Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Merry Christmas, Everyone!

It’s almost Christmas Day, and there isn’t a great deal that’s new or interesting going on with me and the cats, so I will likely not publish anything on my blog until next week. I will, of course, still read others’. In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone for the good wishes they’ve extended to me and the beasts. In return, allow me to give this electronic version of my Christmas card, the outside and the inside of it.

As the Spirit of Christmas Present said, in my favourite movie, A Christmas Carol (1951), “We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole three hundred and sixty-five. So it is true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men’s hearts one day of the year, but in all the days of the year.” It’s easier said by a Spirit than done by man, but I hope our coming year retains something of the seasonal spirit throughout.

Have a merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Rise of the Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is at last up. I was able to erect the little symbol this past weekend, as previous ones have been busy, and I have little or no time on weeknights.

I placed it in the corner where the once neglected heated cat-bed had reposed. (I’m happy to write that both beds are being well-used these days). I had to store temporarily a small end-table and move the taller cat-tree a bit, but the space is more than adequate. The tree becomes a little more awful with each year’s compression in a box after the season has ended, but I still like to have it. It provides a little homeyness when lit at night.

So far, the cats have left it alone. Each is experienced with Christmas trees and only Cammie creates a disturbance, as she likes to rub against certain forms of plastic and then chew, as if she’s eaten some, which she never has. No one has dislodged or played with ornaments, though, to be safe, I hang bells on the lowest branches. They are metal and much more resistant to damage than their glass counterparts, and they will alert me to any skulking around the Christmas tree. (By the way, “Skulking Around the Christmas Tree” must be the worst title for any Yuletide song…)

In addition to the tree, I had to find a location for the stockings, as the apartment does not have a fireplace. I miss having a fireplace; I had one for eight years, in my previous apartment and in my house. This year, I nailed the stockings to bookcases; not really traditional, but books have always been more common in my residences than fireplaces, anyway.

So we are almost ready for the big day at our home. I’ve a couple more gifts to get - one less, if a planned present arrives by mail in time. I hope your preparations are in hand, if not already completed. I have to work on mine without any feline help at all, as you can see.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Living in Dream-time

What strange things are dreams. The jumble of thoughts that bounce around our heads, on the surface of our ruminations and beneath, they are the random attempts of a brain to make sense of things when it is least capable of doing so. And they can be a lot of fun, too.

My cats figure much less prominently in my dreams than one would think. I’ve written of this before, and put the blame for this rarity of subconscious felinity on the fact that the beasts occupy most of my waking thoughts, so they need not occupy the sleeping ones, as well. This past weekend, however, did see the cats put in an appearance in my private Morphean theatre.

The scene was set in my apartment, and I was looking into the kitchen. The four cats were there, also peering into the kitchen, but from black and chrome chairs, where they were sitting in comfort. I therefore observed them from behind. I could also see into the kitchen, where I had placed a large slab of meat to thaw on a platter on the counter. I would not do this in my waking life, for obvious reasons. This big piece of meat, probably a pork roast, had been eaten whole by one of the cats. All that was left was a remnant on the plate; not chewed or bitten, it resembled a miniature roast, about two inches long. But in the dream, it was clear a cat had eaten the rest.

He or she had also thrown it up, also whole, thus not only ruining many portions of food that could have come from the roast for me, but ruining it for whomever had attempted to eat it, too. This detritus of the stomach was what was commanding everyone’s attention, until…Tungsten strode from where she must have been sitting in front of the others, and walked away from the scene. I recall thinking that this may have been a sign of a guilty conscience on the part of she who had eaten my roast. But then I realised that the orange one, as top-cat, had never been possessed of a guilty conscience. Whatever she had done was done from her right and proper position. No, she was walking away simply because she was bored with the whole thing.

Then I woke up.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Water-bowls

I have always tried to provide plenty of water for my cats to drink, and I think I have an adequate number of bowls, and have placed them in the right locations. This seems to be borne out by the fact that each of my four beasts prefers a different one of the four water-bowls available.

Despite the fact that many cats do not care for water near their food, there is a bowl near the hard-food in my apartment. My roommates don’t seem ever to have been particular about the proximity, but it is Renn who chooses to drink from that bowl most often. He can frequently be seen staring, unmoving, into the depths of the liquid for minutes before he actually drinks. (In the photograph below, the food bowl had been removed for replenishment.)

Josie likes the little bowl in the bathroom. I think I may have written previously about how she will give a mild screech to remind me to re-charge the contents, even when there is plenty of water remaining. She enjoys the freshest of refreshment.

