Friday, June 29, 2018

Cats as Innovators

Though they are noted for their love of routine, cats may be very changeable. Just when you think you have a cat’s habits understood, he alters them. Take Parker, for example.

Puck rarely throws up. He has coughed up a hairball or two in the year and a half he has been with me, and I don’t think he’s vomited anything. Now and then, because he loves his food so much, he will eat too fast and it will come up again soon after. When it happens, the result usually ends up near the food-bowl in the library.

I heard the orange boy regurgitating some food the other evening. He is a distraction at meal-times, so he eats alone in the library. I opened the door to find out what exactly had happened. I couldn’t see a mess, so I opened the door wider and walked in. He had thrown up immediately behind the door, the opening of which pushed the piled debris in a wide, smearing arc across two feet of carpet. Yes, indeed. Always something new.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tucker Says, "No, Thank You."

Since I won’t be testing Cammie with the leash and harness outside, Tucker is the last of my beasts to brave the outdoors. I know the Trout Towne Tabbies were wondering if he would have his chance, and he has. It did not go well.

Tucker, like the others who have experienced it, had little bother with the harness. It is light and though I have it secure around them, it is not uncomfortably tight. This was not enough, however, to persuade the roly poly to enjoy his time outside. He lasted a little longer than Renn did; he looked about and, for a moment, I thought the interest he briefly exhibited in his surroundings would carry him on. It did not. He crouched, his tail tucked under him, and started crying. I tried to soothe his fears, but he was having none of it, so I brought him back inside.

Once safe within the cosy apartment, the roly poly was a happy cat. He purred, scratched at a cat-tree and rubbed against me. He was certainly no worse for the abbreviated span he spent in unfamiliar surroundings. But he made it clear that he was not an outsider-cat, no matter how much he may have looked to be longing to change places with Parker, when he saw the latter walking in the sunshine one day.

Parker remains the only one of my cats who wants to go outside. He loves it; smelling the breezes, trying to eat the grass and sometimes running. The orange boy cries with excitement as we walk along together. As far as Tucker is concerned, though, the whole outdoors can be Parker’s playground. He will remain inside.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Kind of Coincidence

Have you ever heard stories of astounding coincidences? You know, the sort in which someone overhears the stimulating conversation you are having with a friend, recognizes your genius and offers you a job managing his business? Well, that isn’t my kind of coincidence. Instead, I get ones like this.

During the third week of my holidays, I rode out to the edge of town where all the big department stores are located - our city prefers to have them there for the inconvenience of the retirees which it likes to claim find the city irresistible, leaving the downtown to deteriorate into a slum - and bought a large supply of Fancy Feast cat-food. I feed this to Renn, who is very changeable with regard to other brands, and to Josie, who currently has gone off Merrick. The flavour I purchased was ‘seafood’. On my way back, I stopped at Peaveymart, a hardware shop. That business does not have a bicycle stand, so I chain my bicycle to the rails of a metal fence, behind which is kept gardening supplies. I saw, on the ground, just within this fence, a tin of Fancy Feast ‘seafood’.

I had put my own supply in the box I habitually carry on the back of my bicycle, and had not opened it, so this single tin had not dropped from my just-purchased stock. Anyway, the tin, though substantially undamaged, had been in the elements for a while, to judge by the dirty and torn paper label. The last time I had been to Peaveymart, I had taken advantage of travelling in that direction and bought some Fancy Feast then, too, but it had been ‘ocean whitefish’ variety, with a different coloured label.

The explanation may be in that I always carry a tin of cat-food with me on my bicycle. It could come in handy, as it did when we were trying to trap Rebecca a couple of months ago. At one point, I couldn’t find the tin and wondered if I had used it and not replaced it. The orphan tin at Peaveymart may be that missing item.

That possibility itself creates a coincidence: a tin I may have lost weeks before, re-appears directly in front of me, just within my grasp behind a locked fence. It could have been crushed by an automobile tire, kicked away by a booted foot, dented into unfamiliarity, hidden under piles of bagged soil; it could have been taken away by someone else. Instead, it materialises at the right moment to be found by the person who misplaced it. That’s rather astounding.

And sad. Another person overcomes a million to one chance and bumps into his soulmate, or finds a discarded ticket that wins him a fortune in a lottery, or is in the right place to save lives in danger. I find a long-lost tin of food. Cat-food, of course. My kind of coincidence.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Farewell to Holidayland

My sojourn in Holidayland is over, and I am back at work today.

