Monday, March 30, 2020

Dirty Lies

I have cat-beds, heated and unheated; I have a human bed; I have couches and chairs; I have soft carpets and rugs. This is where Neville likes to lie sometimes. It is the old rug in the entrance hall of the apartment. I need to replace it. In the meantime, it is dirty, being on what I wipe the soles of my shoes when I come in. Nev likes to lie on it.

He does like listening to the noises that come from outside the apartment, noises from the corridor beyond the door. Perhaps he wishes to escape and is awaiting his opportunity.

He reposes elsewhere, too. He enjoys the rug in the sitting room, and the top of the taller cat-tree there. But he also lies on the relatively hard and definitely dirty rug by the front door. I don’t mind that much; he does keep himself clean.

And if I ever want him to stop, I’ll just replace the rug with a clean, soft and comfortable cat-bed. He’ll never go near it.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Easier Like Sunday Morning

It was a bumpy week for Cammie, but I believe this one will be better.

I did have to take the princess to the doctor on Friday. I perhaps should have done so earlier, but I was hoping such a stressful event would not be necessary. However, she threw up thrice that morning, starting in the wee hours. I called the hospital as soon as it opened and arranged for Cammie to be brought in just for a Cerenia injection. If I had requested an examination, it may not have been possible, as there were no appointments available.

It was an interesting journey she and I had to take (as I age, I am growing to dislike interesting things, unless they are books or movies.) The veterinary hospital has reduced its hours because of the corona virus crisis, and thus is busier. I would have preferred a quick once-over for my Siamese girl, and perhaps some fluids, but those were not, I thought, necessary. A quick injection, however, was possible.

The cab was more than an hour coming after I had called one – I had checked beforehand into how long I would have to wait, and had been told thirty to forty minutes. The cab companies are operating with decreased drivers, and are very busy. When I arrived at the hospital, I had to wait outside for a veterinary technician to come and retrieve Cammie in her carrier. The door to the hospital was locked and unlocked each time an employee came and went. The taxi-driver was kind enough not to keep his meter running while I waited. (He told me that they were “not very busy, anyway.” His opinion was, clearly, different than his dispatcher’s.) Cammie was returned to me after receiving her injection. I had taken time off of work for the trip and returned there, afterward.

Strangely, following a week during which Cammie continued to eat and drink in between vomiting, quite contrary to her usual episodes, after being given Cerenia, she lost her appetite – but didn’t throw up. She did eat and drink some Friday evening, but she was out of sorts again Saturday, and ate little. Today, however, she is behaving a little more typically. There is, I believe, nonetheless something still a little ‘off’ about her. She has not brought up any more food or water, thank goodness, and is eating, so the immediate problems are in abeyance.

I can’t help thinking that she has weakened recently. She walks with more frailty and, now and then, her rear legs give out on her. But this morning, she climbed the stairs to the bed, and lie on my chest for a while, purring. She indulged in her morning stretch – a walk around and outside the bedroom – and had a decent breakfast. For a blind, fifteen year old cat who suffered a stroke ten months ago, she is doing adequately. For the rest, I will keep vigilant and, as are many of us currently, be thankful day by day.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

What If It's Only Partly Broke?

Cammie is puzzling me. Yesterday evening, she was feeling off again - “all overish”, as Mr Parker might say - but during the day, while I was at work, the princess ate some food and drank some water. She didn’t want anything later, and threw up a little. She also vomited some this morning, yet ate a decent soft-food breakfast minutes later. What she spewed up was some pinky foam - not good, but also in small amounts, and with no food in it; there wasn’t enough to account for the water she had drunk, either. These are good in that it means nutrition is getting into her. But why is she throwing up at all?

It could be a hairball, but with her extreme allergies, I am loathe even to give her hairball medicine.

