Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Parker the Explorer

My new foster-cat, Parker, is quite the explorer. He currently is also a bit of a restless spirit, as he begins to find a place for himself in the crowded apartment. That is to be expected.

He likes to discover what is behind closed doors, which gave me a start on Sunday, when he rushed past me and out our front door. I was taking laundry to the washing machines down the building’s ground floor corridor and, accustomed to my cats’ knowledge of their limits, did not expect to be brushed aside by an orange flash. But once outside the apartment, Parker hesitated. I did not, and, seizing him, deposited him back inside. That’s something for which I will have to watch. Josie sometimes wants outside but her curious pace will never get her there. Making a dash for it is another matter.

Then there is Parker’s jumping. There’s no neuropathy due to diabetes in his back legs. He has been on my kitchen counters several times, following smells, no doubt, but also to get to the ledge that runs under the window. This weekend, he evidently used it to launch himself onto the top of the cupboards. Whenever he sees me unexpectedly, he trills “mrrrrrp”. I was trying to find him Saturday afternoon and heard his greeting twice, but could not see him. He’s almost nineteen pounds, hefty and long, but invisible. Then I saw him above me. I don’t think he could have gotten down, as he had not yet figured out that the refrigerator gives him a kind of step to the counters. I helped him to the floor and sternly told him not to jump up to the cupboards again. I am sure he listened. This time.

The boys mind him the least. Renn will give his low, warning moan at certain times, but just to let the newcomer know who is higher in the hierarchy. There may be tense moments if Parker catches Renn sniffing about the library: Renn will groan deeply while Parker, big fellow that he is, emits a series of high-pitched peeps, like a newly hatched chick. I will hear an alternating rhythm of “errrrrrrr” and “eeeeep” - “errrrrrrr…eeeeep…errrrrrrr…eeeeep…errrrrrrr…eeeeep…errrrrrrr…eeeeep…” It’s like a showdown between James Earl Jones and Tiny Tim. But neither seems inclined to fight.

Much of the time, Parker simply walks about, noting different new scents and scenes. Then he will settle down for a snooze somewhere, often near me. But he’s been on the sitting room couch and an armchair. I believe that normality is an ally in cat-integration; the more a resident feline sees a new arrival about the place, doing ordinary cat-things, the sooner, and easier, will be the latest cat’s inclusion. But as usual, I will let the beasts set the pace. As usual, I really don’t have a say in the matter.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Matters of Weight

I weighed the beasts this past weekend. An immediate concern was Josie, whom I accused of losing some tonnage. She has, but not much since she was last weighed, which was as long ago as October. I borrow my rescue-group’s scales for the purpose, so I am unable to do it regularly, though enough to keep an eye on things.

As you may observe, my Chubs has diminished since October, though that month’s weight was more than September’s. This has eased my mind over the possibility of the Great White growing too thin too fast. Everyone else has gained some poundage.

I approve of Cammie’s increase. She went through an illness when she would not eat, and I believed that would adversely affect her for some time. I don’t know that I want my princess to gain any more, but what she has put on is, I think, satisfactory.

The others are another story. My big boy continues to get bigger. I am not concerned too much about Renn. He is a large-framed cat and lean, really. He is my most active pet and I would be hard-pressed to cut back on his food, as he eats very little. His desire for soft-food is low, though he is periodically and unpredictably enthusiastic for this flavour or that, and he consumes little hard-food. He is made for a hefty weight.

As for Tucker, my roly poly is becoming rolier and polier. Now that Parker is living with us, the food situation is being revised, and this will, I hope, lead to some diminution in Tucker’s presence.

As an addendum, Parker’s weight is between the boys’.

So, while the scales brought relief in regard to the girls’ physiognomy, it was the opposite case with the boys. They will need to lose weight, especially Tucker. In short, I need to see less of him.

17th September, 2016
Josie: 6.21 kg (13.69 lbs)
Renn: 8.70 kg (19.18 lbs)
Tucker: 8.08 kg (17.81 lbs)
Cammie: 4.48 kg (9.88 lbs)

9th October, 2016
Josie: 6.36 kg (14 lbs)
Renn: 8.88 kg (19.58 lbs)
Tucker: 8.03 kg (17.7 lbs)
Cammie: 4.61 kg (10.16 lbs)

21st January, 2017
Josie: 6.24 kg (13.76 lbs)
Renn: 9.15 kg (20.17 lbs)
Tucker: 8.27 kg (18.23 lbs)
Cammie: 4.78 kg (10.54 lbs)
Parker: 8.49 kg (18.72 lbs)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Perceptions of Orange

Perception is a strange thing. An image may remind you of something which, in fact, it barely resembles.

