Monday, June 30, 2014

We Stand on Guard for Thee

Considering the fracas that occurred last week, things are progressing well at my house. Kola, the new foster-cat, stays sealed in the parlour when I am absent or asleep. The first night after he was attacked by Tucker, Kola seemed quite glad to be put in the room. As soon as I placed a litter-box in there, he began talking, which he hadn’t done since I’d got home. He knew, from his previous sequestration, that he would be locked in, and that was fine with him. When I brought back food and water for him, he was already curled up in his enclosed cat bed. He knew he was safe.

Each evening, I let Kola out, and during the day on the weekends. He is a resilient little fellow. He was quite cautious at first, and refused to budge when he saw Tucker. The other cats don’t worry him, and now even Tucker won’t keep him confined if the parlour door is open. He still avoids the roly poly one, but he is back to sleeping in Bear-Bear’s old bed in the sitting room, and observing the world from a tall cat-tree.

Tucker for his part watched the new boy like a predator, for several days. He has made two attempts to fight him since the big battle, but I have intervened. He is more circumspect in his surveillance now, though I am not letting down my guard. Tucker has a long way to go before he proves himself harmless to Kola - if he ever does.

But the whole cat household is adapting well to the new arrangements, though Cammie seems put off more than Tucker about one aspect. With Kola confined to the parlour at night, Cammie can’t use the cat-tree there to stare out the window into the dark. This may have a positive reaction, though, in that it forces her to spend more time on the bedroom’s cat-tree, if she wants to look outside. That, in turn, means greater association with the other beasts, if only at a distance. The Siamese Princess may grow accustomed to her roommates whether she wants to or not, thanks to Tucker and Kola.

In the meantime, a truce has been established and a fragile peace reigns. We’ll see how long that has lasted when I get home tonight.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Battlefield

Yesterday, I came home from work to a battlefield. There was no blood, thank goodness, but that's about all that was missing. Tucker has been bullying Kola, the new boy, from time to time; plenty of hissing, a few swats and constant staring. I would try to intervene, literally; putting myself between the roly poly one and the object of his dislike. When it came to blows, I would speak sharply to Tucker. They had been interacting for weeks now, and I didn't believe it would get worse. I was wrong.

My first clue was the tufts of fur on the mat in the side-entry. I thought immediately that Tucker had been chasing Kola. I didn't figure that this would have been too harmful an incident. Then I saw fur elsewhere. Walking further into the house, I saw this.

A sitting room lamp had been overturned, the shade rolled away. The light bulb had burst; there were shards of glass everywhere. The cats were wandering around, oblivious to the debris, and I was frightened that their feet would be cut. I made haste to sweep up the broken glass, and went to the basement to get the vacuum cleaner, to collect any bits of glass on the sitting room rug. I observed cat-hair down there, too. I think Kola attempted to take refuge on top of the armchair at some point.

Returning upstairs, I found an unpleasant surprise, and a sign of how frightened Kola must have been. There were feces on the floor. I suspect that Tucker, in chasing – and apparently catching – Kola, knocked over the lamp, and the resultant crash and exploding light bulb scared the crap out of Kola, literally. And being in fear of his life in the first place probably dIdn't help. Tucker gets frightened at times but not that badly. There was crap in three places on the floor. And one place on the wall. Yes, the wall. I think the incident terrified Kola so much that he leaped in panic and hit the wall. Or perhaps he was still being pursued by Tucker while he was crapping. After things settled down, Kola, a very clean cat, thought to use a spot on my mat as toilet paper.

By the time I'd come back from work, things were calmer. Perhaps the toppled lamp and bursting light bulb brought Tucker to his senses.

But the cats weren’t done with me. I evidently did not fill the hard-food bowl high enough before I left. Six cats need a lot of hard-food. The bowl was empty. Not even crumbs. And the door to the cupboard where I keep the cat-food was open. A bag of treats was on the kitchen floor, torn open.

I spent an hour after I got home cleaning: washing floors and walls, using stain and odour remover on the rug (Nature’s Miracle; not a bad product for that) and vacuuming so as to get as much glass as possible. Then I fed the maniacs I live with. The good thing was that most were hungry enough to eat all the soft-food I gave them. Except for Cammie. That spoiled brat complained that Kola was in the parlour – where Cammie likes to dine – and wouldn’t eat a thing because of it. At least she ate from the re-stocked hard-food bowl.

Then I fed myself.

