Tuesday, April 30, 2019

If He Would Just Wear a Monocle...

When Raleigh came to live with me, he was in rough shape. He had, and has, FIV and stomatitis. The former we watch - or rather, we watch for its effects - and the latter we treat with Prednisolone. He has a chronically leaking left eye. He drools, and he doesn’t groom himself as he should. And he has mats in his fur.

For some reason, these mats, little knots of hair, are restricted to his rear flanks. Perhaps they represent the limits of what he did groom in the ‘wild’. He didn’t seem to acquire any more after coming to my apartment. Nonetheless, they are unhealthy and probably uncomfortable. While he lies on my lap, therefore, I slowly brush them out.

I could, and do, use a comb now and then, and I could cut them. But such is Peachy’s fright at sudden movements or actions that he deems threatening (which is the majority of a human’s actions), that I prefer to use the gentle approach of brushing while he is relaxing. The advantage to this is that he likes being brushed. I can feel him slowly melt onto my legs as I slowly pull the brush back. When I reach a mat, I brush over it, slowly but repeatedly, sometimes giving it a series of soft tugs. He appears to stand this much better than a similar effort with a comb.

Progress is slow, but I have cleared up most of the mats on his left side. His fur is gradually looking better and feeling smoother. Raleigh will never win any beauty contests, but he is becoming a rather presentable gentlemancat. Perhaps with a topper and a cane, he will be welcomed in the best establishments in town. Now, if I can just convince him to wear a monocle…

Sunday, April 28, 2019

How a Cat-person Buys a Rug

It was at last time to buy new rugs. Throughout the apartment, I have my own, highly disposable rugs covering the building owners’ carpets, so that urine and vomit (the cats’, that is) doesn’t stain property for which I would have eventually to pay. Needless to write, the cats usually manage to do their horrible business just beyond the edge of any rugs I place as a protective measure.

But not always. It was time then to replace the rugs. The one in the library meant emptying bookcases and moving them and their contents, so as to unroll the rug under their positions. That was trying. Furthermore, the original rug did not serve its purpose entirely, as the cats had, as some point, wet on the carpet underneath, probably before I put a rug in that location. There is no escaping the slight smell of urine in one corner. But at least with a new rug, it is not obvious to me. Whether it is to the cats is another matter. I had hoped that the new item would help alleviate Tucker’s need to wet in that corner, but, alas, that has not happened. I continue to require a soaker-pad there which, of course, may be part of the problem: no matter how well it is washed, the pads undoubtedly retain traces of urine from previous incidents. But to remove the pad all together runs the risk of someone (who shall remain roly poly) wetting on the unprotected rug. It is a vicious circle.

The rug in the corridor will no doubt be more successful. No one ever wets there, though Parker tends to throw up on it quite a bit. I’ve no doubt it will need replacing in its turn. But for now, it is pristine. It was also too wide. The previous rug was not, but when I was searching for rugs to buy, the narrower ones were thrice as expensive as the wider, so I bought two and cut one of them down to fit. It doesn’t look quite even, but I never have visitors anyway, so except for these photos, no one will see it.

Buying the rugs was interesting. I found myself taking into account factors that non-cat people would never consider. Others might want a colour or pattern to hide pet accidents; I wanted one to show them. After all, I want to see whatever Parker throws up, in order to gauge the amount and frequency of his upchucking, as well as its content. The thickness of the rugs was measured in regard to urine soaking through them, and the backing was felt for the same reason. How well bits of litter or food would resist a vacuum-cleaner’s suction was pondered, and the basic question of how easily the fabric might be cleaned. I think I spent more time deciding on rugs than an interior decorator with a millionaire client.

But it’s done now. Tucker spent an afternoon avoiding the rug in the corridor, trotting along its edges. But he quickly realised that the strange smell would disappear the more he lie on it. As long as he doesn’t think the same advantage may be had by wetting on it, the results of my purchases will be satisfactory.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Raleigh, Possessive, Not Plural

It was only a matter of time.

On a weekend evening, Hugo came to visit. I was in the kitchen preparing something for him to eat, when I heard a thumping on the glass door to the ditch. I came out to see Hugo by the glass, waiting. Raleigh was near by, as was Renn. I thought it rather cheeky of Hugo to start demanding I hurry like that. It’s not as if he were being asked to pay for his fare at the café.

