Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My Lithe and Supple Jungle Cat

Well, sometimes the camera catches us when we aren’t always in the best of poses…

Monday, January 29, 2018

Plans for the Future

Tucker’s diabetes continues to be decently controlled. His latest curve was a good one. This had me laying plans for the future.

The roly poly’s insulin – glargine - has always been delivered by a ‘pen’, with an integral capsule in which the insulin is actually stored. The pen I use, however, does not allow for half-unit doses. This would be a problem if it came time to lower (or even raise, God forbid) his dosage, as a gradual change is preferable to a sudden.

Parker’s insulin, of a different kind, is delivered by syringe, which allows for manual adjustment, using the plunger, of the amounts given. While this permits human error – or, rather, inexactitude – in measuring doses, it also means that fractional doses may be given. After consultation with Tucker’s doctor, it has been agreed that my cat’s glargine may at some point come by vial, and be delivered by syringe.

I will not be switching Tucker over to this method immediately; perhaps in a few months. While, as I have stated, his last curve was good, diabetes is a frustratingly uneven condition, and one good curve doesn’t mean similarly beneficial ones will follow. Conversely, one bad one doesn’t negate a series of good curves. What I want is stability. Some time ago, I reduced Tucker’s dosage to two units twice a day to achieve just that; having done it, the dosage was increased to a level more in keeping with his needs. Once I see, from a number of good curves, that he is stable at three units twice a day, I may switch him to insulin from a vial.

Then will follow a period in which I hope to note that the change did not adversely affect my sausage of a cat. After all, there may be a difference in the two kinds of glargine that will prove a disadvantage. Only once stability with the syringe-delivered insulin is accomplished will a reduction be considered.

So you can see it is a long path for Tucker. It may branch off in other directions: it may be that half-doses will not be needed, negating the requirement for syringes. But whatever path we take, it will be by one step at a time. In the interval, I will canvass local pharmacies and learn of their ability to provide what Tucker needs. But each day brings the future closer, and I want to have a good idea of how Tucker and I will fight his diabetes, once we arrive.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Age of Cats

I was thinking the other day about how old my cats are, and I realised that they are all middle-aged. It’s true that, according to veterinary science, they are seniors. But science also intimates that there is no Santa Claus, so what does it know?

Josie is going to be fourteen this year. She is thinner than she used to be when I first started calling her my Chubs. Her appetite is nothing like it was when she used to invade other cats’ space for their food, and clean the dish of anyone who didn’t finish their meals. But she also displays affection toward me more openly and, now and then, shows her playful side by making rushes at Cammie, then veering away, just to bother her. Cammie thinks this is not playfulness. I worry about Josie the most because of her diminishing weight and loss of appetite, but according to her recent full examination, she is doing well. She has been with me since Christmas-time of 2008. Josie is like the mild, pink-and-fluffy lady who lives next door to you; quiet, but with a sense of fun that allows her to tease her crabby sister.

Tucker will be thirteen. I know this because he had been with his original family for five years, since he was a kitten, when he was returned. He had been wetting outside the litter-box, due to stress at the arrival of a new baby. He had a few instances of that when he came to live with me in 2010, but he settled in soon enough. He has had much to handle in terms of health, including surgery and his diabetes, and his weight is such that he could lend Josie some pounds. My roly poly sausage’s health concerns aren’t due much to his years, though and he has slipped into middle age without much fuss. He reminds me of a fifty year old man, who comes home from work, has dinner, then falls asleep in his chair watching television.

