Saturday, April 17, 2021

Satisfactory Progress

Someone who follows this blog wanted to know how Tucker was doing. The roly poly is doing well.

His behaviour is as it should be. He is back to sitting at the dinner table with me while I eat and imploring me to give him pieces of what I have on my dish. If he doesn’t stay begging for as long as he once did, I don’t think that is a big problem. He is otherwise eating a satisfactory amount. I attribute this to the Mirtazapine.

I would like to keep him on that - the doctor said that a cat may use it indefinitely – but I worry that it will lose its efficacy over time – perhaps the body grows used to it - and I would like to keep it for later use, if need be. Anyway, I want to see how his appetite is without artificial enhancement. I have one more syringe left and, under the prescription I was given, that would last ten days. I want to give the Tuxter half a dose each day, and see how that works on him.

He is also taking his kidney-powder again. Some cats seem to have had their appetite suppressed by this medicine, but so far, things are set fair for this aspect of Tucker’s treatment, too.

Something I have noticed is that he appears a little hesitant to jump up on to the dining room chairs, one of his favourite spots. He isn’t showing weakness in the hind quarters, which is a symptom of diabetes, so I don’t believe that is the reason. I think he is simply starting to feel his age, and feel it in joints and muscles. He is sixteen now. He has also begun coming over to me more while I am in the kitchen, and wanting attention. I often pick him up, and he purrs. I wonder if his creeping age is making him feel insecure. In any case, that is an effect I can treat without drugs. Laughter may be the best medicine, but a little cuddling comes a close second.

Friday, April 16, 2021

My Successful Integrations

Sometimes I wish that my cats were the kind that cuddled together and groomed each other, cats who chased each other in playfulness and sat next to one another to peer out the window. But mine don’t really like each other; each could be an only-cat and be quite satisfied with the situation.

Now and then, I catch a glimpse of what it’s like in some other households. When I wake up each day, and when I come home from work, I provide a small snack for the beasts. It is nothing more than a number of kernels of the inexpensive hard-food I provide for the outsider-cats. It apparently has a more appealing taste than the costly nutrition I give mine on the inside. They eat the latter food, but the other is in the way of a treat for Tucker, Renn and Neville.

I place a small handful on the bed for each. I had been giving the Nevsky some of the floor but, unable to wait for that, he has taken to jumping up to eat with the others, lest he miss some that his roommates are receiving. So once or twice a day, there is a concerted action among the three, and in one place. There is no hissing because of propinquity, no trotting away to a more isolated corner. As I tell people introducing cats to each other, any integration which doesn’t result in murder and mayhem is a successful integration.

Once or twice a day, I see my successful integrations.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Speak Up; You're Mumbling

My foster-cat, Neville, is becoming rather a talkative fellow. He didn’t say much when he first arrived. Over time, however, he started talking to his food. He would mumble into his bowl while he was eating. He reminded me of soldiers in movies who grumbled about their food even as they ate it; there was nothing else for them to eat.

As time went on, the Former Thin Man (he must have liked his food because he ate enough to qualify his title) began talking while he was served his meals, eventually reaching the point at which he would give his low grumbling mumble when he saw the full dish advancing on him. I would hold it up - “rhnmgnrmbmng…” - put it down, then hold it up again:  “rhnmgnrmbmng…”

The Nevsky has expanded his conversation, both in its quantity and its subjects. He will see me passing and stretch out on the floor or chair - “nnghdhmgrnnghh” - and roll onto his side or back: it’s time for some petting.

And now, he doesn’t wait until I am in the same room. I was in the kitchen this weekend and heard a murmuring grumble from the higher cat-tree in the sitting room. When I looked to see what the complaint was, Nev, lying on the uppermost platform, quickly rolled onto his side. Was it time for some chin-runs? All right; I had a few minutes.

Neville took a long time to become comfortable in the Cosy Apartment. He is still rather insecure, cringing when it is time for his insulin injections, even though they can’t hurt that much. Of more worry to him is his monthly ‘curves’, day-long ear-pokings to draw blood for testing. But he has also become much more accepting of affection, and often needs me only to repeat his name to start kneading the air and purring. His increased loquaciousness is, I think, a sign of his growing comfort and ease.

I just wish he’d use a few more vowels.


Friday, April 9, 2021

The Mystery of the Pretend Poop (a.k.a. The Case of the False Feces)

When you have pets, you never know what you will come home to find. For instance, yesterday, I came home from work, was greeted by Tucker, with Renn sitting in the background and Neville somewhere, completely apathetic to my comings and goings and, indeed, to my existence. All was as it usually is. Except what I saw on the rug of the corridor.

