Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Weary Traveller

There must come a milestone on his personal journey at which a cat decides that he can trust a human. Raleigh has been living with me since August of 2018. In the last few months, I’ve noticed a change come over him. He had been coming up to me just prior to meal-times and letting me rub his head - a pre-prandial ritual of sorts - and gradually permitting me to approach more and more at other times.

Now, though, I can come up to Peachy at almost any time and he will allow me to stroke his head or rub his face. Yesterday, I had to cut his claws. I was able easily to pick him. He still is very uncomfortable with being held, and tried a couple of times to leap from my arms. But when it was over, I placed him next to me and he walked away; he didn’t run. Raleigh then accepted as compensation the treats I gave him, coming out to me with just a little hesitation. And a few minutes later, I walked over to him, knelt down, put out my hand and over he came for a nuzzle.

He and I have another ritual. Well, the Peach developed it. After snack-times now, he expects to have his chest rubbed. He will eat one, two or three helpings of his food, depending on his appetite, and then, when I bring another portion, he will ignore it and come up to me asking for a chest-rub. So I will start petting him and, eventually, he will flop over, always with one hind claw hooked in the rug, and I will rub his chest so vigorously that I can move him around the floor doing it.

I must be careful not to pick Raleigh up for claw-cutting or veterinary visits if he comes to me on trust for some attention. I don’t want to use his growing confidence that way. I can collect him simply by coming up to him now - as long as I don’t do it too often.

Only rarely does he scurry from me these days. I believe he has accepted me as a human who won’t hurt him. It’s taken a long time and he has a ways to go yet. But he is getting there. This trust, and his possible friendship with Neville, shows that he has come to think of the Cosy Apartment as his home. For a fellow like Raleigh, that has been a lengthy and worrisome voyage. But he may have at last arrived.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Brains of the Family

My senior cat, Josie, is a most intelligent feline. When she is about to be ill, my Chubs, unlike most of her race, who seem to hurry toward the nearest rug-covered or carpeted floor (or failing that, clothes, bed-linen or drapes) in order to vomit or regurgitate, will hasten instead toward the bathroom or storeroom. There, the floor is bare, and easier to clean afterward. She learned this, no doubt, from continually being placed in the bathroom immediately before or after upchucking.

But the Great White shows she is smart in another way. When I come home to the Cosy Apartment, I often bring groceries or other bulky items (such as bags of cat-litter or food). When I open the front door, I sometimes keep it open while I bring in the loot. This is, of course, not to be done with many cats - certainly not ones whose personality and habits I don’t know. I will do it with mine because I know none is a ‘door-dasher’ and because, as an apartment, I have an ‘airlock’ - my front door lets out into a corridor, and not the outside.

That notwithstanding, Josie has developed a curiosity for the great outdoors, which to her is the corridor beyond the front door. I cannot guard against that interest and bring in supplies simultaneously. So I have been putting Josie into the boot-closet just inside the hall, and closing the front door on her, since the closet itself is doorless. Now, she understands what she must do when I come home (and I’m sure she understands why, too.) When I tell her to ‘come on’, she knows to go into her little jail for a minute, out of the way, out of harm, while I bring in what needs to be  brought in. I no longer must shepherd her in myself; she does it on her own.

My senior cat, Josie, is a most intelligent feline.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Will You Be My Neighbour?

The relationships of the cats in the Cosy Apartment are always interesting, and that between Raleigh and Neville took a step forward this weekend. Raleigh has long wanted a pal, I am sure. Initially, he tried to befriend Renn, but my big boy was satisfied with things as they were, and nothing came of it. Because of the topography of the apartment, however, Peachy has found himself sitting or lying near Neville quite often. This may have given him the notion to attempt an approach to the Thin Man.

Nev was at the top of the tallest cat-tree, in the sitting room. It’s a favourite resort of his. He no doubt feels safe from interference by other animals, and he can stretch his long frame out. Sunday, I watched as Raleigh slowly made his way up to the top, platform by platform, talking as he achieved each new level. I knew immediately that he was seeking company; he almost never goes to the top of that tree, even when it is vacant, and that may be due to his inadequate grasping skills; while the platforms make ascent easy, a cat indubitably feels that his claws are his insurance policy. But this time, Raleigh was deliberately climbing to the uppermost level.

Once there, he settled in, turning a couple of times. Nevsky regarded the interloper but apparently did not think anything bad of it. So far as I could tell, the Peach didn’t use the vantage point to look out the window for more than a minute. He was facing inward most of the time. That and his usual avoidance of that height suggested strongly to me that he went there for Neville’s company. I returned to the sitting room an hour later, and they were still there.

