Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Journey to Idylland

Take me with you when you go
To the land of gentle breezes,
Where the peaceful waters flow.

Written by Gene MacLellan
Sung by Anne Murray

I start my holidays at the end of work today. They are later in coming this year than last. I thought that I would be needed to volunteer at an event for the PAW Society the first week of July, an event that I would better serve if I had a day or two off, so I set my holidays back a month. As it turns out, I will not be required to volunteer. But the change of dates of my holidays matters little, though it does seem a little longer a wait for them this year because of the circumstances. But they are here now, and that’s what counts.

I will be travelling to Idylland, where the villages are pretty, the fields lush and the people content. That doesn’t mean I won’t have much to do. I have cat-trees to clean, windows to wash, store-rooms to clean and re-arrange, and the PAW calendar to finish. But I will be working at home, with time to ride my bicycle, read, listen to music and, of course, spend with the cats.

I may even just lie in a green field and look at the clouds.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Not Once, but Twice

Cammie used her new stairs yesterday evening, not once but twice.

The first time, she was on the bed and wanted to get down. She kept leaning far over the edge, holding on to the bedspread with three feet, while trying to find the floor with the fourth. Of course, the floor was far out of her reach. She was deciding whether simply to drop, and clearly disliked the idea. I started tapping the first level of the big staircase with the palm of my hand, while saying, “Cammie, step…step, Cammie, step…” It took several minutes of indecision on her part, but the princess eventually followed the sound of my hand and placed a paw cautiously on the top step. I patted each lower step in succession, and she descended almost gracefully to the floor.

The second time, later that night, Cammie was on the bed and it was obvious that she wanted down. It appeared to me that she was searching for the stairs she had used earlier. I repeated the process of patting the steps and talking to her. She came over after only about fifteen seconds of meandering, and walked down the steps in half the previous time.

Knowing cats, I realise it may be a few days - or a year - before she determines to use the stairs again. But she knows they are there, and will, I am sure, start to use them on her own. It will make getting her to use the smaller set easier, too. Once that’s accomplished, she will learn to differentiate between the two, and know how to use each of them. Even now, however, I hope my princess’s life has just become a little less stressful.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Steps in the Right Direction

Continuing the subject of my previous entry, I have items in the cosy apartment that are new to us.

This past weekend, I rode out to where all the box stores are in our city, far to the south. I had found on Rona’s website a small, plastic step-stool that would, I felt, be ideal for placement against the side of the bed, allowing Cammie a less stressful ascent and descent from and to the floor. The journey by bicycle is not strenuous, though it does constitute a few miles. But Rona did not have the stool in stock. Lowe’s had nothing similar. Canadian Tire, Peavey Mart, Walmart were all without anything even close to what I wanted.

After three houyrs of riding and searching, I stopped at Superstore (its official name is the Real Canadian Superstore, no doubt to differentiate it from the fake ones) and bought some Fancy Feast that was on sale. I also checked for a stool there, but was unsurprised to find none.

While waiting to pay for my cat-food, however, I met a woman who, with her husband, had adopted a cat from the PAW Society three years before. They and the rescue-group had remained in touch, as their cat had a few digestive issues. The cat is doing very well now and is, in fact, more active and friendly than ever. I described to her my tribulations in locating a stool to assist Cammie, and she suggested that she take one of theirs. They had a couple of stools they were not using. They would even drop it off for me.

Needless to write, I was very grateful, especially when the couple decided to give me both of the stools they were not using. Yesterday, I was able to place them by the bed. The smaller does not reach as high as the other, but it will allow Cammie to feel the first step before letting go of the bed, an improvement on simply dropping, literally blindly, to the floor.

Cammie has not used them yet, and it will take some time for her to decide to do so. She likely is not even aware that they are there, and I don’t want to force her to realise it. When I am present and see her trying to drop from the bed, I will point them out by patting their surfaces. I am attempting to teach her the word ‘step’. For the time being, they will be just more obstacles for her to bump into but, with luck and perseverance (mine and hers), they will become useful furniture to make her days and nights easier.

