Monday, September 30, 2019

Neville on the Town

I made it to work this morning. I walked, rather than take my bicycle, as none of the streets or sidewalks were yet ploughed, though the walkways and parking lot of my building were cleared. The company that runs the cosy apartment’s building is a pretty good one. On my way to work, I had to keep looking over my shoulder to make certain no one ran me down, as I had to trudge in the ruts already made by automobile tires, but there were few vehicles on the streets anyway. One was, and was stuck in the snow, but I and three other men helped push her clear. It took me only twenty minutes, including the time taken to help the motorist, to make it to my work-place. It usually takes me just under ten on my bicycle, so it wasn’t a long time by foot. Only about a third of the work-force is here, however, and I am the only one out of five in my department.

Now, on to the important things. As you may see from the pictures, Neville stepped out of the library and, eventually, into the sitting room. For about an hour, he relaxed at the top of the tall cat-tree there. Raleigh is very curious about him (you will note Peachy almost hidden behind the right-hand cat-tree in the second photograph), and keeps trying to approach him. I would love for those two to become pals, but so far, my hopes for friendships among my misanthropic (misfelinic?) cats have been disappointed. Neville hisses and growls at Raleigh, but it’s early days yet. The Thin Man came from an overcrowded setting, the number of cats contributing to his stress, diabetic irregularities and eating troubles, so it is not surprising that he wants to be left alone. Most of mine will probably do just that. The library - and under my bed - remain his safe zones, and he stays in the library over night and when I am absent, at least for now.

Neville’s numbers were very good all weekend, and he didn’t need insulin once. He is anxious when I come in to the library, especially in the mornings, as he fears ear-poking for his blood-glucose readings. But we are done with them for a few days. He doesn’t struggle while I am poking him anymore, which is a relief and a great convenience. He has, I think, become rather fatalistic about the process. Perhaps there is some Russian in him. I should call him Nevsky.

He also ate a hearty breakfast, as did the others. That always puts me in a good mood. I think I’d rather my cats eat well, especially to start the day, than I. Then, I was able to face the day optimistically. At least until I stepped unwittingly into the first two-foot deep snowdrift.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Our Early Winter Day

We are having an old-fashioned blizzard here in southern Alberta. The snow started to fall yesterday and it has yet to stop. It is accompanied by high winds, making for unpleasant conditions. The temperature is not very low, however, only a degree below freezing, though this will fall with darkness and the night will be very cold indeed, if the wind continues.

This weather was predicted, and is not really uncommon in the autumn in these parts, though it is rather early for such a severe storm. I worry about all the animals who have to face the blizzard, especially the cats and dogs who are homeless, in particular those house-pets who have been lost or abandoned, and don’t have the experience or skills to survive.

My own lot are coping with the frigid weather as they cope with the warm: by sleeping. These six, at least, need not concern themselves with the outside world and its unpleasantness. Their anxieties are primarily filled with finding the comfortable spot in which to snooze. And so they should be.

Friday, September 27, 2019

What Tucker Learned at the Hospital

Tucker and I went to the veterinary hospital yesterday. The smudge under his nostril that I thought was a scab was just that: a scab. An $84 scab.

It had not been healing properly, and I was worried that it might be a symptom of something much more dangerous. I decided to get it examined by the veterinary and, while I am pleased it turned out to be nothing of importance, it was an expensive resolution to my worry.

However, I also learned that Tucker’s weight-loss is so gradual that I need not be very concerned about it. The doctor figures it is not incompatible with a cat aging, and wants me to keep an eye on it, but is not worried by it. The roly poly’s fur is not as healthy as it was, so I will be giving him salmon oil. I had tried this previously but had put it on his food, which was not as successful as I would have liked. This time, I will use a syringe to give it to him directly. He may even like the taste of it, though I doubt that that will reconcile him to being force-fed. Otherwise, Tucker is in good condition, with a healthy heart and lungs.

He was a happy cat once he returned home, and ate a good dinner. He had an enjoyable evening, with some play-time, relaxation, a little hissing at the new cat, and then bed. He quickly forgot his trip to the hospital. But then, he doesn’t have a bill for a reminder.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Neville, Thus Far

My new foster-cat, Neville, is settling in a bit more. I bring him to the bedroom when I have a half-hour or more to spend in there (I figure taking him there for less time would be disruptive to him); usually, I try to have one of the other beasts there. He does not seem to be bothered by Josie at all. Tucker required some getting used to, but both the roly poly and the Thin Man snoozed on the bed (some distance apart). Renn will probably be next, as he is in the bedroom quite a bit. I figure continual exposure to the others, especially when they want nothing more than to sleep, will give Neville a beneficent impression of the neighbourhood.

