Monday, July 6, 2020

A Word in Their Ears

Two of the kittens I have been trying to trap look very similar. I have caught Shasta; he was neutered and returned to his family last week. This morning, I trapped another black and white kitten. This is him, immediately below. Right below him is Shasta.

You can see the similarity. I had to consult to of my colleagues at work to help me differentiate them. The cats’ faces are too close for contrast - looking at Shasta’s photograph, I began to doubt that the dot on his nose was permanent, and therefore doubted that I could rely on it for identification. We at last decided that their flanks had differing patterns.

Then, I recalled that the doctor performing the surgeries now tips the ears of the ferals whom he fixes, rather than tattoos them. The efficacy of that practice was demonstrated when I saw that today’s kitten’s ears are intact. Much the better method of knowing cats than trying to find a visual difference in twins. All I have to do now is remember to look for it...

I've named the new one Fresca. I’ll say that he is another boy, and brother to Shasta. He will be fixed today.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Cammie's Cup

When Cammie lost her sight, I tried to make living as easy and convenient for her as possible. Among my actions were to place a small bowl, a cup, really, on a shelf of my desk close to the floor in a corner of the bedroom, near Cammie’s heated cat-bed. After numerously directing her attention to it, by tapping the bowl and stating ‘water’, she soon found it – probably through smell, and not my efforts. She resorted to it all the time; it was just a step or two from her favourite napping spot.

When Cammie died, I removed the bowl. There were six others in the apartment, two in the bedroom alone. No one was suffering from water-deprivation.

But when I started to notice Josie’s slower movements and considered the possibility of arthritis or other discomfort affecting her joints, I decided to replace the little bowl. To my satisfaction, my Chubs has begun to drink from it, quite as often as she does from the bowl placed on the ledge below the window above, or the large one by the door. If the Great White is taking her ease on the floor, or a lower platform of a cat-tree, it is a much easier route to a drink than having to climb for one. Renn, too, likes the bowl, from which he had now and then surreptitiously drunk when Cammie was alive.

Now, Cammie’s cup comes close to running dry each day, and is actually drained of water, if I am not on top of things. Renn drinks infrequently but deeply, while Josie finds herself thirsty several times a day. I am pleased that they are using the cup, though I doubt that my princess would be as delighted. I can hear her hiss and growl, bumping into the interlopers daring to drink from her little well. After all, it is Cammie’s cup but, perhaps, she will forgive me for loaning it to her siblings.

Friday, July 3, 2020

A Typical Week

There is a cold making the rounds among the feline residents of the cosy apartment. Renn had it first, though, as is his way when he has a cold, it manifested itself principally through explosive sneezes, a few sniffles and nothing else. My big boy wasn’t slowed down and his appetite, such as it ever is, was unaffected.

Next struck was Josie. My Chubs had plenty of sneezes, firing little bursts out of one side of her mouth and screwing her face shut like Popeye. Considering her age and growing frailty, I was afraid for her, but my old lady seems to have overcome the worst of it with no lasting effects.

Tucker is the real victim of the cold. He has been hit hard, having contracted it a couple days ago. His sneezing is messy and I can hear him wheezing a little. I worry about the cold developing into an upper respiratory infection, though, if it is coming, it won’t show up for a few days yet. Tucker had a decent meal at snack-time last night, for which I was grateful. This morning he ate little, but the roly poly one isn’t a breakfast kind of guy.

He is also suffering from an abrasion on his nose. This was a simple scratch before his cold, probably received in a disagreement with Renn. The brothers have spats now and then; Tucker usually starts it, and usually gets the worst of it. Since then, however, he has been rubbing his leaky nose, and irritating the scrape. I will keep an eye on that, too.

Colds, fights, contusions and trapped kittens: thus ends another typical week in the cosy apartment…

Thursday, July 2, 2020

July's First Kitten

This is Shasta. He’s the second of the four kittens I have to capture at my work-place. He fancied some sardines for breakfast, but realised he was trapped before he ate. Much more exuberant in his efforts to escape than was his sister, Fanta, he is calm now and awaiting his fate, which, I hope, will be a neutering today. (I am guessing that he is a boy.)