Now, Kola is terrified of Tucker, understandably, and spent much of the evening hiding under the bed or in a corner of the parlour. He tried to venture out but the mere sight of Tucker sent him scurrying for a hiding spot. I decided to lock him in the parlour (with a litter-box, food and water, of course). As soon as I put the litter-box in the parlour last night, Kola started talking, which he had not done since I'd come home. When I brought him re-stocked bowls after locking him in, he was lying comfortably in his enclosed cat-bed (it must have been sweltering in there, but he seemed to like it), and talked to me some more. He knew immediately that he was safe from other cats and was just as immediately happy.

He stayed the night locked away, and was pleased and active this morning. He is remaining in the parlour by himself today, however, and will each day I am at work. I will release him in the evenings. He seemed ready to come out this morning, until he caught sight of Tucker. I will see how things go over the weekend. I am hesitant even to allow Kola out at night because Tucker may decide to take up a station near Kola and his stare will keep the new boy from moving, even to use the litter-box.

Fortunately, through all of this, Kola apparently was unhurt. Tucker may not have been trying to cause injury, just fright and subservience, which were achieved. I misjudged the success of the initial integration; then again, I've not had a cat act like this since Luther was my foster-cat, and I never expected it from Tucker.

Strangely, Tucker, like Kola, is happier now than he has been for a few days. Not seeing Kola walking about put him in a good mood and his purring, muted somewhat the last few days, is back to normal. Cammie is royally annoyed because she can't use the parlour, 'her' room. Practically, it does cut down on the availability of open windows at which the cats may relax and sniff the outdoors. They all like doing that, but few enjoy being in proximity to each other, so losing a room's window to just one cat is restricting.

I will try to re-integrate Kola, of course, though it will be a very slow process. If he had claws, I'm sure the story would be different. Being defenceless must be terrifying. I don't know even if my presence will give Kola confidence, and he may linger in corners or under the bed unless he has the security of being in a closed room. I will have to determine a course of action after the next few days.

Whoever originated the phrase 'never a dull moment' must have had cats.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Growing Accustomed Again

Cammie is an interesting cat. She is a bit of a grump, really, though she has much potential, and when she is on my lap - and she jumps up there at her own choice - she purrs and pushes her head against me. So there is pleasure and friendship waiting in that little Siamese heart. However, much of her interaction with others, whether feline or human, comprises hissing and growling.

And yet, though I can't say that it is all for show, her grumpy attitude doesn't last if one is gently persistent. Before she left me for her abortive adoption, Cammie was getting used to the other cats, protesting against their presence, or sight, less than she had. Due to her recent experiences, that process has received a set-back, abetted by Kola's advent. But my little princess is bothered by the comings and goings, not by the actual cats. Once they are established in place, they hardly trouble her. It's just a matter of growing accustomed to everyone again.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Back to Work

Today was the last of my holidays. Technically, Friday was, but today was the last day I had off before returning to work. Barring any extraordinary sorrow, this is always the saddest day of my year. I will allow Cammie’s attitude to convey my feelings.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not Another One

As you may know from reading this blog, my cat Tungsten drinks water only from a running tap – at least when I am present to run it for her. She refuses to drink from a bowl, if she knows I am able to turn on a tap for her.
Yesterday, I left the tap open for her and, at some point, without me noticing, she got down from the basin counter, finished with drinking, and left the bathroom. Her place was taken by Cammie. The Siamese Princess was, I believe, attracted by the sound of the running water, and wasn’t actually thirsty. Nonetheless, she took advantage of the cold, fresh fluid to fill up.

This was something I did not need: another cat who will drink only from a tap. But, I was relieved to note, Cammie still drinks from a bowl, and has not bothered to ask (or demand) a drink from the taps again. I think it must have been just a whim of the moment that she slaked her thirst at the basin.
Even so, it’s something that she has not done before, and shows that these cats are always learning – always learning something that keeps me on my toes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kola Climbs to New Heights

Kola continues to find his way around the house. His latest discovery is the tall cat-tree in the sitting room. He was a bit afraid of it at first. It is an imposing height, after all. But he noticed some of the perma-cats enjoying the platforms, from which they can look out the window, and the top level, which is, so it seems, quite comfortable for snoozing.

Watching a cat’s thoughts in action is interesting. Kola first attempt to scale the heights involved the back of the near by armchair. Perhaps he figured that one furnishing which rises some distance off the floor would allow him access to any other. He balanced on the back of the chair, but then found that there was a lateral distance involved. He then tried to walk to the cat-tree from the back of the armchair using the window sill. The latter did not provide enough room.

