Friday, October 28, 2016

National Cat Day

Tomorrow is National Cat Day. To those of us who have cats, every day is a ‘cat day’; every day is filled with taking care of them, feeding them, cleaning their litter-boxes and cleaning the cats themselves, if need be. We play with them, talk to them, keep them safe, every day. So why is there a National Cat Day?

Firstly, I think simply calling the event ‘national’ limits its scope. The purpose of the day is to make people aware of the need to rescue homeless and abused cats, and to celebrate those felines who have families and friends, and the positive effect those cats have on us. If this is indeed the reason for the day, then restricting it to any one country is like trying to rid only one country in the world of poverty. We need not simply start here, or there. One person trying to make a difference must begin somewhere, but if an entire planet is involved in solving a problem, then a beginning may be made everywhere.

This internationalism of Cat Day emphasizes its purpose. We who have cats in our lives know their value. This day is similar to a recruitment drive by a social club: it’s not so much for those who already belong, but for those who don’t. Yet by telling others about our cats, and our lives with cats, we most effectively spread the word about these astonishing creatures.

Though I have four cats now, my feline family started with one. Her name was Tungsten. She was already seven when I adopted her; at least, that’s at what her age was estimated. For seven and a half years, she was my friend. She was much like myself: introverted and quiet, active to an extent but preferring a relaxing evening at home. Neither of us cared for politics and we were both terrible at tennis. So we were a good fit.

Tungsten, and those who came after her - Josie, Renn, Tucker, Cammie, and my foster-cats (Lincoln, Mystery, Wixie, Devon, Rachael, Bear-Bear, Kola, Noah) - were more than just companions. Cats are teachers; teachers of patience and calm, of logical thinking and of dealing with illogical beings. They force us to manage finances and to understand medicine; to plan and to improvise, and to resign ourselves to failure at times. They show us responsibility, for they are living creatures entirely dependent on our ability to care for them.

But even if they were none of these things, they would remain, at the very least, our friends. And that, certainly, is reason enough for them to have their own day.

Tungsten died on March 26th, 2015.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Asleep Amid the Raspberries

Sometimes, my entries don’t need many words to accompany the pictures. This is my princess, snoozing on a Sunday afternoon in a heated cat-bed. Needless to say, I let her stay like this as long as she liked.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Breakable Upon Use

Last night, I was cleaning out the litter-boxes, as I usually do before bed. Some people drink warm milk, some read, others listen to music. I scoop unmentionable crap from big plastic boxes filled with desiccated corn chips. I’d like to claim it as a long-standing family tradition, handed down through the generations. It’s not.

Anyway, some of the beasts will wet against the inside walls of the box, so I press the scoop against the wall to free the resultant clump. Usually, the worst that happens is that the clump breaks apart. This time, the scoop broke apart. It didn’t just break; it snap and sent a shower of used litter all over the storeroom. These things, like Tucker getting into the old house’s fireplace, or Josie throwing up, tend to occur just after I shower and just before I go to bed. Timing is everything.

The picture was taken once the crime-scene was cleaned up. After all, the bowl of the scoop was still operable. Unfortunately, it’s as close to using my hands as I’ve yet come, and closer than I wanted to. I determine to buy a new scoop the next day.

I was already planning to go to the local Dollarama, so I decided to buy a scoop there. The Dollarama is the twenty-first century’s version of the old Five-and-Dime Stores – for those of us who are old enough to recall them – or the old Woolworth’s – for those of us in Canada or Britain. The new scoop was cheap but serviceable. It was, in fact, almost identical, but for colour, to the old one.

It snapped in two the first time I used it. I recall a rake that did the same thing: the handle shattered within seconds of applying the tool to leaves. The difference is that leaves feel much less unhygienic to the touch than does the product one must scoop. This photograph I took immediately subsequent to the incident. I think I wanted proof that it had transpired yet again.

I was not fooling around this time. I went to the pet-supply shop where I buy cat-food and litter and bought a heavy-duty scoop. Steel bowl, titanium handle, with battery-powered solid-fuel thrusters for propulsion and gyroscopic stabilizers to maintain equilibrium, and micro-chip relays to satellites in geo-synchronous orbit for topographically accurate guidance. All right, it was thicker plastic than the previous two. And it stayed in one piece.

