Friday, August 31, 2018

What the End of a Good Week Looks Like

It looks like this.

Yesterday, we managed to trap the last three of Beulah’s kittens. They were eagerly anticipated by the staff of the charity next door, so much so that they had already given the kittens names. It was astonishingly easy to catch the youngsters. At lunch-time, we noticed some of the kittens playing at the far end of the enclosure behind my work-place. On the spur of the moment, I decided to place a trap near there. It was risky, as I was setting it on the ground, where any skunk and his friend could wander in. But I intended to leave it only for an hour. I baited it with sardines and checked on it thirty minutes later. Inside, I found the one the charity had named Luna. (That’s him - he turned out to be a boy - in the first photograph, looking over his shoulder.)

Luna was taken immediately next door. An unnerving aspect of her capture was her panic, during which she threw herself against the wire of the cage. Fortunately, the injury she sustained - a bloody nose - seemed superficial, and she calmed down with soothing voices and a blanket over the trap. She was placed in a carrier in a dark room to calm down, and will be with her new family some time today.

Last night, I placed my two traps side by side near where I caught Luna. I had seen the remaining two kittens playing close by, so I thought I might be able to catch them. Soon after I set the traps, I saw a long-haired grey and white cat sniffing about. He too I must catch, so kittens or adult, I was ready for my victims. An hour later, I received a call from a colleague who was working late to say that both traps had been sprung, and a cat was in each. I arrived to collect what I discovered to be two kittens.

The one who had been named Maki has a minor problem with his eye. He is a tough little guy, in the foreground of the second picture, who clings to anything and everything in order not to be picked up. Gizmo, behind him, has a goopy nose, and is more passive. With antibiotics these two problems should clear up quickly. They both appear to be boys. They came back to my home for the night. For a few hours, the cosy apartment sheltered eight cats.

Though Maki resisted being held a little, none of Beulah’s kittens were fighters. Very frightened, they nonetheless didn’t hiss or spit or claw. They are already semi-socialised, thanks, I believe, to the efforts of the staff next door, who talked with them and fed them. Maki and Gizmo are destined to live together in the country. I think it’s good that they are going together; though they may development other friendships, the fact that they were caught simultaneously suggest that they do things together.

While catching Beulah’s children has been relatively simple, I am under no illusions that this ease will continue. The others to be caught are all adults, and probably all feral. They will be less naive in the ways of the world, and more suspicious of traps. It will also be difficult in some cases to determine who needs fixing. While the hospital to whom I am bringing the ferals for surgery tattoos the right ear as a sign of success, this fades over time, and some cats who were previously spayed and neutered may not have gone to the same hospital. A few traps and trips may turn out to be unnecessary, if I catch cats whose reproductivity has already been altered.

But, however the following weeks turn out, this one has been good: four kittens will now have homes - and no children of their own - and an adult male will no longer add to the feline population. As hard as it may be to believe, this frightened little fellow is what the end of a good week looks like.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pallas and Argosy

This week was a good one for our trapping operation. The pickin’s are growing slimmer, bit by bit. I was able to trap two cats Tuesday evening, one a kitten and one an unneuttered male adult. Firstly, meet Pallas.

Pallas is one of the children of Beulah (‘Children of Beulah’… Does that sound like the name of an alternative rock band?), who is herself the object of my desired trapping. The little one, looking very frightened here, is ten to twelve weeks old (there is some dispute as to her birthdate). I was surprised to catch her, as I didn’t think any of the kittens would enter a trap. Apparently, sardines were a treat she could not ignore. (She ate them while incarcerated.)

Pallas’s immediate fate was different than any adult cat I trapped or would trap. She is yet too young to be spayed, and she already has someone wanting to give her a home. I think I mentioned the staff of the charity operating next door to my work-place. Some of them want to adopt Beulah’s kittens. One was snatched up already; Pallas - whom I named for convenience and who will undoubtedly receive another name - has already gone to join that first sibling in her new home.

