Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Neatly Folded

As a sequel to earlier articles about how peaceful Josie looks while asleep, and how contented Tucker can be, even in the face of a tail in the face…I present these images of my roly poly. Note the stubby little rear legs crossed. I’ve not seen him do that previously. Renn will sometimes lie with his forelegs crossed, but not while snoozing. Tucker, however, evidently likes to be neatly folded at times, and that’s not always easy when you are the shape of a sausage.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Lesson in Tolerance

Cats are usually patient creatures. This does not include meal-times, or times that they think are meal-times. But otherwise, they can endure a great deal. They put up with their people force-feeding them food and medicine when they are sick, cleaning their bums when they are dirty, and putting them on laps for some attention when they aren’t really in the mood.

They are usually patient with nature and age and even with each other. When they want to sleep, they will tolerate much, much that would disturb the equilibrium of the most easy-going human. But then, cats such as Tucker are practised at suffering in silent dignity, he in particular having weathered medical and physical crises in his history.

And, after all, what’s a flooffy tail in the face from time to time?

Monday, May 29, 2017


There are few things I find more tranquil than the sight of a sleeping cat. It may due to the fact that they can sleep anywhere, and in any position. On the weekend, Josie, still suffering from a cold, nonetheless found it easy to rest, which I think is essential to helping her overcome her illness. (Though if rest does that, cats should be immortal.) My Chubs didn’t flinch even when Renn joined her on the bed. She was too comfy, my tiny-headed Great White…

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Wandering Cold

A feline cold has been travelling the apartment over the past month or two. I believe it may have started with Parker, my foster-cat. If so, it didn’t affect him greatly; his nose was blowing bubbles for a number of days, and he was sneezing a little, but not so much that I thought it an illness at the time. He recovered quickly.

Next hit was Cammie. The princess always suffers when an ailment strikes her. It is usually something to do with digestion, but she also is affected by those sores on her head and by other, more minor, conditions. She gets colds easily, I think, and they last longer in her. There was no mistaking that she had one: her nose was clogged and she sneezed, over and over. She once sneezed nine times in a row, loud and big explosions, for her, but not all that alarming, really.

When the cold left Cammie, it jumped to Tucker. The roly poly one can hold a cold as long as can Cammie, but it seems much less obvious in him. His nose acquires most of the characteristics of the illness. It becomes semi-plugged, and gurgles and snorts, in a babyish sort of way, and when he drinks water, it’s like the most uncouth barbarian has sat with a cultured Roman family and is slurping up their wine straight from the jugs.

And now Josie has the cold. She has been sneezing frequently and, like Cammie, repeatedly. But her sneezes are light, rather like exaggerated sniffles. I’m reminded of Tungsten’s sneezes, dainty little protests against ill-health, that could barely have been heard. My Chubs’s noises are similarly muted, and her recovery from each series is often louder than its cause. She has the annoying characteristic – just bad timing, really – of always sneezing into the food or water-bowls.

Only Renn has been so far unaffected by a cold. His turn may be coming, but, at the risk of jinxing my big boy, he rarely suffers sickness. When it occurs, he squares his shoulders and continues manfully on, unstopped, and so the symptoms of any condition are barely noticed.

The remarkable feature of my cats’ colds, and one for which I am immensely grateful, is that their appetites have not been diminished by the illnesses. I would have thought that, with stuffed noses, smelling food would be a problem, and without smell, many cats decide not to taste. But eating has continued unabated. This was a particular relief in Cammie’s case, as her cold attacked her immediately after her bout of vomiting, during which she could not and then would not eat.

Another storm to weather, this one is not as serious as some, more bothersome than others. But right now, on this sunny and warm Sunday afternoon, the beasts are napping comfortably, contentedly. I am thankful.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Rehearsal for Holidays

This Monday just passed was Victoria Day, which meant an extra day off, a long weekend. (To be honest, I don’t find any weekend long, and certainly three days don’t constitute length, to my way of measurement. It is longer than a two-day weekend, but only relatively.) There is just a fortnight until my holidays.

