Friday, August 28, 2020

Better Late Than Never

At the end of work today, I begin my holidays. They won’t be as long as usual - two weeks instead of three - but I consider myself lucky to have the time off; indeed, this year, I consider myself luckier than usual just still to have a job. But I have been looking forward to holidays since - well, since my last holidays ended…

They are later than normal in coming, too. This is partly due to the fact that a couple of people in my department at work have been off on extended leave due to health issues unrelated to covid-19. And others have been off for two weeks and more due to corona virus fears. All turned out well. It meant, though, that the person who wasn’t sick or incapacitated somehow had to stay. As usual, the reward for diligence and constant attendance is extra work.

Now, however, I will have some time off. There is plenty to do at the apartment, much to clean and mend. But time in Idylland also means relaxation, extra sleep and enjoyment of things I want to do, rather than must do. I won’t be going anywhere, yet I will enjoy the beautiful surroundings afforded by the woods of Verdureland, and spend time doing nothing among trees and streams.

I will continue to write on this blog while I am away; adventures of cats - and with cats - don’t end at the frontiers of Idylland. After all, the beasts will be coming with me: railways in Idylland allow pets to travel for free…

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Renn, Up and Down, In and Out

Renn is making news at the Cosy Apartment this week.

Firstly, he joined Josie and Tucker in the explorers’ club. He, like they, decided to see what was beyond the apartment’s front door. The interesting thing about my big boy and his curiosity is that he is less ambulatory than the other two. He will stay more in one spot, and be satisfied to examine his surroundings from there. He uses that large nose of his extensively. The other cats certainly sniff their way about a new environment, but Renn appears to rely on it more. I have long been convinced that he either is able to take in more with his prominent proboscis than others can, or he simply prefers its findings.

He did move about, but he remained rooted to a few spots over a long period of time; the slightest noise from the far end of the corridor caused him to be wary - and content with staying put. Despite his size, Renn is not overly courageous.

Secondly, and more seriously, he was under the weather yesterday. He didn’t eat, or drink, the whole day, so far as I can determine. He eats very little soft-food as it is, but he was uninterested in hard-food, or even water. He lie in one place in the library, and I could tell he was out of sorts, aside from his appetite.

I am pleased to write that this morning, he seemed more his old self. In fact, he ate more than his wont at breakfast; probably hungry from yesterday’s fast. I hope it all stayed down while I’ve been at work - I am pretty sure it will - and that some of that hunger will continue for dinner tonight. It’s always worrisome when one of the beasts doesn’t eat, and I try to be vigilant, especially coming off Josie’s recent scare.

But I am confident my big boy will be well, and maybe this weekend, even indulge in a little more exploration.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Table for Three, Please

While Josie continues her recovery on the inside, I receive more visitors on the outside.

The two long-haired black and white cats are familiar to me and, fortunately, are not unsocialised, unfixed or unattended by humans. Though they are outsider-cats, without a family home, they visit a neighbour of mine regularly, are fed by him, and allow him to pet them. They were frightened of me, but then, this is the first time they have come so close to my apartment. I suspect they did it only because Jessel was unfazed by my proximity.

I was surprised, however, that he knew the two girlcats – who have names, though they escaped me at the moment – and that they were friends. When I brought food out for the trio, the girls hurried away. Jessel followed, paused and glanced back when I tapped the ceramic food-bowl, but then continued after the girls when he saw that they were not stopping. He did come back later for dinner.

There is always something going on in the society of cats. Now and then, I’m lucky enough to witness it.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Thinner Woods

I want to thank all those who expressed a concern over Josie after reading of her latest journey to the veterinary hospital. I am pleased to report that everyone’s kind thoughts have helped turn her around.

My Chubs spent a quiet night, and this morning, ate a little food, and drank some water. I gave her some of the prescribed pain-killers, as I wouldn’t be home to observe her during the day, and some of her anti-biotic.

When I came home after work, there had been a greater improvement. Josie was glad to see me, purring and rubbing up against furniture. She wanted attention and I gave her some before preparing dinner. Again, she ate, more than in the morning, but only aided with a garnish on her food of Temptation treats; she appeared more ready for food than willing to eat it. Nonetheless, she ate. She even played, a few hours later.

Though she has not moved much from her location on the base of the bedroom cat-tree, the Great White doesn’t appear to be suffering any discomfort. I will finish the small supply of pain-killers I was provided, as I don’t want even residual pain to distract her from eating, drinking or visiting the litter-box. (On that last subject, there was a sizeable urine-ball in one of the boxes, at the spot that is usually the recipient of her efforts. I cannot, however, determine for certain that Josie caused it. I will be watching and listening for any visit she makes to the facilities.)