A couple of nights ago, I saw Hugo on the steps leading down to the ditch. He was waiting again. Raleigh was on the carpeted ledge next the glass door. I went to get some food and I heard another thump on the glass. Coming out once more, I observed that Hugo was still on the steps. It had been Raleigh who banged on the window.

Peachy was protesting a new cat coming too near his home. HIS home. He’s reached the possessive stage. I knew this would happen. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Meet Hugo

There is a new customer coming to the Café Cosy. I’ve named him Hugo.

I know nothing about him, not even his gender; I am assuming he is male for the convenience of writing. He is not feral, as he allows my hand to come within a few inches of him, but he is wary. He looks fit and, though appearances may be deceiving, in good health. He may not be a stray, and could have a home at which he is regularly fed. He shows up outside my ditch door in the early mornings and late evenings, and waits patiently for a meal.

I have not seen any of the other outsider-cats for some time. Sable and Sablette were last by to visit more than a month ago. I worry about them, but vanishing for weeks at a time is not unusual for the pair, and I seem to recall that they did the same last spring. Come the warmer weather, the sisters don’t visit as often. A friend remarked that they may have gone to their summer place already…

While I have always provided Sable and Sablette with soft-food when I see them, they also eat the hard-food available, so they would sometimes come by without my knowledge and have a snack. I have not seen Hugo enjoying the hard-food, and he may not like it. Feeding this big fellow even an inexpensive food could become costly, so I hope he will turn his attention to the hard-food bowl now and then.

But making sure my visitor has something to eat isn’t that much of a hardship for me. Anyway, while he may have a home, he may not, and I may be his sole, or at least principal, source of food. In any case, who am I to turn away the Café Cosy’s newest patron? I’d hate to get a bad review…

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Sunnier Day

Raleigh is feeling better. I noticed a change as early as Saturday night, when I was playing with the cats. Peachy joined in just a little. That is, he lifted his paw a few times to try to capture the string-toy. It was a start.

Yesterday, I saw that his right eye was surrounded with brown goop, as if an inflammation had burst. I cleaned him up, added more eye-drops and noted that the eye was less swollen and red than it had been. Last night, he was more interested in playing.

This morning, he was impatient for his breakfast, and ate what amounted to three quarters of a 5.5 ounce tin of food. He was also running about a bit, as he does sometimes before a meal. His eye looks better still.

I have two days’ worth of anti-biotic to give him, and I will be giving it to him. I want to pound that infection back to where it came from, so he gets as much medicine as I have. He will also continue to receive the eye-drops.

An interesting aspect is that Raleigh is now crawling back onto my lap, even though I am still putting medicine in his eye. I think, though he dislikes such a treatment, what he really disliked was receiving it in a sore eye. Now, I suspect, it is more an inconvenience than a pain. As well, I have taken to brushing him immediately after he gets his drops, which he enjoys.

Unless he has a serious relapse, he will not be going to the doctor; I had planned to take him today. That would have been enough to set off any number of stress-related difficulties, and I want to keep him as relaxed as possible. While I am loathe to count chickens before they break out of their shells, I think another crisis has been overcome.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

My Usual Long Weekend

It’s the Easter long weekend, and at the cosy apartment, a long weekend means that someone is sick. This time, it is not Cammie, who is doing well right now. It is Raleigh.

Raleigh has an eye infection. His left eye, which leaks a thick ooze on a chronic basis is, relatively, healthy. His right eye is infected and somewhat inflamed. Before the weekend, I acquired drops and anti-biotic pills to give Peachy, and thought they would solve or at least reduce the problem. They have not, and I am reproaching myself for not taking him to the veterinary prior to the weekend.

Naturally, Raleigh is very reluctant to have the eye-drops applied, as I must open his sore eye to do so. He is therefore avoiding me, and no longer comes on to my lap. As well, he is not feeling good, and eating much less than he usually does, so I am anxious every time I must give him his pills, which are crushed up in his food. He is taking his Prednisolone tablet each day, as well as two anti-biotic pills a day. This necessitates him consuming enough food to accommodate three tablets. I could, if it comes to it, force the pill whole into him, but Raleigh is the most easily stressed cat in the world, and that would be traumatic for him. So far, I have been able to get his requisite amount of medicine into him, but it is a struggle.