His blood-glucose numbers are very good. On several days I have not had to give him his insulin, and on the days I have, I have given just one unit once a day, rather than the one and a half twice a day he was getting when he came. I attribute this improvement to good and steady work by his former foster-guardian. The trouble is that while I should be testing him every day (twice a day, at that), it is simply too hard on Neville. He cringes sometimes when he sees me coming, and I know it’s because of the ear-pokes. I will give him one unit of insulin in the evenings unless his testing dictates otherwise, and monitor him closely.

One of my concerns is that Nev is quite uninterested in things. He is not lethargic as such, so I don’t think it is an effect of the diabetes. He is alert, when he wants to be; he’s just not interested in anything. I will continue to attempt to amuse him with toys, strings and other diversions. In the meantime, I will talk to him and pet him. And inflict other cats upon his presence.

While the Thin Man’s progress is slow, it is showing more promise than I had first anticipated, especially in the possibilities of integration. Neville huffs and puffs when angry (as Parker did), but once presented with another cat, he seems to accept the situation, if not pushed into it too fast.

And here, below, is Nev’s first official portrait, taken by someone who is not me. I think it conveys his personality well, and hides the hacked-up hair that is only slowly renewing itself. Isn’t he a handsome fellow?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

To Warm the Dark Months

Since it is officially autumn now, I have to prepare the cosy apartment to become cosier. I have two heated cat-beds, and I am very satisfied with the continued performance of the heating pads in them. I bought them some years ago, possibly seven or eight, and, despite being plugged in and working continuously through the cold months, and, when it looked as if they were needed, into the spring and summer, too, they are still warming little feline bodies.

I cannot find their like, however, and I want more heat for cat-beds. So on Monday, (the first day of the new season), I bought this. It is a bed-warmer. Though it is neither the size nor shape of any cat-bed, it claims to warm a bed sufficiently. Note the size of the bed the dog is using on the box. I will be adding this little strip to Neville’s bed. (This reminds me that his bed is a mere towel. But with the addition of quilt-batting (with which I have stuffed the regular cat-beds), I can make it softer. I will have to put in more layers of cloth, of course.) The Thin Man will undoubtedly be with me through the winter, and, as the library can be stuffy with the door closed and no cross-stream of air, I tend to leave the window open a tiny amount for freshness. Nev will need a bit of extra warmth.

I will conduct a test with the warming-strip first. I want to know how hot it becomes, how much cloth I require to place under it, and between it and a reclining cat. I want to be confident that it is not a hazard, and I need to be sure Neville will use it. If it works well, I will buy a second.

Freezing temperatures are predicted for this weekend already, and snow, too, so making the apartment more snug comes not a moment too soon. The snow, I am sure, will not last, but it will return; low temperatures will certainly come to stay. And if they come knocking, I want some warmth with which to refuse them entry.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Puzzle of the Thin Man

Neville’s placement in the cosy apartment is not progressing just yet. I had to take blood from his ear for his glucose-readings, and I am certain I hurt him during the attempt. He also disliked being restrained while I took the sample, though I had no choice. As a result, he is now somewhat afraid of me.

Aside from that, he is uninterested in anything. He doesn’t want to look out the window, or interact with me. He is unmoved by the other cats except when he thinks they may be too close to him. I have tried playing with him but that bores him, as well. Because I am not sure how to stimulate him, he continues to prove a challenge. He may be a little depressed.

I have been taking him into the bedroom when Renn or Josie are on the cat-trees. Nev doesn’t seem to mind them there. He snoozes on the bed. I let Tucker come in yesterday and get up on the foot of the bed, more to see the roly poly’s reaction than the Thin Man’s. Surprisingly, while Tucker stared at the new fellow, he did not seem put out. Neville, however, was not ready for a strange cat that close to him.

I bought another track-ball to amuse Neville, but he seemed unmoved by it. Parker liked the toy, as did, many years ago, Kola, another of my foster-cats. I now buy them periodically, whenever I feel the need to spend $25 pointlessly. I may try a cat-nip toy with Neville, though I am distrustful of the substance. It seems to have an unpredictable effect on the beasts in my household. But my skinny boy needs some distraction, so I will see what he thinks of it. I hope that some improvement is just a matter of time.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

In This Corner, the Challenger...

Neville is going to be a bit of a challenge to me, I think, in several ways.

