Monday, June 29, 2020

A Blep on the Radar

Neville sticks his tongue out more than any other cat I’ve had as a roommate. Usually, just the tip protrudes. Once in a while, it is more. I don’t know why he does it; I don’t know why any cat does it. Perhaps Nev is using it to test the temperature, his fur preventing him from attaining an accurate reading otherwise. Perhaps it’s a hint that he is hungry, and that I should feed him. Perhaps he is expressing his opinion of me, his surroundings, or life in general. Perhaps he thinks he’s a snake.

Whatever the cause, I find it amusing. I captured the moment in a slightly blurry photograph. I intend to show it to too many uninterested people.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

His Natural Selection

I haven’t had too many long-haired cats in my life. Kola, a previous foster-cat, was one. Now, there is Neville. The parts of him that were shorn of fur by the veterinary are slowly coming to be covered again, but what was left to him is enough to make him a bit of a puzzle to the eyes when he is twisted about and snoozing.

This is the Nevsky when he is more easily identified.

But then he will throw himself on his back, roll about for position, and stretch out. It becomes a matter of looking twice if I want to find which end is which. This is important, I have found, for the purposes of petting. It doesn’t help that Nev is, unlike Renn, whom I think counts as a medium-haired feline, all one hue.

Eventually, I solve the mystery, even though he renews it each time. Each cat is unique, in many ways. It’s just one of Neville’s characteristics that he blends in, not with his surroundings, but with himself. That may not help him in nature, befuddling potential enemies, but on a bed or couch, it does give his human pause. I suppose this is an insider-cat’s version of natural selection.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Intimidator

With the excitement of Ambrose’s escape and trapping behind us, routine returns to the Cosy Apartment. Sable appeared, as I mentioned, Wednesday night, but neither she nor Jessel showed up last night, when they could have had a relaxed and undistracted meal each. I hope to see them soon, if only to know they are all right.

Before Ambrose, however, I noted that Sable’s reaction to coming for a meal was dependent upon who was watching her. Renn, who is usually - usually - kind and open-pawed with those with whom he lives, can be quite territorial with outsider-cats, even those as obviously harmless as Sable. When Renn is at the screen of the sliding glass door, Sable keeps her distance. I know she understands that the screen is a barrier; she also understands that it is not a strong one, and she doesn’t quite trust my big boy not to burst through it.

Consequently, I’ve taken to placing Sable’s dish of food on the parapet of the concrete ditch. The height and added distance provides her with a security that a lower, nearer feeding location does not.

Such, I know, are the precautions that outsider- (and even insider-) cats must sometimes take. Their world is not a safe one, and circumstances are not always to be trusted. While I know that Renn would probably rely more on a growl and a hiss than a bite or a scratch, this knowledge is far from universal. Though I know him to be mostly harmless, this cat is, believe it or not, sometimes perceived as intimidating. It’s all in one’s perspective.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ambrose Goes Home

Firstly, let me write that little Eos - now re-named, due to some confusion, Fanta - is recuperating in the Cosy Apartment. She will be released later today. She has, to my surprise, eaten a little food, drank plenty of water and even dribbled a little in a small container of litter I have provided for her. She hates me, however, and makes no effort to hide her feelings. That’s all right; I expect defiance from a tiny tortoiseshell.

Secondly, I will explain the excitement surrounding the capture of Ambrose. It constituted one of the most suspenseful episodes of my life, which is rather sad since it involved a cat. But nonetheless…

I had determined to set my trap early last night, as Ambrose had found me unprepared previously by showing up about nine o’clock. I therefore set it about eight-thirty, aided by a pleasantly cool evening and gathering clouds, that kept the sun from heating the bait and attracting flies. The early evening gave us rain, which I knew would keep all cats under shelter. I enjoy a rainy day, but this time, I wanted it to cease. It did, thank goodness, soon after nine o’clock. Half an hour later, Ambrose appeared, and the fun began.

