Monday, October 30, 2017

The Giant Intruder Cat

This upcoming weekend is supposed to be a taste of winter, but the weekend that just passed, especially Saturday, was beautiful. There were repairmen working on the outside of my apartment building, and they brought along their immense dog. I met this fellow - he looks to be part great Dane and part pit bull - outside and he is very friendly. And when he saw my cats, he wanted to be friends with them, too.

The beasts were not sure what to make of him. He danced and twirled and rolled, trying to get the cats to come and play. His tail wagged the whole time. I’m sure if he could have met them ‘in person’, as it were, he would have had a wonderful time. I’m not so certain about my lot.

Only Cammie had an adverse reaction, hissing and making huffing and puffing sounds. But she was near a window that was open an inch, and could smell the dog, while the others could not. When I heard the princess, I hastened over to make sure she was all right. She kept close to me, but calmed down. I think even she would have become accustomed to such an amiable canine; well, probably better and swifter than she would with any cat.

Later, the dog came back and looked in my bedroom window. By then, all the cats were in the sitting room; even Josie venturing from her usual haunt in the bedroom. The dog looked through the window, at me, at the empty cat-trees, whined and looked very disappointed. But he found his pals a few minutes later.

I am convinced that most cats and dogs get along better together than do many cats with each other. The dog is of course of a different species, and therefore outside of a feline household hierarchy. And anyway, the only thing threatening about this big fellow is his size. Inside, he’s still a puppy.

Friday, October 27, 2017

This Idea Has Legs

Sometimes Tuckers fits himself very neatly and compactly into the nylon tunnel. Other times, he needs to spread himself out. Though there are no holes for the other side’s legs, I was waiting for the tunnel simply to stand up and walk away. Maybe if it were just a little narrower…

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Echo at Home

One of the responsibilities I have as a member of the Lethbridge PAW Society cat-rescue organisation is the writing and composing of the monthly newsletter. I enjoy this duty, as a pleasurable feature of it is that I write articles about the adoption of cats PAW has rescued and / or fostered, articles based on interviews with the adopters. This weekend, I spoke with Echo’s new human, B.

B is very happy with how Echo and Vinny have bonded - and it seems to have been a very swift bonding. At first, Vinny was unsure of the tiny dynamo, but it didn’t take him long to realise that this was the little sister he’d been waiting for. They are, in B’s word, ‘inseparable’.

Initially, while she knew Vinny would not hurt Echo, she wasn’t sure if he would actually like her, so the adoption was not immediate. But when she went to bed one night and saw the two of them curled into one another, with Vinny’s foreleg over Echo, hugging her, she knew the decision had been made.

The cats sleep together, eat together and play together. Echo will jump on Vinny, then run away; Vinny will give chase and, when he catches her, they wrestle. They are always on the go.

One day, B’s father came to visit, bringing his dog, who is very amenable to cats. The dog and Vinny are good friends. Even so, when Echo bristled somewhat at this new creature, Vinny hurried over and made the dog realise in no uncertain terms that he should keep his distance from Echo for now. I’m happy to relate that Echo was sniffing at the canine tail and much more at ease by the end of the visit.

It looks like a very happy beginning for Echo, with a caring human, a loving brother and a spacious home for her world: just what a kitten should have.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Teaching an Old Cat a New Trick

That Parker has had an influence on the perma-cats here is undoubted. But some of his effects have been unexpected.

The topography of every home is different, and the ways cats adapt to that topography can be interesting. Josie’s favourite room is the bedroom. She spends most of her time there. She is certainly not afraid of Parker or any other cat; she does roam the other regions of the apartment, but I think she simply does not find a need for the other rooms. My Chubs lies on the bed (she has different parts of the bed on which to lie, depending on her mood) and the saddles of the cat-tree.

To travel from the bed to the cat-trees sometimes depends on the position of the chair at my desk. If it is pulled out, Josie first hops onto the chair and then over to the cat-trees. I frequently pull the chair back for her to use, if I see that she wishes it to bridge the distance from one spot to another.

