Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Let Us Begin with a Tail, or Two

Renn is ambivalent about Parker. Sometimes, he will creep up to my foster-cat and sniff him, before trotting away, as if he were a boy who had touched something he shouldn’t have. Other times - if, for instance, he is blocked by the orange-boy from going somewhere - he will give his low whining growl. Then again, lying near to Parker usually poses no problem.

That was the case here. Parker was on my lap as I relaxed on the couch in the sitting room. Renn jumped up to occupy his usual corner, though he was wary of Parker's presence. But neither cat minded their tails touching, despite my newest roommate’s habit of slapping his tail even in repose, no matter what his mood.

This lasted for several minutes. After that, my big boy departed for lonelier spots. The sturdy-boy may But that must start somewhere - even at a cat’s tail end.

Monday, August 28, 2017

My New Blog

In a shameless act of self-promotion, I would like to pre-empt writing about my cats and tell you about a new blog I have created. It is called “Movie Night at the Cosy Apartment”. The link to it may be found on the side-bar.

I watch a film once a week, unless something catastrophic - such as a tornado, fire or cat-vomit - intervenes. On long weekends, I frequently watch two films. I’ve decided that it’s a waste of the opinions that I think so clever and important not to discuss them, even if it is a one-sided discussion. In truth, many of the movies I watch are old, from the 1940s and ‘50s; a number of modern ones are independent; I think they deserve to be known a bit better.

So, if you like, take a look at my first offering in the realm of film reviews. The look of the blog may change yet, but the content won’t. I hope you enjoy "Movie Night at the Cosy Apartment" as much as I do. Right, Josie?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mission Accomplished

My foster-cat Parker has been eyeing the cylinder-house cat-tree for a while. Cammie and Renn continue to use it, and the orange-boy has watched them, almost, it seems, with envy. He appears less interested in Cammie’s time in the cylinder than Renn’s, perhaps because my big boy and Parker are both large and heavy. It may be that Parker feels that if Renn can pull himself into the shelter, then other felines of a similar bulk can do so.

I have seen and heard Parker attempting the climb recently. A harsh, short struggle to find a purchase with which to boost himself up was followed by a descent to the floor again. It is not the most easily achieved spot in the apartment. It is, I think, easier to land on top of the cylinder than inside it. But he was clearly determined and, last night, he found success.

I hadn’t heard any sound beforehand, so the orange-boy must have planned his ascent carefully. I came out of the bedroom, and there he was. He didn’t stay in the cylinder-house long, though. It was almost as if the achievement was enough. He dropped down, rubbed against me and lie on the track-ball for a snooze. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Disappointment

Parker’s curve, conducted on the weekend, did not give me the results for which I was hoping. It was a good curve, showing the decrease of his blood-sugar after receiving his morning dose of insulin, followed by a rise after mid-day to another peak before his evening injection. The low, or nadir, that his numbers reached was a good one. Anything between four and eight is excellent, and Parker attained nine.

His doctor is satisfied with the curve. It is similar to curves performed before the orange-boy’s dental surgery, and shows that his diabetes is being managed. But I was hoping for more. With the low numbers attained in the evenings of last week, I was anticipating a greater change. I knew that surgery and anaesthetic can affect such numbers, but I was expecting to see a more erratic pattern. Parker’s numbers last week were a change from normal, but regular even so: high in the morning and low at night; not usual, but consistent. Now they have returned to his pre-surgical pattern.

This is not bad. The results show that my foster-cat is handling his diabetes very well. Moreover, he is active and playful. Also, he seems to be using his mouth more when we play with the string-toy, grabbing the toy and putting it between his teeth, which I don’t recall him doing previously. His surgery was indubitably good for him, and I am sure he feels better for it. I was hoping it would affect his diabetes more positively.