In the dimming light - due not only to the setting sun but to clouds which, after thinning subsequent to the rain, were thickening again - I saw a cat on the grass by the fence a dozen feet away. It was Sable, my friendly regular visitor to the food bowls. But then I observed, emerging from under the fence, Ambrose. He sat behind Sable; they obviously both wanted food. But if Sable were to eat the bait and trigger the trap, it would be a disaster: not only would I not get Ambrose this night, but I would likely never get him, after he witnessed another cat being seized by the trap.

Sable, however, has a sweet-tooth - well, a preference for hard-food. She ignored the food in the trap where it was lying on the parapet of my concrete ditch, and dropped down to eat from the hard-food bowl in its shelter by the door. I was grateful for this but was reminded that Ambrose too might pass up the more threatening soft-food for the safer hard. Sable, oddly, did not remain for long, for which I was also grateful. This left Ambrose to explore the food in the trap.

And explore it he did. He knew there was food there; he could smell it, he could see, he could almost taste it. But he distrusted the strange metal cage in which the food had been placed. He circled the trap slowly, numerous times. He dropped into the ditch and considered it from below. He pawed at it through the mesh of thin bars. I watched him discreetly the whole time. If I had been sitting on a chair, I would have been on its edge.

Then, he left. I was disappointed but not despairing. It was only about ten o’clock. I knew Ambrose was hungry, and thought he might be back. I re-charged the bowl with fresher food, and more of it. I waited. Sure enough, my quarry returned. He spent some time picking at the hard-food in the grass; I scatter it there to attract birds for my cats to watch. By this time, I had removed the hard-food bowl, so that my visitor wouldn’t be tempted to eat from it instead of the more tempting but possibly dangerous soft-food. Ambrose came back to the trap, circling it some more. Then, he squatted in front of the trap, staring at the food. For ten minutes. He eventually stood and trotted down to the far end of the apartment building.

I re-positioned the cage so that he would encounter it on his way back, as I knew he would exit the lawn by the way he had come. I would wait. I had time, right? Wrong. The clouds had built up, and lightning flashed in the west. The storm was coming back; it would be a thunderstorm this time, and I noted that Ambrose glanced up at the rumbling sounds. They would frighten him away, and soon, if the rain didn’t cause him to seek shelter sooner.

I decided to add to his temptation - literally. I took a handful of Temptation Treats and scattered them within the trap, concentrating a pile of them on the platform-trigger. Ambrose re-traced his route toward my apartment. He spent some time jumping, presumably on insects or the like, some of which he caught and ate. But they hardly sated his appetite, and he caught wind of the treats. By now, that wind had freshened, and it brought something to me: rain, on its way.

Ambrose found some of the treats that had fallen outside the bars of the trap, but he smelled many more inside. He worked his way around the oblong cage and, at last, inside. He didn’t trigger the trap, however, and I held my breath, in case I should panic him in the decisive moment. He crawled farther in to the trap - and the door closed.

I immediately called his owner, the young woman who had contacted the PAW Society about him in the first place. She and a friend hurried over. Immensely happy over the recovery - I had them identify Ambrose on the spot, just in case - they loaded the trap into their car. (I thought it much safer for him to be released in the security of his home, rather than venture a transfer where we were.) Ambrose’s hazardous adventure was over, and he would be with his family again. The rain started to fall heavily fifteen minutes later.

I have no pictures from the evening; it was too dark for photographs. But below are a couple of images from before Ambrose’s escape, showing how his life will be, once more.

I think I aged several years last night. But all is well that ends well, as the Bard wrote, and all was worth the effort. I hope Ambrose slept well last night; I suspect he did. I know I did.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

No Luck with Ambrose but...

I had no luck with Ambrose last night. I saw him a couple of times, but he surprised me by showing up earlier than he has before. I hadn’t put food in the trap because the day and evening were so warm and sunny, any cat-food left out was swarmed with flies and ants. I was ready to bait the trap when the day had cooled, but Ambrose anticipated me. I will be ready for him earlier this evening.

Ambrose eluded me, but this little one didn’t.

