Saturday, January 23, 2021

I See You

I have found that I never stop discovering things about my cats. That’s probably true of any advanced creature; just as we think we know them, their personalities develop some more and something new is presented.

Neville never struck me as someone with an expansive sense of levity. He plays, but in a rather desultory fashion. Fighting the stick and grabbing for the object at the end of a string-toy’s string – as long as not much effort is involved – seems to be his extent. But lately, I have found something else amuses him.

The Former Thin Man likes playing peek-a-boo. If I hide – or, rather, keep my face hidden – then reveal it, he starts purring. Repetition of this little game creates such a reaction that he starts kneading with his paws. Tucker has long enjoyed a short game of this, but I wouldn’t have thought that the Nevsky shared this taste.

I keep the game limited, so as not to cause boredom with it. I end it with a petting session, to which Neville is more receptive after a fun time peek-a-booing. It may be my imagination, but this seems to be part of a wider decision of his to be open to more interaction. He has not hitherto been an effusively warm cat, but he appears to be enjoying my company a bit more. I have to perform a curve on the poor fellow tomorrow – back to the traditional ear-pokes – so his sympathy toward me may be short-lived.

If he feels resentful because of the curve, however, I may be able to win him over again, with a little peek-a-boo.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

A New Tool

Neville will be experiencing a change in his diabetic treatment, beginning today.

With the help of the new electronic blood-glucose sensor and monitor, a very detailed chart of his blood-sugar numbers over more than a week was devised. What it illustrated was that his current insulin is not controlling his diabetes at all. The reaction of the Nevsky’s diabetes to ProZinc insulin varies from drastic to negligible. It is not in any way consistent, sometimes throwing his numbers down to single digits, sometimes having almost no effect at all. This situation is frustrating, especially since when he arrived at my apartment, he needed no insulin; he had gone into remission. Then, when he did require it, it worked well. He is not insulin-resistant, as sometimes happens, as it does have an effect on him, just not a consistent one.

Nev’s veterinary agreed that it was time to try another insulin. This is glargine, a human insulin (ProZinc was made specifically for cats.) It is the same kind that Tucker uses. For the roly poly, it has proven effective, though not spectacular. It has kept his numbers consistent, if not as low as I would like. However, its results have been satisfactory in his case.

In Neville’s instance, there may be an unknown factor, beyond diabetes, affecting his blood-sugar. His blood and urine were examined not too long ago, and though there were a few abnormalities, there was nothing startling or worrying, and nothing that would distort a diabetic reaction.

The amount of new insulin Neville will be given is conservative, just two units twice a day, so its effects may not be great. But this will be early days for the new treatment. The veterinary wants a curve after just a weekend of glargine being used. Unfortunately, the electronic sensor has a life-span of only two weeks, and Nev’s is about to die. I will probably have another placed for later study, but when they remain too long on a cat, they can lead to skin irritation and infection. Neville will therefore have to suffer the old-fashioned curve this time.

My poor foster-cat has had to put up with a great deal. I hope that this is the start of an easier treatment for him, and better days in general.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Neville Not Awake

It is always interesting watching cats as they dream. I know that not all of their dreams are good ones. I recall Tungsten periodically waking herself by crying out. Often when she woke from dreaming, she would call to me; I would come to where she was, and she would start purring.

Neville, on the other hand, had a dream this morning, in which he seemed to be chastising someone. Lying on the bed, he started saying something. To me – and bear in mind that I am not multilingual, either in human or feline speech – it sounded as if he repeated the same phrase three times; the inflection throughout was the same, even at the conclusion, to which he gave a curious little ‘curl’ to the sound. This was followed by a different sentence.

Then he woke up. He may have been embarrassed that he was caught speaking while asleep, for he purred and flexed his paws. I couldn’t help laughing at him, but he took my amusement well.

Not usually so vocal, the Nevsky normally restricts his speech to meal times, when he can’t help commenting in his gravelly tones about the approaching food bowl. Sometimes, he will remark upon the meal as he’s eating it. This was the first time I’d heard him talk in his sleep. I wish I knew what sights and sounds he had experienced on the other side of wakefulness. They appeared to be entertaining, whatever they were.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Just Older

The results of Renn’s medical tests came back on Monday, but, while certainly not less important than the trapping of the feral kittens, they were less immediate. They are not very bad results, but neither are they cheerful. My big boy is feeling the effects of age faster than he should.

His kidneys are degenerating. They are not suffering more than a cat’s usually do as he grows older; they are on the border of stage two kidney disease. Renn’s doctor is “not terribly worried” about the situation. I am not, either, just sad that my dependable fellow is going to be more dependent himself from now on.

The kidney issues are added to his dental problems - which, admittedly, will be diminished tremendously, if temporarily - soon, his arthritis and a possible case of asthma. The latter will be examined more closely when Renn goes for his dental; the doctor condoned my decision to have Renn’s lungs x-rayed at that time.

There are greater problems that could afflict a cat. Renn may have another decade ahead of him, after all. I feel sad at all his problems, rather then feel that they represent a tragic turn in his life. Except for the spectre of asthma, he is encountering nothing that most cats come up against in their later years. I simply feel that at barely fourteen, he is still too young to have them thrust at him, especially all at once. He sleeps more than previously; he leaps on to the bottom step of a staircase, rather than up to the bed in one bound; he coughs frequently. But he is still eating (as much as his slender appetite has ever demanded), playing (albeit more statically than once had been the case), and enjoying his chest-rubs. He is the first to lie at my side at bed-time, and still loves the tub being filled with water for my baths. Short of breath and achy he may be from time to time. But he is still my big boy. Just older.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Serenade for Four Kittens. Maybe Five.