Parker is settling in nicely. He has a bit of an issue with the other cats going into ‘his’ library when he is out, and he shows too much interest when his roommates visit the litter-boxes. I am working on changing his thoughts on those occasions. He is very friendly and, in almost all things, easy-going.

I was in an armchair in the sitting room over the weekend and I saw a form approaching. It was orange, with a white, lacy bib on its chest. For the briefest of instances, I thought it was Tungsten walking toward me. It was, of course, Parker.

His resemblance to Tungsten is slight. In shape and size, gait and attitude, they are contrasts. Even his shade of orange is deeper, redder. But, caught at a certain angle, or performing a certain activity, and I am reminded of the tiny terror.

Each cat is different, as different as each human. I would never object to taking care of an orange cat, even a thin, little female, just because of a superficial comparison to Tungsten. Personalities quickly impose a new character on what may appear to be an old form. I will never worry about mistaking a strange cat for the orange one.

But perception is a strange thing, and now and then, for an immeasurably short span of time, Tungsten walks toward me across the room.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Our Armies Advance on Two Fronts

Situations improved over the weekend. Firstly, Josie’s appetite returned. She started eating just a select flavour of soft-food, then went back to her favourites; she began eating hard-food again, then wanted second helpings of soft-food. Now, I would say my Chubs is back to normal.

I don’t know what may have caused her problem. Among other bloggers, Pilch92 was worried about dental problems, but Josie had a full dental not so long ago, which came with blood and urine tests. Kari thought it may have been excess stomach acid, Kim at Fuzzy Tales mentioned kidney problems and the Tabbies of Trout Towne wondered if a cold prevented Josie from smelling her food. I am gratified that so many people and cats worried about the Great White, and I was ready to ask all of these questions of the doctor if I had to take Josie in to the hospital. Her weight is good; I was able to weigh the beasts on Saturday. This will be discussed another day but suffice it to say that, though Josie is about an eighth of a kilogram lighter than she was in October, she is almost exactly the same weight as she was two months before that.

For now, my Chubs will not need to go to the doctor. I told her, however, that I reserve the right to whisk her to the hospital at the slightest provocation.

Also from the Department of Good News, Parker’s integration is proceeding well. The big orange boy is not liked by my beasts, but that is expected. How would you feel opening a door in your home one day to find a stranger has taken up residence? But their reactions have been restrained, even Cammie’s; the princess hisses a great deal at Parker, but allows him to walk about without much opposition. She even remains undisturbed in a cat-bed on the floor, not always preferring the advantage of height, when Parker is loose. (Though she throws a fit when he starts to climb the cat-tree on which she is lying.)

Josie and Renn have the least problems with the newcomer, while Tucker hesitates to pass within a few feet of him, and hisses like a customer at a diner who sneezes with a mouth full of mashed potatoes. But even he often just observes Parker walk by.

For his part, Parker shows some curiosity in regard to his roommates, but not much. He had been quite offended when they explored the smells in the library while he was elsewhere, but that is not so much a problem now. I can do things about the apartment without having to keep an eye constantly on him. He has not stalked anyone and appears to want to stay close to me, if to anyone. I don’t mind that.

Parker is a very human-friendly cat. I try to give him half an hour before bed-time, just the two of us. He lies half-way on my lap and purrs loudly while I pet him. In his insulin delivery, I am growing more practised. He requires a very large amount, but it’s hoped that that can be decreased. His diabetes is not weakening him physically: He’s leaped up on to my kitchen counters twice - once to see what smelled so good (it was movie-night, so it was the popcorn) and once to look out the window.

This integration is going well and, though it may be a very long time before Parker is permitted out with the others in my absence, I am pleased with the progress so far.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mild Worry

Josie has been a little out of sorts lately. Very soon after I wrote about her being the cat who finished everyone else’s left-overs, my Chubs started refusing food. I think this was on the same principle by which cats will stop eating whatever food of which their people buy the most; but this was more serious.

Josie lost interest in her soft-food, and then in her hard-food, which was even less usual. She did not seem especially put off by it; she would amble to the bowl and consider the food. She appeared not to lack an appetite; she would simply choose not to eat, and walk away as though she had decided that she was not interested. It didn’t matter what food I offered; adding FortiFlora had no effect.

