Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Visitation

Sometimes cats are weird. An animal’s senses are sharper than a human’s, and therefore it can pick up stimuli that a person cannot. I understand that, but it doesn’t make it less strange when a cat suddenly and inexplicably - at least to me - stares at a blank wall. It can be downright eerie. One day last week, the four perma-cats gathered at the tall cat-tree and started casting about, watching, or trying to watch...something? Even Tungsten, usually indifferent to almost everything, joined the group.

Was it a whistle that I could not hear (or is that dogs?)? Was it an insect that had gotten into the house on that autumn night? Was the house ‘settling’? Or was it a homicidal ghost and my trusted and most affectionate pets were collecting to tell it that there was a perfectly good human to kill, so why bother with cats?

In any case, the visitation did not last long and the felines went their separate ways. When it comes to gathering at cat-trees, this is the way I prefer to see them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More on Tucker? Why Not?

Just in case anyone reading this hasn’t had his surfeit of Tucker, here’s another report.

It has been a few weeks since I wrote about him, and he did undergo a major operation. The poor fellow wasn’t through yet. As reported earlier, he suffered an infection. What's new is that, once the first infection was cleared up, he acquired another. This necessitated a further visit to the veterinarian. He was poked and prodded some more, and some of his bodily fluids despatched to Calgary for analysis.

He had two kinds of bacteria at once, and has been given a new medicine. It comes in the form of a little pill. The instructions on the package say to give him one pill three times a day. How can I give him the same pill three times? That would be impossible, as he swallows each pill and it dissolves in his stomach. Once that semantical difficulty was overcome, all I had to do was force Tucker to take his medicine. He must take three pills a day for 28 days. My poor roly poly.

He is remarkably easy-going about it. He doesn’t fight much; his resistance is passive, and he has become adept at hiding the pill, even after several mouthfuls of water injected by syringe to make sure it goes down. But I haven’t lost a pill yet. And my roly poly doesn’t take umbrage at his manhandling. I tell him afterward that he is a good boy and I rub his fuzzy head. He purrs.

He is a cat who wants to be happy. I believe that he likes his little world and enjoys himself most of the time. I judge his well-being by how he plays and how he purrs.

He is currently feeling very good. The latest infection had him feeling low, but he has conquered it and is his old self. He has discovered something about the new rug. He can slide on it. When we are playing with a string toy, he will throw his forefeet out in front of him and push himself with his rear legs, as though he were a sled. It’s one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen. Trust Tucker to come up with it.

He also plays peek-a-boo with me. I was picking something off the floor next the bed last night. Tucker was on the bed. I looked at him over the edge of the bedspread, then ducked down again. He started purring immediately. When I peeked over again, he lowered his head quickly, only to raise it when I lowered mine.

It’s moments like that that make me feel the amount of money spent on the little fellow’s health to be insignificant. But then, I’d be kidding myself if I thought each of my cats didn’t give me a similar moment every day.

Rachael's Progress

My guest-cat, Rachael, is doing well at my house. Because of the disagreements she has been having with the perma-cats, I have had to keep her in one room most of the time, and let her out for an hour once a day on weekdays and three or four times on weekends; at these times, the other felines are confined to the bedroom, which they take as a great indignity. Renn whines, Tucker cowers as if it’s a personal punishment and Josie tried to hide (since her method of camouflage seems to amount to no more than turning her back to me and moving behind a chair, it’s rarely a challenge for me). Tungsten is indifferent to it, though I know she dislikes it.

This is, as you may imagine, hardly an ideal arrangement, but Rachael seems to be suffering less stress. She is always eager to get out of the back parlour and when she has the freedom of the house, she explores, plays and checks out the different views. She doesn’t complain when she is re-incarcerated (probably because I give her treats when the time comes) but complains often once inside. I wish I could let her out more frequently, but her integration with my cats is better made slowly.

Her litter-box issues appear to have vanished. I have given her two litter-boxes to use, which I think she needed with her long hair. Rachael quite rightly disliked the possibility of her luxurious fur being soiled in a used litter-box; having an extra has been a blessing. Now that she has been shaved of most of her hair, that is less of a problem, though over time the fur will re-grow, so she should always have the opportunity of two litter-boxes.

Rachael also periodically wet downstairs, again outside a litter-box and again likely due to stress. This problem too seems to have resolved itself. I now let Rachael go where she likes once she is out of the back parlour, and she has not abused my trust. I think the multiple litter-boxes, combined with gradual acclimatization has solved her problems.

She has an affectionate and at times imperious personality. She is definitely a cat who knows what she wants. She has no problem jumping on to my lap now, where she will stay for extended periods, slowly becoming lost in the joy of being petted. She once fell asleep on my lap and will no doubt do so again. When not actually on me, she will lie near by and show her appreciation of attention by flexing her little paws.

Because of the cold weather and her shorn condition, she has had a heating pad inserted in the folds of a down comforter on which to recline. She takes full advantage of it. It warms to a nice, gentle temperature and the chilly nights are no doubt rendered quite snug for her.

Rachael loves to play. Her preference is a string toy. She enjoys hiding in the nylon tunnel and grabbing at the toy through a hole in the top, or lunging at it from the open end. She will also wrestle with the toy at various stages of the cat-tree, sometimes throwing herself on to her back to kick the bottom of the platform above in excitement. For playing by herself, she likes a little plastic ring off the top of milk jugs. It slides across the floor easily yet is light enough to go distances when swatted by a paw.

I’ve decided to spend movie-night with Rachael instead of Renn. That’s a bit of a disappointment for my big boy, who has scratched at the closed door of the back parlour more than once, wondering why he has been shut out of our Saturday night entertainment. But he still has bath-time later that night, which he enjoys much more than movie-time, while Rachael would have to spend a couple of hours alone elsewhere. So I and my guest-cat watch a film together; well, I watch and she snoozes, sometimes on my lap, sometimes on her heated bed next to me. I think she likes the company.

And so Rachael, the little lion, is ready for her permanent home. There is still much to learn about her, still much for her to learn. But a human is waiting for her, and she is waiting for that human - whether either knows it or not.