Still, it is early days as regards the operation’s results. The veterinary has kept Parker on his usual dosage of insulin until after the sturdy-boy’s next curve, in three or four weeks. My foster-cat remains a cheerful, cuddly fellow, his condition kept in check and his bad, infected teeth no longer uncomfortable. For this, I am grateful. As for the rest, we will continue to work on it.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Three Out of Five Ain't Bad

Well, it’s not exactly the title of Meatloaf’s song, but it fits this case. I attempted the pumpkin experiment over the weekend and three of my feline roommates ate it.

Tucker was the most willing. I put a small amount of the pureed vegetable in a dish and he did not hesitate to eat it, and wanted more. I believe the recommended dose is small, no more than a teaspoon-full a day. He will have to be satisfied with that; besides, I don’t want him to grow sick of it too fast.

Parker required a bit more coaxing. There was evidently something about the smell that he didn’t trust. But after several minutes of placing the bowl in front of him, and urging him at least to taste it, he did, and ate all of his share. I may try mixing the orange-boy’s pumpkin with some food, perhaps when he receives his quarter-tin of soft-food for a bedtime snack.

Combining pumpkin with soft-food is what I had to do with Josie. She didn’t care for the pure pumpkin but when added to some Fancy Feast, she had no problem with the result. She didn’t eat all of her portion, but I will give her a little more than she needs, so that she will consume enough.

Renn and Cammie wanted nothing to do with this strange new food with which they were presented. They both adopted the upright sitting posture over their respective bowls and stared straight ahead, refusing even to look at the contents. I attempted the food/pumpkin mixture with them, but with no more success. Cammie’s reaction was predictable, but I was hoping my big boy would sample it. I will be trying these two recalcitrants again.

There is no guarantee that even those who partook of the pumpkin will eat it once more. But I am confident of at least the three. The benefits of pumpkin in a cat’s diet are, so I understand, mainly in the gourd’s fibre. That helps keep the animal regular, and takes away the hair in the stomach that could lead to hairballs. As well, the fibre makes the cat feel full, though it won’t add weight to the body. Therefore, it may reduce poundage. I don’t know if such a small amount - even provided each day - will do such a thing; I am principally concerned with digestion. Josie in particular regurgitates too much. If pumpkin can keep the food moving in the right direction, I will be happy.

For something so entirely new to the beasts, the weekend’s experiment was a success, if qualified. Three out of five is, after all, not bad.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The View from the Walls of Troy

The ants in my apartment do not constitute a menace. They are not fleas or bedbugs or plague bacilli. They are not a great danger to my health or welfare. But they are annoying, especially as they are mostly winged ants starting off to found new colonies. Last year, I tried ant-traps and they were ineffective. I then relied mainly on orange oil as a deterrent, and this was only moderately successful. This year’s weapon was vinegar, which was more feared by the insects. Even so, there were a couple of days at the height of the offensive when numerous male and female winged ants were at the screen door seeking the wide outdoors. But the vinegar bombs I made, and the liquid I sprayed, seemed to help.

Next time, I plan to use the Terro ant-killer that several people have recommended. Its liquid form, the most effective, is not sold in Canada. I have about ten months to find a bottle before 2018’s war commences.

However, this year’s conflict seems to have reached its end. A few days ago, I looked to see what new battle I would have to fight with the intruders along my exterior wall, and I saw none. Observation on the next day and the one after that had similar results, though a few scattered ants were seen. None of their winged comrades were present. Today, again, I have found no ants. Since the assault seems to coincide only with colonisation season, I think that must be over, and an armistice has been concluded.

After weeks of seeing the ants every day, I felt like the Trojans looking out from the top of their city’s walls at the besieging Greeks, for a decade repelling attacks, repairing breaches and rushing reinforcements to where the latest storm was being attempted. Then, one morning, dawn showed all the enemy gone. The fields so lately contested are empty. I have won.

