Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Warm Weather Tungsten

The warm weather has come at last to southern Alberta. Leaves and bushes that have been bare until now have come into full leaf in just a few days, and the fragrances of spring are in the air. This means different behaviour for the cats, and not just because the storm windows are off and the screens are on.

Tungsten changes her behaviour the most at this time of year. She still loves her cat-bed, which fits her so perfectly, but prefers my lap in the spring and summer. Even a scrawny little creature such as herself doesn’t need the protecting shelter and heat of a cat-bed all the time. She does enjoy lying in the sun sometimes, and likes being close to her best feline pal, Renn.

And just to prove me wrong in my earlier article about her looking out the window infrequently, here she is sharing the view with my big boy. I have often wondered whether Tungsten, with what has always looked like a torn pupil in her left eye, has less than adequate vision, and thus likes the open spring and summer windows because the scents add another dimension to her observations. During the colder months, she really does pay little attention to the outside world.

But now the temperatures have risen, and the orange one finds comfort in new places. As she grows older, she takes her pleasures where she can, in the balmy breezes and the warming sunshine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Raid

Tungsten receives a special diet. She is given California Natural hard-food, simply because it evidently tastes a little better than other foods, and thus encourages her to eat more, and gain weight. All the beasts enjoy their Orijen hard-food and eat as much of it as I provide, but they like the flavour of the California Natural, and are always sniffing after Tungsten’s rations, especially Josie.

I keep the orange one’s food in a small bowl, and, when it is not being used, it sits on top of the micro-wave oven. When I go to bed, or leave the house, it goes into the micro-wave oven. I use the oven that often. (That’s why I don’t buy a newer model, one that weighs less than a hundred pounds; I just don’t need it much.)

One day last week, I left for work and forgot to put the bowl of California Natural in the micro-wave oven. This is what I found when I returned.

Someone had jumped onto the oven and had, probably, eaten from the bowl, pushing it with their snout, until it fell off. The crash of the metal bowl must have been terrific, and frightening – I’ll bet even Tungsten was startled by that. But once everyone had recovered from their surprise, they undoubtdly converged on the upset food.

Who could have done this daring deed?

SUSPECT 1: Josie certainly had motive. She is always attempting to eat from Tungsten’s bowl, even trying her chin on the shoulder trick to intimidate the Tiny Terror, who of course isn’t bothered in the least. But to leap from the floor up to the top of the oven? I haven’t seen Josie levitate even half that distance. She could have used the table to cut down on the height, and flown laterally, but there is just too little of the oven on which to land at that angle, at least for a cat of my Chubs’s girth. She simply had not the means.

SUSPECT 2: Tungsten of course may have been hungry. But she is older than she was when I was astounded by her five and a half foot jumps straight up into the air. That was when she was a spry seven year old. She still rockets about the house from time to time, but she is hesitant to make hazardous leaps. Besides, if no California Natural is available, she is happy to make do with Orijen. She had motive, but no incentive.

SUSPECT 3: Tucker I also disqualified. The roly poly one is the size and shape of an over-inflated rugby football, with the weight of a medicine ball. He does jump from the bedroom cat-stands to the bed, but the distance, angle and height of that endeavour do not rival any attempt to get on the micro-wave oven. As well, though he has sniffed about Tungsten's food, he doesn’t like it as much as that. Therefore, he lacked motive and means.

SUSPECT 4: That leaves Renn. My big boy is young and strong. His legs are pure muscle, and I’ve seen him attain heights of five feet in his leaps from the floor. Though I have never seen him overly engrossed in any attempt to eat Tungsten’s food, he has stopped by her bowl as soon as the orange one has finished there. I’m sure he would partake of the contents if I let him. And a few weeks before, he had leaped onto the top of the micro-wave oven, using the table as a springboard. At the time, I thought it was simple high spirits. But perhaps he was seeking the forbidden food. His scientific mind would have pointed out the necessity of reconnaissance first.

So I reluctantly have concluded that my big boy was a bad boy. He had his snack and probably permitted the others to feast off the fallen remains. There was nothing I could do when I discovered the crime scene. The deed was done.

And it was dinner-time, anyway.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Intruder Alert!

There are at least two cats in the neighbourhood who are allowed by their owners to roam free. One, I suspect, is not neutered, a jowly, yowly male tabby. The other is a black and white feline of indeterminant gender. Both have been invading my own beasts’ territory recently. They cause no harm and indeed travel only through the farthest provinces of our little kingdom.

The tabby, whom I believe lives across the street, sometimes sits on my doorstep. I have tried to get close to him, but he is too shy of me for that. At times, he will skirt my house through the driveway and into the back lawn.