After two days of heavy, uncharacteristic rain in our part of the country, and then the Canada Day holiday, I was hoping for some luck with trapping. Shasta has provided it. There are two more little ones to catch, and two adults. I don’t know how fortune will smile upon me with the adults, but the kittens are a grey one and a fourth who is either grey-and-black or white-and-black. Either way, the little black dot on Shasta’s nose should differentiate him from a similarly-hued sibling.

This is a good start to July.

Monday, June 29, 2020

A Blep on the Radar

Neville sticks his tongue out more than any other cat I’ve had as a roommate. Usually, just the tip protrudes. Once in a while, it is more. I don’t know why he does it; I don’t know why any cat does it. Perhaps Nev is using it to test the temperature, his fur preventing him from attaining an accurate reading otherwise. Perhaps it’s a hint that he is hungry, and that I should feed him. Perhaps he is expressing his opinion of me, his surroundings, or life in general. Perhaps he thinks he’s a snake.

Whatever the cause, I find it amusing. I captured the moment in a slightly blurry photograph. I intend to show it to too many uninterested people.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

His Natural Selection

I haven’t had too many long-haired cats in my life. Kola, a previous foster-cat, was one. Now, there is Neville. The parts of him that were shorn of fur by the veterinary are slowly coming to be covered again, but what was left to him is enough to make him a bit of a puzzle to the eyes when he is twisted about and snoozing.

This is the Nevsky when he is more easily identified.

But then he will throw himself on his back, roll about for position, and stretch out. It becomes a matter of looking twice if I want to find which end is which. This is important, I have found, for the purposes of petting. It doesn’t help that Nev is, unlike Renn, whom I think counts as a medium-haired feline, all one hue.

Eventually, I solve the mystery, even though he renews it each time. Each cat is unique, in many ways. It’s just one of Neville’s characteristics that he blends in, not with his surroundings, but with himself. That may not help him in nature, befuddling potential enemies, but on a bed or couch, it does give his human pause. I suppose this is an insider-cat’s version of natural selection.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Intimidator

With the excitement of Ambrose’s escape and trapping behind us, routine returns to the Cosy Apartment. Sable appeared, as I mentioned, Wednesday night, but neither she nor Jessel showed up last night, when they could have had a relaxed and undistracted meal each. I hope to see them soon, if only to know they are all right.

Before Ambrose, however, I noted that Sable’s reaction to coming for a meal was dependent upon who was watching her. Renn, who is usually - usually - kind and open-pawed with those with whom he lives, can be quite territorial with outsider-cats, even those as obviously harmless as Sable. When Renn is at the screen of the sliding glass door, Sable keeps her distance. I know she understands that the screen is a barrier; she also understands that it is not a strong one, and she doesn’t quite trust my big boy not to burst through it.

Consequently, I’ve taken to placing Sable’s dish of food on the parapet of the concrete ditch. The height and added distance provides her with a security that a lower, nearer feeding location does not.

Such, I know, are the precautions that outsider- (and even insider-) cats must sometimes take. Their world is not a safe one, and circumstances are not always to be trusted. While I know that Renn would probably rely more on a growl and a hiss than a bite or a scratch, this knowledge is far from universal. Though I know him to be mostly harmless, this cat is, believe it or not, sometimes perceived as intimidating. It’s all in one’s perspective.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ambrose Goes Home

Firstly, let me write that little Eos - now re-named, due to some confusion, Fanta - is recuperating in the Cosy Apartment. She will be released later today. She has, to my surprise, eaten a little food, drank plenty of water and even dribbled a little in a small container of litter I have provided for her. She hates me, however, and makes no effort to hide her feelings. That’s all right; I expect defiance from a tiny tortoiseshell.

Secondly, I will explain the excitement surrounding the capture of Ambrose. It constituted one of the most suspenseful episodes of my life, which is rather sad since it involved a cat. But nonetheless…

I had determined to set my trap early last night, as Ambrose had found me unprepared previously by showing up about nine o’clock. I therefore set it about eight-thirty, aided by a pleasantly cool evening and gathering clouds, that kept the sun from heating the bait and attracting flies. The early evening gave us rain, which I knew would keep all cats under shelter. I enjoy a rainy day, but this time, I wanted it to cease. It did, thank goodness, soon after nine o’clock. Half an hour later, Ambrose appeared, and the fun began.