And to demonstrate their respect, my foe has left me a giant wooden ant. How very chivalrous of them.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pumpkin Eaters

In my continuing quest to increase the cats’ health, I have decided to administer pumpkin to them. The vegetable is supposed to help with regularity in the bowels which, even if it is not a problem for the cats, may become one as they age, and they are all ten years or older. I don’t know how this effort will be received. I am told that many cats like, or at least don’t mind, the taste of pumpkin. The printing on hairball remedy tubes states that “cats love it!”, so I know that people don’t know all that much about feline tastes. Nonetheless, I will make the attempt.

I have read that a small amount of pumpkin given every day is recommended, but I have a feeling that at least some of my beasts will not like the new substance, in which case, a weekly feeding by syringe may be as much as I can expect to give. To be honest, I don’t know if that minimum would be enough to make a difference to their well-being.

I will conduct the experiment this weekend. By Sunday, my roommates will either have discovered a tasty new treat, or be in a bad mood.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Curious Case of the Vanishing Numbers

There is something strange occurring with Parker, and it may be strange in a good way.

While I was told that his blood-glucose numbers, following his dental surgery, may be erratic, what I have found is that they are changed but regular. Because I feared an unstable glucose level, I started testing his blood prior to each insulin injection. I have discovered that in the mornings, his numbers are high (though not alarmingly; in fact, normal for Parker), quite consistently hovering about the twenty mark. This means that I give him his insulin. In the evenings, for an entire week, his numbers have been what we want them to be, between five and ten. I have not been giving him insulin after such readings. The routine for a diabetic cat is a high number in the morning, followed by a drop (due to insulin injection) to a nadir about noon, with a subsequent rise to an evening high equal to its morning counterpart. Parker has been avoiding the evening summit.

I spoke with the doctor about this. She was surprised, and prescribed another curve for Parker, so that his blood-sugar level may be observed as it changes through the day. As it happens, this weekend is the orange boy’s scheduled curve. I feel sorry for him more than usual, because not only does he have to endure a whole day of bi-hourly (and, toward noon, hourly) poking in his ears to draw blood, but he has already suffered such indignities twice a day for a week. But it must be done.

This may lead to one of two beneficent options. Parker may be kept on insulin in the morning and taken off it in the evening, which is pretty much the situation now. But such a high dose (5.5 units) once a day may be too unbalanced. Therefore, his doctor suggested that if there is a gentle incline from a morning high to an evening low, the dosage may be divided, in a manner of speaking, and be given in amounts smaller than his current dose, but twice a day.

I queried the doctor as to whether the numbers could be the result of Parker’s surgery. She had not seen such a thing happen. But I think that if diabetes may be influenced by something such as digestion of certain foods, then surely there must be an effect caused by bad teeth and infected gums, which can leak poison into the body, and an opposite effect with their removal.

However, this is speculation and, for all I know, the numbers may resume their pre-surgical amounts soon, and the whole episode turn out to be nothing more than a temporary reaction to the operation. The curve this weekend may help solve the enigma.

In any case, Parker is doing well. He was very active last night, rushing happily about the apartment to the astonishment of the other beasts. Our play-time as well saw him energetic. This may be merely in response to the healing of his wounds allowing him to feel better, but I suspect there will be some permanent advantage to the removal of so many bad teeth and the repair of so much tainted tissue. My sturdy foster-cat missed his play-time, which I placed on hiatus until he had recovered himself somewhat, and he is as purr-ful as ever. I suspect that if his numbers return, they will even so reflect a healthier, stronger animal.

Friday, August 11, 2017

And That's Progress

I would like to thank all those who commented and thought about Parker during his recent ordeal. Certainly, many cats have been through far worse, but he doesn’t know that, so the good wishes are appreciated.

My orange foster-boy is doing well. He used the litter-box last night for both numbers one and two. What is it about pet-owners that makes us so pleased with regularity in waste-disposal in our animals? There is nothing wrong with Parker’s urinary and intestinal tracts, and that he had nothing to put into the box is perfectly understandable, considering his fast, and the subsequent lag between at last eating and the inevitable disposal of what wasn’t required. Even so, it was a good sight to me.

