Friday, September 21, 2018

Finding Their Places

Raleigh’s integration is progressing adequately, though of course it is early days yet. While he seems passive and accepting of things, this could just be an initial phase, and he could become assertive and even aggressive. When it comes to food, he certainly adopts a ‘forward policy’. But I don’t think violence or force is a part of his character.

Even so, he has his detractors among the resident beasts. Tucker hisses from a distance, because he won’t allow Raleigh to come close; Parker gives warning pings and whines when he sees the newcomer; Cammie is vociferous in her denunciations, and is having the most trouble with Raleigh. The atmosphere in the cosy apartment has become a little more growly and quick-tempered.

But this won’t last. I have received some good advice from readers of the blog and from other knowledgeable cat-people. And my own experiences have shown me that time and patience are excellent tools in calming a situation. For my own part, I have adopted a conciliatory response to complaints, trying to be understanding with the plaintiff, but urging accommodation. I doubt that I would make a good civil lawyer - my clients don’t really listen to my advice all that much - but, hopefully, staying calm and unruffled will influence them, and in the end peace will prevail.

After all, if these two can learn to lie near each other like this, there is hope for all.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


I want to thank everyone who has commented on the trapping efforts of which I am part. Everything you have written is very complimentary. I am just a part of this effort, of course. There is the colleague from my own rescue-group whose driving provides invaluable transport and whose advice is equally inestimable; another rescue-group which is paying for the cats’ surgeries; the staff of the charity next door who adopted Beulah’s kittens; the rescue-group up north who accepted other kittens; the veterinaries and technicians who operate on the cats; my co-worker on the late shift who keeps me apprised of cats trapped late at night; another co-worker who feeds the feral colony and keeps watch on the cats.

Knowing that if I can’t trap all the cats there will simply be more can be discouraging. But even one adult captured is an uncountable number of felines not born, and one kitten rescued is one that will have a chance at a decent home. Your words give tremendous support to such efforts everywhere; there are many who are involved or have been involved in similar operations, all over the world.

And I know that each of us realises the worth of what we do and support when we see something like this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How Many Kittens Does It Take to Change a Light-bulb?

Answer: it doesn’t matter; they keep coming regardless.

Apparently, there are more kittens in the feral colony behind my work-place. I am told that there were three, a black and white or grey, and two grey tabbies. Now, there is one. I caught two last night.

They are from different litters. The black and white kitten, whom I’ve named Doodle, appears to be five weeks old; the tabby, now called Sketch, seven or eight weeks. The contrasting ages is not encouraging to me, since it may mean there are still more. However, after some investigation, I’ve learned that three new ones are all that has been sighted. In any case, we faced a bit of a dilemma of what to do about the new pair, since the two groups who took the last batches - the staff of the charity next door took the first, and a rescue organisation took the second - are unable to help this time.

But good people are often found when needed. My colleague, who feeds the feral colony, and is my chief source of intelligence on it, volunteered to take in the newly-trapped kittens. He had four for whom he was caring, but I was able to arrange their transport to an adoption centre up north. Really, rescue work is a cross between complicated business deals and medieval alliances.

One more kitten - of whom I know - remains to be captured. But what of their mothers, neither of which is Beulah, Adah’s elusive parent? There are still numerous cats to trap and sterilise, so the operation continues. Your good wishes would be appreciated and, if you have influence with those who create favourable conditions, another couple nights of double-captures would not be scorned. Just a word in your ear.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Crowded House

Raleigh’s adaptation to indoor living has been, on his part, simple and easy. He was clearly an inside cat at some point, and knows the purpose of furniture, and cat-furniture. He spent the weekend checking out all the various spots in which to snooze. The small cat-beds seem to appeal to him most.

But the addition of another cat to the household has not sit well with some of those already here. Tucker has taken exception to Raleigh, and hisses whenever he sees him. He has become quite growly, too, growling at what seems to be nothing from time to time.

Parker, as well, is out of sorts because of the newcomer. He reacted similarly when Echo the kitten came to stay for a couple of weeks last September. I don’t know if it arises from a concern over possible displacement - the orange boy was the newest cat - or just a dislike of Raleigh. He growls even at me, though they are complaints, rather than threats.

Cammie, perhaps not unexpectedly, is grumpy over the arrival of the peachy boy. She will growl, quite fiercely, at Raleigh, even if the latter is simply lying in a cat-bed a couple of feet away. This is not unusual behaviour in the princess, though the degree of its harshness gives me some concern. But she has also expressed a bit more of a need for attention lately, wanting onto my lap as I sit on the couch and, especially, lying on my neck during the night.

