Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Cat Who Stares at Christmas Trees

Along with being a prodigious smeller, Renn is also a superb starer. He can sit and stare at something for a great many minutes. At least, I assume that he’s staring at something. I never actually comprehend at what he is staring, so he may in fact go into a kind of ‘catatonic trance...

I believe, however, that such concentration is always part of his on-going studies of the world around him. His attempts to understand his environment involve watching it, and then interpreting what he sees. Or having a good lie-down. The latter may be a form of meditation, by which he reasons through what he has observed.

This time, I caught my big boy staring at the Christmas tree. It was not a direct stare, but rather off to the side. Nonetheless, he may have been contemplating the socio-religious significance of the holiday as symbolised by the tree. More probably, he was wondering why his human once again put up a wooden and plastic ornament which had neither taste (so he was informed by Cammie) nor smell. Either way, his thoughts on the matter would prove interesting, were I able to read them.

One day, after we have both passed on, he may feel free to tell me what he was thinking about, what he found so absorbing about this moment, and what he saw then. For my part, I will then understand all there is to know about cats. And why they stare.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Another Christmas Day for the Memory

Christmas Day was enjoyable at our household. The cats let me sleep in late - well, late for me, which is, unfortunately, never very late anymore. I received a number of thoughtful gifts from friends and family. One of them, from two of my friends here in town, was a Christmas dinner. Every item was prepared and it was brought over to my house to be cooked in my oven. The turkey turned out very well, and I ate far too much of it and its accompaniments.

The beasts spent the day alternately sleeping and welcoming/avoiding guests, depending upon their temperaments. I was most pleased at being able to stay home with them and watch them be content.

I hope Christmas Day was happy for you, and that the Yuletide continues so until its Twelfth Day ends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas to All!

Christmas is almost upon us. I like to retain the Spirit of the season through all Twelve Days, though it’s difficult as eleven of them are no longer celebrated much. It used to be that Christmas would start on December 25th, not just be on that date. Regardless of modern modes, the Yuletide remains my favourite holiday, and my beasts and I have traditions that we follow each year.

One of them is the making of the Christmas card, which I send to family and friends, and share with the Cat Blogosphere. It always has something to do with my cats - no surprise - and this time Tungsten takes the spotlight.

This year, I miss my friend Bear Bear, who died in February. He wasn’t with us for long, but the impression he made will last a lifetime. Cammie left us but returned, thank goodness, after an adventure in how not to adopt a cat. And now Kola shares our home, and will enjoy Christmas with us.

I will be writing again during the holidays, but not until after Boxing Day, so I will wish everyone - human, feline, canine and of any other description - a merry Christmas. May this wonderful time of year be truly full of wonder for you and yours.

Kola Not on My Lap

Readers may recall that in November, someone was interested in the possibility of adopting Kola. But the possibility was far away, in Seattle, and the person in question too particular. She decided against Kola because he is not a lap-cat.

The trouble with having a list of characteristics that your pet must have is that pets - cats and dogs - have personalities that change. As we who live with and love them know, part of the fun is seeing them come up with new behaviour as they mature or grow accustomed to a situation. Those who don’t have cats undoubtedly dread the conversation beginning with “Do you know what so-and-so did yesterday?” That phrase is almost always delivered with surprise and delight. Sometimes with exasperation, but mostly surprise and delight.

Kola is not a lap-cat. But he may be. In a household where there is less rivalry for the single lap, or where he is less concerned about the proximity of other cats, the Floof King may become a lap-cat quite swiftly. But even with me, he is edging toward that status. If the woman in Seattle had been less demanding and more flexible, she would have seen this for herself, and enjoyed the journey of discovering Kola in the process.

For once, a few evenings ago, no other cat had come to sit with me when I found a moment to relax on the couch with a cup of tea. Tungsten was asleep - actually sleeping, not just resting - in her beloved heated cat-bed, Tucker was elsewhere and Renn had yet to come out to join me. Josie  rarely sits with me and Cammie was up a cat-tree. Kola was exploring the sitting room, talking and talking and talking. I invited him up on to the couch and, after a minute’s hesitation, he jumped up.

Now, he may not be a lap-cat, but look at how he lies next to me. He is a friendly fellow who likes people. He loves attention. I am sure that several more instances such as this, and he will see what a lap is like. He may have been a lap-cat in his previous home and he is just very cautious about being one with me. But the lady in Seattle missed out, and Kola will be someone else’s pleasure to discover.

