Monday, July 31, 2017

This Year's Ants

Last year at this time, I had a problem with ants in my apartment. Most of the time, they do not bother me overly much. I find the odd scout reconnoitring my rooms, the random forager exploring to see what food he may find to bring back to the colony. They are of a specific species and appear singly.

More annoying is the other species, the denizens of a colony that decide to launch their winged youngsters on their way to found new ant-nations. They too are usually not troublesome, but at this time of year, they choose the wall of my sitting room to break through and shoot off their pioneers.

I have tried various remedies for this invasion. Anything powdery does not work because the ants simply crawl along the wall, or the hot-water pipes that run beside it, until they they beyond the powdery barrier. Ant-traps are worthless. I have put down several, of different varieties; if the poison within is taken home, then it obviously is not destroying enough insects to matter. Orange oil seems to deter them a little but not sufficiently.

I am now using vinegar as a principal weapon. I spray it, diluted somewhat with water, on the part of the wall by which the intruders come, and pour some drops on the exact spot that seems to be their main entry. This has slowed their actions, so I prepared a vinegar-bomb: a small rag soaked in the sour substance and pushed as close to their entrance as possible. This has been the most powerful deterrent so far, though even it is not entirely effective. I renew the warhead of the bomb (soak it in more vinegar) every couple of days.

The solution is for the hole - for such it seems to be - through which the ants enter to be sealed. This will take a visit from the building manager and possibly some minor dismantling of pipe-coverings, so it can wait for now.

At least this year’s intrusion is not as bad as last year’s, and I have not yet had to flood my apartment with a spate of river-water, the way Charlton Heston did in The Naked Jungle. This is good, as we’ve had very little rain and the local river is low and sluggish…

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Defiant Enemy

I wrote a while ago about Parker’s diabetes being under control – for the moment. His dental surgery, which had been scheduled for 3rd August, has been postponed until the 9th. A doctor other than his regular veterinarian was going to perform the surgery; she seems perfectly capable in terms of skill, but, since the orange boy had been shunted among various doctors before he came to stay with me, it was decided that his regular doctor, who would be on holiday on the 3rd, should conduct the surgery; thus, the postponement.

But this article is actually about Tucker. Parker’s diabetes was by way of introduction. While my foster-cat's is being managed, Tucker’s is still defiant. Last weekend, I ran a curve on him. It was a very good curve: starting high (not actually very good), it descended with the injection of insulin to a most satisfactory number, before climbing again. All was pretty much as it should have been. The numbers could have been better, but they were acceptable.

This weekend, to confirm the findings, I performed another curve on the roly poly one. This time, his numbers early in the morning, before insulin, were low; not low enough to obviate the insulin but low enough to administer just one unit, rather than the usual two. Even that took him quite a bit beneath his nadir of the previous weekend. By evening, his numbers were high enough again for two units.

This is frustrating, because I have been giving Tucker two units twice a day in an effort to reduce its effects to what may be compared to a lowest common denominator. I wanted to clean the slate, at least partially, as he had previously been receiving four units in the morning and three at night. By lowering the amounts, I had hoped to render his numbers consistent, curve after curve. I had expected them to be high, but consistent. With his numbers beginning too low for his usual dose one morning, and high enough for it the next, we have still not achieved consistency.

However, there is a benefit to these tests. I will speak with Tucker’s doctor tomorrow, and I suspect that she will keep him at two units of insulin twice a day. Even if sometimes this is too much, it seems clear that anything higher than two would always be too much. Thus, it may be demonstrated that while not stabilised, the beast’s diabetes requires less insulin right now. That is good. I am not complacent enough about diabetes to think that it will always be this good, but I have learned enough about the condition to know that it is to be taken one day at a time.

Tucker’s situation therefore is both good and bad. He remains cheerful most of the time, a sausage of a cat who puts up with a great deal. His conduct while getting his ear poked for bloods samples eight times a day is exemplary, and when I tell him at the end of each test that it’s ’all done’, he purrs. That is Tucker in a nutshell. Not that I could ever fit him into one.

Oh, and regarding his photographs for the calendar: there were those who asked which picture would be used. The design of this year’s calendar, as with last year’s, allows us to use most, if not all, of the various cats’ images. For a whole month, hundreds of people will be able to look at seven or eight versions of my roly poly.

