Monday, February 29, 2016

Nodding Off, Part 2

It’s no secret that cats sleep in the strangest positions. I would think, however, that, given the feline body structure, certain positions would be too uncomfortable to maintain. Yet the position you see in the photograph below has been one that Tucker has always used, alternating with others, of course.

You will note how he is neither on his side nor on his back. The rear leg in the air is an indication of his descent into the Land of Nod. His bags packed and his documents in order, he will start to sleep, and the leg will fall. When it lies on top of the other one, he is gone. Sometimes, the leg will twitch, demonstrating that he is journeying in Nod’s most interesting province, Dreamland. Then he will wake suddenly, and the leg will jerk back into the air.

I see and hear other proof when my cats are asleep. They wheeze, snore, jerk about and don’t respond to stimuli. It sounds rather frightening, and when four of them are sleeping at once, it must resemble what Bedlam had been like. But they are all safe, all well, except that when I write of Tucker nodding off, it doesn’t refer to his head; he nods off at the other end.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Nodding Off

There’s nothing new or dramatic in this day’s article. I had these pictures of Josie nodding off, and thought I would share them. I think she is enjoying the rugs and carpets everywhere in the new apartment, as they provide softness and warmth for the most immediate snoozing. We’ll see how she likes them during the heat of the summer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I have always had an issue with La-Z-Boy recliners; not with the product, but with the name; its pronunciation, in particular. Here in Canada, the last letter of the alphabet is pronounced ‘zed’, so ever since my childhood, I have pronounced the furniture ‘la-zed-boy’.

I have my own ‘la-zed-boy’. His real name is Tucker. To be fair, all my cats can be pretty lazy at times. Cammie is the only one that seems to have energy befitting her species. But they all run from time to time; Renn is actually quite athletic, Tucker jumps and runs, and even Josie trots about when playing chase the odd time. But some of the things my roly poly does is earning him a bad reputation.

Consider one of his favourite positions in which to eat. He can barely bring enough energy to the effort to raise his head. He could be comatose and he would think, “Food? Well, yes, I suppose I could manage that.” And he’d fall unconscious again after dinner. Or during it.

I kid the sausage, of course. If he were really this lazy, I’d be concerned, since he is diabetic. He can, in fact, be quite active, romping about the sitting room at play-time and pursuing, and being pursued by, my Chubs sometimes in the afternoon. And his rear end has regained the strength it lost to diabetes. He leap up on to the couch and chairs now with his old ease. Well, as much ease as a roly poly can.

But seriously, in other moments, he can barely muster the strength to lift his fuzzy face over the rim of the dish. I think the next stage will consist of Tucker lying flat on the floor and me simply rolling the food into his mouth. If he has the energy to open it at all, that is.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Conqueror of the Library

Renn has not been featured on my blog in a while. It’s probably because he is a simple, well-behaved, healthy animal with few issues. He remains a little annoying at night when I wake and he, realising that I am no longer asleep, will start purring and crawl up beside me, as close as he can to my head. But it’s difficult to be angry at a cat because he likes me, so I put up with it.

He has his idiosyncrasies. Some have remained the same following the move to the apartment, some have altered. He still roams about the residence periodically, singing to himself. He is not really artistically-minded, so it may be a feline form of taking soundings, learning about the new place, so as to add to his store of scientific knowledge. Or he may have heard an irritating song on the radio and hasn’t been able to exorcise it from his brain.

Something new is his haunting of the tops of the library bookcases. Now and then, I will wonder where he is - I like to know where the cats are, especially just before I leave or go to bed - and I will find him on top of a bookcase. He seems alert when I interrupt him, and the expression on his face is one of inviting me to join him in the observance of an intriguing event. So it may be that his scholarly mind has once more stumbled upon a vantage point from which to learn something new. I doubt that he is in the library to read. Josie is the cat in the household who loves books, while my big boy prefers first-hand discoveries to knowledge taken from a printed page.

Whatever the case, he is happy in his endeavour and, until he grows so old and enfeebled that he risks falling from such heights, I will leave him in his new conquest, and hope I don’t interrupt some astonishing observation that could benefit all feline kind.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cammie's Left-handed Compliment

It was in July of 2013 that Cammie came to stay with me. I didn’t know then that she would be a permanent part of my life, but even so, the building of trust began. The first step was for her to trust me enough not to growl whenever I came near her. Then, I was able to pet her; then she purred. After that, though I cannot say that improvements came fast and furious, they nevertheless came. She sat on my lap, then on my chest. She started to tolerate the other cats - still not without extensive hissing, however - and now is as much a part of the family as any of them. Something that still needs to be achieved, though, is the cutting of her claws.

I have continued to take her to the veterinary hospital for this. It is relatively inexpensive (relative to the high price of everything else at the hospital) but still is a cost. It is also inconvenient, as Cammie needs to be driven there and back, and the process takes close to an hour. She makes no fuss with the veterinary technicians who cut her claws. I think she may be befuddled by simply being in the medical environment.

