Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Play and Learn

I enjoy watching cats for many reasons. One is their intelligence. I can actually see them learning.

Brazil has been very skittish. He is now, however, at the point at which I can reach down at pet him at almost any time, and he will not only stay, he will lie down for some long strokes along his back and flanks. He is also coming to want face-rubs. But he has been rather afraid of the toys that I use in playing with the cats. He plays well with toys by himself, and very well with Aurora, but string-toys had appeared to him to be a menace.

Lately, and specifically last night, Shimmer didn’t run from the pennant-stick that has come to be a favourite with the younger crowd. Instead, he watched. He watched how the pennant fluttered behind the stick, how it went up and how it went down. Then he descended from the cat-tree, where he had been observing, and looked on as Aurora played. Brazil watched as the kitten chased the colourful streamer, lie in ambush for it, wrestled it.

This is often how cats learn, and one of the many reasons why it is good, if one can, to have a couple of cats, rather than just a single. Brazil is almost a year and a half old, yet he still learns, particularly from another cat. He may be teaching others the joy of playing with the pennant-stick some day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A Little Lap-time

Like Brazil, Aurora continues to make progress with humans, though in her case, it is the usual kitten progress. One of the problems with being raised in the Cosy Apartment is that there are few opportunities for cats to meet other people. I had a fellow-member of the rescue group drop off some cat-food yesterday, and Auro was frightened of her. Even so, the kitten consented to be held by the stranger. Such shyness will, I think, be easily overcome in a new home. Kittens are highly adaptable and Aurora will form a close relationship with anyone who treats her with affection and gentleness.

My newest house-guest’s only fault is that she is very bitey. Even with her needle-like teeth, her actions do not hurt, and are likely the result of being removed from her mother before weaning was fully completed. I am working to discourage her from nipping, as it may be a disincentive for adoption, though I suspect not a decisive one.

And there is this to compensate: last night, Aurora spent time on my lap after dinner. This is the first time she has chosen to lie there. She seemed to like it, purring contentedly - until she saw something interesting out the window. But it was a pleasant ten minutes for us both.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Imogen and Co.

Imogen is slowly becoming accustomed to Aurora. Miss Silky still growls and hisses at the kitten when the latter is too close for the former’s comfort. Tellingly, however, Imo will tolerate Auro’s proximity if she comes no closer once the warning is given. The younger cat is not very bothered by Imogen’s dislike, and accepts the limits imposed by the older feline. As may be seen, close is all right; closer is not.

Imogen doesn’t care for Brazil, as the latter still likes to chase her. He will rush at her and even jump up onto the tops of kitchen cupboards after Imo, which of course angers her. I don’t know what Brazil’s object is in these actions, whether it is actual hostility – which I can’t believe – attempted intimidation or even a misunderstood invitation to play. For now, though, I must intervene when it occurs, as my girl is unnerved by such events, and I will keep them separated if I think Shimmer is approaching too closely.

Nonetheless, Imogen’s attitude toward at least half the newcomers is improving, even if she still likes to take her meals to great heights…

Saturday, September 23, 2023

No Longer On the Menu

When Aurora first came to live with me, I fed her what she had been eating in her previous foster-home, but without success. She didn’t like it here, for whatever reason. A variety of soft-foods was attempted, but none met with her approval except one that was of fish. It was strongly fish, as could be discerned by the smell. Auro enjoyed it and ate it up.

Her digestive tract did not care for it. Her next poop was liquidy, which the previous droppings were not. A change of diet, no matter the content, frequently causes diarrhea in cats; I have seen it in many of the beasts who have come here. I suspected the new food, but continued to feed it to Aurora in case it was simply a matter of growing accustomed to it. That plan changed, however, when she couldn’t even make it to the litter-box one evening; her habits until then had been exemplary.

I altered her food again, and fortunately, have found one that she finds appetizing. Her body agrees. It is not cheap and, being a kitten, she eats a lot of it. But it is a good food. She is still attracted to other brands, nonetheless, and, when I was not looking last night, finished up some sole-cod-shrimp variety of Fancy Feast that Renn had left in his bowl. Within a quarter-hour, little Auro was in the litter-box leaving a liquidy review of the tasty but digestively-unfriendly Fancy Feast. A stricter vigilance led to a more solid deposit in her next visit to the facilities; the effects of different foods on her are that rapid. If I needed confirmation about her necessary diet, though, I had it.

These are the discoveries it is useful to make before a cat in foster-care is adopted. In Aurora’s case, the discovery is…no fish!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Mr Shimmer Teaches Us

I am very pleased with how far Brazil has come. Though I may be repeating myself regarding his progress, I can add that there is now very tentative interest in him from a couple. They realise his extremely timid nature and appear to be the sort who will give the orange fellow with the shimmery fur the time he needs to adjust to a new home. It will be a wrench for Brazil to go to a different environment, but what he has achieved with me shows that he can come around to new people.

Brazil came to live with me on the first day of August. In seven weeks, he has reached the stage at which he almost never runs from me when I reach to pet him, so long as I am slow about it. Sometimes he will dart away as I approach him, but he usually comes back. I normally feed him in the library. When he previously finished his food, and I would come to check on him, he would zoom past me into the corridor; I think he hated the idea of being trapped. Now, he still runs past me, but it is without fear, and calmer.

He and Aurora are getting along very well. In addition to chasing each other, they are beginning to play-whap each other, and may soon be wrestling. They groom each other, and I would not be surprised to see them lying together some day soon. Neville still dislikes Shimmer’s proximity, but that’s Neville. Renn has little problem with it. These are generally good signs, as the family interested in Brazil have a young cat in need of a playmate, and an old cat in need of someone to be the younger cat’s playmate.

I wrote some weeks ago that one of the advantages to fostering a cat is to watch his behaviour evolve. Another advantage is being able to allow it to evolve. Foster-guardians aren’t like adopters who usually like - and have a right to expect - a cat to be their companion, in one form or another, from the start. Thanks to Brazil being in a foster-home, we know that his shyness can be overcome to the point of welcoming physical attention; that he enjoys playing with another cat; that he will not bother cats who want nothing to do with him. If such qualities are what an adopter seeks, then we are now aware that it is a matter of time until Brazil shows them. These, and other facets of his character, are valuable things to know; tools to help find Mr Shimmer the home he deserves.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Little Fun, Now and Then

Renn is sixteen and a half and fighting kidney failure. His off-days seem to be coming with more frequency now, but so far, each time, he has recovered. He sleeps a great deal but he and I still have our talks at bed-time and spend most movie-nights together. And, once in a while, more often than one might think, he plays.

I don’t make it too strenuous for him, but he lets me know when he feels active, when he’s not in the mood, and when he’s done. Yesterday, my big boy wanted to play.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Receiving Instructions

Cats make some interesting sounds, and Neville is no exception. He will make appreciative – possibly critical – comments when I bring him his soft-food meals; sometimes he will talk while he eats – not polite, but not quite rude, either. Rarely, he will speak at other times, seemingly for no reason, though there must be some cause.

Unlike Tucker and his eerie calls to the Home-world (, Nev’s talk doesn’t last long enough for me to record. Instead, I must transliterate. Last night, while I was brushing my teeth, he was in the sitting room, and piped up again. This is what I think he said:

“Ohhh ahhh, ohhh ahhh…errrrrrrrrrrrrr… all right, all right.”

It sounded as if he were acknowledging the receipt of instructions. I hope they were benign…