Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another Ten Years

Josie went to the veterinary hospital on Tuesday for a full examination, with blood tests. I was hoping that she would have her urine tested as well, but she had evidently ‘gone before we left’, as every good traveller should. In this case, it may have been an inconvenience, except for a new test.

Symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) is something new – or perhaps just a new discovery – the examination of which, I was informed, gives an earlier and more accurate indication of kidney disease than does creatinine. The interesting thing is that SDMA is tested through the blood. Some of that was taken from Josie anyway for a seniors’ blood-panel; she would also have her T4 numbers scrutinized. My local hospital does not yet have the SDMA test – that will be available in December – but my Chubs’s blood was sent up to Calgary for that purpose, and I was notified the next day.

The results are that Josie is in very good health. She is in fine shape for a thirteen year old cat. Her T4s are in the normal range, and there is no sign of anything bad or dangerous. This does leave her weight-loss as a bit of a mystery, but there are no symptoms of anything that may be causing it. Cats, I was told, do tend to lose weight as they age. I am not entirely persuaded that this is the sole reason for her diminution. And there is her vomiting to consider. But she has always had that problem, and it was very likely not a sign of anything worrisome in the past.

The final verdict is that Josie has nothing that veterinary science can find that I need be concerned about. I will of course continue to watch the Great White, weighing her every month, as I do with all the beasts and, now that she is ‘of a certain age’, taking her for regular check-ups, which I have been loathe to do in the past because of the cost/results ratio, which I have not thought advantageous. I may vary her diet’s schedule, feeding her smaller soft-food meals more often. She is eating less than she used to – when she first came to live with me, she would clean everyone else’s dish – but still sits eagerly waiting for her soft-food, and lets me know when she thinks the hard-food bowl should be made available.

Just because nothing is seen when a light is shone, doesn’t mean hazards don’t lurk in the dark, so I have told Josie that my eye is upon her, and I will be watching her health, behaviour and habits closely. I hope still to be doing it in another ten years.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Don't You Love the New Me?

The new Parker is really just an evolution of the old. He is still having a bit of an issue with Tucker, who distrusts him, and with the other cats, to a lesser extent. I’ve noticed that they can easily put him in his place if they stand their ground, but if they run, he chases them. I suspect that’s because the orange boy isn’t really aggressive but, as is the way with cats, one moment’s behaviour can quickly change into something else, and a chase can become a fight. For the most part, however, Parker and the perma-cats are doing very well.

But what I wanted to highlight today was Parker’s new trick. He has learned how to open the freezer compartment in my refrigerator.

I was sitting in the bedroom talking to Josie when I heard two large, dull bangs. I thought someone had dropped an object against the outside of the front door. When I went to investigate, I heard a motor running, lowly, and saw the freezer door open. I immediately connected it with Parker, who has been up on the cupboards lately, looking for the hard-food bowl. (I no longer keep it there when it’s not in use, for that reason.) When he heard me coming, he jumped down.

I realise that he was looking for food. When he didn’t find the hard-food up on the cupboards, he probably remembered seeing plenty of good eats in the refrigerator every time I opened it. So he thought he would raid the ice-box. To him, the freezer compartment and the main cooling compartment are one and the same, and I give that active brain of his credit for figuring out how to get in at the treats. How he would have lifted anything he found there, while lying on top of the refrigerator, I don’t know. I’m sure he would have found a way.

I know that the chances of anything happening to Parker by opening the freezer are slim, but I don’t fancy finding a frozen orange cat when I go to remove vegetables from the freezer one day. So I discourage the fellow in this sort of adventure. I try to give him more toys; for instance, I have added a fuzzy ball to the Track-ball; he can grab the furry orb, and it gives a kind of croquet action to the game, one ball hitting the other. Parker seems amused by this innovation.

But I still expect to discover him on the cupboards from time to time. After all, you can’t keep a new cat down.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Taking Dictation

It’s very early days for Echo in her new foster-home, but from what I have been told, things are proceeding well. She seems to be following Vinny, chasing him sometimes. She jumped on him once, and his reaction was to run to his foster-guardian. Echo used only the one litter-box Vinny used, until he used a second one.

Back at the cosy apartment - which is becoming cosier with the early nights and the chillier weather - Parker’s behaviour bears watching. This is not because he has become dangerous or troublesome but because it may prove more interesting with the changes we have recently undergone vis a vis Echo. His aggression toward Tucker seems to have abated, though those two may always be at loggerheads of a sort. Toward Cammie, Parker has felt an interest he hasn’t with the others. I have written before that it seems to be reciprocated to an extent. But Cammie is still mostly a loner when it comes to other cats.

