Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life Lived Upside Down

Noah is one of the more interesting cats with whom I’ve lived. He’s young yet, of course, and so much of life remains a game to him. What isn’t a game is something to explore. As soon as a cupboard door opens, he is there peering in. When something drops on the floor, he hurries over to investigate. He likes rearranging things. I doubt that it is to make anything into the way he wants it; it’s simply to see how it will look or feel in a different order.

I have several cat-beds placed about the house. The boy likes to lie in them. They are comfortable and he sometimes even comes close to snoozing in them. He never seems actually to sleep, as he is constantly alert to the slightest sound or action that may lead to some sort of fun. But he has relaxed in the cat-beds, and knows what they are for.

Why then, does Noah like pulling them apart, or flipping them over? Surely the bottom of a cat-bed, rough and cold, can’t compare with the proper insides, snuggy and warm. And yet, there he was one day, lying on the bottom of a cat-bed, even though he was on top of it.

I’m not certain if he thought he had discovered a new dimension, or was pretending it was a boat on wooden seas, or had simply flipped something over and was resting until he could find something else to disarrange. In any case, he didn’t stay long on the upside down cat-bed. He hurried off to annoy Cammie or knock about curtain cords or wrestle with a Kick-a-roo. This is life with the energetic, enthusiastic boy, life lived in a rush because there is always something that needs to be done right away. After all, slowing down is for middle age.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Night Stalker

Renn enjoys keeping me company at night while I sleep. He is always the first to come to bed with me at the end of the day. My little orange friend, Tungsten, used to have first choice of position on the bed, and usually would lie in my hand, very near my face. Now, Renn, by virtue of being first there, rather than being the top-cat, gets to choose. Like Tungsten, he likes to lie down on the side that I am facing. When I roll over, he changes sides of the bed.

When I first turn out the light, Renn lies down near my head, and sometimes stretches out one of his powerful forelegs to make sure I am paying attention to his presence. He is not the tiny terror, however, and having my big boy so close to me face can be too close. So I usually push him back down the bed a ways. He accepts this, and so we drift off to sleep.

I wake during the night. Normally, it’s a couple of times, when, hitherto lying on one side, my body tells me it’s time to roll over. Renn notices when I am no longer slumbering. Then it starts. First, there is a low, slow, rumbling purr. It builds, and a heavy form starts making its way up the bed. He is a shadow in the darkness, a silhouette; I hear and feel his movements. He will lie down very close to my face, and again the paw comes out to touch me. I’m awake, so I must have time to give him some attention.

I have taken to pretending that I don’t wake, that I am actually still unconscious. But the rough motor continues. I know that those golden eyes are staring at me. He felt me stir, he saw me turn. I’m awake. Time for petting. I can ignore a cat fairly well at this point in my feline-ridden life, but a purring cat with a metaphorical grin staring at me simply causes me to smile myself, or to laugh. That really destroys the illusion of sleep.

Renn receives his affection. I rub that big head. He may turn over, so I rub his furry chest. But only for a minute. After all, it’s the middle of the night. I tell my big boy that he’s had enough and gently push him away. He’s satisfied for now.

Until I wake again a few hours later, and see that shape creeping up toward me once more, the purring having begun…

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tucker on the Battlefield

Tucker’s treatment for diabetes continues, though it has come up against a problem.

Last week, his veterinarian had me raise the roly poly’s insulin dosage to four units in the morning and three at night, and then take an individual reading at mid-day, half-way between the two injections. I did this on two days, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s reading was higher than expected; that on Sunday was 6.26. The difference, I believe, was caused by stress. The first day, I had great difficulty drawing blood, and had to poke my unfortunate cat numerous times before I found some. He was unhappy and worried. On Sunday, I positioned him with a flashlight in front of him, and, sitting behind him, stabbed his ear where I could clearly see the blood vessel shown by the flashlight’s beam. I managed to draw blood the first time.