The black and white boy (or girl) I’ve seen less frequently. Even in one of these pictures, he is invisible, lying ‘doggo’, as they used to say (though never of cats), under one of the litter-boxes I’d washed out that day and left to dry.

They create no problems, these itinerants, though my cats keep an eye or two on them when they are spotted. In the photographs here, you'll see Renn maintaining watch on our borders. In addition to being my leading scientist, he has apparently appointed himself warden of the marches. Other cats have entered our small castle only by permission, so he and his fellow guardians must be doing a good job.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tucker's New Favourite Place

The storm windows are off at last and the screens are on. It’s been quite chilly at night, still, and even during some days. But now the temperatures are becoming a bit more reasonable, though it feels only as if it were early April yet. But some days have been pleasant, and one of them on a weekend was enough for me to free the windows.

The cats of course like this development. Tucker and Renn are the most excited by it. I have taken Cammie’s old cat-tree from the parlour and brought it to the bedroom. I believed its two platforms were either too high or too low for proper viewing out the windows, so I exchanged it for one from the bedroom. I have kept it, though, and placed it beside a second bedroom cat-tree, thinking that the beasts will have at least one perch in that room from which to look out.

But, once again, my cats have surprised me. My roly poly one actually likes the height of Cammie’s perch. Perhaps he enjoys the fact that he can lie at full length and hang his head down into the open window; no effort required. In any case, Tucker has found a new fun place from which to watch the wide world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Infrequent Observer

It’s interesting how cats can be so different from each other. Their personalities are as diverse as those of people. Renn loves to look out the window. Josie does too, and one of her favourite places is on a platform of the lower cat-tree in the sitting room. Tungsten, however, is normally completely uninterested in the outside world.

I don’t know why that is. Most cats will have some curiosity about their surroundings. Tungsten is apathetic, though in a way that suggests superior disdain for such things. A sudden, loud noise will send the other beasts running for a window, or for shelter; the tiny terror moves not a muscle. A warm cat-bed, a lap, a bowl of her favourite food and a drink of water now and then. Those are the pillars of her life.

Once in a while, though, she exhibits extraordinary behaviour. She will rocket around the house, causing the other cats to peer after her in surprise. She will eat out of a bowl containing food she dislikes. And, rarely, she will look out a window.

Most often, this occurs when I place her in a position from which she may easily observe. When she and I lived alone, before the other cats came, I would hold her at a window and we would look out together, and see what may have been seen. We do that still. But, once in a while, the orange one will show an interest that is quite unusual for her. When she does so, it is such an unfamiliar sight that she looks like a different cat.

But the moment doesn’t last long. She sees little to hold her attention. There is so little worthy of it, you understand. Then, she returns to her cat-bed, or my lap. There, she sleeps, and though her dreams were once periodically frightening, she now dreams more placidly, perhaps of sleeping in a cat-bed, or on my lap...

Monday, May 12, 2014

And for the Next Course...

Well, it was time for another attempt to get my beasts to eat healthily. So far, however, this time is proving a bit more successful than others. The hard-food that all are enjoying is something called Orijen, made here in southern Alberta, and full of good things. The surprising factor of Orijen is how much the cats like it. The bowl I fill with Orijen at the beginning of the day is empty when I come home from work in the late afternoon. I always have a second bowl, in which is Blue Buffalo hard-food; they used to like that brand, but now it is eaten only if there is none of the other.

Josie, who has become fussier about her diet as the years have progressed, waits for the Orijen bowl to be re-charged after I have given the cats their soft-food dinners, as she likes to have a meal with more than one course. She literally greets the arrival of the filled bowl with what sounds like a cheer. Perhaps it’s a whine that I took so long over my task.

As it is a dense food, the animals should not have to eat as much as they do of other foods to fill themselves up. But apparently, it tastes good, as they eat enough to empty the bowl each day. And they like the flavour enough to swallow even the crumbs from the bottom.

Now, on to the soft-food. After several experiments, I have hit upon a brand that seems to be holding its own among my finicky quartet. This is called Merrick. Most of the cats like the different flavours offered, though turkey, tuna, salmon and “surf ‘n’ turf” patés are the ones that most like the most, if you know what I mean. Even Renn, who is very reticent regarding soft-food, enjoys Merrick some of the time. I am trying less usual flavours, as well, even non-patés. I don’t usually have success with those. These include chunky or shredded recipes, and normally result in the sauce being lapped up and the dry cubes of meat, now largely tasteless, being abandoned. But in the cases of “chicken a la king” and “cowboy cook-out”, the whole serving is consumed.

Yes, I’ve reached the point at which I am providing food called “cowboy cook-out” to my pets. I pay extra and go without so four cats can feel like Scott Glenn and Danny Glover in Silverado. But if they eat something good and enjoy eating it, then I am happy to serve it.