I won’t take her to the hospital yet. She is undoubtedly suffering something adverse, but it isn’t like her usual episodes. I could take her in for an injection of Cerenia, but if she is eating, the drug might upset that, while calming her stomach - which, though in some turmoil, is not rejecting all food and water. If that happens, she will need to see a doctor, and that could be the case when I return home this afternoon. I expect it to happen on the weekend, when the veterinary hospitals are closed…

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

It Would Probably Have Been a Bad Year, Anyway

Cammie was sick on Monday. She was fine Sunday evening but I knew immediately upon waking the next morning that she was out of sorts. She remained in her heated cat-bed, and did not get up to stroll about for her morning stretch as she usually does; had no interest in food or water, and didn’t get up on my bed to snooze before I left for work. She was no better when I came home and had thrown up at some point during the day.

I didn’t think this was one of her usual episodes, which I always ascribe to eating something, however small, to which she is allergic, which is almost everything. She had not thrown up during the night but, rather, later during the day - her vomiting usually comes sooner in such an episode - nor did she try to eat but not feel like actually eating. There was something that suggested another cause, but I thought of making a veterinary appointment for her nonetheless. Considering the current restrictions on social interaction, I was not looking forward to that.

Tuesday morning, I right away noticed a change in the princess. She was more alert, and she was ready to eat. She had a light breakfast, but it was food in her tummy, and when I came home in the afternoon, I saw that she had eaten some of her hard-food and drunk some water. She had not thrown up. That evening, she had a good dinner.

Today, before I left for work again, Cammie ate some food, but not a great deal. She was a little worse than Tuesday but still better than Monday.

This may be just a passing bug, a pale reflection of what the human world is experiencing, perhaps. It doesn’t have all the symptoms of her usual allergic reaction, and it has some that such an episode does not bring. Whatever the matter, the way Cammie was feeling on Monday took another year off my life. I hope she recovers swiftly and well enough to put a few months back on.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A Day in the Life of Ivan Bellenovich

Every day I usually find something interesting when I go home. Bear in mind that ‘interesting’ is a description, not a compliment or a desideratum. World War One is interesting to me. I wish it hadn’t been fought and hate the idea of humans killing each other, but it’s interesting. Every day I usually find something interesting when I go home.

Some days are a convergence of various interests. For instance, yesterday, I arrived home and was greeted as I usually am by Tucker, Raleigh and Josie. The others are more blasé about my return. The first thing I noticed that was out of sorts was that someone had vomited on the linoleum floor. That wasn’t too bad; it’s easy to clean up. Then I found where they had thrown up on the fitted carpet, just inches from the edge of one of the rugs I’d placed to prevent vomit landing on the fitted carpet. In the bathroom, someone had managed to throw up on the wall. That was a new one. I suspect these various-coloured patches were due to Josie, who was unwell in the morning. (She was better in the evening.)

Cammie had of course wet on the soaker pad in front of her litter-box in the bedroom, where she is sequestered during the day. She always does this. She doesn’t need to; she wets in the box at other times. That meant laundry to do.

Renn’s cold has returned and he was sneezing up a storm, often against window panes (more Lysine will be administered for him) and I observed that Raleigh was squinting in his left eye, something he hasn’t done for a long time: that eye was bothering him again. Fortunately, I still have some Tobramycin that hasn’t expired. He would have to be caught twice a day for that.

Someone missed the litter-box in the store-room and wet on the floor there. That was probably my Chubs. She normally puts her bum toward the rear of the box, but now and then she faces the other way and overshoots the box. I place a towel there to catch her residue, but it means laundry has to be done. Luckily, I already have to do it (see above.)

After the litter-boxes are scooped, the store-room floor washed and swept, the vomit treated and the rugs vacuumed, I went to the kitchen to prepare everyone’s dinner. There I noticed that someone had wet on the floor. That was extraordinary. Almost no one goes into the kitchen, except to chivvy me into hurrying with their food. But the urine looked odd. I sniffed it, but it had no smell; it was very diluted, apparently. It was all liquid, so it was very unlikely to be vomit. I wiped it up and started the food.