Then, not long after, he decided to make use of the staggered platforms on the tree, and quickly climbed to the top. He has been there several times now, and has added it to his list of enjoyable spots around his new foster-home.

(I like to think that, in the final photograph, he is thankful for his warm, dry perch on the long, wet day we had recently. But he was probably wondering if it was worthwhile climbing down to visit the food bowl…)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kola Finds His Places

My foster-cat Kola is beginning to find his place here. Or should I write ‘places’?
His first week was spent getting his bearings, watching the other cats and gauging me, the strange human with whom he had landed. Now, he has started to find those spots which he enjoys and those he merely uses for some purpose or another. Initially, when he was confined in the back parlour, Kola used the little house/bed that no other cat has ever used. I thought he may have been too large for it, but most of him is floof, anyway.

He of course found his way to the window, and enjoys sniffing the smells that could come through the screen. This picture was taken before our recent and rare period of several continuously rainy days.

Once freed of his quarantine in the parlour – he’s an easy-going beast, so it didn’t last long – Kola discovered other interesting places about the house. He sometimes slips into the tunnel. I don’t know if he is hiding there or just likes the enclosed feeling that all cats seem to like.

As with Tungsten and Josie, the new boy found the dip between the two cushions on the bed to be rather comfortable. This represented a bit of a bold step for Kola, as there were other cats in the bedroom at the time.

The hammock was a favourite almost from the first, and Kola uses it both for snoozing and just for relaxation. It’s a good place from which to watch events, and to get used to other felines. Sometimes, he simply lies on the floor, perhaps to cool down. Tucker dislikes Kola’s presence, but he is growing accustomed to him, grudgingly.


When Cammie returned to the household, she resumed her usual ‘bed’, which is a layer of towels on the parlour couch, a mild heating pad under them to give warmth, especially when the windows are open for fresh air. I couldn’t deny the Siamese Princess this privilege. I had no idea of what she had for sleeping arrangements over the past six weeks. It left Kola without a regular spot for sleeping, however. So I brushed and washed Bear-Bear’s old bed. It’s thick and soft and undoubtedly warm. At first, Kola was frightened of it. Then I saw him lying near it. Finally, I observed him lying in it as if he always had been there. He likes to snooze there now, and, though I am not sure if he uses it for a bed at night – he does have other options – I know he also has this, his own special spot. I think that’s important for a cat, and they all seem to have one. Now Kola does, too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Renn and Josie Where They Never Were

Well, moments after I published the previous post – the picture was taken yesterday – I walked out to the sitting room and saw this. I have never witnessed these two lying together before. In fact, Josie tends not to let any cat lie near her, except sometimes on the bed at night. I have urged Tungsten to jump up onto my lap while Josie is there, but my Chubs jumps down soon after. She and Renn have now been snoozing together in the armchair for about an hour. As was pointed out with Renn’s position in the preceding post, these two may have gotten cosy before, but I’ve not seen it, and wouldn’t have believed it unless I did.
Renn does try his best most times to get along with other cats. He’s a good influence. And maybe the Great White was too comfy to move.

Renn Where He Never Was

After all these years, my cats will still surprise me. I came into the bedroom yesterday to see this. I don’t know why Renn was sitting on one of the small dressers. He wasn’t doing anything, wasn’t looking at anything; indeed, the view from there is limited, and doesn’t include much out the windows. He seemed quite alert, rather pleased at being there. He had not been up there before. Perhaps that’s why he did it. He is, after all, of a scientific mind, and may simply have wanted to see what it was like. Or maybe he felt it would make a good picture.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Cammie Was Welcomed Back

Cats are funny creatures. Their reactions will sometimes surprise a person. I can usually determine how much each of my perma-cats will take a dislike to any new feline coming into the household. Renn generally tries to make friends – or at least get to know – the latest arrival, while Josie will live and let live. Tungsten will want the new cat to remain at a distance, and Tucker may have emotional issues, stop pooping, wet where he shouldn’t and generally have a minor breakdown. He is, however, getting better – much better, if Kola’s advent is anything to go by.
I didn’t know what to expect from Cammie’s return. For the most part, the one affected most seems to be Cammie herself. The others have treated her six weeks’ absence as merely an extended period in which she spent time in another room, or perhaps at the veterinary hospital. Here are illustrations of what I mean.
Tungsten, though she hisses like a man trying to whistle with a mouth full of mashed potatoes whenever Cammie walks by too closely, attended her return with a great deal of apathy, manifested in unconsciousness.

Josie observed the whole event from one of her favourite spots, and cared almost as little as the orange one.