I hesitate to declare that we are out of the woods yet, but the trees are definitely growing more thinly. I don’t believe Josie is feeling any discomfort at all. I think that what she was – and still is – experiencing is another urinary tract infection, worse than the previous. She is, I further think, recovering from this one, but will receive the full amount of prescribed anti-biotics. I never feel merciful toward organisms that cause my cats to suffer, so I want the bacteria annihilated.

If, though, Josie continues to improve as she has so far, she will be feeling much better tomorrow. I hope her appetite returns, and her waste disposal becomes regular once more. With luck, vigilance and proper health care, my old lady will become older yet.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

It Must Be Sunday: I'm at the Vet's

Another weekend, another health crisis… Josie had to make an unscheduled trip to the hospital today.

Early this morning, my Chubs was fine. She ate breakfast, she demanded her treats, she drank water. Then, about mid-day, I saw her wetting on my bed. She had never done that before. While I was taking the bedclothes to the laundry, she threw up. I know it was her because of the contents that had been discharged, and the fact that it was in the bathroom; only Josie tries to get to the bathroom if she has to vomit.

Things grew worse as she started going to the litter-box but not leaving anything in the litter but her pawprints, though she had probably emptied what remained in her bladder on my bed, for a second time. She was crying by this time, obviously in distress, if not pain. She eventually just lie down in the litter-box.

I called the hospital and arranged for an emergency visit. The doctor examined my old lady and found that her bladder was indeed empty, so whatever was causing her to think she had to urinate was not urine. There was nothing that would indicate a mass or intrusion, and she was not constipated. If it were not for the vomiting, the doctor would have suspected a urinary tract infection, like the one Josie suffered two months ago. I know the Great White throws up more often than my other cats, and this morning may simply have been coincidental, exacerbated by whatever else she was feeling.

She was given an injection of Cerenia nonetheless, but also some anti-inflammatory drug. I was provided with a vial of anti-biotic, for I believed by this time that Josie was facing not an extraordinary internal situation (that is, cancer, which is always a fear of mine) but a simpler but still dangerous infection.

For two hours after her return home, she rested quietly, even sleeping; I could hear her snoring. Then she woke and started crying again, and once more attempted to wet in the litter-box without success. I called her doctor and was able to obtain some pain-killers for Josie, which I should have done during the first visit. My old girl is resting tranquilly once more. I will see what the night brings.

There are several possibilities in my mind. One, the best and, I hope, the likeliest, is that she is fighting an infection but, until it vanishes completely, is making her uncomfortable, even causing her pain. This scenario suggests that the pain will disappear with the infection. She may have a kidney-stone, or something stuck in her bowels. I don’t know the symptoms of these ailments – other than that the kidney-stone causes agony; I know this from personal experience. In any case, I will ask about these possibilities tomorrow, when I call the animal hospital.

I intend to reduce the amount of joint-medicine she has been receiving. I will also give her less frequently the mild laxative she has been getting. I don’t want to give her too much of too many medicines.  They will be eliminated all together until her current anti-biotic doses are done.

The doctor told me that Josie is in very good shape for her age, aside from today’s problem; weight, temperature, heart and lungs are all good. It may be, after all, that my Chubs is dealing with something very unusual but, hopefully, treatable. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Beach of His Youth

I’ve written about Josie growing old, but age is overtaking my other cats just as much. They are all into their elderly years, except for Neville, who is middle-aged. (The situation reminds me of the film Space Cowboys, in which Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and James Garner play seniors re-entering the space programme, with Tommy Lee Jones as the youngster…)

Tucker is not the chubby baby he used to be, and I worry about him sometimes. But now and then, he does something that reminds me of his youth. I was thinking just the other day that he has not stretched out in his ‘bathing beauty’ pose for some time, and I attributed it to  the regrettable loss of elasticity that accompanies the gathering years.

Imagine my delight then, when I saw him lying like this last night. All he needs is a brightly coloured beach towel under him and he could be reclining on the seashore in Idylland, catching the balmy August breezes off the bay.

While my lot may be moving a little more slowly compared to yesteryear, their appetites less and their naps longer, they are, in some ways yet, still the cats of their youth, and still like to relax on a beach in the warmth of their summer’s afternoon.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

This Night's Monolith

It’s difficult to sleep in very hot weather. Add to that the usual problems that cats get up to, and sleepless nights - or, to be more accurate, unrestful nights - may result.

Very early this morning, Josie started throwing up. She normally gives plenty of warning - her heaves will continue for half a minute before they are consummated with the production of upchuck - so I had time not only to get out of bed and make sure she was in the bathroom - she was already - but to put a cat-food box under her to obviate any need to clean up a mess. It was only four o’clock, so I had another hour of sleep remaining, if I could drift off readily enough.