Cammie, on the other hand, fusses a lot, usually because the other beasts are too near her. She is about thirteen years old, as well. This is an estimate, based on the statement of her previous humans. Her bodily problems, like Tucker’s, have nothing to do with her age; they are caused by diet. Otherwise, she is quite fit, and, though she doesn’t often play with me, she will periodically rocket through the apartment, and enjoys climbing the tallest cat-tree at speed. If I can keep her menu controlled, her silver years should be healthy and comfortable. She puts me in mind of an independent lady who thinks the neighbourhood’s gone down-hill…

Parker, my foster-cat, is a fit eleven years of age. Though he has diabetes, and his dosage of insulin is higher than Tucker’s, this orange boy isn’t letting time slow him down. He charges about when he plays, throwing fuzzy mice about and running this way and that. Not all day, mind you, but when he decides to be active, he is very active. He can leap straight up onto a kitchen counter - while I’m preparing his dinner - and though he is a hefty 19 pounds or so, he carries it well. Imagine one of those stocky forty year old guys who likes to brag, gently, about how he still plays football or hockey with the younger guys. That’s my sturdy boy.

Lastly, there is my youngster, Renn. He was about three when he came to live with me, and is eleven and hale, like Parker, but seems more youthful. He has had hardly any troubles with his well-being, barring a couple of teeth that needed removal, and will continue so, knock on wood. Lean and strong, you can see the muscles in his legs when he climbs or scratches, yet he eats like a runway model exhibiting the new Skeletor collection from Armani. How he stays alive, I don’t know, but he thrives. He’s like a New Age devotee existing on granola and wheat germ, while walking briskly uphill just for fun every day.

While my feline roommates are aging, they are aging gracefully (except maybe for Tucker). There will come a time for each of them when they will grow too old for this Earth, and I will have to say good-bye to them. But for now, I am thankful to see them when I come home from work in the afternoons, thankful when I wake in the mornings, and they wait, with varying degrees of patience, for their breakfasts. I remember Tungsten and Bear-Bear, who didn’t live long enough, and am grateful for each day that is added to my age of cats.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Back to Normal?

Thank you to all those who expressed concern over Cammie’s latest bout of illness, and wishes for her full recovery. She is doing well again, eating and drinking. She came to sit on my lap yesterday, saw Renn was on the couch, too (a couple of feet away), grew offended, hissed and left. She’s pretty much back to normal.

But is this normal? A couple of nights ago, I saw Parker go into the bedroom. Josie was already there. Then Cammie wandered in. Then the other boys. It was as though they were drawn by some call. It seemed as if there might be something outside to look at, but not everyone went to the window. They wanted to be in the bedroom, but did not appear to know why. They may have been expecting instructions from their superior. And I don’t mean me.

Well, if cats didn’t behave oddly at times, we would think it strange indeed.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Cammie's Week

Last week was a difficult one in the household, as Cammie was ill again. I believe it was caused by her theft of some of Renn’s soft-food. For years, Cammie has enjoyed Fancy Feast’s ocean whitefish variety, and for almost as long, I have suspected that shrimp had been the catalyst for her episodes of sickness. Lately, I have been considering that fish in general has been the cause, and so I have taken away her ocean whitefish. She still likes it, however, and, when I served some to Renn, I think she ate it. (Renn does not always finish off his rations right away. They sometimes sit in front of him for a while and, though it would be unusual for the princess to approach another cat close enough to eat his food, it is what I think happened.)

In any case, she developed the usual symptoms: vomiting her food, followed by vomiting on an empty stomach. I tried slippery elm again, but it hasn’t worked on her for some time, so Friday morning, I took her to the veterinary hospital. There she was given an injection of Cerenia, to ease her stomach, and another of the ant-acid famotidine. She was also given fluids, as she was dehydrated.

Cammie’s recovery this time was, mercifully, rapid. Upon our return from the hospital, I put her in the bathroom, for ease of monitoring, and visited her during my lunch-break. There was no vomit. I gave her some Recovery-and-water by syringe and, when I returned about three o’clock, found that she had kept it down, so I gave her more. Though she didn’t eat anything that evening, she was already feeling a renewed interest in food, and ate on her own the next day. This constituted a swift recovery compared to previous times. While I am pleased with this, it suggests a difference in this episode, a difference for which I cannot account.