Tucker, remarkably, watched but barely acknowledged Cammie’s re-appearance. Indeed, he was quite calm about the unfolding drama.

And Renn, true to form, wanted to sniff the Siamese Princess and welcome her home in a genuine and warm feline manner. He was as close as Cammie came to having a friend, and I would not be surprised if he wants to pick up where they left off. He’s a nice fellow, after all.

I am glad that Cammie did not upset the perma-cats too greatly, especially since Kola’s presence disrupted the household routine already, but, thankfully, not to as great an extent as cats have in the past, probably because he’s such an easy-going boy. But then, as I wrote above, none of my regulars seemed to have thought Cammie's prolonged invisibility to be anything extraordinary. If only she could tell them…

Cammie: Her First Full Day Back

Cammie seems to be better today, her first full day back with me. I write ‘seems’ because one never knows with cats; they hide their injuries well, both physically and emotionally. But I think she is doing well.

I did not lock her up during the night. Consequently, Kola – the recently re-named Lola – wandered about crying and talking. You see, he had spent a week and a half sleeping each night where Cammie snoozed last night, on the couch in the parlour. I thought it best to give that spot to the Siamese Princess. Kola still has to find his place here, but that will come. That he attempted to find it in the parlour last night was evidenced by the periodic growls that met Kola’s peregrinations.

Cammie is less growly today, though she still wants all other cats to keep their distance. She allows me to pet her and stroke her, even without me showing her that I am about to do it. That is where we left off. I’m confident that she will prosper more and more each day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Disaster Averted - Cammie Returns

Cammie is back with me. How this occurred is a strange tale, though it may not be unfamiliar in many aspects to other animal-rescuers or groups.

Cammie was adopted at the very beginning of May. A woman from Regina saw her during her internet search for a blue-point Siamese, a kind of cat that she fancied. This woman contacted the rescue-group of which I am a member, the Lethbridge PAW Society, and she and one of the Executive spoke on the telephone at some length. What was stressed was Cammie’s abused background, and how she would take a long, perhaps very long time, to trust a person. It was also pointed out that Cammie had not lived with other cats until she came to stay in a foster-home (mine) but had progressed well in her integration.

The woman from Regina, X (as I will call her) told of her background and how she had one other cat. It was thought, by myself as well as others, that if Cammie could live reasonably well with five (including the late Bear-Bear) other cats, she would find one not much of an adjustment. Time was what Cammie needed, time to trust.

X travelled the seven hours to Lethbridge to collect Cammie. She seemed nice. The only traits about her that made me think otherwise were her reluctance to return communications (though her work made that understandable) and a vague apathy to what I explained to her about Cammie when we met in person. She appeared excited to get Cammie, and I assumed her behaviour was due to that – and the 567 mile journey she had just undertaken.

After that, contacting X for an update on Cammie was extremely difficult. She had agreed to provide information on how Cammie was doing, and to do a telephone interview for the PAW newsletter. X never returned calls or messages. Eventually, I did get hold of her and from what she told me, all seemed to be going relatively well, if not entirely happily. But I knew Cammie required time to settle down.

Because of the long trip she had had to undertake, Cammie was put in an extra large carrier, to give her room to stand and stretch during the car-ride. This was borrowed by X and would be picked up by A, a member of the PAW Society who would be travelling to Regina on unrelated business in mid-June. Mid-June came, and A went to pick up the carrier. X continued to be difficult to get hold of, and at last agreed to leave the carrier outside her house, because she was working on that day.

Stopping by the house, A found the carrier and decided to talk to whomever was home. She wanted a first-hand account of Cammie’s progress, and perhaps to see the little cat. Anyone who has rescued a cat would comprehend. No one was home. But a moment later, a relative of X drove up. He explained that Cammie was not doing well, and was not getting along with the other cats - of which there were three, not one. He also said, in vulgar language, that Cammie was messed up (psychologically). A asked if the relative wanted her to take Cammie back. The relative thought this an excellent idea, and stated that X would have no objection either.

Cammie made the long trip back to Lethbridge the next day. She is in my back parlour, where all new arrivals spend some time, though, because she is familiar with my home and my perma-cats, I intend to let her out later to see how she behaves. This is risky, since with Cammie, getting her back in a confined space will be next to impossible. Kola, who is the former Lola – repeatedly calling him ‘her’ because of the name was driving me bats – is a new factor in the household, but he is, so far, reacting well to hisses and growls (ie. he accepts them as the warnings they are and backs away.)