In the last couple of days, the Great White has been eating more. Last evening, she was sitting on the bed, almost eager for her soft-food dinner, which was a good sign. And this morning, she ate from the hard-food bowl, as well. But she is not consuming as much as she should. I think she is still losing weight, though not by an alarming rate. I hope to borrow weigh-scales this weekend, and weigh everyone. If Josie has lost an appreciable amount, or if she reverts to refusing food, I will take her to the doctor.

Concern for these animals is constant and, unfortunately, they seem to provide one reason after another to worry about them. Hopefully, worrying about Josie in this instance will turn out to be without good cause.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Guest Appearance

Tucker makes his acting debut today, over at The Tabbies of Trout Towne (http://da-tabbies-o-trout-towne.blogspot.ca). The trout-talkin’ tabbies there asked if he could make a guest appearance in the Codd Mother’s latest blockbuster. I thought the roly poly could use a fun outing, so off he went. Take a moment to visit the tabbies and see what their thespian skills have wrought.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Just One of the Crowd

Parker has been out among the other cats for more than half an hour each of the past three nights. He doesn’t show much desire to interact with them, though he sniffed noses with Josie, and then backed away, emitting a low wail. For the most part, however, when he comes out of the library, he is curious but not intrusive.

Cammie is the most affected by the new boy’s release from quarantine. She doesn’t even care for him being in the library. While the others may try to smell Parker under the closed door, Cammie will hiss at the unseen guest. I try not to have all of my beasts out at once when the new fellow is walking about, but sometimes it’s impossible to arrange things that way. I want each to get used to Parker, but I also want my regulars to enjoy their normal lives.

I will allow our visitor out on the weekend for longer periods. The trouble is that I have to make time for this, as I can’t concentrate on doing anything during these periods, wanting to guard against any hostility that may result from cat meeting cat. It’s been more than a year since I’ve had a foster-cat, and I have to grow accustomed to the new situation as much as the cats.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Introducing Parker

My house-guest arrived yesterday afternoon. Parker is a big, friendly, orange fellow, about ten years old. Initially, I locked my beasts away in the bedroom - except for Cammie, who was high up on the tallest cat-tree - and let Parker roam about. Then, he went into the library that had been prepared for him. He has a special diet, and a schedule for eating, so, when I do integrate him with mine, there will be some adjustment in the availability of food, though it won’t be something to which no one can grow accustomed.

The injection of Parker’s insulin will take a little refinement on my part. He receives his medicine by syringe, rather than pen. The needles are long, and Parker’s skin does not pinch readily, as does Tucker’s. I may be receiving syringes with shorter needles. Trying to make sure that the needle doesn’t go through the skin and out the other side, or penetrate into muscle (or into my finger), making certain a cat is not hurt, while trying to inject medicine, all in a half-second or so, is quite the operation. Shorter needles would facilitate this.

My first attempt at injection was not a success. I had to call Parker’s foster-guardian for help but, as life goes sometimes, I tried again and successfully gave him his shot literally as the foster-guardian was ringing my doorbell. And this morning, though Parker felt the prick of the needle, the injection was completed successfully. It will take some time before he and I are both used to each other, but I am satisfied we will make a good team against his diabetes.

Aside from this, Parker is an easy-going guest. He sheds at a mere touch, and has a few mats in his fur; he doesn’t care for combing or brushing, but I will try to get him accustomed to it. He purrs a great deal. I spent half an hour with him before bed-time; he lie at my feet, purring and flexing his paws the whole time. I think he is one of those cats who simply enjoys human company. He misses his foster-guardian, but I will try to make up for her absence as much as I can.

Then there are my cats. I will slowly integrate Parker with them, but I don’t believe giving him time by himself would be a bad thing. He has always lived with several cats, and I think he may like being alone (or at least alone with a person). But I will see how things proceed. He may surprise me and become great friends with one of mine. (Actually, Parker being friendly enough for that would not surprise me; mine being friendly enough for that would.)

And, finally, an aside about Tucker. I was preparing the syringe for Parker, siphoning insulin from its vial. Tucker, lying on a chair at the dining table, saw me do this. He dropped to the floor, went into the sitting room and lie down. He had likened the shape of the syringe to that of his insulin pen, and thought it was time again for his own shot. What a good little patient.

Friday, January 13, 2017

My Impending Guest

There is a change coming to our little home - it’s about to become littler.