And notice how undisturbed Kola is with my big boy near. Renn is every new cat’s friend.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cammie and the Christmas Tree

My Christmas tree is up and decorated. This is Kola’s first Christmas with me. As much as I like him, I hope it’s his last, as well; that cat would be such a good choice for adoption. Anyway, I was worried about what he might do to a Christmas tree. As it turns out, he was mildly curious about it, but only briefly. After that, he appeared uninterested in it.

The same cannot be said for Cammie. My Siamese princess was with me during last year’s Yuletide and, so far as I can recall, did not cause me problems with my tree. This year, however, she has taken to attempting to eat the ‘needles’.

Mine is a fake tree, and the needles are of soft plastic. To be honest, I don’t think she can eat many of them. They are too short and too strongly fastened onto the tree; she can’t get a good grip on them. But she tries, and will sometimes gnaw on a whole branch. The little needles do fall off from time to time, so she may get those.

I don’t believe the needles will do her damage if they are consumed. They will probably go right through her. But I don’t want to take chances, so I may have to put the tree away when I am absent and bring it out again later. I hope to get Cammie used to its presence; she doesn’t nibble at it all the time even when she can. So it’s hard to gauge her fascination with it.

But I was pleased to note an indication of how far that cat has come in her trust of people. I had to move her along when I caught her eating the tree. She knows full well when I want her out of an area and eventually she does go, grumbling and sometimes hissing. She did that in this case. Then, not ten minutes later, she was up on my lap at the table, purring away. She stayed there for half an hour. Being scolded is one thing; a warm lap and a petting session is quite another.

The Quiet Life

I think Tungsten may be losing her hearing. It’s certainly not gone; she can hear things, but not as well as she should, or did.

I draw this conclusion because now she is frequently startled by my approach when she is not looking at it. Coming up behind her, or in a blind spot, will cause her to jump when she sees me, as if I were appearing from nowhere beside her.

I have tried clapping and making noises while Tungsten is turned away and found that she usually pays them no attention unless I am near to her. I must now remember to let her see me coming.

This may be my imagination, but my orange one is getting old, so one must expect certain debilities to materialise. But she is only fourteen (estimated) and has many years ahead of her. She spends much of her time sleeping and is not interested in much that the world has to offer, but then, she has always been like that. Tungsten still surprises me from time to time: this weekend she ran up from the litter-boxes in the basement and shot across the ground floor, causing the other cats to wonder what that orange blur had been. She was just having a little fun.

She’s not out of the game yet, and won’t be for a long while. This is just a reminder that sometimes the game grows a little quieter for some in its later stages.

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Werewolf

Cats are one step away from terrifying jungle predators. Well, maybe half a dozen steps. As evidence of this, I submit these pictures of Renn. Does this creature not resemble some kind of lyncanthropic monster brought low by the silver bullets of the peasants just in time? Look at the teeth; look at the eyes. A crazed killing machine!

And you should have heard him whine like a little weenie baby when I had to move him afterward. Blood-curdling!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Can't Work Under These Conditions!

Last week, the electrical switch controlling the dining ‘area’ lights in my house ceased working and, though it has since been repaired, I had to move a standing lamp to the dining table. This enabled me to write, and also to see what I was eating, no small consideration when one is a cook on my level.

Renn has joined me from time to time on the table when I write. He usually sits and looks out the window. With the darkness falling earlier these days, however, the blinds are drawn sooner, and Renn has nothing to observe outside. He has compensated for this by finding something new on the inside.

The lamp was by my armchair in the sitting room. Renn has seen it there, but a new location renders an old object a novelty to cats, and my big boy has been sniffing the lampshade and staring at the light bulb, not something I like to see him do.

He has also discovered that proximity to the light bulb brings a greater amount of heat. This is something of which he has taken advantage. I don’t object to his continuing search for greater comfort - he is, after all, a cat - but sometimes it usurps my elbow room; in this case, literally. You may observe that, while I have space still in which to write, it is somewhat cramped, and the large cat lying quite firmly within my field of vision and arm’s reach is a bit of a distraction.

But the lamp is now returned to its proper place, and Renn, though he still keeps me company on the table, doesn’t lie down across it. He now just sits near my papers and sweeps them with his long, strong, floofy tail...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Good Cause

This entry in my blog is a bit of an aside. Its subject is, in fact, another blog, called Feral Cat Behavior (it is written in the U.S.; that’s why ‘behaviour’ is spelled that way.)