No one connected with Cammie’s adoption on this end can explain X’s behaviour, though we have our theories. I won’t bother with them here. X has, so far, not contacted PAW, and may never. It was agreed that she could adopt Cammie because we all wanted the little girlcat to have her chance at a permanent home. That did not work and we have learned our lesson, and fortunately have not lost Cammie in the learning. I am simply glad to have Cammie back, unhurt. Her progress in trust may have received a blow, but I don’t think it will be a severe one. I am thankful that A had to collect the carrier loaned to X; if it hadn’t been for that, and the timely arrival of X’s relative on an errand unconnected to Cammie, we would never have known about her predicament, and never have gotten her back. She is safe now, and I will start again to earn her trust. Perhaps she hasn’t forgotten everything she once learned.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Tungsten and Renn are chums most of the time, as I’ve noted previously in this blog. Sometimes, they can be found lying next to each other in the armchair in the sitting room. Other times, the orange one is on my lap on the couch, while the big boy is lying against me. Renn especially likes to have the Tiny Terror next to him. Then again, I will find them in positions that they won’t tolerate from other cats. Look at these pictures. Do you think they are conspiring over something? Chatting about the day? Or just resting together, and enjoying the sunshine? Probably the last: two cats being chums.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meet Lola

Today I would like you to meet Lola. Even though he has a girl’s name, he’s a mancat. That doesn’t stop me from repeatedly referring to him with feminine pronouns, because of the name.

You may have noticed Lola on my side-bar. He needed a foster-home and the rescue group with which I work had none available, so he came to my house. Well, that’s not strictly true. There was another foster-home, but there was another homeless cat. I think most of you reading this know how that is. In any case, Lola came to stay with me on Saturday.

He is a friendly fellow and definitely loves having his long, fine fur combed, though not brushed. He loves tummy-rubs and side-rubs, but will let you know when he’s had enough. He is declawed, unfortunately, so he will nip if he’s annoyed. It’s not a bite because he doesn’t mean business by it. But he lets you know.

Lola is a curious explorer, a talkative fellow. He will wander the house, saying something, perhaps describing what he sees and smells. He was sometimes permitted outside in his old home, but that won’t be allowed here, so I have to watch he doesn’t try to enforce his old habits on his own by darting through a half-open door. So far, he’s content to try to dart out through the door of the back parlour, where he’s being kept for now.

I have let him out, as you can see by the photographs. He knows there are other cats here, has been hissed at by Tungsten – and wisely turned away at such times – and spoken to by Josie. Tucker hisses at him, as well, but it doesn’t have the same effect as when the orange one does it. Being warned off by a cat with the heart of a tiger is different than being told what for by a large furry sausage. Renn seems to have the least problem with the newcomer.

There is still plenty of adjustment to go through. Lola was interested and excited by his new surroundings at first, then he become discouraged. I’ve noticed this reaction in many cats. Now, he is less depressed and behaves a bit more energetically. However, a genuine picture of what is going on inside the poor boy may be gleaned from the fact that he is currently hiding under the bed. I have no doubt that he will eventually be fine with his change of circumstances but, as with a human, being given up by the family with whom you’ve lived for your whole life is tough. Everything in Lola’s world now is strange, and much of it, so he must believe, unfriendly.

Lola is available for adoption, of course, and if anyone is intrigued by this dinstinctive cat, he would be pleased – well, curious – to meet them. Until then, he will reside with me. Safe and sound, but for the time being, bewildered.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Time for Thunder Again

Now that we are well into spring, the weather has at last changed. (Ignore today when the temperature dropped to eight degrees Celsius, and I had to wear gloves while bicycling.) The previous days have been warm, and when clouds gather for rain, they sometimes gather for thunderstorms, too.

My beasts don’t care for thunder. I’m sure that’s a common feeling in households all through the Cat Blogosphere. This one was probably the biggest of the season so far and, while it was not that tremendous, we haven’t heard much thunder this year, so the cats over-reacted somewhat.

The boys decided that the bedroom was the safest place. Tucker was under the bed until I coaxed him out, and then he stayed quite flat on top of it. At least they didn’t scurry downstairs to the basement. That is their last resort when afraid.

Josie was unnerved by the storm. She isn’t usually as frightened as Renn and Tucker but, as I wrote above, she may have forgotten about electrical storms from last year. This one may have caught her unawares. Here she is behind the armchair, trying to be inconspicuous, in case the thunder comes calling closer to home.

And here is Tungsten, showing how terrified she is. My little tigress.