Friday, September 24, 2021

House Panther Memories

Someone asked me if Hector was the first black cat of whom I had taken care. I had to think for a moment, but the answer is ‘no’.


Lincoln was my first foster-cat, taken in even before I had my blog - just before, I think - in the middle of 2010. He was a good-natured fellow. I recorded in a later blog entry that he talked a great deal, and wailed, probably not unlike Hector. It occurs to me now that, like Hec, he was worried and scared, and trying to call anyone or anything with which he was familiar. I didn’t have the experience with cats then to recognise this. Fortunately, Lincoln was with me but a short time before he was adopted, so the real transition he had to undergo would have been into his permanent home, hopefully his last great change. These two pictures are of my first house panther.




His successor as black-foster-cat, after a very long interval, is doing well. Hector is leaving the library more often now during the day, not just at night, and is quiet in the dark, which usually means he’s up to something, like opening the cupboard under the bathroom basin and using my spare toilet paper as scratching pads... But each day brings improvements - or at least something new - and I have high hopes for a full and successful integration.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Our Creature of the Night

Sunday night, I decided that Hector could move on to the next stage of his integration, which would consist of leaving the library open at night. Its door had been open during the day, but giving him access to the apartment while I was asleep was the appropriate sequel. He had spent most of the day in the library, in spite of being allowed to roam. I thought he would do the same at night. I was wrong.


I got into bed and turned out the last light. Within a minute, I could hear my new guest in the bedroom. He was here, he was there, he was everywhere. He climbed cat-trees in the bedroom and in the sitting room, he was on the counters in the kitchen and on the ledge under the window. He was in the bathroom and in the storeroom.


I know this because Hector makes long, wailing, siren-like sounds, as if facing off against another cat. I, fearing a feline confrontation, jumped out of bed to put a stop to events. I found the perma-cats lying, a little puzzled, in their usual places - a couple were on the bed with me - wondering why the new boy was making weird noises. Hector also growls, probably at smells. He banged at cupboard doors. At one point, he was seemingly trapped at the top of the tall cat-tree in the sitting room, Portia at the bottom, watching him. After I returned to bed, I could hear Hector in the bedroom; Po was evidently no deterrent to his movement.



After two hours of sleeplessness - mine and Hector’s - I put the furry black one back in the library and shut the door. He fell silent and, probably, asleep.


Last night was better. Hector still wandered, but didn’t make as much noise. I still felt constrained to return him to the library after an hour and a half. Part of the improvement was due, I think, to the heating pad I placed on the library couch. Unlike Portia, when she was in the library, Hec took to the warmth right away, and spent much of the evening on the towel covering the pad. The days and nights are still balmy enough to leave windows open a little for fresh air, but the rooms can be a bit cool after dark, so extra warmth is, I think, welcome.


Hector is doing well adjusting to his new world. He purred for me last night and has no qualms about exposing his belly or otherwise showing his trust. He has also started playing. Life will be quite different for him from now on but, I hope, better than his old one.


Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Stranger in the Strange Land

Hector Fortescue (as I seem to think his full name should be) is slowly adjusting to life in the Cosy Apartment. He is at the stage at which I leave the library door open all the time when I am home and awake. Sometimes, he hides behind a corner bookcase; sometimes, he lies on the short bookcase to look out the window, and sometimes he explores the apartment.

His interaction with the other beasts is still embryonic, though it is interesting to see that he seems to have more of a problem with them than they do with him, which is probably the preferable of the two options. As someone pointed out, my lot are used to new cats coming and going, and even Portia went through her period of meeting new felines; being introduced to others is an old act to her now. Last night, while I watched my movie, I saw Hector wander out of the library. A few minutes later, there was a burst of growling and he hurried back into the room. I went out to the sitting room and saw Portia and Neville lying there. I’m certain they had not moved; Hec had encountered them, growled to prevent anything untoward happening (which looked not to be likely, anyway) and hastened back to his safe-zone.

What’s interesting about the situation is Portia’s reaction. After a couple of days of demanding entrance to the closed library, she doesn’t appear anxious to spend time there now that she can. She has been in, sniffed about and left again. I think, and hope, that it has less to do with the new cat than with Po finding that she rather likes other parts of the apartment. She has been into the bedroom more often in the last few days than usual and, something that particularly pleases me, she has spent time purring on my lap on the sitting room couch, as she has done innumerable times in the library.

 

Neville, too, has been in the library since Hector’s arrival, but since he goes there simply to eat what food may be lying about there, to drink water and to leave a deposit in the litter-box, he is not much affected by Hec’s presence. Even so, seeing another cat nonchalantly come in to the library, do what harmless deed he wants and leave, is, I believe, beneficial for Hector. Tucker almost never visits the library, and Renn was in briefly for movie-night. (Tucker's reaction to seeing Hec for the first time froze him in this position for more than two minutes...)

I have no qualms about Hector’s relationship with other cats. It will evolve with time and patience. And he will be fine with people, too, I have no doubt. His stay with me will comprise, then, in terms of learning, finding out his likes and dislikes, his idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. Such is the benefit of the foster-home system.