I retain a stock of Fancy Feast even so. When I provide a flavour of Merrick for which some of the animals are less enthusiastic, it serves as a garnish that gives it a flavour that they like.

All of this narrative is in a cautionary vein, however. I have gone through numerous brands and flavours of food, especially the soft-food, changing each time the beasts have gone off their latest choice. I’ll see how long this alteration of weather lasts, and see from which direction the next breeze blows.

But, lest you think I've forgotten something, here are pictures of my cats enjoying their new soft-food, including Renn, who must eat at a height (e.g. at the top of a cat-tree, on a table) and Josie, who removes her food from the dish to the floor in order to eat it. When she starts throwing it in the rubbish bin, I'll know she wants a new menu.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Renn Turns to Entomology

My big boy Renn enjoys studying the world around him. His greatest interest is water, but he finds something to pique his curiosity in everything. Now that spring is advancing (very slowly, in our part of the world), and insects are emerging from their winter refuges, Renn has turned his scholarly brain to entomology.

This past weekend, he found an object of his study crawling across the large sitting room window. He was fascinated by the little beetle making its way from one side of the glass to the other, and was excited when it came close to the tall cat-tree. He evidently felt that a non-living specimen would be examined better than one that was living, so he tried to whap the bug. Fortunately for the latter, it was crawling on the outside of the pane. Renn seemed puzzled by this.

I think his next object of study will be glass.

I would like to thank Tim from Tomcat Commentary for the thoughtful and excellent electronic birthday card he made for Tungsten. Go to this site:

As I wrote in reply to Tim, my orange one doesn’t make a fuss of her birthday - but I’m sure she’s doesn’t mind others doing so.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Empty Cat-bed

Cammie has gone to her new home. She left on Friday. She often sat on the cat-tree in the parlour, peering out the window, and I would see her as I left for work. I looked for her today, out of habit. It will take a while to grow accustomed to having just my four perma-cats again.

I will miss the little Siamese cat. She was with me since last July, if I recall correctly, and she came a long way from the frightened, untrusting animal she was then. Just before she was adopted, she had begun coming out into the sitting room more often, and not worrying so much about the other beasts (except for Josie, for whom she maintained her dislike until the end). As is the way with cats, these changes were sudden, and they were pleasant to see, though Cammie faced even greater changes before they could have much of an effect.

I think I will feel Cammie’s absence more than I might otherwise for several reasons. Firstly, it comes so soon after Bear-Bear’s death. Cammie, of course, is alive and well, but it’s still a loss. Secondly, I did not expect her to be adopted soon, or ever. My reasoning wasn’t sound in this. I knew that she had come from an abusive background, that she needed a great deal of time to learn to trust; I figured that that would deter many potential adopters. But of course no one interested in adopting Cammie would have known these things about her. The notion that she would not be adopted soon nonetheless probably settled in my subconscious. It was as well that other people did not let Cammie’s origins discourage them, because she has moved beyond the limitations imposed by her background, and is more than ready for a trusting, caring relationship with someone.

That is a third reason why I will find her absence greater than I might: she has come such a long way while with me. She would hiss at everything when she initially arrived at my house. Everything was a threat to her. The day she left me, she wandered almost unconcerned among the other cats, and almost no behaviour of mine elicited displeasure from her. (She’s a cat, so something I do will cause her annoyance; that’s a given.) Jumping on to my lap became a habit, and she would purr and purr while I stroked her smooth fur. I purposely touched more of her over time, getting her used to being handled. She still dislikes being picked up, but that too may change with time and attention.

She wasn’t hard work on my part; I just let her be, and she realised in her way, and over time, that she was in a place where she was safe, with all her needs attended to. Except for her relations with my Chubs, Cammie learned to live with the other beasts, something which she had not had to do previously. She found her place with them, and was developing a (very rudimentary) friendship with Renn. There was hissing when he got too close now and then, yet at other times, they lie near each other on the parlour couch. I think Cammie liked showing him that she was tough. But I also believe that they would have grown close.

But the home that Cammie is going to will be very good for her. It contains only one other cat, an easy-going fellow named Bo. If she can deal with four or five at my house, one laid-back cat should not pose her any problems. There will be more than one human with whom to interact, but Cammie will learn to trust them, as she learned to trust me. She just needs time. Give her enough of that to come to her own conclusions about her environment and she will be just the cat everyone would want. If things do not work out for her, then she will come back and live with me again. She may be wondering where I am, and why her world has changed completely, once again. There’s no way to explain to cats that such revolutions in their lives are for the best, and that they will have much more after the changes than than they did before.

I hope I do not see Cammie again, as much as I want to. I hope, and believe, that she will find her place in her new home, and that the little cross-eyed Siamese cat will have the happy life she deserves.