Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's Black and White and Red Here and There?

The colour of cats is interesting, because it is not always what it seems. I once saw two cats lying next to each other on a bed. To look at them in average light, one would have thought that they were a pair whose black fur was of identical hue. After all, how many differences can there be in black? However, when I saw these two on the bed, the sun was shining through a window directly onto them. It showed that one’s black fur was tinged with blue, the other with red.

Renn too has a tinge to the black in his fur. It’s red. Lately, I’ve noticed that the red is becoming more prominent. Alterations in his coat are not new. When I first took him in, he had a tuft of grey hair behind each ear. Not only were they a different colour than the rest of his fur, but they were of a different texture. Considering his personality, it was fitting that he had a touch of the wild-haired professor. Strangely, these tufts have come and gone over the years.

Now, the red lustre to his black hair is more noticeable, especially, of course, in direct light. The first picture displays his fur as is normally seen. Even in this photograph, the red is more clearly visible than was once the case. In the second photo, I cheated and used a flash to highlight (literally) the colour.

My cats change. Their tastes in food change, their sleeping habits change, how they express their emotions changes. Do we change so much? The feline life-span is a quarter of ours, so do similar changes in humans take four times as long, and thus are less noticeable? Others may perceive the changes in us long before we do - or long before we admit to perceiving them. Hair colour spontaneously changes in humans rarely, except for the grey and white which come with age. Children who are blond sometimes become brunettes  - or vice versa - with the passage of time. More often, it takes a dye’s help to switch descriptions. Apparently not so in cats.

Red has long been associated with revolution and rebellion. Personally, I would not have expected so ‘radical’ a change in my big boy. Perhaps politics will become his next field of study.

Monday, August 25, 2014

More Medicine for Josie

It’s timer for a progress report on Josie, I think. The last time I wrote about her, she was vomiting, and a hairball was suspected. She received treatment for it in the form of a laxative/hairball remedy. She likely pooped it out, but she also coughed one up. I know it was hers because I arrived at the scene half a minute after hearing her wretch.

After taking advice, I decided to keep her on a dosage of hairball remedy for, well, forever. That negates the bit in the earlier article when I wrote that her treatment would not be permanent. But on Friday, she threw up a brownish fluid. She had regurgitated food during the previous week, but her stomach has always been sensitive, and I am not worried about the odd upchuck of undigested kernels. When she brought up the clear fluid, I thought she had better stay on the hairball remedy.

I think that it helped initially but another one may have been collecting even as I stopped the treatment. I hope that regular dosing with the goop will prevent hairballs from gathering. The only way I will know is if my Chubs stops throwing up the liquid. That’s assuming it’s a hairball that is causing the problem. I have not ruled out taking Josie to the veterinary. If she throws up some more, despite the hairball treatment, I will do just that.

But for now, she gets three or four mL of goop on Saturdays and a similar amount on Sundays. I chose those days because they are easy to remember and give me more time for doing things than on weekdays.

The goop I am giving her now doesn’t come from a veterinary hospital as the first did. It’s a little less expensive but was recommended by a pet-supply shop worker as having done well by their store-cat. The initial product tasted of fish, so the packaging claimed. According to Josie’s reaction, it tasted of fish that has been lying on a beach for some days. This new product has a ‘malt’ flavour. Now, perhaps if the Great White was an habituĂ© of Pop’s Malt Shop in Riverdale, hanging out with Archie, Jughead and the gang, she would enjoy the simulated malt flavour more than she does. Unfortunately, to judge by results, this product too tastes of fish that has been lying on a beach for some days.

Well, it’s only twice a week, and is a small price to pay for regularity. Josie is well into middle age now - she’s eleven - and has experienced few health problems. Of my cats, she and Renn have had good luck in that regard over the years. I hope this is as serious as any treatment for ailments get with her, as I don’t want to give her any more medicine. Still, if I must, I’m sure modern veterinary science can come up with plenty of other flavours that taste of fish that has been lying on a beach for some days.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Princess in her Domain

I am quite pleased with the progress that Cammie is making with the other beasts. She still dislikes having them around and would prefer to inhabit a kingdom in which she is pampered by largely unseen servants, who treat her as the daughter of the sun and the moon, whom the stars raised to be queen of Heaven. It’s not for nothing that her breed comes from the celestial Orient.