Last night, I was in the bedroom and heard a commotion in the sitting room. I arrived in time to see Parker being chased away from the taller cat-tree, from which Cammie was descending at speed. They stopped, Cammie hissed at the orange boy, who protested in his high-pitched yelps - probably insisting that he was doing nothing wrong - then went back up her tree.

What I suspect happened was that Parker climbed the tree, perhaps not even intending to get close to Cammie, and the princess decided that, intentional or not, his proximity was offensive. I was not bothered by the incident, to tell the truth. While I would like to see this pair - or any combination of my cats - become friends, it is much more probable that Parker will push too much too rapidly, so it is better that Cammie have control of the situation. In terms of stress, the newer boy is less likely to be troubled by dictations from a longer-established feline than vice versa.

I comforted both of the beasts concerned, as I didn’t think either had done anything wrong. Cammie knew this already, of course, while Parker was somewhat disconsolate but recovered quickly. I don’t think he was so discouraged as not to try again, at some point in the near future.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Parker Effect

My foster-cat Parker was the one, other than myself, most affected by Echo’s brief stay with us. This was largely due to her occupation of the library for much of the time. Prior to her planned integration with my beasts, she was restricted to the bathroom, and then, to give her more space and views, to the library. While the kitten was in the latter room, Parker was free to roam the apartment, as he is most of the time when I am present. He hardly goes into the library when he is able to go elsewhere.

One would think then that my sturdy-boy would be untroubled by the introduction of the new kitten. One would be wrong. For the first week or more, Parker seemed to be in a bad mood. He would grumble, often following this with a hiss. Ironically, he sounds when doing this much like Tucker when the latter is annoyed, as he sometimes is at Parker. The orange boy hissed at Echo’s smell and, though he remained friendly, he was clearly out of sorts. He continued to eat and play and cuddle, but there was something different, as though he were preoccupied. He purred less. And he was aggressive with Tucker.

I know what it was, at least in part. After his first couple of weeks with me, Parker stopped following the perma-cats into the library when they entered the room. He became blasé about his new roommates exploring ‘his’ space. But he was the new boy. Then along comes the tiny interloper. Now, Parker is an established member of the household, and this kitten had the gall to live in ‘his’ room for hours on end. She even used his litter-box.

Parker continued to eat and sleep in the library. I wanted to maintain his habits to ensure regularity of rest and digestion. But he would often lie at the closed door while Echo was inside, and the time that he thought I was feeding his bedtime snack to the new girl, he became quite upset, even though his food was to come on schedule an hour later.

I understood this and tried to mitigate it with more attention. And if Echo had been integrated with the others, Parker’s attitude would slowly have changed, as the kitten would not have been restricted to the library so much. But Parker would not be mollified under the conditions that prevailed.

Now that Echo has moved on to broader horizons, Parker is making up for lost time. He has never been so affectionate, even as friendly as he has been in the past. He jumps up on the couch after dinner to lean on my lap, and wanders over to me at irregular intervals, just to arch his back against my leg and ask for attention. He lies against my feet while I wash the dishes. And his purr is back. He purrs and kneads the air with his paws and is happy once more.

At the time, there was little more I could do for Parker. I have noticed this with many of the resident cats who were confronted with a new addition to the household, going all the way back to Tungsten’s reaction to Josie. They recover, of course; even the most sensitive cats, like Tucker, though they may not like newcomers, eventually settle down once more. But it shows how affected they can be by change, perhaps how insecure they are. Parker may have thought he was being replaced: a new orange cat, younger, squeakier - this year’s model. And I had to spend quite a bit of my time with Echo.

If I need once more to shelter a new cat in the already crowded, if cosy, apartment, I will be better prepared for the challenge of it. I will be prepared for the Parker Effect.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An Echo From Another Land

Echo left for her next adventure yesterday afternoon at five o’clock. I had been a bit worried about her the previous day, as her appetite had not been what it was, though she was in all other respects the same. But for dinner, before she went to her new foster-home, she ate heartily, wailing when she was hungry, as she seems to do. (When she stops crying for more, she’s full…for the moment.)

I had this morning a first report on Echo in her new home. She has seen Vinny and her thin little tail poofed up in warning. Vinny crawled about the room as if he were in fear of being set upon by this little orange creature. Maybe he’s found a new boss… But neither the young woman fostering them, nor the rescue-group representative handling the case thinks the encounter was bad at all; in fact, it looks promising for the two cats.

