Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Christmas

Christmas this year in southern Alberta was a white one. There wasn’t too much snow, but enough to make the scene rather pretty. The temperatures dropped as well, however, so that wasn’t as attractive an aspect. But it made my last Yuletide in the house rather nice, I think, and gave me and the cats something to look at for the last time through the big windows.

Creature of Habit

Cats are creatures of habit, perhaps to a greater extent than many others. During the move, my beasts’ world was thrown into a bit of turmoil, though not as much as I expected, thank goodness. They navigated around the boxes and coped with the loss of beds and toys. Sometimes they coped in strange ways.

The heated cat-beds had been placed on cardboard boxes. This kept them off the cold floor and provided a bit of spring. I decided to wash the beds before moving and, once they were washed and dried, did not replace them, as we would be vacating the house the next day. This did not suit Josie.

My Chubs was going to enjoy those cat-beds whether they were there or not. She lie on one box, then went to the other. She stayed for about half an hour. She’s stubborn and probably thought she could intimidate me into returning them. Alas, conditions were not in her favour. But I admire her spirit.

Out of the Old, Into the New

The move is over. I must still go and clean the house - I thought of hiring someone for it, but the season has apparently been very busy for the trade, and no one is available until after the house’s possession date - but other than that, I have left the old residence behind.

The move itself was accomplished as well as such moves can be. The company that did it was quick, and co-operative. The three young men kept calling me ‘sir’, which made me think that either they were very respectful or they thought I was old. I like to think they were respectful.

I won’t publish just yet any pictures showing much of the apartment. Right now, there is still a great deal of unpacking to achieve, so it looks like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I can show you the cats.

I kept them in a spare room of the house until everything was taken over to the new apartment, and then transported them there. They were very curious about the new place and all the boxes strewn about. Tucker and Renn slunk about ‘like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime’ (in the words of Al Stewart’s aptly-named “Year of the Cat”), but by the evening were purring as per normal. Tucker accepted his insulin dosage easily and without fuss. Cammie had been getting on the bed more often just before the move, even with other beasts already there, and seems to be continuing that trend now. The first picture below is from the old house (note the gutted chest of drawers), while the second picture is from the new apartment. 

Josie, meanwhile, seemed to adjust the most swiftly, and quickly checked out what may be seen from the newly-placed tallest cat-tree. Alas, the views obtained from the new home are not as good as those in the previous, but there may still be something of interest for an observant feline.

I will publish more stories today, but my internet is not yet connected, so I must use an alternate computer on which to publish. I will describe some things that I have been saving, so the following few posts look back. When the unpacking is complete in the new apartment, I will take you forward.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Christmas, Everyone!

I may not be publishing anything between now and the new year, due to the move to the new residence.  But I did manage to make a Christmas card, and am displaying its outside front and inside below.

Though I probably won’t be putting anything on the blog until I and the beasts have changed homes, I hope still to comment on others’ blogs, and will certainly be reading them. In any case, I want to wish everyone a very jolly and warm Christmas, a safe and happy one with family and friends, be they human or animal; and the best possible start to the best possible new year. I’ll see you in 2016.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Looking Forward to a Moving Experience

Moving is an inconvenience on many levels. Having to find enough boxes to contain all the belongings you have somehow accumulated; finding a moving company; having to live ad hoc for weeks while coping with an ever-changing topography due to heavy boxes and furniture in different places each day, and having to be ready for the actual day of transport.

However, the end is in sight. My planned day of moving is December 30th. The movers will arrive between nine and nine-thirty that morning and, hopefully, have most of my belongings carted over to the apartment by mid-afternoon. The estimate is for three to five hours. That’s not a good estimate but it gives me the worst - or, rather, the most expensive - scenario. I will be moving some of my property in a rented van tomorrow, and probably after the move, as well. That will save on some moving time and, consequently, money. I am taking the day off on the 30th, so as to be on top of the move. Or as much as I can be.

I must say that I am looking forward to getting into the new home. Now that everything is topsy turvy with moving and packing and sorting and sifting, I want it to end and for all to be back to normal. There will be a slightly different normal because of the new residence, but, by the new year, the process will have begun.

I am, as I did five years ago, using the change of location to shed some items that are unwanted or unneeded. That never results in enough being let go, I find, as there is always some excuse - and discouragingly often, a good excuse - to retain an item. But I have less space in which to store or display belongings this time, so things must go.