But as of this morning, the princess continues well. Yesterday caused me worry, as she was quite lazy and spent the day in the heated cat-bed. While she often spends much time there, she did not get up to eat or use the litter-box until the evening. But it may be that fatigue from the prior week was catching up to her. I am especially vigilant with her, and am anxious that I may find when I go home that she has been sick again. However, I can only watch her day by day, being particularly careful regarding her nutrition. Her dish is unique, and I use a separate spoon to apportion her soft-food. Hopefully, my precautions will be enough to keep her illness from recurring.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One Sturdy Year

I don’t usually mark anniversaries to the day. If something stands out about a certain day, then I will remember it; if not, I generally just recall the year in which something occurred. For instance, Josie came to stay with me, I believe, on Christmas Eve of 2008. Tungsten arrived in August of the year before, though I cannot say with exactitude which date it was. I know when she left me, though.

I know when Parker came to my apartment because I wrote about it in my blog. It was one year ago yesterday. My sturdy orange foster-cat has become a part of life in the household. He is available for adoption, but it would have to be a very special individual or family to whom he would go. Of course, rescue-groups feel that way about all their foster-cats, but the specialty must be a little different for Parker because of his diabetes.

Taking care of him is more than just injecting him with insulin twice a day. It includes the monthly monitoring of his blood-glucose levels (‘curves’), which involves taking blood every two hours over a twelve-hour period; in fact, because I want to be more exact, during mid-day, the sampling is every hour. He must also be watched for water-consumption and frequency of urination. His body strength must be gauged, and his diet strictly controlled. Other people could do a better job of this than I, but it must be constant, and not everyone is able to provide that care, due to their home and work situations.

He’s estimated to be eleven years old now, but still enjoys an active life. He loves to bat around the fuzzy mice, will charge the Track-ball and run about simply because he likes it. He will also jump onto the kitchen counters, possibly because I don’t like it. Parker still has his troubles with the other cats, so he remains in the library while I am absent or asleep. He would prefer the freedom of the apartment but the library is a comfy little room, so, while he may be bored in there, he is not suffering.

Parker is always on the look-out for food. His weight stubbornly refuses to diminish, but he is not fat; he’s a big-boned boy. Since his dental procedure some months ago, he is in good health, aside from his diabetes. He is a fun, friendly fellow. He lies at my feet while I wash the dishes and loves a good, sustained head-rub. His purr is rough and throaty; otherwise, his vocalizations are highly pitched, like a little kitten’s larynx has been put in the body of a tiger. His personality is definitely that of the extrovert.

Until the ideal home comes along, this solidly-built fellow will stay with me. It’s a bit crowded in the cosy apartment, but stepping over or around a fifth cat is not too much trouble. I’ve been doing it for a year. I can do it some more.

Monday, January 15, 2018

My Favourite Cause

Today I would like to write about something that I am sure I have written about previously. A few hours on Saturday brought the topic back to me. The second Saturday of each month, the rescue-group of which I am a member, the Lethbridge PAW Society, brings a cat, available for adoption, to a local pet-supply shop, to show him off, and to generate interest in him, the group, and cat-rescue in general. We rarely have an adoption result directly from the event, but it is good for publicity. If people don’t know about us and the cats seeking homes, nothing will happen.

Most of the time, the three hours the cat spends in his roomy cage in the shop are neither good nor bad for him. He rarely wants to be there, but usually puts up with it. The cat is often anxious at first, then settles down reluctantly, to await his return to his foster-home. Now and then, a feline reaction is cheerful; periodically it is fearful for the whole time. That was, unfortunately, the case with Rika this past Saturday.

This illustrates a ‘sub-cause’, as it were, that I like to promote whenever possible, and that is the consideration for adoption of the less likely cats. Rika spent most of her time under the cat-bed provided for her. She did not want to come out and interact with people, she did not respond to petting and soft words. Normally, she is an extrovert, entertaining humans and herself with playful antics and trying to involve the other animals in her foster-home in games. No one would have known that from her time at the pet-supply shop.