Then I saw that there were drips coming from the cabinet under my kitchen sink. Not urine: leaking tap-water. I had a leak. After dinner - the cats’, not mine; that comes much later - I removed everything from under the sink, wiped up the water, re-laid tin foil on the floor of the cabinet (I do that to reduce stains and wear on the floor’s wood), found the leak and put a bowl under it.

At last, I was able to prepare food for myself, eat and have a cup of tea. Then I started the evening’s chores.

Every day I usually find something interesting when I go home. Yesterday was just another day.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Like Houseguests in a Russian Novel

I was reading some of my original entries regarding Raleigh, and how he came to be in the Cosy Apartment. Early on, I wrote about preparing Peachy for adoption, but somewhere along the way, the idea was discarded. He just sort of ended up staying, like the family guest in a Russian novel. By the time it was obvious that he would remain, it had also became obvious that for him to go to another home, unless it was necessary, would be a bad thing. He is so very timid, and distrusting, that it would take a very long time for him to grow accustomed to his new environment. It was a year or more before he started coming to me for petting, and even now he is quite jumpy. Add to that year the possible effect of being moved and a good portion of the remainder of his life could be spent in merely getting used to new surroundings.

Raleigh’s case illustrates how some cats end up staying in their foster-homes. Most, I imagine, are conscious decisions. Of my current beasts, Josie was an straightforward adoption, after a trial period, but Renn and Tucker were foster-cats I simply decided to keep. I liked them, and they seemed to like living with me, so the decision was an easy one. But each of these three would adapt in a reasonable amount of time to a new home. My Chubs and my big boy would, I think, suffer little from the transition, and Tucker, after a respectable mourning period, would reconcile himself to a different human, I’m sure.

Such a shift in the world would be much more difficult for Cammie. It is not just her blindness. She took an extraordinarily long time to trust me; her sightlessness has, of course, accentuated this characteristic. Hers is a third type of foster-failure: in addition to the ‘evolutionary’ adoption, such as Raleigh’s, and the decision based on mutual affection, as was the case with my others, I made a determination that Cammie would stay, not entirely based on affection but on what I considered was best for her. To be honest, I was more than a little apprehensive at keeping her, and having to deal with a cat who seemed ready to claw and bite at any sign of coercion (such as going to a veterinary or taking medicine.) But we have overcome that (really, I don’t think she was ever much of a danger), and like many arranged relationships, I would now make the decision based on my feelings toward her.

Though there may be a limited number of ways a cat comes to be a part of a family, the details are as varied as cats are themselves. Each one comes to a home for a different reason, and it may not be the reason why the cat is still in the home years later. But then, that is the nature of relationships: they change and evolve. The only thing that doesn’t change, for those of us who are cat-people, is our basic affection for our feline families.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Old Acquaintance Ne'er Forgot

I was able to renew my acquaintance with Adah on the weekend. Once a month, the rescue-group of which I am part, the Lethbridge PAW Society, has a ‘show-and-tell’ event at a local pet-supply shop at which we feature a cat who is available for adoption. This time, Adah and her foster-sibling, Flint, were in attendance. While neither feline was at his or her best - it can be a bit stressful for some, while others shrug off the occasion - I was glad to see Adah again.

For those who don’t know, I found Adah behind my work-place the day she was born. She and her two siblings, whom I call brothers for convenience, were being nursed, on open pavement, by their mother, who was far too young to care for the kittens. Left unattended, the kittens were vulnerable, so I placed them in a box with a sweater as a mattress; their mother watched this done and later returned to them. The next day, though, I discovered two of the kittens on the pavement in the hot sun. One, whom I named Seraph, had already died; the other, Jacob, passed away soon after. The third, whom I called Esau (the mother was a cat we thought was one we had named Rebecca, but it turned out not to be), was in the shade and screaming his head off. Clearly the mother was not capable of looking after the little survivor. Another cat, Miss Mew, was living with a family and had just lost all her kittens; she had milk to spare. Esau was rushed to her and Miss Mew raised him as her own (along with four other orphans). Soon we learned that Esau was a girl, and so she was re-named Adah.