Cammie, meanwhile, seems still appreciative of the small bowl I place on the ledge of the bedroom wall. I will sometimes see her drinking from it early in the morning or late at night; even after I’ve gone to bed. I will hear a slapping, clicking sound that I usually misidentify initially, only to make out a small silhouette in the dark, crouched over the bowl, lapping up the water.

And lastly, Tucker drinks principally from the large bowl in the library. Now and then, Renn will study its water, forcing Tucker to wait until my big boy is finished - though I will move the latter on if he prolongs the roly poly’s thirst too much. Also, Tucker will tire of waiting and go to the bowl by the food, yet will return to his favourite as soon as it is free.

Perhaps there is something about having one’s own bowl that appeals to the beasts, perhaps a certain taste to the water, or a way of being able to drink it. Or maybe they like being left undisturbed. Each cat does drink from other bowls than his favourite, but each comes back to the one that suits him best. We humans have our preferred cups for tea or coffee, a glass that fits the hand better than others. There should be no surprise if an analogy may be applied to our cats, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Princess and Her Enemy

My cats are not big players. I try to interest them in different toys and, though they respond to varying degrees at different times, they usually find their own amusements as often as they respond to my attempts to entertain them.

Now and then, however, a certain activity appeals to one or another of the beasts. Cammie likes the string-toy, and will chase the red-dot. But - and I’m not sure how we arrived at it - she appears to like fighting with a stick. Basic, unadorned, the princess likes hitting a stick with her paw.

This always occurs when she is in a cat-tree. Periodically, it is the saddle-tree in the bedroom; more frequently, it is the tall tree in the sitting room. What I use is the handle-end of the string-toy. Sometimes, Cammie sees it coming. On these occasions, she may give a short, sharp bark of defiance: “Ra!” Other times, the stick taps the parapet of the platform on which the princess is lying. This causes her to lunge at the stick. If it can manage it, the stick sneaks up on her, and prods her gently on the thigh. This causes the fighter no end of annoyance and brings fitting retribution.

The strength Cammie has in her forepaw, usually her right, is considerable. Her aim is less definite. One moment, she will wait for the stick to approach, another she will consider offence to be the best defence, and launch a strike before the stick is ready. Whatever her tactic, she seems to enjoy it. I write ‘seems’ because her expression remains the same dead-pan throughout; it is, in fact, the same countenance which I see her wear almost all the time. But there is no hissing, no growling; she is, er, happy. I think.

So, until I can come up with another game, or until she tires of this one, the princess will protect her august person from the stick with brute force. And why not? She seems to enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Reflections of Orange in Grey

In some ways, Cammie reminds me of Tungsten. Certainly, there are more contrasts than comparisons, but now and then, when the princess does something, a memory of the late orange one suddenly returns, perhaps one that has not been thought of in a while.

I noted this when the weather here turned very cold recently. Firstly, Cammie loves the heated cat-beds. She will now use one and then the other. Tungsten of course adored her cat-bed. She claimed one in a specific location. It was hers. Perhaps both of these felines' affection for the beds came from the fact that they fit so well into them. Perhaps it is due to their relatively thinness compared to my other beasts, and thin bodies need a bit more heat. But Tungsten was very thin indeed.

Before we moved to the house, we lived in an apartment very similar to the one in which we currently reside. Its heat was provided by hot-water pipes along the base of the walls. Before the advent of the cat-beds, Tungsten would often lie against the metal casing of the pipes and enjoy a more direct warmth. Cammie does this, too, periodically, forsaking even the cat-beds to do so. I hadn’t thought of Tungsten’s habit until I observed Cammie acting the same way.

I wonder sometimes what the two cats’ relationship would have been if the tiny terror had lived. Cammie acted differently toward her than she did toward the others. She would stalk Tungsten, and sometimes chase her, but only if Tungsten ran from her. The princess rarely hissed at my top-cat, and I think now and then that they may have become friends.

But then again, maybe not. They were probably too much alike, and too different, for that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


The second Saturday of every month, the rescue-group to which I belong, the Lethbridge PAW Society, visits the Homes Alive pet-supply shop downtown and shows off a cat available for adoption. This time, it was Nicolas’s turn. He did very well, considering that it was his first time in public. He is very gentle and a little timid but gets along with other cats, especially his sister, Isabella. There is something that others than myself have noted about this little fellow: his resemblance to my Renn.