I find ‘long’ weekends enjoyable, principally because I don’t have to go to work but my boss still pays me. (There are long weekends in Alberta which do not include paid holidays, and they satisfy neither labour nor management.) They are, however, a bit confusing. There is probably not one such weekend when I don’t think Monday is Sunday. It usually occurs when I listen to the radio. I listen to two stations: CBC 2 and CKUA. Their respective schedules are different on Mondays and Sundays. So at least once every long weekend, I wonder what happened to the regular programming I expected to hear.

I don’t know if the cats recognize that the day is different. I suspect that they understand that some days are different than others. After years of knowing that some days I stay home and other days I go away all day, they probably comprehend that there is a contrast, but I don’t know if they expect one sort eventually to follow the other. One may simply be one kind of day when it arrives, and the next is the other kind, and they accept that. 

In any case, a long weekend is pleasant for the human involved. I get things done. It’s astonishing how much can be accomplished when one doesn’t have to spend eight hours at a job, and several hours on either end dealing with its preparations or effects. I actually achieve some things, things I consider important, if only to me.

And so the long weekend is a preview, as it were, for my holidays, when I will be able to do much more. When the prospect of a great amount of free time looms, rather than the anticipation of a single extra day, one can do things and not feel rushed, knowing that this one task may take up a great portion of one’s hard-earned extra time. There is leisure in a holiday; one’s attitude is very different than the every day. Victoria Day weekend felt good. My holidays, I know, will feel very good.

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Weight and See Attitude

It was weighing day in the cosy apartment, and the results were less than I had hoped - or, rather, they were more.

4th April, 2017
Josie: 6.21 kg (13.69 lbs)
Renn: 8.91 kg (19.64 lbs)
Tucker: 8.33 kg (18.36 lbs)
Cammie: 4.80 kg (10.58 lbs)
Parker: 7.87 kg (17.35 lbs)

18th May, 2017
Josie: 6.34 kg (13.98 lbs)
Renn: 8.76 kg (19.31 lbs)
Tucker: 8.49 kg (18.71 lbs)
Cammie: 4.71 kg (10.38 lbs)
Parker: 8.16 kg (17.99 lbs)

The disappointing news is that Parker has gained back much of the weight he had previously lost while living with me. In just a month and a half, he has added almost a third of a kilogram. However, I think I know the reason and, if it is correct, it is my fault. The orange boy is fed principally soft-food, but with some hard-food twice a day. The last time he was weighed, he was being fed a variety of hard-food for which he did not care much. This has since been replaced with a more enjoyable brand. I have been giving him too much of it. I have now cut the supply he is fed in half, so it is more like a treat than a meal, and I will see what results in a month’s time.

I am more pleased with Cammie’s weight. Though she has diminished a little since early April, the intervening days included her illness, when she threw up everything she ate and eventually refused to eat all together. Aside from the more dangerous possibility of organs shutting down, I was worried that she would lose too much poundage. If she had, the subsequent weeks have allowed her to regain much of it.

Renn has shrunk, while Tucker and Josie have grown, but none has changed to a dangerous extent; Josie and Tucker in particular have histories of fluctuating within a small range. It may even depend on how soon before the weighing they ate, so I am not concerned with them. Regular weighing is, of course, how I will keep track of those concerns.

So, while my anxiety over the princess veers back to putting more moisture into her, that over my foster-cat returns to reducing his bulk. I hope to find more encouraging results in June. Time, and my reluctant elimination of half of his favourite food, will tell.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


When I think of Parker’s integration with the other beasts, the song “Inchworm”, sung by Danny Kaye in the phenomenally inaccurate but enjoyable film Hans Christian Andersen, comes to mind. The lyrics do not apply, really, but the slow, eventual movement of my foster-cat toward becoming accepted by his feline roommates reminds me of the song’s title creature.

Renn and Parker have sniffed noses several times and, though these sessions usually end in warnings from one cat or the other, they continue to smell each other. Tucker, meanwhile, is less apt to scurry away when the sturdy orange boy approaches. He still does it, and one cannot predict when he will and when he won’t, but it doesn’t happen all the time, and that is progress.

