Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's Eve at the Cosy Apartment

I spoke with Tucker’s doctor yesterday about my roly poly’s latest ‘curve’, the measurement of his diabetes management. The veterinary was very pleased with the shape of the curve and its range; the lowest reading for Tucker’s blood-sugar was just where it should be (7.8). The only caution that the doctor made was that she wouldn’t want it to go much lower, with his newly diagnosed kidney issues ready to cause trouble. But, so far so good.

Now that the Mirtazapine is finished, Tucker’s appetite is already lessening, but with a combination of cat-food (for the ingredients he needs) and some human-level pork and chicken (for the ingredients he likes), I think he will do all right. The doctor also approves of the continued salmon-oil dosing that I am giving Tucker. My sausage-shaped cat doesn’t care for receiving the oil, as it is probably in too great an amount at once for his liking; it would make me sick, frankly. I probably am putting too much in the syringe (between two and three millilitres a day) but it is having an advantageous effect on his coat, which is very soft compared to its previous condition, and signs of dandruff have diminished. As well, his bald spot has disappeared, though there is still a patch of less dense fur on his back. The doctor told me that the oil is also providing calories for Tucker.

As 2019 ends, it is ending positively. I don’t mind seeing it depart, but its last weeks seem to be making up a little for its earlier failings. I would like to wish everyone a happy new year, and a safe New Year’s Eve. I will be staying in with the cats, as always; my town doesn’t have many night-spots to hit and, anyway, I’m at the age when the best I can do is hit the late afternoon spots…

Monday, December 23, 2019

...And to All, a Good Night!

Christmas is almost upon us once more. There is no snow here, except hard, crusty lumps in fenced corners, and the temperature is low but hardly unbearable. Nonetheless, all the beasts are snug inside and appear to be enjoying their cosy spots.

Tucker is eating decently, if not voraciously; the Mirtazapine’s effects seem to have caught up to him, and I am feeding him whenever he expresses a wish for it. I expect to be home for five consecutive days (one of them even paid…) starting on Christmas Day, so I will be able to provide him with sustenance at any odd hour. Maybe I can arrest his weight loss. He is even consuming some of the Aventi phosphorus-binder. Large doses of salmon-oil, meanwhile, have improved his coat. I am grateful for any positive developments.

Cammie is a little more frail than she was, and this week is not eating as much as she has, though I don’t think this will be a permanent change. She sleeps most of the time, but what is an old, blind cat to do when winter keeps windows shut and scents and sounds of the outside hidden? The princess loves her heated cat-bed, next to the radiator and her private cup of water.

Josie is eating very well – for the moment. I gave her as a change some Merrick ‘chicken divan’, and she has been emptying tins of it every second or third day. Will this last? Of course not! She’s a cat, after all. But while it does, she will get as much as she can keep down. And in between, she still likes a little variety.

Raleigh continues well, and now allows me to rub his chest, especially after a full meal. Perhaps it’s good for the digestion. He scurries away from me sometimes, yet seeks me out at others. Despite his FIV and stomatitis, he appears comfortable and content; he plays and sleeps and eats without visible complaint, so I am grateful for this, too.

Renn is my healthy one (knock on wood), eating little yet retaining his vigour and strength. I don’t know how he does it.

Neville, the new fellow, has an annoying habit of pooping in front of the litter-box. But I have changed that receptacle, providing his preferred spot with a larger box. We’ll see if this makes a difference. He is as vigorous as Renn, runs about after a successful litter-box visit and continues to talk while he eats, making himself sound as though he is under water. Nevsky is an entertaining fellow – and is beginning to learn to get out of Cammie’s way when he observes her coming.

So you see that, as we in the cosy apartment head toward our latest Christmas, we are doing well, and thankful for it. We wish everyone reading this – and everyone who isn’t – a happy Christmas, with, at the very least, contentment and security. As always, here is the year’s Christmas card. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Semi-happy Warrior

Tucker is on a new regimen. He always seems to be the subject of some sort of experiment. Last Wednesday, I collected from the veterinary some Mirtazapine, to stimulate Tucker’s appetite, and some Aventi, used as a phosphorus-binder in cats with bad kidney issues. Unfortunately, neither is working as I had hoped.

I was told that the Aventi, which is in powder form, has no taste and would not be noticed by a cat if the powder were sprinkled over his food. I was, of course, dubious of this, and, it turns out, with good reason. Whether or not he can taste it, Tucker does not look with favour upon this grayish-brown powder on or in his food. I had hoped that the appetite-stimulant would cause him to eat more, and thus I could hide the Aventi in a large enough amount of soft-food as to be unnoticeable. But, except on the evening of the first day the Mirtazapine was administered, almost too soon for it to have been from its effects, Tucker’s appetite has not increased all that much.