Failing this, she acknowledges the other cats with disdain, sometimes accompanied by a hiss. It’s true that her reaction to Tungsten is different. The Siamese princess continues to lurk near the orange one from time to time, causing Tungsten to growl warningly. But the others, she could do without. Because I can’t, she has to tolerate them.

But things are getting better. Cammie has more than once jumped onto my lap while I was sitting on the couch, with Renn to my right and Tucker to my left, on the arm of the couch. This would have been unheard of a few months ago. I can’t relax much when she is so positioned, as I am trying to keep Cammie and Tucker from coming into inadvertent contact. Usually, they pretend that the other is not there, and settle down to what historians would refer to as ‘armed neutrality’. Cammie doesn’t stay long, but the fact that she is there at all is encouraging, to write the least. (I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of this, but my hands are busy at these times, petting both the princess and the roly poly, in order to keep things calm.)

As well, she ventures into the parlour, when I am home and the door is open. Otherwise, Kola is sealed in there, safe from Tucker’s provocation. When the parlour door is open, however, Cammie will stroll in, frequently to sit at the window. Last evening, however, I was surprised to find her settled in the late Bear-Bear’s old bed. Last night was chilly and wet, so the weather may have prompted this unprecedented action. I had put the bed in the parlour because Kola used it while it was in the sitting room. Due to Tucker’s continued depredations, however, Kola doesn’t venture into the sitting room just to lie down. So I brought the bed into the parlour. There, though, he prefers the covered cat-bed, visible in the photograph behind Cammie. After the Siamese princess’s snuggle in it, I may return the BB's bed to where it is more accessible to her.

Cammie still gives a hiss as she passes by a cat. But most ignore these dutiful warnings. Kola in particular seems unfazed by Cammie’s sibilance. I theorise that the more the other beasts treat her hostility as unimportant, the less she will adopt it. In that regard, I value Kola as an ally in taming the princess still further.

And in general, Cammie is more accepting of my touching her. I will stop when I pass her to rub her head or face, as I do with the others, but which has not always been welcome by this foster-cat. We are getting to know each other more and more, and with the other cats’ help, I will soon have her leaping into visitors’ arms in welcoming joy. I figure another couple of decades ought to do it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Leopard and the Kid

I’ve mentioned before that Renn is a peace-maker. He certainly has his moments, as all cats do, of angrily telling another feline to go away or give him space. And he is a bit of a whiner - literally - when forced to do something he dislikes. I’ve never heard a cat whine before I met him. But usually he is a good natured fellow and, more than that, he will go out of his way to be friendly.

This is especially valuable when I have foster-cats. Renn slowly pushed the boundaries of what Cammie accepted, when that cat came to stay with me. He remains the animal she is most comfortable with. Now, he has turned his natural charm on Kola.

Kola has had trouble with Tucker. That roly poly has determined that he will not be the bottom-cat of a household when there is a perfectly good new, declawed cat to take on the part. So Kola has been chased and frightened by Tucker. As well, Josie will snarl and slap at the new boy. But he knows he will have no trouble with Renn. My big boy has taken to sniffing Kola with that large nose of his and the foster-cat, though wary, realises there is no harm in, and doesn’t worry much about it. He even doesn’t bother to look up as Renn passes him on the parlour couch, on his way to the window.

With Renn as a friend, a cat’s integration is smoother, and less emotionally troubled. Kola sees that not all cats are dangerous, not all cats want to hit him and put him in his place. Renn may be big and muscular but he enjoys a peaceful world. With him, the leopard truly lies down with the kid.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hairballs Aren't Really Ball-shaped, Are They?

In my previous article, I mentioned how Tungsten had to receive injections of water several times a day. Josie is currently receiving worse treatment, though hers, fortunately, is not permanent.

I think my Chubs has a hairball. She was been throwing up lately, more than usual. She has always had a sensitive stomach, and eating too much would cause it to overflow, so to speak. But recently, she has begun to vomit less food and more fluid, sometimes a pinkish, clear liquid. I’m told that this may be a symptom of a hairball, one which may be irritating her stomach and won’t come up.

Enter the laxative, in a manner of speaking. This is a special laxative / lubricant, something in the form of goop that will help push, pull, force, coax, persuade, perhaps even blackmail the hairball out. The first thing was to get the goop into her.

