Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Horror of the Closet Unleashed

Last night something happened which, though it caused no permanent damage or injury and, in fact, is funny in retrospect, caused me to think about consequences.

Renn periodically asks to be let into the back parlour’s closet. There are some bags and boxes there, and my big boy likes to rummage about, perhaps seeking something to fire his scientific interest. He certainly has a curiosity in all things hidden. I let him explore and then go about doing whatever it is I do. Last evening, Tucker followed him in.

I heard, after a few minutes, a rustling, scraping, crunching sound. I guessed that the two were going through a plastic bag full of toys that I keep in store. I never let the cats near plastic bags when I am absent. What’s bad for children is bad for pets. But Josie likes nestling among the bags I keep in the front closet and Renn likes examining bags elsewhere. As long as I can see or hear them, I consider it safe.

This night, I heard a flurry of rushing and, a second later, Tucker bolted from the closet, followed closely by Renn. I thought they were chasing each other, something they do which my big boy always likes and Tucker sometimes does. Then I saw that a plastic bag had looped itself around Renn’s head and shoulder. He was fleeing in terror from this creature which had latched itself on to him, and Tucker was running for his life ahead of him.

Into the sitting room they rocketed. The bag must have burst there, for there were balls and string and fuzzy mice everywhere. But the monster clung to my big boy regardless of any wound it may have suffered. Through the kitchen and down the stairs, Renn dashed; Tucker was frantic to get away from him but Renn followed, probably thinking only that Tucker knew of a safe place to hide.

Calling to them was useless and it wasn’t until they charged up the steps again that I managed to capture Renn, letting Tucker fly by first. Renn was in no frame of mind to reason; he was frightened, and growled and hissed (the latter a rarity with him) when I tried to break the plastic loops that fettered the evil creature to him. I managed to persuade him to keep still while I fetched a pair of scissors, with which I cut away the bag. Renn, freed at last, hurried off.

Tucker retreated the refuge of the top of the tallest cat-tree, while Josie scurried downstairs and only returned as far as the top stair. Tungsten viewed the whole debacle with detached interest. I wanted to see if Renn had injured himself and started petting and stroking him while he lie on the bedroom floor. Soon, he was purring his rough enjoyment and I was able to examine him for damage. All was well.

I decided that treats were in order. At first, I had to give Tucker his on consecutively lower platforms of the cat-tree, to coax him down. I did the same with my Chubs on the stairs, providing treats increasingly farther into the kitchen. For the rest of the night, Josie eyed Renn warily, but by bed-time, everyone was back to normal, and ready for a good night’s sleep.

This has persuaded me not to let any of the cats near plastic bags, whether I am present or not. Perhaps I should have made this decision earlier; on the other hand, I may be overly cautious. Renn loves exploring new things, but he is also very sensitive and easily frightened. There are many other, safer playthings available. Though I can see the humour of it, my cats may not share such amusement (except perhaps Tungsten, who was probably chuckling disdainfully the whole time), so I will be careful. For the next little while, though, I don’t think I will need to be. Renn likely won’t ask for entry to the closet of fear for some time.

Roly Poly Cat-bed

Tucker is my newest cat. As you may know from previously reading about him, I fostered him for more than a year. He had troubles in his prior home (what was meant to be his permanent home), in that he wet where he shouldn’t. When he came to live with me, he wet in a couple of cat-beds. I explained that in a past article. However, it was a bit of a renewed concern with me lately because I bought a new cat-bed. I wanted to put the almost-as-new heating pad under its cushion to provide perfect comfort for my beasts, especially Tungsten, the oldest and thinnest, during the winter. I bought one cat-bed initially, to make sure Tucker didn’t do something in it he oughtn’t.

He didn’t. He was cautious about the new furniture, but largely ignored it, so I bought a second cat-bed, then a second heating pad to go into it. Tucker remained the only cat not interested in trying the beds.

Last week, I put him near a cat-bed and he examined it. He sniffed it, he stood on its cushion but, ultimately, he decided that he didn’t care for it. That has changed to some extent. He now can be found from time to time curled up in one of them, whether the heating pad is plugged in or not. I wouldn’t have believed that his sausage shape could curl as it does, but he achieves it with, apparently, no discomfort. I have not been able to record the event on camera yet, as he tends to get up and walk away most times that I try.