I’ve named her Eos. She won’t be with me for long.  She is going to be spayed today, and then released back to her feral family. She is about four or five months old, not the two or three months I thought. I wish there was a home for her to go to, as I think she could be socialised, but, as most reading this know, there are already far more cats needing homes than there are homes. But at least Eos will be with her siblings again, and won’t make any more homeless kittens.

Now for her brothers and sisters…

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Ambrose at Twilight

As I wrote yesterday, I am trying to capture cats at work. This morning’s score is discouraging: the traps’ triggers didn’t trip when tiny kitten weights pressed on them; they received a free breakfast of sardines and made their escapes. I will have to set the triggers more precariously. Also, I captured an adult cat who had already made his journey to the veterinary. Tomorrow, I hunt again.

Now, however, I am also going to be trapping at home, too. This is Ambrose.

Ambrose is not his real name; it is one I have given him, but it will do for this story. A week or more ago, a young woman emailed the rescue-group with whom I work inquiring if anyone had reported seeing or meeting her cat, who had escaped his home. The description and photographs provided were not familiar to me. Then, on Facebook, she expanded a little on her narration, and reported where Ambrose had been lost. It was on my street.

It was then that I realised Ambrose looked similar to the cat who had recently started coming by my apartment. He shows up at twilight, both the evening’s and the morning’s. He eats rapidly and hungrily, and rarely leaves a morsel; usually, he washes his meal down with a long drink from the water-bowl. Last night, as he was scurrying off following a good dinner, I called him by the name of the lost cat. He stopped, turned and sat down. Now, an interesting coincidence is that I was the one who had responded to the woman’s email to the rescue-group; this is part of my duties. After telling her that no one had reported her lost cat, the cat began coming to my apartment every day.

After Ambrose recognized his name, I called the woman, and she and her friend came over to try to find him. We saw him but he was too frightened and confused to recognise his human. I spent forty minutes slipping in and out of back lawns, between houses and down alleys. We tried treats and tinned food, but nothing would coax Ambrose to his person. We had to give up for the night, and I was worried that our quarry would be too scared to appear again, or even to stay in the neighbourhood. Ten minutes later, though, he showed up at my apartment, hungry from his pursuit. This morning, he appeared again.

I believe that he will fall for a trap. Ignorant of how to survive in the ‘wild’, Ambrose is, I think, hungry enough to ignore whatever vessel food is in and walk into a cage. I will be testing my theory this evening. Perhaps, with luck - if the kittens at work haven’t hoarded it all in the evasion of their own traps - Ambrose will be back home before the last vestiges of sunlight fade today.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Operation Raffles

Once again, the traps are out behind my work-place. We have spotted four kittens there; they are likely between two and three months old, but that’s just a guess. I will be trying to capture them and have them fixed.

This will be difficult. These ones are much more irregular in their habits than the previous sets of kittens we’ve trapped. They are sometimes not seen for days, and even the food left for them goes untouched. Now and then, we see only one or two of them, not all, and we don’t always see them in the same places. The only advantage I have in this endeavour is that the little ones are too young to be wary of traps, as traps.

I would also like to capture the cat we believe is the mother, though we cannot be certain. I have named her Bauble (hence the name of the operation, after the fictional gentleman-thief), but, to be honest, I don’t know if she is mother to the kittens, if she is not already spayed, or even if she is a she. She (for convenience, I will use the feminine pronoun) appears irregularly, just like the kittens, though more frequently.

And, as a bonus, it would be very gratifying to capture a cat I’ve named Sunrise, a healthy looking tom who shows up now and then for food.

He used to be very frightened of people, but seeing the colony-caretaker bring out tasty sustenance has made him accustomed to the people at my work-place, and, though he keeps an eye on passers-by, he no longer even stops eating when a human walks near. But he too keeps no habitual schedule, and catching him will rely on chance, as it will with the other five.