In any case, there are four items that I will definitely be taking to the new apartment with me, as it would simply not seem like a home without them.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Josie at Square One

Josie’s visit to the veterinary hospital was inconclusive (read: waste of money). A sample was taken of the lump and, though it showed nothing harmful, the doctor informed me that it may simply have been that not enough material was gathered in the procedure. I could take my Chubs back for a second sampling, but that may yield just as little.

She does need a dental. Her mouth is not as bad as Tucker’s, which has been left untreated because of his diabetes, but it needs work, too. So, once I and the beasts are established in the new residence, I will make an appointment to have Josie’s teeth and gums seen to and, simultaneously, have the lump removed. I will have it sent away for analysis; that will cost extra, but I will save something in having two surgeries performed at one time. This is the theory. But I want to know if the nodule has been produced by anything sinister.

Josie does not seem to be in any discomfort. She is eating well, purring a great deal and enjoying her spots at the window and in a heated cat-bed. She also has her spot very close to my head at night, on the bed. She likes to occupy the location whether I am facing her or not. With my Chubs pinning the bedclothes down on one side, and Renn on the other, it makes for a tight fit. But I’d rather have the beasts with me than anywhere else.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Rare Visit of Josie to the Hospital

Josie rarely has medical problems, or at least medical problems that I know about. She doesn’t face crises, such as Tucker, nor does she feel poorly as much Cammie. My Chubs does have a sensitive stomach and regurgitates her food now and then, but in the seven years she has been with me, she has given few signs of a need to visit the veterinarian.

Now, however, I have noticed a small nodule on her face, at the rear of the right side of the jaw. It is about the size of a pea, and rather hard. It may be a harmless cyst; it does not appear to be causing the Great White any distress. She is eating well - as long as I give her flavours that she likes - and not favouring soft food over hard, so I don’t believe she is suffering difficulty in chewing. Even so, I thought it best to have her examined by a doctor.

As well, Josie’s breath is starting to smell a bit and she may need a dental procedure. I will have that considered, too. Tucker’s breath is growing worse, I can mention while I am on the topic. It was when I took him in about a possible dental that his diabetes was discovered. It was thought better to stabilise his insulin dosages before any surgery was conducted. I will talk to the doctor about the possibility of scheduling that now.

Also, I will bring Cammie in to the hospital with Josie, to have her claws cut. I can hear her clicking throughout the house.

Complicating medical matters is the fact that the veterinarian I was consulting has moved. This is the second of my animals’ doctors who has left the hospital for other locations. I will be trying a new doctor on this visit, and will need to have her apprised of Tucker’s condition and history.

Now that the sale of my house is assured, I can schedule such appointments for the beasts, knowing that I will have the money to pay for them. It is a weight off my mind. Now, if the cats’ health will reflect my optimistic domestic arrangements, the year will end better than it began.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Sign of My Times

The house is sold. The buyer’s realtor put up the ‘sold’ sign on Friday, so I suppose the deal is done. I won’t feel entirely secure until after the possession date, which is January 15th, and my share of the purchase price (after the mortgage is paid off, the realtor is given his commission and the lawyer gets a bit) is given to me. I think I will have something like $27.35. Well, perhaps a bit more. I think there will be a small amount for emergencies, which will be handy.

Now comes the next hardest part: moving. I have a month to do it, but that is a relatively short time considering all the packing to be done. The cats will have to undergo more disruption, with boxes all over the house and objects disappearing from shelves. And then the shelves disappearing. When the day of the move arrives, I will arrange for the beasts to go into one room from which everything will have already been cleared. They will then be taken to the new apartment after nothing else has to be transported. That’s the plan, anyway.

I would like to thank everyone for their best wishes over the last few weeks. Still, nothing will feel right until after I vacate the house and am installed with the cats in the new apartment, and nothing else will get done until then, I suspect. But it’s only a month away, so life will be settled soon. It’s only a month away, so I’d be better get busy.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Inspector Calls

My title refers not to the Priestley play, nor to the 1954 film adaptation starring the incomparable Alastair Sim. Indeed, there no indication meant of any sort of police officer. No, the reference is instead to a building inspector. I don’t know what he looks like, so he could very well resemble Sim.

I received an offer on my house earlier in the week. The offer is conditional upon a building inspection being made. I expected one to be conducted, so this did not perturb me. The examination was completed yesterday. It took two hours and, since it ended late in the afternoon (at five o’clock), I was not apprised of the results at the time. I still have not. I was told that the news would come in ‘the next few days’. I will call my realtor and inquire this afternoon.