It was a very nice holiday. As usual, I didn’t go anywhere. Finances and the cats keep me tied close to home. It has been suggested to me in the past that I could hire a cat-sitter if I wished to go away, but I don’t find that feasible. I have two diabetic cats, each of which receives a different kind of insulin, by a different kind of injection. One must be kept sequestered during the day when I am absent, and during the night; he receives his meals separately. Another cat is so sensitive to most foods that even a lick of an inappropriate dish will cause her to start vomiting, and that won’t stop without medicine from the veterinary; she doesn’t eat every time the others do, so she must be fed whenever she will eat. They are lucky I can’t afford to travel.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed my days off. I had time for all the things my job keeps me from doing. There were the chores, of course - chores not too big to finish at other times, but big enough to take up most of a day off, and therefore discouraging to perform with only one or two days available on weekends. I completed ninety per cent of the design work for the upcoming PAW Society calendar, something which takes two to three hours a page, and therefore would use up whole weekends, if I didn’t have my holidays to work on it. And I spent time with the cats, listened to music, wrote, read, watched movies, and relaxed.

Coming back to work, however, merely emphasizes how unimportant a job often is. That’s not to say it isn’t necessary, but I think we must differentiate between importance and necessity; the two are not synonymous. Bosses rarely understand that, which I suppose is why I am not a boss. There are certainly important jobs - but mine doesn’t fall into that category. For me, it provides money to exist (barely) and takes up time that could be spent doing something more valuable. I am not alone in this predicament, of course, though that doesn’t make me feel better.

But for now, it is back to the tiresome routine of Workadayland, and farewell to Holidayland. Just 49 more weeks until I see it again!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Stuff of Dreams

Two of the prized possessions for the cats in our household are the cat-beds. I bought them many years ago, and they are wearing through in places. However, I have not found anything comparable to acquire in their stead. (I of course will eventually break down and buy something that none of the cats will ever use…) Every cat loves curling up in them, even the big boys who don’t fit. An advantage is that the heating pads for the beds fit them perfectly.

The pillows, however, have had the stuffing knock out of them, literally. Comprising pieces of insubstantial foam rubber, I guess the contents lose their spring after a while. The interior bag of one of the pillows, the bag that actually contains the foam rubber, burst. The other, surviving bag was intact but largely flattened.

I tried replacing the diminishing contents with towels, but they quickly became flattened themselves and, moreover, hard. Though my beasts sleep on the carpeted platforms of cat-trees, I suppose they could sleep on stiff pillows. But what if they wanted something softer?

I purchased some filling. It is the batting used for the interior of quilts, so the package alleges. Whatever its original purpose, I stuffed the cat-bed pillows with the substance, which is basically the same sort of foam rubber that was in the pillows to begin with. I was pleased to have achieved a kind of success. The pillows are now plump and soft, and will probably remain so for a while. I have plenty of replacement batting, and can, of course, buy more later. At least three cats have curled up in the newly re-vitalised beds and have evidently found them to their satisfaction.

It’s rather nice when an intention’s realisation looks pretty much like its ideal.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Tale of Two Schedules

When Parker first came to live with me, his diet was simple. He was fed half a 5.5 ounce tin of soft-food twice a day, along with a quarter-cup of diabetic-appropriate hard-food twice a day. His meals came in the early morning and the late afternoon. I figured that he must be quite hungry by bed-time, and I disliked the idea of him going to sleep – or trying to – on an empty stomach. A growling belly makes a terrible bedfellow. So I spoke with Parker’s doctor, and arranged for the orange boy to have an additional quarter-tin at mid-day (if I am home to provide it) and another quarter-tin at bed-time.

Parker loves his food, and reminds me about his meals, especially the mid-day and bed-time meals. The last food of his day usually comes about ten-thirty. Actually, he starts reminding me of them sometimes an hour in advance. You can imagine my gratitude.

Every Saturday night is movie-night at the cosy apartment (please see my other blog (as noted on the side-bar) for movies I have watched and reviewed. Yes, this is a shameless advertisement for my other blog.) I have a relaxing bath, then make a bowl of popcorn and retire to the library to see a film of my choice, normally accompanied by Renn, who sleeps through the whole thing.

Depending upon the movie, it ends usually between ten-thirty and eleven. Older movies run about ninety minutes, often less, sometimes more. Modern movies are a couple of hours or longer. As you may be able to calculate, Parker’s bed-time snack is, on Saturdays, at the mercy of directors and screenwriters of whom he knows little. Initially, this perturbed him, and I would hear his abrupt trill start around ten, and pick up strength over the next half-hour. But this has changed.

Parker now rarely asks for his bed-time snack during the movie. As soon as it is over, however, the sturdy-boy comes trotting into the library, asking for his food. The movie could be seventy minutes long; it could be a hundred; Parker appears the moment it finishes.