I knew I would face an up-hill battle when I was told that it was ‘fish’ flavoured. Most of my cats like some form of fish. They like it from a variety of tinned foods which, I suspect, use real fish, more or less, in their contents. The goop one buys as a form of medicine is probably not full of the harvest of the sea. I don’t know which ultimately cancer-causing chemical is used to simulate fish flavour, but it doesn’t find favour with my crowd. I recall tormenting the late Bear-Bear with ‘triple-fish’ flavoured medicine. The ‘triple’ bit must have meant he would hate it thrice as much as normal. Josie shared the BB’s opinion and would have nothing to do with the goop.

The instructions were to apply a bit to the cat’s nose, so that they would grow accustomed to the taste. Do you know what happens when I put something on one of my cat’s nose? She walks around with it on her nose. “Put a drop on her paw” is another useless instruction. Mine just rub it off, which is pretty messy when it’s sticky goop.

Anyway, I initially tried pushing some of the medicine into Josie’s mouth with my finger. That was a failure. It got all over the outside of her mouth and she looked like a badger that had just caught a rabbit; an unpleasant sight. Then I used a syringe. This is was better, but the big syringe I used was too big. I could not force the plunger down hard enough against the drag of the goop, and so either too little came out, or too much. Then I switched to a smaller syringe. This, though not perfect, got the job done. It is still a struggle with Josie, but almost everything that should go into her is going into her.

However, I think I have been overdosing the Great White. The directions stated that a quarter to one teaspoon of goop should be fed daily for two or three days, and then a quarter to a half teaspoon once every two or three days. I misread and put two or three teaspoons into Josie each day. Well, that ought to oil the insides, don’t you think? Aside from a fear of goop, my cat has suffered no ill effects from the excessive dosage.  I’ll give her a teaspoon once a day for a couple of days, then two or three over the next week.

I am not sure if I will be able to tell if the medicine is working. I know that Josie hasn’t thrown up since I started giving it to her, though it may be that vomit simply can’t force its way up against the goop. Seriously, though, the only vomit I’ve seen was an immense hairball this morning. It wasn’t Josie’s colour (white) and was probably Renn’s. If it was Josie’s, so much the better. This written, I will probably go home to find that my Chubs has exploded in my absence. I did notice a large amount of softer poop in the litter-box today. I hope that was Josie’s, as well.

Her appetite is not what it should be, but I imagine if she has a hairball, it would turn her off eating, as well as causing her to throw up what she has consumed. And having goop forced down her throat likely doesn’t make her feel like sitting down to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord either. The real test will be in a week or so, after the treatment is done. If she continues to keep her food down, and starts enjoying it again, we will have won.

With so much of a cat’s life revolving around eating - it’s as much a pleasure for them as a necessity, I think - I want Josie to feel good inside and outside. I want her to wake up one morning and dance about the house singing, like one of those old commercials in which a man has taken Ex-lax or something similar the night before. I’d like her to prepare her own breakfast while she’s at it, but I’ll settle for her feeling good.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Water Torture

Tungsten has health problems, but she is doing well in coping with them. She has hyperthyroidism and for that she receives medicine, rubbed twice a day into the inside of her ears.

She also has kidney problems. They are the sort that may be considered serious but are not affecting her too much right now. Cats don't get enough moisture at the best of times, so to help her water-consumption, I use a syringe to shoot water into her: twelve millilitres three times a day, four on days that I have off. It seems to be working. I took her to the veterinary a couple of months ago because she was sick. That turned out to be a more or less ordinary illness caused by a germ. With the help of antibiotics, it passed rapidly. I had the doctor run blood and urine tests on the tiny terror, just to keep my views of her condition current. The doctor had not treated Tungsten before, and told me that if she (the doctor) had not read her (Tungsten’s) records, she (the doctor) would not have thought she (Tungsten) had had any problems with her (Tungsten’s) kidneys. I (me) liked hearing that.

But the orange one still gets her water treatment. Three or four times a day, I jet little streams of water into her mouth. She doesn’t like it but doesn’t fight me, either. The expression she gives me isn’t the one in the picture below. It’s difficult to take a photograph while holding a cat and injecting water into her mouth. But she looks at me each time with the same question in her innocent little face.