Needless to say, I am anxious concerning the outcome. An inspection was completed when I moved into the house five years ago and though nothing disastrous has occurred in the interval, there is the chance that something may have happened unnoticed that will derange the deal. If there is nothing major, however, I and the cats will be leaving this house within the month.

Where, you may be wondering, did the beasts go while the inspector was poking and prodding my property? I didn’t want to leave them in the house. This would not be a visit like a realtor conducting a potential buyer through the rooms. Nor would it be similar to an open house. The inspector would be leaving doors open everywhere and I did not feel that it was wise possibly to antagonise him by leaving notes about putting the onus of my pets’ safety on him. Mainly, I was worried about the cats.

In anticipation of selling the house, I had already rented an apartment. I can afford to do this only for a month, but I believe it is worth it. As I may have written in this blog previously, the chances of finding a truly pet-friendly rented residence in my town are slender. Those landlords who call themselves pet-friendly actually fine pet-owners at least $250 per pet. I did not want to give up $1,000 to greed. Besides, the apartment I chose is comfortable, safe and conveniently located.

Anyway, it is empty but available. So the cats stayed there for several hours yesterday afternoon, accompanied by a friend from the rescue-group to which I belong. This allowed the inspection to be completed on time and without interference - and without worry on my part. At least not worry about the cats.

So now I wait for the word on the inspection. If it is satisfactory, then plans will be laid for my move. It will make for a hectic Christmas season, to which I do not look forward with relish. But once the beasts and I are settled in our new home, a new year will have begun, and, hopefully, a better one than that which has passed.

Monday, December 7, 2015

An Interesting Day at Home

I had another ‘open house’ this weekend, in my continuing attempts to sell my house. It was a different kind of open house, however. Before the event, I wanted to confirm it with the realtor, and found to my surprise that the open house is scheduled for next Sunday - he had not put the ad in the appropriate places by the deadline, though he had five days to do it. This put me in a quandary, as I had advertised on Facebook and Kijiji that the event would be this Sunday (yesterday). I figured people might show up based on that. So I called my realtor and asked if there would be a problem with me hosting the open house, if he was not scheduled to do so. He acquiesced and so I got ready to receive any visitors.

It turned out well. There were five parties, three couples and two singles. Two seemed promising. I liked that I was able to answer the questions they had about the house and the neighbourhood, and at least one of them expressed satisfaction at being able to meet the owner. It occurred to me that having the owner present might be an advantage, as he would know much more about the house than the realtor, and would give the viewing a more personal aspect.

I had designed a colour brochure about the house and was able to print off some copies to give to the viewers. As a friend of mine pointed out, there should be something that the viewers can take with them, to keep the house in their minds and differentiate it from others that they may see that same day.

But of course my real worry was over the cats. I felt that with me still present, I did not have to confine them in the spare room downstairs; I simply had to watch the doors to the outside. I need not have been concerned. Three of them spent the two hours of the open house in the bedroom. Cammie was the big surprise. This cat who frequently hurries under the kitchen sink or the bed when strangers arrive remained out and about the whole time. She watched people walk by, she sniffed their shoes, she looked out the window. She was curious about the doors when they opened, but I think that was more an attraction to the fresh air and smells coming in. I was quite proud of my princess.

Renn stayed on the cat-tree by the bedroom window, while Josie was largely apathetic on the bed. Tucker spent the time under the bed. Strangely enough, with about fifteen minutes remaining in the open house’s schedule, all of the beasts came out and circulated in the building, as if they were sure there would be no more visitors. Nor were there.

Now, paws crossed that the day will produce some results.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Best Defence

Having successfully placed a video on my blog on Monday, I’ve decided to place another. I had included a video years ago; it showed Tungsten playing, back when she was still spry and limber, or relatively so, though she was twelve at the time. I could not replicate the placement of that video with others; I don’t know why. But I have lately found a way of reducing the size of a file without destroying the image. Thus, I have videos to show you.

This second of the week is actually an old one, from a couple of years ago. Cammie was relatively new to the household, but she was already possessive of the place. Witness the consternation she and Renn suffer at the appearance of another cat outside the window. To be honest, I think the stranger just wanted to be friends.

You will have to turn your heads sideways at some point. I apologise for that but, though I have discovered how to place videos here, I haven’t figured out how to right them when I tilt the camera during filming…

It's on YouTube, as well. Search under "John Bellen".

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Brush with Something Different

I’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts and best wishes regarding Cammie during last week’s bout of ill health. She is eating (more on that below). She is, however, sick again. This time, she has caught a bit of a cold. This is less serious, I think, than what she had; it is probably making her feel miserable but is very likely not dangerous. She has a snotty nose and is sneezing, but she is hungry and she is keeping her food down.