Oh, and he and I were both relieved last night: he crapped for the first time since his arrival. There wasn’t a lot, considering it was four and a half days in the making, but he has been consuming mostly soft-food – of that, what isn’t water must compress quite compactly – and the anaesthetic and vaccines he received probably threw off his metabolism for a bit. But I was becoming worried, and would have dosed him with laxative tonight, if he hadn’t gone. His body is relaxing and returning to its routine. Once his mind does the same, I predict that Hector Fortescue will be a happy little fellow.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Tucker, Good and Bad

Tucker went to the hospital yesterday, principally to have the doctor examine the bald patch on the boy’s back. The results were the proverbial good news, bad news.

The good news is that Tucker’s kidney problems have eased considerably. According to his previous blood-tests, back in March, his renal numbers were high. On Friday, they were discovered to have dropped by a third. The veterinarian said that she “rarely sees” such a reduction, and was very pleased with it. It may have been that the earlier numbers were the outcome of conditions prevailing that day – a fluke, in other words. That would mean that his usual numbers are lower. The current numbers, conversely, could be due to the treatment Tucker is receiving, the kidney-powder and the subcutaneous fluids. In either case, the tidings were glad, and we were pleased to receive them.

The bad news is not as bad as the good news is good. The bald spot may be due to a number of causes, such as parasites (unlikely, since the roly poly never goes outside, except to visit the doctor) or allergies (and to what he may be allergic is anyone’s guess.) The doctor thinks, though, that the Tuxter’s bare patch is probably due to him licking it in discomfort or pain. Though I have seen no evidence of this – either in Tucker’s behaviour or in witnessing his licking the spot – it does look as if it were caused by a cat’s agitated tongue. The veterinary believes it may be proof of pancreatitis. This would account for Tucker’s erratic blood-sugar numbers (which were uniformly high this week, instead of low, as they were recently.)

The solution that we are trying is Cerenia. This will hopefully reduce the discomfort being felt. I am giving Tucker a quarter pill of Cerenia once a day for four days. He is difficult to put a pill into and, ironically, the fraction of the pill is tougher to get down his throat than the whole, since it is harder to control going in. I follow it with some food-and-water in a syringe (something Tuck must receive anyway, as it contains his kidney-powder) and yet, like a magician’s sleight of hand, he still manages to produce the quarter-pill in an attempt to eject it.

If the Cerenia doesn’t work, the next step is to try Buprenorphine. I expressed my concerns about this, citing its effect on Renn, when he received it after a dental surgery. The doctor told me that the dosage would be considerably reduced in Tucker’s case, though I don’t know if a smaller amount would then have efficacy. Steroids are a possibility, too, but the veterinary does not want to use them because of their adverse effect on kidneys.

While Tucker possibly has yet another enemy to confront – pancreatitis – I am confident. My boy has successfully fought most of his health-foes; those he has not, have been held at bay in superb rear-guard actions. I know that his kidney problems will return, likely stronger than ever. But for now, they have been dealt a severe blow by his lower numbers; they will not soon forget their repulse this day. And, as may be seen, a counter-attack has already been organised against the latest opponent.

In the meantime, the roly poly remains a happy fellow, the purringest cat I know, optimistic and ready to tackle all comers.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hector's Vanishing Act

Certain incidents stand out in one’s memory. I recall the time that Tucker got into my sitting room’s fireplace, when it was cold and empty of wood but not of soot, and had to be bathed. Then there was the time when Renn managed to rummage through a closet and wrap a plastic bag around his neck; it terrified him and he ran through the house, with this rustling, flapping monster literally on his back - and an equally terrified Tucker running everywhere before him. Now, I can add Hector’s vanishing act to the list.


My new foster-cat went into the bathroom upon arrival at the Cosy Apartment, until I was sure that he would use the litter-box. He used it for number one almost immediately, but number two had yet to make an appearance by his first morning. That was not surprising. I left Hec alone in the bathroom while I was at work on Wednesday.


That afternoon I came home and went to the bathroom to tell my guest that I had returned. (Not that he is so enamoured of me yet that he would greet the news with enthusiasm…) I opened the bathroom door and couldn’t see him. He’s black, so he blends in with the shadows in the deep interior of the carrier, which he lies in. But he wasn’t there. Nor was he behind the toilet, where new cats sometimes hide. The litter-box and the bathtub were similarly unpopulated. My bathroom is a tiny one, as bathrooms go, so the options for hiding are limited.


Hector had tried during the night to get into the cupboard under the basin, so I had barred the way by using a rubber-band on the door-knobs, double-twisted for strength, and to keep the length short. Surely, he couldn’t have found his way into the cupboard. He had.



My latest acquisition was tucked at the back, lying on rolls of toilet paper. He had obviously pulled the now-elasticised doors open enough to squeeze into the cupboard, but had been unable to get out again. Goodness knows how long he had been in there.


