Thursday, December 5, 2019

Our Best Laid Plans

The results from Tucker’s veterinary visit came back yesterday, and they didn’t bring good news. My roly poly has late stage-two kidney failure. He is also offering from an slight inflammation in the pancreas, which may be the cause of his continued vomiting, as well as his loss of appetite. In addition, his blood-glucose numbers have been increasing, suggesting that his diabetes is being adversely influenced by his other bodily troubles.

To counter these developments, the doctor wants Tucker started on a kidney-friendly diet. I will be buying some tins of that today, though, considering the finicky attitude he has toward food, I am not expecting great things from a change of diet. No cat I know seems to like the special renal food. But I will research the products available and see what may be obtained.

The doctor also wants to put Tucker on a short course of Cerenia, to ease his stomach and reduce the vomiting. She thinks he may be suffering some pain and suggested a very careful application of pain-killers might be in order - she is reluctant to prescribe these, considering Tucker’s kidney failure - but I don’t think my little sausage-cat is in too much discomfort. His behaviour is in many respects normal. However, pain-reduction remains an option.

My boy’s diabetes, which was being managed adequately, if not as strongly as I would have liked, has been disarranged by the intrusion of his kidneys. His insulin dosage is therefore going to be increased, though not by much. Rather than two units in the morning and one in the evening, Tucker will receive two units at both instances. This dosage will be tried until the results of his next ‘curve’ are known, in a month’s time.

Tucker has been through a great deal in his life. Given up by his family of five years due to wetting problems (brought on by the stress of a newborn human), he has suffered severe urinary blockage (requiring surgery to cure), diabetes (with its attendant poking and prodding), bad teeth (and the removal of every tooth he had) and now kidney failure. In all of this, Tucker has remained my purring boy. He purrs so readily that when he doesn’t, I know something is amiss. He has been purring normally these past few weeks, so I am hopeful that he is not feeling too greatly the effects of his relatively new condition. In any case, we have plans in place. But, as Burns wrote, “the best laid schemes of mice and men often gang a-gley.” I hope he wasn’t just being optimistic when he excluded ‘cats’.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tucker Under the Microscope

Tucker went to the doctor on Monday. I am worried about a several things, including his constant weight loss and the bald patch on his back. The doctor was puzzled as to the causes, the bald patch not seemingly due to excessive grooming - I have not noticed Tucker licking that part of his body at all, nor have I thought that he is grooming himself overly much - and the diminishing weight not the fault of any superficial problems. I think the latter may be caused simply by the roly poly not eating enough, so an antidote may be just to make food available to him more often. The loss of hair is not through an allergic reaction, the veterinary believes.

Tucker is developing cataracts, not an unusual corollary of diabetes, but they are not annoying him. His vision is likely not as good as it has been.

Blood and urine samples were taken, and a complete range of tests for a senior cat will be run. I will know the results tomorrow or the next day.

To be honest, I sometimes wonder why I take my cats to the doctor. The veterinaries help in many cases, but in some, they seem just as uncertain about symptoms as I am. Oftimes, I think tests simply rule things out, rather than confirm suspicions. The doctor was pleased that Tucker is receiving salmon oil; I have noticed that my cat’s coat is smoother and he has less dandruff. That, however, is a minor victory compared to what I want accomplished with his other problems.

But I will await the results of the tests, and then discuss the matter more fully with the doctor. Hopefully, there will be some answers to the questions my boy is posing.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Way She Hears It

My cats are growing old, even the young one. I dislike that, but will probably be unable to reverse the trend. I am thinking in particular about Josie, my eldest. She is 15. To be truthful, my Chubs appears to be in good shape. She is no longer actually chubby, and is a pretty good weight for her size. She eats well, her litter-box visits are untroubled, she climbs the stairs to the bed without signs of strain and she even leaps from the cat-tree by the window over to the bed, and vice versa, when she wishes to take a short-cut. She does make ‘old-cat’ sounds, though I make ‘old-man’ sounds now… But I think she is becoming deaf.

Today, after a long while without them, I decided to give some Temptation Treats to the beasts (except for poor Cammie, who can receive nothing but her Z/D food). I shook the bag and cats came tumbling out from every crevice in the apartment – except for Josie (and poor Cammie, who knows she won’t get any). Josie remained on the bed, slumbering but not asleep. Renn, who had been unconscious in the bedroom, heard the inviting sound and hurried out, but not the Great White.