He continues to receive his medicine, which he finds onerous. On top of the three different doses given orally by syringe, there is his insulin and, because his blood-sugar numbers are up and down right now, I have to poke him for a test before each injection. But the number of such intrusions will diminish today, with the last of his pain-killers given this evening. I rather wish that particular medicine would last longer, as Parker is likely still in discomfort. But as healing continues, the pain will disappear naturally.

His appetite never really decreased and now he is back on his regular schedule, though the small amount of hard-food he had been receiving has been replaced with soft.

I am to report to the veterinary about Parker in a couple of weeks, unless something bad happens in the interval. But all is set fair, and I am grateful for my friend’s recovery.

Then there is this guy…

Tucker, being weighed here, is still heavy. His poundage fluctuates from month to month, but only within half a pound or so; I am not worried. On a definitely positive note, the experiment to stabilize his blood-sugar numbers has not worked the way I had hoped, but has worked. His dosage of insulin was lowered from four units in the morning and three in the evening to two-and-two. This was expected to raise his numbers, but to raise them to where they are even and consistent.

There is still inconsistency, but his numbers are in fact a good deal lower. Too much insulin can affect them as adversely as too little, and Tucker may not have needed so much for so long. So, in consultation with his doctor, I have kept my roly poly on two units of insulin in both the morning and the evening. He seems no worse for it, though I am vigilant as regards other signs, such as weakness in his rear legs.

And on that subject, we can’t have good news without some bad. Tucker is limping, favouring his left rear foot or leg. This, I’m certain, has nothing to do with his diabetes; that would have a different effect. I have examined the limb and he doesn’t flinch from pain. He played very actively last night and is in every other way normal (for Tucker). I was thinking of making an appointment for him to see his doctor, but I suspect she would just feel the leg and offer to take an x-ray, and I’m pretty sure there is nothing amiss that an x-ray would display. So we will see how well the leg does over the weekend.

To finish a hectic, unusual week: a little bad news, but overwhelmingly good. And when steps forward out-number those backwards, it’s progress.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Home Comforts

What a day for Parker yesterday was. He spent it at the animal hospital and I picked him up after four o’clock. He looked bloodied and discouraged, his back to the door of the carrier when they brought him out. When he heard me speaking to him, though, he turned and started rubbing his face against my fingers at the bars. He had nine teeth extracted; his mouth was not in good shape. He was already missing a number of teeth, so he doesn’t have many left.

He started purring about ten minutes after I let him out of the carrier at home, but soon began pawing fiercely at his mouth, so I rushed into him some of the pain-killer the hospital gave me for him, and after some minutes of face-stroking and conversation, he was purring again. The veterinary technicians thought he might have to be coaxed to eat, since he had lost so many teeth, but that wasn’t a problem. He wolfed down the first small portion of food I gave him. I waited for any adverse reactions (eg. vomiting) but he was fine, so I fed him little portions through the evening.

Parker was silent during the night, as usual; he was probably exhausted from his ordeal. He was undoubtedly happy to be home. This morning, I fed him a larger amount of nutrition in three portions before I left for work. Also this morning commenced his course of medicine, all liquids by mouth, fortunately. He receives a pain-killer (twice a day), an anti-inflammatory (once a day) and an anti-bacterial medicine (also once a day). I intend to administer most of these in the mornings. This treatment will last four days.

As well, he must receive his usual insulin shots. I checked his numbers this morning, and they were lower than average. This may simply be due to less food in his system and a general reaction to the stress of yesterday; at the hospital, his blood-glucose numbers were quite high. But I will run a curve on him a week from this Saturday; it may be time to adjust his insulin dosage downward. We’ll see.

For now, he must be given his medicine, which he dislikes. I try to inject the syringe-full of liquid slowly and gently each time, but he doesn’t lie still for it, so I have to be swift. He struggles against the syringes, so I have to put the medicine in when I can. I think he figures he’s had enough doctoring.

