Monday, November 25, 2019

The Bald Facts

Tucker is developing a bald patch on his back. I am certain it is not caused by excessive grooming on his part; I’ve never seen him licking the spot and, indeed, I don’t think he can reach it. It has appeared very recently and, from my perspective, suddenly, though this may be simply because it has at last lost enough hair to be noticeable.

Whatever the case, it is a bit of a concern for me, especially coupled with the fact that the roly poly is becoming less rolier and less polier; in other words, I believe he is still losing weight. This second characteristic may send him to the doctor in the next week or so.

Tucker is otherwise fine, so far as I can determine. He is still as good-natured as always, and never seems to be in discomfort. I recently conducted a ‘curve’ to study his blood-glucose numbers, and they came back, if not impressive, then normal for him. His appetite remains sparse, though this has been a fact for years.

All this means that I will watch his condition closely, and decide whether to take him for an examination soon. The trouble with that is, as many cat-owners know, there is only so much that a doctor can discover at certain times and with certain symptoms. Nonetheless, a consultation may be in order.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

You're Welcome

I recently published an entry describing Raleigh’s integration in the household. I may be harping on Peachy’s adjustments to life at the cosy apartment a bit too much, but the progress this very timid fellow has made makes me feel very good. With me, he has made strides, especially recently, allowing me to walk past him and even up to him without scurrying away. I can pick him up, without a struggle on his part (not without reluctance, however); I hold him very briefly, give him a kiss on the top of his fuzzy head, then put him down. I think this demonstrates to him that being picked up doesn’t always lead to horrific consequences, such as clipped nails or eye-drops. And I have shown pictures of him on the bed with Josie and Renn; those two, and especially my Chubs, are pretty easy on new cats.

But what made me feel especially good was Tucker deciding to come up onto the bed when Raleigh was already there. I was at the computer next the bed yesterday evening when I saw Tucker amble hesitantly into the bedroom. He knew that the Peach was already in place and spent about five minutes determining his course of action. Eventually, despite my urgings, the roly poly turned and walked out. But not two minutes later, he surprised me by climbing up the short staircase at the bed’s foot and lying down. True, he was wary, and seemed not really to relax, but he made the effort and took the chance. Raleigh didn’t move; I imagine he was too comfortable. Both cats remained on the bed for about twenty minutes.

Seeing a cat learn to trust is heart-warming. It isn’t rescue’s purpose, since rescuing animals is not about how they interact with humans, but about how to better their lives. This may involve socialisation, it may not. But when it does, such progress is a visible reward for efforts which sometimes don’t receive any recognition from the animals themselves and, indeed, should not require any. Even so, when someone like Raleigh accepts his roommates, both human and feline, he is, in a way, saying “thank you”. And that is always nice to hear.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dinner and Conversation

I had noted previously that Neville eats while lying down. Another characteristic of his dining is his talking. About two thirds of his meals are narrated by what sounds like a running commentary on the food, the service, the company, whatever strikes his fancy. The monologue is in the form of a low, throaty rumble, the sort that can continue even as he eats.

The other beasts noticed this mumbling right away, and I think it disturbed their repasts a bit. Now, however, they ignore it; Nevsky has fit in that much. Well, if he wants to talk while he eats, I won’t stop him. I just wish he’d speak up, so I can understand him.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Marvellous Evolution

I have previously said, or written, that cats are creatures of habit: they will follow a routine religiously – until they don’t. The truth is that cats’ behaviour evolves, usually along with their personalities. Cammie is a good example of this.

Her world changed fundamentally after her stroke at the end of May. She recovered, at least superficially, from all its effects save for her blindness. She cannot see. At first, I thought this might lead to her remaining stationary as much as possible. But I didn’t count on her spirit, a spirit which demanded that she rule her principality as a princess should. I have described how she will ‘make a progression’ (as it was called when the Tudor monarchs did it) through the length and breadth of the realm simply to take a drink of water from her favourite cup. Even so, she has changed, though how much this has resulted from her sightlessness I can’t say.

She has become a lap-cat. She can often be found in one of the two heated cat-beds these days – it’s cold outside now, and my princess is, shall we say, mature – but she waits at certain times of the day for me to sit on the couch. After dinner, for instance, I relax for a bit with a cup of tea. When she hears me sit, she gets up and makes her way over to me, climbing up her little staircase and lying down on my lap (getting up and walking away only to return a couple of times in the first one or two minutes…). Initially, she lie diagonally across my lap, so I needed one hand to support her, and keep her from falling off as she relaxed and the other hand to pet her. Now, she situates herself more centrally, and I can actually hold a book to read while she lies on me. Sometimes, she will stay with me for half an hour, purring the whole time.

Cammie’s meal-times have changed, too. She doesn’t always want soft food; now and then, she simply doesn’t feel like it. But when she does, she will sit up in her bed, or at least raise her head, showing some interest. I tell her, “Cammie, up up, up up.” Very often, she will walk to the sitting room’s couch, once more ascend the stairs and wait for her food. That’s where she usually eats now. I don’t know how this evolved, but I am pleased by it. It allows me to keep a ready eye on her, to see if she wants more food, to see if she is eating at all and, most importantly, to see when she is finished. When she finishes, she gets down and, though, since she was struck blind, she rarely tries to eat anyone else’s food, that is still a danger, so having her where I can observe her permits me better to guard against her ingestion of food that will cause one of her episodes.

