Saturday, July 21, 2018

Bravery, and Its Limits

Wednesday night this past week, we had a tremendous thunder-storm here; in fact, we had two, or one that re-charged itself and came back. The first lasted a long time for such storms, about an hour and a half, with lightning and thunder throughout, and a downpour of rain. I have written about the beasts’ reactions to thunder previously, but things have changed a little.

Cammie is less inclined to hide during a storm. I suspect that she is still frightened of such meteorological upheavals, but she shows it less. Last night, she didn’t seek shelter from the storm until it was half over. Then it seemed to prove too much for her. But she came out again soon afterward, bravely lying on her towel by my desk in the bedroom. However, a particularly loud burst of thunder, the sort that rattles panes in window-frames, sent her under the bed.

Renn, despite his size, is not a combatant. He prefers to crouch behind the bed, with either his head or just his nose under it. When I talk encouragingly to him, he stands up and walks about with his tail up and his back arched. He’s not afraid - until I stop talking to him.

Tucker remained in the open, but wary. The roly poly apparently put up a toy as a small barricade, just in case the thunder broke into the house.

Josie was largely untroubled, and when the big bang of thunder shook the building, she ran out into the sitting room, as if to question what was going on. She never did hide, though.

And Parker… My orange-boy didn’t even acknowledge the storm. It was almost his bed-time, which meant a snack before retiring. His mind was entirely upon that. The apartment could have been inundated with lava, and Puck’s principal worry would have been that it would cut him off from his food-bowl.

I like thunder-storms, especially at night. I always have. But now I find that I spend them walking among the cats, telling them that everything is all right, that what they hear is just noise, and that nothing will hurt them. I don’t think they believe me, really. And Parker thinks such encouragement is distracting me from giving him his food.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Just So I Won't Forget

Parker has been remarkably polite about demanding, er, sorry, asking for his walks. I have mentioned that he does cry at the door several times each evening, but relaxes his attentions when I tell him “no”. Wednesday night, he accepted my promise that we would go out after I had done some writing for about an hour. He thereupon decided both to remind me that he was waiting and to make sure I didn’t evade my responsibilities by slipping away without him.

This was my perspective, as I wrote.

He did the same thing last evening. The orange boy was remarkably patient, quiet for the whole hour, both days. He does enjoy his walks, but then I enjoy watching him enjoy them, so it works out for both of us.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Adah at Ten - Weeks, That Is

Little Adah is about ten weeks old now. Her ringworm is still with her, but is receding. Her treatment is continuing, and will for a while. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to offer her for adoption for some time yet. The rescue-group with which I work will be facilitating the adoption of the kittens with Adah. Except for the diminishing fungus, they are all healthy.

Adah now weighs 1.02 kilograms. Two other kittens weigh about the same, while another pair are heavier at about 1.3 kilograms. But Adah has put on weight, is assertive and strong, and has grown into her ears somewhat.

I visited them a few days ago, and returned with photographs. Most of mine did not turn out, as the kittens were active, running about, playing and generally not standing still. The pictures I took are not as good as those taken by a friend who was with me. Her images are the superior ones and look like portraits, and so they will be used. Along with re-newing your acquaintance with our girl, please meet Harold and Buddy, Lady, and Adah’s pal, Tucker.

This is Adah now.


Buddy, who looks much like Harold but whose white forehead blaze is broader.



Adah wrestling with either Harold or Buddy.

Adah and Buddy

Adah, with Tucker pretending to kill Harold. We think he’s pretending…

Things are progressing well and, though it is disappointing that their treatment will keep the kittens from being open for adoption at their current age, we figure they will be available before they are four months old. Also, Miss Mew, the doting surrogate-mother, is now relieved of nursing duties. Though she misses her foster-kittens, she will be able to receive greater doses of anti-ringworm medicine more often, and therefore will recover more quickly. She is already well on the way to recovered health.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sable and Sablette

I continue to feed outsider-cats. There are two new ones whom I have seen, though only once each. One, whom I’ve named Au Lait, is a light creamy brown colour, with a dark brown and white ringed tail. The other is a black and white cat who is missing much of his right ear; I call him Vincent. I have not seen either of these eating from the outside food-bowl or drinking from the water-bowl.

My two regulars are Sable and Sablette. These are the two black cats whom I thought to be mother and daughter. I have learned more about them recently. They are refugees from a dispersed feral colony which had been situated near by. The cats there had all been spayed and neutered by those caring for the colony, and this pair, though related, are in fact sisters.

They know me and know that I feed them. I can tell they are true cats because they tend to show up at night immediately after I take in the food-bowl and just before I set it out in the morning, thus disrupting my schedule at both its ends. However, they seem to appreciate the food.