My poor sausage of a cat has had more things wrong with him than all my others combined, I think. I sometimes am reminded of reading about an old house that had been so pulled around by renovations and repairs, additions and demolitions that it was falling apart. Through it all, though, Tucker has maintained his happy attitude. He purrs easily and is never sullen. He puts up with much and tries to smile through it. He is the least combatant-like cat I have met, except perhaps Raleigh, yet Tucker has battled more than most. I am confident that he will win this battle, too.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Old Tree, New Cat

I put up my Christmas tree. This is a test phase, to see how Neville behaves with it. I don’t know whether I will decorate it, as many of my ornaments are old, delicate, glass items, though some are metal bells. In the past, I have put the bells on lower branches, and the breakable objects higher up. I will see how things progress.

So far Nevsky is leaving the tree alone. He was curious about it, but didn’t spend much time examining it. This will be his first Yuletide in the cosy apartment, and while he is at times energetic and rambunctious, his destructive powers have been very weak, and he usually just throws a mess around the litter-box.

This is Raleigh’s second Christmas with me. He is doing well. His stomatitis seems to be under control, he is eating well, playful and growing in confidence. He hasn’t made friends with Neville, and is no longer trying, but who knows what will happen in the future?

And Cammie came out to smell the tree. I don’t think there can be much to smell on an artificial tree, but she probably remembers what odours there are from when she could see. The memories and images that came to her imagination probably brought her some happiness.

So we prepare for Christmas at the cosy apartment. Every season, it becomes a little more frugal, a little more wistful, but with a little more for which to be thankful. This year, I am thankful the new cat didn’t knock over the Christmas tree…

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The World Out of Joint

Cats love their routines (right up to the moment they change them). Tucker is no exception. The roly poly lies mainly on a chair at the dining table. While he uses the other two chairs, he prefers the middle one, farthest from the wall. This is convenient for watching me eat and begging food from me.

Raleigh, for his part, is becoming ever more confident (though he still scurries from me in sudden fear now and then). He has spent a short part of the night on the bed, with me and three other cats, twice now, and sleeps there at other times of the day. He has also slumbered on a dining table chair more frequently than used to be the case.

One evening last week, when Tucker occupied one of the other chairs, Raleigh jumped up on the middle chair. My sausage-cat doesn’t care for Peachy’s proximity but is slowly adapting himself to the inevitable. He evinced no anxiety over Raleigh sleeping in ‘his’ chair. No anxiety until he observed that I was about to sit at the table with some tea and a snack, that is.

Tucker needed his usual chair to sit in and lean close to me, both to make it clear that he wanted some of my snack (whatever it was; it didn’t matter) and to be close enough for the quick grab if something were offered. But Peachy, with his growing confidence, wasn’t about to move, even when I walked close by. Tucker became upset. Human food was in the offing, and his place in the proper chair had been usurped.

He wandered about the table, he jumped up on the two vacant chairs, he jumped down, he cried in increasing panic; he even leaped onto the table itself. Sitting in the only available chair after I claimed one would have been no good: it would have been as far away from me (and my food) as one could get at the table.

The world is a precarious balance for cats. Everything must be just so. If it’s not the way it should be, tempers rise, stress builds and all life is threatened. In some ways, cats and people are identical… Fortunately, with my human reasoning skills, my genius for compromise and accommodation, my desire to do the best for all concerned, I was able to arrive at a solution. I took my refreshments and sat on the couch in the sitting room.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A Welcome Meal on a Cold Day

I have continued to place food and water for any outsider-cat who happens to come along, even though I haven’t seen one for some time. Finn comes by irregularly, and when I see him at my door, I feed him a good helping of soft-food. He does not visit as often as he used to, and I have observed no other. Sable and Sablette are, alas, just memories.

For a long time, no animal came by Café Cosy. I considered not leaving food out, since it was obvious nothing was being eaten. But I thought of the odd hungry beast who needed food to survive, and how disappointed he would be not to find something at our little diner. So I put food in the bowl and, after a while, when it grew stale, would throw it on the lawn for the magpies and crows, and re-charge the supply.

But this week, I saw proof that someone had visited the cafe. He stopped by the food bowl in its shelter, and helped himself to some nutrition. He even paused to look into the hotel, though he didn’t take advantage of its warmth. I don’t think it was Finn, as he has never cared much for my hard-food, and has always waited for the soft to be served. It was a stranger; perhaps Cecil, whom I saw just once or twice, or a raccoon or skunk, if they are out in cold and snowy weather.

In any case, I am glad I continued to provide some food and water in its heated bowl. Somebody benefitted. So I will leave still more for any starving (or simply peckish) traveller; some water to slake a thirst and, maybe, a warm bed for the night. Perhaps some day, a new friend will stay long enough to introduce himself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

(W)happy Tails

Josie, my oldest, has her ways. I’ve described at some point in this blog’s past how she will sometimes stand next to me and swing her tail so that it wraps around me. I think it’s one of her several means of showing affection, or perhaps simply letting me know that she is there. But that rat-tail of hers serves another purpose.