The veterinarian thinks that 6.26 is too low for Tucker. I think it is, however, a number for which many people aim. Even so, the doctor ordered that the dosage be returned to three units twice a day. I am to continue this for another week and then take an individual reading.

I would not give Tucker insulin if his number - at the time of the injection - was below ten. So a curve will be done on the weekend following the next reading, in order to determine where the numbers start the day and where they end it. My veterinarian wants me to bring Tucker in to the animal hospital for this curve. He will stay over-night so that a reading may be done very early in the day, and then twelve hours later. This is being proposed because my glucometer and the doctor’s give different readings; that is to say, one is not right and the other wrong, they are simply set differently, and I must convert my results to the doctor’s, rather like converting two kinds of currency, or imperial measurements to metric. I worked out the formula for conversion, and there is no difficulty in doing this.

The doctor, however, thinks that the difference may be compounded as the number grows, perhaps believing that whereas I must multiply my results by 1.5 (for example) when the number is low, I must multiply it by a greater number if the results are a greater amount. I can understand her concern but this raises difficulties for me and Tucker.

It means that for what the veterinarian may consider an accurate reading, I would have to bring Tucker to the hospital every time a curve is taken. He would have to stay over-night, so that readings could be taken throughout a twelve-hour period. This has two effects: one, the cost would be prohibitive at the best of times - and right now, for me, this is not the best of times. Secondly, and more importantly, Tucker would be under a great deal of stress. He would be in unfamiliar and, to him, hostile surroundings, being kept in a cage and poked by strangers every couple of hours. I believe the difference between Saturday and Sunday’s readings were due to the stress of being poked too often the first day, and this was when I was doing that to him. I can’t see that the readings obtained under worse conditions in the hospital would be useful.

I will speak further with the doctor about this, but I don’t think I will allow this to proceed. I think I can perform a curve on Tucker more usefully at home. He won’t like it, but he won’t be afraid all day. I believe that even if my conversion of glucometer readings is inexact, those for a curve would still be significant because the resulting numbers would give an indication of his condition throughout the day, and how the numbers rise and fall, if only in relation to each other. Besides, I don’t think my conversion is wrong.

There are other indications by which to judge Tucker’s reaction to the insulin. When Tucker’s number at noon on Sunday was 6.26, he was still alert, cheerful, and mobile. He lumbered a bit, due to the diabetes weakening his rear, but it was no more than he had been. He did not act as if his numbers were too low, though I was ready with the corn syrup in case he required it. A diabetic cat is new to me, but I believe he was fine with the higher dosage.

So, Tucker’s treatment has not yet stabilised. There is more experimentation in store for the roly poly. I know that his veterinarian has his best health in mind, but she and I may differ over his treatment in this instance. I hope that Tucker doesn’t suffer while caught in the middle.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Trial to One's Understanding

Some people call cats inscrutable. I wouldn’t go so far as to agree with that, but they can try one’s understanding at times. Take, for example, Cammie and Noah. Sometimes, the evenings at my house are filled with Cammie chasing the foster-cat. She will wait by the bed, if Noah is hiding under it. She will wait under a cat-tree if the boy is lying on one of its platforms. She will scream and hiss if he gets too close to her.

And then there are instances such as this.

I came in to the bedroom to find Noah sitting on a cat-tree quite close to the princess. I had not heard any complaint from her in the previous few minutes, so obviously Noah had jumped up to sit close by without her objecting. And so they sat for about a quarter-hour. Fortunately, the boy didn’t try to sniff Cammie or, God forbid, touch her. Eventually, Noah became bored, as he often does, and jumped down to see what trouble he could find.

The next time Cammie met Noah, she chased him down the stairs, then up again, until I stepped between them. As I wrote above, a trial to one’s understanding.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Being Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving Day this weekend and, though we should be thankful all the time for what we have, it’s on this holiday that we pay closer attention to what we have.