Sable is the bolder of the two. When they are waiting for the food, she will move away a distance or even retreat just around the corner of the building, and watch. Sablette hastens farther away, and comes back only when I leave. Both of them, though, are at the bowl as soon as I am inside the apartment again. I shake the food in the bowl, and they have come to know the sound of nutrition.

An interesting development is that I have heard them - or one, probably Sable - squeaking. Initially, it was when they were in the concrete ditch (my “patio”) outside my apartment, and secondly, when I was in the bedroom. They appeared at the window and squeaked. They may have been telling me that they were hungry, but I am certain that the food-bowl was already out at that moment. In this instance, they ran away when Parker hurried to the window to look at them.

I am told that they shelter themselves under a near by shed, but before the cold weather arrives again, I will try to interest them in the outside cat-house. It had been urinated on several times during my last attempt, and no one used it. I will try again. Until then, Sable and Sablette look to be in good shape, and, while not entirely trusting, know that I provide sustenance. I like to think it’s a relief to them to know that they have somewhere to go for that.

Monday, July 9, 2018


Parker is enjoying his walks. I feared that he would be at the door begging to go out all the time. Initially, this was the case. But once he realised that going out was to be an on-going activity, he relented somewhat. He still goes to the door now and then and cries and scratches, but if I tell him “no”, he ceases this after about ten minutes. He’ll do it again later in the day, but, as before, not for long. Since he goes out only when I determine the time, and not when he begs, he’s getting the idea.

I vary our route outside, and let Parker decide on the pace, unless he is trying to eat something (which I do not permit) or if there is another cat. Parker can become a bit aggressive then. I tell him that the outdoors isn’t his territory, and that the other cats have a right to be there. He sees it otherwise. Why he has no problem with his roommates - indeed, he is submissive with them - and dislikes outsider-cats, I don’t know. One very pale orange fellow followed us for a ways. Fortunately, a sprinkler went on between him and us. I was reminded of the Israelites and the Egyptians, when the pillar of fire kept pharaoh’s army at bay. I am pleased to say no one was drowned this time with our version of the Red Sea plunging between the two parties, though it did prevent the pale orange fellow from following us further.

There are also crows along a certain stretch of sidewalk. They must have a nest near by, because they hop from branch to branch and along telephone wires, yelling and cursing, always above Puck and me until we are past a certain point. I keep an eye on any crow I see, but continue walking at our normal pace. Once, when a second crow joined the first, I picked up the sturdy-boy and trotted out of range. There is no need to tempt fate. It’s interesting that the crows are not upset by the cats who live in their neighbourhood. Perhaps they are just being wary of the unknown visitor.

So far, the walks have been a success. Parker becomes quite grumpy, even angry, when it is time to go in, but that doesn’t last long. He enjoys the sights and smells; automobiles bother him only when one of the big city buses rumbles by. He is wary of dogs we see and, as mentioned, dislikes other cats on his route. But he looks forward to his little adventures. Yesterday, he rather half-heartedly pawed at the door - quite late in the evening. I had too laugh at that, but told him, “No, perhaps tomorrow.” He was all right with it. It was bed-time, anyway.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Bit by Bit

The back and forth battle with the sugar twins’ diabetes continues. With recent developments, though, I am optimistic. Parker’s numbers remain a little high for my liking, but his doctor and I are satisfied with them. Puck’s latest curve didn’t fall below 14 in his blood-sugar count, and we would like it to be, at most, ten. But clinically, he is behaving very well. There is no weakness in his rear legs (as his continued jumping onto kitchen counters, even while I am right there preparing food, demonstrates), his water-intake is reasonable and his wetting is not excessive. In other words, while his numbers are higher than they should be, he is dealing with his diabetes well.

The bigger development is in Tucker’s case. He was up and down for several weeks. I had taken blood readings from him just before his injections for more than a week and, at two units twice a day, he seemed to have been going from quite low numbers to quite high. This made sense to me if I considered that the roly poly was receiving too much insulin. Given too much in one injection, his numbers fell so low by the next time that he didn’t need an injection, so I refrained from giving him one. But he evidently needed some, because the next reading, twelve hours later, gave a reading that was very high.

I called his usual doctor but was able only to speak with another. She suggested taking a reading before every injection and not refraining from giving Tucker his shot if his numbers were around eleven or twelve, but, rather, injecting him with only one unit. Upon thought, I decided that this idea, though practicable, was not practical; he is a patient little creature but his ears are pin-cushions after just a day of readings, and poking him twice a day for the foreseeable future was an unappealing notion. I decided instead to reduce his insulin to one unit in the mornings, and to keep it at two in the evenings. That way, if he was low at the start of each day, he would not receive too much to be dangerous, with me not there to notice: better his numbers be too high without supervision than too low. In the evenings, he would receive two units, but not only would I be present to see the effects, but he would be eating more, which generally raises numbers.