She has, in fact, decided that she likes another kind of food. She loves her Fancy Feast, despite my continued attempts to have her try something else. For years, she has favoured the ‘ocean whitefish and tuna’ variety. She has, in the past week, wanted little of it. I had, however, opened a tin of ‘seafood feast’, which Renn likes for the time being. I gave some to the princess, and she gulped it right down. The ingredients are sketchy: ‘ocean fish’ is the first in the list. I believe that may cover about four hundred thousand different species of marine life. Anyway, she is eating it, and it is giving her a bit of variety.

Cammie has done something else new. Last night, she allowed me to brush her. Previously, she had hissed at the very smell of the brush. Perhaps now, with a clogged nose, she can’t sniff the scent of other cats on the implement. The other three perma-cats loved their long brushing session yesterday, so I thought I’d attempt it with Cammie. Lo, she permitted about a minute and a half of brushing. As her cold subsides and her sense of smell returns, she may hiss again at the brush, but I will push my luck in that regard until she does.

The third interesting thing about the princess is her reaction to a new house-viewing. Once again, she had to go to the spare room, along with her roommates. She had ensconced herself in the downstairs cylinder cat-tree. Instead of prying her out of there, I simply pushed the cat-tree into the spare room; Cammie remained in it. Once in the spare room, though, I opened the door of her cage, and down she climbed; she walked into the cage without a fuss.

Are these deviations of character due to a foggy head induced by her cold? Are they permanent? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that Cammie keeps things interesting around the household.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Good Patient

Tucker suffered through another ‘curve’ again yesterday. He co-operated very well, as always. The curve did not go as low at its nadir as has been the case in the past. In fact, it started and ended higher than previous curves. I will be speaking with his doctor about this today. However, as I observe the roly poly one’s behaviour and actions, I think he is still doing very well.

In addition to being poked in the ears every couple of hours, the he must of course receive his insulin injections twice a day. I simply have to let him smell the insulin pen, and he goes to lie down in preparation for receiving the shot. I made a short video of how well this sausage of a cat takes his medicine, and have founds a means of compressing the file to a size that will allow it to be loaded on the blog. (Tucker is a little distracted by the camera during his injection this time, but only a little.)

Isn’t he a wonderful fellow?

It's on YouTube, as well. Search under "John Bellen".

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Weight on My Shoulders

Cammie threw up but good following dinner yesterday. I was beginning to worry about her, as I know that cats cannot go without food for more than a few days before their internal organs are adversely affected. She was hungry - I heard her stomach growl - and wanted to eat, but could not keep anything down.

So I tried another tactic. At snack-time, I fed her only half a teaspoon of her favourite soft-food. She wanted more, but I denied it to her. It was hard to do it, but I thought that her stomach might be able to handle a small amount better than a large. I would give her a similar amount a couple of hours later, if she retained the first.

This seemed to work. At ten o’clock, I gave her another half-teaspoon. This too appeared to stay put. I did not hear any wretching during the night, and found no evidence of it this morning. I was concerned that Cammie was drinking a great deal of water; my concern was that too much water with not enough food could upset her stomach. But if she was throwing up, she was losing fluids, and needed to replace them.

Whatever she ate last night must surely be digested by this morning, which means some nutrition has been absorbed. She ate a small breakfast - again a reduced amount - and this too was kept down. I am less anxious about her being hungry than about her keeping down whatever she does eat.

I think Cammie may now be over the worst of her illness, whatever it is. I’ll know for sure when I go home tonight. Such incidents take years off my life; I am listening constantly for the sound of a cat throwing up, looking at her to see if she wandered off to vomit where I can't hear her, and wondering if she can stand a bit more food.

But we had a good time last night, as well, my princess and I. She enjoys a session on my chest when I lie down, so I took a comfy position on the couch, made sure the other cats were occupied sleeping and invited Cammie over. She purrs continually, and it’s the only time she pushes her head against me. The photographs here are bad, as I took them with one hand with my telephone while also stroking Cammie's head and back. I enjoy such times as much as she. This is a weight on my shoulders I can manage.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Recipe for a Princess

I was going to write about Cammie’s use of the heated cat-beds, but that topic has become merged in another.