Regardless of differences in English north and south of the 49th parallel, Feral Cat Behavior is the blog of a cat-rescuer who works against great odds. She and her husband, who has some strong medical issues right now, and a few volunteers, have rescued and revitalised many cats through the years. Despite the title of the blog, most of the cats she helps are abandoned or lost, socialised to some degree. She dedicates her time and resources to them. And speaking of the latter, she doesn’t have many of the financial kind at present.

Seventeen young cats need spaying and neutering very soon. Her veterinarian has given her twenty per cent off the going rate for the surgeries, but she still requires money to help these little creatures. She is aiming for $1,589 (U.S.) by Christmas.

This lady lives in a part of the world which doesn’t seem to value cats, especially strays. And with the Yuletide three weeks away, people understandably have other uses for their funds. But if you can spare a few dollars or pounds or yen, she would be very grateful. Her work constitutes a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation.

Even if you can’t spare any money at this fiscally-trying time of the year, a kind word or two would be appreciated as well. You can get to the blog by selecting its title at the bottom of my side-bar (yes, I spelled 'behaviour' the Canadian way there; don't digress); the site's address is http://www.feralcatbehavior.com/. I need not remind many of my readers of the benefits of saving cats, but if you would like a nice memento, look at these three.

Monday, December 1, 2014

One More Discovery for Cammie

Cammie keeps on surprising me. The weather here is very cold: with the wind-chill, the temperature fell to -31° (Celsius; though when it’s that cold, it doesn’t matter what rule one uses) a couple of nights ago. The cats of course have their fur coats, and I have three heating pads in cat-beds or towels for their added comfort. One is in the parlour, and Cammie enjoys it more and more. But at night, Kola is locked in the parlour to prevent any nocturnal attempts on his peace of mind by Tucker. The Floof King uses the heating pad then.

Except for that, Cammie hasn’t used cat-beds much. But on the weekend, I found my Siamese princess comfortably curled up in one of the heated beds in the sitting room. I’m glad it wasn’t the one Tungsten habitually uses. I don’t need the orange one having another excuse to dislike her roommate.

Cammie’s expression is, unfortunately, always that combination of melancholy and misery that you see here. Despite that, I think she was enjoying herself, because soon, she was snoozing away the day.

It’s fun to watch a cat learn and discover. Just when I think they get into a habit, they change it. Now that Cammie has  found that this bed gives off warmth, she will remember it and, though she may not always use it, it will be there for her when she wants it. And with cats, that’s the most we can provide for them.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Josie the Less

Once again, it seems, Josie isn’t getting much coverage in my blog. She’s too unassuming, too diffident for her own good. It’s not that the Great White doesn’t cause her share of trouble. She will take every opportunity to get at Tungsten’s food bowl, which contains tastier, though not better, hard-food than her own. She will sometimes swat at Kola - though at least once recently, I have seen the Floof King actually chase Josie up the stairs from the basement, so maybe that relationship is evening out. But by and large, she doesn’t do much to get herself noticed - at least while I have my camera handy.

Though here she is doing what I like to call the ‘eye/ball’.

But the real reason for my Chubs’s appearance today is to announce that she has lost weight. Josie is half a pound lighter now than she was six months ago. She is still hefty (7.04 kilograms) but not as  weighty as she was in June (7.25 kilograms). I attribute this leavening to the soft-food I feed her. It is Merrick brand and, unlike most good food, my beasts seem to enjoy it, and have for some time. Josie in particular looks forward to soft-food meal-times. I buy five flavours regularly, the five that are popular in my house, so that variety is maintained. Josie will eat all five, and a good-sized portion at each serving. Now that I think of it, I have not seen her at the hard-food bowls as often as was the case. I would like to reduce the amount of hard-food served still further, but the reasons I can go only so far in that direction need another story. For now, I don’t want to detract from the Great White’s achievement.

Who knows? In time, I may have to stop calling Josie my Chubs...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Mystery of the Mice

A mystery has come to my house recently. It involves the fuzzy mice that constitute the large portion of my cats’ toys. Everyone has or has had (before they were lost forever under couches, dressers and beds) the small fuzzy mice for cats to play with; they perform yeoman service in our household, scattered about the floors for the cats to attack and knock about whenever they feel like it.