I just have to remember that the steps are there, otherwise sprains and concussions may become familiar to me as I rise from bed on dark mornings…

Monday, June 24, 2019

New Comforts

There is a corner of my apartment building, on the landing of a staircase, just within one of the doors, at which items are placed that the owners no longer want, but which they think may be of use to others. It is, in fact, a corner for recycling older but still serviceable articles. They may be glasses, cutlery, picture frames, pots for plants, or any other household item. Very few are tattered or unusable. The tenants use their common sense. The objects are free, of course, and usually are taken by another tenant; items that stay for a long time are disposed of by the resident manager to a thrift-shop. I myself have placed a few objects there.

Last week, someone put several large bath-towels in the corner. I didn’t want to use them for myself, but I knew who would. I gathered them up, washed them and laid them down in a couple of spots for the cats’ benefit. I already had towels there serving as blankets, but these are growing thin; the new ones are thick and soft. They have met with the critics’ approval.

I find the informal exchange of household items quite purposeful and sensible. There are many in which I am not interested, and those which I would not re-use. But by and large the objects I see on offer would come in handy to someone. And you can’t beat the price.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Danger Zones

Cammie continues to learn about life as a blind cat, and I learn about her learning. She explores almost fearlessly now, her principal problem coming from meeting other cats. Since she can’t see that they retreat when they encounter her, the princess’s dudgeon remains high long after it needs to.

But she often treks out to the sitting room to sit on the couch, to lie on the carpetted ledge by the screen door to the ditch, or even, as I saw here, to play a little. She was gently wrestling with a ball in this picture, though she is obscuring the ball itself. She won’t play when I offer toys to her because she can’t see them, and feeling them thrust upon her is more an intrusion than an invitation. But on her own terms, she can still have a bit of fun.

One exploit had me worried, however. She found her way to the top of the tallest cat-tree. She undoubtedly knew where she was, from smell and the fact that there were so many levels. She also knew when she had reached the top. The difficulty then arose of getting down. Feeling one’s way sightless from a great height is a scary business, and it took Cammie twenty minutes to decide to descend just one level – after which she returned to the top. I was frightened that she would make a misstep and fall, and I could not stay to supervise her efforts for as long as she might want to make them. It could have been hours. So I reluctantly intervened.

The sounds and threats she made when I picked her up were unpleasant to hear, and she was not in a forgiving mood even when she reached the floor. I disliked doing this and on another occasion, when I could remain and watch her, I would not have done it. But neither she nor I are yet confident enough in her blind abilities to let her attempt such a descent.
Soon, though, she recovered, and was relaxing on the couch. She condescended to let the matter drop and we were friends again. I much prefer her scaling such heights as a comfy cushion on a chair.

Someday, probably soon, she will be able to do almost everything she could when her eyes worked, but not just yet. For now, her world has a few more danger zones than it once did.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Coming Around Again

Raleigh is coming around again. That ugly spaniel regressed a while ago, and started running from me, even though he had been coming up onto my lap almost from the first day he arrived at my apartment. Something frightened him and he took to keeping his distance. Then, suddenly (as cat behaviour often seems to change), he decided to approach me.

Peachy now comes over to me quite frequently, especially before meals are served. He will lean into my hand and enjoy a vigorous head-rub, especially along the bridge of his nose. Oddly, he has not taken to lying on my lap again, and he is still easily spooked, so I am reluctant at this point to try washing his face when I have the opportunity to hold him, even though that droopy countenance needs it constantly. Seizing him and picking him up are only for serious matters; he dislikes these actions right now and I’ll only perform them if I need to attend to something important. But he lets me brush him and I have brushed out a few more of the last mats on his rear right flank.

He also enjoys playing in the shallow boxes and lids strewn on the floor. His many-toed feet can’t grasp things well, but he may actually use that to have fun: I see, and hear, him scrabbling at the bottom and sides of a box, presumably trying to grab a toy.

But when by himself, he can usually be found at the screen door to the ditch. Sometimes, he is in a cat-tree, but most often, he lies or crouches on the carpeted shelf in front of the door. What he can see from that angle must be limited, but he loves the vantage point, so I won’t argue with him.

 Raleigh has turned out to be a prodigious talker. He doesn’t converse all the time, but when he does, he can be most insistent. I don’t know what he is trying to tell me, but I think it is best just to uphold my side of the discussion. He appears to be satisfied with that.

