Monday, June 27, 2016

The Revelation of a Mighty Huntress

Cammie’s personality continues to evolve, more so than do the others’. Perhaps it is more accurate to write that her personality continues to reveal itself. Josie, Renn and Tucker have long since opened up their characters - well, Tucker was always pretty much an open book - and, though they change, as we all do, Cammie had farther to go in that direction, and so her changes are more apparent.

In the old house, the princess would bring to the bedroom, usually at night, a small, furry toy mouse. She does that as well in the apartment but has refined the activity. She seems to have chosen the yellow and white mouse as her favourite prey and, once captured, she carries it to the bedroom. More than that, she often climbs with it to the top of the taller cat-tree, though I have found it on the floor just as frequently.

But, after I had discovered she was doing this, Cammie added a new feature: she calls out in victory at her conquest of the mouse. Normally a quiet animal - except when she is disturbed by her roommates or an intruder-cat outside a window - she will now give a wailing screech when she has made her latest kill. Perhaps she was inspired by Renn and Tucker. They both periodically sing their songs; the big boy’s is a haunting tenor sound, while the roly poly one's is a loopy vocal trot that sounds like it should accompany the running of a cartoon horse with legs of different lengths. But the boys give their cries while simply wandering about. They don’t seem to have a specific purpose to them.

Cammie’s cry is a hoarse combination of arthritic walrus and crazed recluse who lives in the crumbling house at the end of the lane. Despite the metaphor, it is her signal of triumph, an announcement that she has once again defeated her fuzzy foe and brought him back to her lair. I always know now when she has completed her hunt. She has, fortunately, refrained from adding the sound when she stalks the night.

Every day seems to bring a variation to the cats’ characters. Their personalities appear fixed but they do shift a little with time, just as ours do; whether the traits displayed are new or simply newly shown, they reveal more about the animal. After a long while, we can see that they have altered, become different, yet have remained the same in many ways. This is the paradox of the advanced and intelligent animal: Cammie has demonstrated that she is a mighty huntress - yet she remains my princess.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Unstealthy Behaviour

Tucker continues to believe that he’s stealthy. And he continues to be wrong.

He has a new habit. Where these sudden shifts in behaviour come from, or where they eventually go, I don’t know, but now, when he knows I am preparing food in the kitchen, he takes up a spot under the dining table. It only occurs when human food is being made, not cat-food. But being the shape of a sausage and the size of a small cask does not give him the camouflage necessary to hide, however, and I often see this tell-tale sign.

Then, of course, there’s that big moon-face of his, always hopeful, always ready to think that he is putting one over on me. But I usually see him hasten to his new hiding spot, then talk to him when he is there.

This alerts him to the fact that he’s been seen, and that the operation has been compromised. So he scurries from the scene as swiftly as his stubby legs will carry him.

If you view old photographs of commandos from World War Two, you will note that, contrary to Hollywood’s perception, they were not muscle-bound giants who could lift automobiles with one hand. They were often of average height or even shorter, of moderate strength and weight; ordinary men with extraordinary training. But you may also note that not one of them was a sausage-shaped cat. There were good reasons for this.

Friday, June 17, 2016

In a Land of Sweet Water

Those who have been following the fortunes of my Siamese princess will be pleased to know that she is doing very well. Her health appears good, her litter-box visits are regular and give good results, and her behaviour is back to normal.

However, the episode of Cammie’s discomfort has taught me something. In the old house, I had four bowls of water (one downstairs) for the beasts’ refreshment; in the new apartment, there are three: one by the food dish, one in the library, and a small one in the bathroom. Each cat seems to have a favourite and each seems never to drink from at least one. In any case, I thought that there were enough sources of water.

During the course of Cammie’s illness, I tried to supplement her diminished water intake by bringing the fluid to her. I have continued to do this, as I have found that more often than not, she drinks when the bowl is offered. This made me realise that there were probably numerous occasions when she was thirsty enough to drink, but not thirsty enough to go through the effort of climbing down from her cat-tree and finding a bowl herself.

(I read an interesting explanation of why cats instinctively do not drink enough water. When all cats were feral, or at least found their own food, they obtained much of their moisture from eating freshly killed prey. They didn’t know they were sating their body’s demand for water as they did so, however, so when the erstwhile nutrition was replaced by human-supplied food, especially hard food, cats were deprived of a great deal of their water supply, yet they didn’t feel any thirstier for it.)

After my discovery, I felt that Cammie’s reluctance to go for water much of the time (ie. laziness) was both a reason and an opportunity to provide more water to the animals. The solution is simple: another water-bowl. I purchased three at a second-hand shop.