Other cats are not outgoing at the best of times. Like Ali - currently featured in my sidebar - they are shy, and that makes them reclusive, especially with new people. They unfortunately create a circle of apathy: few humans want to take the chance with a cat who won’t even come out to sniff them, let alone play or talk with them, so the cat remains unadopted and becomes more of an introvert.

But that doesn’t mean he will always be so. What it means is that what qualities he has will be hidden in the short time a prospective family spends with him in a foster-home or shelter. He will emerge from his cocoon of shyness only over a long time, weeks, perhaps months. That is what it will take to come to know him.

That cocoon of shyness is also a cocoon of loneliness and fear. He doesn’t trust or like the possibilities offered by change, so he remains as he is, even if it means never having a home. But I suggest that these are not only the cats who need the chance of a home the most, but those who will give the greatest return on an investment of patience and affection.

There is nothing wrong with adopting the cat who reaches out for you through the bars of his cage. He may be meant for you. But he will also have an excellent chance of charming someone else. While your heart may melt at the cries of a little fellow who clearly wants to come with you, consider those who are too despondent, too disappointed to try anymore. Consider the ones with their backs to you, who hide at the rear of their kennels. You won’t have a lap-cat that evening, and you won’t have a cat sleeping on your bed that night. But you will some day, and when you do, you will have the most faithful of friends, a new family member who will love and trust you like no other.

We all have qualities for which we search in those we want as friends, whether they are human or animal. We don’t want to risk being stuck with someone who annoys, bores or frightens us. But every new relationship is a risk. The next time you are searching for a cat to adopt, it may pay in any number of ways to ask the shelter or rescue-group, “Who needs a home the most? Who has been waiting the longest? Who will never be chosen?”

The answer to those questions may surprise and delight you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Feline Mind Meld

Today’s story depends upon two elements of Renn’s character.

Firstly, he loves people. He may be a bit shy at first with strangers, but it takes him very little time to warm to them. He likes to know where I and and, from time to time, visit with me, before going back to snoozing or peering out the window. He enjoys physical contact with people. When they aren’t petting him, he likes to lie up against them.

Secondly, he loves lying on the bed with me. Whenever I lie down for a nap (which is very rare) or to sleep (a nightly occurrence), he will come trotting into the bedroom and jump up on the bed. How he knows that I am lying on it, as opposed to sitting (which evokes no reaction on my big boy’s part), I don’t know. He is the first to join me at bed-time and the last to get off the bed in the morning, the lazy dog.

This past weekend, I was working on my computer in the bedroom and Renn wanted to keep me company. In he came and settled down on the bed. After half an hour, I figured he had a good idea, and I joined him for a short lie-down. Renn immediately started purring. But he felt he needed physical contact, so he reached out with a couple of paws. I think the intention may have been to knead me, but the stretch was probably too pleasant, and he just kept one foot against my head.

I don’t know what was sillier: that I had a purring cat with his paw pushed against my head for twenty minutes, or that I didn’t move because I was reluctant to disturb him for twenty minutes.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nylon Tunnel, Mine Enemy

How the different cats play with their toys always interests me. The nylon tunnel has, I think, been a good investment. Tucker likes to sleep in it, as well as use it for playing with me; Josie will snooze in it periodically, Renn will now and then bat at the other cats who are in it (he gets into trouble for that); Cammie zooms through it to startle Tucker.

Parker fights the nylon tunnel. He will tackle it and pull on it, twist it and gnaw it - but only at its end. His wrestling matches with the nylon tunnel often conclude with the tunnel bunched up against a chair, or pushed against a wall. I suspect the bouncy nature of the tunnel, the way in which it springs back into shape, fascinates him in some way, though this is speculation. And why it doesn’t intrigue the other beasts in the same manner, I don’t know. But then, none of the others share Renn’s study of water. Each to his own.