“Why are you doing this to me? I drink water. You know I drink water. You turn on the tap for me. In fact, I drank water just minutes ago. You saw me. You were there. Why the extra water? I’m not thirsty right now. When I am, I’ll let you know. I’ll just end up putting most of this into the litter-box anyway. I think I have to go there now. This is quite embarrassing.”

If she could understand me, I’d explain that it is helping her, and I want her to live as long as I do. Well, I tell her that anyway. But I’m not sure she’s listening by that point.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Once in a While

Once in a while, Tucker will take after Kola. There is a mad scramble as my newest foster-cat bolts for some sort of refuge, a hiding spot or a location out of the roly poly’s reach. Then I have to chastise Tucker; not that he listens to me.

Once in a while, Tungsten will hiss and growl and yowl at Cammie, who is looking at her, or crouching too close. Cammie will add to the din by complaining that she’s not doing anything wrong. She’s just looking… I have to separate them.

Once in a while, Kola will wander about the house talking…and talking and talking and talking and talking. I have to converse with him.

Once in a while, Josie will exchange blows with Renn, who had slipped into the nylon tunnel, which my Chubs, for some reason known only to her feline mind, hates for him to do. I have to tell them to knock it off.

Once in a while, the cats will get into a loud disagreement over who should be looking out the window from a cat-tree, or who should have possession of a cat-tree’s top platform for the evening. I have to explain that there are plenty of other places to snooze.

But once in a while, once in a while, the beasts are like this. All is quiet, all is peaceful. They are friends - or at least not enemies - and we relax and listen to music or read or write. I have to enjoy it - because it won’t last long...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Imp of the Perverse

No sooner had I published the previous article on my blog (see below) than it was proven wrong. The very day that I described how my cats preferred a denim-covered Kick-a-roo to its plush counterpart, I went home and saw Josie doing this.

That’s the other Kick-a-roo over which she is making such a fuss. It is a tiger-striped toy, fuzzy; the same size as the other one of its kind, but with a decidedly different feel. The cats have played with it, but not to the extent of their interaction with the other. Now, Josie has a minor interest in books. When she sees one open on a table or bed, she likes to sprawl upon it. Perhaps she has picked up rudimentary reading skills, perused my blog and determined to have a laugh at my expense.

In any case, here she is having a grand time licking, kicking and biting the furry Kick-a-roo. The pictures are all blurry, as you can see; an indication of the unwonted speed with which my Chubs was enjoying the toy.

So the beasts continue to play with my mind, subtly and with a sense of humour. There’s no harm in it, and I take it well. Now, let’s see how the Great White feels when she realises I’ve substituted wet cement for the cat litter...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Comfort in Small Packages

The cats at my house have many toys, most of which disappear over time. Sometimes I find the survivors under the couch, but others simply vanish. That’s neither here nor there. Especially when they vanish. Anyway, there are some toys that the cats like more than others, though they are not always enjoyed as toys.

Some time ago, I was generously given two Kick-a-roos. They are both used - or abused, depending on one’s point of view - and the little sacks get a rough treatment on a continuing basis. But for some reason, one of them, a denim-covered object, is favoured more than the other. It is not treated as a plaything all the time, however. Now and then, it is simply a comfort to the cats.

Tucker likes snuggling with the denim Kick-a-roo. He will lie on it, seize it and rub all over his fuzzy face. It may be that there is some cat-nip in the toy, and that the material makes the substance more attractive than in the other Kick-a-roo. But not all the cats act toward it the same way.

Most just like to sit near it. Josie enjoys lying beside it, sometimes draping a paw over it, and holding it as though it were the feline equivalent of Linus van Pelt’s security blanket. And she doesn’t care if I catch her doing it, either.

The new boy, Kola, evidently likes the feel of it. He will rest his head on it periodically. Then again, he may use it as a kind of barricade, in case the others plan a sneak attack.

Even Tungsten is not immune to the toy’s charm. The orange one barely touches it, but can sometimes be found crouching on the carpet beside the Kick-a-roo, in quiet contemplation.

There are many diversions available for my beasts. I leave them scattered about for their amusement if they feel so inclined. Most are ignored but once in a while, one is exalted in their eyes. For now, it’s the denim-covered Kick-a-roo. Next week, the stopper from my bathtub, perhaps…?