Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Continuing Adjustments

The Diabetes Boys have had adjustments made to their treatments.

First, I will speak of my guest-cat, Parker. After his doctor’s visit a couple of weeks ago, his dose of insulin was lowered, and I ran a ‘curve’ on him this past weekend. The results were promising, but his high numbers are, the veterinary believes, a ‘rebound’ from having too much medicine. She has had me lower his dosage by another unit, both morning and evening. This will continue for a fortnight, until Parker has another curve. We shall see what results that brings us. Until then, I will watch the hefty boy carefully, observe his drinking and wetting, the amount and texture of the lumps he leaves in the litter-box.

He is doing well in the cosy apartment. He is spending more time in the sitting room with me and the other cats, which is good. It allows him to be seen, and to be seen doing harmless, everyday cat-things, like sleeping.

Meanwhile, Tucker’s numbers have not been satisfactory. They have been constant, but not as low as his doctor and I would like, so his dosage is going up by a unit, morning and evening. In fact, he and Parker will now receive the same amounts, until further notice.

I am a firm believer in the well-being of the mind affecting the well-being of the body. Tucker continues to purr and play and be cheerful. This is less the case when he observes Parker loose, but he is growing more accustomed to our guest. Parker’s advent has been much less disruptive to the perma-cats than may have been the case, and my new foster-cat is a good-natured fellow. He is finding his place in the new setting. With peace of mind, effective medicine and a good diet, his and the roly poly’s health will improve.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Memento Mori

Three years ago today, my friend Bear-Bear died. I don’t mention the BB as much as I do Tungsten, who died about a year later. Tungsten was my first cat, someone with whom I had a special connection. But Bear-Bear was special, too, and I miss him.

He was a foster-cat, whom I should have adopted at the end. He died of what I believe was cancer. He became more and more sick, eventually refused his food, and died at the veterinary hospital. He was with me for ten months.

The things that impressed me most about the BB was that he was hostile to no one. I can’t recall hearing him hiss. Tungsten disliked any feline who did not do as she wanted; that was her prerogative as a top-cat. Even Tucker and Renn hiss at other cats from time to time. But Bear-Bear was accepting to all, and wanted to be accepted by all in return.

He spoke almost conversationally, usually with a “raa”, though occasionally, he would give a “rao” with the tone of mild astonishment. It was difficult to believe that he was ever frightened or upset when he talked like that.

Bear-Bear came and went, passing through my life relatively swiftly. But he left behind memories of a pleasant, cheerful cat who merely wanted to be everyone’s friend. Whether or not he achieved that, he became my friend. I miss him.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Backward Joy

As anyone reading this blog may know, Cammie likes to lie on my chest and purr. She will lie very close to my head, so close she can bump my chin with her own head now and then. That’s pleasant for both of us. The other night, however, she varied her routine. For some reason, she faced the other way. That was pleasant for only one of us.

The princess looked toward my feet, while presenting her nether region to me. I can’t even write that it was a view of her bum, because it was too close for my eyes to focus on it. I managed to fold her tail down between myself and more objectionable parts of feline anatomy, but that solved only part of the problem. One of her rear feet, on which she places most of her weight, was squarely upon my larynx. My cat was slowly strangling me.

But she was purring, so I was loathe to interrupt her.

Fortunately, before I passed out, or died, Cammie ended our time together. I usually regret that moment, but this time, I was curiously relieved. I’m not sure which I found more offensive: the princess’s paw pushing into my throat, or her bum aimed at my face. But at least she was enjoying herself…

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Room With a View

My new foster-cat, Parker, enjoys looking out windows. In this, he is certainly not unique and, in fact, he may not care for looking out windows more than many of his fellow felines. But he does like having a window handy for when the desire strikes him.

When he first came to live with me, Parker was sequestered in the library pending the start of his integration. He still spends the night there and stays in there while I am absent. The room has a nice window, with a short bookcase under it for his convenience. I don’t think he knew what the window was at first. He may have considered it just a source of light, as he didn’t want to look out of it; I had to put him on the bookcase a couple of times before he realised that he had a room with view. Now, he can be found there, and at other windows, from time to time.