‘Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

Saturday, July 29, 2017

One of the Gang

Well, after more than a week of doing nothing exciting or interesting – other than the usual things that cats do – the beasts have given me something to write about. In particular, Cammie and Parker.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that Cammie doesn’t much care for her feline roommates. She is growing more tolerant of their presence but, like the man whose apartment is next to the railway, it doesn’t mean she likes them to any greater extent. But something happened yesterday that made me think the princess is seeing potential in our guest-cat.

I was in the bedroom when I heard Parker’s high-pitched cries in the sitting room. This sturdy orange boy, with the physique of a middle-weight boxer, speaks like a singer who wants to out-do those deep and sonorous sopranos. What I heard suggested interaction with another cat. Interaction usually means trouble. Parker doesn’t always intend to cause a problem, but his proximity alone is usually a difficulty for someone.

Before I could reach the sitting room, I heard the sound of a cat zooming through the nylon tunnel. While all the cats have made use of that worthy item, only one of my beasts, other than Tungsten, zooms through it. In the corridor, I met Parker, moving away from the scene of his protests. Cammie was crouching in the background.

The princess enjoys rushing through the tunnel to startle Tucker. She will sometimes hide around one end to leap out at him. It’s her way of having fun. She had just done the same to Parker. My foster-cat had taken a step closer to being considered one of the gang, at least by Cammie.

This doesn’t mean acceptance, since my little Siamese doesn’t really accept any of her siblings. But it does mean she thinks there may be sport in the sturdy-boy’s existence. It does mean that she sees him as more than an interloper. Further, it does not negate the possibility of real trouble. Just this evening, I intercepted Parker, who was exhibiting too much interest, before he could close with Cammie, who was investigating the library. Parker’s tail indicated that there could have been difficulties.

I expect things like that. That may never change. But the fact that Cammie was having a bit of enjoyment at Parker’s expense shows that something, at least, has.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wilder Life

Sometimes I see wilder life than my cats. During my holidays, I took an early morning bicycle ride, and saw these rabbits, who were going to work with the humans. I have seen quite a few rabbits in both residential and commercial districts of the town. I’m not sure if they always live near where I see them, but these two probably did. This location is not far from a park.

And you may recall that, during my holidays, I saw, while on my way to do some shopping, a deer by the side of the street. This one I observed more recently. He was outside the Ramada Inn (formerly the Heidelberg) and seeking to cross the town’s major north/south thoroughfare. There are parks near either side of this street, but none in which a deer would live permanently; there are houses and pavement for miles in either direction. Where this fellow came from or where he was going I don’t know.

He did cross the street safely, however. Automobiles slowed down for him, and he knew when to cross. I have seen deer in the midst of town, during the day; they seem to be wary of people and cars, but not unduly afraid of them. They know to stay away from them, but are otherwise undaunted by their presence. I think the deer like eating the leaves of trees on lawns and in gardens, though why they should go to such trouble when there are trees in the parks by the river, I don’t know.

If you enlarge the photographs, you can see that this fellow has antlers just starting. He may be a youngster. I am sure he made it back to his friends and family without incident, as deer being struck within the town is a rarity. Why he would risk it at all, I can’t say.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scratching the Surface

I have noted before how cats can change their habits, but with Cammie, it’s more a matter of continuing to evolve the ones she has. I was reading some of my entries written when she first came to stay with me, and how cautious she was with me and the other cats. She has changed greatly, though she still hisses at the slightest displeasure.

For a while now, I have been scratching her chest when she provides the opportunity. She will be snoozing comfortably, and then stretch, twisting her lithe form, and come to rest on her back. Initially, I scratched hesitantly, unsure of how she would react. Now I know that she likes it, though I tend not to press my luck.

But the other day, while I was rubbing her fur, she started purring. Cammie rarely purrs except when lying on me, but she purred this time. And, just as when she is lying on my chest, I know that she is ready to leave when the purring stops. It stopped, I ceased scratching, and she was off to do something else.