It was excrement, feces, poop…a turd, as Noel Coward might have said (in one of his distraught moments.) Great. Why did one of these little monsters go there, in the middle of the corridor? What’s wrong with the litter-boxes? What’s the problem now?

Then, upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was not waste product, it was by-product; to be exact, the modern meat-eater’s bane, animal by-product. It was, in fact, a hot dog.

The evening before, I had opened a package of frozen hot dogs to wrap each piece of cylindrical goodness individually for consumption later. Being frozen, the little nutritionless delights required some force to separate each from his comrade. Applying rather too much force, I detonated the contents in several directions. Most, fortunately, landed somewhere clean (such as the kitchen counter), though at least one rolled on the floor. I can assure you that a hot dog, unlike, say, a book, does not need time to gather dust. This autumn-hued fugitive collected dust-bunnies like a dying millionaire collects unknown relatives. I felt bad, but that hot dog could not fulfill its destiny: rather than be eaten, it was thrown out.

I wondered at the time if I had found all the escapees. It turns out that I had not. The half-eaten hot dog disguised as its ultimate result had been reposing on the rug next to a dust-bunny that looked distinctly under-refrigeratorish.

I theorized that, having little to do all day but sleep, look out the window and discuss physics with each other, the cats were drawn by the aroma of dirty, uncooked wiener and found the missing link under a kitchen appliance. Who found it remains unknown; it could have been a collaborative effort. But the eating presented the usual suspects.

Neville is not known for exploring the apartment, nor is he enamoured of human food. Even were it coated in hairy dust, it would likely give him no desire for consumption. I can’t see the Nevsky having either the energy or curiosity required for such an achievement as salvaging a lost hot dog.

Tucker loves the taste of hot dog. I give him small bits that he consumes with relish. Figuratively, not literally. I draw the line at providing the beasts with condiments. He would also be a likely forager, digging at an unseen but smelly object until it was in his grasp. But his stubby legs are not made for delving under refrigerators, nor does his toothlessness lend itself to the tearing evident in the remains of the hot dog found. As he himself will tell a person, “he has no teef”. I ruled out the roly poly.

Then, there is Renn. My big boy usually disdains human food, like Neville, but has eaten roasted pork. As well, finding a large morsel under an appliance, on the floor, dirty and unappetising, might persuade him that it was not human food but just right for cats. His legs are long and lean and his teeth, though those that remain are fewer than they were, are still strong and sharp. Therefore, I accuse…Renn!

Well, I can’t be too hard on him. After all, if it hadn’t been for his diligence - or appetite - the hot dog would have mummified under the refrigerator, which would not have been good for the housekeeping. And a little well-earned snack in the afternoon is always enjoyable.

Besides, the hot dog wasn’t what I initially thought it was, and the mystery that attended its appearance was solved to the gratitude of all.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What I Miss About Her

I miss all my departed cats. But I miss them in different ways. I was thinking of Josie yesterday, and how I miss her; not the amount that I miss her - I don’t think that can be calculated - but what I miss about her. She was quite a diverse little creature. When she was young, she was playful. I isolated this one image of her from a video of a play-session she and I had from years ago; as it was in an earlier apartment, before we moved to our house (and then moved out of it), it must have been about 2009. I had tossed my Chubs the ring off a milk jug, and it landed on her face, encompassing her eye. I always chuckle at that image.

Her playfulness isn’t what  miss most about Josie. What I miss most is simply her presence. She created as much work for me as any other of my cats, especially as she grew older and sicker, but there was something mature and stable about her. She was apart from the others - physically, in that she stayed principally in the bedroom during her last couple of years - and this made her seem to be someone I could come to talk to. She didn’t engage in the shenanigans of the others, the ‘youngsters’. This felt like a difference, even though she had her own quirks that could be just as exasperating - and she was only a year older than Tucker and Cammie, anyway.

But relationships are often not just in the concrete, but in the intangible. It felt like she was a partner in managing the Cosy Apartment. It was that way with Tungsten, who really was above the rest of the crowd in terms of authority and behaviour. After Tungsten died, Josie slipped into that role - part of it, anyway - perhaps because she was the surviving one of my first two cats. Being able to spend time with the Great White felt like a conversation with a fellow adult after the children had been put to bed.

Among the many things I miss about Josie’s presence is her presence; the reliability of her being there. Secure in what she perceived as her place in the world, she had put away juvenile things long before, and helped make my world solid with her maturity and intelligence. That is what I miss about Josie. Among the many things.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Our Adventures Together

I have been letting Tucker into the building’s corridor outside my apartment, and he has been enjoying himself. He walks with his tail well up, curiously examining everything. But he is cautious, too. He keeps looking up at me, to make sure I am with him. And that started me thinking.