The trouble was that after he was released, Hec wanted to go back in and, in fact, managed to prise his way in again after I had triple-twisted the rubber band. He needed a hiding place. Though he had yet to leave a solid deposit in the litter-box, I didn’t think that would be a problem (and, frankly, that is usually easier to clean up - and less permanently soiling - than urine), so I moved him into the library yesterday evening.


He spent the rest of the night hiding behind a bookcase, which is what he needed. He ate some food during the night, and this morning, came out for some pets and to discover that he now has a window, before retreating into his corner once more when I left for work.


I am not worried about Hector’s progress. He saw the other cats, and growled at Portia, who seems the most interested in him. He will meet them as he wishes. I am concerned about Portia, however, since the library was her favourite room, and she expressed the wish - demanded - to go in there numerous times during the evening. It is also the room in which we spent time together, with her on my lap. I have not been able to replicate that elsewhere, either now or priorly. I have placed another box on the floor for her enjoyment, and she has used it, but that is a poor substitute for a whole room, with a view. I will try to spend extra time with her, but Po is not always an easy cat to please. The sooner Hec acclimates to his new home, the sooner the library will be available for everyone (ie. Portia will be able to take it over again).


While a smooth and swift integration may not be in the offing, things are progressing with Hector. I don’t believe he will have any difficulty in socialising with humans and, once he realises that all cats aren’t like the territorial outsiders he is used to, life at the Cosy Apartment will adjust to its new routine.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hector's First Night

Hector’s first night in the Cosy Apartment was surprisingly quiet. He had been a noisy fellow during the time he had to wait at my work-place prior to going to the doctor but, then, he was in a carrier the whole time. He spent the night in my bathroom, as he will until he proves himself with the litter-box. He is off to a good start, using the box within a few minutes to wet.




I don’t foresee much delay in moving him to the library; I suspect he knows fully well what a litter-box is for. In fact, he was undoubtedly a house-cat at one time. He is wary, of course, but not really shy. He had a home at one time, and is, at least, superficially, in good shape. Hs fur is smooth and clean. He will receive a more detailed medical examination at some point in the near future.




As may be seen, he remembers what a lap is for. He spent about ten minutes on mine, being petted and talked to. He explored the bathroom and, during the night, opened the cupboards under the basin and threw out some bottles. I had to wrap a tight rubber-band around the knobs of the two cupboard doors to keep him from getting in again. He wasn’t interested in breakfast, but did eat last evening, and his behaviour suggested that he wasn’t ill, just a little ill-at-ease, which is understandable. I left him some food and water for the day. I’d like him to eat, of course, but also to be a little hungry come dinner-time.



As is usually the case, my two oldsters, Renn and Tucker, were quite uninterested in the newcomer. Portia and Neville, however, waited outside the bathroom door to meet him. Po in particular is eager to make Hec’s acquaintance, though what the results will be when they meet is still an open question.



I have a feeling that Hector’s integration will be soon. I can’t predict whether it will be a good or easy one, but he doesn’t seem to need isolation. He was someone’s pet, I am certain, and I just need further confirmation that he is satisfied with our cat-litter before releasing him, under supervision and with restrictions at first, of course. I think Hector is looking forward to his release with anticipation.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Introducing Hector

I would like everyone to meet Hector. You can’t see him well in the photograph: he is all black (except for a tuft of white on his chest, as many black cats have), and is still recovering from his neutering surgery, remaining voluntarily in his carrier.

Hec came to me as a result of an appeal from someone who had been trying to get close to him and find him a home for some months. He had been living outside, eating from hand-outs, and his well-wisher worried about the approaching winter.

Hopefully, the new fellow will find himself in a loving, permanent home soon. Until then, he will be a guest at the Cosy Apartment, first in my bathroom and then, slowly introduced to the other rooms and the other cats. Maybe his will be the integration of which I’ve always dreamed…

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Bald Facts

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve spent a great load of money at the veterinary hospital, so it’s time I took one of the beasts. Consulting the rota, I see that it’s time for Tucker to have a problem.



Though he is doing well, the Tuxter has a bald patch on his back. It may be due to licking but I don’t think so, as it is probably the only spot on his body that the roly poly cannot reach. I have not seen him licking that spot, which I think I would have, at least once, if he had been intent on it enough to scrape the hair away. Nor does the region in question appear raw, as if licked by a cat’s tongue. And it isn’t bare: there is hair remaining, as though most has fallen out, but not all.



Tucker has a history of a thin spot of hair in the same location, so much so that I said to him that his bald spot had returned, when I saw it this time. However, this one is longer than any previous, and it came on rather rapidly. It is concentrated along his spine, as well, which I find strange.



All of these add up to a doctor’s appointment, this Friday morning. As his years add up, and with his other issues, Tucker isn’t in a position to take chances with his health; he could use a medical once-over anyway. I’m sure my boy would disagree, and say that it is simply age; many lose their hair as they grow older. He would tell me that he’s just taking after his dad…