I then realised that there have been many instances recently when I had announced ‘dinner’ or ‘snack’, and Josie had ignored me, until I came up to her and repeated the words at close-range. She is also startled more often by my approach, or, rather, by my appearance near her, since I wonder now if she can hear my approach.

But deafness is, perhaps, no surprise. I am dubious of the oft-reported age-equivalency of cats and humans. According to Catster, Josie is no longer even a ‘senior’, but a ‘geriatric’, having reached the equivalent of 76 years for a human. I figure that if the average cat lives, all things being equal, to be about 18 or 19 years (splitting the difference makes it 18 and a half), and a human’s expectancy is about 80, then Josie is 65, which, given her health, seems a better estimate to me than 76.

In any case, I think that some difficulty in hearing, or even complete deafness, is a relatively minor complaint for an old cat, considering what she could be suffering. There is much to beware, and my guard is always up for my beasts; however, I am thankful my Chubs is not facing worse. Besides, she may be ignoring what I do and say due to deafness, or simply because she’s a cat. I may never know for sure…


Monday, November 25, 2019

The Bald Facts

Tucker is developing a bald patch on his back. I am certain it is not caused by excessive grooming on his part; I’ve never seen him licking the spot and, indeed, I don’t think he can reach it. It has appeared very recently and, from my perspective, suddenly, though this may be simply because it has at last lost enough hair to be noticeable.

Whatever the case, it is a bit of a concern for me, especially coupled with the fact that the roly poly is becoming less rolier and less polier; in other words, I believe he is still losing weight. This second characteristic may send him to the doctor in the next week or so.

Tucker is otherwise fine, so far as I can determine. He is still as good-natured as always, and never seems to be in discomfort. I recently conducted a ‘curve’ to study his blood-glucose numbers, and they came back, if not impressive, then normal for him. His appetite remains sparse, though this has been a fact for years.

All this means that I will watch his condition closely, and decide whether to take him for an examination soon. The trouble with that is, as many cat-owners know, there is only so much that a doctor can discover at certain times and with certain symptoms. Nonetheless, a consultation may be in order.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

You're Welcome

I recently published an entry describing Raleigh’s integration in the household. I may be harping on Peachy’s adjustments to life at the cosy apartment a bit too much, but the progress this very timid fellow has made makes me feel very good. With me, he has made strides, especially recently, allowing me to walk past him and even up to him without scurrying away. I can pick him up, without a struggle on his part (not without reluctance, however); I hold him very briefly, give him a kiss on the top of his fuzzy head, then put him down. I think this demonstrates to him that being picked up doesn’t always lead to horrific consequences, such as clipped nails or eye-drops. And I have shown pictures of him on the bed with Josie and Renn; those two, and especially my Chubs, are pretty easy on new cats.

But what made me feel especially good was Tucker deciding to come up onto the bed when Raleigh was already there. I was at the computer next the bed yesterday evening when I saw Tucker amble hesitantly into the bedroom. He knew that the Peach was already in place and spent about five minutes determining his course of action. Eventually, despite my urgings, the roly poly turned and walked out. But not two minutes later, he surprised me by climbing up the short staircase at the bed’s foot and lying down. True, he was wary, and seemed not really to relax, but he made the effort and took the chance. Raleigh didn’t move; I imagine he was too comfortable. Both cats remained on the bed for about twenty minutes.

Seeing a cat learn to trust is heart-warming. It isn’t rescue’s purpose, since rescuing animals is not about how they interact with humans, but about how to better their lives. This may involve socialisation, it may not. But when it does, such progress is a visible reward for efforts which sometimes don’t receive any recognition from the animals themselves and, indeed, should not require any. Even so, when someone like Raleigh accepts his roommates, both human and feline, he is, in a way, saying “thank you”. And that is always nice to hear.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dinner and Conversation

I had noted previously that Neville eats while lying down. Another characteristic of his dining is his talking. About two thirds of his meals are narrated by what sounds like a running commentary on the food, the service, the company, whatever strikes his fancy. The monologue is in the form of a low, throaty rumble, the sort that can continue even as he eats.

The other beasts noticed this mumbling right away, and I think it disturbed their repasts a bit. Now, however, they ignore it; Nevsky has fit in that much. Well, if he wants to talk while he eats, I won’t stop him. I just wish he’d speak up, so I can understand him.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Marvellous Evolution

I have previously said, or written, that cats are creatures of habit: they will follow a routine religiously – until they don’t. The truth is that cats’ behaviour evolves, usually along with their personalities. Cammie is a good example of this.

