Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Non-Cat Related Post. Really.

This is a non-feline related post. It is, in fact, the first of its kind on this blog. I am taking this break to point out another blog which I have found, and which I have added to my list of blogs that I recommend readers visit. You’ll find it on the right, at the bottom of the list: Bad Movies for Good People.

This blog describes, very amusingly, a variety of motion pictures, mostly from the 1950s and ‘60s, the majority of them bad, often astonishingly so. The writing (of the blog) is very good and the humour is clean and hilarious. The writer is a fan of movies, knowledgeable in that field, and enjoys describing the awful ones, though frequently with warmth - that is to say, affectionately, though he sometimes becomes heated over the ineptitude of some of his subjects.

The subjects are, in truth, B movies. Many don’t rate above Z, but a few are quite good, and these are given due credit. You don’t need to watch movies much to enjoy this blog, nor do you need to know much about films of the past. You certainly aren’t called upon to admire the movies therein described. But if you want a good laugh, visit Bad Movies for Good People.

Now, I’d better get back to writing about cats. I think I’m suffering withdrawal. But, come to think of it, Bad Movies for Good People has included two pictures of cats in its blog so far, but one was dressed as an astronaut, so that may not count.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Presenting Bear-Bear

This is Bear-Bear. You may have seen him on the side-bar recently, though he hasn’t been there for a while, his place being taken by Purrdy. That’s because Bear-Bear was scheduled for adoption. He was at the veterinary hospital to have his health checked. All went well, though he had to stay overnight. The people who had agreed to take him in as part of their family, however, could not be reached. So Bear-Bear came to stay with me.

As it turns out, his prospective people have decided not to adopt him. He had already spent two months with them, in their home, and the signs were very positive. The adoption just needed to be finalised. I don’t know why they changed their minds, though they probably had good reasons. The result now, though, is that Bear-Bear is homeless again.

He may be staying with me for the time being. I’m not sure. He is certainly a friendly fellow. He craves attention. He is so anxious to soak up affection that he cannot sit still at first when you offer to pet him. He will step onto your lap, move around, face you, turn, step off, then come back. Only when he tires himself out trying to get the best advantage from every stroke and touch will he consent to lie down and relax.

His first night at my house was undoubtedly a worrisome one for him. He didn’t cry but he did keep up a periodic conversation. His second night was silent and restful (for both of us.) When I returned after work the first full day he was with me, he was so pleased that he drooled for ten minutes straight. He had of course no way of knowing that he hadn’t been simply abandoned in this new location, so he was probably happy to see anyone.

Bear-Bear’s voice is throaty, and he often sounds as though he is growling, but he is not. His purr is rough and rumbly, like my Renn’s, but it is pure joy, nonetheless. He is a cat who not only is happy most of the time, but one who wants to be happy. He is an animal who was born to be a pet, someone’s companion, someone friend. The photographs here make him seem somewhat surly, but his true character couldn’t be farther from it.

He is neat and clean, with excellent hygiene. This is somewhat surprising to me, considering that he may have lived outside for a long time before being found and rescued. His age is estimated to be more than ten years, and his face is that of an animal who has experienced some tough periods of life. Yet he remains cheerful and ready for a friend. Some people and animals are soured by bad times; some are encouraged by them, and want all the more to find the goodness in life, if they can.

Whatever the reason Bear-Bear wasn’t adopted, the people who decided against him will miss a wonderful little fellow. If he stays with me any length of time, I will introduce him - gradually - to the beasts who already live with me. Remembering my attempts to integrate Luther, a previous foster-cat, I am wary. But I feel that Bear-Bear may be different than the rambunctious but loveable Luther. This boy is older, with a desire to be loved. I hope that desire includes other cats. In any case, Bear-Bear’s future will be a good one. It may just take a while for him to get there.

Once Again, the First Sign of Spring

The first true sign of spring in my household isn’t rain or flowers or the trees growing buds. It’s this: the door being open to the screen and the cat-tree pulled in front of it, so that the beasts can enjoy the scents of the season.

Things are not as idyllic as they seem here, I must admit. Josie doesn’t like being ‘cornered’ at the top by the others. She doesn’t care for other cats in proximity, though she and Tungsten are sniffing noses more than ever before. Tucker is usually nervous in conditions such as you see here and often wants to leap away. But for now, at this time, all was tranquil and the cats all watching and smelling the great outdoors.

