug home.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Small Embarrassment

Though, as we know, cats are by and large clean animals, they can create a bit of a mess now and then. This is especially the case with long-haired cats. They sometimes need extra attention from their humans. Renn is officially considered ‘medium-haired’, but his fur is long enough for me.

During the weekend, he used the litter-box and left a particularly stinky and less-than-solid deposit. That did not bother me overly much; I merely scooped it out right away. But the smell lingered. In fact, it seemed to follow my big boy about. I figured that his bum would need cleaning. It was worse than that. His tail needing cleaning, and so did whatever his tail had brushed against since leaving the litter box. Sigh.

Well, that’s part of our job, so I gathered up a protesting Renn and took him into the bathroom, where he protested even more fully. I had to wash his tail quite vigorously, soaking it in the process. My big boy disliked the process tremendously, but he has a floofy tail and had evidently been flourishing it about as he left the litter-box, so there was much to be done.

I think Renn was embarrassed more than anything else. This rarely occurs to him; despite the length of his hair, he is a very clean fellow, and this was no doubt mildly humiliating. He retreated afterward to the tallest cat-tree to hide, and clean himself in private.

It happens to the best of cats, my big boy…

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Late Night Conversation with Renn

I wake up. What time is it? I have to open my eyes to see the clock. If I open my eyes, Renn will know I’m awake. I’ll do it quickly. No, I’m facing the wrong way; I’ll have to turn my head to look. It’s twenty after two. Good. Plenty of time left until I have to get up. Rats. Renn knows I’m awake.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Hello, Renn.

Renn: You’re awake.

Me: Only briefly.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Not so close, Renn. Your whiskers are tickling my nose.

Renn: I like it when you pet me.

Me: I know you do. Move back, Renn. You’re claws are puncturing my skin when you knead.

Renn: I like you.

Me: I like you, too, Renn. I’m going to turn over and face the other way. I’ve been lying on this side for a couple of hours.

Renn: I’ll come over on that side.

Me: No, this is Josie’s spot. She is coming over here even as I speak. Did you notice her silhouette climb down from the cat-tree by the window? She saw I was awake, too.

Renn: This spot is free.

Me: It’s Josie’s spot. She always likes to lie on the bed’s near side.

Renn: I can lie there, too.

Me: No, Renn. You know that Josie doesn’t like other cats being so close. Move back.

Renn: I’ll stay here.

Me: But you’re not staying there, Renn. You are moving closer.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Move…back…Renn… Hello, Josie. It’s all right. Lie down. It’s just Renn. Lie down, Josie. Lie down, Josie. Lie down, Josie. It’s just Renn. Lie down— Just a minute. Move over here, Renn. On this side. Lie down, Renn. Lie down, Josie. Lie down. Lie down.

Renn: I’ll lie here on this side.

Me: That’s a good idea. Josie can then have her favourite side. Move back, Josie. You’re claws are puncturing my skin when you knead.

Josie: I like you.

Me: I like you, too, Josie. Renn, you’re right up against me; you’ve pulled the blanket so tight I can’t move.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Josie, you’re right up against me; you’ve pulled the blanket so tight I can’t move.

Josie: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: What time is it? Fifteen to three. Plenty of time left until I have to get up. Not as much as there was, but still plenty. Good night, everyone.

Renn: Good night.

Josie: Good night.

Me: Who’s that? Oh, hello, Tucker. Give me some room, Tucker. I can’t move.

Tucker: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Good night, everyone…