If the chair is not pulled out, she will climb down from the bed, using the steps at its foot, then walk over to the cat-trees and climb up to her preferred level. She makes this seem a laborious procedure. I think she is like the koala, and descends to the floor only when there is no other choice.

Enter Parker. My foster-boy, from the first, found his own way to move from the bed to the cat-trees (though, in fact, he largely eschews the trees and goes straight to the window). He uses the desk as a platform by which he crosses to the ledge under the window. Clearly, Josie has seen him do this several times, and has now decided that there is some merit to this method. I had my suspicions one day when I came home from work and found what seemed to be cat-litter powder in front of my computer-screen. Parker had been in the library the whole day, so he was blameless in this matter. The mystery was solved when I saw the Great White exercise her new option later that evening.

This route causes me no inconvenience and, while I have witnessed Josie hesitate to use it, probably due to worry that she will fall off the desk as she walks, there is little danger in it. I have to give credit to her for learning, even at her age. For her, an old cat can truly be taught a new trick.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bending the Rules

My cats are allowed to go most places in the apartment. They are permitted on the furniture, in the bathroom, on the bed and, as readers may have seen from previous entries, on the dining table. But they may not be on the kitchen counters. In my previous homes, they were allowed on a counter very briefly, in order to jump further onto the top of the refrigerator. But in this apartment, there is not the room for a cat on top of that appliance, and therefore their excuse for climbing onto the counters has been nullified.

There are exceptions to every rule, however. In his continual quest for food, Parker likes to explore the kitchen counters and cupboards. (He is not starving; his weight has been constant for several months, despite my attempts to reduce it.) I discourage this, and when I heard from the bedroom noises in the kitchen that indicated my foster-cat was again hunting, I emerged to admonish him once more.

But the orange boy was not after food this time. For the past few days, we had had tremendous winds, tremendous even for southern Alberta. They stripped the trees of their leaves, ready to fall as they were, and tossed about those on the ground. At my kitchen window, a small dust-devil seized the debris and threw it circles, even against the pane. This attracted Parker’s attention, and he wanted a closer look.

I like to see the cats interested in things, distracted from the routine. I couldn’t, therefore, tell the sturdy-boy to get down from his perch while he was so enthralled by the show being put on by nature, inches away. As you can see, he became quite involved in it. So, for several minutes, I bent the rules for him, and he enjoyed himself. After all, if something bends, it doesn’t break, right?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again

The days are becoming shorter, the sun is rising later and setting earlier, and the nights are colder. It’s that time of year again: the time for the heating pads to go into the cat-beds.

The two cat-beds in the sitting room are used throughout the year, but not every day. Come the autumn, though, and the insertion of the heating pads, the beds become popular once more. Renn prefers the bed by the micro-wave oven stand, while Cammie may usually be found in the one by the small, central bookcase. It’s interesting that initially I heated only the cat-bed by the micro-wave oven, and the princess lie in that one. But feline traffic past that spot is too great; she’d rather be out of the way a bit.

Also interesting is that I thought of putting a cat-bed among the towels on the library couch, for Parker’s use during the night, and during those days when he is sequestered in that room. That was why only one of the cat-beds in the sitting room had a heating pad at first. But my orange foster-boy didn’t seem to like the heat. Each day and night, I found the towels pulled around, and no evidence that he ever used them for sleeping. I think he disliked the extra heat and was trying to find its source. Since I have removed the heating pad, Parker has resumed using the towel-bed.

But whatever makes the beasts happy will be done. Those who like the extra warmth will use the pads; for those who do not, there are many other comfortable locations in which to snooze. The wind has been howling lately, the dark comes sooner each day, and it’s good to appreciate having a snug home.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Small Embarrassment

Though, as we know, cats are by and large clean animals, they can create a bit of a mess now and then. This is especially the case with long-haired cats. They sometimes need extra attention from their humans. Renn is officially considered ‘medium-haired’, but his fur is long enough for me.

