Wednesday, August 14, 2019

How to Kill a Cat-man

As those who read this blog regularly know, my cat Cammie has a problem with food allergies, and has had episodes of severe and continual vomiting from time to time, the causes of which sometimes elude me. Consequently, I am very careful regarding her access to food.

I am also sensitive to signs of her throwing up. I almost always wake when I hear that dreaded sound in the night, and leap from bed to determine if it is indeed the princess puking. A few nights ago, I heard such a sound.

Cammie had thrown up a hairball that day while I was at work. That didn’t concern me: a hairball is quite different from an allergic reaction. But this evening’s deposit was no hairball; it was thick, clear and slightly foamy, just what I’d expect her to bring up if she hadn’t eaten for several hours beforehand. I couldn’t think what the princess could have consumed earlier in the day to cause her problems this time, but I feared another of her episodes, all of which end with her going to the hospital.

There was a chance, however, that this was not going to turn in the usual direction. Cammie burps sometimes and has, now and then, brought up nothing more than some sputum. I hoped this was the case now. But I wouldn’t know until she had or had not thrown up some more, over the next day or so.

Well, she didn’t. I came home that afternoon from work and searched the bedroom in which she is sequestered each day. There was no unwanted debris. So it has continued since. The truth is not always apparent, even after a day or two, since her episodes are, though rarely, delayed reactions to her eating the wrong thing. After an initial vomiting, it is a matter of holding one’s breath for several days.

This is life with Cammie. Periods of calm punctuated by dread. Each of my beasts has his or her own way of terrorising me, of shortening my life-span. They will eventually kill me, I’m sure. But not this week.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Irony Reserves a Room

It was twenty months ago that the Hotel Cosy opened for business, ready to provide warmth and shelter to any cat who felt the need or desire for one or the other, or both. In all that time, it has been empty. The management was almost in despair over the preference of cats for other accommodation. However, that has changed, and someone has determined that a room at the hotel is rather pleasant, after all.

The ironic thing about our guest is that it is Finn (a.k.a. Hugo), a very friendly feline who has a permanent home elsewhere. Finn has been frequenting the Cosy Café, where he enjoys a meal on the house now and then, as well as indulging his fondness for having his long fur stroked and his head vigorously rubbed. He evidently saw the hotel’s straw, invitingly untouched by other guests, and thought that the clean, albeit rather aged, bedding looked quite comfy.

The illustrations show not the first time he has rested in the hotel, nor, possibly the second. I startled him out of his accommodation one evening, and, previous to that, I had noticed that the straw had appeared flattened, though I dismissed the notion that it was actually due to a snoozing guest. But my decision may have been too quick in that instance.

I was going to change the straw – I have a small, spare bale – but now I won’t do anything that may disturb Finn’s choice of rooms. It is true that, having a permanent home, the Hotel Cosy is little more than the gentleman’s pied-a-terre. But it is being used and, apparently, enjoyed, so the management will not quibble over the frequency or duration of a guest’s stay. Besides, Finn may give our establishment the feline recommendation that it needs to become even more popular.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Eating, and Not Enough of It

I sometimes wonder what I’d do if I didn’t have a cat to worry about. I’d probably worry that I didn’t have anything to worry about.

This week, it is Tucker. He has actually been on my mind for a while. He has been losing weight, very gradually, over some time, and that concerns me. It isn’t a swift enough reduction to make me think there is something very serious, such as cancer, behind it (though that too is always an anxiety). To be honest, I think he is simply not eating enough. It may be because he has no teeth, but that is not really a bar to his eating either hard- or soft-food. He just doesn’t like anything that I feed him. He doesn’t like cat-food.

Oh, he eats enough to stay alive; he eats enough to assuage his hunger. And his appetite is present - for the foods he likes. And the foods he likes are human-food. I have been cutting up roasted chicken for him; also, some lean roasted pork. But of these, he doesn’t eat enough to constitute a meal, even when a large quantity is offered.

I would like to give him some good quality cat-food that he would love, but how do I determine which that would be? Simply buying this variety or that, and testing their taste on the roly poly would become rapidly and prohibitively expensive. I have tried additives, toppings, flavourings, etc., but, while he may not dislike everything, his heart is clearly not in anything I have given him. It’s been a long time since he has cleaned his bowl.

The search goes on.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Dreams Out of Sight

There have been many changes, I am certain, to Cammie’s psyche since her blindness, but one I have noticed particularly has been that she now and then wakes from a slumber with a small, hoarse cry. It may be that she has been dreaming, perhaps of something startling. I expect her sight is whole in her dreams, but may be affected by her current darkness to make some weird and unsettling half-world.

I recall that Tungsten had nightmares periodically, though she would usually call out after she had woken; she wanted to know that I was present. She would start purring when I came to her and told her everything was all right. I can’t expect Cammie to sleep completely untroubled when she has gone through such a traumatic alteration in her life. But, like her late sister, the princess too seems comforted by my assurances that all is well, once she is conscious. She purrs then.