Soon the windows will be open all the time, and the screens on. Cats will be perched more or less permanently where they can be as close to nature (or what passes as nature in an urban environment) as they can. It makes me glad to see them enjoying their surroundings, and a little sad, too. Behind a screen, in a gilded cage of sorts, is as near as they get to the larger world. But they are safe, and in their minds, they can roam the wilderness, stalking the birds they see on the lawns, mighty hunters before whom all other animals tremble.

Such are the daydreams that come with the first sign of spring.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tungsten Regains Ground

If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you’ll know that my top-cat, Tungsten, is suffering from hyperthyroidism. This causes her to lose weight regardless of the amount of food she eats. And she has been eating a great deal. The condition will cause a cat to waste away, though it will contract problems with internal organs first, and those may do her in.

Fortunately, Tungsten was able to start treatment before the problem grew large. The blood test that determines hyperthyroidism assigns numbers, arbitrary, so far as I can tell, and called ‘T4’, to the levels that show the condition. (You can see in this picture where she was shaved at the neck to ease the extraction of blood. I’m told that she will allow blood to be taken from the left. If it is attempted from the right, she automatically leaps away.)

Anything above sixty is hyperthyroidism. Tungsten began at 59.4. She was put on an initial treatment, but that was not for her, and her numbers increased to 73. She was switched to a drug called methimazole, or Tapazole, to give it the brand-name that is being used. She has been on that for a month. Her ‘T4’ numbers this week have dropped to 18. Just 18!

This has been a remarkable development. It must have been, since I am remarking upon it. I knew she was getting better because I have been weighing her, and her weight has been increasing. Bit by bit, my orange one is regaining her poundage. In her healthiest days, she weighed about three and a quarter kilograms. She had dropped to less than two and a half. Now, though, she has creeped her way up to 2.66 kilograms.

All this is still early-days, mind you, but Tungsten’s veterinary was confident, stating that the orange one need not come back for another medical visit for six months. Tungsten still eats quite a bit, but I think this is a sick cat recovering, and working her way back to where she feels comfortable, just as a human patient, defeating his illness, feels week but hungry, starving sometimes, once he is well again. I feed Tungsten whenever she asks for food, which, unless my imagination is at play, is a little less than it had been. I’ve told her that I want to see her Josie-fat.

Well, perhaps not that big. But the tiny terror is still too tiny, too thin, so I want her to put on a good two pounds, to bring her up to where she was. She has a long way to go, but I am happy knowing that she is gaining ground at last.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Josie the Bully

Well, no, Josie isn’t really a bully. She just wants to establish her place in the hierarchy of cats in my household. Tungsten, the tiny terror, is the top-cat. She stalks through the rooms knowing the other felines will acquiesce to her wishes. To be honest, there is little disharmony in my home. Little harmony, either, but not much disharmony.

Josie is at an awkward place in the order of things. She is a loner who doesn’t associate much with the others. She’s a female, while the other two under-cats are male, and bigger. She is also a tiny-headed fat animal who’s stealth and agility have seen faster days. So it is perhaps not surprising that she wants to make sure the others know she can take care of herself.

Renn is her preferred opponent. Tucker is too timid to fight any suggestion that he should back down. Renn is shy around people but enjoys chasing the roly poly one, not always for fun, and will, when he catches Josie in the nylon tunnel, exchange blows with her. When the roles are reversed, my Chubs likes smacking at my big boy.

Then, recently, I noticed that Josie would race at Renn when the latter would walk through the sitting room. Josie may be cleaning herself on the rug, observe Renn strolling toward the couch, and prepare herself for a charge. My big boy, upon seeing this, will give the wide one an even wider berth. But Josie will watch Renn’s progress and, when she believes the time to be right, launch herself at him.

Bear in mind, there is no viciousness in my cats. Josie’s attack will stop abruptly in front of Renn, and the two will swat at each other in a highly ineffective manner. But one, and it’s almost always Renn, will back away. Chastened, he will eventually seek out Tucker and show the roly poly that it is he, and not Renn, who occupies the unenviable bottom of the feline totem pole. But don’t feel too sorry for Tucker; he often brings trouble upon his own melon-head by smacking at one or more of the others, even at Tungsten, as they all come together for dinner. That earns him a hiss, a slap or, once in a while, even a scratch.