In the dimming light - due not only to the setting sun but to clouds which, after thinning subsequent to the rain, were thickening again - I saw a cat on the grass by the fence a dozen feet away. It was Sable, my friendly regular visitor to the food bowls. But then I observed, emerging from under the fence, Ambrose. He sat behind Sable; they obviously both wanted food. But if Sable were to eat the bait and trigger the trap, it would be a disaster: not only would I not get Ambrose this night, but I would likely never get him, after he witnessed another cat being seized by the trap.

Sable, however, has a sweet-tooth - well, a preference for hard-food. She ignored the food in the trap where it was lying on the parapet of my concrete ditch, and dropped down to eat from the hard-food bowl in its shelter by the door. I was grateful for this but was reminded that Ambrose too might pass up the more threatening soft-food for the safer hard. Sable, oddly, did not remain for long, for which I was also grateful. This left Ambrose to explore the food in the trap.

And explore it he did. He knew there was food there; he could smell it, he could see, he could almost taste it. But he distrusted the strange metal cage in which the food had been placed. He circled the trap slowly, numerous times. He dropped into the ditch and considered it from below. He pawed at it through the mesh of thin bars. I watched him discreetly the whole time. If I had been sitting on a chair, I would have been on its edge.

Then, he left. I was disappointed but not despairing. It was only about ten o’clock. I knew Ambrose was hungry, and thought he might be back. I re-charged the bowl with fresher food, and more of it. I waited. Sure enough, my quarry returned. He spent some time picking at the hard-food in the grass; I scatter it there to attract birds for my cats to watch. By this time, I had removed the hard-food bowl, so that my visitor wouldn’t be tempted to eat from it instead of the more tempting but possibly dangerous soft-food. Ambrose came back to the trap, circling it some more. Then, he squatted in front of the trap, staring at the food. For ten minutes. He eventually stood and trotted down to the far end of the apartment building.

I re-positioned the cage so that he would encounter it on his way back, as I knew he would exit the lawn by the way he had come. I would wait. I had time, right? Wrong. The clouds had built up, and lightning flashed in the west. The storm was coming back; it would be a thunderstorm this time, and I noted that Ambrose glanced up at the rumbling sounds. They would frighten him away, and soon, if the rain didn’t cause him to seek shelter sooner.

I decided to add to his temptation - literally. I took a handful of Temptation Treats and scattered them within the trap, concentrating a pile of them on the platform-trigger. Ambrose re-traced his route toward my apartment. He spent some time jumping, presumably on insects or the like, some of which he caught and ate. But they hardly sated his appetite, and he caught wind of the treats. By now, that wind had freshened, and it brought something to me: rain, on its way.

Ambrose found some of the treats that had fallen outside the bars of the trap, but he smelled many more inside. He worked his way around the oblong cage and, at last, inside. He didn’t trigger the trap, however, and I held my breath, in case I should panic him in the decisive moment. He crawled farther in to the trap - and the door closed.

I immediately called his owner, the young woman who had contacted the PAW Society about him in the first place. She and a friend hurried over. Immensely happy over the recovery - I had them identify Ambrose on the spot, just in case - they loaded the trap into their car. (I thought it much safer for him to be released in the security of his home, rather than venture a transfer where we were.) Ambrose’s hazardous adventure was over, and he would be with his family again. The rain started to fall heavily fifteen minutes later.

I have no pictures from the evening; it was too dark for photographs. But below are a couple of images from before Ambrose’s escape, showing how his life will be, once more.

I think I aged several years last night. But all is well that ends well, as the Bard wrote, and all was worth the effort. I hope Ambrose slept well last night; I suspect he did. I know I did.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

No Luck with Ambrose but...

I had no luck with Ambrose last night. I saw him a couple of times, but he surprised me by showing up earlier than he has before. I hadn’t put food in the trap because the day and evening were so warm and sunny, any cat-food left out was swarmed with flies and ants. I was ready to bait the trap when the day had cooled, but Ambrose anticipated me. I will be ready for him earlier this evening.

Ambrose eluded me, but this little one didn’t.