Adah has been in foster-care since. While she is content and devoted to her foster-mum, she remains one of those cats who should have been adopted long ago. She is very friendly to people, and a good companion to every feline who will let her.

She is a bit of a top-cat, but not aggressively so. She has recently been helping a few new cats adjust to foster-life. She was cosy with one of the formerly feral youngsters we have tamed, and last week a fully socialised five-month old was abandoned and taken in by our group. She has bad dreams and cries in her sleep; during one episode, Adah hurried over and started licking the newcomer’s ears and face.

Who could not want to adopt such a cat?

Monday, March 16, 2020

As Close as Fuzz on a Peach

Raleigh is an odd cat. While he will react to other felines, almost always in a friendly fashion, he doesn’t seem to think that he himself will elicit any response from others. He has no sense of another cat’s personal space.

I woke up in the night during the weekend to violent growls and hisses from Cammie. Turning on the light, I saw that she had climbed to the top of one of the bedroom cat-trees; the air outside was warmer than usual that evening, and the window was open. This had attracted my blind princess, and she had ascended to sniff the fragrances of the outside. It had also lured Raleigh. The Peach was calmly crouched beside Cammie, a bewildered expression on his face, his innocent mind unable to grasp that she was enraged at his proximity. Because of Cammie’s sightlessness, I had to urge Raleigh down, so that Cammie could make her retreat.

Raleigh has attempted friendship with Renn and with Neville, but neither of those fellows seem to find the idea appealing. This does not affect Raleigh’s position or passage next to them, or next to any other of the beasts. He will squat beside anyone, trot by, and in one or two cases, over, others, without regard for their presence. If, as sometimes happens, Tucker will whap at Raleigh, the latter will move away; the next time, he will walk just as close, oblivious to the previous whapping.

Peachy carries this characteristic to interaction with me, as well. Once he trusted me enough to approach (and I still need to be slow in my physical contact with him), he had no problem with putting his face as close as possible to mine, a level of comfort not always seen in cats.

The cats of the Cosy Apartment have generally been very conscious of each other and, unfortunately, rather stand-offish. If they lie next to each other, it is accidental, and one or another is probably too lazy to move after getting comfortable. They will sniff each other now and then (especially Renn, with that big nose of his), but being in the same location at the same time is not something any of them relish. Yet to Raleigh, it matters not.

How did he decide on this? Was he raised in great closeness with other cats? Did this behaviour develop after he had been lost or abandoned? His is a very gentle nature; he wants no trouble from anyone and wants to give it to none. I’ve seen him whap - and that in self-defence - only once (when Renn’s sniffing grew too invasive). Otherwise, he has been more of a pacifist than Josie. It’s a character I wouldn’t mind seeing my other beasts adopt. But I would still like to know how it came to be.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Grey Puzzle

Neville is proving a bit of a puzzle. Not only has his diabetes resurged, but it is deciding not to be greatly affected by the insulin I am giving him. For a week, I gave him one unit a day, increasing to one twice a day. That did not make a great dent in his numbers. I have since put his dosage up to two units twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening.

While I was gratified to see his initial reading in the morning (before insulin) had decreased to 15.0, six hours later, after receiving two units of his medicine, it had dropped to only 14.4. This is mysterious to me, as such an amount of insulin should have had a greater influence.

I won’t put up his dosage again, as I don’t favour endlessly increasing an amount in the face of small effects. I believe the insulin (from a different source than his first) is lowering his blood-sugar reading, but the amount is enigmatically small; I still do not believe he is insulin-resistant. My intention is to continue his current dosage (two units twice a day) for a couple of weeks, reading his numbers periodically, to see what a longer-term programme does to them.

I am reluctant to take Neville to the doctor for this, because of the stress he would undoubtedly feel, and the fact that I would in likelihood receive a prescription very similar to what I am doing now: having started with a small dosage of insulin, raising it a little but not greatly, and seeing what happens on that amount. There is a possibility of course that the doctor would find something else wrong with Neville, but I see no other worrisome signs in him. I will watch for any warnings; even if I see none, I may take him to the veterinary if we have no adequate response from his new insulin dosage.