However, Tucker does seem to enjoy the new beds. He uses them the least of the four animals, though this may be influenced by the fact that the others, logically, use them more, and therefore they are not always available. Tungsten and Renn are the cats who can be found in the beds most often, and I’m glad to relate that when Tungsten finds my big boy occupying the favourite bed, she does wander over to the other, if that is vacant.

It’s good to know that my pets like the new furnishings. Practically, it’s good because they represent money spent, and one likes to see it translated into something useful. Sentimentally, I just like watching the beasts as they settle down for a snooze in comfort. Now, I can watch Tucker do the same, now and then.


Though most people who write blogs do so for their own amusement or interest, and don’t worry too much if no one else notices, it is nice when someone does, and leaves comments. My readership was, initially, very local. But due to the Cat Blogosphere, a very wide array of cat-bloggers, it has become international.

I’ve read stories by bloggers from here in Canada, in the United States, in England and elsewhere. Comments on my own have come from the United Kingdom, Europe and South America. There are a number of links to the right of my posts that will lead you to some of the cats I keep up with, though that isn’t the full number.

Recently, my blog was given two awards by generous fellow bloggers, the Liebster Award, from Marg’s Pets, and the Versatile Blog Award, from Andrea and the Celestial Kitties. I don’t know what I may have done to deserve such distinction, but it was very thoughtful to be mentioned, and I thank them. In addition to the consideration implied, the awards have also made this blog known to still more people.

I find with some embarrassment that I was awarded the Liebster as long ago as the end of last year, and I haven’t fulfilled the conditions of the award, as easy-going as they are. Simply enough, I am to pass the award on to five other blogs that have fewer than two hundred followers each. There are quite a few that I follow so that shouldn’t be difficult - though many have more than 200 followers. I am also to let these blogs know that I have passed the award on to them.
The first recipient I have chosen is a fellow Canadian blog, Cat’s Cats; next, Laila and Minchie, one of the first blogs I started reading; Bobbie and the Bunch at Cats/Goats/Quotes, for their enjoyment of all animals; Dora, from Between Cats, in remembrance of Fat Eric, whom I loved to read about. And finally, Feral Cat Behaviour, a private rescuer in the United States, who cares so much for all cats. These are not in any particular order; each deserves an award.

The Versatile Blog Award is also to be passed on to others, fifteen, to be exact, but I will mention another five.

Random Felines, due to their ability to post still-pictures and videos, a versatility that I was able to achieve just once; Fuzzy Tales, because they too are Canadians, and we are a versatile nationality; Eric and Flynn (Two Devon Cats), due of the adventures they get up to on their farm; Miss Peach at the Cozy Cottage (though Miss Peach is gone, her blog continues with art, photos and affection) and, finally, to KC and the Sherwood Bunch over at Missy Blue Eyes - it takes versatility to keep the Cat Blogosphere news service going.

Now, the winners of these awards are in theory supposed to pass it on to others. But I don’t want any of them to feel obligated, so I will suggest that they pass it on only when and if they find someone deserving. I would encourage everyone to visit the blogs mentioned; they are fun and entertaining, and in many cases, informative.

Renn Widens His Field of Study

Renn has a new interest.

As you may know from reading my stories, Renn has a scientific bent. His most frequent field of study is water. He is fascinated by its fall, shimmer, ripples, even its stillness. He will watch a dripping tap for an hour or more, and stare at a bowl of water for almost as long, tapping it with a paw now and then to get a reaction.

But now, my investigator of natural phenomena has found something new to intrigue him: linoleum.

He has taken to lying on a box and staring at the floor. The box was placed so that the cats, in particular Josie, could enjoy the little cat-quilt that they now have. Renn, however, prefers to use the box as a platform for the study of linoleum. He lies on its top and gazes at the floor. Sometimes, his head moves suddenly, as if watching some some object, invisible to me, dart across his vision.

I think he may be amazed by shapes and colours to an extent greater than my other cats. It may be the dance of light and shadow that draws him to examine water. If that’s the case, then the same may apply to the floor’s surface. In any case, he can occupy a great deal of his time studying what’s beneath him. He may one day discover something life-changing in the gentle ridges and shallow valleys of linoleum. Or he may just enjoy himself. Whatever the result, I sometimes think that only his inability to hold a pencil and take notes prevents him from being one of our foremost scientific thinkers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bag Cats

I bought some groceries the other day, and had them delivered. Some came in the usual, cheap plastic bags. You know, the sort that are so thin they’re practically two-dimensional. Some are claimed to be ‘biodegradable’; it’s true, because they seem to biodegrade before I get out of the parking lot. Besides, plastic is indeed biodegradable; it simply takes 50,000 years. I digress.