But just in case you think he always looks like a sleek forest animal, I’ll include this photograph.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Next Stage

Parker continues his attempts to befriend Renn. Earlier this week, I thought he had gone too far.

My big boy was lying in the saddle of the taller cat-tree in the bedroom. Parker was on the ledge under the window, peering outside. Renn had no problem with this situation; he had acquiesced in it on previous occasions. I, for my part, felt no qualms in leaving them alone.

But when I was in the sitting room, I heard a screeching, squealing, yowling fracas, and hurried into the bedroom to find Renn lying in the cat-tree, his ears back, his fangs bared - and rather miffed. Parker was huffing and puffing - which he does when he is worked up - off to the side. I immediately started talking to the two boys, petting them and trying to calm them down.

I have no idea what caused such a commotion, though I have a clue from the fact that Renn was angry and upset, while Parker was startled and almost contrite. I believe that, recalling how he had lie down next to Renn on the sitting room couch the previous day, Parker thought it only natural to do so on the cat-tree. After all, Renn had voiced little objection on the couch, right? Well, climbing into a saddle of a cat-tree, which is filled already with a large cat, a large cat nervous about the proximity of another, newer cat, is rather different than lying beside him on a couch. This was not a fight; there was no fur flung, there were no injuries. I did think, however, that any possibility of friendship between Renn and Parker was over.

The next day, however, I was relaxing on the couch in the sitting room. Renn was in the opposite corner, just a foot and a half away. Parker jumped up on to my lap. I was just a stepping stone, however: a few minutes later, the orange fellow slipped off and lie down next to Renn. My big boy stayed.

As may be seen from the accompanying photograph, Renn was hardly comfortable with the situation. Parker, on the other hand, seemed to think things were quite pleasant. The promising aspect is that I left after about ten minutes, and both cats remained for another ten. Renn dropped to the floor after that, with no fuss.

Clearly, he is willing to tolerate Parker’s closeness under certain circumstances. Under others, he growls at him. But that doesn’t concern me too much; I am less discouraged by such behaviour than I am encouraged by the fact that the two will lie together, touching each other, even after a melée like the one in the cat-tree saddle. The sitting room couch seems a neutral ground, and I will foster further attempts at agreement there, as well as at other locations that seem to exert a positive influence. Who knows where the next stage to friendship will be?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Parker Visits His Doctor

Parker went to the doctor yesterday. There was nothing in particular that was concerning about him, but his visit was to a veterinary who will be his regular doctor from now on. I found this doctor - though looking about fifteen years old - to be knowledgeable and confident, as well as sensible, which is often as important as any other factor, and not just in medical personnel.

Things are looking very well for Parker. His heart and lungs sound healthy and his teeth look good, though he has a touch of gingivitis. A date for a dental cleaning will be settled in a few weeks. This is contingent upon his next ‘curve’. The doctor lowered my new friend’s insulin dosage; the morning injection remains the same, but the evening amount was reduced considerably. This will be given for the next fortnight, at the end of which I will perform a ‘curve’ and see what the numbers are. His dosage will be re-assessed then.

Parker has lost more weight. He is eating well but his diet is strict, and comprises mostly soft-food. The veterinary is pleased that Parker is losing weight; she would like to see Parker drop to between 6.5 and seven kilograms. Currently, he weighs 8.08. This is undoubtedly in the right direction, I but worry that it may be too fast a diminution. However, he will be weighed regularly (I hope to do this at the beginning of every month). In the meantime, his skin has loosened a bit (when I first met him, I could barely pinch enough to inject him with his insulin) and he looks a little more streamlined.

Because my guest-cat always seems hungry, I suggested that he receive more food. The doctor agreed, and so now Parker will enjoy an extra quarter-tin of soft-food, twice a day. Once will be at bed-time; trying to sleep with an empty belly is never fun. I could tell he appreciated the new regimen last night.

I will keep an eye on the orange fellow during his new insulin and feeding schedules, watching for any troubling signs of too little medicine, or too rapid a weight-loss. But I think he is on the right path. The poundage he is shedding is excess to what his body requires and, I suspect, will stabilise within the next month or so. If not, we have the power to brake the reduction. As for his insulin, I think a consistent, moderate amount will have him feeling better than ever.