Well, it appears that Sonata has a sister who shares her colouring. Meet Serenade, another tortoiseshell youngster. I am attempting even now to arrange a veterinary appointment for her.

I did not think I would catch another kitten so soon after Sonata, and, while I am pleased that I have, it throws out my expectations. I was told by the man who feeds the local ferals regularly that Bauble had four kittens: one black, one tortoiseshell, one black-and-white and one white with some black. As you may note, Serenade complicates things.

I believe I have seen a black kitten. But it may have been Sonata - whose colouring is darker than Serenade’s - in low light. Or it may have have Philo, a black cat captured in the past, and still present in the colony, though he is large and less likely to be mistaken for a black youngster than is a dark tortoiseshell kitten.

However, first things first. Spaying will be arranged for Serenade, and Sonata, who spent the night at my apartment, will be released. I literally have them coming and going. I just don’t know for how many guests to prepare.

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Morning Sonata

Late in 2020, I conducted Operation Raffles, a new attempt to capture unsterilized cats behind my work-place. I at last caught Bauble, the feline I had been trying to trap for two years. I caught her too late, however, to stop her from becoming pregnant once more. She was nursing kittens at the time, and I knew I would have to trap more cats in a few months.

I initially thought there were two kittens; it is now believed that Bauble had four. I had to wait until that slim time between the moment they no longer needed to be with their mother and when they would be old enough to reproduce. That time has come, and Operation Mini-Raffles has started. It has, in fact, provided its first results.

This is Sonata.

Being a tortoiseshell, she is almost certainly female. I have learned that there is no opportunity for her surgery today; she will go in tomorrow. This will mean a frightening day in a trap for her, but that cannot be helped, and she will soon recover from the ordeal. The important thing is that she is caught, and soon will be free to live her future without worry of endless motherhood.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Orange and White in the Night

While Renn suffers from arthritis and is heading toward a dental procedure, and Neville grapples with his diabetes, there are other beasts to talk about. In particular, this time, it’s Arliss, one of my newer outsider-cats.

Arliss was extremely shy when I first began seeing him; he would remain a distance even from the glass doors to my concrete ditch, and run if, when eating from my food-bowl, he saw me watching him. Slowly, he appears to be accustomising himself to my presence. Hopefully, he understands that I am the human providing the food that he periodically eats.

Arliss, like Sable and, well, pretty much every outsider-cat, is an animal I would like to trap and socialise. But I know little about him. As may be seen from the pictures I took, he does not seem to be starving. Since he comes to Café Cosy only rarely, he must have other sources of food. Indeed, he may actually be an owned cat, whose owners let him wander about outside, and is timid only of strangers. For this reason, capturing him is not feasible.

His pattern of fur is unusual, I think. Orange and white, the former colour appears restricted to large patches on his back, head and face. In one photograph, his ears look grey, though in another, their backs, at least, are orange. Lighting at night is not dependable for accuracy in these matters.

As time goes by, I hope that he will become more used to me. Sable knows me and knows my voice. Once, when she was trotting away from another human, she halted when I called her, and came over to wait for some food. Yet she still won’t come within my reach. Arliss may be the same, especially since he and Sable know each other. But I hope some day, he will be more trusting. Until then, he knows where he can have decent food and clean water whenever he needs it. Perhaps the moment will arrive when he comes for the company, too.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Neville Unbothered

Neville’s visit to the veterinary hospital was, I would rate, a success, though the Nevsky himself might disagree. The blood-glucose sensor was installed on his back, and he was given a little shirt to wear, so that it would stay in place, and he would have little chance of disturbing it.

After we had come home, it was clear that Neville did not like the shirt. He did not fuss about it, or try to remove it, but he was restless, changing locations four times in as many minutes. Also, he wore a heavy expression, as if weighed down. He was not trying to get at the sensor and, furthermore, I would have to remove the shirt to give him his insulin, though I could put it back on afterward. I took off the garment and found that Nev seemed bothered by the sensor not at all. As of writing, it has been six hours since our return to the Cosy Apartment, and he seems not even to notice the device. The shirt has remained off.

This success is complemented by the working of the sensor and monitor. I could not confirm at the veterinary hospital that the monitor, which I was able to borrow from another member of the PAW Society rescue group, would be compatible with the sensor; I suspected that there would be no difficulty, but I wanted to make sure, as I didn’t wish to wait until Monday to have any problem corrected. It turns out that the sensor had to adjust to Neville’s body temperature for an hour before it would start transmitting. I took the monitor’s compatibility on faith, then, and was rewarded when it gave me a reading sixty or so minutes later, at home.

Neville’s blood-sugar numbers are far too high but that is immaterial to the working of the sensor and monitor. His numbers, whether good or bad, are what we need to read to devise a better programme to treat his diabetes. Nonetheless, I can see a curve form much more clearly, and with many more readings along its descent and ascent, than I could with the standard method, poking the poor cat’s ears every two hours. This easy reading will continue for as long as the sensor remains attached to Neville’s skin, which, it is hoped, will be about two weeks. That will give us a wealth of information with which to work.

And it will give the Former Thin Man a much needed respite from blood-letting.