I’ve named her Eos. She won’t be with me for long.  She is going to be spayed today, and then released back to her feral family. She is about four or five months old, not the two or three months I thought. I wish there was a home for her to go to, as I think she could be socialised, but, as most reading this know, there are already far more cats needing homes than there are homes. But at least Eos will be with her siblings again, and won’t make any more homeless kittens.

Now for her brothers and sisters…

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Ambrose at Twilight

As I wrote yesterday, I am trying to capture cats at work. This morning’s score is discouraging: the traps’ triggers didn’t trip when tiny kitten weights pressed on them; they received a free breakfast of sardines and made their escapes. I will have to set the triggers more precariously. Also, I captured an adult cat who had already made his journey to the veterinary. Tomorrow, I hunt again.

Now, however, I am also going to be trapping at home, too. This is Ambrose.

Ambrose is not his real name; it is one I have given him, but it will do for this story. A week or more ago, a young woman emailed the rescue-group with whom I work inquiring if anyone had reported seeing or meeting her cat, who had escaped his home. The description and photographs provided were not familiar to me. Then, on Facebook, she expanded a little on her narration, and reported where Ambrose had been lost. It was on my street.

It was then that I realised Ambrose looked similar to the cat who had recently started coming by my apartment. He shows up at twilight, both the evening’s and the morning’s. He eats rapidly and hungrily, and rarely leaves a morsel; usually, he washes his meal down with a long drink from the water-bowl. Last night, as he was scurrying off following a good dinner, I called him by the name of the lost cat. He stopped, turned and sat down. Now, an interesting coincidence is that I was the one who had responded to the woman’s email to the rescue-group; this is part of my duties. After telling her that no one had reported her lost cat, the cat began coming to my apartment every day.

After Ambrose recognized his name, I called the woman, and she and her friend came over to try to find him. We saw him but he was too frightened and confused to recognise his human. I spent forty minutes slipping in and out of back lawns, between houses and down alleys. We tried treats and tinned food, but nothing would coax Ambrose to his person. We had to give up for the night, and I was worried that our quarry would be too scared to appear again, or even to stay in the neighbourhood. Ten minutes later, though, he showed up at my apartment, hungry from his pursuit. This morning, he appeared again.

I believe that he will fall for a trap. Ignorant of how to survive in the ‘wild’, Ambrose is, I think, hungry enough to ignore whatever vessel food is in and walk into a cage. I will be testing my theory this evening. Perhaps, with luck - if the kittens at work haven’t hoarded it all in the evasion of their own traps - Ambrose will be back home before the last vestiges of sunlight fade today.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Operation Raffles

Once again, the traps are out behind my work-place. We have spotted four kittens there; they are likely between two and three months old, but that’s just a guess. I will be trying to capture them and have them fixed.

This will be difficult. These ones are much more irregular in their habits than the previous sets of kittens we’ve trapped. They are sometimes not seen for days, and even the food left for them goes untouched. Now and then, we see only one or two of them, not all, and we don’t always see them in the same places. The only advantage I have in this endeavour is that the little ones are too young to be wary of traps, as traps.

I would also like to capture the cat we believe is the mother, though we cannot be certain. I have named her Bauble (hence the name of the operation, after the fictional gentleman-thief), but, to be honest, I don’t know if she is mother to the kittens, if she is not already spayed, or even if she is a she. She (for convenience, I will use the feminine pronoun) appears irregularly, just like the kittens, though more frequently.

And, as a bonus, it would be very gratifying to capture a cat I’ve named Sunrise, a healthy looking tom who shows up now and then for food.

He used to be very frightened of people, but seeing the colony-caretaker bring out tasty sustenance has made him accustomed to the people at my work-place, and, though he keeps an eye on passers-by, he no longer even stops eating when a human walks near. But he too keeps no habitual schedule, and catching him will rely on chance, as it will with the other five.

I will keep everyone apprised of developments but, unfortunately, I don’t expect to be sending any news soon. Unless something in the situation alters, however, the traps will be set almost every weekday. Somecat will slip up eventually, and when he or she does, my trap will be there.

Sunday, June 21, 2020


I’ve never had all of my cats on the bed at once and been able to photograph it. They have, recently, been on there at night, but I had no proof. And, of course, I haven’t had as few cats for a long time. But, considering their diverse characters, and that they all would prefer to be only-cats, I think this picture is rather gratifying.