The results after almost a month were pleasing. Tucker’s high numbers are not very high, and his lows are exactly where we want them. His regular doctor, with whom I spoke yesterday is very happy with the latest curve I performed on my sausage-cat. I must always regard curve numbers guardedly; diabetes, being unpredictable, could render a good curve null with the next set of readings. But considering Tucker’s behaviour, I think he is stable. He tends to drink more water than I would like, but his urination is reasonable. He is active - for Tucker - and alert. The longer he is on a stable dosage, the more stable his readings will be, I think. The next curve in a month’s time will provide more information.

But this represents another reduction in the roly poly’s insulin use. It’s a long, hard battle, but the day may come - paws crossed - when he won’t need the medicine at all. I never like to get ahead of myself - chickens before they hatch, horse before the cart, and various other farm metaphors may be inserted here - but I am optimistic. I think Tucker is, too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tolerance, For Now

This weekend was a pleasant one, especially since it was a longer weekend than usual, because of Canada Day. The cats seemed a bit more tolerant of each other, as may be seen in the accompanying photographs. Unfortunately, this does not mean that their relationships are improving; it’s just what what happens from time to time. I will, of course, take it when I can get it.

Cammie didn’t mind Parker stepping from the lower cat-tree in the sitting room to the higher, on the top platform of which she was snoozing. Parker, I think, was motivated by the search for food which I sometimes provide to Cammie in that location. I periodically forget to take it away when she leaves, and the orange boy reaps the benefits. But that didn’t happen this time.

Later, there was a thunderstorm. Cammie hid under the bed for a while, then jumped up on top of the bed, which is often what happens when she surfaces after being frightened. Puck was already there, however; the princess decided that there was enough distance between them for her to stay. While I was in the bedroom, Tucker waddled in and, climbing the steps, saw the sturdy-boy sleeping. I was surprised that the roly poly allowed me to coax him up anyway.

And afterward, he and Parker lie on the floor, almost near each other. I like seeing such non-aggression among the beasts, especially between the sugar twins, as Tucker dislikes Parker. Once in a while, though, a situation is not as tense as it could be, and there is actual relaxation. I relax then, too, and the household is at peace. For the time being.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Cats as Innovators

Though they are noted for their love of routine, cats may be very changeable. Just when you think you have a cat’s habits understood, he alters them. Take Parker, for example.

Puck rarely throws up. He has coughed up a hairball or two in the year and a half he has been with me, and I don’t think he’s vomited anything. Now and then, because he loves his food so much, he will eat too fast and it will come up again soon after. When it happens, the result usually ends up near the food-bowl in the library.

I heard the orange boy regurgitating some food the other evening. He is a distraction at meal-times, so he eats alone in the library. I opened the door to find out what exactly had happened. I couldn’t see a mess, so I opened the door wider and walked in. He had thrown up immediately behind the door, the opening of which pushed the piled debris in a wide, smearing arc across two feet of carpet. Yes, indeed. Always something new.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tucker Says, "No, Thank You."

Since I won’t be testing Cammie with the leash and harness outside, Tucker is the last of my beasts to brave the outdoors. I know the Trout Towne Tabbies were wondering if he would have his chance, and he has. It did not go well.

Tucker, like the others who have experienced it, had little bother with the harness. It is light and though I have it secure around them, it is not uncomfortably tight. This was not enough, however, to persuade the roly poly to enjoy his time outside. He lasted a little longer than Renn did; he looked about and, for a moment, I thought the interest he briefly exhibited in his surroundings would carry him on. It did not. He crouched, his tail tucked under him, and started crying. I tried to soothe his fears, but he was having none of it, so I brought him back inside.

Once safe within the cosy apartment, the roly poly was a happy cat. He purred, scratched at a cat-tree and rubbed against me. He was certainly no worse for the abbreviated span he spent in unfamiliar surroundings. But he made it clear that he was not an outsider-cat, no matter how much he may have looked to be longing to change places with Parker, when he saw the latter walking in the sunshine one day.

Parker remains the only one of my cats who wants to go outside. He loves it; smelling the breezes, trying to eat the grass and sometimes running. The orange boy cries with excitement as we walk along together. As far as Tucker is concerned, though, the whole outdoors can be Parker’s playground. He will remain inside.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Kind of Coincidence

Have you ever heard stories of astounding coincidences? You know, the sort in which someone overhears the stimulating conversation you are having with a friend, recognizes your genius and offers you a job managing his business? Well, that isn’t my kind of coincidence. Instead, I get ones like this.