Whatever the cause, I am glad that I have yet another toy for the diversion of my furry roommates. It may not have been intended for such a use, but that’s of little significance. Like the fun provided by a box rather than its contents, it is the result that counts. And my sturdy orange-boy seems to like the results when he fights with the nylon tunnel.

Monday, January 8, 2018

As Snug as a Cat on a Rug

The weather has turned warmer here, for now - it’s supposed to drop to -18° in the middle of the week, and then go back up above zero by next week - but it can still be chilly at night, especially when a wind is blowing, which it usually is here in southern Alberta. The cats enjoy their heated beds at such times.

But Cammie discovered - or re-discovered - the heating pipes during the autumn. She likes to lie against the flat metal covers that line the rooms. It’s one of the reasons why she was often under the Christmas tree when it was up: she could also lie against the hot-water pipe-covers.

She did this in the bedroom, too, but the rugs that cover the floor there are a bit coarse. I noticed that the princess was instead lying on the carpeted base of the cat-tree near by, and that didn’t provide enough room for her to curl up in comfort. The simple solution was to spread a towel on the rug. Cammie likes snoozing on such towels on the library couch, so I thought she would benefit from one in her chosen spot in the bedroom.

I think she has.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Word is Spreading

This is how much snow we received over the past couple of weeks. The temperature has risen since this picture was taken, so conditions are better. The snow has become crusty and hard and ugly but, undoubtedly, things have improved for the outsider-cats. Mine inside are still doing this.

But the interesting news is that I have observed a new outsider-cat. It was at night, so I couldn’t take a photograph of him. He is a largish fellow, mostly white but with dark spots. He has a white face and ears, and a black cap on the top of his head. His tail is black and bushy; he looks to be a medium-haired cat, at the least.

Parker alerted me to his presence. The new fellow was eating from the food-bowl, then saw us looking at him. He does not appear as skittish as the black cats; he sat on the parapet of the concrete ditch, looking back at us, curious. He probably would have run if I had been outside and approached him, but I suspect he may be accustomed to, and perhaps even comfortable with, human contact, if he knows the person. Eventually, however, he took himself off for the night.

I wonder how he found the Café Cosy. He may have simply been wandering and stumbled upon it, first seeing the water-bowl on its parapet, then the food-bowl below. But I think he may have followed one of the two well-defined sets of tracks in the snow. They are at right angles to each other and converge at the water-bowl. There is no deviation in them, so if a cat saw them, he would think that other cats had a definite and positive goal in mind.

In any case, word seems to be spreading about the food- and water-bowls, about which I am pleased. Their contents are needed not just during the coldest periods but when dirty snow melts into muddy slush and filthy water. I want to see all the tables filled at Café Cosy.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Other Diners

The weather is relenting a bit, and the very cold temperatures of the past week (in the -30s) are rising. Last night, I went outside and, though -17°, it felt almost like spring. I don’t mind the cold, but when it is painful, indeed dangerous, simply to walk about, then I must object.

I continue to feed the outside cats, though I have seen only one black cat come to the food-bowl in the last few days. I don’t know if she is one of the pair of black cats. I am not sure if I should hope for that or not, as it may mean that something has happened to her friend.

In the meantime, birds are taking advantage of the free food. I haven’t seen magpies for a while; they’ve been replaced by what I think are called, at least in these parts, starlings. Whether they are starlings or not, I don’t know. But they gather in small flocks and have a bite to eat at my expense. I don’t mind. They need food at such times, too, and they provide entertainment for my cats.

Renn and Parker especially like to watch the birds cluster around the food-bowl. When my big boy sees them, he will hurry over to the window, running low and quietly, as if he is about to rush them after stalking them. Some instincts never leave an animal. Both boys enjoy the birds’ flapping about, flying, pecking at the kernels in the bowl. Then, the flock will be gone, perhaps to come again.

It’s cheap entertainment, and the birds will work for food, so everyone is happy. And, while I do have to keep re-stocking the bowl, I no longer have to do it in temperatures so low they hurt.