I haven’t seen him drink water since his return, but he had urinated in his litter-box during the night, and he is eating soft-food only right now. Drinking may be a trickier prospect than eating for him; I can’t be sure. He doesn’t have canine teeth anymore to contain his tongue the way it used to be. The poor fellow has to adapt a bit. But he will; cats are marvellous at that.

Last night, he wanted out of the library, and this morning, he was at the library’s window when I came to say good-bye to him, so he is taking an interest in things. That’s a good sign.

The pictures here were recorded yesterday, late afternoon and evening, after Parker’s return. There is blood on his paws that he didn’t want me to wash off. Most of it is gone this morning, so he performed his own ablutions. He is a clean fellow.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Parker at the Hospital

A month ago, Parker went to the doctor for an examination of his teeth. Today, he is at the hospital for a full dental. He has a few teeth to remove and plenty of cleaning to be done. I will know more about what is required when the veterinary calls me to explain the situation.

The orange-boy was confused this morning, confused and hungry. I couldn’t give him his breakfast, of course, nor his bed-time snack last night, due to the use of anaesthetic today. He still purred and was a happy cat - a hungry, happy cat.

Once more, I wish I could explain things to animals, so they would understand the necessary pain and discomfort they go through. But after this is all over, it will be forgotten, and Parker will feel much better. He’ll just have to trust me on that.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dinner on the Terrace

This is one of Cammie’s favourite places to dine. In the later afternoon the sun shines on the ledge. I liken it to having dinner on a terrace overlooking a sparkling lake. It actually overlooks a concrete trench that serves as my ‘patio’, but perhaps the princess has a good imagination. In any case, trust her to find the most prestigious spot in the sanatarium for her meals.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Veterans

“They don’t make things like they used to.”

I think that phrase was first uttered by a caveman, lamenting the new-fangled man-made fire; why, in his days, they used ‘real’ fire, the kind that lightning had to start…

Well, the complaint has proved one of humanity’s most durable. Certainly, the invention of plastics lent it increased validity. Many products these days are cheaply-made, with cheap parts, none of which last long.

It may come as a surprise that the 1980s seemed to have devised some items, appliances in particular, that have stood the test of time, at least here in the cosy apartment. At the risk of jinxing these machines, allow me to introduce my veterans.

I have just recently had to have my vacuum-cleaner’s ‘power-head’ repaired. It required a new motor, a tune-up (I didn’t know vacuum-cleaners could receive tune-ups) and a good cleaning. This is the first time I’ve had to have it seen to in the thirty-five years or so that I, and my parents before me, have owned it. The repairs cost $154. I believe that, here in Canada, new vacuum-cleaners cost anywhere from just a little more than that price to three or four times that. But I will not discard something that still serves its original purpose well, just because it needs some maintenance, and so it remains in my employ.

Then there is the apartment-sized deep-freeze unit. This fellow is about the same age as the vacuum-cleaner, though it may be a few years younger. It is a god-send for those of us who like to buy in volume, or who make some of our own meals, freezing the prepared portions for quick, later use. The mechanism that keeps the door up and open is broken, but all else works well.

Then, the captain of the team: my micro-wave oven. Weighing more than a Volkswagen Beetle, and built to withstand the blast of a bomb, it was born in the late 1970s. It takes up enough room for two or three ‘modern’ micro-wave ovens and probably throws off more radiation than Chernobyl, but it still performs yeoman service. I use it to warm up the cats’ soft-food and periodically to thaw frozen articles for my own consumption, so it seemed pointless to replace it with a slimmer model. It has followed me through four moves of residence – no doubt much to the consternation of the movers – and will stay with me until one of us dies. I may actually go first.

And so, while I do not collect antiques, it seems that at least a few have clung to me, for protection and use. They continue to do what I ask of them. When an appliance fulfills its purpose without fuss or undue cost, why replace it? Besides, would I be obtaining anything better? After all, they don’t make things like they used to.