Thursday, December 31, 2020

Less Roly in the Poly

Tucker, like Renn, has been with me a decade, and will be sixteen in the new year. When I look at him, especially from above, I can tell that he has slimmed down quite a bit from when I first started calling him the roly poly. But his loss of mass is not, I think, bad; it, like many other new traits in my cats, is a matter of age.

Tucker is diabetic and his condition has always been tricky to manage. But we seem to have arrived at an adequate point: his numbers are always high, and almost never reach what would be considered the target range, between four and eight. But his insulin has an effect, and his doctor, with whom I consult regularly about the numbers, is pleased with the curves that result from blood-samples. As well, Tucker is clinically looking good in regard to his diabetes.

Tucker is, in fact, my most active cat now. It’s not that he is forever running or jumping, but he moves quite a bit, and plays. And he is always at the door to greet me when I come home from work, at which time he talks a great deal, perhaps telling me how his day went.

He has a number of spots in which he likes to snooze, his favourite right now being the heated cat-bed in the sitting room, but he enjoys lying in the nylon tunnel, as well. Sleeping on a dining room chair is comfortable for him, and periodically he will occupy the hammock in the sitting room. He has recently returned to the bedroom; he stopped going in there when the former Felons were living with us because I would put him and the others in there while the kittens had the run of the rest of the apartment. Tucker disliked this; he disliked being confined to one room, and he disliked being confined with the other cats. He became surly. Now, he is returning to the bedroom, both during the day and the night, to sleep.

Tucker doesn’t eat as much as I would like. He has little for breakfast, but I will leave a good portion out in a bowl on the sitting room floor during the day. Either he or Renn (another slim eater) will usually finish it off during the day. As with all the others, I keep hoping to find that one magic food that is both good for him and which he loves. So far, the closest to that has been any human food I happen to be eating; Tucker is my companion in dining. (Though when I finish the course in which he is interested, such as roasted pork, and begin on a dessert, he leaves after I tell him ‘All done, all done,’ and spread my hands to show that they are empty.)

While my sausage-shaped cat is being ground down by age, he retains his good spirits (as long as there are no kittens about) and cheerful, if timid, demeanour. He continues to amble over to me for no other reason than to rub against me. I will pick him up and stroke his head and chin. Sometimes, we stand at the kitchen window, a view he rarely gets unless I am holding him, and look at the wind blow leaves about. He purrs and kneads my arm. There may be less roly in the poly these days, but what is there is happy and contented.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Still Enjoyed by Life

I am ending the year with synopses of my cats’ conditions, after the monopoly of the blog by the former Felons. I did write something about Josie in mid-November, but I’ll wrap up the year for her now.

Like Renn, my old lady is aging noticeably. She will be seventeen in 2021 and, though that is hardly a terminal age for many cats, she is, undoubtedly, showing signs of the years. Her breathing is often rough and loud. I worry about that but I am certain it is not due to an infection or any malevolent condition, and her intake of air is not, so far as I can tell, impaired or painful. She is just noisy about it, like a reliable old engine that huffs and puffs and wheezes.

The Great White is a bit more cautious in taking steps that descend more than six inches. Dropping from her favoured seat at the top of the bedroom’s saddle-topped cat-tree (Cammie’s old tree) to the ledge under the window requires more care than it used to. I would lower the saddle if I could. And my Chubs is no longer chubby. She has lost more weight though, like her breathing, I don’t believe it is due to anything catastrophic, but simply to that slow and expected disaster of age. I could take her to the veterinary for an examination, but I think that would cause more stress than would be compensated by any relevant discovery.

Her hearing has worsened. Everything seems to startle her; because she can’t hear them coming, objects (such as me) seemingly materialise near her suddenly. I try to warn her of my presence, but that too startles her. Any speech loud enough for her to hear also comes as a surprise to her.

But Josie also illustrates that she intends to stay for a bit. She will climb from her heated cat-bed (insulated from the hard floor by the carpet, a rug and a folded towel) to the window ledge to drink from the bowl there, though there is water just a foot away from her at floor-level (she does resort to that bowl, too, from time to time.) She has started coming out to the sitting room to demand her meals, and drinking from the cup in the bathroom, which she hasn’t done in years.

As well, she is still eating. She demands a breakfast immediately upon my waking, beginning with several minutes of her Z/D hard-food, and followed by the day’s preference in soft, though she doesn’t eat a great deal of the latter. Last night, though, just before bed, she had a satisfactorily-sized snack of Fancy Feast.

And Josie still enjoys her attention, flopping down in her saddle-seat and looking at me; that’s her sign for some serious face-rubbing. (As an aside, she has just learned - or just begun displaying her knowledge - that images in the window are sometimes reflections of what is behind her; she will acknowledge my entry into the bedroom with a grunt, seeing me only via the glass.)

So, though, my old lady’s burden of time increases, she is carrying it well, I think. That may change in this coming year but thus far, Josie still enjoys life. And life, it seems, still enjoys her.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ambivalence for the Thin Man

While Renn may be feeling the effects of his age, I worry about my foster-cat, Neville.

I have been discussing with his doctor switching kinds of insulin for the Nevsky. When the Former Thin Man came to stay with me, his diabetes went into remission. Something must have occurred to bring it back, however, and, while it has been somewhat managed since then, it could certainly be better. The doctor needs more information, though, and that means a ‘curve’. Unfortunately, his latest curve showed his insulin having very little effect, and a curve barely existed in his blood-sugar readings that day. It remains to be seen if the doctor can use this particular information.

Otherwise, Nev is doing well physically. I don’t know that he is happy living with me. He is bullied a little by Tucker, but the main problem is that Neville detests being poked by needles all the time. Tucker is resigned to receiving his insulin and having his blood drawn eight or nine times a day once a month. Neville dreads it all. His tail is never high and he doesn’t purr much.