Tucker always looks up at my face. He doesn’t watch my feet moving beside him; he knows I am walking, keeping pace with him. He doesn’t care so much about that; he is looking at my face. He wants to see if I am paying attention to him. I usually am, because, by observing him, I can judge his mood, determine whether he is excited, scared, anxious, etc. I still must keep an eye on our surroundings, making sure I see doors open, people appear, making sure I hear voices behind doors warning me that someone may be coming out. But mostly, I am watching Tucker. I think he likes that.

This made me think further. I see many people walking their dogs outside. Most of the humans are piddling about with their cellular telephones as they walk. The dog is trotting along, enjoying his time in what he considers nature, seeing the sights, smelling the smells. Their people seem rarely to pay attention to them. They aren’t taking their dogs for walks, they are taking their dogs with them while they play on their phones. It strikes me as worse when the case involves children, whether walking with their parents or sitting in strollers. These are prime times for learning, for being a family, and sending someone a text about what was watched on tv the previous night often appears to take precedence.

When I walked outside with Parker, I walked with Parker. I talked to him - and he talked to me - asking him what he was sniffing, telling him where I saw people coming out of their houses, commenting on the birds we heard. When he stopped at some interesting scent, I asked him what he scented. When he was tired and lie down, I might suggest a better spot, and then sat with him.

Taking into account distinctive conditions, I do the same with Tucker. I do it even more so with him, because he is more timid, and is assured more by my presence and words. My urging him on makes him feel bolder, and my warnings stop him. In between, we discuss what is going on in this tiny extension of his tiny world. When I walk with Tucker, I walk with Tucker.

Some day, I won’t be able to take him on these little excursions. Some day, he will be too weak, or sick, or he will have died. I don’t want such times with my cats to be remembered for my second-rate wit in a text message. These are our adventures. These are our adventures together.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter at the Cosy Apartment

I would like to wish everyone a happy Easter. Many of you have already sent such a greeting to me, so please don’t feel you need to respond. But I can take this opportunity to let readers know that things are going well at the Cosy Apartment.

Tucker is eating. I may jinx the situation by so writing, but the Mirtazapine he is taking appears to be working. He is hungry in the morning, after the drug that I gave the evening before has taken affect, and after having eaten nothing during the night. Throughout the day, he continues to eat small amounts. He doesn’t consume food vociferously, but it is constant. I would prefer the former, since I could feed him a large amount at once, which would be helpful when I go to work. Putting a mound of food out and leaving it for the day does not provide the same reward; firstly, because Renn will eat much of it, and secondly, because Tucker tends not to like soft-food that has been sitting for a length of time.

However, my roly poly is eating, and is cheerful. I have not begun the experiment of putting him back on the kidney-powder, but may next weekend, when I will be home to observe the results. Oddly, Tucker’s water-consumption and his wetting seem to have diminished. The water in-take would be affected by the amount of soft-food he is eating, but I would think the litter-box visits would be numerous, with his kidney problems. Also, the doctor told me that a cat can be on Mirtazapine indefinitely. If readers have had experience with long-term Mirtazapine use, can they let me know how it went, please?

Renn is in good form. There are no signs of issues related to his recent hospital visit. He has recovered from them, is eating well, and in good spirits.

Other good news is Neville’s latest ‘curve’, to study the effects of insulin on his diabetes. Starting high – at 19.0 – he dropped over six hours to 8.8, before heading back up. This is a deep ‘curve’ but a good one. This is the first decent set of readings in months, and I am concerned that it has to do with the method of delivery. He is receiving glargine-type insulin from a ‘pen’. Unlike a syringe, the pen depends upon transmission of the insulin from its store into the cat by a mechanism triggered by twisting a cap to determine the amount, and then pressing the cap down. I have noticed that sometimes an amount of insulin does not successfully come out of the pen’s needle, which is why I always make a few drops come out prior to injecting the cat. New pens have a much freer flow of insulin, before they seem to slow down with decreased supply. This weekend, the Nevsky was started on a new pen, and I worry that his good ‘curve’ was due to that reason – a flow of insulin that was as it should be, rather than a restricted flow from an older pen. This is something I will ask the doctor about.

But, like my concerns over Tucker, this one does not negate the good reading, which shows both that Nev is responding to the insulin (you may recall I switched him from another type some months ago) and that his current dosage is adequate.

I am pleased at what the weekend gave us here. That, and an extra day off from work, made for a happy Easter indeed at the Cosy Apartment.