Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mea Culpa

I inflicted a minor injury on Cammie this week. I cut one of her claws too short.

I brought her into the bathroom - upon which action she knew something she wouldn’t like was about to take place - and started trimming her claws. She didn’t approve of this in the slightest, but allowed me to proceed - slowly. I would have to stop every couple of claws and reassure her. But at one of the claws, she jerked her foot at the moment I clipped and I cut too much off.

Cammie let out a cry and I knew I’d done something wrong. The claw bled freely for a few minutes, then the flow diminished and stopped. I comforted the princess as much as possible and, great-hearted creature that she is, she forgave me my misstep and spent about twenty minutes purring on my chest.

The next morning, the claw was bleeding again. I determined to take Cammie to the veterinarian hospital if her toe was in the same condition a couple of hours later. I returned home at mid-morning to find that the blood had ceased to flow. I suspect that she had opened up the wound during the very early morning, perhaps while cleaning it. I consulted with others who know much more about cats than I and decided that though Cammie was probably feeling pain, it was not serious enough an injury to take her to a doctor.

I know that trimming claws too short occurs now and then, but I was anxious about infection or possible permanent mutilation of the claw. My mind is more at ease about these possibilities now, though I still try to convey to Cammie how regretful I am for my action.

The princess will probably be even more wary of having her claws cut in the future. But, to her credit, she allowed me to examine the damaged digit without too much fuss; its claw was not abbreviated as much as I had feared. I suspect I will be able to continue to trim her nails in due course. She is a blustery, crotchety lady at times, but when it comes down to it, she is forgiving and trusting. And she may know that that particular claw won’t need cutting for a long while anyway.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Quartet at Eventide

There are a number of reasons why I like my new apartment. One of them, perhaps not surprisingly, involves the cats.

In my house, my computer was in the back parlour. This was a nice little room which also contained the television set for watching Saturday night movies. Renn would usually join me there for that event - as he does in the apartment - and one or two of the others might wander in. But it was not a favourite room with the beasts, except as a means of holding up windows through which to peer.

The bedroom in the apartment is a different matter all together. The cats like the room, for not only does it have windows and comfortable cat-trees - the tree that originally came with Cammie is especially favoured by the animals - but it also has a soft bed that they all enjoy. This room is also where I keep my computer. I don’t work on it a great deal, but when I do, the cats tend to congregate in the bedroom. Sooner or later two or three, sometimes all four, amble in.

Here, the princess and my Chubs may even be found on the bed together, albeit separated by a couple of feet, and though they climb up warily, the boys will also lie almost near other cats. Some will be on cat-trees, some on the bed; now and then, the ledge along the wall serves as a chaise-longue, particularly when there is something interesting to view outside.

The scene inside, however, may be just as interesting, and come the eventide, one may find a furry quartet relaxing in the quiet and comfort of a snug chamber. This is one of the reasons I like my new apartment.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Image of Beauty

Cammie is a beautiful little cat, but she is not photogenic. None of the pictures I take of her does her justice. It doesn’t help that she is usually wearing a melancholy expression. Whether the outer look reflects the inner mood, I don’t know. But the princess’s images never really look like the creature with whom I live.

Last evening, however, she was lying on the bed and the westering sun’s light filtered through thin clouds from the edge of a passing rainstorm. The illumination lit up her slightly-crossed green eyes with their radiating flecks of gold, and brightened her face. She still bears her sad expression but these are two of the better pictures I’ve taken of her.

This is my Siamese princess.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Little Houses on the Prairie

I don’t study my cats the way Renn studies his world, but I do notice things about them. It occurred to me that the beasts’ washroom habits are as individual as everything else about them.

Understand that I don’t make it a habit to spy on the cats as they use the litter-boxes. But circumstances, and the beasts' characteristics, make certain discoveries unavoidable. Josie, for instance, is very matter-of-fact about visiting the ‘little houses’, very business-like when it comes to her business. She will go whenever she needs to, regardless of events. I have been scoping a litter-box when my Chubs has come in and has stepped into the neighbouring box. I’ve been scooping a litter-box when she has stepped into the one I was scooping. Just recently, I watched her enter the store-room where the boxes are kept, look from one receptacle to the other - probably smelling more than looking - and then choose one. She probably has the same attitude humans have when entering a public lavatory and deciding upon which stall the maintenance staff have kept cleaner. I hope she rates my work highly.

Renn appears largely indifferent to situations when it comes to visiting the litter-boxes. I rarely see him go in, and when I do, he is out again soon after. His bodily functions do not seem to require much time; when he eats, it is quickly over. The amount that my big boy consumes is small, especially for an animal of his size. Perhaps that’s why, as a consequence, his visits to the loo are equally brief.