Yesterday, Cammie was feeling ill. She threw up several times. That is unusual for her. She will give a heave now and then, often when she is eating from the hard-food bowl. I don’t think she chews properly and the kernels don’t get all the way down her throat. But yesterday, she threw up her food a number of times, soon after eating. At snack-time, about eight o’clock, my princess gamely came out to have a small bowl of her favourite soft-food, but her stomach, though probably empty, wasn’t ready, and she left the food untasted.

After hiding under the kitchen and bathroom basins, she retreated for much of the night to the cylinder-house cat-tree in the basement. These are spots to which she resorts when she wants to be alone, especially when she is feeling poorly. I make sure I know where she is, and leave her to rest.

Just before bedtime, however, she emerged and was, I think, a little better. She came to say hello to me in the parlour and spent the night upstairs, rather than hiding. She did regurgitate some hard-food just before I got up the next morning, but she was eager for her soft-food breakfast. I suspect her stomach was now quite hollow. I was cautious about feeding her too much, but provided her with a couple of small portions. Then she had a drink of water, which I was afraid would trigger another retrograde nutritional sojourn. Sure enough, a few minutes later, I heard the sound of vomiting. Fortunately, it was Josie. (Sorry, my Chubs, but in this instance it was fortunate.) Josie has always had a sensitive stomach, and she gets rid of her food now and then. It does not mean sickness in her case. When I left, half an hour later, Cammie had kept her food down, and was still upstairs.

My princess has taken to using the heated cat-beds, which I believe will provide her with some comfort, especially when she is sick. I had noticed for a while that she seemed a little chilly lying in her usual places, now that the weather has turned cold here. She loves the heated towels in the parlour, of course, but Renn and, lately, Josie, have been availing themselves of that warmth. They, however, do not need it, as I think Cammie may. 

So when I saw that Cammie had found the cat-beds were also heated, I was pleased. I turn the thermostat down quite a bit at night and when I go to work, so I am gratified to know that my newest perma-cat has warmth and comfort to enjoy while getting some rest. Sometimes that is the best recipe for recovery when one is under the weather.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Royal Indignation

The selling of my house - or, as I should more accurately term it, the attempted selling of my house - is hard on my cats. I put them in the downstairs spare room whenever there is a showing. I don’t want to enclose them there all day, so I ride home an hour before the viewing, clean up the house and then incarcerate the beasts. If there is time worth the effort remaining in the day, I ride back to work. The cats remain sequestered for two or three hours; I try not to extend the time further.

They have a litter-box in there, of course, and water. I don’t give them food, since they have it before, and they have it after. When they regain their liberty, it takes them but little time to recover, especially if a meal is immediately served. Yesterday, however, was different.

I returned home to sweep, clean and put the cats away, only to be interrupted by the arrival of the viewers and their realtor. They came half an hour ahead of schedule. My realtor told them that it was acceptable, but he did not tell me, thinking that I would not be at home. I was. Regardless, he should have told me since, until the house is sold, it is mine and I object to strangers making themselves free with my property because they are a few minutes ahead of schedule. Brooms, unswept dust and litter-boxes about the place probably did not make the best impression. I called my realtor and expressed my displeasure in no uncertain terms.

That is, however, beside the point. The cats had just been put in the spare room when the viewers arrived. The people stayed for only a few minutes - they tend not to stay long if the owner is loitering about; I didn’t even have time to put on a coat and leave. I immediately thereafter released the cats.

Their reactions were unusual this time. I set them free only about five minutes after putting them away. Abnormally, they did not rush the door in a feline version of a slapstick farce. None of them could understand why I had locked them away only to release them minutes later. They came out but hesitantly, slowly. The worst was Cammie.

My princess is put into a large cage, with her own small litter-pan and dish of water. She may not bolt if strangers open the spare room’s door, but if she did, there would be no catching her. Consequently, she is put into a jail within a jail. I cover it with a sheet to prevent the other cats from taunting her with their relative freedom.

This time, she seemed to think I had played a dirty trick on her. I opened up the cage door and she decided to remain within. Not only that, but she growled and hissed at me when I tried to explain the situation to her. All she knew was that I had picked her up, put her into a cage, and then told her she was free to go, all to no purpose.

Cammie sulked in the cage, the door open, for about twenty minutes before she condescended to appear upstairs. Within a few minutes of that, I was evidently forgiven my dastardly behaviour, and she consented to be petted. Later, she spent time on my lap.

This shows, I think, that cats, especially those who do not tolerate fools, will suffer only so much that they do not comprehend. Every previous time that I placed my cats in the spare room, they could undoubtedly hear strangers’ voices, the tread of unknown feet, perhaps even some unfamiliar human opening the door to peer in at them. They understand, I think, that they are put in the spare room as some sort of safety measure. In this instance, though, all was for naught. The beasts probably heard no stranger, the visit being so brief. I didn’t even leave the house. Their routines were disturbed to no purpose. Cammie was picked up for nothing. This was not right, and I was made to know it.