This process gets the job done, but aside from being a drain on resources of both money and time, it is stressful for Cammie. Ultimately, nothing bad happens to her, but being stuffed into a carrier and taken to the hospital is something no cat likes, and the worry in her mind must be tremendous. So I keep trying to cut her claws myself.

On the weekend, I was able to accomplish half the task. The princess was lying on the couch in the library. I seized the moment, took the clippers and went in to talk to her. She was suspicious and must have known what I was doing as I held her paw and pressed each claw out. Between severing each length, I stroked her furrowed head and of course spoke to her throughout. I cut the claws on her left paw only.

Perhaps I should have pressed my luck and attempted to finish the right, as well. But that is the more difficult paw with which to work, regardless of the cat. I am right-handed, so my left holds her left around her body, and there is something that is less stressful about that for the beast, and physically more convenient for me. Cammie had, I think, had enough of the activity by then.

However, one paw is done, and I will await the opportunity for the other. My princess is a smart animal, and knows as soon as I approach her what I intend. I am aware of what situation would be optimum for success, and will watch for it. It should not be long in coming. After all, cutting the claws on one paw took only two and a half years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Appearance is a Laxative

Before you think of the several obvious punchlines to the title, such as “Yes, we always assumed you looked like crap”, permit me to explain. It refers to my arrival, rather than my physical description.

I have noticed something about my cats’ litter-box habits. Firstly, they are very good. I scoop the boxes thrice daily, more often if required, and sometimes, in an apartment, it is required. Prior to each sifting, I sweep and vacuum the floor of the storeroom in which the boxes are kept, then wash it each day. Come to think of it, my litter-box habits are pretty good, too. But allow me to return to the title.

Each time that I get up in the morning, and each time I return from work at the end of the afternoon, some, often most, of the beasts head to their washroom to relieve themselves. Under certain circumstances, this may indicate that my materialisation induces terror. But the cats do not rush, panic-stricken, to the storeroom. They walk, wander, amble and, in Josie’s case, waddle. It’s as if my arrival reminds them that they have to get rid of waste. 

“Hey, there’s that human again. That reminds me, I’d better poop.”

I’d like to think the connection is not as direct as that.

Perhaps it’s the bestirring of lazy bodies that compels them. They may have needed to go for some time, but it was not urgent, and could wait until toddling the laborious twenty or thirty feet to the litter-boxes could be combined with some other strenuous activity, such as sitting and waiting for soft-food to be handed out.

Since these visits to the litter-box not only coincide with my appearance, but usually immediately precede a meal, it may be that there is a vacation of internal space, in preparation for a re-filling of that void. This suggests a stronger control over the process of digestion than the beasts may actually have.

So this remains another minor mystery with which the cats confront me. It is part and parcel with fat, fur-coated animals lying in the sun on a blazing summer’s day, and with meandering about in the middle of the night making distorted, whooping sounds. There are reasons, I’m sure, but since none involves sickness, lunacy or danger, I won’t bother sorting out the puzzle at this time. My advent promotes regularity among the cats, and I can live with that. I just won’t put it on my resumé.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Face at the Window

Though the term ‘the face at the window’ often evokes, especially in stories, plays and motion pictures, mystery, menace, fear and even horror, that is not true in this instance.

The other day, I had come home from work and, after being greeted by the beasts, I noticed that they then became agitated and excited. There were small sounds of growling, and the cats hissed at each other as they haunted the glass doors in the sitting room. I knew that that meant some form of external distraction. When I joined them, I saw what kind of distraction it was.

It was a long-haired black and white cat. She - such is the gender I will arbitrarily choose - was not menacing or dreadful. This face at the window was calm, curious, perhaps eager to meet those within. Certainly she was not afraid of my lot.

I was reminded of another cat who tried to meet Cammie and Renn at the house some time ago. (I described this encounter, with video accompaniment, in my December 2nd, 2015, post.) Like that one, I am convinced that this little visitor had no antagonistic intent. She sat peering at my cats with an almost innocent expression.

“Hello,” she seemed to be saying. “Are you new to the neighbourhood? Would you like to be friends?”

I believe this particular cat, though obviously an outdoor creature and possibly a stray, has an eye kept on her by someone near by, and is fed, even sheltered when necessary. My beasts kept their eyes on her. In fact, she had visited my bedroom window once or twice before, and Cammie batted the glass to warn her off.

The stranger was not put off by adverse reactions on this newest occasion, and departed eventually, perhaps to tell her friends of the family who had just moved in. Maybe we will see her face in the window again. I hope so. The beasts do not.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunshine on Her Shoulders

The new apartment doesn’t have the views that the house did. I enjoyed eating breakfast on weekends with the rising sun coming in through the dining room window. Certainly the cats liked the sun. But even in the house, sunshine didn’t always fall where we would have preferred. In the winter, the sun travels south, like the geese. Its low course near the horizon in December gives one a clear indication of why the sun vanishes all together in the winters of some Hyperborean latitudes.