Cammie has a strange habit. I initially noticed it when I heard her scratching at the plastic of the litter-box and thought that it did not sound as though she were scratching through litter, trying to cover or dig. I had occasion to watch her repeat the action later, and saw that she was scratching, not the bottom of the box, but the sides, high up and no where near the litter. Her claws were obviously not far out, so she was not attempting to make marks in the walls. It was as if she were perpetuating a residual memory of bringing down dirt from the sides of a hole.

And Tucker. The roly poly one makes me laugh with his method. I have sometimes caught him when I enter the store-room to clean the boxes and find him using one. I of course back out and give him privacy; aside from simply being polite, causing any creature to stop such a procedure in its midst cannot be good. But what I see is just his big melon head and his shoulders sticking out; the rest is lost in the shadow of the hooded box. The expression on his face is one of mortification at having been caught in such an embarrassing position. It’s the same look he wears much of the time, but in this context, it is very amusing - to me, if not to him. I feel bad for the little fellow, since I would feel the same way in a similar situation.

I confess that I have clean pets, even for cats. If I must wash a bum now and then, it isn’t for lack of its owner trying to keep hygienic. The beasts have had no issue with litter-boxes equipped with hoods - no small concession to a reduced cleaning time on my part, particularly in a small apartment - and if they dislike the arrangement of the boxes in the store-room, they haven’t complained through the results. It may be that I have fortuitously managed things in a way acceptable to both man and cats. I have, perhaps, stumbled on to the essential feng shui of cat litter-boxes…

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Points of Insulin

Tucker’s treatment for his diabetes continues well. His ‘numbers’, as indicated by the ‘curves’ I perform on him each month, are good. I have recently increased his morning insulin amount by a unit, while keeping the evening one as it was. I spoke with his doctor, expressing concern that his ‘numbers’ were not dipping low enough, and she agreed that I should increase the amount. I would have preferred to boost both his morning and evening injections by half a unit, but the ‘pen’ I use does not allow for that.

I have had to change the needles that I attach to the pen. I have been using the 12.7 mm / 29 gauge needles, but have been advised that they are no longer being made. I assume that, in keeping with other products these days, companies found it cheaper to make another kind. I have therefore switched to the 8 mm / 31 gauge needle. This is more than a third shorter than the previous needle, and is minutely thicker. I worried that Tucker would feel this difference. I tried one of the new needles, therefore, before I ran out of the old, to measure his response. Thankfully, the roly poly one seemed not to have noticed any alteration.

He continues to accept his injections with good humour. He lies down without protest and, in fact, has almost always purred through the brief process, his chubby paws flexing. I make sure to talk to him during it, but I don’t think the procedure bothers him in the slightest. I wonder sometimes if he feels immediate relief of some sort, which accounts for his readiness to accept a twice-daily jab. In any case, he makes my part in the action very easy. Since I must give him his shot before I go to work each weekday, I must do it at the same time on my days off, as well, which means waking at 5.30 every morning. But at least on weekends, I can go back to bed. Tucker, of course, has that option every day, the lucky dog. But it doesn’t trouble me. As long as the roly poly sausage feels as calm and content as this most of his days, I will, too.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Josie's Gunga Din

Cats are finicky. This is not a myth. They have their idiosyncrasies, the likes of which make the stereotypical hermit or village eccentric seem like the most well-adjusted individual. Most feline quirks are harmless. Take, for instance, Josie and her water.

In the old house, there were five bowls, of various sizes and material, around the building into which I poured water for the cats to drink. In the new apartment, there are three: two heavy glass bowls - one by the food and one in the library - and a small ceramic vessel in the bathroom. Periodically, my Chubs will sate her thirst in the library. But when she sees me go into the bathroom, she follows, and makes it clear that she wants water.

Josie is not satisfied with the water in the bowl. It must be fresh each time. She will rub against me, curl her tail about my leg and, as a last resort, cry out in her creaky old lady voice. If I have not recharged the water for some time, I will do so, and the Great White will enjoy the spring-like effluent from the tap above the basin. I don’t want to waste water that was poured into the bowl but an hour previously, however. Sometimes, if I am newly returned from work, I will have already filled the bowl when Josie trots in to the bathroom after me, calling for fresh water. I don’t intend to throw out perfectly good water for her fastidity. I pick up the bowl and immediately place it on the floor again.

This seems to satisfy my Chubs. Either she is unaware that it is the same water, or the action fills her need to have me wait upon her, to do my duty and provide her with sustenance.

This is a new characteristic Josie has exhibited since our arrival in the apartment. She is not really demanding, but when she wants something - not surprisingly, her needs tend to involve food or water - she will let it be known. It is, as she is well aware, part of my job as human to make water available to her.

I am, one may say, a bhisti for my beasty.

Friday, April 15, 2016


It’s been more than a week since I’ve written about the household, so I thought I’d apprise those interested on how the cats are doing. And show off more pictures of the beasts.

