Friday, November 18, 2011

The Coming Cold

My cats appear to be in good health. I am, in fact, taking Tungsten and Tucker to their respective annual check-ups early in December, and I expect little to be wrong with them. But they are suffering from a disease, one from which we all suffer from the day of our birth. They are getting older.

This doesn’t bother the majority of cats. Aging is a slow process and the effects are gradual. Unlike humans, they aren’t aware of time passing; the future to them is an hour away when it’s at last dinner-time. There is, I think, a great benefit in such limitations to imagination. Nonetheless, our pets age.

Tungsten is doing very well. I don’t know how old she is, really. When I adopted her, she was estimated to be seven years old, which would make her eleven and a half now. That is long past being a senior, according to veterinarians, though many cats live to be twice Tungsten’s current age. However, she is an active animal, and can be more energetic than any of my other three. She doesn’t play often, and when she does, it is in bursts. But what bursts. Frenetic, crazed scrabbling and rolling for a string-toy, jumping and reaching and, periodically pushing Josie away when she gets too close to the fun.

But I think Tungsten is feeling the lack of warmth this season. The autumn turned chilly quite recently, and suddenly, as it does in these parts. My orange one is a thin cat; she always has been. There is no fat on her, as there is with Josie and Tucker, and youth is not on her side, as in Renn’s case. She has been sitting on a platform of the bedroom cat-tree that is nearest the heat vent, and also sitting on a platform of the taller cat-tree in the sitting room. I thought that odd, but then realized that it too is just over a heat vent. Finally, she has been lying on cushions that I’ve placed on the floor near a cold-air outtake vent, which, to Tungsten, probably looks and sounds like a heating vent.

This made me think that she has been noticing the cold lately. She has also been lying on my lap with almost every opportunity. She has always liked resting there, but she seems more insistent now, and the change from lying on my lap when the time was convenient for her to lying on it whenever she could made me deduce that it’s warmth, rather than company, that is her primary motivation.

So I decided to acquire a heated cat-bed, or a heating pad that can be put under cushions.

My search was not encouraging. Despite the near parity (and, depending on the week, sometimes the superiority) of the Canadian dollar compared to the American, prices of heated cat beds are much higher here than in the United States, sometimes a third to a half as much again. I considered ordering one from the U.S., but the shipping costs made the total price as much as one from Canada.

However, I did find one for an affordable price - though not a price I would consider reasonable, as it is still higher than elsewhere. But, another cat-fancier has a similar model of cat-heating pad, and it is still working after some years. I decided to buy this one.

I initially put it where Tungsten was lying these days, but I then decided that that would be confusing: confusing for my orange one, who would wonder why the pad kept moving, and confusing for me, because I wouldn’t know if she was sitting somewhere because of the warmth, or because of habit. I concluded that she should simply find the warmth of the pad herself, so I replaced the cushions I’d put on the floor for the cats. I laid the pad on an old towel, then put another old towel on top of it.

At first, Tungsten was reluctant to lie on the towels. The desire to lie next to what she believed was a heat vent was, however, probably too strong to ignore, so she lie down. The warmth coming through the towel seems to be negligible to me, but the instructions that came with the product mentioned that this may be the case; cats would feel the change in temperature.

Indeed, she seems to have taken to it, on a tentative basis. I left the pad plugged in, and thus on, all day, while I was at work, and that evening, Tungsten lie on it more than she had at any other time. As she gets older, her tiny body will lose more heat, and I want her to sit and lie with comfort even in her old age. I have also started experimenting with covering her, at least partially, with a blanket at night, though that policy has met with limited success…

The other cats’ reactions to the heating pad have been interesting. Each seems to be aware of its properties, and have tried it out. Josie always liked lying on the cushions that the pad replaced and so relaxed on the towels, no doubt feeling the warmth beneath her. Renn sniffed at the towel (he’s a great smeller) and, probably feeling the heat on his sensitive nose, sat on the pad. Then he lie down, which he rarely does on anything that isn’t for humans, too. I even saw Tucker lying on the pad just last night.

But none of these three stay for long. They move on to their habitual haunts. Perhaps they simply don’t need the extra warmth, and therefore it feels uncomfortable to them. To be honest, I hope that’s the case, because it means that Tungsten will not have competition for the pad. She is, after all, the one I believe needs it. When the spring comes, followed by summer, I’ll put the pad away, and my orange one can enjoy the natural warmth of the sunny days. But in the dark months, when the temperature falls outside, she’ll be comfortable, battling so far victoriously against the disease that we all fight, in our own ways.


  1. What a good cat-mom. :) We don't notice our old man doing that so much....but the fuzziest cat Spud LOVES to sleep on the heating vents in the floor. And mom took it as a sign to turn up the heat a little the other day when she found a foster kitten sleeping on a vent. MOL Purrs to is hard getting older - even if there isn't much we can do about it.

  2. Could I have a heated body wrap for the winter, for myself? LOL.

    I don't have a heated pad for the boys (they're young still), but the house is cold and drafty. They might love one--but I'd be too worried about it to leave it on all day. (I'm paranoid.) And you're right about the absurdly higher costs of pet products here in Canada, even with the dollar almost at par. I was buying Cosequin, for instance--$12.75 US on -- $30 in PetSmart, even more at my vet clinic. We're being bilked, IMO.

    Anyway, here's to cosy, warm napping spots for our fur families for this coming winter.

  3. I think the cat heating pad is a super idea! Have you thought about putting it under a traditional cat bed? I find that my cats are more apt to sleep in a bed with the high or rolled sides like a doughnut because it feels cozy and secure :-)