For the time being, Echo will remain in a spacious bedroom of her own when her foster-guardian is not home, though today she has the day off to spend with her two charges. I think the integration will go well - better than it would trying to get used to five other felines! If either Vinny or Echo want time alone, there is plenty of space for that, too.

Echo already has her own personality and it is one that will easily make itself felt. I believe things are set fair for my erstwhile and memorable little foster-cat.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

There is No Plan B. Well, Yes, there is. Just Kidding.

There is a plan in place now for Echo. The visit to the prospective foster-home yielded good results. The person conducting the interview with the foster-guardian was impressed with the young woman in question, and with Vinny, the cat currently living there. He is three years old - so quite a bit senior to Echo - but mischievous and energetic. My little foundling will be going to what is hoped will be her new foster-home late Tuesday afternoon.

The PAW Society will be monitoring Echo’s situation closely. I think that with a whole house in which to run about, and only one feline to grow to know, Echo will do well. But she will have a place here at the Cosy Apartment if things don’t work out. In such a case, she will be integrated with my beasts upon her return, though she will be kept separated at night and during my absence, until I am sure of reactions. She will certainly not be abandoned; it would be a poor sort of rescue in that case.

But I am confident in Plan A. Kittens have been successfully introduced to homes under less attractive terms. I have no doubt that Echo will win human hearts wherever she goes. If Vinny wants the companionship of his own species as we believe, there will be a happy beginning to Echo’s search for a permanent home – her next quest. Perhaps it will have a library, in which she can re-arrange the books, as she likes to do in mine…

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hanging Out with Renn's Feet

It was mentioned in a comment yesterday that it was nice to see a picture of Renn in the day’s article. I realised that I hadn’t written much about my big boy lately, so I thought I would remedy that this morning.

Renn’s trouble is similar to Josie’s. He doesn’t often stand out and, while he acts oddly from time to time, he is healthier than my Chubs, and so I have less of him to write about than the other beasts.

One of the strange things Renn does has to do with how he contorts his big body to fit small spaces. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve seen him do it previously. Now, he’s done it again. This is Renn being comfortable in the cylinder-house cat-tree. I wonder about such comfort but I certainly don’t chastise him for it; if he can make this work, then more power to him.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dining Table Etiquette

The dining table seems to be exercising a fascination for the beasts these days. Originally, Renn was the only proponent of this sort of table manner, and then only at meal-times when he obviously belonged to the forward school of nutrition attainment. I think he also liked to watch me prepare the portions. And, as well, Cammie’s visits to the table have had to do with food.

Tucker has resorted to the table from time to time, though I don’t know why. He much prefers the cushioned chairs near by.

Josie has been on the table recently, but not when I’ve had a camera handy. In the past, she has enjoyed snoozing there when recovering from heavy brain-work.

But it is my sturdy-boy, foster-cat Parker, who enjoys the location the most. Sometimes, he simply likes to lounge there, though I can’t imagine it is comfortable. A couple of weeks ago, the position gave him the chance to observe at closer quarters the nocturnal flight of a moth.

The odd thing about Parker being on the table is that Tucker doesn’t appear to mind him being there while he, Tucker, is lying on one of the chairs. Usually, the roly poly doesn’t care for the orange boy’s proximity. The dining table seems to be a neutral ground, or at least it has been so far.

It bothers me not at all that the cats periodically spread out on the old eating surface. I know some people don’t care for it, and I can understand that. I do wash the table prior to any human use, either dining or writing, but I don’t clean it after every cat’s visit. I think I’d be cleaning it all the time in that case.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Healthy Days for Echo

Echo’s veterinary examination went very well. Her age is confirmed at between three and four months (I split the difference at fourteen weeks.) Her teeth and mouth are healthy, as is her coat. She is thin but not abnormally so. I spoke to the doctor about Echo’s pooping, which has been liquidy a couple of times, and is left in the litter-box twice, even thrice, a day (as opposed to the once for each of the other cats) but was told that is not unusual. My foster-cat is adjusting to good food regularly served, so an effect on her waste products is to be expected. My schedule of feeding, though improvised, is adequate for her until she gains more weight.

The kitten was given a vaccination - which, having so little fat to absorb the needle, she disliked greatly - and an oral medicine for worms, which the veterinary does not fear that she has, anyway. Echo’s claws were also clipped.

