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.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The End of the Beginning

This weekend, I conducted another ‘curve’ on my long-suffering cat, Tucker. I woke, as always, at 5.30, and poked his ear to draw blood. Then, after his insulin shot and a breakfast, we all went back to bed, only to rise again two hours later, for more blood-letting. That was too early for a Sunday, so we returned to bed yet again. Though I did eventually stay up, the jabbing of Tucker’s ear went on all day.

I am pleased to record that the results were at least worth the effort, though Tucker may disagree. The lowest point in his numbers was reached about 1.30, and, according to the roly poly’s veterinarian, to whom I emailed my findings, the results are “fantastic”. She is very pleased with Tucker’s situation right now. It will need to improve, of course, but for where he is at this point, he is doing very well.

Naturally, there is a way to go. That the insulin is having an effect may be seen from the fact that all of Tucker’s numbers, from before dawn until dusk, were lower than those found during his first ‘curve’, though the dosage is the same. That dosage, of three units twice a day, will remain unchanged. I am told that insulin does have a cumulative effect and is being used well by his body.

This is a great relief to me. My cat has a long fight ahead of him; constant vigilance will be required. But, as Sir Winston Churchill said at one point in World War Two, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”