Also progress is Cammie’s attitude. She formerly spent the entire time that Parker was free from the library up at the top of a cat-tree. Now, she will visit the litter-box, go to the other rooms, and wait for the food-bowl to be placed at her disposal, even though our guest is lounging about. Parker has taken an interest in the princess and stared at her too long too many times for my liking, but I suspect that will pass. Josie still dislikes Parker.

So, inch by inch, we creep forward toward integration. As I’ve written before, time is with us. If this is as good as it gets, then so be it. But it wasn’t always this good, and I predict it will get better.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seasons in the Sun

I’ve mentioned before how my cats - like most cats - crave the sunshine. I’ve also mentioned my puzzlement over how animals who wear fur-coats and whose body temperature is about 100° Fahrenheit can not only stand, but enjoy, such heat. Some of my beasts even lie in heated cat-beds while the sunlight beats down upon them.

Be that as it may, there are any number of degrees to which cats may want to lie in the sunshine. Since five felines live with me, they present quite a diversity, significant of the cats themselves. My foster-cat, Parker, for instance, is a mild devotee of the rays. Though lying fully in the light, he is demure in his approach, lying sphinx-like, not drawing attention.

Josie, on the other hand, prefers the sun to fall upon her flanks. The whiteness of her fur may reflect much of the heat, and so she will gather as much of it as possible. And considering my Chubs, there is much of her with which to gather it.

Cammie doesn’t always like the direct beams. She will sometimes lie where she can feel the warmth along her length, but also will take the diffused rays, or allow the light to fall only upon a part of her body. She may savour the contrast between shine and shade.

The roly poly one is the least sunniest cat in the household, in terms of meteorology. He doesn’t often lie in the yellow light of our nearest star, wanting material comfort of soft cushions or folded blankets instead. Tucker has even more padding than Josie, so the extra temperatures afforded by the sun may not always be welcome.

And then there is Renn. My big boy, completely lacking in modesty, takes over any space to which he applies himself. He likes to feel the sun upon his furs, just as he likes to feel the texture of a rug or the deep massage of a hand. Life can be as large as he is himself, and he intends to enjoy it.

So, from shy to extroverted, attitudes in the apartment toward the sun and its light vary a great deal from cat to cat and, moreover, have little relation to the cats’ characters. While Parker is a rather outgoing fellow and Renn introspective, their reactions to the sun’s warmth are quite different. So is shown the hidden facets of an animal’s personality, as interesting and unexpected as any human’s.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Things I Have Learned from My Cats, Part 287

There are many things I’ve learned from my cats. Lately, however, I have been thinking about the boys’ diabetes, and Cammie’s illnesses, and the treatments thereof.

Ideally, the boys’ blood-sugar numbers should be below ten at their lowest. Tucker’s has come close, though we will see if it has remained so after his next curve this weekend. Parker’s has not fallen below 12.8 during managed care. But diabetes is a tricky condition. Not long after Parker arrived at my residence, his number one early morning was five. I certainly couldn’t give him insulin when he was that low. Since then, his numbers have been the norm for the time of day. Not long ago, Tucker started a ‘curve’ day at ten; even without insulin, it dropped to almost eight before climbing again. In his case, as well, his numbers have been normal thereafter.

Certainly, there are many, many cases of diabetes being managed better than I have been able to do with the boys. But right now, with the doses they are receiving, their numbers are good. Their doctors are satisfied with the situation, and the cats themselves are otherwise healthy.

Then there is Cammie. She has been sick two or three times with vomiting. I have been able to remedy the problem in each case so far. She has coped with head sores that seem to defy definition, and now she has the start of kidney failure. I have tried to feed her kidney-friendly food, but she will have none of it, literally. I have attempted other foods and they either arouse indifference or cause stomach upset. The only soft-food she will consent to eat are three flavours of Fancy Feast, and even then, not all the time.