I hope for more to come of this. The two are unique in the apartment right now. Neville is new. He came from an environment where the many cats were a liability to him; those here are tolerable because they leave him alone. He seems to prefer that, though he may sense that Raleigh is too easy-going to cause stress.

Raleigh, for his part, being a former colony cat, understands different personalities in a group; he is the cat least fazed by group dynamics that I have known. He accepts warnings from his fellows but otherwise seems to assume felines think of him as he does about them. And he may have seen friendships in the colony on the fringe of which he lived, comprehended them, and wished for one himself.

I will keep my fingers crossed for these two.

Monday, January 13, 2020


Raleigh is polydactyl. One might describe him as multipolydactyl, since he has extra toes on each foot. While they are noticeable on his four feet, they are most noticeable on his forefeet. The interesting thing about the extra toes is that they appear to make it more difficult for him to pick things up. Peachy tends to scoop objects, rather than grasp them. While other cats will curl their toes (and thus their claws) around an item, Raleigh can at best gather it to himself. I don’t think his toes are as prehensile as most cats’. I have not seen him climb a cat-tree (except by stepping from one platform to another) or scratch at a carpeted post; he scratches at the corners of wooden furniture when he is hungry, but I don’t believe his toes can curl enough to engage a carpeted surface.

I wonder a couple of things about this. Is this characteristic of all polydactyl cats? I don’t think it is, but the Peach is the first one of whom I have first-paw experience. Secondly, does it make survival in the wild more difficult for an outside-cat? Raleigh had a number of disadvantages as a feline trying to get by outside; with FIV and stomatitis, and being unable fully to integrate into the feral colony on the fringes of which he hovered, a disability with picking up or grabbing an object would have sealed his fate.

In any case, his pontoons make watching him interesting. He certainly is not limited in his delight at playing, nor at enjoying a good snooze. In other words, for an insider-cat, polydactylism is no problem at all.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Better Now

Renn is feeling better. His indisposition did not last long, though he is still sneezing once in a while. I would have been surprised if his illness had lasted as long as it does in other cats. My big boy rarely feels under the weather, and when he does, it rarely affects him strongly.

Even so, he was in a particularly good mood after dinner yesterday, and lie on my lap for about twenty minutes. He is never averse to that, but nonetheless doesn’t come for a lie down on me often. He is not built for being a lap-cat, but certainly has the affectionate character of one.

Afterward, he went to snooze in the new cat-bed. He has been lying there as much as the others. Only Neville doesn’t care for it but, like Parker before him, Nevsky prefers the open spaces, in his case, either the carpeted floor or the wide top platforms of cat-trees. Renn, however, enjoys a cosy spot, whether it’s a well-padded bed, or me.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Sneezing, Now and Then

Renn has a cold. It’s not a bad cold. He’s sneezing - more often than not, on me - and he’s sniffling. He has a snotty sound to his breathing now and then. He is still eating, as little as he ever does. The cold’s effects are already diminishing, and won’t be present for long, I believe, and are not drastic, anyway.

My big boy rarely has a medical problem. It was determined that he needed to lose a few teeth after his last examination, and he had a dental that cleared up any mouth problems. Though his appetite is small, he always is strong and vigorous. He will be thirteen this year, however, and I must be vigilant with his health, though it has never been the concern for me that Tucker’s or Cammie’s has been. Watchfulness will be maintained.

So, while Renn sneezes now and then, he is all right and will, with luck and care, continue so. This entry was really just so I could display some pictures of the big boy, anyway…

Monday, January 6, 2020

A New Bit of Snug

We have a new cat-bed in the cosy apartment, given by a friend as a gift. I didn’t have a spot for it until after the Christmas tree came down yesterday. As soon as the new bed was in place, however, the beasts were examining it. Raleigh was the first to try it, and, to judge by the amount of time Peachy spent in it, he approves.

Cammie wandered out to the sitting room at some point in the afternoon. I wonder if she knew that something had changed and wanted to check it out. In any case, the princess found the new bed and also seems to like it. (She’s facing away from the camera but, since she’s blind, I don’t imagine it matters to her which way she looks.)

The one who liked it the most appears to be Josie. My Chubs spent much time in the new bed, especially in the evening - though she also likes the heated cat-bed across the sitting room.

