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.