And that late-night snack before bed doesn’t hurt, either.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Beginning?

Parker has not had a problem with jumping up to sit on my lap - though, to be honest, he semi-sits on my lap; he likes to lean on things and people. Renn enjoys lying on the couch in the sitting room with me, he at one end and me at the other, though sometimes he too likes to lounge on my lap - he puts his whole bulk on me, however. On Saturday, with my big boy at one end, I encouraged Parker to come up and sit with me.

What happened next surprised me. After several minutes, the new fellow slipped off my lap and moved toward Renn. I thought Parker was going to walk past him and on to the armchair next the couch; he had lie there previously. But instead, Parker stopped and lie down right against Renn.

I think my big boy was surprised, too. He became rather stiff, and I was prepared for a battle. But for about ten minutes, no one moved, except for Parker settling down for a bit more comfort. Renn is not a fighter but I didn’t know what would happen if he felt cornered. After a long while, he let out one of his low warning groans. I petted both cats and talked to them, and everything remained calm - tense, on Renn’s part, too. Eventually, Parker jumped down and walked away.

Perhaps he wants to be chums with Renn. He has been following my big boy from time to time. Renn doesn’t care for it, and I thought Parker may have been trying to instigate something. Maybe what he wants to instigate is friendship.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Morning Town

There are several reasons why Saturday and Sunday mornings are my favourite of the week. Aside from not having to go to work, there is the corollary of being able to return to sleep – once I give my diabetes boys their shots. Then, I am able to wake again a couple of hours later with cats all over the bed.

Within the last couple of months, the number of beasts to whom I have woken has increased to four. Cammie had started to jump onto the bed early in the mornings months before this, but seeing one, two or three others already present, she would hiss and leap off again. Now, she stays, sometimes for twenty minutes. Then she will sniff Josie’s tail or something similar and flee, again with a hiss – even though the tail had been in the same spot ten minutes before; the princess just hadn’t sniffed it.

But the mere presence of three of her feline roommates no longer causes Cammie to abandon the bed. She will lie on my chest and purr while I pet her. It means I lose that much sleep, but I don’t mind; sleeping in is for people without cats.

(Please note the photographs below were taken while I was on my back, unable to view what I was recording; I had to hold the camera – brought to the nightstand the evening before in anticipation of this event – above my head. You can see only parts of some cats, but all of each was there…)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sensitivity and Change

Tucker continues to be my most sensitive cat. He is the most affected by the introduction of the new resident, Parker. Life is difficult for a sensitive creature, but I try to remind him that he is, no matter what, my favourite roly poly.

During much of the time that Parker is free to roam, Tucker lies on a chair or a cat-tree, out of the way. Other times, he will lie in a cat-hammock, close to the floor, his eyes closed, snoozing. If Parker approaches, Tucker may become agitated and hiss; then again, while on a chair at the dining table, the roly poly may watch the newcomer amble by - the latter’s orange tail even brushing Tucker’s face - with no real concern.

My immediate goal is to let Tucker see Parker walk about, let him get used to the new presence, while simultaneously reinforcing Tucker’s confidence. Since he has very little of that quality to begin with, it may be an uphill battle. And yet, just the other night, Tucker decided to climb down from a high cat-tree, knowing Parker was lying just a few feet away, and waddle over to a heated cat-bed to have a snooze there. When the new fellow got up to leave, he passed by Tucker without either making a sign.

They can be contrary creatures, these cats; their behaviour first in one direction, then in another. Eventually, one direction may win out over the other, and a new attitude will be set. This may take a long time. Fortunately, I have no pressing plans.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Now That's a Toy

Once again, my cats prove that they have their own ideas as to what constitutes a toy. Though I am glad to report that my new foster-cat, Parker, enjoys wrestling with fuzzy mice, Renn is apparently a little more jaded with what is available. Despite the purpose-built toys, the improvised games and all the rest that I bring home, my big boy goes his own way on the road to fun.

This is Renn having a wonderful time with a contact-lens case…

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Orange is the New Normal

First let me state that Cammie is much improved; she is eating well again and playing her favourite game, which I take for a very good sign. Now that this is the case, and even though my previous article mentioned how routines are routinely upset when one has several cats, life is settling into a pattern as much as possible, now that Parker has joined the household.