Her world changed fundamentally after her stroke at the end of May. She recovered, at least superficially, from all its effects save for her blindness. She cannot see. At first, I thought this might lead to her remaining stationary as much as possible. But I didn’t count on her spirit, a spirit which demanded that she rule her principality as a princess should. I have described how she will ‘make a progression’ (as it was called when the Tudor monarchs did it) through the length and breadth of the realm simply to take a drink of water from her favourite cup. Even so, she has changed, though how much this has resulted from her sightlessness I can’t say.

She has become a lap-cat. She can often be found in one of the two heated cat-beds these days – it’s cold outside now, and my princess is, shall we say, mature – but she waits at certain times of the day for me to sit on the couch. After dinner, for instance, I relax for a bit with a cup of tea. When she hears me sit, she gets up and makes her way over to me, climbing up her little staircase and lying down on my lap (getting up and walking away only to return a couple of times in the first one or two minutes…). Initially, she lie diagonally across my lap, so I needed one hand to support her, and keep her from falling off as she relaxed and the other hand to pet her. Now, she situates herself more centrally, and I can actually hold a book to read while she lies on me. Sometimes, she will stay with me for half an hour, purring the whole time.

Cammie’s meal-times have changed, too. She doesn’t always want soft food; now and then, she simply doesn’t feel like it. But when she does, she will sit up in her bed, or at least raise her head, showing some interest. I tell her, “Cammie, up up, up up.” Very often, she will walk to the sitting room’s couch, once more ascend the stairs and wait for her food. That’s where she usually eats now. I don’t know how this evolved, but I am pleased by it. It allows me to keep a ready eye on her, to see if she wants more food, to see if she is eating at all and, most importantly, to see when she is finished. When she finishes, she gets down and, though, since she was struck blind, she rarely tries to eat anyone else’s food, that is still a danger, so having her where I can observe her permits me better to guard against her ingestion of food that will cause one of her episodes.

Finally, there is the moment when, early in the morning, I must go to work. To relieve her of the stress of negotiating an apartment full of cats when I am not present, and to encourage her to eat the special hard food she is given, I isolate the princess in the bedroom. She has there a litter-box, food and three water-bowls (though I think she uses only her favourite.) Since I have started installing a heated cat-bed each day before leaving, Cammie is much less reluctant to go into the bedroom at the appointed time. In fact, now she frequently does it unbidden. I will sometimes see her slowly walking toward the bedroom of her own volition, or will find her already there, in the cat-bed or waiting for it. There, she has all the comforts and is, for the day, an ‘only-cat’, as is her fervent desire.

My Cammie’s habits change, as do those of other cats; sometimes slowly, imperceptibly; sometimes over night. I am thankful that her evolutions have been beneficial, helpful not only to herself but to me. When I think back to her arrival in my life, and how I was actually afraid of this hissing, yowling animal, I think that her time with me has been filled with marvels. But then, that is to be expected, for Cammie is a marvel herself.

Friday, November 8, 2019

When Change Isn't Terrible

Neville is becoming more and more comfortable with living in the cosy apartment. He has begun using the litter-boxes in the store-room, the ones the other beasts use, and not just the box in the library, which was his sole box during his brief confinement in that room. To me, this suggests that he is starting to think of himself as acceptable by and accepting of the others.

The Thin Man also has been exploring his small world more, not restricting himself to the top of the tall cat-tree in the sitting room. I find him sometimes relaxing on the couch; he will now and then eat his dinner on the shorter cat-tree, and he has been up on a dining room chair. As well, he has jumped on to the bed at bed-time twice. He seems a bit bewildered as to what should happen next, and even rather disappointed that all that follows is sleep. He has on both occasions soon jumped down again. But the important thing is that he leaped up in the first place.

Neville is comfortable around the other cats. I attribute this to their almost complete apathy toward him. I think he enjoys that. At his previous foster-home, he was one of many cats, too, but several annoyed him, without meaning to; one, in particular, an eager little kitten, thought of Neville as a playmate, or perhaps a play-thing, which led to stress on Nevsky’s part and, in turn, bad blood-sugar numbers. Now, he wanders about, briefly stared at by some, and verbally savaged by Cammie if he is in her way, but otherwise unnoticed. I believe that this has permitted not only a remission in his diabetes, but an ironic kind of welcome. A cat who isn’t definitely rejected by a group soon finds his own place in it.