I suspect that, with his FIV, such episodes will be almost common with the Peach throughout his life. I feel very bad about this, and can hope only that the food, warmth and companionship that he will also receive will be enough of a compensation.

As an aside, Parker is now receiving a quarter-tablet of Prednisolone to ease any discomfort he may be experiencing. I spoke with his doctor about this, and she told me that he could have as much as a whole tablet (five milligrams) a day, but I don’t think he is at that stage yet. There was no real sign of increased distress in the sturdy-boy, but he is adept at hiding it, so I thought I would begin a minor dosage of relief in any case. The quarter-pill allows me to expand the amount if necessary, with his cancer unused to the increased amounts.

Life is never dull with my beasts, unfortunately.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Another Step Forward for the Peach

While Parker was feeling rather good this weekend, Raleigh was not. Fortunately, it was not what I would call a serious problem, though it is undoubtedly annoying.

Peachy’s left eye has for long given him trouble. It continues to run but at a diminished rate and frequency. This weekend, his right eye was red and sore. It was troubling him to the point of him rubbing it often. I have a small vial of drops that I have used for his left eye, and am now applying it to his right. I hope to see some improvement in it over the next few days.

Raleigh is an interesting fellow, and seems never completely cowed by his bodily misfortunes. To illustrate this, I can point to this weekend’s further progress in his socialisation.

I usually play with all the cats at once (though, to be honest, most of them are lazy dogs and don’t exert themselves much). Tucker enjoys a game where by he tries to grab a stick that I thrust toward him underneath the nylon tunnel. (I have to be careful I don’t poke the roly poly in doing so.) He can be quite energetic in this activity. Raleigh has been watching this. Not only will he now try to seize a stick when it shows itself around the corner of the couch, but, finding himself on the side of the nylon tunnel opposite to the stick, Raleigh emulated Tucker and tried to hold the stick as it came and went on his side.

With his intense timidity, Peachy doesn’t always put himself in a position from which such a game can be played. But he now knows it can be fun; he now knows that he can play it. I don’t think this will be the last time he will be going after that stick.

As a bonus, I caught the two boys in such proximity that they had not before allowed themselves to experience. Despite Raleigh’s eye, his time during the play-session, as well as Parker’s appetite and outdoor adventures, all made this a memorable weekend.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Not Yet

I know a number of readers of this blog were wondering about Parker. If the truth be told, I was thinking on Friday that this might be the orange-boy’s last weekend. I am, however, revising his plans for him.

I watched him carefully over the weekend, and realised that I must be cautious not to ascribe how he is feeling to how he is feeling now. Friday was not a good day for him. Saturday, however, was different. He is a foster-cat from the PAW Society, of which I am a member. He was formerly sponsored by another rescue-group, with whom PAW works very closely. That group’s founder and chief mover, who is still very attached to Parker, came to visit him Saturday morning. Parker, who has been indifferent to visitors at times, even hostile, behaved well, and was at ease.

I had to go out for several hours that afternoon, but when I returned, the sturdy-boy and I went for a walk. Later, he had a very good meal. That evening, he was at an open window, sniffing the vernal scents. Sunday was an even better day. Parker felt strong enough to walk across the street, down to the end of the block, cross the street again and make it about half the way back to the apartment building. His nose was moving constantly, and he listened to birds and watched people. Afterward, back home, he ate half a large tin of Hounds and Gatos pork pâté, followed by half a tin of Fancy Feast chicken-and-liver. He was still sleeping that off hours later.

I am watching my boy in regards to several gauges. I watch his body language, especially his tail’s movements, but also his restfulness / restlessness, his positions and where he chooses to lie. I watch his food- and water-consumption. I watch his interaction with the environment, and how responsive he is. I watch his trips to the litter-boxes.

There was a thought I had of taking Parker to the veterinary early this week, to see how the doctor believed he was faring. But I don’t think that is necessary at this point. It would add stress to my boy when he needs it least, and be a pointless expense. I do intend to telephone the veterinary tomorrow and talk about pain-management. I don’t think Parker requires much of it right now, but he may benefit from receiving some soon.