The newcomer behaved very well during the visit. She had to be restrained during the injection, and held, with much less strength, during the claw-trimming, the latter suggesting that future operations of the kind will not be arduous. After all was done, and we were talking to the veterinary, Echo relaxed, lying quietly and still in my hand, clearly sensing that she was no longer the centre of attention and, in this instance, glad of it.

I did not believe that Echo would have any serious problem. She has been eating, voiding and playing too well for that. There is always the hidden trouble, but she seems free of those, too. Now, her future awaits. An interview for a possible new foster-home will be held this afternoon. It’s astonishing how quickly a little creature like Echo grows on one, but it will be much better for her if she can go to a home where there is but one other cat - one with whom she may become good friends - and a whole residence in which to roam and play. Whatever is best for her is best, period.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Singing the Song of the Unsung

This afternoon, Echo goes to the doctor for her first examination. This is today’s big event, but now I would like to write a little reminder of someone else with whom I live.

Josie has been with me longer than any of my current cats. We have been together for going on seven years. I believe I may have mentioned before that she is not the spectacular sort, not the kind of cat who garners attention. She is not a cute and cuddly kitten, nor a diabetic requiring special care. She is just a cat. But she is my cat, and my friend. And that is something to celebrate now and then.

One of the remarkable things about my Chubs is that she likes to make eye contact with me. She will fix me with a stare that is steady but friendly, in a concentrated sort of way. It is as if she is studying me. Periodically, I will wake in the middle of the night and Josie will be in her usual spot, lying next to me on the near side of the bed. She will be looking at me, and purring. I rub her head, talk to her and then we go back to sleep. Well, I do. She may continue staring at me, and purring. I like to think so.

Josie doesn’t ask for much. Her favourite activity is receiving chin-rubs. I’ve described these before. She will flop on her side, near to where I sit in the bedroom and lie still, while I rub her fuzzy chin. I needn’t even exert myself - though doing this for a prolonged period can cause an arm to ache - and she will appreciate the barest movement on my part. Sometimes, she will be happy to lie on my hand.

The Great White doesn’t move about the apartment to a great extent. She restricts herself mainly to the bedroom. She is unafraid of any other cat; she simply prefers the comfort of the bed, or the curve of one of the saddles on Cammie’s old cat-tree. She will come out to the dining area or the kitchen when it is meal-time, but she likes to have her food served on the bed. She waits there for it, sometimes patiently. Hers is a voluntarily circumscribed world, small but, I hope, comfortable and pleasant.

Yesterday, as I decided to write this article, I recorded the cats’ weights, as I like to do every month. I saw that Josie had lost some poundage again. She is now below six kilograms. Hers is certainly not a dangerous weight, either too great or too small, but she has been diminishing for a while now, very gradually. I have been keeping an eye on this. As well, she has been regurgitating her food more often than used to; she’d always had a sensitive stomach. Josie is keeping plenty down, I believe, but too much is coming up. She had had a seniors’ blood-panel performed on her prior to her dental operation in, I believe, March. But I will discuss with the veterinary hospital what tests may be conducted on my Chubs to ascertain her state of health. I am not worried, just a little concerned.

After all, Josie may be just a cat, but she is just my cat, and my friend.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Saturday in the Apartment with Echo

At last, during the weekend, I had time to play with Echo. I have tired her out with a string-toy and watched her have fun with a fuzzy mouse, which I found at one point in a water-bowl. I was able to spend time with her quietly, as well. We watched a movie together Saturday night, though the first half consisted of me fending off a moocher who wanted my popcorn. It was like a cartoon in which a creature is pushed back from one direction only to appear coming from another, slipping under an arm, over a hand, down a shoulder. She did calm herself after a while, though I think we both had the same poor opinion of the night’s film.

I was able to take some photographs that were not blurry, though these are the pick of about a hundred that were. This is Echo, first, looking bored, then interested.

This close-up shows her beautiful eyes, which are amber, not gold. She rolled over soon afterward and drifted off to sleep.

And then, over on the other side of the human, she snoozed some more…

I have a number of questions to ask the veterinary on Tuesday, including inquiries regarding feeding. So far, I have been giving Echo food when the other beasts are fed, and providing her with a bowl of hard kernels to nibble through the day and night. A growing kitten can’t be allowed to go hungry. This will, I think, be satisfactory for a few days. But if she is to stay with me longer, I need a better plan for her menu.