In the meanwhile, Nevsky is not happy, thinking that I am coming to stab his ears every time I approach him. He has not, even though he has been in the Cosy Apartment since September, really reconciled himself to being here, or to me. I think he prefers it to his previous setting, but I don’t believe he is pleased to be here. I hope that this is just a matter of time.

Friday, March 13, 2020


I have not seen Sable and her sister, Sablette, for a long time. These two all-black cats used to come rather frequently, if not regularly, to eat from the food-bowl I maintain for outsider-cats. When I would see them, I would feed them soft-food, as well, often enough for them to start asking for it when they came to visit. Then, they stopped coming. I feared something had happened to them.

Last night, a single black cat showed up at the edge of my ‘patio’, the concrete ditch beyond my outside door. She - I use the feminine pronoun for convenience - was skittish, but came to eat soft-food from a dish when I placed one on the ground. She was hungry: she ate half a three-ounce tin of Fancy Feast, then the rest of it. She cleaned her bowl but remained close at hand, so I emptied the remains of a tin of Merrick (about three more ounces) that no one inside had wanted. She was eating that when I went to bed, being already thirty minutes late for sleep. (Forgive the poor quality of the photo; it was taken in minimal light between courses served to my visitor.)

This morning, it had snowed, and a thick layer of precipitation lie on the ground. The bowl was covered in snow, but had been previously licked clean. Whoever she was, she had been hungry. There was no other sign of her.

Was she Sable? This one was less confident than I remember Sable, so it may have been Sablette, the more timid sister. But if Sable had lost her sister, or had suffered some other trauma since I had last seen her, who knows how she would now behave. Then again, it may have been a different cat all together. I will ask my neighbours if they have observed this cat, and who they may think she is. If she is Sable or Sablette, where has she been all this time, and what happened to her sibling? If not, who is she?

The most I can assert for sure is that she had a good meal, perhaps for the first time in a while.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Better and a Little Easier

My foster-cat Neville gave me some good news last night, though not initially. At six o’clock, I tested his blood-glucose and found it at 20.0. For a cat who lived with it between four and eight for the final third of 2019, that is very high. But I  injected him with one unit of glargine, the same insulin that Tucker receives, and by 10.30, his number was a more satisfactory 13.0. That is hardly what I want, but compared to the higher number, it is what I will take. And in fact, I suspect his nadir (the lowest the ‘curve’ of his blood-sugar will reach before it begins climbing again) is actually lower, but I had to get to bed at some point. Tucker’s nadir is usually four and a half hours after his injection, but most cats’ are later. Come the weekend, I will test Neville more toward midnight.

Also on the weekend, I will test his blood in the morning. If it is, as I suspect, high then too, I will consider a unit of insulin twice a day. And once the testing is over, he will have nothing more to dread from poking and prodding except the daily injections, which, considering where they are given and the thinness of the needles, are hardly to be felt. I will of course perform ‘curves’ on him, as I do with Tucker, but that is an ordeal only monthly.

I appreciate the good thoughts and hopes given Neville by the readers of this blog, and word of their experiences, too. Roberta’s message that her Jeremy went for four years without insulin before requiring it again, while undoubtedly disheartening for her and Jeremy, did show me that this phenomenon can occur, and that it is not isolated to my boy.

So Nev begins again. With the right dosage of insulin at the right times, he may yet free himself of the need for medicine. If not, he will have relief from the effects of diabetes for as long as he needs it.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Good But Not Easy

Well, my programme to start Neville on insulin again to lower his blood-sugar levels has hit a snag. The insulin isn’t working.

I measured his glucose level at six o’clock Sunday morning and found it to be 15.2. This is not dangerously high but of course it is too high for health. I wanted to give him his dose in the evening so that I could check his blood some hours later, to judge its effect. At six p.m., his number was 15.1. I administered a single unit of insulin and measured Nevsky’s blood at 10.30, close to my bed-time. It was 15.1.