The colouring, the longish hair and even the larger nose are all the same as my big boy’s, though on a small scale. I have seen certain patterns repeated in cats. Kim at Musings on a Small Life ( once had pictures of a white cat with tabby markings and a ringed tail with a dark stripe down its length, just like my Josie. Undine at Strange Company ( has a cat whom she says could be Renn’s twin – and whose fur is ‘rusting’ just like my big boy’s. I wonder if, once breeds get mixed up and ‘mongrel’ cats are produced, dominant genes create repeated patterns.

If so, then I predict a good and healthy life for this little Nicolas. He was a little under the weather this past Saturday, it’s true, but, come to think of it, so was I. However, my Renn is now eleven and has rarely been sick. And friendly? Renn is anxious to like everyone – as soon as he overcomes his shyness.

So let this entry be a comparison and an advertisement. Nicolas is a friendly, fun, gentle six month old – so friendly and gentle that he tries to climb up people but fails because he doesn’t like to use his claws. And he may just turn out to be like my favourite big boy: a friendly, fun, gentle eleven year old. I’ll let readers draw my conclusion.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Catfather

One of the problems with writing my blog in the dark months is that the sun has not risen by the time I leave for work on weekdays, and it has set before I return home. Though I can take photographs during the evening, the apartment’s electric lights don’t provide the same illumination as our local star. I therefore usually take most of my pictures in the late autumn and the winter during the weekends. That’s why there may be some time between my entries at this season of the year.

That said, the lighting when the sun sinks into the west so early can make for some interesting images. That, and Tucker’s expression, had me think that this is what my roly poly would look like as a Mafia boss. When you have a problem, you bring it to…the Catfather.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Best of Unfriends

None of my cats is a friend to any of the others. Tungsten and Renn came close to friendship, the tiny terror and my big boy. But the four currently in my family are not pals. They try to ignore each other as much as possible, and, when that is impossible, avoid each other.

But now and then, they have a little fun, usually at each other’s expense. It’s true that Josie and Tucker will sometimes chase each other for mutual enjoyment but that’s rare. More often, one animal is victimizing, in a mild way, another.

Josie will chase Cammie, though not with a great deal of commitment. My Chubs will sometimes come as close as she will be allowed, then suddenly turn and scratch on a cat-tree, as if that had been her intention all along. Renn will lope toward another beast, then stop suddenly, leaving the other cat with a fear of a collision. Once, I saw my big boy rush at Cammie, who crouched low, ears back and hissing, only to have her ‘attacker’ leap over her on to the couch. Even Tucker will try to intimidate the princess, though he isn’t very successful at it.

But, lest you believe that Cammie is a perpetual victim, let me assure you that she is not. Just this past weekend, she took up a position behind the nylon tunnel, with Tucker lying peaceably on the other side. Cammie repeatedly lunged around the tunnel at the roly poly, trying, from what I observed, to give him a heart attack. At last satisfied with her efforts, she turned and sauntered away, almost sniggering. But the tables turned, as Tucker hurried after the princess and smacked her on the side of the bum. Cammie’s rear end shot up into the air about eight inches (while her front stayed earthbound) and when it came down again, she spun and hissed, hissed, hissed.

I laughed. I told her that she couldn’t complain after her behaviour. She disagreed.

So, while life in my apartment is not filled with feline camaraderie, it is pretty good; four roommates, none of whom really likes the others, but who tolerate the situation, and even make some fun out of it. At least they don’t hog the shower and leave me without hot water.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Renn's Side-effects

In September, I discoursed about Renn’s fur. Specifically, I wrote about how much of it was being tinged with a redness to an extent not previously seen. He had always had a ruddy hue to his black hair, but it was usually observed only in certain light. By this time, it had become apparent in every-day illumination.

Now, the hair along his flanks has taken on other qualities. I mentioned in the prior article that Renn had had grey hair behind his ears that was of a texture different than most of his hair. This is again happening, but along his sides. Some, though not all, of the fur there is growing longer than its surrounding fur, and, as much as the redness is growing, so is a whiteness. And, as with the hair that used to grow behind his ears, this is of a coarseness not common in the rest of his coat.

I don’t think these are indications of problems; they are likely just changes that my big boy is undergoing as he ages. After my earlier description of Renn’s hair, I was informed that the process was called ‘rusting’ and was indeed a sign of creeping age. Even so, I will get Renn checked out by a veterinary in the new year, when funds are available. Though I no longer take the beasts in for regular examinations ($60 or more for three minutes’ prodding and listening is a bit much, I think), I will have them checked more often. The big boy and Cammie will both be seen to, just because they haven’t been lately.