During the weekend, he used the litter-box and left a particularly stinky and less-than-solid deposit. That did not bother me overly much; I merely scooped it out right away. But the smell lingered. In fact, it seemed to follow my big boy about. I figured that his bum would need cleaning. It was worse than that. His tail needing cleaning, and so did whatever his tail had brushed against since leaving the litter box. Sigh.

Well, that’s part of our job, so I gathered up a protesting Renn and took him into the bathroom, where he protested even more fully. I had to wash his tail quite vigorously, soaking it in the process. My big boy disliked the process tremendously, but he has a floofy tail and had evidently been flourishing it about as he left the litter-box, so there was much to be done.

I think Renn was embarrassed more than anything else. This rarely occurs to him; despite the length of his hair, he is a very clean fellow, and this was no doubt mildly humiliating. He retreated afterward to the tallest cat-tree to hide, and clean himself in private.

It happens to the best of cats, my big boy…

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Late Night Conversation with Renn

I wake up. What time is it? I have to open my eyes to see the clock. If I open my eyes, Renn will know I’m awake. I’ll do it quickly. No, I’m facing the wrong way; I’ll have to turn my head to look. It’s twenty after two. Good. Plenty of time left until I have to get up. Rats. Renn knows I’m awake.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Hello, Renn.

Renn: You’re awake.

Me: Only briefly.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Not so close, Renn. Your whiskers are tickling my nose.

Renn: I like it when you pet me.

Me: I know you do. Move back, Renn. You’re claws are puncturing my skin when you knead.

Renn: I like you.

Me: I like you, too, Renn. I’m going to turn over and face the other way. I’ve been lying on this side for a couple of hours.

Renn: I’ll come over on that side.

Me: No, this is Josie’s spot. She is coming over here even as I speak. Did you notice her silhouette climb down from the cat-tree by the window? She saw I was awake, too.

Renn: This spot is free.

Me: It’s Josie’s spot. She always likes to lie on the bed’s near side.

Renn: I can lie there, too.

Me: No, Renn. You know that Josie doesn’t like other cats being so close. Move back.

Renn: I’ll stay here.

Me: But you’re not staying there, Renn. You are moving closer.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Move…back…Renn… Hello, Josie. It’s all right. Lie down. It’s just Renn. Lie down, Josie. Lie down, Josie. Lie down, Josie. It’s just Renn. Lie down— Just a minute. Move over here, Renn. On this side. Lie down, Renn. Lie down, Josie. Lie down. Lie down.

Renn: I’ll lie here on this side.

Me: That’s a good idea. Josie can then have her favourite side. Move back, Josie. You’re claws are puncturing my skin when you knead.

Josie: I like you.

Me: I like you, too, Josie. Renn, you’re right up against me; you’ve pulled the blanket so tight I can’t move.

Renn: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Josie, you’re right up against me; you’ve pulled the blanket so tight I can’t move.

Josie: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: What time is it? Fifteen to three. Plenty of time left until I have to get up. Not as much as there was, but still plenty. Good night, everyone.

Renn: Good night.

Josie: Good night.

Me: Who’s that? Oh, hello, Tucker. Give me some room, Tucker. I can’t move.

Tucker: Purr…purr…purr…

Me: Good night, everyone…

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sympathy for the Under-cat

While I can’t assert that any of my cats likes any other, they do tolerate each other, most of the time, and once in a while, they actually play, sort of.

Cammie enjoys startling the other cats, especially Tucker. I think I have written of this before: the princess zooming through the nylon tunnel while the roly poly one is on the far side. I will hear the sound of something rushing through the tunnel, and come into the sitting room in time to see Tucker crouched down, staring at Cammie, while the latter is turning away with a smug air.

Now and then, Tucker gets his own back. I don’t think he plans it. Unlike Cammie, who sees Tucker in the right place and sneaks over to where she can begin her zoom, Tucker usually just finds himself with an opportunity. I was coming out of the store-room the other evening and heard the unmistakable sound of the princess hissing, followed by a quick growl. The hiss alone normally indicates that another cat is passing too closely to Cammie - say, within a quarter-mile. The growl declares a particular annoyance, perhaps even outrage.