With the exception of the kitchen window, which the cats cannot reach, all our windows now face west. In the summer, that will provide a blazing heat in the evening that may require some countering on my part. But for now, the sunlight is desired, and slowly, day by day, it is moving north. Later in the afternoon, subsequent to its trip through half the sky, but before the neighbouring buildings blot it out, the sun’s rays manage to flow into the sitting room.

Josie has always fancied the sun. She never lies in it enough for me to worry about the consequences of direct sunlight on a white cat, but she enjoys the warmth. This past weekend was a mild one in southern Alberta, and the sky, though it was cloudy now and then, even overcast, permitted some of the time to be called fair. My Chubs took advantage of it.

The Great White is looking forward to spring, and will no doubt spend much of her time at the open windows. And come summer, I will find her like this, for sunshine on her shoulders makes her happy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dreams Within Dreams

On the weekend, I dreamed about Tungsten again. It was a stranger dream than the first.

I was in a mobile home, in which I lived many, many years ago, so long ago that Trudeau was prime minister. Hey, wait a minute… (That’s a joke for Canadians.) Anyway, it was a residence from my past, and Tungsten was there; she would of course have not been born for some time when I lived in the mobile home. Anyway, I think I knew in the dream that she had died, and was delighted to see her again. I could feel how soft her fur was, and how thin her little body was. She was always a skinny cat. There was no astonishment at holding her once more, despite her demise.

I brought a friend to show Tungsten had returned but apparently by then I lived in a narrow apartment in a row of shops that filled one side of the local university’s main concourse. (There is no such row of shops in real life). I was looking for the right place but couldn’t find it, and concluded, within my dream, that my reunion with the orange one had been a dream itself - a dream within a dream.

It’s been ten and a half months since the tiny terror departed. She remains the only one of the cats I’ve adopted who appears to my subconscious, perhaps because, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, all the others are with me in the real world. It would be pleasant to hold Tungsten in my waking life once more. That would indeed be a dream come true.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Positive Energy for the Princess

The move to the new apartment has, as I have mentioned, been taken in stride by the cats. But I think it has been actually beneficial for at least one.

Cammie seems to be a little - a little - more tolerant of her roommates than she had been in the house. For the first few days after the move, she didn’t venture far from either the bedroom or the library, though she became ill soon after, and that undoubtedly had an effect. But now, she regularly comes out to the sitting room, even with the other cats present. She will likely never be sociable with them, but she is taking steps toward greater, if grudging, tolerance.

Last night, she was snoozing on the bed with Josie, who is as close to an arch-enemy as the princess has. They weren’t close, but they were on the same bed. There is less hissing when the boys pass her, too, though I still hear it now and then. (Once, on the weekend, Renn had to slip by Cammie in a straitened passage. He knew she disapproved of proximity and didn’t want to get hissed at or whapped, so he passed her at a run. Cammie thought she was under attack and Renn got the hiss and the raised paw he was hoping to avoid.)

An example of her slightly more out-going nature is her playing. She more often than not engages in a little fun at play-time, which is the opposite of how it used to be: previously, it was rarer for her to play than not. She is quite energetic for a ten year old cat.

As well, she will periodically zoom about the apartment. She did this in the house, as well, but her long claws (yes, time to get them cut, again) and the carpetting and rugs everywhere allows her to turn and stop suddenly, which I think she likes.

As Kari commented on an earlier article, the move may help Cammie feel like less of a new cat. I’d heard that such changes could have this effect, and I think that the new apartment is doing just that. The princess may always wish she were an only cat, but from now on having siblings may be a little easier to take.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Intimidator

The hard-food bowl fills. There may still be some food remaining in it, but when the sound of it being filled reaches feline ears, they come, especially Josie. She always seems to have eaten first. Even Tungsten allowed my Chubs to eat first. And when someone else gets to the food mat ahead of her, or is already there, the Great White stares.

I move her on, but she returns. And stares. Not many cats can withstand it. Cammie crouches low and tries to ignore her sister, but doesn’t eat, and eventually bounds away with a hiss. Tucker doesn't even bother trying. Renn attempts to eat; I encourage him. But someone is watching, and he doesn’t like it. It’s unnerving.

Eventually, my big boy gives up. He leaves, and Josie has her fill. Sometimes, she doesn’t eat much. It’s just a matter of status. She has always eaten first, she always must. Cats have a great sense of tradition. And intimidation.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fresh Air

Though it snowed for a while yesterday, the day’s temperature made it seem almost vernal. Certainly until nightfall, the air was pleasant enough to open the windows slightly. This brought the cats to see - or, rather, smell - what was new. Initially, just the girls were interested, and that is when I took these pictures.

My camera needs batteries, so I used my telephone for these photographs, from which the results are not as good. I took many of them, as it is difficult to determine at the time which will be acceptable and which will be, in fact, rather fuzzy. Most turned out to be useable, so I have included all of them. If you run through them quickly, they may appear as animation…