I will buy another, cheap scoop as a reserve, but I don’t anticipate the current one breaking any time soon. But if it does, no one gets to use the litter-boxes until I buy a replacement.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Explorations Farther Afield

This week’s theme seems to be sleep, or beds in which to do so. Continuing that notion, I would like to present Cammie, once more. Having re-discovered the cylinder-house cat-tree, she went on to break new ground all together.

Though she had experimented with the armchair in the library, I had never seen her try those in the sitting room. But during the weekend, there she was, curled up and stretched out. Perhaps the princess, having found so far exactly what is comfortable and what is not, is expanding her horizons, to make sure all of her domain is explored.

Certainly, she seemed to enjoy her test in this case, though she has not been back up on the armchairs since Saturday. But I am simply glad to provide her and her roommates with as many options for relaxation and ease as possible.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Lonely Cat-bed

Sleep is important in our household. I never have enough. The cats seem to suffer a surfeit of it. ‘Suffer’ may be the wrong term, though, since they don’t appear to be in distress over receiving too much rest. There are many places to indulge their visits to Morpheus, from the bed, to couches and chairs, to cat-trees, as was shown in yesterday’s article.

There are also the cat-beds. They were resorted to less during the summer, but now that the cold is creeping back over the landscape, the heating pads are back under the beds’ cushions, and the beasts are curling up there in comfort. Well, they are curling up in one of the beds.

I have two. Last winter, when we were newly ensconced in the apartment, both beds were in frequent use. Cammie, in particular, liked the farther one. Though it was near the external wall, it was also against the heating pipes so that, with the electric pad underneath, she would receive warmth from two directions. I think she also found the isolation from her roommates to be pleasant.

This year, however, the farther cat-bed is abandoned. No one has considered using it at all. Cammie has chosen to curl up in the nearer bed, and risk the proximity of the other beasts; they have used it, as well. So far, the cat-bed by the cd-cabinet in the corner is forlorn.

If this apathy toward the farther cat-bed continues, I may have to move it to more congenial locations. That’s too bad, because it fills an otherwise empty spot, and I don’t have much available floor-space elsewhere. Putting it where it will be more readily noticed is, I think, a solution; once it is used, I can try moving it, gradually, back to its far corner. But first things first: I have to get a body into it.

It’s a shame it’s been abandoned, as it looks both comfortable and warm. I may end up using it myself.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cast Out

It was a few days after Cammie’s re-discovery of the cylinder-house cat-tree that I found this melancholy scene in my apartment. I initially saw Renn sitting near the front door, staring. He does that quite a bit; staring, seemingly into space. Sometimes, he is studying something of great interest, evaluating it, learning what he can and storing it in the vast library of his knowledge. Sometimes, he is just staring into space.

But this time, there was a third option. He was staring, plaintively, at the princess, who had taken over the cylinder-house cat-tree for the evening.

Cammie, of course, did not care. She was asleep. If she was not, she was feigning sleep to show her apathy to her roommate’s feelings. Periodically, it’s tough having brothers and sisters. Sometimes, life is sad. Eh, Renn?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tucker at My Table

Of my cats, only Tucker keeps me company when I eat. None of the others gives my dining a first thought, let alone a second. But the roly poly one likes to sit in a favourite spot, a dining table chair. For much of the meal, he watches me, hoping for a small share of what I am having. This is what I see while I eat.

Perhaps needless to write, he usually gets a little portion. Equally needless to write, it’s probably why Tucker is known as the roly poly one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Minor Mystery

Though the Thanksgiving weekend was a good one, it was marred to a small extent by a mystery that affected Josie. For about two and a half days, she was throwing up her food. This is not uncommon with my Chubs, though it is usually sporadic, and if she throws up two consecutive meals, it’s abnormal. This time, she was vomiting every mouthful of soft-food.

