Monday, April 30, 2018

Little Renns

I will be checking on little Esau every week until he is weaned and brought into a foster-home; I don’t want to be a daily pest to his foster-guardians, as much as I would like to know his progress.

In the meantime, I have been thinking about the kittens from this weekend. With so many little ones being born, more cats is not really what we need. And yet, how can we let such lives end? Neutering and spaying are good; they keep new kittens from being conceived. But once they are in the world, they often become a matter of rescue. I don’t think I could sit by and let an animal die needlessly. If a cat were slowly dying and in distress, euthanasia would be a mercy. But if, with a little effort - or a great deal of effort - an animal could be brought back from the edge of death, then I would make that effort.

Besides, each kitten is an individual cat in the making, a beast with a personality all its own, and a great capacity for love. Esau may grow up to be adopted by a lonely person whose life would bloom with his company. Or he may go to a large family with many pets already, and live a fun and frenetic existence with a dozen siblings. I was struck by the little one’s resemblance to one of my cats - well, at least the resemblance of his fur-pattern; at his current age, Esau looks less like a cat than a completely different genus. But he may have been close to what my Renn looked like when a newborn, and I can’t imagine not having my gentle big boy around to lope confidently onto the bed at night-time, or tentatively reach out his paw to beg my attention when I am reading.

If Esau brings someone the happiness Renn and his siblings have brought me, that person will be lucky. And there is the simple fact that his is a life that should be filled with peace and contentment. He deserves it as much as we do. That’s why Esau needed saving, and why the loss of his brothers or sisters is such a sorrow. Life isn’t just a beating heart or breathing lungs. It is all the person or animal does while his heart beats and his lungs breathe. And it’s worth that little - or great deal of - effort.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Not My Usual Weekend

It began Friday afternoon. There is a colony of feral cats behind my work-place. Its members are fed and watered and most of them were neutered and spayed. Unfortunately, there was at least one who escaped the veterinary’s attentions, and she evidently became pregnant. She gave birth to kittens, probably on Friday. I was behind my work-place and saw this young cat lying on the pavement. I thought she was warming herself on the hard surface, as it was a sunny, almost hot day. Then, I saw a tiny kitten attached to her. Then, I saw another tiny kitten, black and white, and not attached to her, crying, about twenty feet away. I had heard the noise but thought it originated with a bird. A third kitten was found in a pile of wooden pallets.

I needed to bring the kittens that were far from mum to where she was but, predictably, any movement on my part caused the mother-cat agitation. She was lying in the only path to her other kittens. I found a way around her but, when she saw me behind her, she ran off. I and some co-workers gathered the tiny ones and put them in a box, lined with one of my sweatshirts, and placed it in a sheltered location, near enough to where mum had been lying for her to find them. The best thing for kittens is their mum, so we left them for their errant parent to return.

Saturday, I came to work several times to check on the kittens. I think mum had visited them at least once. The black and white one in particular screamed loudly when hungry, but the newcomers were quiet now, except when disturbed. By late afternoon, however, they were crying and I worried that they had been abandoned, or at least were not receiving enough attention to survive. In consultation with the rescue-group to which I belong, the Lethbridge PAW Society, I decided to feed the kittens. I bought some Kitten Milk Replacement, and came back to work.

Two of the kittens were on the pavement in the hot sun. I don’t know if they crawled there over time or mum had carried them so far and no farther. One, whom I later named Seraph, had already perished. A second, Jacob, was in a bad way, while his sibling, Esau, was outside the box in which he had been placed, but in the shade. He was screaming. Clearly, neither of the remaining kittens could be left for mum.

I and a colleague worked to feed the two survivors with a syringe, massaging their nether-regions to make them urinate, which Jacob did. He shook and convulsed often, and I feared he would be joining Seraph soon. I decided to take the siblings home – I walked, rather than risk the bouncy ride on my bicycle - but Jacob died on the way. At the apartment, Esau accepted food, but certainly not enough to survive.

There was, by coincidence, a means of salvation. PAW had received a call from someone whose cat had given birth to stillborn kittens. The mother-cat would benefit from having a baby or two to nurse. I and a fellow member of PAW took Esau to the mother-cat, and he survived the night, thanks to his new foster-mum. As of late Sunday afternoon, he is doing well and, though newborn kittens face a wide range of natural enemies, I have hopes for his future.

These events threw my weekend’s routine out the metaphoric window. No movie, no bath-time (sorry, Renn); instead, ten trips to and from my work-place by bicycle, constant attempts to feed Esau (which paid off during the car-ride to his foster-home, as he got the hang of drinking from a syringe) and trying to keep him warm, while helping him urinate. My beasts took the situation well, except for Parker, who seemed to have a sympathetic bond – though not necessarily a friendly one – with Esau: every time the kitten cried, Parker did; the louder the cry from Esau, the louder the cry from Parker. The orange boy wanted to touch the baby, but I wasn’t having that. I had my sturdy-boy keep his distance, which wasn’t easy.