And yet there is closeness among the beasts, too. Josie and Tungsten have been sniffing noses more than ever, and, I’ve noticed, it is usually the great white who initiates it. She still doesn’t like any of the others getting near her, but then sniffing noses was never something common to her either, so maybe some day…

Until then, I will let the animals sort out their situation on their own. I’ll stop anything that seems too rough, I’ll comfort the losers in the mild brawls that occur and make sure everyone knows that he or she is loved. Even Josie the bully.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Washing Day

Cats like to be clean. Everyone knows that. They spend a great deal of time grooming themselves, washing their faces, paws, bodies and tails, even their back sides. Each cat, though, seems to have its own method.

My boys are fairly straightforward in their habits. Renn likes a good level surface for his ablutions, either the top of the tallest cat-tree, the floor or the couch in the parlour, which is one of his favourite places to snooze, as well. My big boy has plenty of long fur and he often uses cleaning as an opportunity to get rid of some of it. He goes at it as if he were eating the hair and makes aggressive, throaty noises as he pulls away clumps of unwanted fur. Considering the length and quantity of his hair, I am surprised I don’t find more of it regurgitated about the house. In fact, Renn throws up the least of all my beasts, whether it’s food or hair. He does sometimes leave little, damp mats of fur in various places. Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t give me hairballs - he simply doesn’t swallow any of his refuse.

Tucker had a problem with his urinary tract some time ago, and needed cleaning at that time. That problem was not his doing and before and since then, he has been a very clean animal. He too likes a nice settled spot for cleaning, such as the cushioned chair in front of the computer. This has become a preferred location for his grooming, and for his napping. I’ve had to evict him more than once. But unlike my big boy, the roly poly one will lie on the arm of the sitting room couch, another favourite resort, not just for pleasure, but for the purposes of grooming. While in this position, though, he restricts his cleaning to his extremities. Considering his shape, lying on the arm of the couch is quite a feat, and though he can wash his paws there, washing any other body part is probably not a wise idea.

Josie has much to contend with in terms of cleaning. She is a fat cat. She’s not just big, like Renn; she’s fat. She has a little head and a big body; the proportions are wrong for her to claim that she is just a large animal. And it’s not simply hair either, especially since she sheds as easily and as frequently as she breathes. No, Josie is a rotund beast with far too much padding. When she washes her bulk, her tongue resembles a tiny pink window-washer trying to wipe an iceberg. My Chubs cannot reach all her parts that need washing. She certainly gives a good effort. She even raises her leg as if to clean her nether regions, but doesn’t really bother trying, and the leg comes down again. It’s just for show. Except for her bum, she is a most hygienic creature, which shows that her efforts are successful, as far as they go. I have to help her from time to time, using a comb to pull away some of the hair around her unmentionables and, regrettably but only periodically, washing her bum with a warm, wet cloth. She hates that, but doesn’t protest as much as she used. I think she feels better afterward.

And finally, Tungsten. My orange one is a very clean cat. A friend with the rescue-group with which I volunteer stated that she had never seen such clean ears as she had in the tiny terror. Tungsten is indeed minute, without an ounce of fat, and so can reach all areas of her little body. I have never had to clean her back side. Yet her front side, her mouth, has had to be wiped numerous times. She is the messiest eater in the house, which is strange, taking into account how little she consumes and how much Josie and Tucker gulp down.

I think it may be due to her missing teeth, which plainly make it relatively difficult for her to grasp food with her mouth. Aside from her table manners, Tungsten is very tidy. She smells pleasant, too, which is strange, and good, since she often shoves her back against my face when we lie down to sleep.

My pets are excellent in their practice of hygiene. They use the litter-boxes with great success and regularity, they wash their faces, and paws, clean their bums - three of them, anyway - and if, once in a while, they throw up, usually on carpetted surfaces, it’s not their fault. They are clean and like to be so, which is fine with me, since if this weren’t the case, I’d have an extra load or two of laundry to do.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Come and Gone

Easter weekend is over again for another year. It was a good weekend, full of chores but also with time to relax and contemplate. I hope you found opportunities to take it easy amid the joy of the holiday. The beasts here certainly were able to squeeze in some snoozing in their favourite places.

Spring seems really to be here at last, though we may get a snowstorm or two yet. But the northern hemisphere is awakening again. The Russians used to greet each other at Easter (I don’t know if they still do) with:

“He is risen.”

“Verily, He is risen.”

Yes, He has.