When My Chubs is expecting something, or wants something, such as dinner, she will stand near something wooden, the micro-wave oven stand, for example, or the partition that separates the dining area from the entrance hall. She will swing her tail and make a continual thumping noise, indicating her slight impatience (greater impatience is demonstrated by a creaky squeal like the failing brakes of a runaway locomotive.)

She must know that her tail is thumping, and she has done it too often for it to be accidental. It is her summons. If she were human, Madam Josefina von Chubs would be ringing a handbell like a maniacal Christmas carol performer at a church fĂȘte, and expecting the footman to come running. (I am the only running footman.)

I am learning all the time about cats and their ways, their intelligence, their improvisations, and their individuality. In Josie, I clearly have all three to deal with simultaneously.

Monday, December 9, 2019

What Lies Within

Amid the problems with Tucker’s kidneys and diabetes, and Josie’s deafness, there is plenty for which to be thankful.

Neville is doing well. He is a bit of a tough one to get to know; I don’t think he likes or trusts me. He enjoys being petted and stroked, but doesn’t like it - at the same time. I’m not worried. I think I will win him over in time. Besides, I hope that he will save his devotion for his future permanent people in his future permanent home. But he plays and has found a few spots about the apartment where he likes to laze. He is comfortable enough to stretch out and not worry about me passing by.

What I am pleased about, however, is his physical health, which seems to have improved quite a bit. When he was first rescued, he weighed something akin to 2.9 kilograms (6.4 pounds); when he came to stay with me, he had gained (he was about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds)) but was still very thin. Feeling his spine was like running one’s hands over the top of a picket fence. His hair was hacked and cut awkwardly, due to mats having been severed.

Now, though I have yet to weigh him, I can tell he has filled out. Nevsky’s backbone feels as it should, and though still a lightweight, his poundage is where it should be on his body. His fur is full and smooth and very soft, the results probably of a primarily wet-food diet.

An interesting feature of his regained hair are these two or three shoots of lighter-coloured hair amid his darker grey. I don’t know if they are the results of his harsh cutting job, or the regrowth of a difference that has always been. His shading is not entirely consistent around the rest of his lithe body.

The variations in a cat’s hair and form are endless. Though the actual patterns appear to be limited (many cats look like many others), there are always small distinctions that help to differentiate each animal. And then there is the personality, that highly idiosyncratic entity with which we must all deal. Its shades too are endless. These shoots of hair, then, are just a clue to what lies within my latest cat.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Our Best Laid Plans

The results from Tucker’s veterinary visit came back yesterday, and they didn’t bring good news. My roly poly has late stage-two kidney failure. He is also offering from an slight inflammation in the pancreas, which may be the cause of his continued vomiting, as well as his loss of appetite. In addition, his blood-glucose numbers have been increasing, suggesting that his diabetes is being adversely influenced by his other bodily troubles.

To counter these developments, the doctor wants Tucker started on a kidney-friendly diet. I will be buying some tins of that today, though, considering the finicky attitude he has toward food, I am not expecting great things from a change of diet. No cat I know seems to like the special renal food. But I will research the products available and see what may be obtained.

The doctor also wants to put Tucker on a short course of Cerenia, to ease his stomach and reduce the vomiting. She thinks he may be suffering some pain and suggested a very careful application of pain-killers might be in order - she is reluctant to prescribe these, considering Tucker’s kidney failure - but I don’t think my little sausage-cat is in too much discomfort. His behaviour is in many respects normal. However, pain-reduction remains an option.

My boy’s diabetes, which was being managed adequately, if not as strongly as I would have liked, has been disarranged by the intrusion of his kidneys. His insulin dosage is therefore going to be increased, though not by much. Rather than two units in the morning and one in the evening, Tucker will receive two units at both instances. This dosage will be tried until the results of his next ‘curve’ are known, in a month’s time.

Tucker has been through a great deal in his life. Given up by his family of five years due to wetting problems (brought on by the stress of a newborn human), he has suffered severe urinary blockage (requiring surgery to cure), diabetes (with its attendant poking and prodding), bad teeth (and the removal of every tooth he had) and now kidney failure. In all of this, Tucker has remained my purring boy. He purrs so readily that when he doesn’t, I know something is amiss. He has been purring normally these past few weeks, so I am hopeful that he is not feeling too greatly the effects of his relatively new condition. In any case, we have plans in place. But, as Burns wrote, “the best laid schemes of mice and men often gang a-gley.” I hope he wasn’t just being optimistic when he excluded ‘cats’.