She had to stay the night in my apartment; unfortunately, kept in the trap. I transferred her to a carrier the next morning - actually, she transferred herself, simply walking from the trap into the carrier - but thought the trap would give her more room in the night. I didn’t realise how tame she is. Pallas permitted me to touch her through the wire bars and, the next day, she was picked up and petted without showing any reluctance. She has never had a home with humans, and her behaviour did not seem occasioned by fear. I think she simply grew accustomed to people over the past few weeks when she would see and hear the charity’s staff.

And now, meet Argosy.

Argosy was quite a different proposition than Pallas. We figure he has been responsible for a goodly number of kittens, and may be Pallas’s father. Argosy was not in any way tame. Sheltered at a house overnight, still in his trap, like Pallas was in hers, he would not be easily held. He went to the veterinary hospital the next morning for his surgery. That was completed without complication. He was estimated to be from two to five years in age, most likely closer to the younger end of the range than the older. Because of his feral state, he won’t have an adoptive home, but watch will be kept on him, he will be fed and watered, and of course his fathering days are over.

I will be setting the traps again this evening. I will have to reduce the number of days I had planned to set them, as, even if the operation for the day is unsuccessful, it takes up so much time that I have little for anything else. I want still to catch the remaining kittens and fix as many adults as possible, so the operation will continue.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Cush(ion)y Life

Enough of these new cats, feral cats, trapped cats and outsider cats! What about the cats I live with? Are they not causing enough problems to write about?

Hmm, how do I answer that?

I thought it was time to buy new cushions for the hard, wooden chairs at my dining table. The cushions I had were still comfortable but, due to the fact that cats - especially a certain sausage-like feline - used them constantly, and even ate upon them, they had, over the years, become nigh disgusting. They needed to be thrown into the garbage and new ones substituted.

Unfortunately, the new cushions did not meet with the sausage’s favour. They were too thin. For me, they were adequate. The padding was slender but much like enough water in a pool not to keep a diver from touching the bottom, but to keep him from hitting it painfully. Tucker did not see the analogy. He refused to use the new cushions.

I brought out the cushion from a similar chair I keep in the bedroom. It is thick, it is comfortable, it is like the old cushions. Tucker approved.

But someone else approved, as well. Usually spreading his orange form across the hard surface of the table, Parker decided that the new cushion was an ideal contrast. He has never paid much attention to the cushions, but it occurred to me that each of them would have had a Tucker smell - what the French call ‘eau de role-et-pole; since I rotate the chairs from one positions to the next, Tucker snoozes on all of their cushions. This one, from the bedroom, was used exclusively for stepping from the cat-tree to the bed, and principally by Josie. So Parker no doubt felt at ease sleeping on it, in its new position.

But necessity makes its demands and an accommodation was reached. After all, a thin cushion is better than none, right, Tucker?

And anyway, some cats are not quite as fussy. Not quite.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

And Now, Raleigh Returns

In a surprise turn of events, Raleigh is back with me. I visited him yesterday and saw that he was clearly not doing well. His left eye is red, his nose is very dry, his nostrils are crusty. With his FIV, this is more serious than it might be with another cat.

It is not the fault of his new foster-home. There are quite a few cats there, and Raleigh’s condition makes him prone to sudden illnesses, especially when in contact with other felines who may be able to transmit them without feeling them much themselves. His foster-guardian agreed that I should take Raleigh back to my apartment for a while to recover, and strengthen himself. Then, he he will go back to his foster-home. He is eating well and relieving himself to a satisfactory extent.

He’s a nice little peach-coloured fellow, completely submissive, so far. Initially, I wasn’t sure how much I could touch him. Last night, he used the litter-box and, probably because of the transitions in his food, his poops were quite liquidy. He of course stepped in one. I had to clean one of his rear paws, and though he pulled away a few times, offered no other resistance. I wonder, considering the fact that he cringes whenever he is about to be petted, if he was smacked about by a previous owner whenever he showed reluctance at physical contact.