I worry that she is frightened from her sleep while I am absent. To be scared by a nightmare, only to wake to darkness in which any danger might lurk hidden, must be daunting indeed. But I like to think that Cammie knows that she is safe in her home, and the only real hazard is bumping into another cat unseen and unprepared. I talk more now that she is sightless; when I walk into a room in which she is lying, I tell her so, and before I pet her, I let her smell my fingers, and brush her whiskers; petting her suddenly is a bit of a jolt for her, I have observed.

So her adjustment continues. It may be a lifelong struggle to cope with her new world. But she still purrs, still lies on my chest – when she knows I am beside her – and enjoys being stroked and petted, perhaps more than she ever did. Her sleep may be troubled every so often, but I hope that her waking life still has some light in it.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Proximity and the Peach

Cammie is still adjusting to her blindness. It is not easy for her. Her greatest trouble is with the other beasts. They do not go out of their way to bother her, but bumping into them, even realizing that they are close, causes her to fear, and she hisses and growls. It can’t be easy, living without sight and never trusting those around you. Tucker and Josie are learning to move when they see Cammie coming, which I appreciate. Renn stays put, and I am trying to teach him otherwise. This anxiety on the princess’s part is manifesting itself in wetting outside her litter-box when she is confined to the bedroom during the day. (I think actually being in the bedroom alone, while it may be boring, is gentle on her nerves. The inappropriate wetting is an overall reaction.)

The one cat who seems not to cause Cammie the same agitation that others do is Raleigh. My Siamese girl has hissed at him, to be sure, but she appears more tolerant of his proximity than she is of others. I have seen the two of them at the screen door, both enjoying the scents and sounds of an early morning, or a balmy evening; Cammie must know that Peachy is near, yet she accepts it.

I have hoped in the past that a couple of my cats would become chums but, other than Tungsten and Renn, that has never occurred. Peaceful co-existence is good but friendship is better. Given time, perhaps something will come of this new association. Cammie could use a friend.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Missing Friends and New Customers

It has been a long time since I have seen Sable and Sablette, the two black sisters who would come quite often to eat at Café Cosy, the food I place outside the door to my concrete ditch. I think that something must have happened to them, something unpleasant and probably deliberate. If it had been an accident, surely one would still come. I can hope only that they were taken in by someone; there is no reason to believe that I was the only human friend they had.

Finn, whom I had called Hugo, still shows up, at least once a day, for some soft food. He is an owned cat (a fellow resident in the apartment building knew of him, and thus we were told his real name) and has a collar and tag (which I am sure he did not have when I first met him.) He is undoubtedly fed by his people, definitely fed by a neighbour of mine, and by me. I don’t mind that; Finn may not receive much in the way of soft-food at home. But he is not thin, so he is doing all right for himself. I don’t worry if he misses a meal or two at my place.

But now a new fellow (possibly a girlcat) has shown up. I have named him Cecil. He is skittish but not feral. I saw him for the first time yesterday, and he was eating some of the hard food I have available. He is of course welcome any time, and I hope to become better acquainted with him.

And then there were three other new cats, as well.

They came at twilight. I thought at first it was yet another novice customer at the café, then I saw two forms and believed that both Finn and Cecil had stopped by at once. I heard a trill and saw what was really at my food-bowl. No wonder Raleigh was so excited watching them. They were startled by my approach and ran, only to come back a minute later.

I am fine with the trio (whom I have named Winkin, Blinkin and Nod, due to the time of their arrival) eating my food. But they tend to take it all, so I will leave a decent amount over night, and they can have it all, if they wish (and they will.) In the morning, after which raccoons are unlikely to come, I will put more food in the bowl, in case Cecil drops by for a bite.

I had noticed the food disappearing most nights, and thought it might have been wild animals. My regular, Horace the skunk, has not been seen for longer than Sable and Sablette, but I figured it was another one taking his place. Well, it was three, probably a small family.

They are welcome, too, though the maitre d’ may have to speak to them about their table-manners…

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Braver and Braver

Raleigh is making progress in his trust. Over the past week, I have had to give him eye drops, and that meant catching him. This, in turn, used to mean following him as he fled from one room to another, from one corner to another. (I didn’t chase him; I figured that would lead to more fear.) The last of the drops had to be given yesterday, and by then he was moving a little to avoid me, but not running. He still hates being picked up, flinching and wincing the whole time. But he submits to the terror with greater resignation now. I may continue to pick him up to allow him to grow used to it. He doesn’t mind being on my lap once he is there. He relaxes as I brush or stroke him. When he decides to get off, he walks, rather than runs.

Then there are the moments when he is hungry or simply wants my attention for some unfathomable reason. Then he will talk and talk and talk, and come right up to me, slowly, cautiously, but more than willing to be petted and touched. Formerly afraid of approaching me in either the bedroom or the bathroom, he has started coming up to me there, too.

The Peach will always be a timid and easily startled cat. But as he realises that he is safe, and grows to think of the cosy apartment as his home, his confidence will increase. I would like to see him adopted, of course, with a loving and permanent family of his own. But cats don’t know fostering from forever, so however Raleigh begins to feel better is fine with me.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Things That Go 'Clang' in the Night

I wake several times in the night. I often wake about four o’clock; I have to get up to start my day at about five during the week, about five-thirty on weekends. When I wake at four, I can usually fall asleep again without trouble, and gain advantage from the hour remaining. When I wake at four-thirty or so, I have difficulty returning to sleep, probably because my mind, knowing how close it is to the moment I must rise, anticipates being roused by the alarm, and keeps wondering when it will go off.