It would happen about two hours after consumption, though once she regurgitated a meal immediately. The food concerned was not a new variety: Merrick surf ’n’ turf. Josie enjoys that flavour, and has never had a problem with it before. I thought that it may have been the tin, though Tucker ate some - it isn’t one of his first choices - and did not bring it back up. Even so, I tried some beef flavour. This caused the same reaction in Josie.

The Great White could eat hard-food with no trouble, though this was sometimes returned with the soft. Her consumption of treats did not suffer, either. But if the soft-food was coming back up, and latching on to the hard as it climbed, then Josie was not getting much nutrition. I tried the old stand-by: Fancy Feast.

A small amount of ocean whitefish went down readily enough, though it had been so long since my Chubs had eaten it, except as a garnish, that she was hesitant. But two small helpings stayed down. This was encouraging. I repeated the performance half a day later; that too was a success. Whether the Fancy Feast was more settling to her stomach, or its arrival there was coincident to a separate recovery, I don’t know.

But I expanded my field of operations by opening a new tin of Merrick - rabbit flavour - and set that before Josie at her next dinner-time. All was well. The rabbit went through the g.i. tract as it should have done. As Sherlock Holmes may have said, “It was alimentary.” Perhaps he mayn’t have. In any case, I was pleased.

Since then, Sunday afternoon, Josie has been eating well but not heartily. Her appetite is a bit off, and she is consuming less of both hard- and soft-food. However, having weighed her and her roommates yesterday, I know that her poundage is good. She has gained a small amount of heftitude in the last month. (So has Cammie, still a little under-weight from her summer sickness; the boys are almost steady.)

I am guardedly optimistic. My Chubs seems to be over her problem, whatever it was. Since her illness earlier in the year, the princess receives a small ration of soft-food before bedtime; I may do the same for Josie. I will watch and weigh. Josie is now thirteen and has had no serious medical problems in the eight years she’s been with me. Of minor mysteries, she’s had a few, but as long as they remain minor, and lead to nothing major, they can stay mysteries.

Monday, October 10, 2016

First Snow

Our first snowfall since winter started last night, and continued through much of the day. The temperature was not cold, only chilly; it was probably just below freezing, if that. The snow was wet and heavy.

The temperatures are supposed to climb the day after tomorrow, and be about 15 degrees (Celsius) for several days. That will take care of the snow, for now. Though it is expected to fall about this time of year, I was hoping for autumnal weather to last a bit longer. But it is October already, and we did have a mild summer here in southern Alberta; never very hot, and wetter than usual. I suppose we shouldn’t complain. (This statement is normally followed by a complaint.)

However, in keeping with the previous entry in this blog, I should iterate that I feel fortunate to have a warm, dry home on such a day. The cats are safe – they spent most of the day snoozing – and I was able to stay home with them, as I had the day off.

And that is a situation conducive to continuing the seasonal feeling of thanksgiving.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Thankful, Still

Monday is Thanksgiving Day. As I always write about this holiday, we should be thankful all the time for our advantages; Thanksgiving is a day intended to focus our gratitude, as Christmas does our sense of good will and Christian feelings.

Last year was less than good for me, as I lost some friends, human and feline, and had to give up my house on the last day of December. Even so, 2015 gave me much for which to be grateful. This year has been better. Certainly, there has been no news worthy of stopping the presses, but my life is much better than that of many; better, I suspect, than the world’s majority. For that, I am thankful.

Though I had to sell my house, and will almost surely never be able to buy another, I have found a refuge for myself and my cats. I was very lucky to rent the apartment which I now call our home, as it is run by a cat-friendly company which does not charge tenants ‘pet fees’ (fines) for bringing feline friends with them. It is a cosy abode, well-situated and reasonably priced, for this era.

My friends, human and animal, are doing well. There has been some frustration over Tucker’s diabetes numbers, but he remains in relatively good condition, purring and active - or at least as active as a roly poly sausage gets. Josie and Renn are healthy, and Cammie is firmly my friend - if no one else’s.

I am still employed and, if it is not at my dream-job, I am, nonetheless, still employed. Many are not, or are under-employed. I live in a wonderful, free country, none of whose candidates in the previous election were Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. I am, myself, healthy, for my age. (At what sad point did I have to start adding that?) If I have suffered adversity, it is nothing to what others have suffered, and are suffering.