Until then, however, I will watch Renn, and see what other metamorphoses he undergoes. With that cat, though, the old saying is apt: “The more he changes, the more he stays the same,” despite his side-effects.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Tail of Affection

I have written about Josie’s tail before. In January of last year, I described how that appendage sometimes whapped repeatedly when its owner was enjoying herself, though it also whapped similarly - but not identically - when she was annoyed, a more common application of tail-motion. I have detailed its appearance, how it resembles a rat’s tail in shape, but has a rare colour-scheme.

Now, I will write about something that, I believe, is relatively new for the Great White. She uses her tail to show affection. Other cats have done this, I know, even some of mine; wrapping their tails around a person’s arm while lying next to them, for instance. Josie’s use of this manoeuvre is a bit different.

My Chubs will sometimes saunter up to me, always when I am standing; turn and, with her bum against my leg, gently whip her tail around my shin, hold it there for a second or two, then whip it away, only to repeat the action. She will do this numerous times, most often when I am standing at the counter in the bathroom, washing my hands or brushing my teeth, but also when I am in the kitchen. I always acknowledge her display, of course, and she wanders away, that rat-tail straight up and its bearer pleased.

I didn’t notice her doing this before we moved to the apartment. It is the latest addition to her list of demonstrations of regard, which, as I have written previously, has grown over the years. I see that purring and head-bumps, even drooling, are not the only signs of happiness and care a cat can show and, if I pay attention, I may find all sorts of evidence that my beasts have decided, after all these years, that I meet their standards.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Cry of the Warriors

We have had intruder cats passing by the windows of the apartment previously. Sometimes, they stop to look at my animals within. Most seem quite unconcerned by the disturbance they cause. This time, I noticed less the cat outside than the reaction to his presence.

Three of my cats gathered at the bedroom window to view this intruder. (Of course, he was not actually an intruder, any more than others in his position have been. They have a perfect right to walk by on the lawn outside. But try telling my beasts that.) Alerted by Renn’s vocal disapproval, Tucker and Josie hopped up to see this audacity for themselves.

While Josie remained silent, Renn gave definite indication of his outrage. He is a big, muscular animal, and venting his astonished anger on this occasion produced a fittingly menacing sound. Starting at the mid-range, his whine dropped slowly like a descending bomb, growing deeper and more furious. It was a challenge and a warning.


Tucker too took umbrage with this breach of the neutral zone that he seems to think surrounds the apartment’s exterior. He crouched low in the saddle of the cat-tree and glared at the feline beyond the glass. Following my big boy’s lead, he gave forth his own defiance of the stranger.


He sounded like ‘this little piggy that went “wee wee wee” all the way home.’ A deflating bladder of bagpipes would convey greater danger to a trespasser. The stranger must have wondered why I was keeping a beached seal on a cat-tree.

I would never let my pets out of the apartment, of course, unless it were on a leash of some sort, and probably not even then. But I quake to think of what would happen if they escaped. Josie might exist for a long time on body-fat. Cammie is fast and wary, and her distrust might keep her alive. Renn, as shy as he is, might intimidate by his size. Tucker might survive by being elected a pack’s mascot or jester. That’s really his only chance.

So I will keep him – and the others - safe inside. But I know that blood-curdling shriek will turn my dreams into nightmares.


Really, it sounded like a baby passing gas…

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Her Youth is Just a Bad Memory

Josie was found in the engine of a truck. She isn’t the only cat of whom I’ve heard such a story. I suspect that a number of them climb into automobile engines for the warmth they feel there. It’s probably how some homeless cats come to be found in parking lots. My Chubs was a kitten then. I adopted her when she was an adult in 2008.

The interesting thing is that for many years, I thought that Josie had been born in 2003, and have been calculating her age accordingly. Recently, I put some of my computer files on disc in order to preserve them and came across Josie’s vital statistics from when she was adopted. Her birthday was estimated to be in 2004, not in 2003. She was born at mid-year; since she was a kitten when discovered, it would have been clear that she was not very old, and the rescuers certainly knew what the year was. I must have been aware of the correct year of Josie’s birth originally, but at some point, it became 2003 in my mind.

So the Great White is actually twelve and a half years old, not thirteen and a half. She remains my senior cat and, in spite of this, in good health. And Josie has demonstrated that, while age is just a number, youth is just a bad memory – mine, in this case.