Just giving him needles for his insulin is tough because his skin is so thin, and he has no fat, so I don’t know if I am getting the needle in or not; that means I have to fuss more with him than I did with Parker. That in turn makes him impatient and squirmy. I hope to perform a ‘curve’ on the Thin Man(cat) this Saturday; I’ll see then how he behaves under constant poking.

Neville’s going to be slow to integrate, I think, but it’ll happen. He dislikes the sight of the other cats, but that may change when he is actually in the same room with them for some time and they ignore him. I have brought him into the bedroom to spend time with him there, but he has now started crawling under the bed.

On the positive side, my new guest chose to spend some time on my lap last night, which he hasn’t done since his first visit with me. He was also looking out the library window. He has mastered the bedroom window, but from where he sat on the library couch, he could not see out the room’s window, so he may have been unaware of its purpose. I placed him on the bookcase under it, and he caught on.

The part of the plan that called for Nev to be examined by a veterinary has been moved up. He may be going in the next week or two, rather than in a month or six weeks. This will let the rescue-group know if there are any problems facing his health that we have not uncovered, and will allow us better to define our plans for him.

In the meantime, I will continue to assure him that he is safe and has a home for as long as he needs one. He may, despite all the other cats, eventually choose to believe me.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Dr Raleigh and Mr Peach

Sometimes, I think Raleigh has a split personality. At times, he is timid but brave enough to come to me and receive pets. It is always the similarly: he begins with talking, saying what sounds like the same thing repeatedly. He approaches me, I hold out my hand in a fist and he slowly, very cautiously, slips under it. He may hasten away even then, but usually, he will let me slide my hand along his back, after which he will come closer and I can pet and stroke him more, even lifting him a little (to get him accustomed to being picked up without cringing or flinching, and if I can manage to put two hands upon him without frightening him.)

Almost always, moments like this come when he is hungry, and he knows food is in the offing: when I first wake in the mornings and when I return from work in the afternoons. If he is feeling up to eating in the evenings, the scene will be repeated then.

Other times, Raleigh is just plain scared of me, hurrying away if I come within a certain distance (the length of which is known only to him.) If he is lying down at such a moment, he will get up and run away. It is as if he had never allowed me to come close at any other time, or as if I were a stranger to him.

This may be the way he will always be. Despite his continuing affliction with stomatitis, I believe he is in better shape than he was when he came to live with me a year ago. His nose is no longer crusty half the time, his eye runs only under great stress (for example, when forced to visit the veterinary hospital), he receives his fill at every meal and he enjoys the warmth and comfort of cat-beds and armchairs. He is protected from the dangers of the outdoors. If he never again ventures onto my lap, I will have to live with that. If he is always wary of my presence, so be it. Animal-rescue is not about the human, but about the animal. If Dr Raleigh enjoys a head-rub while Mr Peach scurries away from my touch, that is how it must be, as long as both of them are content.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Return of Neville

Neville returned today. I was expecting him to come back to the cosy apartment, but he is back sooner than originally anticipated, and under different conditions.

He is, in fact, here to stay – at least until he is adopted. This will be his new foster-home. The skinny cat with the bad haircut was going to room with me while his foster-guardian is travelling for a week. But the foster-guardian will be moving permanently quite soon. This is not a surprise to me or to the others in my rescue-group. The guardian is moving for her health, and at first intended to take Neville with her, as she is taking several other cats. But Neville’s diabetes, the length of the intended journey and the disruption of routines attendant upon both the trip and the arrival, will not do him any good. After some discussion, I volunteered to have him come to live with me.

The new boy will have his whole diabetes management re-assessed; there will likely be a new type of insulin, a new regimen and a different doctor involved. Neville will undergo a dental procedure, but not for at least a month; he needs his diabetes stabilised and his weight increased. I will monitor his blood-glucose and perform a ‘curve’ on him before any surgery; in fact, we plan for a full physical examination and blood tests, as well.

In the meantime, I will get to know my new roommate, and he will get to know his. I will integrate him with my lot – slowly, of course, and with special care regarding Cammie; she will not be happy with an addition to the household. But even after he begins meeting the others, Neville will be confined to the library when I am absent or asleep, similar to the process by which Parker was introduced to his new family. And, like my late friend Puck, Neville will, after he has filled out and his hair has grown back, be available for adoption.

For Neville’s part, he appears happy with his changed living arrangements. He will want out of the library very soon, I’m sure, but he seems pleased with the solitude and the quiet – his previous foster-home was rather crowded, and he had little peace while eating. There will be adjustments for everyone but, with perseverance and patience – and luck – things will work out. I hope.