It was not meant to be. One of my outsider-cats, Jessel, had come by for some hard-food and had taken offence at the presence of another outsider-cat, watching him eat. This is one I have seen before, though rarely. A patchy orange and white fellow, whom I’ve named Beaumont, he has not, so far as I know, dined at Café Cosy. And Jessel evidently wanted to keep it that way.

This disagreement over place settings resulted in a wailing match that began behind my apartment, continued down an alley, across a street and back to my apartment, despite my strenuous complaints to a distracted Jessel and his even less mindful rival.

Have you seen 2001: a Space Odyssey? There is a memorable portion of the film, at its start, which depicts very early man’s tribulations when he has no weapons with which to defend himself. The nights are spent in terror of wild animals, and the days are filled with raucous fights between opposing tribes, none of which has the courage to close with its opponents in actual physical combat. This impasse is altered by the arrival of the mysterious and omnipotent monolith, which inspires man to create and destroy. I was reminded of that situation last night: two antagonists, neither of which wanted to risk injury, facing off to see who had the greater courage, or simple endurance.

I suppose, in a very loose adaptation, I was last night’s monolith. But I brought no weapon for one cat or the other. I merely consigned both would-be pugilists to perdition, telling them to come back later, and separately, and they would be served a good meal. I think if 2001’s monolith had taken that tack, mankind’s history would have been kinder. And more filling. I never did get back to sleep.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Nice and the Noisy

There hasn’t been much to report from the Cosy Apartment lately, except that it is far from cosy. We are experiencing a heat-wave in our part of the world, and humans and cats are trying to keep cool. I am looking forward to autumn; at least its early part, with the crisp mornings, warm days and slightly chilly nights.

But there is activity, at least at Café Cosy. Jessel comes by almost every day. I know that he also visits another apartment, and gets hand-outs from a third now and then, so he isn’t starving. I can now touch him, very lightly, on the ears or the whiskers, and he nervously allows me. He also talks to me, which he has not before; at least, I think it is talking. His language so far consists of high-pitched fearful little cries. I believe it is talking because he makes these sounds while I am not doing anything, so it isn’t in reaction to a movement or to my proximity (and if he were afraid of the latter, he would move away.)

Though he is slender, he isn’t gaunt. His coat is a bit rough but in good shape, except where it has been gouged on his right front shoulder, probably some time ago. He trusts me enough to come down into the ditch to eat his food, and is living sufficiently well to leave some portions when he is full, and to turn his nose up at those servings he doesn’t like. I hope to get to know him better in the days and weeks to come. I will be putting straw back into the virtually unused tubular cat-house come the chilly weather, so he will have a place to stay, if he has no other.

And then we had a return customer at the café a couple of nights ago. You can probably just make out his stripes. I don’t know if he is the same skunk who visited a long time ago; I don’t recall him coming to eat last year. I was glad to see him, and hope he had his fill.

Horace - as I call all my skunk patrons - is neither as noisy nor as messy as the raccoons. On the weekend, the raccoon youngsters came for a midnight supper; they were so clamorous, I had to chase them off - for the first time - just to get some sleep. And all they were doing was eating. They were crunching the hard cat-food thirty feet away outside, and it was still keeping me awake. Their mother, who now comes separately (probably happy for the solitude after her trio of trouble-makers) is less a problem.

As I’ve written before, all are welcome at Café Cosy. I just wish I had more of the polite crowd among my clientele.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Never Too Old to Have Fun

One is never too old to have fun. My old lady, Josie, is sixteen, and doing well (knock on wood). She is not what I would call active, but she gets around just fine. Like the rest of my cats, she is not a big player of games. I am lucky if I interest them in anything for a few minutes a day.

But Josie does like one game. It is a very simple game. The accessories are a stick (specifically, the clear plastic rod of the string-toy) and the cat-tree at the bottom of which Josie likes to lie. I poke the stick through holes in the cat-tree and my Chubs tries to grab or bite it. That’s the game.


There are rules, however. The stick must be pushed through the triangular spaces formed by the inclined supports that buttress the central post of the cat-tree. Displaying the stick around them arouses no enthusiasm. The stick may, on occasion, be pushed along the base of the cat-tree. The key element here, I think, is surprise. Josie must be surprised by the stick’s appearance, in order to have fun. As well, it must begin while she is actually lying on the cat-tree’s base; she will not come from anywhere else to participate.


Yet she does have fun. She tries to seize the stick in her stubby paws, but can’t attain a purchase on it. She attempts to bite the stick, but her three remaining teeth aren’t really placed for the action. Even so, she finds the process quite entertaining, and is the only one of my beasts to purr through any game. We play, she enjoys herself, and I enjoy seeing her enjoy herself.

It appears that neither of us is too old to have fun.