Lately, they have been coming to the bedroom while I sleep.

This does not unnerve me, for two reasons. One, I know these toys are benign and mean no one harm. Two, I don’t believe they are moving of their own accord. Each morning for the past two weeks or so, I have woken to find at least a single, often two, sometimes three, fuzzy mice on the floor of the bedroom.

It has been different mice each time, or at least not the same ones, and they are not always left in the same location. In fact, one found its way onto the saddle of the taller cat-tree in the bedroom.

This narrowed the range of suspects in the case considerably. Renn enjoys snoozing in that spot during the day, but never at night, when he is comfortably curled up on the bed. Quite often, at least in the late hours of the night (as opposed to the early hours of the morning), the saddle is occupied by Cammie, who rests there after a full day of annoying Tungsten, telling the others to keep their distances and generally exerting her personality. She will lie in the saddle and look out into the dark and contemplate existence, alternate possibilities, time travel and such. Or whether to go and eat something. But only she uses the taller cat-tree after bed-time.

But if the mystery of who brings the mice to the bedroom is, to my satisfaction, solved, the question remains as to why she does it. She does not bat them about the house until they end up there; I would hear that and wake. No, she evidently carries them in her mouth, or perhaps slides them in with so little violence that the movements are silent. Is she bringing toys to keep her company during her nocturnal vigils? Are they trophies? Are they little furry things to care for?

It’s one of the riddles that will remain unsolved until that day when all riddles are answered. And it may not be the least important riddle to be answered then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Crushing Tucker's Head

I have described the game Tungsten and I play. Now I will write about something Tucker and I do. I call it ‘Crushing Tucker’s Head’.

Tucker will periodically come up to me and rubbed his tubby body against my leg. Sometimes he’s saying ‘I like you.’ Other times, he’s saying, ‘I like you; play with me.’ On those occasions, I will chase him into the sitting room, where he will throw himself full-length on the rug, stretch and squeal as I grab his head. Then I pretend to crush that big melon. (Actually, I just rub his furry noodle, and he pretends I’m crushing it.) He squeals and reaches up to grab my hand, so he can drag it down to bite it. He has the proportions of a human infant, however; his stubby little forelegs are short, and have trouble seizing my hand. Once in a while he is able to pull it away and successfully nip it. This surprises both of us, and he pauses, worried that he’s done something wrong. (Tucker is about as violent as a Quaker.) I usually answer that query by doubling my efforts to crush that softball-sized noggin, and we’re off again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kola's Chance

The Lethbridge PAW Society, the rescue-group of which I am part, received an inquiry about Kola a couple of weeks ago. I am fostering that floofy mancat in the hopes that someone will choose him to live with forever, and this call was the sort of thing we wait for. However, the woman interested in Kola lives in Seattle, in the United States. That’s not a bad thing, but it does involve distance.

I am wary of any long-distance adoption now, following the unfortunate and abortive adoption of Cammie, earlier this year. The trouble with distances and adoptions is that if something goes wrong and the person wants to return the cat, that person may not consider the distance to travel worth the trouble; the cat may be handed off to someone else or put in a shelter. If faced with a returned cat, the PAW Society will do anything to make certain the cat comes back to it, rather than go elsewhere.

Even with these dangers, a long-distance adoption isn’t always a problem. Many of the rescuers whose blogs I read have had happy experiences, giving homeless cats wonderful families who live far away. Indeed, the PAW Society has, as it was pointed out to me, had cats adopted by people who then moved to distant locations. And certainly, Kola is one cat who has almost nothing that could initiate misgivings in a new adopter. His hygiene is excellent, he is not a fussy eater, he is friendly and playful, and has no trouble with other cats.

So what was my concern?

The person interested in Kola was very specific about what she wanted in a cat. Again, this is rarely a problem. Everyone who has adopted a cat has had certain qualities they would like to find in a new pet, though many of us are willing to forego most of them, especially when we find what an appealing little beast we’ve ended up with. There is nothing wrong with wanting particular qualities in a cat. After all, a person will be, hopefully, living with that cat for the rest of its life.

But the specificity of this person’s requests, combined with the distance, gave me some anxiety. I worried that if a person were exacting in what she wanted in a cat, she would be exacting in its fulfillment of her expectations. While a cat - or dog or person, or car or home - may check off all the boxes on a list, the situation may evolve differently in person. And when Kola was in person in Seattle, he would be hundreds of miles from everyone he knew.