I have been trying to give each of these beasts extra cuddles and pets, and not neglecting Renn and Josie, who are much less affected, at least superficially, by Raleigh’s advent. The truth is that the apartment is too small for six cats, and my time, limited as it was for four or five, is even more so for half a dozen. Taking Raleigh in was the right decision. Seeing him curled up in a cat-bed on a chilly autumn night shows that he was not a feral feline and obviously missed the warmth and security of an inside home. But a bigger home would serve him and his roommates better.

They will not get that soon, however, so Josie, Tucker, Renn, Cammie, Parker - and now Raleigh - and I, will adjust our habits, settle down to new routines and grow accustomed to our crowded house. We ‘don’t dream it’s over.’

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Cat Who Came Early for Dinner

I suspected that after what I hoped was the last of the kittens were trapped in Operation Slim Pickens capturing the remaining adults would be difficult. Incredibly, three times we were able to trap a couple of cats on the same day. This rather spoiled me, I think, though I nevertheless was anticipating more hapless cats looking at me through a wire mesh. For most of this week, however, the results were nil.

Monday night saw a dish of sardines used as bait emptied, but the trap not sprung. I thought it odd that a cat could be so light in weight as not to trigger the trap. After all, kittens had set it off. The next evening, though, a colleague of mine, working late, and who volunteered to check on the traps for me through the evening, solved this mystery. He saw a cat, evidently wary of the trap itself, reach through bars and picked out the pieces of fish. I wasn’t sure who this cat was, but it was small and slender – possibly the elusive Beulah.

Thursday, I prepared the cages differently. Before leaving work at about four o’clock in the afternoon, I wrapped the rear of each in a blanket, rendering theft of the food from without impossible (I hoped). Whether the original cat-burglar re-considered a direct approach, or it was a different animal all together, I received a telephone call even before I had ridden home. This fellow was in one of the traps. He couldn’t wait for the evening, and thought the sardines in the cage an easy and early dinner.

Meet Auvergne.

The moustache made me think he may be part French, and Auvergne could equally, in theory, be applied to a feline of either gender. In any case, he spent the night very quietly at my apartment before going to the veterinary hospital the next morning.

Auvergne is a youngster, only about a year old. I was melancholy at the thought of such a youthful cat spending his life in a feral colony – though seeing an old one do it is no easier. But Auvergne likely knew no indoor life, and so, unlike Raleigh, did not long for a lost paradise. More positively, he had no trace of FIV or leukemia. Nor had he any ear-mites. He was vaccinated by the doctor and neutered.

When we collected him for his release, he had burrowed under the blanket placed in his carrier, but was sitting up.

When he smelled the fresh air, and probably the familiar scents of his stamping grounds, he peered out. Food placed for his delectation untouched, he ran out of the carrier a moment after it was opened. Neutered, he may stay out of fights and live a reasonably long time as an outsider-cat, making no more outsider-cats in his turn.

I know of at least three more adult cats I would like to see inside a trap, so the operation will continue next week, hopefully with similar results.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Parker on the Level

Cats, as every human who lives with one knows, can sleep in pretty much any position, and on any object. Some felines, however, seem to have a predilection for certain surfaces.

My foster-cat, Parker, appears to have taken a shine to the smooth, hard surface of the dining table. I thought initially that it was just that table. But I have caught him on top of the bookcases in the library, as well. In fact, he may sleep up there, as much as he snoozes on the dining table.

In order to integrate him still further with the rest of the beasts, I have begun releasing the orange boy from the library in the middle of the night. I usually wake up an hour and a half after I fall asleep, so I let him out then. Though he sometimes sleeps on the towel I’ve put on the library couch, more often than not I have discovered Parker at that hour lying on top of a bookcase.

There is evidence that this posture may be changing with the coming of cool weather. My sturdy boy has been utilising the softness of the cushioned dining table chairs more than he once did, so we will see if warm weather habits die hard. In the meantime, Parker will do his level best to make me wonder what goes through a cat’s mind.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Roaming with Raleigh

Seeing Raleigh evolve is interesting. He is not nearly so fearful as he was. A colleague from the rescue-group came by on Saturday to clean Raleigh’s ears and apply an ointment to fight ear-mites; afterward, Raleigh hid. He may still have a ways to go when meeting other people, but he is gaining confidence daily with me and living in the apartment.

I have let him out for short periods this week. Last night, he roamed about the apartment, cautiously. I crept along with him, and he continually looked back to see if I was there. When paused, I put my hand on him and he moved forward again. I kept talking to him and the other cats.

The new arrival had a close encounter with Cammie and I had to act swiftly to avoid bloodshed. The princess was not fooling around. Parker hissed at Raleigh, but allowed him to come very close; I think I can work on that. Tucker hissed and moved away; he probably is simply tired of all the new cats. Renn and Josie were calm and largely unconcerned.