Finally, there is the moment when, early in the morning, I must go to work. To relieve her of the stress of negotiating an apartment full of cats when I am not present, and to encourage her to eat the special hard food she is given, I isolate the princess in the bedroom. She has there a litter-box, food and three water-bowls (though I think she uses only her favourite.) Since I have started installing a heated cat-bed each day before leaving, Cammie is much less reluctant to go into the bedroom at the appointed time. In fact, now she frequently does it unbidden. I will sometimes see her slowly walking toward the bedroom of her own volition, or will find her already there, in the cat-bed or waiting for it. There, she has all the comforts and is, for the day, an ‘only-cat’, as is her fervent desire.

My Cammie’s habits change, as do those of other cats; sometimes slowly, imperceptibly; sometimes over night. I am thankful that her evolutions have been beneficial, helpful not only to herself but to me. When I think back to her arrival in my life, and how I was actually afraid of this hissing, yowling animal, I think that her time with me has been filled with marvels. But then, that is to be expected, for Cammie is a marvel herself.

Friday, November 8, 2019

When Change Isn't Terrible

Neville is becoming more and more comfortable with living in the cosy apartment. He has begun using the litter-boxes in the store-room, the ones the other beasts use, and not just the box in the library, which was his sole box during his brief confinement in that room. To me, this suggests that he is starting to think of himself as acceptable by and accepting of the others.

The Thin Man also has been exploring his small world more, not restricting himself to the top of the tall cat-tree in the sitting room. I find him sometimes relaxing on the couch; he will now and then eat his dinner on the shorter cat-tree, and he has been up on a dining room chair. As well, he has jumped on to the bed at bed-time twice. He seems a bit bewildered as to what should happen next, and even rather disappointed that all that follows is sleep. He has on both occasions soon jumped down again. But the important thing is that he leaped up in the first place.

Neville is comfortable around the other cats. I attribute this to their almost complete apathy toward him. I think he enjoys that. At his previous foster-home, he was one of many cats, too, but several annoyed him, without meaning to; one, in particular, an eager little kitten, thought of Neville as a playmate, or perhaps a play-thing, which led to stress on Nevsky’s part and, in turn, bad blood-sugar numbers. Now, he wanders about, briefly stared at by some, and verbally savaged by Cammie if he is in her way, but otherwise unnoticed. I believe that this has permitted not only a remission in his diabetes, but an ironic kind of welcome. A cat who isn’t definitely rejected by a group soon finds his own place in it.

He is also warming to me. He enjoys play-time, and especially meal-times. I pet him as often as possible and, when I do, have noticed that his purring starts sooner. He doesn’t like being held, and may never do, but merely twists and turns in my grasp; he doesn’t scratch or bite. Neville is a cat of moderate patience. I can cut his claws, though he begins to end the procedure after one paw is done; even so, I can do both forefeet without much trouble.

As Neville and I grow more acquainted, and accustomed to each other, I will learn more about him, and his trust in me will increase. So far, his integration into life at the cosy apartment has been good, from my point of view; I hope it is from his, too.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Rebus Redux

To be honest, he may be Philo, but Rebus’s name provides alliteration.

In any case, I was able to re-trap one of the black kittens this morning. I’m sure he’s kicking himself for falling for the same trick twice, but the temperature dropped to -12° (-4° F) last night, so if he can be tamed, it will be the last frigid night Rebus will have to suffer.

There are still Philo and Rhombus to re-capture. The latter I have not seen since I released him subsequent to his neutering, but I will plan for his trapping, too. In the meantime, I will hope my luck holds. If I am lucky, then the remaining pair of kittens will be, as well.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Their New World

It’s been a number of days since I began Operation Déjà Vu - my attempt to re-capture the previously trapped and released kittens in the feral colony. So far, it has been a failure. As I feared, the three youngsters - Rebus, Rhombus and Philo - are now wary of the trap, and are avoiding it. I will continue my efforts, as it means the difference for them between life in the wild and a safe and healthy home.

In the meantime, progress on the parts of their brother and sister has been very good. Medallion had a head-start on her sibling, formerly named Phineas, now Phocas (due to a Finnegan being in the same household, and the names being too similar), but the little boycat has caught up. They have been out of their cage and on laps, where they have experienced the joys of being petted. Both have responded with hesitant purrs. They were reluctant to eat on their own, and were being hand-fed. Last night, however, they took the big step of eating a meal on their own. In the lower photograph, Medallion is a bit difficult to see because of her colouring, but she is in front and to the right of her brother.

Medallion and Phocas are in a foster-home which is very successful at socialising cats. The people there have brought around shy cats and kittens numerous times. When captured, the other three will go to another foster-home, whose person is equally patient and knowledgeable in the ways of cats.