This one is in the bedroom, along the ledge that runs around the room’s exterior wall. (Why so many ground-level apartments are given these ledges I know not; considering the result, it may be to catch the dust that blows in through even closed windows.) I have tried this already and have seen Cammie climb down from a perch to drink, then return to her comfortable reclination. This distance, much shorter than that from the cat-tree to the other, far away, water-bowls, seems to be worth covering for a drink.

So, provided the cats do not continually knock the bowl onto the floor, I will keep a small dish of water in the bedroom, half-way between floor and cat-tree-top. It may produce positive change, especially in Cammie; at the least, it will give some of them another excuse for moving even less than they do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Today, the weather is cool and wet, but we had a period during my holidays when the temperature soared (to about 38° Celsius (over 100° Fahrenheit)) and the sun blazed unobscured by cloud. The cats alternated between enjoying the heat and trying to escape it.

My big boy, Renn, is not usually a sun-cat. He can take it or leave it, but there was an evening, as the light shone through the bedroom window, when he either delighted in it, or simply didn’t want to expend the effort to move. He can be a lazy animal, complaining in the mornings if I disturb his rest to make the bed, even though he just spent the night sleeping. So it was difficult to determine this time whether he was bathing in the rays or pretty well oblivious to them.

In any case, here he seemed to be getting some much-needed (or, probably, some much-desired) rest. The lazy dog.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Forty-nine Weeks

Today, things are getting back to normal in more ways than one. Cammie seems well; last night, she visited the litter-box after I went to bed. I checked and saw that she had wet and pooped. I am a bit concerned that she is going to the boxes only once a day. As Kari, in a comment, pointed out, one big visit may be unusual. Trying to recall, I think it is. However, Cammie had been without food and water for a couple of days and only small amounts of both for a two days after that. She may have had need of much of it. But I will be watching her visits nonetheless, and speaking to the veterinarian about it today.

Unfortunately, the other part of normal is work: I’m back at it. Not only does this cut into the enjoyable things in my life, but it keeps me away from home so I can’t keep an eye on Cammie. I am glad that she recovered from the worst of her ordeal before my holidays ended.

My three weeks off were very good. I accomplished a great deal around the new apartment, though there was certainly less to do than at the old house. I was able to relax, read, write, watch movies, listen to music and spend the time with the beasts that they deserved. I was also able to clean the cat-trees. I took so much fur off of them that I could have constructed a fifth cat. I think I’ll call him Follicle. It was funny seeing the cats go to their familiar spots and smell them, wondering where their scents had gone. But everything is back to normal in that regard, too.

And so I await my next holidays. They are, after all, just forty-nine weeks away. Until then, I may feel a little bit restricted in my freedom and activities, a little bit caged. My life is a good one, but not entirely my own. Rather like that of a house-cat…

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Health, One Day at a Time

All the best wishes and good thoughts worked: Cammie is much improved today. I waited all yesterday for her to visit the litter-boxes. She didn’t move from her favourite cat-tree once during the daylight, so I brought food and water to her there. She ate small portions (I kept them small) through the day, and drank.

The lack of urination concerned me; I suppose it was good that it was not the opposite, repeated attempts to go that produced no result. After I went to bed, I couldn’t sleep; I knew she would go to the litter-boxes eventually because she started wandering. Sure enough, at 1.30, she wet in the litter-box. After she finished, I checked the result; I had been scooping the boxes after every other cat had used it, so I would know what deposit was the princess’s. She had left a big lump of urine in the litter, the size of her head. I was able to sleep after that.

When I woke at six to give Tucker his injection, Cammie was at the hard-food bowl. She followed this by eating a good soft-food breakfast. I have been feeding her little amounts since then. She has drunk water on her own. She hid again today but I think that either she is not fully recovered from her ordeal (which is likely) or she simply finds the corner of the library behind books where no one can get to her restful. She came out twice, once when I lie down and patted my chest (she lie on me for about fifteen minutes purring) and again when I opened the window; she emerged for the fresh air. So I didn’t worry much about her hiding. She has wandered about the apartment today, like a convalescent roaming the hospital corridors in her pyjamas and robe, just to get out of her room. 

I don’t know what this condition was. It doesn’t appear to have been cystitis. It may have been a simple infection - the veterinarian had suggested that it was a minor one – that was cured quickly by the Clavamox, which then caused its own problems. I will definitely watch for signs of a recurrence. I still have the Veraflox but will not use it, as there seems little point in treating a problem that appears to be gone, or at least in retreat. I will be speaking to Cammie’s doctor about this tomorrow. For now, the princess is feeling good. She is no longer nailed to her cat-tree or secluded behind bookcases. She is, at this moment, lying on the bed in the full blaze of the evening sun. She just ate another satisfying portion of food, and I await her next urination (really, that’s constitutes an event in my life.)