He is the only cat living with me whom I rescued. To the others I have given a home and a family, but I was less involved in the rescues than in their aftermath. The Peach was living in loose association with a feral colony, and with his FIV and stomatitis, I don’t think he would have survived our latest winter, which was a long one. He loves curling up in one of the cat-beds, and he loves his food; nutrition and comfort were two things he probably found in short supply in the wild. He plays and sometimes gives an outsider-cat what-for, because the intruder is coming too close to his home. These too are behaviours he likely would not have known in his previous existence. Inconvenient and frustrating at times, worrisome and expensive at others, I am nonetheless glad Raleigh is here. I suppose that’s good, because he may be here a while…

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Adapting Me, Adapting You, Uh-huh

Cammie is adapting to her sightlessness. She doesn’t stay hiding in the bedroom but explores quite a bit. She goes searching for food or water but much of her peregrinations seem to be simply to learn the lie of her newly benighted land. I don’t know if this is true, but the princess appears to wander about more now than when she could see, and I can’t think of any other reason for it.

She sits at windows to sniff the air. If she has any vision at all, it must be very limited, perhaps to vague shapes and movement. She doesn’t use the saddle at the top of the taller bedroom cat-tree anymore. That was where she would view the world most often. Now, her preferred spots are the bed or the towel that serves as a blanket on the floor in a corner of the bedroom.

Since she is most often there, I wanted to provide her with easier access to water. She has climbed up on to the ledge that runs under the bedroom windows, where there has always been a bowl, but that’s a bit of an ordeal for a blind cat. So I have given her a small bowl in the little shelf (intended originally for a vertical computer) of my desk. She resorts to that bowl often, so I feel that she is maintaining her water-consumption adequately. She also still drinks from the larger bowls by the bedroom door and in the corridor.

I think my princess is most unnerved by the other cats. She doesn’t appear to be overly annoyed at constantly bumping her head against walls or the edges of doors; the fact that she does so now more than immediately after her stroke makes me wonder if her sight’s damage increased, or perhaps ‘consolidated’, over the last three weeks. Her movements are slow and deliberate, and she is learning as she goes. But she never liked proximity to the other beasts, and the fact that she can come upon them without warning angers her. Of particular trouble is Raleigh, who is not shy about inserting himself into another’s food. (He is not aggressive about it; he acts as if he thinks the other cat would gladly share. How he survived any time in the wild is beyond me.) However, I am still confining Cammie to the bedroom during my work-days, so she has ample and unshared access to her food, water and litter-box.

I intend to find another set of steps for the bed. Cammie uses the set at the bed’s foot, especially for descending, but she just as frequently leaves by the sides, especially if other cats are on the bed, and this represents a bit of a scary drop for her, executed without grace. If she knows that there is an smoother method of leaving the bed, she will undoubtedly use it.

So we are adapting, she and I. Cammie of course has the more difficult task; mine is to make hers less so. She deserves to have a contented, normal life, even if its normality is somewhat different than what it once was.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

His Name was Parker

The casket I chose for Parker’s ashes is a simple one. The selection was not large, and I didn’t want anything rococo. There is meant to be a photograph inserted; instead I put his name in the space, the label’s hue being taken from his smooth and soft coat.

Parker’s remains came home last week, but I wished to find the right picture frame for his memorial photograph before setting out the casket. (I noted that I wrote almost exactly the same thing after Tungsten’s death.) I found it late this week and finished printing out and inserting Puck’s picture.

I still find myself suddenly remembering that I had not prepared the orange-boy’s insulin syringe, or wondering where my sixth cat is when I count fuzzy heads before leaving for work. I suppose these habits will fade.

What won’t fade are my memories of this marvelous little fellow. I recall that Tungsten had a minor temporomandibular joint disorder, which would make her jaw click when she yawned. A sound like that even today makes me think of the tiny terror. So it is with certain sounds or actions with regard to Parker. He could leave a bit of a mess when he ate, especially latterly, so I would use old pieces of paper as place-mats. When I would take one from where I kept it on top of the refrigerator, he knew that I was about to serve his meal. The sound of a single sheet of paper being ruffled in that way will, I think, always bring my sturdy-boy to mind.

I am grateful and pleased that so many people followed Parker’s adventures, through good and bad, especially through those four short months subsequent to his diagnosis of cancer. He refused to live his life differently than he had, enjoying what he could, right up to his last day. He is gone now, yet still with me, as I am, I hope, still with him. As Dr Bellen said, “I will always be with you.”

His name was Parker. He was my friend, and I will remember him.