I will keep everyone apprised of developments but, unfortunately, I don’t expect to be sending any news soon. Unless something in the situation alters, however, the traps will be set almost every weekday. Somecat will slip up eventually, and when he or she does, my trap will be there.

Sunday, June 21, 2020


I’ve never had all of my cats on the bed at once and been able to photograph it. They have, recently, been on there at night, but I had no proof. And, of course, I haven’t had as few cats for a long time. But, considering their diverse characters, and that they all would prefer to be only-cats, I think this picture is rather gratifying.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

An Unexpected Visit to the Doctor

Josie gave me a scare this week. Thursday morning, I woke to find her out of sorts. She usually starts moving when I do each morning; takes a long drink of water from the bowl on the window ledge, sometimes follows me out to the kitchen for breakfast, sometimes awaits it on the bed, but in general has an active routine she follows. This day, she continued to lie, not in the saddle of Cammie’s cat-tree, but on a lower platform of the one next to it, which is abnormal. She ate, but without enthusiasm, and drank some water later.

The unusual behaviour continued in a similar vein when I returned from work that afternoon, and did not change by Friday morning. I made an appointment for Josie with a veterinary. It was not with her usual doctor, however. That hospital was booked solid for more than a week, except for a few times in the middle of days. I had taken a day off here and there recently to attend to other matters, and my department is still flying at half-staff, so a mid-day appointment was not practical. Another hospital, however, was available; moreover, it was one whose doctor I trust, as the rescue-group to which I belong uses her services. And they could take Josie late Friday afternoon.

My Chubs had a physical examination, and a sample of her blood was stolen. It had been more than a year since she had last suffered a full exam, so I wanted everything tested, including urine. What I was afraid of was a worsened kidney condition, perhaps even final failure. What was transpiring was a urinary tract infection.

This came as a surprise. I am normally attendant to the number of times my cats visit the litter-boxes, and I am certain the Great White had not resorted to them much more than usual. I had noticed that, instead of the very occasional missed box – a relic of Josie’s over-weight days when her bum would overshoot the interior – she was wetting outside the box more often than not. I had considered arthritis or other joint-pain to be causing discomfort in climbing into the box; I had not considered an infection was deflecting her aim.

But this malady is preferable to kidney shut-down, of course. Josie was started on anti-biotics as soon as she arrived home. It is to continue (a milliliter of medicine twice a day) for a fortnight. The first dose caused a great improvement in her condition by that night; Josie has not had recourse to such a drug in years, so it had a tremendous effect. She was eating – and, as important, asking for food – by snack-time, and was behaving more as she should. But we will hammer the infection for two weeks; then my Chubs will go to the doctor to see how things stand.

Otherwise, Josie is, as I had hoped and suspected, in good shape for a sixteen year old. Her heart and lungs sound good, she is an adequate weight and – a pleasant surprise – her kidneys are actually functioning a little better than they were a year ago. She may need some extra fluids in the near future, but the veterinary did not think it necessary right now. Josie might indeed be suffering some arthritis; I asked the doctor about giving joint-medicine, to which she agreed. I have a bottle of that coming to me early next week.

The doctor’s visit, perhaps overdue, relieved my mind on a number of points. Josie ate well today, and her behaviour is nearly back to normal. My old lady will get well, and back on track to become even older.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Gull of Some People

Ironically, though the Café Cosy has a discriminating clientele, the café itself does not discriminate. Big or small; black or white, brown or grey; avian, mammalian or reptilian; we are happy to serve them all. It was, then, with a certain pleasure that we welcomed a new patron to the restaurant.

He approached his table hesitantly; perhaps he has been more accustomed to the rougher establishments of the waterfront. Not to worry, though; we at the Café Cosy cater to all tastes and backgrounds. Our new customer ate hurriedly at first, but returned for a further meal, evidently as glad to have come as we were to have him. He favoured the salmon paté.

There were, we regretted to note, certain members of the staff who rather rudely stared at the first-time patron. The latter did not let the impoliteness put him off, fortunately. Even so, we will have a word with our employee. We’ll take into account the fact that he’s new.