In any case, Raleigh won’t experience any of that again. I will spend time with him; I hope not to keep him in the bathroom for too long, perhaps giving him some space in the bedroom or library. Once his neutering has taken full effect (after about a month), I may introduce him to the other beasts, if he is still with me by then. He deserves to feel the full benefits of being an indoor cat, well-fed, warm and safe.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sable and Sablette Return

It’s been more than a month since I saw them together. I had observed one of them, quite alone, a few weeks ago, and had worried that something had happened to her sibling. But tonight Sable and Sablette returned together to the food-bowl I place for the outsider-cats.

To be precise, the all-black sisters returned to where the food-bowl usually is. I had been taking it in early recently because no one had been visiting it. Even Au Lait (a.k.a. Blue), who has been by a few times, seemed interested only in deep draughts from the water-bowl. Tonight, I had brought in the food-bowl and was having some tea when I heard a cat talking outside. The voice sounded familiar and I hurried – as slowly as I could – to the door to my concrete ditch.

I turned on the outside light, and there they were, both of them. I hurried – much more swiftly this time – to the bowl, filled it with some of the Orijen that my beasts eat – it is high-grade hard-food, and generally I can’t afford to give it to outsider-cats, but I didn’t want the girls to go away in the meantime – and hastened outside, by the building’s back door. Sable and Sablette moved away, but didn’t go far, as I shook the kernels in their bowl. I placed it in the usual spot, and one of them – I like to imagine it was Sable – started chattering; the sisters were eating before I returned inside.

The interesting thing is that, as I viewed them through the glass door, I saw them rub up against each other, and curl their tails around one another’s. They talked and stretched and arched their backs. I received the impression that they were in a good mood. I don’t where they have been, but I’m going to pretend that they are pleased to be back.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Future for Raleigh

Raleigh’s surgery went well. There were no complications, though more was tended to than his neutering. His ears were cleaned out and he was de-wormed. His ragged coat was given a good brushing, and he was also given a micro-chip. His teeth are good. But there were two surprises from his hospital visit. One is his age: the doctor estimated it to be one and a half years, though he may be as old as two. And this was the fellow whose appearance made him look as if he were nearing his last days. Secondly, he has FIV.

This condition is perhaps not surprising to find in a stray, intact male. Nonetheless, it will make his adoption much more difficult, as most people won’t want an FIV-positive cat. When the doctor called me to tell me that a blood-test had revealed the disease, I was told that Raleigh should not be put back in the feral colony. The only alternative might have been euthanisation. But there was another option: I told the doctor that Raleigh would come to stay with me.

That was my intention, despite the nearly impossible situation that would create among the residents already in the cosy apartment. But later that day, I was called by a friend who informed me that after conversation with another acquaintance, the latter suggested that she foster Raleigh. She has a couple of FIV-positive cats already, and is well-experienced with felines. Raleigh will receive good food and clean water, affection, attention and medical care if needed, and his FIV will be taken into account in all things.

So Raleigh will have a good home. It’s a foster-home, and he may never know another. But his life of sleeping rough and hoping to get enough food to last him the day, is over. No more fighting with other cats, no more chance of spreading FIV. He is staying in my bathroom right now, though we hope to move him to his new abode tomorrow.

Raleigh is not feral. In the bathroom, he lets me stroke the top of his head, though he doesn’t seem happy about it. He doesn’t try to move away from me, nor does he hide. He seems rather apathetic right now. He seems less distrustful than simply resigned. If he is used to human touch enough not to fight mine, that means he had a home at one time, a family. He was lost or abandoned, had to fend for himself, and then infected with FIV - probably all before or about his first birthday.

Things look bleak to him now; after all, everything he knew - even if it was hard and unpleasant - is gone. Strange humans are trying to touch him, and stranger cats are sniffing at his door. But his difficult past is over, his confusing present is temporary, and his bright future is ahead of him. He’ll learn that soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Raleigh Up Close

Meet Raleigh – up close this time. I didn’t think I’d catch him. I used sardines as bait, and they must have been irresistible. As well, the man who feeds the feral colony delayed dinner-time for everyone, and I suspect hunger overcame caution.

I am relieved to report that Raleigh doesn’t look as bad near at hand than he did farther away. He is still rough, his coat is coarse. He may not be as old as I had estimated, and the runny eye looks to be the sort that is chronic with feline herpes; my Josie has the same thing: it runs in thick, sometimes dark goop and can stain the fur about the eyes.