This will be my first Thanksgiving in eight years without Tungsten. I wish she were with me still, but I am grateful for the time I had with her, for the affection and joy she gave me. Not everyone has the experience of such a friend, and I was lucky.

Tucker was diagnosed with diabetes very recently. On the other hand, we are battling its effects and will manage it soon; there is a chance of eliminating it all together. In the meantime, except for some discomfort from needles, he is living a decent life and continues to purr, so we are fortunate in this respect.

And but for the odd hairball, upset stomach and cold, the other beasts have fared well over the past year. Noah’s presence is a bit disruptive, but he is a good boy and I think he may even appreciate the food, attention and security that he has in foster-care. Deep down, he appreciates it. I’m sure.

The biggest challenge (i.e. problem) facing us now is that we will probably be moving. Economic conditions here in Alberta have worsened considerably over the past couple of years. The province’s dependence on oil revenues means that when oil prices drop, which they have, so does prosperity. The recently ousted government neglected all other forms of revenue for forty years, and we are now paying the price. I still have a job, but my hours may not be as plentiful as previous.

As well, my wage never kept pace with the cost of living; on a graph, the latter would resemble an eager mountaineer, while my wage would be the contented wanderer ambling almost imperceptibly up foothills. And where that happy rambler is leading me is back to renting an apartment.

I have noticed for the first time how unwelcome pets are in rental properties. Very few apartments are willing to take in a tenant with pets, and most that declare themselves to be ‘pet-friendly’ charge a ‘pet-fee’, $250 to $350 per pet. This is not refundable, and so is not in the way of an extra damage deposit, but rather merely a means of a landlord claiming that he welcomes pets when in fact he is ensuring that he won’t get any. And, if he does, he pockets hundreds of dollars at no bother to himself.

Things will be cramped in an apartment with five cats, even an apartment with two bedrooms, but the beasts and I will have to adjust. Noah will be a bit of a problem, as he is sequestered at night to keep him and Cammie, and the others, from disturbing each other all night. This may not be possible in an apartment. We will see what the next few weeks will bring.

I am grateful as well for the people I know and have met. They have brightened and enriched my life. I sometimes forget how a small kindness can help as much as a big one.

I hope everyone’s weekend goes well, and that everyone has much about which to be thankful.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Few More Laps

Once upon a time, Tungsten was my only lap-cat. Since the orange one passed away, a strange thing has happened.

Renn was, it's true, a lap-cat under certain circumstances. I must be in the right corner of the sitting room couch. When in the left corner, my big boy will sit beside me, but never on me. That is reversed when I sit on the other end. Cammie, as you may have observed, if you’ve read other of these articles, has started sitting on my lap not just when I am in a chair at the dining table, but also while I am on the couch. Even Noah likes to jump up for a few minutes when I am at the computer, though it may be a long time before he is considered a proper lap-cat.

But what has surprised me is that Josie too has started coming onto my lap. Whether of her own volition or at my suggestion, she will jump up on the couch - not as easy for her as it is for a more lithe cat - and step on to me. Sometimes she will lie only partly on me, other times fully. She will usually get off if another cat comes to sit on the couch, but not always. It may be another step in her progress of showing affection more openly. Or she may be tenderizing my body so she can eat me later.

Just as unexpected are Tucker’s occasional forays onto my lap. He still enjoys his spot on the couch’s arm, next to me, but has taken to lying either sprawled across my legs or curled farther up. Unlike my Chubs, the roly poly one does not worry too much if another animal lies near by.

The tiny terror’s tradition seems to be continued now by all of the beasts in my care, each to some extent. I am happy to have them snooze on me. I read a book or listen to music, and enjoy the company. But I must assert that a sixteen pound cat feels rather different on the legs than one of barely six. I just have to wait for the feeling to return when eventually I try to stand again…

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Always the Lady

Josie likes to keep clean. She cannot always reach certain spots on her body because of her size. I help her with those places. But she nonetheless tries, and if she is sometimes a little dirty here and there, it is not her fault. Being a well-mannered girlcat, she will pretend, for the sake of appearances, that her condition is perfectly hygienic due to her conscientious efforts. So when she is cleaning herself, she lifts her rear leg, as though she could actually reach the appropriate spots.