Josie likes settling for a snooze into a large plastic bag full of smaller plastic bags. I don’t let her do that unless she is under my direct supervision. If children can smother with a plastic bag, so can cats. But this time, the fruit I purchased was placed into paper bags; good, old-fashioned paper bags. Retailers hate them because they can’t make paper bags so thin that they cost a ten cents per billion to make, like plastic. My cats like them because they are enclosed like boxes, but crushable, and they make noise.

Tungsten staked a claim to them early on, but all four cats enjoyed them. Tucker made a run at one bag and hit it with a bang. It startled the others, but he liked it. It’s a good thing I have the new bags: most of their other toys have been lost, or eaten...


Tucker is an odd cat. He will sit in the armchair as much as lie in it, and he will even snooze sitting up, so it mustn't be too awkward. He will also lean against the little table beside the chair. You’d think that this attitude would give him a headache. This is him giving his corpse-like stare, and the table giving his fuzzy head a crease. Does this look like a comfortable position?

The New Cat-beds

I bought a couple of cat-beds last week. At my house, there is no longer a great deal of floor space to be given over to more furniture, either for me or for the cats, but I purchased a heating pad for Tungsten a little while ago and felt that it needed a better base than a couple of old towels. Someone who had read about the heating pad on my blog suggested a cat-bed for it, so I looked for a suitable purchase.

Tungsten likes the heating pad very much. She was always on the towels being warmed by the pad. But I thought the towels didn’t provide much comfort on top of the pad. Tungsten didn’t seem to mind, but I thought that since I bought the pad to warm her on cold winter nights - she is very thin and getting old - I should provide her with some sides to keep away draughts. Besides cats loved enclosed spaces.

The cat-bed I found at Canadian Tire. It is a small one, and cost $16. The heating pad fits as if made for it, put into the bed under the removable cushion. The only problem is that I don’t know if enough warmth is getting through. The cushion is thicker than the towels I had been using, and Tungsten is such a light-weight animal, that I don’t know if she is compressing the cushion enough for the heat to get to her. It must go somewhere; that much I learned from my high school physics classes. But it could just be settling into the cushion and dissipating there. This is the bed before the cushion goes on top.

I have two cat-beds. I wanted to see how the cats favoured one before I bought a second. And, to be honest, my newest cat, Tucker, had a problem with cat-beds when he first came to stay with me as a foster-cat. He wet in them. I believe this is due to his previous home’s attempt to deal with his litter-box issues. He was feeling stress due to the arrival of a new baby. This could have been dealt with, but the attempts were, I believe, half-hearted. One was to buy what I recall as being termed ‘puppy-pads’. I assume these were for young dogs who hadn’t yet been house-trained. (Why they should feel compelled to go on pads when they weren't trained to ask to go outside yet, I don't know.) The cat-beds I provided Tucker were low, their sides being little more than rims. I think that, to him, they resembled the ‘puppy-pads’, where he was supposed to wet. So he did. He has not done anything he shouldn’t to the new cat-beds I’ve obtained. But he hasn’t sat in them, either.

One bed is heated, one is not. I can’t judge by the cats' reaction whether the warmth is being felt, really. Renn enjoyed curling up in the unheated bed. He can barely fit, but as I recall from when he was a foster-cat with me in the old apartment, he prefers the squeeze. Now, he's discovered the warm bed, and takes up much of the evening there, to the detriment of Tungsten. I may have to look for another heating pad.

Josie likes either bed. The only time I thought warmth played a factor in a cat deciding where to lie was when the orange one was occupying the unheated bed and my Chubs was in the warm one. The hard-food bowl came out and Josie ambled over for a bite. Tungsten swiftly took her place in the heated bed. This, however, could be due simply to the fact that Tungsten is used to lying in that bed, in that location. My Chubs, too, finds the beds snug.

I thought of replacing the heated bed’s cushion with towels. Even several folded towels would provide less volume than the cushion, and thus allow more heat to transfer. The cat-bed would still have its high, comforting sides. The disadvantage would be to the thickness of padding - which of course may be why the heat isn’t getting through the cushion. But in any case, Tungsten seems to enjoy the new furniture - and she fits it perfectly.

I dislike the idea of the heating pad serving no purpose, warming up the bottom of a cushion and giving nothing to the cats. However, the beasts appear to like the beds regardless of artificial heat, and all are using them - except Tucker, who prefers my armchair.