The cats will have to go into isolation again, I’m sure. The house remains unsold, and will without further visits by potential buyers. Hopefully, however, the animals’ incarceration will serve a point in future, and their lives will not be bothered by needless disruption. And I will not have to face their righteous anger.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Bit About Noah

I found a couple of photographs I took of Noah the last week he was with me. This is him doing the dangle over the parapet of the tallest cat-tree's highest platform. I figured they would be good illustrations to go with the update I had of him from his new foster-home.

The update is about a week old but it shows that the boy is doing well. He has been out at night, at the same time as Channing, his new feline roommate. His foster-guardians don’t know where he has been sleeping but if he and Channing aren’t chasing each other, fighting or growling, then things are going well. He has been quiet and not too mischievous -  his new people have something to look forward to, then…

What I was worried about most was that he would prove too much of a character for Channing. But the latter wants someone to play with, and Noah is all about playing, so I am hopeful things will get only better. I will keep everyone apprised.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Unsurprised by Joy

I realised last evening that I have not published anything on my blog for more than a week. I don’t consider it necessary to post anything if nothing is happening, however, and nothing new has occurred about which to write.

Even so, I was thinking about the situation in which I find myself - selling my house, or at least attempting to do so (no offers yet) - and the worry and bother that comes with it. This year over all has not been one of the better ones for me, and it is not improving. But something makes each day better.

I call my cats ‘my joys’. That’s what they are to me. Each day, they make me smile or laugh, or at least feel good. Last night, I lie in bed and listened to Tucker run about. I think he may have been chasing Josie, or vice versa. In any case, I heard two cats running, and there was no hissing or growling. Then I heard just Tucker. With his diabetes, his rear is still weak, and he lopes like a rabbit, but, remarkably, that hasn’t slowed him down. And he sings to himself. “Aaaooouu. Aaaooouu.” He is, as I have mentioned before, a cat who wants to be happy, and he’s not about to let diabetes get in the way. And he makes me happy because of it. Sometimes I need only speak his name to get him purring; look at him, and he squeals and twists his head about to be petted. Just the way he looks makes me smile: he’s hardly a cat in appearance; more like a wombat, or the dormouse from Alice in Wonderland.

Cammie cannot be called a happy cat. And yet she too gives me joy. She can purr loud and constantly at times. Last night, I lie on my back and invited her on to my chest, where she stayed for half an hour. A waste of time on my part? It made me feel good and useful, so it was hardly thirty minutes poorly spent. The way she talks is unique: a series of creaks and squeaks, expressive and significant. And of course her hisses. I am glad that I’ve been able to offer her a refuge, even if it is also inhabited by three other cats whom she no doubt wishes elsewhere. The heated towels have returned to the parlour (and Noah has not) so the princess spends much of her time there now. I like watching her curl up there or even just crouch and drift off.

My big boy is a sucker for hearing his name repeated. I will see Renn thumping down the hall (his muscular legs are not as quiet as a cat’s) and start talking to him. His back will arch and he will rub against me, and then that engine starts going. Sometimes, if he is in my way, I’ll tell him to move, and he’ll throw himself back by first lifting himself up on his rear legs, then coming down on all four and trotting away. But he’s a lazy dog, and I chuckle when he groans and whines if he is forced to move. He is the first to come to bed and the last to get off it in the morning, the sluggard.

And Josie, my Chubs. Watching her patter away with her, shall we say, girth, waddling about beneath her always causes me amusement. I’m sure my reaction is an affront to her dignity. And she doesn’t growl, she cries out in anger, like an old lady insulted by a stranger. I can almost see her shaking her umbrella in fury. But she enjoys my company and loves a good petting session, even if she doesn’t lie still for it for more than a few seconds at a time. She is one of my new lap-cats, not overtly sensitive, but a softy inside.

My beasts don’t delight me all the time. You should gauge my mood when all of them decide they dislike what is on the menu at dinner-time and I am left with a lump of unwanted food in each of four bowls. But when I come home from a day at work that was less than pleasant (fortunately those occur only five times a week), my bicycle moves a little faster knowing I will see friends when I reach my destination.