This has led me to philosophise. There are some ends that no means will achieve. This is not to say that I will cease trying to improve the beasts’ lives. I will continue to offer Cammie new and better foods. But the mornings when she eats little worry me only if they are not compensated by hungry evenings. I will continue to think up ways to encourage her to drink water. I will consider different doses for the boys’ diabetes but not at the cost of destabilizing a satisfactory equilibrium. My cats’ health will always prey upon my mind. But we do the best we can, man and beast, and more than that cannot occur.

One cannot agonise over not reaching zero by dividing by half. Perfection cannot be achieved, and there is no sense in worrying about such a fact. Sometimes the best place on a see-saw is a little distance from either end. This is different than not trying. If one ceases to try, then one commits a disservice to those in one’s care. If one tries, and achieves health and contentment to the best of one’s ability, then that is good. It may never be good enough, but it will astonish how much happiness comes from good.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Good Excuse

I have little news to report (which, when taking care of five cats, is probably good) but wanted an excuse to publish this picture of Renn in his favourite cat-tree, in a position that he evidently feels is comfortable. It is images such as this that contribute to the legend of the boneless cat.

But I will add that there are twenty-four calendar days until my holidays (eighteen working days). Then I may have the opportunity to lie about, exactly like my big boy. Well, maybe not exactly like him.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Confidence in His Future

While Came is feeling good after her most recent illness, my foster-cat, Parker, is also the subject of good news.

Every month, I perform a ‘curve’ on him, as I do for my other diabetic cat, Tucker, in order to determine their levels of blood-sugar in relation to the insulin they receive. This I have described before. I and the veterinarian on the case have been adjusting Parker’s insulin dosage, to achieve the best results, and this weekend, the orange boy’s number were satisfactory.

The ‘curve’ itself was a good one, demonstrating that the insulin is having a strong beneficial effect. The lowest number, when the insulin accomplishes the most, was 12.8. This is not as low as we would like it, but it is a good result nonetheless. Parker is receiving five and a half units of insulin in both the morning and the evening and, though the doctor was ready to recommend one more half-unit, she is reluctant to do so, as five and a half is nearly too much as it is. The 12.8 reading, combined with Parker’s adequate water-consumption and disposal, and his otherwise healthy behaviour, showed us that he is doing well, and managing his diabetes. If the next ‘curve’ produces similar numbers, then he will be considered stable and healthy enough even for a dental procedure that he needs.

My furry foster-pal’s relations with water are, as mentioned, adequate, and could be better. He drinks too much still, and deposits too much in the litter-box, but both are less than they have been. With a regular, controlled dose of insulin, this matter may improve. Indeed, his drinking is deceptive: he will spend several minutes at the water-bowl, but most of the time is taken up with drinking by first dabbing his paw in the water, then licking the moisture from it. He will then stoop and drink directly, but in all, he doesn’t take in as much as it may appear.

So, while Parker has improvements to make, he has come some distance toward them, and continues in the same advantageous direction. His interaction with the other cats progresses slowly, but there have been instances of nose-sniffing among the boys, and there is less, often no, anxiety when the orange boy is roaming about. He and I are confident in his future.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Her Cheerful Mood

In case anyone was wondering how Cammie has been faring now, two weeks after her sudden illness, I can write that she has pretty much recovered.

Though I wrote of this just a few days ago, I received an excellent indication of the princess’s state this weekend. Every morning, I wake at 5.35 to feed the cats and inject my diabetes boys. Five days of the week, I eventually go to work afterward. On Saturday and Sunday, I go back to bed. Cammie likes to show up on the bed at that time and lie on my back or chest and purr. (If I am lucky, she lies; often she criss-crosses the bed – and me – as if she were training for a walking race in the Olympics, purring the while.) Yesterday and today, she was especially enthusiastic and showed me that she was in good spirits. This I take as a telling gauge of her physical state.

Perhaps further crises will arise tomorrow, or next week. But this one has passed, and Cammie’s mood is cheerful. Well, as cheerful as Cammie’s moods get…