My peach-hued guest explored the hall and corridor, then the sitting room, before lying next to me on the couch for a while. I think letting him out with all the other beasts, but under strict supervision, is feasible. On the weekend, I will sequester the more anxious cats and let Raleigh roam more freely with just Renn and Josie free.

Raleigh’s coat is much improved now. It is smoother and softer than it was just a week ago. He has been receiving good food; that undoubtedly makes a difference. As well, he is probably feeling safe. Having a comfy bed and a full tummy does wonders, I think. He likes being on my lap; he purrs and flexes his big snow-shoe paws a great deal - though the other night, I made the mistake of having him on my lap while eating - trying to eat - a Pop-tart. Those spatulas of his certainly do make holding a hungry cat difficult.

On the negative side, he continues to drool and his breath is bad. Though his teeth may have been ‘good’ for a feral and an FIV-positive cat, I suspect some at least are in need of repair or removal.

Raleigh is starting to groom himself. I have seen him do it, though he stops when I walk into the bathroom. I have also seen damp tufts of hair from, probably, his tail. He threw up a hairball yesterday, which suggests a satisfactory amount of grooming, if not of the disposal of the results. He is starting to be an inside cat again.

On that note, his voice is coming back. If it is true that cats only meow to humans, then while trying to live outside, he would not have used his voice much. I joked earlier that he sounded like a child with laryngitis. That may not be far from the truth. When he first tried to speak to me, he was silent. Then, he developed a raspy, breathless speech. Next, it resembled a person trying to talk while inhaling rather than exhaling, a grating sound (grating to the ear, not the nerves). Now, it is a metallic squeak.

Raleigh will probably go on the rescue-group’s website as a cat available for adoption. I think he would indeed do very well as a family pet; though I have known him for only two weeks, he seems an easy-going fellow - certainly with people. Once I see him interact more with his fellow felines, I’ll be able to describe him better to potential adopters. But an FIV-positive cat doesn’t generate much interest, and Raleigh would need at least a couple weeks of patience on the part of any new person before his timidity was overcome. Until then, he will have a home; hopefully, it will be one he finds welcoming and safe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Sleepy Paw

How my beasts sleep is a fascinating subject for study. Tucker especially makes it a fertile observational field. Much of the time, he sleeps like this, both on the floor and on his favourite armchair. Sometimes, I can tell that he is drifting off to sleep by the slow descent of his rear leg. When he suddenly wakes, the leg goes back to its nearly upright position, only to slip down again as he nods off once more.

But on the weekend, I caught him like this.

It was as if he had decided at some point to lift himself up, perhaps into a more comfortable position. Then, half-way to this goal, his body determined that his current position was comfortable enough, and he fell asleep.

But the paw remained where it was. I wonder if it fell asleep after the rest of Tucker woke up.

Monday, September 10, 2018

First Contact

Raleigh is still in my bathroom. He seems content to be there for now, but has been peering around the corner out the doorway, when it is open. I have been leaving it open, under my supervision, a bit more now, to accustom little Peachy to the sounds and smells in the apartment. When the door is closed, it is not latched, for the same reason.

But I will this week introduce him to the resident beasts. I was hoping to put all of them away in a room or two, except for Josie and Renn - who are the easiest for a new cat to meet - and then release Raleigh for an hour or so. My plan was pre-empted, however, by a certain Siamese princess. She had been sniffing at the bathroom door for a few days, and during the weekend decided to go further.

I was in the bedroom when I heard a series of frantic hisses and a scrambling noise. I hurried out to see Cammie hurrying away from the bathroom in high dudgeon, the bathroom door ajar and, within, Raleigh, looking bemused and startled.

Apparently, Cammie had pushed her way into the bathroom and encountered the newcomer, probably snoozing, no doubt minding his own business, and became outraged that another cat was present. I’m sure she knew this beforehand, as she could smell him. But confirmation merely lent force to her fury.

I hastened to assure Raleigh that the princess was not typical of the cats he would meet in the cosy apartment, though I am sure he has met all kinds during his time on the fringes of a feral colony, and his scars testify that some of them possessed malice that Cammie would never have. Still, of all my cats, I would have wished any but her to have been Raleigh’s initial contact. But life has its way of determining its own course, regardless of one’s intentions - “man proposes and God disposes” - as may be seen by the fact that I now have six cats…

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Saturday Bloody Saturday

Saturday morning was a fitting end to my week. The important event of the period was the capture of Latigo and Latimer, and their dispatch to the possibility of permanent homes in another city. But incidental to that was a string of injuries – to me.