I have a guest-cat coming to stay for a while. His name is Parker. He is in the care of another local rescue-group, but his foster-guardian is going into the hospital for a bit, and then will need some time for recovery afterward. Parker is diabetic, and since I have some experience with a cat in that condition, he will be coming to stay with me for the interim.

It’s true that I already have four cats in a small apartment, but Parker is described as an easy-going fellow. He certainly gets along well with the other felines in his foster-home. Initially, he will stay sequestered in the library, but I intend to try to integrate him amongst my lot. As friendly as Parker may be, the real test will be how friendly my beasts are with him. Tucker was at odds with both of my last two foster-cats. The roly poly was determined to preserve his lowly position in the household’s hierarchy; it may have been fourth but he was not about to slip to fifth. We will see what he makes of Parker.

At the worst, I foresee the new fellow being relegated to the library when I sleep or leave the apartment for extended periods, as was the case with Noah and Kola. Parker’s dietary arrangement may require something along those lines regardless. In the meantime, my girls will have to become accustomed to less time in the library; it is, in particular, Josie’s favourite room. 

But right now, all of this is speculation and planning. My new guest arrives on Sunday. Then, we will know more.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

How Sleeping Dogs Lie

Not every one of my cats sleeps in odd positions. Josie is pretty normal in that regard, and Cammie, though she indulges in some spillage from her cat-bed from time to time, is also quite conventional. Tucker’s angles can be a bit questionable. But when it comes to variety, none of them can beat Renn. My big enjoys his sleep and enjoys his many ways of sleeping.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Just In Case

Living with four cats makes me a little nervous. I am often worried that something catastrophic, such as a fire, will occur and I won’t be able to get them out. This fear has been predicated mainly upon means and not opportunity. To ease this feeling, I at last bought two more cat-carriers, and now have one for each of the beasts.

I should have done this long ago, of course. When I was fostering cats for the PAW Society, I had some of their carriers for transporting the cats, but when I had no more fosters, I didn’t think it fair to use the group’s equipment. Thus, for a while, I had only two carriers. There is no cat I would want to carry indefinitely if I had to leave the apartment building in a hurry. Two are too heavy and big, a third would quickly become too restless and a fourth, Cammie, would not only want out of my arms immediately but, if she were able to get away from me outside, would probably never be seen again. I miss the trusting docility - and feather-lightness - of Tungsten.

But now, these problems are solved. I have two new carriers - which turn out to be identical to one I already had. The blue box is my original, which I bought for transporting the orange one years ago. It is still in very good condition. I did not purchase the most expensive models, those with heated seats, cruise-control and intercoms to see who is visiting. These are for containment to and from the veterinary hospital and for emergency transport only. I think they will suffice in any instance.

And my peace of mind is considerably increased - just in case.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snug for Winter

This entry is little more than an excuse to show a cute cat in a snug cat-bed. But it did make me think that one of the things for which I am grateful - one of the many things for which I should be grateful - is being able to provide a warm haven for four cats. I wish I could bring in more, but my wage doesn’t allow it, not if I want to retain a monetary margin for error. And space is limited.

But when it is cold outside, or wet, when the wind howls, or when I see one of my cats drinking fresh water from a clean bowl, or eagerly anticipating a dish of soft-food, I feel good, and thankful that I am in a position to do this for them. There are, of course, many other actions I should perform to help the world. I sometimes attempt them, to varying degrees of success. But the four beasts who live with me are my success story, and I am grateful for it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Condiments for Cats

On a topic related to last week’s entry about food, I would like to mention my use of FortiFlora in the cats’ soft-food meals. If I repeat myself from earlier articles, please forgive me; I can’t recall whether I have described this subject previously in my blog, or just in conversations with friends.

FortiFlora is the brand-name for a pro-biotic that a number of cats in the Blogosphere have been ingesting. I was inspired to buy it after reading about it, specifically in Katie Isabella’s blog (http://katieisabella.blogspot.ca) and Kim’s, at Musings on a Small Life (http://keaslife.blogspot.ca). Katie in particular seems to have had much success with pro-biotic.

It is meant to benefit digestion; in particular, it has been advantageous in reducing vomiting and improving the results of litter-box visits. I wanted to try it for Josie, since she has a very sensitive stomach and brings up her food, if not frequently, then more often than she should. Veterinary tests have shown - as much as they can - that there is little wrong with her. Thus, I thought a benevolent additive to her food would help.