He is polydactyl. As you can see, his feet are as big as scones.

My guest is currently in the bathroom. After an initial interest, which included hissing from some, my beasts have dismissed the newcomer behind the closed door. Clearly, if he were of any interest, he would be out and trying to meet the residents.

Raliegh will spend the night where he is, in his cage, and go to the veterinary hospital first thing in the morning for his surgery. I will collect him after work tomorrow. He is quite calm, and does not look even wary, just puzzled and sad. He ate the sardines that I had placed for him; perhaps he finished off his meal before he realised the door had closed on him. There are bits of fur stuck on the cage’s interior, so he probably panicked at first. But he seems to be a fatalist, waiting for whatever those in power will do to him.

Fortunately, our plans are benign. There are other cats in the colony who keep their distance because of Raleigh and another male. Perhaps he will feel less combative after his neutering. I suspect he will feel better over-all. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Evening Glow

A few weeks ago, I published a picture of the sunrise. The Trout Towne Tabbies suggested I take a picture of the sunset from the same location. It took me a while before I found myself there at the appropriate time, but here it is.

It’s a much more subdued sky this time, fitting for the end of a day. The sun is tired; he did a lot of burning during the previous twelve hours or so, and he’s ready for bed. The scene is less enthusiastic and more restful, weary.

The sun has had a tough time shining through the smoke from forest fires drifting from the west. Its light is more lurid; a deeper yellow during the day and orange or red in the mornings and evenings. I find it attractive, to be honest, but could do without it, considering its cause.

And now, after this solar interlude, we take you back to our regularly scheduled cats…

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dirty Feet

Parker continues to enjoy his walks, though the smoke from the forest fires in British Columbia cause him to stand in one place and conduct a great deal of sniffing. For the most part, though, he wanders along, smelling the plants along the way, listening to the traffic and looking at the birds. He has acquired a number of admirers who see him and call to him. He goes to them to be fussed over. Most who notice him have a pleasant - or surprised - comment to make.

But I’ve noticed something as well, something about Puck’s toes. He has a grey patch on the front of each foot. As he walks it grows darker (dirtier, probably) but the white of his feet does not become discernibly dingier. I wonder if it has to do with something else, perhaps blood-flow; he is certainly getting exercise. I know nothing of such biological matters, so it is probably just dirt. But once home, the orange-boy cleans himself and relaxes. Discoloured toes or not, he loves his walks.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Old Campaigner

This is one of the feral cats I hope to capture. I’ve named him Raleigh.

He looks rough and battered. There is something amiss with his left eye, blood or pus leaked out near it or from it at some recent point. I think he is old and possibly deaf. He is polydactyl.

He doesn’t seem to be quite a part of the feral colony behind my work-place. The other cats brush by him without fear, but he appears at times when the other cats are elsewhere, probably sleeping. He shows up in the heat of an afternoon, and tonight, he was sitting in this chair when I arrived to check the traps I left out. The other cats came by later.

No one went into the traps, least of all Raleigh. I think he is an experienced fellow, perhaps once having belonged to a human, but now fallen on hard times. He wanted food but was wary of the cages. He was not so wary of me. Brandishing a dish of soft-food like the magic wand it is, I crept close to Raleigh, close enough to push the dish under his nose. I was twenty inches away, and he kept eating even while I spooned food into the dish.

I’ve not seen him eat together with the others, though he will come at feeding times, and sit on the verge of the group, hoping. He looks solid, but his fur is thick, and it may be that there isn’t much else to him. But he ate well tonight.

I have new tactics ready for my next evening of trapping. It will involve less time, perhaps as little as an hour each night, but it will be much closer to the time when their care-taker comes to feed them, so they will be congregating, hungry, and expecting food. I hope Raleigh isn’t too much of an old campaigner to be lured inside a cage. He may be sick, or he simply may be old and tired, one of life’s discards who deserves much better than he has received.

Even if I can’t trap him, I will watch out for him, and maybe make his old age a little easier.