Is it the sound of me standing to leave? Is it the sound of the remote-control being returned to its proper place? Is it me talking? (I generally don’t speak during the screening; I hate it when people do that. Renn is considerately quiet.) No matter what his cue, Parker now normally waits for the movie to conclude, knowing that he will not receive anything until then, but will almost immediately after.

We adjust our days for each other, I and the beasts. I have my bath only after play-time and their eight o’clock snack-time. The food-bowl – and Parker’s bed-time meal – come only after my movie. Patience is not always a characteristic of cats, but in one instance, at least, my foster-cat has decided that he will abide by my schedule, as long as I keep to his right after.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

And Josie Makes Three

Today was Josie’s turn to go outside. Though Renn is my scientist, he likes his studies to be under clinical conditions. Field tests are not for him. In fact, his empirical nature aside, he is a cat who seems to go with his feelings. On the other hand, I characterized my Chubs to someone today as “less emotional” than Renn, and I believed that she would do better outside.

As with both my big boy and Parker, Josie tolerated the harness quite well. I think she was puzzled by it more than anything else. Once out of doors, she was assailed by a great many stimuli that stunned her a bit. She froze, but did not crouch as low as Renn, and didn’t cry. She was trying to understand the situation. You will note her tail was at first clearly between the legs.

But it wasn’t long before something caught her attention. She was intrigued. The tail remained low, but was out and swinging. As she understood that there was no real threat to her, she explored more.

There was grass, and there were trees; Josie had seen them often enough from within the apartment, but I suspect they presented a different aspect to her close up. Once upon a time, I described her as ‘easily alarmed’; now I think of her as ‘easily alerted’; her attention is caught almost dramatically now and then. She was interested in her surroundings.

Someone who was not pleased with this development was Parker. He saw Josie outside and started crying and pawing at the screen – not something I cared for. He was shouting to me, “She’s in my harness! She’s in my harness!” in his high voice, and did not like his adventure being usurped.

But the die was cast. The Great White was by now rather enjoying herself. She did not express this by purring or rolling about. However, you will see that by now, her tail is up, and she knows there is nothing to fear.

Unlike Parker, who will generally follow my lead – literally – even though he may grumble about it, Josie protested against directions she disliked by simply lying down. This happened several times. An interesting discovery, though, was that while inside, Josie will often squirm when picked up, albeit not as much as previously. Outside, at least on this occasion, she accepted being handled and carried without a movement.

And so ended Josie’s outside adventure. She had been an outsider-cat when very young, but I doubt that she recalls any of that now, except possibly as a basic feeling. It may have helped her here, but I think it is simply her matter-of-fact personality dictating her responses. I am sure she will be outside again one day.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

When is a Cat Like a Hobbit?

Some cats like adventures, and are always straining to get beyond the closed door, to see what the next corner is hiding. Other cats do not care for adventures. These cats are quite like Bilbo Baggins, in The Hobbit – indeed, the title character of that book (which is nowhere near as inflated and padded as the recent movies based upon it) – who declares that adventures are “nasty disturbing uncomfortable things.” These cats, like Hobbits, prefer to stay home, where it is safe, and meals are regular and, if so desired, frequent.

Renn is like Bilbo Baggins.

I harnessed the big boy to the newly acquired leash this afternoon, to give him a taste of the outdoors, as Parker enjoyed. You can probably guess, from the first paragraph, where this is going. Renn did not like his adventure. The leash and harness themselves did not bother him so much as did what they portended. Once outside the apartment, merely in the corridor, he cringed at the door, facing it, as it trying to push himself back underneath. I had to carry him outside.

Things did not improve. Renn immediately crouched against the grass – not caring that it was fresh and green and fragrant – and pulled at the leash toward the building’s door. He started crying.

Well, enough was enough. I had not wanted to distress the poor fellow, merely show him an avenue of fun he may not have travelled. It turns out, he did not wish to travel it. I picked him up again and hastened inside. After he was released from his bonds, his back arched, his tail shot up and he wagged his body as big boys do when they are pleased with events. To test him further, I sat on the bed; Renn jumped up and was purring a minute later. There was no harm done.

I must admit that I was surprised by the extreme reaction he felt. I thought that, while he probably would not have quite the unbridled enthusiasm Parker did (if I can use the adjective of a cat who is, indeed, bridled, in a way), I thought he might be intrigued in a wary fashion. This was not the case. Renn will of course not be forced to undergo such an ordeal again. He is and will remain an inside cat, even when the outside is limited by a leash.

It turns out that Renn is very like Bilbo Baggins, right down to the furry feet…