I am pleased to have this new snug resort for the beasts, as the second heated bed is now in the bedroom and monopolized by Cammie. The new one, though not heated, has high sides, as you can see, and a deep cushion. The latter doesn’t come out, so I cannot place a heating pad inside the bed, but I can put one underneath it - with a blanket under that - if need be. But so far, the cat-bed by itself is drawing satisfied reviews from the critics.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Twelfth Day

Today is the last day of Christmas. Twelfth Day is always a bit melancholy here in the cosy apartment. The decorations must come down, and thoughts turn again to the more secular aspects of January: work, the cold weather – and looking forward to my holidays in June…

Aside from the tree, Yuletide decorations here centre on one of my tall sitting room bookcases. Unlike in my house, and my previous apartment, I have no fireplace now, so the stockings are hung on a bookcase, on the shelves of which are displayed the Christmas cards that people are kind enough to send me.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday and that it brought warmth and contentment. Here, we didn’t do much, but were able to stay cheerful and snug, and our thoughts will now increasingly be of balmy spring weather and open windows. Most of the cats will probably while away the time until then much like this…

Thursday, January 2, 2020

An Old Photograph

A friend (“A”) sent me a photograph of Cammie. She found it on her telephone; it had been taken five and a half years ago. Some of you reading this may not be aware of the awful adventure my princess underwent in the late spring of 2014. You can read of it in detail ( but in short, what happened was that Cammie was adopted by someone from Regina, five and a half hours away from my town. I had my reservations, and not just with the distance that Cammie would have to travel. The adopter wasn’t quite right, but I knew that Cammie would have a hard time being adopted, so we in the rescue-group thought this would be her chance.

It wasn’t. The adopter was reluctant to report on Cammie’s progress - something which isn’t necessary for new adopters but which we wanted because of the cat in this case, and the distance involved. She was difficult to get contact. Fortunately, “A” travels to Regina now and then on personal business. The adopter had borrowed a large carrier from “A” to make Cammie’s journey more comfortable, and it was intended that “A” collect it later. When she did, she learned that Cammie was, to put it bluntly, not being appreciated. Cammie was returned.

The picture is of my Siamese girl in the bathroom of a bed and breakfast, on her way back to stay with me - stay permanently, as it turned out.

I will always be grateful that “A” stopped by Cammie’s new residence while in Regina, and grateful for the miraculous set of circumstances that allowed her to bring Cammie back. The little cat didn’t suffer any lasting effects from her ordeal, and was her old self quite soon afterward.

That was before her battle against severe food allergies, and of course her stroke and blindness of last year. If that abortive adoption had proven permanent, I don’t think Cammie would have survived her allergies. She likely would have been euthanised. If not, she would certainly have been following her stroke. Her short-term adopter did not put in the effort to acclimate Cammie to her new environment; she would not have done any more to save her from the possibly deadly effects of her allergies, and the outcome of her stroke.

But Cammie has adjusted to every calamitous event in her existence. Her world is very circumscribed now, but she has worked out a new life, and is, at least, comfortable. Because bumping into another cat is startling to her in her blindness, and results in hissing and growling, the others stay out of her way; even Neville has learned this, and keeps a wary eye on the princess when she is roaming. She is not the top-cat of the household - she cares little for arranging the others’ places and managing their behaviour - but she is a force in the cosy apartment, as may be judged by this series of photographs, which may be entitled ‘Waiting Their Turn’.

I am happy that my Cammie was brought home and that she is still here, at home.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Dawn of the New Year

The first morning of 2020 did not look like these photographs, unfortunately. It dawned overcast and chilly. These pictures are from a few days ago, on a weekend morning. (And these are actually the morning's glow in the north and west, respectively, reflecting the sun's rise in the east.)

Even so, the new year has begun. I find that my morning routine has changed from this time in 2019. I formerly woke up on my days off at 5.30, fed the beasts, gave Tucker his insulin injection and, after cleaning the litter-boxes and eating my own breakfast, returned to bed. Now, I stay up.

I find that if I get all the chores that need doing out of the way early, I can relax more later on. I may not have any more time in which to do it, but it feels better. I usually have a nap after my chores have been completed, which restores some of my consciousness, if not my energy.

Perhaps this is part of growing older. I had noticed as a boy that old people (ie. in their thirties and forties) rose early; very old people (ie. in their fifties and sixties) rose even early, and ancients (ie. too old to count that high) woke up practically the night before. Now, I am doing it. I am certainly no more alert at dawn than I am later; I always seem to be tired. But I can have my nap without worrying about having to do too much later. As well, if I need to go out, there are fewer people about and many shops are open early anyway. When the spring and summer come, bicycle rides when the day is very young are always enjoyable.

So, while the first day of the year was not exactly sunny and cheery, I was awake, bright and eager and ready for all challenges. Well, bright and eager. All right, I was awake. Sort of.