The rescue-group shared my concerns yet, like me, they wanted the Floof King to have his chance. If his destiny lie half-way around the world, then he should go half-way around the world. But the worries remained, thanks to the memory of Cammie’s unhappy sojourn in Regina. As it turned out, Kola did not have one of the qualities that his prospective new person wanted. He is not a lap-cat; not yet, anyway. He is friendly and hurries over to urge me to pet him. He enjoys attention and seeks it out. He lies beside me to receive it. But he is not a lap-cat. He may be some day, perhaps soon. When he first came to stay with me, he didn’t like lying next to me. And with a different person, he may be on a lap immediately. Who can say? But the woman in Seattle wanted that characteristic right away.

What if Kola were a lap-cat yet, when he arrived at his new home, he would have nothing to do with laps? Cats are like that. Would he have been unwanted as quickly as the woman unwanted him when she heard by telephone that he didn’t care for laps?

So Kola remains with me in foster-care for the time being. But he is a very adoptable cat, and even long-distance homes are not out of the question with this furry boy. All he needs is someone who realises that the cat they get may surprise them with qualities that will make them laugh and smile, grind their teeth, keep them up at night, boast to their friends, shake their heads… In other words, all the things one gets from a member of one’s family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Most cats like warmth, which I find strange, considering that their body temperature is on average higher than ours and they are covered in fur, sometimes thick fur. Yet they enjoy lying in the sun on a hot summer’s day (which doesn’t preclude them later trying to find shade or a spot of cool floor on which to relax) and they like heating pads.

I have two beds in which heating pads have been inserted, and, in the parlour, several folded towels under which a third pad has been placed, for the comfort of my foster-cat, Kola, who spends much of his time in the parlour. But Cammie, who has not discovered or for some reason dislikes the heated beds in the sitting room, has found the heated towels to her liking.

Every week, before movie-night on Saturdays, I vacuum the couch in the parlour. I take the heated towels off, and set them aside. This last weekend, Cammie came in while I was cleaning and, evidently seeking a little warmth on a chilly night, looked for the heated towels. I had placed them on a round side-table. The fact that they were not in their usual spot did not deter the Siamese Princess. She knows nothing of electricity; to her, the towels are warm because they are the towels - wherever they may be.

The towels were displaced only briefly, and soon, Cammie was back on the towels, which were back on the couch. This simply goes to show that when a cat wants something, she will find it, wherever.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Strange Bowl-fellows

A month ago, I published pictures of Renn and Tucker eating almost together from the hard-food bowls, an unusual event. A week ago, I was able to record this occurrence, even more unusual. The cats’ dinner is usually about three-thirty on my days off, and an hour later when I work; their snack-time is approximately three hours subsequent, and the hard-food bowls are made available once more about nine or nine-thirty at night. That means the beasts receive only a ration of soft-food (though it is as much as they want) in five or six hours. This plan to encourage more soft-food consumption is working; the cats are ravenous come snack-time, and there is a happy and somewhat disgusting sound of six animals eating when I put down the stinky goodness on the floor. (Well, it’s in dishes, which go on the floor; the beasts themselves often toss it about the linoleum.) Nonetheless, they are hungry when the hard-food is presented once more.

How hungry? Enough for Josie and Cammie to eat this close. Cammie dislikes Josie. I believe this stems from a fight many months ago which may have pitted my Chubs against the Siamese Princess. Despite her lean and athletic form, and her claws which grow too sharp too fast, Cammie was easily worsted. The damage was not serious, and has not been repeated, thankfully. But the animosity on the victim’s side has lasted. Josie dislikes Cammie, too, I am afraid, though not to the extent felt by the other for her. They trade non-connecting blows from time to time, and Josie passes much too close now and then to Cammie for the latter’s comfort.

And yet, hunger can make cats do astonishing things. The images you see below are like a lion and a gazelle coming to drink from the same water-hole at dusk; a truce forms spontaneously, as they realise that they both need water to survive. Here, however, you have two lionesses: the older, heftier veteran, already a champion of one battle, and the leaner, younger comparative newcomer, wary and watchful, who puts on a fearsome show, but is really not a fighter.