It began with being bitten by Latigo during his transfer from the trap in which he had been caught to the carrier in which he would be transported. It was not a serious wound, though I was mindful of it, as warned by several readers of the blog. It was, in fact, no worse than the bad plastic-cut (like a paper-cut only on the edge of a plastic sheet) on another finger, and the twisted ankle I suffered stepping off of my bicycle. Yes, I injured myself by stepping. That left me limping in pain for the remainder of the day, but was almost healed after a night spent horizontally.

Saturday brought a bloody climax to my impressive but, admittedly, insignificant damages. I woke at some point during the very early morning and Tucker, as he will do from time to time, crawled onto my chest and enjoyed some petting while purring. Despite his roly poly appearance, he can throw his weight around as regard the other beasts, swatting at them sometimes. Renn was also on the bed at that time, and apparently approached too closely for Tucker’s unsullied enjoyment of the attention I was giving him. Some whaps were exchanged and Tucker produced a mild snarl. At the moment he did this, I attempted to separate the combatants by pushing them apart. In the dark, I misjudged my aim and my hand slipped across Tucker’s furry face; my thumb caught on his canine, causing a small but jagged gash.

I told him later that he bit me, but he didn’t buy it. Nor was it true. I think a bite would have been cleaner. There was a substantial amount of blood, which was inconvenient at three o’clock in the morning. But having stanched the wound, I returned to bed and sleep.

Then, after I had risen, injected the sugar twins with their insulin, fed everyone, scooped litter-boxes and ate my own breakfast, I returned to bed for a couple of hours. (That’s my new routine. It ensures that a number of chores are out of the way before I finish my interrupted slumber.) Cammie sometimes comes to visit at such times, walking back and forth across my head, before setting with a loud purr on my neck. This time, one of her rear feet stepped on the side of my nose, a claw scratching it.

Why there are so many capilleries just under the surface of the nose, I know not, but they sure do bleed. One would have thought I’d lost a duel to a pre-eminent fencing master. After blood had spilled on the blankets, due to Tucker’s teeth, it seemed fitting that my sheets were smeared with blood following the princess’s claw. One finds it difficult to nap on a battlefield, so I decided to get up then. I’d had my five hours’ sleep anyway.

This morning, things progressed more peaceably, and I both slept in and escaped injury. Hopefully, that feature will continue for the week – at least until I trap more cats.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Fizbin the Figment

It turns out that Latimer and Latigo may be twins and not two thirds of a set of triplets. Fizbin may be a figment.

There was some confusion here as to who at my work-place saw how many kittens. Initially, Person A had seen two and thought Person B had seen three; she saw only one and thought Person C had seen three kittens. He had, but they had been the black and white ones - Beulah’s children, all rescued earlier; C didn’t know the kittens under discussion were new tabbies. With a feral colony all of whose cats are not fixed - indeed, new ones may be joining to add to the numbers in several ways - there may be kittens in the future, but probably not immediately.

As for the wound inflicted by Latigo after his capture, it seems not to be serious. It was a little tender the day after the bite, but even that faded by the day’s end. I appreciate the concern shown over it, and I was ready to have it seen to if the need arose. Fortunately, the injury was harmless.

With another week over and more captured cats on their way to decent lives, I feel that I’ve accomplished something during the last few days. May the weekend be as relaxing for all of you as I hope it will be for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

More Over-night Guests

Not very long ago, three tabby kittens were sighted behind my work-place. They appeared rarely, and never with an adult. Though they may have just reached the stage when they were beginning to explore, the theory was that they had been dumped by someone who knew there was a managed feral colony here.

I never saw them myself, and as they seemed reticent to show themselves, I did not raise my hopes that I could trap them. Tonight my hopes were raised. Meet Latigo…

…and Latimer.

Tomorrow, they will be accepted into a local rescue-group and sent to a near by city with greater potential for adoption than my own. Tonight they will spend in seclusion in my home; I will provide food and water, though I don’t know if they will accept them.

Latimer allowed his transfer from the trap to a carrier without much fuss. Latigo decided much fuss was more his style. He escaped the trap as we were making the transfer, avoided the carrier and evaded our grasp. Fortunately, we were operating in a closed room with few hiding spots. Latigo was collared, but not before biting both myself and my colleague. Latigo was quite upset at being in the trap in the first place, while his sibling took it with more stoicism, though probably no less fear; it was not really a surprise that he would fight.

I will setting the traps again tomorrow. I want to catch their brother (or sister), whom I’ve named Fizbin.

For now, all is quiet in the cosy apartment, and there are eight cats present, once again. My beasts are not making a scene over the newcomers. Perhaps they are growing accustomed to the transients I entertain. With faces like these, I could grow accustomed to them myself very swiftly.