The FortiFlora, which I purchase from my veterinarian, has not really helped with my Chubs’s vomiting. Its occurrence does seem a little less, but then its frequency has always fluctuated, and I don’t see evidence that it is being reduced by the new additive. This may be a problem with the delivery of the substance. The instructions call for a whole pouch to be used each day. My cats have always refused to eat a large amount of food when served all at once. I give two, three or more smaller portions, however many they want. (Yes, they are odd and picky and demanding. They are cats.) So I can’t put as much of the FortiFlora on or in the food as I would like.

However, the good news is that the cats enjoy the taste of it. This is the first time comestibles from the veterinary hospital have proved popular among my beasts. It has a beefy aroma to it and, as a powder, is easily added to the soft-food.

This encourages the cats to eat. Josie doesn’t need too much prompting in that direction, but there are some flavours of food for which even she doesn’t care. (I buy it for the others, or I bought it when someone, who has since changed her mind, liked it.) Some FortiFlora makes it more than palatable. This is also the case with the others. I am particularly pleased that Cammie likes the flavour. I have been able to feed her some Merrick brand soft-food, rather than just the one flavour of Fancy Feast, to which she had restricted herself previously. She particularly likes the chicken variety of Merrick. It is due to good and plentiful food, I believe, that the princess's bald patches on the sides of her head have filled in.

These developments mean more soft-food consumption, which is all to the good. And, as their doctor stated, the pro-biotic can do them little harm. I was considering sprinkling the FortiFlora on the hard-food, as well. This would probably result in more of the pro-biotic being ingested, but also more hard-food, which is not preferable to more soft.

The new additive has been provided only for a month or six weeks, so it is still early days. I will buy more - it’s not the most expensive item I buy for the beasts, but it’s not cheap, either - as I find that the beneficial qualities outweigh the bad (the latter really being no more than the cost). Seeing a pink nose, formerly turned up at many flavours and brands of food, now buried in a dish of nutrition is too satisfying to ignore.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My Left-over Cat

Do you have a left-over cat? Josie is my left-over cat. I don’t mean that she herself is a remnant. Very often when I serve soft-food, there are left-overs. Renn rarely eats soft-food, and when he does, he eats small amounts. When he eats more than that, he will consume a portion of what he is given and refuse to eat more of it, though he will eat the same amount of a second portion. Tucker will down most of any ration he is given, but not all of it. What happens to the remnant?

Josie gets it. Now, she doesn’t just get a glob of dried-out, day-old food plopped on a dish in front of her, while the others get fresh servings. I wrap it in plastic initially and, when it is time to serve the food, I mix a small portion of it with a new serving. Since my Chubs is usually a good eater, she receives two or three helpings, into each of which is mixed a bit of left-over. That way, yesterday’s food is consumed at last. And that day produces yet more left-overs.

This does not happen all the time. Now and then, the beasts gobble all of their helpings. The important thing is that Josie receives her nutrition and enjoys it; she appears to do so, anyway. And thank goodness the Great White is my left-over cat; otherwise, I’d have mounds of unwanted food by the end of each week. I’d have to eat it. I’d be my own left-over cat.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

And a Happy New Year

The new year has begun. I spent New Year’s Eve as I spend most Saturday nights, watching a movie with Renn. The other cats are not film-goers and snooze elsewhere. Later, I read. This Saturday night was different only in that the year turned at midnight. I didn’t notice it until ten or twelve minutes after the event.

Last year at this time, I and the beasts had just moved into the apartment. Not everything had been put away yet, but I believe it had been only on the last day of December that the movers brought all our belongings over from the old house. It was the start of a new chapter of my life. Well, the chapter, except for the setting, was much the same as the previous. My life would not make a best-seller.

While many lives experienced tribulation last year, mine improved. It had been 2015 that had been a tough one for me. A friend of mine died in January, and Tungsten in March. Then I had to sell the house. Though hardly ground-breaking in its beneficence, 2016 was better. There were some health concerns with the cats, but nothing major. They are aging, of course, so their well-being will, I suspect, cause greater anxiety to me in the days to come. (As an aside, it was pointed out to me – by the lady who adopted one of Renn’s brothers – that Renn is not eleven years old, as I described in the entry “Mini-Renn”. I was confusing cats. My big boy is my youngest, at nine; Tucker and Cammie are eleven, and Josie twelve.)

This new year may hold challenges (I don’t care for challenges; they usually mean more work) but I am in a reasonably good position to meet them. I hope everyone reading this now is in at least as advantageous a situation – and even those not reading this. Happy new year!