This preamble sets the stage for Sunday morning. I woke at four o’clock and, realizing that I had another ninety minutes or so in which to sleep, drifted back into unconsciousness. I was woken abruptly forty-five minutes later by a metallic clang. I am sure it wasn’t part of my dream, as much as I am sure it did not originate from outside. Something had fallen, or was pushed, inside the apartment. I got up and searched, but found nothing out of the ordinary. All was as it should have been.

The cats looked innocent of any wrong-doing. In fact, they appeared surprised that I was up so early, and wandering about the apartment in the twilight before dawn. Nothing seemed to have dropped onto the floor; there was no debris; all was in its place. I think Josie even suggested that I was hearing things. I went back to bed but - the time being so close to when I had to rise - I could not regain my slumbers, and lie awake for another half-hour. Cammie thought it a good moment to come and lie on my head.

I still haven’t discovered what made the noise or, almost as significant, who made it. But I have thoughts on the subject. Here are the usual suspects…

Sunday, July 28, 2019

He Screams for Ice Cream

More than six years ago, I wrote in this blog about Tungsten’s liking of ice cream, and how she appeared to have distracted me one time in order to lick some from my bowl. These days, it is Tucker who enjoys a taste of the dairy product.

Tucker isn’t devious; he is obvious. He has a certain cry that he emits only when he wants something that I am eating. He doesn’t make much of a sound when he is hungry in general, or when I am preparing his own food. Cat-food is not, apparently, exotic enough for comment. But when the ice cream comes out, it’s a different matter.

And it’s a different matter at the exact moment the ice cream is removed from the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. The roly poly one knows its container, and he starts crying as soon as he spies it. He is insistent.

I don’t eat ice cream often myself. I usually treat myself to it during my holidays, and I am finishing the remains of that treat. But there is always enough to leave a little pool of it in the bottom of the bowl, an amount that will hardly do a cat harm. And, if I work hard at it, I can persuade myself that Tucker is actually asking for some politely.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

In Moderation

It was the Roman playwright Plautus who suggested that ‘moderation in all things’ was a beneficial policy to follow. I agree, except when it comes to good news. In that regard, I don’t mind matters becoming a little wild, and things going to extremes. But I will accept even moderately good news, if that is what is offered.

Yesterday, Raleigh and I received moderately good news from his doctor. Firstly, the superficial ulcer in his left eye has cleared up. I am to continue putting drops in Peachy’s eye twice a day for a week, but this is a measure designed to make sure the ulcer doesn’t return, rather than to make it go away.

The more serious problem is his stomatitis. It has diminished a little, but is still evident. It is not, however, centred about his remaining teeth but, rather, farther back. In other words, removing the last of Raleigh’s teeth probably won’t have an effect on his condition. For now, therefore, more dental surgery is not being considered. Instead, his dosage of Prednisolone has been increased, from one tablet a day to one and a half, two thirds of the dose given in the morning, the rest in the evening. Fortunately, Raleigh is usually hungry enough at both times to eat enough soft-food in which to hide his medicine. (He doesn’t seem to eat any hard-food, though he had in his early days with me; therefore, he consumes nothing while I am at work.) While his stomatitis is still an issue, then, there is a plan to combat it without resorting to surgery. This is part of the good news.

There is something I have noticed about Raleigh’s reactions to going to the doctor. Though the Peach may run from me for a while, it is far easier now to catch him for both his eye drops (which is a relief for me, especially early in the morning when I have to go to work) and to put in the carrier. He cries going to the hospital and is almost literally petrified while there. But once he returns, he appears relieved and cheerful. He doesn’t hide and is rather talkative. Though he is very frightened during the appointment, once it is over, it seems hardly to have had an effect.

He is doing better over all in matters of trust. Though he may always be very timid, recovering from set-backs takes him less time than it did and, I hope, damages him less deeply. It may be a case of three steps forward and two back but the arithmetic is in his favour. And that is moderately good.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Normalcy Wanted, for Long-term Relationship

We seem to be back to normal at the cosy apartment. After Cammie’s visit to the hospital on Friday, she ate, under the stimulus of medicine, very well. She drank very little water. Sunday, the drug started to wear off, and she seemed out of sorts a bit. Monday, however, she was returning to normal. Yesterday and today, she ate her usual amounts and was drinking water again.

I am anxious that this will be repeated at some point, the frightening aspect being that it seems Cammie’s episodes are growing worse all the time, harder for her to recover from. But all I can do is be vigilant, pick up even the smallest crumb of food the others may drop and take away any opportunity she has of eating what she shouldn’t while I am absent.

As for Raleigh, he goes to the veterinary hospital today for his re-examination. I hope his stomatitis is receding once more and he won’t require further surgery. The little fellow has been through a great deal in his short life, and I’d like the rest of it to be a little easier.