That raises another point. I know that a number of my blog’s readers have expressed a strong hope that Echo will remain with me, if not permanently, then as a long-term foster-cat. There is, in fact, a chance of her going to another foster-home. A very nice young woman is currently fostering a cat whom, she believes, would benefit from feline company of the rambunctious sort. Certainly, Echo needs more time than I can devote to her right now, and she needs a situation that will allow her the best outlet for her juvenile energy. This may be perfect for her.

This possibility is, for the moment, just that. There will be a home-visit by a PAW Society representative to the prospective foster-home, and an interview. But the woman in question works with a respected individual who has fostered for, and adopted from, the PAW Society in the past, so I think the situation will be a good one.

Until then, and, if that possibility falls through, afterward, Echo is welcome here. She will be cared for to the best of my ability, and be a part of the household. Whatever this little cat’s future, it will be happy one.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Settling In

Echo is settling in well. She is much more relaxed than she was yesterday. This morning she lie very still on my lap and closed her eyes for several minutes while I stroked her side. How thin she is reminds me of Tungsten. Just fur and bones; but we’re working on that.

She is undoubtedly bored, confined to the bathroom, but I am starting to let her into the rest of the apartment. Last night, not wanting a repeat of the shower problems, I put her in the library during my ablutions; Parker was out among the other cats, as he usually is these days. Initially, Echo was excited in the library, but when I left her alone, she panicked a bit. But by the time I had finished my shower and come back to see her, she had discovered the window and was looking out. I will allow her access to the library and bedroom over the weekend, while the other beasts are kept out.

Echo goes to the veterinary on Tuesday, the twelfth. I foresee no health issues for the little creature. I want to ask about cutting her claws, though; there is no reason not to get her used to that early in life, but I need to know if there are differences between cutting a kittens’ claws and an adult cats’, other than that the kitten has rapiers while her older cousins have sabres. If all goes well at the doctor’s examination, Echo will be periodically released from solitary confinement and gradually integrated into the general prison population. So far, the only cat who has taken much interest in the newcomer has been Cammie, who has been hissing at her through closed doors.

I inadvertently startled Echo when, while I was brushing my teeth, she plunged her claws into my leg. The resultant yell caused the little one’s tail to poof and her back to arch. Her amber eyes grew large and she instantly stopped purring. But all was good again when I picked her up and apologised. Her motor started once more and she flipped over in my hand for some chest rubs.

I continue to try to take photographs of her but anything new attracts her attention, and she immediately advances on the camera. I have to catch her unawares to record her image. As she grows more accustomed to her new life, that too will change, I expect. There is much awaiting this tiny Echo, and she seems impatient to see it all.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Night of the Surprising Calm

Echo’s first night in the Cosy Apartment was as successful as it could have been; certainly better than I had anticipated.

She can be noisy but usually only when she is hungry. Then, I wonder if I should have called her ‘Bruce Banner’ because she can sound as if she’s turned into the Hulk. But through the night, she cried only when she knew I had woken up and was moving about, and when I returned to bed, she fell silent again. In the morning, however, she must have sensed that it was breakfast-time, as she began her heavy demands. I live in a corner suite, with only one lateral neighbour. The woman who lives upstairs was not bothered by any sounds from the new cat. I have not yet checked to learn whether my next door neighbour was similarly untroubled.

Echo is a very affectionate and happy cat. She purred constantly while I was with her, and loved being physically close to me. My morning preparations are quite the ordeal with a kitten who wants to be part of them. And having a shower last night was unlike any other experience. Echo continually screamed and wanted to come in with me. At one point, she slipped into the tub and was sprayed with water, but it didn’t deter her. I will have to arrange for her to spend a few minutes in another room when I have showers from now on.

I really had no idea how delicate a kitten felt under the hand. Echo’s bones could be made of thin cardboard. It’s like having a toy version of Cammie. I must be very gentle with this new guest - as I should be - but I feel as though the slightest accident will damage her. I am hardly brutal with the perma-cats, but picking Renn up and dropping him on the bed four feet away is hardly of consequence; he trots back purring. Yet I see Echo leap from the bathroom counter to the floor - a distance five times her length - and slip when jumping onto the top of her litter-box, yet bounce back as if she were an india-rubber ball.

(Echo used the litter-box last night, for both numbers one and two. There is no problem in that department.)

I have no decent pictures of the baby to publish; I took fifty-six photographs of her and the three that were not of an orange blur I used in yesterday’s article. Instead, I’ll show you this interpretation of Echo when she is hungry.