I came out of the store-room to see Cammie twisted about, glowering at Tucker from a distance of several yards. Tucker was behind the base of the cylinder-house cat-tree. The series of events became clear to me at once. Cammie had passed between the cat-tree and the wall, undoubtedly to avoid the roly poly, who was likely lying near by. Tucker, seeing his chance, hurried over, or simply reached out, and smacked Cammie on her flank. I’d seen him do it before. My Siamese cat, startled, jumped away, but turned as soon as she landed to give voice to her shock and anger. Tucker’s expression was of innocence.

I could not commiserate in good faith with the offended animal. She had done something similar to Tucker many times, and should have expected retribution at some point. I did stroke her fuzzy head to calm her. But then I petted Tucker and told him he was a ‘good boy’. I try not to take sides but sometimes I must sympathise with the under-cat.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Everyday Gratitude

Another Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and I find myself once more thankful for many things. Most of them are ordinary, every-day things, which, in a way, makes them even more worthy of gratitude. After all, I not only have a home, my health and friends, but I have them every day. While it may be the unusual that makes life exciting, it is the normal, the routine that make life, period. And since my life is much better than many other lives, I am grateful for it, and for the routine things in it.

I hope everyone reading this – and everyone not reading it – has much more in their lives for which to be thankful than not. If so, then I am thankful for that, too.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Stab at Advocacy

I try not to advertise on my blog, or perhaps I should write advocate, especially for one rescue-group or another, with the exception of the one to which I belong, the Lethbridge PAW Society. I hope you will excuse the bias in that case. Most rescue-groups are doing a good job in a good cause, especially those whose blogs I have read; showcasing one above another would be invidious.

But I would like to draw attention to one rescuer whose blog I have been following for a while. She lives in the United States, in a district that does not seem favourably disposed to rescue or to stray animals in general. Mary Anne doesn’t receive a great deal of attention from readers, but nonetheless does much excellent work, rescuing cats and finding them loving homes. She has a few volunteers and foster-homes under her direction, but mostly, hers is a one-woman show. Recently, the local business which donated most of her cat-food and litter came under new management and ended the generous arrangement. Consequently, Mary Anne has been scrambling to find new sources of necessary supplies.

If you have a moment, visit her blog and offer a kind word or two. I know that money is in short supply these days, and that what surplus we have for donations is usually already claimed. But if you can spare something for her cause, I know she would be grateful. Donations don’t have to be organised close at hand these days, so if you are in mind to provide a regular gift, or - more practically - know of someone or some business that could be so persuaded, that too would be welcome. Her group, CATS Inc., is a registered charity - details may be found on her website ( - and monetary donations may be made through PayPal. Her blog is, as well, interesting and informative.

Thank you for indulging me in this. I now return you to your regularly scheduled cats.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Good News From Echo

I don’t have a new photograph to show everyone, but I wanted to write that my recent foster-kitten, Echo, is being adopted.

She left my apartment to go to a house where she would be living as a foster-cat with another, older cat named Vinny. He was not a foster himself, as I initially believed, but has been adopted. He and Echo hit it off so well and so swiftly that they will be staying together. Evidently, Echo was a success with her foster-guardian, too. I hope to see some pictures of them together, but I know that by the second week, they were grooming each other, and Vinny was no longer alarmed when the tiny bundle of energy jumped on him.

Everything has worked out for Echo, thank goodness; right things happened at the right time. She will, barring some terrible circumstances, live out a long and happy life with a caring little family. I was lucky to know her for the short time I did, and lucky to be a part of finding her a home.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Her Fortress of Solitude

Sometimes when I make the bed, I put the comforter on the floor, bunched up. That’s when Josie likes to find it. She burrows into it and makes a cosy little den for herself. She reminds me of a little child with her play-fort. That’s my Chubs, no doubt feeling warm and comfy somewhere in there.