Another crisis seems to have been staved off, though, as I wrote to a friend today, a cat’s health seems to be a matter of one day at a time. Well, this day has been a very good one.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Toes, by Way of Diversion

Though Cammie continues to be of concern to me, things are, right now, improving. She did not want breakfast this morning so, in order to keep her fed, I delivered a very tasty concoction of Recovery and water by syringe. After that, the princess went into seclusion again, though I could tell that it was not the same discouragement-induced hiding as previous. When I returned from errands at three o’clock, she was out, and ate with the rest of the beasts: in her case, two small helpings of Fancy Feast. In the next four hours, she ate two more such portions and drank some water. She has not used the litter-box today, which is a bit worrisome, but I will keep the litter scooped in order to tell what she deposits there when the time comes.

I want to thank everyone for their comments and best wishes. I will be talking to the veterinarian about cystosis on Monday. Depending on what Cammie leaves in the litter-box this weekend, I may start her on the Veraflox, but I would rather not, if it isn’t necessary.

Now, just to show that not everything is serious in the household, here are some pictures of my big boy, a long and heavy cat who enjoys stuffing himself into the cylinder-house cat-tree. How does he do it? Why, his feet get left out, literally. So, I present to you Renn, and his many toes, for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Turn of Events

Things have not remained static here during the last couple of days. The last I wrote of Cammie was that the Clavamox prescribed for her intestinal infection was making her vomit. The next day, I spoke with the veterinarian, who recommended that a newer anti-biotic called Veraflox supplant the Clavamox. (There must be a specific department in pharmaceutical companies staffed by people who do nothing but make up drug names that sound like aliens from Star Trek.) The doctor also gave me the option of having Cammie injected with Cerenia, an anti-emetic, to keep her from vomiting. (That one is more like a planet the “Enterprise” visits than a person.)

Yesterday, Cammie seemed to be improving. She did not throw up most of the day and, though her intake was very slight, she ate a tiny amount of soft-food and drank a modicum of water – as long as I hand-delivered it. She didn’t stir from her cat-tree. I filled the role of cup-bearer to Her Serene Highness. Later, I collected the Veraflox without bringing Cammie to the hospital. But that night, she threw up. And very early the next morning. And not long after that.

To the hospital she and I returned. She received her shot of Cerenia. While there, the doctor told me that in some cases, Clavamox’s effects last up to 72 hours after a final dose; indeed, though Cammie had deposited a well-formed golfball-sized lump of urine in a litter-box, she also left some very formless feces. The doctor suggested some FortiFlora pro-biotic to counteract the latter. I knew my cat would not consume that in or on her food under regular conditions, but I would be feeding her by syringe, and it could be included in the mixture. As well, the doctor wanted to see if Cammie could supply a better sample of urine than was obtained during the previous appointment. This was a good idea and done for free. The princess and I went home, where I incurred her wrath an hour later by force-feeding her some Recovery convalescent food by syringe.

The veterinarian called with the urinalysis results in the late afternoon. In a twist to the plot, almost nothing adverse was shown in the tests. Cammie appeared healthy. The infection seemed to have vanished. The doctor was surprised, and expressed doubt that the Clavamox could have solved the problem so quickly. However, as the need no longer was apparent, she thought application of the new Veraflox could be postponed.

Had there been an infection? I think there must have, considering Cammie’s symptoms. Was the Clavamox responsible for her vomiting? Again, I fear that to be the case; though the princess is no stranger to the retrograde movement of food, the coincidence of anti-biotic and nearly immediate upchucking was too great to ignore.

Where do we stand now? On slightly higher ground, I’m guardedly pleased to write. Cammie has endured two helpings of syringe-delivered food: good, nutritious food, mixed with water. She has not thrown up since early this morning. She spent most of the day hiding and acting quite depressed (after all, she had been carted off to hospital twice in three days, stabbed with three needles (two samples of urine taken and a shot of medicine), had unwelcome food shoved down her throat twice. All that’s needed is for me to try to cut her claws. But she is out of seclusion and lying on her favourite cat-tree.

And, as important as not vomiting, she has drunk water on her own and even eaten a tiny amount of soft-food this evening. I will try some more of both before bedtime. Some wishes for continued movement in this direction would be appreciated. The events having turned, I don’t want them turning back again.