Wordsworth wrote a poem called “Surprised by Joy” (a title later borrowed by C.S. Lewis for one of his books). It is about realising with a shock that an important and tragic event had been forgotten. We all need to be surprised by joy now and then, but I think it is much better to have it so much in our lives that it doesn’t surprise us at all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Noah's Next Adventure

Noah will be leaving me. He is not, unfortunately, going to be adopted but, rather, is going to a new foster-home.

Neither I nor the rescue-group of which I am part care to change foster-homes in mid-cat. The animals have no way of knowing that they are not in a permanent residence, and when they are adopted, the change is often significant enough. To switch their homes a couple of times before adoption takes place is jarring and confusing to the little creatures.

But there are several reasons for this move in Noah’s case. If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know that I am selling my house. I have not yet achieved that goal but I hope to soon. This will necessitate moving to a smaller residence in which four cats and I will find ourselves in cramped quarters. A fifth will make it even more so. Even that would not be so bad, but the perma-cats’ dislike of the boy requires him to be locked up in a room alone when I am asleep or absent. This will reduce the living space further by about a third, assuming I move into a two-bedroom apartment.

Just as significant a reason, though, is why Noah must be sequestered much of the time. He is picked on by Cammie - some days all evening - and by Tucker. The foster-home to which he will go recently had two cats, who would chase and wrestle with each other. One was adopted. The remaining beast misses his friend. Noah, on the other hand, disturbs the calm of my household largely, I think, because he wants someone to play with him - and no one does. Just last night, I watched him rush at Renn, and stop short. He wasn’t attacking my big boy; he was having fun. He wanted Renn to pursue him - in play - or wrestle with him; something enjoyable. Renn growled and warned the boy off.

This is Noah’s chance to have a pal with whom he can enjoy himself. He will also be free to roam about the house when the people are gone or sleeping. (Hopefully, he doesn’t roam too much during the latter time.) I believe this will mean much to a young, energetic cat.

He will of course be confused and perhaps frightened. But he is adaptable, and finding himself in a new environment with a whole new world to explore will keep him occupied until he grows accustomed to his new foster-guardians.

I will miss the boy. He can be annoying at time, I must admit. He is usually into something. But these are the high spirits and exuberance of youth. He is a warm-hearted cat who now purrs much more than he did. He is smart and learns quickly, and above all he is entertaining. He will go to his new home - may it be of short duration before his permanent adoption - tomorrow. Peace will reign once more in my household, and the perma-cats will rest more easily. But something will be missing. Whenever a cat who has been in my care leaves, he takes something indefinable along with him, and it isn’t replaced. It’s because no cat can be replaced. Noah will be absent but his adventure will continue.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Closed Door, Open House

I am trying to sell my house. Toward that end, my realtor arranged an ‘open house’, which means that I leave and strangers enter my home and touch my personal belongings, if they want. They may also see what the house is like with a view to buying it. If purchasing my house means going through my socks, then so be it.

There have already been several instances of potential buyers coming to the house to see it. I must not be present during these viewings. My realtor told me that people tend not to stay as long or look around as much if the owner is present. I can understand this. So I leave for an hour or, in the case of the open house, two. During this latter period, about a dozen couples came through the house. My realtor was pleasantly surprised at this. He stated that two or three couples in particular were promising.

I have, of my own volition, advertised the house on both Kijiji and, at the suggestion of a co-worker, Facebook. Kijiji is good but realtors tend to flood its ‘houses for sale’ section with their clients’ property, and my own house gets pushed down the list every time these twenty or thirty new listings are added. I then renew my ad every day. As for Facebook, I am not a Facebook sort of person. I don’t have ‘friends’ there. If someone is my friend, they will give me money and put me up for the night. People on Facebook would, I suspect, be reluctant to do this. So they are not my ‘friends’. I also don’t ‘like’ much on Facebook. It is, however, looked at by many people, and I believe that it was my announcement on the site of my open house that brought the numbers that came.

Whatever the case, the important thing is how the cats behave during all this. They dislike it. I must put them in the spare room downstairs and close the door on them. I put a sign on the door declaring that people are free to look within but not to release the cats. So far, this condition has been observed.

Predictably, Noah is the easiest to corral for imprisonment. Ever up for an adventure, he would think that being framed by several former friends and cast into Chateau d’If for ten years would be really neat. Becasuse he may be picked on by others, and I would not be present to protect him, he goes into a large carrier for the duration.