I am still waiting on Tucker’s full recovery from his cold. It has probably progressed to a mild infection right now, as he sneezes only once in a while, and sniffles even less often. But there is still some congestion present. I was considering obtaining some antibiotics for his condition, but I don’t know that it requires it. He is definitely healing, though he is taking his time. I would not be concerned much at all, but I still must schedule his dental surgery, and that is something I want done soon. Aside from the sneezing and snuffling sounds that he periodically makes, the roly poly is himself.

Cammie has recovered from her latest attack of what I believe is an allergy. In this picture, you may be able to discern the red scabs of where the sores on the sides of her head bled out. This attack was more severe than previous, but it was occasioned, so I think, by the substitute food I gave her to stimulate her appetite when she was ill. The nutrition served its purpose, but the princess reacted to it adversely, at least in appearance. So far as I could tell, she remained otherwise unaffected.

Josie and Renn remain healthy and happy. Or so I tell them.

Life continues well in the new refuge. There is little new here, but someone asked about the beasts, so I decided to update the blog. My holidays are approaching: only five weeks away, they are coming a bit earlier this year. Since I won’t be travelling at all, the chronology makes little difference to me. Just being off from work - and spending more time with the cats - is my holiday.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


In my household, things continue to improve in matters of health, but all is not back to normal. Tucker’s cold is hanging on in a small way. He is still sneezing more than I would expect him to, and sneezing in a wetter manner than usual. As well, he seems to have a lot of phlegm; when he grooms himself, he sounds like a wart-hog eating a bowl of melted ice cream.

I have cancelled his dental surgery, scheduled for next week. I had previously postponed it for seven days, but I don’t know how long this illness will hold on to the roly poly, so I have not made another appointment. He could probably have surgery as he is, and the delay in his dental cleaning has been too long as it is, but as he is already at a disadvantage with his diabetes, I want him to be as healthy as possible going under anaesthetic.

But Tucker is eating well, is cheerful and playful, so, with luck, he will be ready for his next adventure soon. Until then, he will be resting and restoring that sausage-shaped body of his. Just like this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Not My Animals At All

Other than birds and perhaps the odd rabbit, I don’t see much wildlife in the city in which I live. That’s natural - or, as we are talking about concrete and glass overwhelming the environment, maybe I should have written ‘unnatural’ . But now and then, I observe unusual visitors to the city.

I was riding my bicycle home from work yesterday at about four o’clock in the afternoon, and saw these two animals downtown. This was right in the centre of a city of 80,000 people. It was behind Southminster United Church, an old and attractive building (and therefore I’m surprised it hasn’t been demolished). My city is not Toronto or Montreal; it’s not even Victoria. But it can be busy and noisy. The street in front of the church constitutes the main street downtown.

But these two deer seemed quite at ease. They were not startled by vehicular traffic or by my presence. They peered at me a few times but were unconcerned, and spent their time eating (and one took a minute to relieve himself.)

I have seen deer in town before. In fact, one night, a few years ago, in the winter, I returned home very late to find three on my neighbour’s front lawn. But that was when I lived in my house, and there is a more or less continual path of parks and green-strips the deer can follow to and from the outskirts of the city. As well, it is a residential neighbourhood and was very quiet at that hour. Even so, one must wonder why the beasts would bother entering an urban area at all.

And as for the downtown area, though it has parks, there is no connecting greenery, no ‘road’ of vegetation for deer to follow. Yet this is not the first time I have observed them even in this area. Once, about eleven o’clock in the morning, I saw some in the alley behind the very building in which I live now, which in turn is not far from the church the animals visited yesterday.

Whatever the reason for their foraging deep into a small city, these deer appeared untroubled by the commotion that was routine about them. They are likely veterans of such expeditions. I hope that they made it back to the country safely and, I suspect, they did. No doubt with tales to tell the youngsters before their bedtime, inspiration for ungulate explorers of the future.

Monday, April 4, 2016

That Hang-dog Look

Cats are odd creatures. Every species has its quirks, of course, but I'm sure that cats have more of them than other animals. They seem, for instance, to be boneless, and able to sleep or rest in any position.

My big boy Renn loves his cylinder-house cat-tree. He spends much of his time there, and, except for night, when he sleeps on the bed, he snoozes almost exclusively in the cylinder. He will rest with his head at a right angle to his body. That would leave a human with a permanent twist to the neck. But Renn finds it comfy.

Then there is this pose. Renn will hang his head like this for five, ten, fifteen minutes. He may be studying the floor, noting the difference between rug and carpet, carpet and linoleum; he may be pondering the fabric of the cat-tree; he may be thinking about existence.

Or he may enjoy the feeling of blood rushing to his head.

In any case, it appears to do him no harm. He spends a certain amount of time lolling his head over the side of the cylinder and then pulls it in. Enough thinking for now; time for a nap. Right, you lazy dog?