Now, we are attempting to capture the kittens’ mother, who looks to be very young herself. She may have been too young to understand what she was supposed to do with her babies. This could be a lengthy adventure, but we don’t want her to become pregnant again.

This was not my usual weekend. I regret very much the passing of Seraph and Jacob, but perhaps Esau can live for his siblings, as well as for himself. When he is weaned, he will be ready for a permanent home. I will keep you apprised.

I wasn’t in a position to take pictures initially, and didn’t want images of the two after they had died. But here is Esau. It is rather difficult to photograph a one-day old kitten. They move jerkily, and this one in particular was restless, no doubt due to hunger. These three images were all I was able to salvage.

Godspeed, Seraph and Jacob. Long life to you, Esau.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Moving in the Right Direction

It was time to weigh the beasts again yesterday, and I was pleased with the results. Everyone moved in the right direction, except for Josie, of whom more presently.

3rd March, 2018
Josie: 5.79 kg
Renn: 7.71 kg
Tucker: 7.82 kg
Cammie: 4.37 kg
Parker: 8.15 kg

26th April, 2018
Josie: 5.71 kg (12.59 lbs)
Renn: 7.44 kg (16.4 lbs)
Tucker: 7.35 kg (16.2 lbs)
Cammie: 4.54 kg (10 lbs)
Parker: 7.84 kg (17.28 lbs)

You will note from the comparison of poundage that all the cats have lost weight except for Cammie. I wanted to see her gain something; whenever she has one of her vomiting episodes, she loses weight quickly, and I don’t mind seeing her with a bit of reserve, just in case. So far, though, the new food seems to be agreeing with her, and, since she likes it, and I feed her whenever she asks for some, she is putting on a little heft. I think her weight is good.

The boys have all lost poundage, at least a quarter-kilogram; Tucker has lost almost twice that. I am pleased at this, too, because the two diabetes boys needed to thin out somewhat. Renn didn’t require reduction, but even so, he retains a healthy, muscular build. Naturally, I will keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t lose too much, especially too much too rapidly. It was pointed out to me, however, that the sugar twins’ weight loss would have an effect on their blood-glucose numbers, which may be the cause of their recent, unpredictable test-results. This is something about which I will speak to their doctors.

And as for my Chubs, who hasn’t really been much of a chubs for quite a while, I continue to be vigilant regarding her poundage, as she has been losing, if not steadily, then constantly, over many months. But in the seven weeks between the previous weighing and this one, she has lost a mere eight one-hundredth of a kilogram. This may, in fact, be no more than a meal she had eaten just prior to the last measuring. I am not too concerned about the Great White at this time.

I’m satisfied with the results of yesterday’s placement of cats on scales. It was remarked that all of the cats are looking healthy (Tucker in particular looked ‘smaller’), and they are all behaving as if they felt well. As much as I would like to see Josie’s weight remain static, I think all are heading in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Back and Forth

Tucker’s war with diabetes is an on-going struggle, as, I think, is the case with every sufferer of this frustrating condition. Though we intend to win this war and force diabetes into full retreat, right now, we seem to lose a skirmish here and there, only to break through after a more severe battle.

All of this metaphor means simply that the roly poly one has reached another stage in his fight. I can’t say that it satisfies me, but his doctor is pleased. After the random results of spot-checks over a couple of weeks, Tucker’s blood-glucose numbers have stabilized to a certain degree. We have now settled on giving him two units of insulin twice a day. This reduces his numbers usually to the 14 to 15 range, when at their lowest.

This is not what I consider satisfactory. The numbers should be under ten for a happy reading. However, these nadirs have been accompanied by sudden and unheralded drops to very low numbers, such as seven and even five. If these were consistent, and we could count on their appearances, then this would be good news indeed. But they are interspersed with the higher nadirs. So, while an increase of Tucker’s medicinal dosage would lower his overall numbers, they might also cause one of these haphazard, very low nadirs to fall too low.

Therefore, though I am ambivalent about his current status, the new dosage - and accompanying higher nadir - will provide stability for the furry sausage. Furthermore, his everyday activity is perfectly normal: a good sign. For now, he is relieved of his daily pokes in the ear for blood. I will conduct a curve on him soon, so we will learn the extent of his blood-sugar’s daily activity. Tucker’s tussle with his condition leads to what probably seems to be repetition in these articles, for which I apologise, but the only repetition I find on our end is one of bewilderment and annoyance with a condition that won’t behave itself.