He is also warming to me. He enjoys play-time, and especially meal-times. I pet him as often as possible and, when I do, have noticed that his purring starts sooner. He doesn’t like being held, and may never do, but merely twists and turns in my grasp; he doesn’t scratch or bite. Neville is a cat of moderate patience. I can cut his claws, though he begins to end the procedure after one paw is done; even so, I can do both forefeet without much trouble.

As Neville and I grow more acquainted, and accustomed to each other, I will learn more about him, and his trust in me will increase. So far, his integration into life at the cosy apartment has been good, from my point of view; I hope it is from his, too.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Rebus Redux

To be honest, he may be Philo, but Rebus’s name provides alliteration.

In any case, I was able to re-trap one of the black kittens this morning. I’m sure he’s kicking himself for falling for the same trick twice, but the temperature dropped to -12° (-4° F) last night, so if he can be tamed, it will be the last frigid night Rebus will have to suffer.

There are still Philo and Rhombus to re-capture. The latter I have not seen since I released him subsequent to his neutering, but I will plan for his trapping, too. In the meantime, I will hope my luck holds. If I am lucky, then the remaining pair of kittens will be, as well.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Their New World

It’s been a number of days since I began Operation Déjà Vu - my attempt to re-capture the previously trapped and released kittens in the feral colony. So far, it has been a failure. As I feared, the three youngsters - Rebus, Rhombus and Philo - are now wary of the trap, and are avoiding it. I will continue my efforts, as it means the difference for them between life in the wild and a safe and healthy home.

In the meantime, progress on the parts of their brother and sister has been very good. Medallion had a head-start on her sibling, formerly named Phineas, now Phocas (due to a Finnegan being in the same household, and the names being too similar), but the little boycat has caught up. They have been out of their cage and on laps, where they have experienced the joys of being petted. Both have responded with hesitant purrs. They were reluctant to eat on their own, and were being hand-fed. Last night, however, they took the big step of eating a meal on their own. In the lower photograph, Medallion is a bit difficult to see because of her colouring, but she is in front and to the right of her brother.

Medallion and Phocas are in a foster-home which is very successful at socialising cats. The people there have brought around shy cats and kittens numerous times. When captured, the other three will go to another foster-home, whose person is equally patient and knowledgeable in the ways of cats.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Finally, Phineas

My luck has held, and the last of the kittens from my work-place’s feral colony has been captured. This is Phineas.

As you may remember, a concern was trapping Rhombus again, and thinking he was Phineas, as the pair, undoubtedly brothers, resemble each other closely. But I had two others here at my work-place confirm that I had someone different. In the picture of Rhombus, below, you will note the narrow black patch under his chin, like the tiny beard that used to termed a ‘thumb-piece’. As well, the white patch above the bridge of his nose is wide. Phineas has the narrower patch of white and a completely white chin. By the end of today, all five youngsters will have been fixed.

But the story doesn’t end here. An individual has come forward to take in four of the kittens and socialize them, so that they will stand a chance of being adopted. Medallion, whose progress has been such that she acquiesces to being petted - warily, but without strong signs of fear - will stay in her current foster-home. This new situation developed only after Rebus, Rhombus and Philo were released; this couldn’t be helped. Now, then, Operation Doctor Moreau is replaced by Operation Déjà Vu. I have three more kittens to trap - again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Just One of the Gang

When I arrived at work this morning, I saw no sign of the ‘feral’ kittens, not even their paw prints in the snow. But there were three adults waiting for breakfast. I served them and that’s when the kittens came out. I saw at least the two black ones - Rebus and Philo - and possibly one of the black-and-whites, though it is hard to distinguish them from a couple of the adults when everyone is running away from a human’s sudden appearance. But I know they are ready to be trapped again - well, available to be trapped again - and I will prepare accordingly tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I’ll share with you how one of the former members of the feral colony is doing at the cosy apartment.

Raleigh has never been bothered by the other beasts, and, except for when Cammie bumps into him, neither have they been bothered by him. Peachy tried to be friends with Neville but the Thin Man - less thin all the time - didn’t reciprocate and spends most of his time at the top of the tall sitting room cat-tree; there is little opportunity to foster friendship. So Raleigh contents himself with finding comfortable spots about the apartment, one of which is the bed.

As you can see, his integration is complete. It was, to tell the truth, an easy one, as has been Nev’s. I have been fortunate with these two. Raleigh’s main concerns seem to be nothing more than a full tummy, a warm bed and a human who treats him decently. Fortunately, I have been able to provide all three for this little Peach.