During the third week of my holidays, I rode out to the edge of town where all the big department stores are located - our city prefers to have them there for the inconvenience of the retirees which it likes to claim find the city irresistible, leaving the downtown to deteriorate into a slum - and bought a large supply of Fancy Feast cat-food. I feed this to Renn, who is very changeable with regard to other brands, and to Josie, who currently has gone off Merrick. The flavour I purchased was ‘seafood’. On my way back, I stopped at Peaveymart, a hardware shop. That business does not have a bicycle stand, so I chain my bicycle to the rails of a metal fence, behind which is kept gardening supplies. I saw, on the ground, just within this fence, a tin of Fancy Feast ‘seafood’.

I had put my own supply in the box I habitually carry on the back of my bicycle, and had not opened it, so this single tin had not dropped from my just-purchased stock. Anyway, the tin, though substantially undamaged, had been in the elements for a while, to judge by the dirty and torn paper label. The last time I had been to Peaveymart, I had taken advantage of travelling in that direction and bought some Fancy Feast then, too, but it had been ‘ocean whitefish’ variety, with a different coloured label.

The explanation may be in that I always carry a tin of cat-food with me on my bicycle. It could come in handy, as it did when we were trying to trap Rebecca a couple of months ago. At one point, I couldn’t find the tin and wondered if I had used it and not replaced it. The orphan tin at Peaveymart may be that missing item.

That possibility itself creates a coincidence: a tin I may have lost weeks before, re-appears directly in front of me, just within my grasp behind a locked fence. It could have been crushed by an automobile tire, kicked away by a booted foot, dented into unfamiliarity, hidden under piles of bagged soil; it could have been taken away by someone else. Instead, it materialises at the right moment to be found by the person who misplaced it. That’s rather astounding.

And sad. Another person overcomes a million to one chance and bumps into his soulmate, or finds a discarded ticket that wins him a fortune in a lottery, or is in the right place to save lives in danger. I find a long-lost tin of food. Cat-food, of course. My kind of coincidence.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Farewell to Holidayland

My sojourn in Holidayland is over, and I am back at work today.

It was a very nice holiday. As usual, I didn’t go anywhere. Finances and the cats keep me tied close to home. It has been suggested to me in the past that I could hire a cat-sitter if I wished to go away, but I don’t find that feasible. I have two diabetic cats, each of which receives a different kind of insulin, by a different kind of injection. One must be kept sequestered during the day when I am absent, and during the night; he receives his meals separately. Another cat is so sensitive to most foods that even a lick of an inappropriate dish will cause her to start vomiting, and that won’t stop without medicine from the veterinary; she doesn’t eat every time the others do, so she must be fed whenever she will eat. They are lucky I can’t afford to travel.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed my days off. I had time for all the things my job keeps me from doing. There were the chores, of course - chores not too big to finish at other times, but big enough to take up most of a day off, and therefore discouraging to perform with only one or two days available on weekends. I completed ninety per cent of the design work for the upcoming PAW Society calendar, something which takes two to three hours a page, and therefore would use up whole weekends, if I didn’t have my holidays to work on it. And I spent time with the cats, listened to music, wrote, read, watched movies, and relaxed.

Coming back to work, however, merely emphasizes how unimportant a job often is. That’s not to say it isn’t necessary, but I think we must differentiate between importance and necessity; the two are not synonymous. Bosses rarely understand that, which I suppose is why I am not a boss. There are certainly important jobs - but mine doesn’t fall into that category. For me, it provides money to exist (barely) and takes up time that could be spent doing something more valuable. I am not alone in this predicament, of course, though that doesn’t make me feel better.

But for now, it is back to the tiresome routine of Workadayland, and farewell to Holidayland. Just 49 more weeks until I see it again!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Stuff of Dreams

Two of the prized possessions for the cats in our household are the cat-beds. I bought them many years ago, and they are wearing through in places. However, I have not found anything comparable to acquire in their stead. (I of course will eventually break down and buy something that none of the cats will ever use…) Every cat loves curling up in them, even the big boys who don’t fit. An advantage is that the heating pads for the beds fit them perfectly.

The pillows, however, have had the stuffing knock out of them, literally. Comprising pieces of insubstantial foam rubber, I guess the contents lose their spring after a while. The interior bag of one of the pillows, the bag that actually contains the foam rubber, burst. The other, surviving bag was intact but largely flattened.

I tried replacing the diminishing contents with towels, but they quickly became flattened themselves and, moreover, hard. Though my beasts sleep on the carpeted platforms of cat-trees, I suppose they could sleep on stiff pillows. But what if they wanted something softer?

I purchased some filling. It is the batting used for the interior of quilts, so the package alleges. Whatever its original purpose, I stuffed the cat-bed pillows with the substance, which is basically the same sort of foam rubber that was in the pillows to begin with. I was pleased to have achieved a kind of success. The pillows are now plump and soft, and will probably remain so for a while. I have plenty of replacement batting, and can, of course, buy more later. At least three cats have curled up in the newly re-vitalised beds and have evidently found them to their satisfaction.

It’s rather nice when an intention’s realisation looks pretty much like its ideal.