At least this little fellow is behaving himself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Images of a Princess

As I mentioned last month, Cammie will be appearing in the Lethbridge PAW Society’s 2019 calendar. On the weekend, I received the results of her photo session. The pictures turned out much better than I had expected, not because I had doubts about the photographer - she has worked on several of our calendars - but because Cammie was the subject. Not all the pictures taken of her were good, as she was averse to posing that day (and every day), but those that worked, worked very well, I think.

The first is a general photo, good for identification purposes, and to show her usual mood.

The second displays a pensive side to the princess’s character, a little sad, perhaps thinking about having to live with other cats, when she really deserves a palace of her own.

Then there is the profile.

And, lastly, my favourite.

Monday, April 16, 2018


My cats don’t often play together. Periodically, Cammie will rush out at one of the others, particularly Tucker, to startle them; she likes zooming through the tunnel at them. I don’t think that is playing, though; at least, Cammie’s victims don’t appear to believe so. The only two who have fun together seem to be Tucker and Josie, and that is a rarity. It usually happens when I return from work and everyone is excited; the roly poly and my Chubs will chase each other.

But now and then, Tucker will see Josie somewhere in the sitting room, and hide around the corner of the couch, hoping to ambush her. It never works, simply because Josie doesn’t walk past Tucker’s hiding spot. I don’t believe she knows he’s there; she just doesn’t pass by while he is ready to startle her.

I don’t like the idea of my beasts being frightened, but even so, when I see this, I try to persuade Josie to walk by the corner of the couch. I know that Tucker’s action would be gentle, so I don’t fear the Great White being terrified of couch corners afterward. But it never happens.

So Tucker sits patiently for several minutes, hoping. I feel sorry for him. Especially since I suspect he would miss his cue anyway.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Parker's Field-trip

On the second Saturday of every month, the rescue-group of which I am a member, the Lethbridge PAW Society, brings a cat to the downtown store of Homes Alive, a local pet-supply company, to show off to the public for three hours. The purpose is to generate interest not just in the cat himself, but in the group and cat-rescue in general. I am usually the group-member on hand to answer questions. It is a good opportunity to meet people and discuss matters of common interest.

Yesterday, Parker was the cat in the cage.

I was confident that the orange boy would do well. Cats have different reactions to being on display. Some are frightened the whole afternoon, overwhelmed by the stimuli. These are spared any further showings. The rare ones have little problem with the situation, and, after thirty or forty minutes of adjustment, settle down. The majority dislike being there but are not so badly affected that they cannot come back. Then there is Parker.

The sturdy-boy did better than any other cat we have had on display. He was a little bewildered by the reason for being in the cage, no doubt, and his breathing at first was more rapid than I would have liked to have seen, but he accepted the situation very swiftly and without much complaint. What problem he did have, I suspect, came from being restricted to the cage, and not simply from being in the new environment. He was a bit unnvered when the noise of shopping carts, barking dogs (pets are allowed in the store if carried or on leashes) and customers became too much, but that happened just the once. Otherwise, Parker took it all in stride.

He was a hit with everyone who came to see him. He was very friendly to his admirers - of whom there were many – but I knew he would be. He walked over to their fingers for some face-rubbing and head-stroking, and even rolled over for some. He accepted two chicken treats from one generous couple (even the successful cats on display are rarely at ease enough to eat) and indulged me in play with a feathery wand. The various dogs in the store during his time there interested him, though he hissed at one whose owner permitted him to come too close. (I quickly interposed myself. When people let their dogs come near the cats, they always say the same thing: “Oh, he (the dog) loves cats.” They don’t realise that that does not address the cat’s concern; the latter animal is caged, with no means of retreat, as an unknown and possibly hostile animal advances upon him.)

But everyone who saw Parker thought he was wonderful. They all uttered the same two things: “Wow, he’s a big one,” and, “What a handsome fellow he is.” Both true, of course. I talked to people about Parker’s diabetes, and how he is active and healthy, with the condition managed. Numerous comments were made about how fit he looked. No one there wanted to adopt him – except a crowd of young adolescent girls, who swooned over him – but the PAW Society does not adopt straight from such an event, anyway. We don’t want enthusiasm of the moment to be mistaken for a correct decision. But if interest is shown, we encourage it and follow it with conversation afterward.

The afternoon was a success. Donations were made – undoubtedly due to the popularity of our orange mascot – and people were met. Best of all, the cat in question was not troubled. He was glad to come home, no doubt, but he may be going again some day. The timing was a bit off: Parker has been my foster cat for sixteen months, but he has just recently been added to the group’s website ( We wanted to control his diabetes first. But now, as you may have read, his glucose numbers are unusual. I don’t think this will cause any great trouble, but it would be better to present him as ready for adoption without reservations. A diabetic cat always, however, comes with concerns over his continuing care. Not to worry, though: Parker will not be going anywhere that won’t love him and care for him as much as possible.

Until then, he will remain in his foster-home – with perhaps a field-trip now and then.