Night falls in the jungle, and the scenes of would-be battle are covered with the sounds of eating. But notice how they keep an eye on each other, even as they chew…

Friday, November 14, 2014

At Sea

Most cats love to sit in boxes. I understand that, for some reason, they like enclosed spaces. (I understand the fact, not the reason.) Even a shallow-sided box, a lid or a shell of cardboard will attract them. They will come over to the box, step inside and lie down. This brings them comfort, perhaps even delight. But sometimes, they look a little odd, even silly, doing it.

I’m sorry to declare that my foster-cat, Kola, the king of floof, falls into the latter category. I put down a box from which tins of cat-food had been removed, and he immediately came over and got in. I certainly don’t object to this; if it makes Kola feel good, then more power to him. But he looked like a Tribble stuffed into a matchbox.

But, true to his feline nature, he cared nothing for what I thought, and continued to bob about in his little craft for an hour. For more than sixty minutes, I had to walk around and over this dismasted schooner adrift in linoleum doldrums. I think it was only dinner-time that caused him to abandon his cardboard vessel.

Sometimes, a person and his cat understand each other well. Sometimes, they are in tune, their wavelengths perfectly matched, like an expert ham-radio operator listening to his favourite foreign station. Then the beast sees a box, and all comprehension is lost.

Tungsten's Game

My oldest cat, Tungsten, has never played much. She used play at string-toys with me, and would zoom through the nylon tunnel when I walked beside it. I’m not sure whether it is age or apathy that is slowing her down these days. It may simply be disdain for my other cats foolish enough to leap and spin and chase things. But there is one activity that the orange one still likes. It’s one that I share with her alone.

When I come home from work, I go to my bedroom to change clothes. Tungsten always follows me. The other beasts will wander about, knowing that it’s dinner-time. Josie and Tucker may pursue each other. Their top-cat, however, comes into the bedroom and gets up on the bed. I spread my arms and shout her name.

Years ago, I would seize her and almost flip her over on the bed, then she’d wrestle and try to nip my hand. Now, she’s too old for such gymnastics. She will sometimes stoop, as if about to roll, but she doesn’t. In fact, she looks like she’s cowering and in fear of receiving blows from my hand. But she’s really just preparing. Periodically, she does flop onto her side - her current version of a tumble. These days, I grab her and gently ease her over. But then, she likes it a little rougher. I rub her fuzzy head until my hand is a blur, massage the sides of her face as though I were trying to use her fur to start a campfire, and finally, rub her boney sides with my fingers, while she claws at the bedspread, trying to stay in place. It looks as if she’s undergoing some painful torture, but when I stop, her little motor is rumbling.

This is often repeated several times. If I think we’re done, I will look at Tungsten. She may stoop, ready to fall over. That means she’s not finished. So we repeat the process. Then at last, I gather her up and take her to the bathroom for a drink of water, and I can feel her skinny frame vibrating.

This is our routine, something we’ve always done, in one form or another. Once in a while, a spark of youth fires through her, and we will wrestle, my hand against her whole tiny body. But mostly, she’s passive and simply enjoys the sensations, the interaction between us. I think it makes her feel good. I know it does me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Thanks I Get

A short time ago, I put the storm windows on my house, in preparation for the coming cold months. I wrote about it on this blog and joked that the thanks I received for working hard in the blustery chill was to be ignored by six cats all ensconced in warmth and comfort.

But in reality, this is why I do much of what I do. Pets should not have to worry about being cold or hungry. As with children, if our pets don’t take warmth and contentment for granted, then we, as their protectors, are doing something wrong. Adults have to worry, about themselves and about those under their care. The price we pay for independence (or as much as society allows us) and responsibility is consciousness of the disaster that waits to overwhelm us if we do not constantly strive to stave it off.

It’s true that I would have to work at a job even if I didn’t have cats. My own survival would depend on it. But much of what I manage to snatch from under the daily grind goes to the cats. I come home and they start demanding food almost immediately. I scoop their poop from litter-boxes in a manner that, in terms of human waste management, went out of style a century ago. I play with them and give them their medicines and arrange my time around their needs. And then, when I am done my chores and they are satisfied, they fall asleep in soft beds.

A week ago we had our first snowstorm of the season. This was the scene outside.

And these were the scenes inside. This was the thanks I got for all my efforts: the storm windows, the feedings, cleaning bums, waking up at two o’clock in the morning to run drinking-water, carting thirty pound bags of litter home on my bicycle and spending my savings on their health.

And I could not be thanked better.