Then again, he comes up on the bed for a snooze even when I am at the computer, next to the bed, so he doesn’t fear me, at least. He spends more of the night on the bed, too. And he has ceased to kick out when I pick him up to carry him to where he must give me blood when his curve is performed. Progress has been made with the poor fellow. But I still think he is not happy.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Time and Age

As the old year is running down, I am reminded of time, and its effects on age. That’s not an original thought in this season, but it comes as I have been observing Renn. My big boy, always so robust and fit, has been having a little difficulty in jumping up onto furniture, such as the bed and the sitting room couch. In the bedroom, he has been making use of the portable staircases which Cammie used to use, and which all but Neville use now, in various ways.

Having a couple of diabetic cats, I thought at first that Renn might be suffering from untreated diabetes. Weakness in the hind quarters is a symptom of the condition. After several attempts – his blood does not flow easily – I was able to gain a sample of his blood to read its glucose level. It was 3.7 which, though actually a tiny bit below the preferred range, is adequate, and certainly no where indicative of high blood-sugar.

A friend suggested that Renn, who will be fourteen in 2021, is feeling the aches of arthritis. That is a possibility. In any case, I will be making an appointment for Renn at the veterinary hospital soon. I don’t believe his need is urgent, but it’s best to have him examined. It’s been a while since he was given the once-over, and it may be time. And it may be time, and age, that is catching up to my big boy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas from the Cosy Apartment

It is, once again, Christmas-time. This has been a hard year, a tragic year for too many, but I always think of Christmas as a beginning, a beginning of something better. That is, after all, what the holiday is all about.

Below is my Christmas card for this year, inside and out. (I think you can enlarge the image by double-clicking on it.) I have included the former Felons, though they are no longer resident here and, in fact, are celebrating the Yuletide with their own, permanent family. The PAW Society does not usually adopt out cats during the holidays – I think that is a policy with many rescue-groups – due to the chance (not a slim one, either) that the cats will be returned as ‘unsuitable’ after the excitement of the Yuletide. But our adoption process is very meticulous, even severe, and the family who adopted Oleo and Bisto (now Smudge and Scout) are an extraordinarily good fit for the kittens.

But I wanted to include my recent fosters on my card, as they are my ‘guests-in-spirit’ at the Cosy Apartment this year. I was delighted to be their host.

Soon, I will be reporting on all the other beasts who live with me, getting back to those who, in their own opinions, really deserve the attention. The kittens hijacked my blog almost entirely (another crime of which they are guilty) while they were with me, so it is, I think about time to return to basics: the perma-cats.

I am off for four days this weekend, which will be a nice break from work. The usual chores await, though so do naps, time for cats and books, music and simple relaxation.

So, to all who are reading this – and to all who are not – a merry Christmas and a happy new year. God bless you all.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Other People's Cats

Well, there is good news coming from the former Felons’ new home – and I do mean ‘new home’ because the decision has been made formally to adopt the kittens. Their names have been changed. Though they were, I think, beginning to understand that I was calling them, I don’t believe that they knew their distinct names, so receiving different ones will hardly confuse them. Oleo is now Smudge, and Bisto is Scout.

Interestingly, their behaviour with their new family reflects their personalities as I saw them emerging here. Scout has been more ready to accept the new people in his life, already cuddling with them, while Smudge is more reticent, but obviously is starting to enjoy himself because his trade-mark purr is loud and clear.

And here’s a gift from their new people: an Instagram page has been made for the kittens. Those wanting to look at it will likely have to copy and paste this address, as I am not sure how to make it interactive. Nonetheless, you can see the objects of your curiosity here:

Just because I have a couple of left-over pictures of my favourite escapees, I’ll end with them. From now on, the little ones will have others taking their photographs, and that is as it should be.


Friday, December 18, 2020

A Few Felonious Thoughts

Now that the Felons have gone to their new home, I have time to reflect on their residence with me. I can write that they taught me a great deal, about kittens in particular, and cats in general.

I have learned that kittens should always come in pairs, at the least. They really aren’t twice as much trouble as a single, and the advantages over just one kitten are many. First and foremost, two kittens are company for one another. When the human is absent, or even when he is present, the two youngsters play, wrestle and sleep together. They encourage each other to eat, and to use the litter-box. They learn from each other: Oleo taught Bisto some things about where to wet, and Bisto showed his brother how to descend steps. As important as anything else, two kittens provide strength and bravery to each other, which is not a little thing when the whole world is new. I couldnt have counted how many times one of the Felons looked for the other when in a new room or situation.

Watching the babies grow, I learned about the development of cats, how mine became the familiar creatures I see every day. I observed the kittens build hunting and survival skills from play, skills instinctive within each cat but latent until brought out in relationships with others, which is another illustration of why two kittens are better than one. I saw the jerky little movements of babies become the more confident strides of toddlers - and then the over-confident rushes of children.

I know first-hand the importance to kittens of physical contact with humans, giving them the chance to grow accustomed to handling, petting, stroking, holding, and even claw-cutting. Allowing them a variety of foods makes them less picky at a later period of their lives - though this is soon superseded by the period in which pickiness becomes a simple and pervasive species trait. Strong interaction with humans early on can also discipline a kitten, or at least get him used to the human trying to impart it. Biting was common to both Oleo and Bisto after they passed a certain age. Though it may have to do with teething, they nonetheless now know the word no. Thats useful knowledge when it comes to deciding what commands to ignore.

And then there is the fact that I realise now that I can raise kittens. Not every little one will be as easy as Oleo and Bisto were on me, but those two survived my inexperience, and others may profit by it. I hope the Felons, if they could speak - and if they cared about such things - would say that I made their lives better and stronger. I know I can say that about their effect on me.