One blessing is that, though he is yet another mouth to feed - I write literally, not financially - he loves his food and there is no time spent coaxing, re-arranging, pleading, in order to have him empty a dish. As well, he is very regular in his litter-box habits, using it once, rarely twice, a day. So the physical chores that he requires have not added as much to my work-load as may have been the case.

He is growing accustomed to my method of giving him his insulin, and lies down for his injection, which I give in his sides, as I do with Tucker. I always worry that I am not getting the medicine into him, but I’m sure I am. One of the first attempts with a syringe missed the fold I’d made in Parker’s skin and spilled the insulin on his fur. If it is not going into him, then I would notice it, and I haven’t noticed it lately. And if he hadn’t been receiving his insulin in the last three weeks, I’d be visiting him in hospital, so my aim must be pretty good.

He spends my work-days in the library, and I think is grateful for the window out of which to look. He spreads himself on the shorter bookcase and views the world from there. Once I am home, he wants out. I feed everyone - including myself - first, and then, once the others are settled down for a post-prandial snooze, I release the new boy. He doesn’t sit still, having been cooped up all day, but explores, to see all that may be new since he was last out. Our apartment must be very boring to him.
Parker likes to play. He will entertain himself, which is why I like to leave the toys lying all over the floor for me to step on. I will be writing at the dining table and see the new fellow rumble across my vision, chasing something or other. I also try to play with him before bed-time, though he seems to like cuddling-time just as much. He is a very friendly cat, and will follow me about much of the time. He is social, and enjoys attention.

The other cats are still a stumbling block. They tend not to move about too much when Parker is out. They are wary. Renn and Josie seem the least trouble now; Parker will try to get close to them periodically, but I think this is curiosity more than provocation. Josie does not like it at all, and crabs in her old-lady scratchy voice, while Renn gives his low warning. But I don’t separate anyone right away; I tell each that he or she is a good cat and that no harm is meant. I try to encourage each to accept the other, rather than immediately dividing them. Cammie and Tucker have some distance to go before acceptance will be considered.

And so, while I wrote formerly that normalcy does not exist in my home, we try to come close. And right now, orange is the new normal.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

In Praise of Boredom

Having five cats living with me, there is no normalcy. Unrelieved boredom would be nice, but it just doesn’t happen.

Cammie was ill again. The princess had been throwing up for several days before Saturday. When this transpires, it is sometimes of short duration. But this time, it resembled a previous occasion, which ended when I took her to the veterinary hospital and she received an injection to calm her stomach and allow her to eat. For a few days, little food had been staying in Cammie’s stomach, and I thought I would need to take her to the doctor again.

But formerly, I had forgotten that I possessed a small supply of slippery elm. Now, I resorted to this natural remedy, rather than the quicker, and synthetic, chemical. It is messier than an injection, especially as the princess not unnaturally dislikes being force-fed something that looks, feels and probably tastes as if someone had already consumed it.

Saturday, I gave Cammie a dose of the elm. Some hours later, she threw up. But she had evinced an interest in eating. This morning, I heard her wretching in the sitting room, while I was lying in bed; I could find no evidence of vomit, however. She sometimes will sound as if she is throwing up, but contain the upchuckery. This suggested that whatever had come up had not been in great volume. She received another unwelcome dose of slippery elm.

Her appetite improved today. She is hungry again. She did not join in at play-time this evening, but activity is only one of her barometers. I am concerned much more with nutrition. In that regard, she is feeling much better. I may give her a final dose of elm tomorrow, just for good measure.

What causes these periodic illnesses? I cannot guess. She is eating more Merrick ‘chicken’ these days than Fancy Feast, but the first example of this sickness followed upon a stricter Fancy Feast diet. And if the food causes the problem, it should be happening more often. I don’t think what she is eating is her trouble. There is too little information to make a firm determination. I am pleased that the problem seems to have been solved with what I had on hand here. While the princess rested in her favourite heated bed, her stomach was calmed, and her body healed.

For my cats’ sake, I long for stability, even stagnation. There is something to be said for the repetition of unlimited naps, long views out a window, play-time and regular meals. Unrelieved boredom would indeed be nice, but it just doesn’t happen. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.