Just as predictably, Cammie is the worst when it comes to being put away. She knows the signs: I clean too much too fast. I re-arrange things. She heads to high ground, the tallest cat-tree, or goes underground, beneath the bed. I must use the vacuum cleaner to force her from her perch and grab her as she attempts escape. The sounds she makes are blood-freezing. They are exactly the sort of hair-raising shrieks that precede a victim’s throat being torn by a wild animal. Yet, once in my arms, she begins to cry and is relatively still. She could flay my skin from my bones, but she does not. She is a wonderful little creature and, when bad things happen, puts on a ferocious show, but then hopes for the best. She too goes into a container, a large cage - she is too apt to escape and be difficult to catch again. Both her cell and Noah’s are covered with sheets for what I hope will be calming privacy.

The other three act like I am taking them to the last rendezvous, but are easier to catch and carry. How the five of them react to strangers walking up to the closed door, opening it and looking in, I can only imagine. When I come home and release them, they scurry out, glad to be free. Afterward, they usually have something to eat - I will feed them a soft-food meal; I think a return to normalcy as quickly as possible helps. I know it does me. Then they relax.

To be truthful, I think they are largely untroubled by the events. Each time I must put them in the spare room, they probably think that this is the time I don’t come back for them. But once free again, all is fine. Even Cammie, who was most assuredly displeased with me the first time I had to lock her away, now recovers quickly, and is forgiving. It’s her prerogative as a princess.

I am hoping for something positive from the open house. I think the event provides more time for potential buyers to look about, more liberty, than being brought and shepherded by a realtor. Maybe this will be the last time the cats will see a closed door during an open house.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tucker R. Poly, M.P.

Recently, we had a federal election. Many of the old politicians will be very soon thrown out of the House of Commons, and many new ones will come in. As with the creatures peering through the windows at the end of Animal Farm, however, it may be difficult to determine a difference between these two groups. Each individual member of Parliament is meant to represent the people of a constituency. In fact, an M.P. has always struck me as more the prime minister’s man in his riding, rather than his electorate’s man in Ottawa. To my mind, an elected politician should embody the best of his country, or province, or town. Instead, what results is a legislature filled with the lowest common denominators on which the majority could agree.

I have a better example to put forward. I suggest no one other than my cat, Tucker.

As you may know from having read this blog, Tucker is now suffering from diabetes. This necessitates an injection of insulin twice a day. This is not too great a hardship for the roly poly one. He simply lies down when I tell him to, and calmly accepts the needle, which he may not feel too much anyway.

What must be onerous for him are other effects of his condition. Just this weekend, I had to perform a ‘curve’ on Tucker, drawing blood from him every two hours for a glucose reading. I am getting better at stabbing that little sausage in the ear, but I still don’t produce blood each time. Yet each time, the most resistance he gives is to flatten his ears. I can tell, especially as the day progresses, that he is unhappy with the discomfort of having his ear jabbed. Who wouldn’t be? But he submits to the indignity even so.

His rear end is weak, and he sometimes lopes like a rabbit when it walks rather than hops. I brought a litter-box upstairs for his convenience, but he doesn’t always use it. Most nights, about nine o’clock, he trundles slowly downstairs to keep his regular appointment. Then he struggles back up, coming to rest on the landing. Does he wonder why he can’t walk as he once did? If he does, he doesn’t appear angry about it. His veterinarian does not want him to take B12 to strengthen his rear right now. We are hopeful that once his insulin dosage is managed, he will regain his all-wheel drive.

Yet through it all, Tucker maintains his good spirits. I have always thought of him as a creature who wants to be happy. He still plays, and looks forward to it. Our regular sessions are with a string-toy, but we play in other ways, too. We play peek-a-boo, which he finds exciting. Other times, I will creep up on him, in plain sight; he starts purring and when I grabbed him, he squeals. He will hurry into the nylon tunnel and wait for me to terrorize him from the outside.

He spends more time on my lap now. That started almost simultaneously with the discovery of his diabetes. And at the end of the day, some time during the night, he comes to bed - using the steps each time now; he has mastered them at last - and sleeps there with me, Renn and Josie. Cammie disdains our close company, but sleeps in the same room.

My point in all of this is that Tucker, to me, represents some of the best qualities in a cat. He is friendly and loveable, playful, inquisitive, intelligent. Above all, he has patience and endurance; in his forbearance and fortitude, he is an exemplar. It’s true that he will still chase and fight with Noah - rather impressive considering his diabetical disabilities. But he has been through much in his short life, much that would discourage others. He remains cheerful and childlike, without being childish.

If only our elected representatives had the same qualities, if only they could stir our admiration in the same way. But perhaps that’s why we have pets. We spend our lives hoping for something from our politicians. We actually get something from our pets.