I am, as I have been in the past, thankful.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

She Was Asking For It

I’ve written before about the progress Cammie has made during her time with me. I wish I could claim credit for how much she has grown used to the things most cats do or have done to them, but I believe that with patience and affection, she would have responded similarly to anyone. This fact will not stop me from advertising new things that she does.

The princess loves to lie on my chest, where she purrs, moves to face one way, then the next, walk around and come back, seemingly enjoying herself the whole while. But for the first time, just this week, Cammie asked to lie on my chest.

I walked into the bedroom and Cammie, who was on the cat-tree looking out the window, jumped to a lower platform and started talking to me in her squeaking, staccato speech. She was leaning over the edge of the platform and definitely wanted me to do something. I guessed what it was. I lie down and she hurried over to get on my chest.

The way cats decide they want time with their humans is interesting and heart-warming. We can decide to spend a while petting them or playing with them, but now and then, they make the decision. They show that they like us and trust us. It’s why whenever Tucker ambles over from across the room to brush up against me; Josie wraps her rat-tail around my leg; Renn crawls up toward me when I wake in the middle of the night, or Cammie wants time to purr on my chest, I acknowledge them, and let them know I appreciate their efforts. They are, after all, telling us that they appreciate ours.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Just Cleaned That!

My cats annoy me. They disturb my sleep, they want attention, they demand food which they then disdain, they throw up, they cost me money and devour my time. But among the worst of their sins is that they use their litter-boxes. Yes! They amble into the store-room, step into the boxes and do what they are supposed to do. It’s enough to drive me to distraction!

Let me explain. My cats are, for the most part, very clean in their habits. What little cannot be considered clean, such as scattering litter on the floor, I minimize with precautions. They are regular and conscientious. They are hygienic. But they use their litter-boxes - immediately after I scoop them!

I rid the boxes of waste thrice daily, once in the morning, again in the late afternoon or early evening, and, finally, before bed. When a particularly stinky deposit has been made, I go to work with a scoop even more often. Sometimes, I wash out the boxes.

And then, one or more of the animals heads directly to the boxes and messes in them again. This can happen seconds after I finish. Not infrequently, the beasts appear to be waiting for me to complete my chore. The whole process of sweeping the store-room floor and scooping the boxes, putting the debris in a bag to throw out or flushing it down the toilet is obviated. I must do it again, as if I had not done it already. You can understand from this just how malicious my pets are.

They do use the boxes. And they sometimes remember to cover the results. They clean themselves and only rarely does a big bummed cat hang her rear over the entrance and miss. I am lucky that they have so few issues with the habit. Things are pretty good at my home.

But immediately after I scoop? Really?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Cammie's Re-discovery

In the old house, the cylinder-topped cat-tree was in the basement, in the small lobby between the staircase and the library. I don’t recall Renn using it much, though he may have resorted to it now and then. Principally, though, it was Cammie’s little retreat. She would go there when she wanted to be away from the other cats (I’m surprised she didn’t live in the cylinder-house, actually) and when she was feeling poorly.

Since we moved to the new apartment,  Cammie has ignored the cylinder-house, and Renn swiftly made it his own. He loves curling up there and snoozing, and even eating there. Lately, however, I noticed the princess looking up at the cylinder once in a while. And then, on Friday, I was passing through the corridor and saw this.

Cammie stayed there for about half an hour, but she didn’t sleep. As relaxed as she appeared, she seemed still to be remembering the feel of it. I am surprised that she tolerated the big boy’s smell, as well as all the fur he has left in there. (When I cleaned it during my holidays, I recovered enough for a new cat; I think it's time to do it again.) She left later but was up again in time for the soft-food snack, which she ate in the cylinder-house.

I was waiting for Renn to make a running leap into the cylinder, as he does sometimes, only to be greeted by a startled and enraged princess but, thankfully, that never happened. Cammie hasn’t been up there again since, but she knows that it’s there for her, whenever Renn isn’t using it, so it makes for another cozy spot, especially with the cold months coming.

Sometimes, re-discovering an old friend is as enjoyable as making a new one.