My Chubs also likes to eat. Sometimes, she has her soft-food meals on the sitting room rug. Other times, she trots into the bedroom, to have them served to her on the bed. I don’t mind doing that; wherever she will eat a good dinner or breakfast, that’s where I will serve it.

A couple of days ago, dinner was ready but the Great White was not. She was washing herself as I came in with her dish of food. Her leg was up in the air in the usual pantomime of cleaning her nether regions. But food is food. Josie doesn’t eat as much as she used to, but she still enjoys a meal. So the eating took priority. However, she apparently did not want to lose her place in regard to washing; one becomes forgetful while indulging the appetite. So this is how my Chubs ate her dinner that evening.

I can only assume that she later returned to her ablutions at the spot at which she had left them.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tucker on Pins and Needles

Tucker endured his first curve this weekend. I started poking him in the ear with a needle at 5.30, Saturday morning, and repeated the procedure every two hours until 5.30 in the afternoon, from one insulin injection to the other. The blood from each stab wound was read by the glucometer, but his numbers did not descend below 20. This was a bit disappointing to me, but the information the veterinarian required has been sent to her, and I will hear from her tomorrow.

What a good cat Tucker was through the whole day. It was an ordeal for him, I know. More than half the time, I could not draw blood immediately, which necessitated poking him a second or even third time. When I did produce blood, I brought forth too much of it. By the penultimate stabbing session, he was moving his head away from the needle; he had had enough. But I don’t know who was more relieved at 5.30 p.m., Tucker or myself.

Though his ears must have felt like he had traversed the Canadian Shield in the late spring of a heavy mosquito season, my roly poly one was in good spirits Saturday. He is weaker in the rear now, though this should improve once his insulin is regulated. The surprising thing is that he is using the steps at the bottom of the bed at least once every weekend morning. That’s when we sleep in (after first getting up for his 5.30 insulin shot then going back to bed.) Tucker likes to come up on the bed, and I would know if he were jumping or trying to jump onto it. One feels sixteen pounds of cat when it lands. But instead, I notice that he is softly stepping into a place at the end of the comforter. He is learning.

I am learning, as well. Tomorrow, I will know what the next step is in fighting Tucker’s diabetes. Each day brings me more knowledge and experience in the battle, and soon, each day, Tucker will feel better.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Caution: Curves Ahead

The veterinarian wanted me to read Tucker’s glucose level at noon yesterday. That is right in between his insulin injections, which are given between 5.30 and six each morning and each evening. I was off work yesterday (my work-place is going through a very slow period right now, so I was given a day off (unpaid, of course)) so I was by chance home to take the reading at mid-day. The reading was 16, down from his last reading of 27.

Now, this is an isolated reading, so the next step is perform what is called a ‘curve’. My roly poly will be poked in the ear with a needle every two hours from just before he receives his first insulin shot at 5.30 until he receives his second in the early evening. This will draw blood (considering my skill with the needle, I suspect Tucker will be poked twice or thrice as many times, just to get enough blood) for a reading. My poor roly poly. He is very good about this, though he flattens his ears when I touch them. He also never looks in the direction I need him to look. But he is very co-operative, really.

Along with the glucometer reading, I will note the time it is read and what and when Tucker eats during the day. This ‘curve’ will give a full account of how he is doing. Based on the single reading that I took yesterday, however, the doctor is pleased and has decided, for the moment, not to change the sausage’s dosage, which remains at two units of insulin, twice a day.

So far, Tucker’s experience with insulin management has not been bad. He is eating well and playing, and he purrs a great deal, which I love to hear. Maybe one day, the ‘curve’ that will be performed on Saturday will be the start of a 180 degree turn back to being free of diabetes.