I think of this as an instance not of my princess allowing me to rub her chest, to touch her in a way that’s new, but of permitting herself to enjoy something. I wonder if she had much of that in the days before she was rescued. She knows she is safe in her home, and with me, and every now and then, when she experiences something new, she may think to herself, “This is rather nice, too.” That’s always a pleasant discovery to make, whether one is feline or human.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Where We Want Him

Parker is my foster-cat, and he, like my perma-cat, Tucker, has diabetes. This weekend demonstrated that Parker’s condition may be under control.

Last weekend, I performed a ‘curve’ on the orange sturdy-boy. It showed that, at their nadir, his blood-glucose numbers were within the ‘normal’ range, which is between four and eight. In other words, he is receiving the correct dosage of insulin to lower his sugar to an acceptable level and make his body work properly. I ran a ‘mini-curve’ of just a few blood samples the next day, and, though the nadir was a little lower than what we would like, it was close enough to be pleasing.

The doctor rightly wanted to make sure, so I conducted yet another ‘curve’ on my long-suffering foster-cat this Saturday. The results were very similar to the previous Saturday’s, confirming that Parker is receiving the right amount of insulin, aided by a fitting diet of low-carbohydrate food. We have him, in other words, right where we want him. His doctor was happy with Parker’s status.

This is especially satisfactory as he will head into dental surgery on August 3rd. His stability is important for such an event. I would like eventually to try lowering his insulin dosage, especially since his nadir is at the lower end of what is acceptable, giving room for a slight rise in the numbers, while keeping it within ‘normal’. This, however, will not be attempted, if at all, for some time.

In a way, this is just the beginning for Parker. He may be on insulin for the rest of his life; he may be on lower doses of insulin. There is a chance of a remission of his diabetes. Whatever happens, however, it had to start here, with control being taken of his condition, a platform built from which to make changes for the better at a later date. Diabetes, I have learned, is an unpredictable enemy, so our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But for now, we have the upper hand.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Nine Thousand Words

Tucker will be appearing in the 2018 Lethbridge PAW Society calendar, as I mentioned in a blog entry a week and a half ago. This Saturday, the photographer came to capture the roly poly’s likeness for eternity.

The photographer, Tanya Plonka, of Puppy Love Pet Photography, has donated her time and talents to the creation of the calendar’s pictures for several years now. The results are always excellent, but in Tucker, she faced the challenge of an unco-operative subject.

He is, by nature, shy. Once a person is familiar to him, he shows little concern for their presence, and can even come out to greet visitors after they have been in the apartment for only an hour or so. That didn’t help us in this case, and Tucker had to be bribed with treats. Suddenly, he was ready for his close-ups.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

All Quiet on the Feline Front

Right now, there is little to describe from the cosy apartment. But I have a picture of each of the beasts at rest on a recent, hot day, so I thought I would make a progress report to justify their display.

Josie was regurgitating her hard-food (and not the soft), but making sure that she - and all the others - are deprived of it soon after bedtime seems to have solved the matter. I also dosed her with hairball medicine. She proved unexpectedly intractable in that activity, but the job is done, and she still likes me.

Renn continues to groom himself overly-much for my liking. I gave him some hairball medicine as well (he was much easier about it than his sister) and have bought a Furminator to help with any excess hair he feels he may have. His behaviour is otherwise unchanged, and his health appears excellent.

Tucker is on two units of insulin twice a day. This is undoubtedly too low an amount for him, but it will, I hope, stabilise his diabetes so that I can then see when and by how much it needs adjusting. He remains a happy little sausage, except when Parker is loose.

Cammie, recovered fully from her latest digestive episode, is eating well, walking across me purring while I am trying to sleep at four a.m., and hissing at anything that incurs her displeasure. It’s nice to have her back to normal.

Parker’s blood-sugar numbers are showing improvement, and he may at last be stabilised. His insulin dosage is still high but that is less important than a good, consistent curve. Once he is finished with his dental procedure in early August, and we are sure his diabetes hasn’t been unduly disturbed by it, we may see about lowering his dosage. But even then, the significance will be in his stability and general health.

The beasts are feeling good. I am pleased at this, as who knows how long it will last, with five very different cats? We enjoy today and prepare ourselves for what tomorrow will throw at us. I’m ready and, as you may see from the photographs above, so are the beasts.