For the moment, then, Parker stays with his family. Considering his condition, that may change, and it may change abruptly. I hope that if it does, I will know it, and, once I know it, will be able to cope with it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Fade to Orange

I think Parker had an accident last night, and may have hurt himself. He has been jumping up on the kitchen counters, and even the stove-top, as I have mentioned in previous entries. I believe he attempted it last night and failed.

I was in the bedroom when a heard a loud noise, much like a crash, from the kitchen. I came out to find Parker lying on the floor, looking quite nonchalant, and not at all hurt. But I noticed several claw-husks around him. His claws had not broken, but I suspect he had lost some husks trying gain a purchase before falling. I checked him over and he seemed uninjured, but I can’t exert too much pressure on his body anyway because of his condition.

For the rest of the evening, the orange-boy seemed a little out of sorts; subdued, even for his current state. He didn’t want anything to eat, but that was no indication of extra trauma: he had eaten very well at dinner-time.

This morning, he ate a good breakfast in terms of amount, but he seemed almost reluctant in his attendance to the food. Yet he kept wanting more, so I can’t complain about it.

I think that while Parker may have hurt himself a little last night, the greater damage has been to his self-esteem. As his cancer progresses, he will find that there is less he can accomplish. His strength will decrease, his stability will diminish. My sturdy-boy is facing the sad realisation that he is no longer sturdy.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Improvisation at Last

This is the time of a pet’s life that a pet-owner dreads. My foster-cat, Parker, is terminally ill. There are times when he is obviously uncomfortable. There are times when he cannot find a position in which to lie that will ease his cancerous body. There are times when he becomes violently sick, when he vomits so fiercely and for such a long period that he breathes hard afterward, as if he had run swiftly down a lengthy path for twenty minutes.

But there are times when he lies peacefully for hours, when he butts his head against me and invites me to pet and stroke his still-soft fur. There are times when he eats half a large tin of food and sits back purring.

And these contrasting times often come on the same days now.

Last night he had a terrible episode of vomiting. I spent two hours cleaning up afterward, as it had spilled under the freezer in the store-room and against the walls. (Being a cat, he chose the moment immediately before I went to bed.) Yet this morning, he was hungry and, though he did not eat a great deal, he tucked away a quarter-tin of soft-food and was pleased about it.

Last night, I thought that Parker’s time was at hand, and I worried about keeping him alive and in pain over the weekend. This morning, he was still dying, but it was as if his body had decided that it would not be today, not this week.

How are such decisions to be made? Will I wait until Parker doesn’t eat for several days? He has done that previously, and rallied. In fact, I note from my blog that almost exactly a month ago, the orange-boy refused all food for a whole day. Since then, there have been stretches of days when he ate very well, and almost every day, he has eaten something. Clearly, appetite alone cannot determine his final moments.

I suppose, like many things in a pet-owner’s life, the actual decision will come down to improvisation. We can plan and anticipate, but at the last instants, our cats won’t like the food we have prepared for them, and we must dish out something else; they will get sick just before bedtime; they will want to play - after you’ve begged them to play all day - as you are leaving for the evening. It makes sense that the final actions in which they can involve us will be makeshift, as well.

Improvisation is not how I would like to make such a terrible decision, but it is fitting that, while the decision may be mine, when I make it will be entirely up to my cat.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Round They Go

As everyone who has had a cat for a long time knows, toys, locations and food come and go in fashion. What was once popular is no longer, and what was shunned from the moment it arrived becomes a treasured possession.

There was a time when the cylinder-house cat-tree was a favourite resort of both Renn and Cammie. The latter has not been in it for years, and my big boy had avoided it for a long time, as well. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed Tucker in the cylinder-house. He had jumped up there on but one previous occasion, possibly just to show himself that he could do it. The cat-tree was thereafter ignored. Now, however, he is up there for long periods each day, sometimes spending the night inside.

As if that were not enough, Renn apparently noticed Tucker’s interest in the cylinder-house, and it renewed his own. Now, they are sharing time in the snug little abode. That’s fine with me. I just wish I would remember that the spot is once more in use when I am trying to conduct a worried head-count before bedtime, or leaving for work.