I have been adept at counting for some years, so I immediately knew that this number was the same as the one four and a half hours earlier…

This was disappointing, and a little puzzling. The insulin should have had an effect, even a small amount such as one unit. However, I recalled that when I took Neville in, and was given a couple of insulin vials by his previous care-giver, she had said that one of the vials had been accidentally left out of the refrigerator for some hours. Insulin needs to be kept chilled to stay potent. Naturally, at the cost of insulin, one doesn’t want to throw any out, so I kept both vials, not sure whether the amount of time one had been left uncooled would have ruined it. I don’t think I have had to give Nev any insulin since his second arrival. (He came to stay with me for a week prior to when his long-term fostering began, and it was during that week that I had injected him with insulin, but at no time after.)

Now I think I know that the insulin left out of the refrigerator is ruined. That is the likeliest explanation for the complete lack of change after his injection. There is a chance that Neville has become insulin-resistant, though, since he hasn’t had any since September, that is improbable; from what I understand, such resistance comes after prolonged exposure to the drug.

I do have options. I have a second vial of the same kind of insulin (ProZinc). This is insulin made specifically for cats, and has been very successful in treating feline diabetes. It is also expensive, and the cheapest outlet is a town some distance away. While picking up the insulin there is practicable now, if I need to do it myself, I could have difficulties; even with someone else in the rescue-group collecting it, it is inconvenient at best. The insulin that Tucker uses, Glargine, works very well but is not specifically for cats; it is less expensive than ProZinc, and its source much more conveniently placed. Either way, I will try a different container of insulin and see how Neville’s numbers react to it.

The poor guy is still quite upset by having to give blood. The actual sampling is smooth: once he is in place, he remains still and poking him causes minimal movement. He nonetheless dislikes it. I was therefore hoping to reduce the number of times I had to stab him by achieving a good measure of the insulin’s effect. Now, that will have to be done again.

Even when life is good for a cat, it’s not always easy.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Reluctant Patient, Reluctant Doctor

The frustrating nature of diabetes has once again been brought to my attention. Neville came to stay with me on a foster-basis last September, and, though he received insulin for his diabetes, it was a short time before it went into remission. Random tests of his blood-sugar soon revealed numbers between four and eight, the perfect range.

Now, however, he is registering numbers in the teens. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Nevsky was a little off his food, and was choosing spots in which to snooze that were out of the way. He was not hiding all the time, and continued to play. But I thought I should take a look at his blood-sugar again, as it may have been a higher number that was influencing his behaviour. Two tests, a couple of days apart, resulted in numbers between 14 and 15. Today, it was 17.1.

I cannot account for the rise in numbers. He is eating a new food, as he seemed to have become bored with his previous soft-food. This variety, however, has, according to my research, the proportion of carbohydrate low enough for a diabetic’s good health. (Any percentage under ten is acceptable.) There was also the fact that we have been suffering from very high winds for a long run of days; I thought that they may have been causing stress, and elevating Nev’s numbers. That hypothesis reflected, admittedly, an outside chance.

I have begun giving Neville a single unit of insulin once a day, in the evening. I started today; tomorrow I will test him again; it won’t be a full ‘curve’ of bi-hourly sampling, but I will poke his ears at six o’clock tomorrow morning, then at mid-day and, finally, just before his insulin – if it is needed – in the evening. I want to see a good curve. Perhaps after a few weeks of this, hopefully less, his system will re-adjust itself to what it was. In the meantime, the poor fellow will have to accustom himself to some daily jabs.

Neville is still a slender mancat, though no longer the Thin Man he once was. That would make injecting him by syringe easier, if his fur, now much longer than it was when I used to give him insulin, did not make finding his skin under it all difficult. In many ways, he can be impatient; in receiving injections, however, he is a good patient, and I am grateful for that.

I would be even more grateful if he need not be a patient at all.