Saturday, February 27, 2021

News From Far and Near

The news isn’t startling but some of it concerns young Xanadu.

He is doing well in his new foster-home and is getting to know the other two cats there. The challenge was not so much for Xan but for the others. After all, it was their home that was being invaded. Ellie, while not taking to the newcomer as we had hoped, is interested in him, and Claude isn’t much bothered by him. As may be seen in one photograph, all three are in the same room. If Ellie and Claude didn’t want to be near Xanadu, they would leave. Ellie is on a table in the picture, but watches the younger cat.

In the meantime, there have been several new inquiries about Xanadu. He may not be in his new foster-home for long, but then, we are very careful in our selection of adopters. And in the interval, he will be happy and safe.

The other bit of news, from closer to hand, is that, thanks to Ann from Zoolatry, I have been able to make my blogs available for subscription. This applies to both I Have Three Cats and to my movie-review blog, Movie Night at the Cosy Apartment (it is in the blog-roll in the side-bar). One need only type in an email address in the blank at the top of the side-bar to receive notification of new postings. (At least I think that’s how it works; I am on the transmission end and not the reception end. In any case, it does work.) Feel free to subscribe.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

My Day of Remembering III

Today is, once more, my Day of Remembering. Rather than commemorate my lost cats on the separate anniversaries of their deaths, I do so on this day, which is the day I lost Bear-Bear. And instead of recalling everything about them, I will write of one aspect of their wonderful characters that I remember, and which says something about them.

Bear-Bear was the first cat I lost. He died on February 25th, 2014. He was a long, slender fellow and loved people. One wouldn’t think that such a wiry animal would do well on laps, but he did, and he enjoyed being on them very much. The day he died, his cancer having advanced too far to keep him from pain, he struggled out of his cat-bed and walked slowly over to where I sat. He couldn’t jump anymore, so I lifted him up. Then, at the veterinary hospital, just before he died, he indicated that he wanted to be on my lap. And that’s where he was when he left me. He and I had been friends for less than a year.

Tungsten was my first cat, and the second to leave. What I recall about her at this moment was her activity. She was estimated to be about seven when she came to live with me, but she was still quite lively. She astounded me by jumping five feet straight up, when she wanted to reach the top of a cabinet from the floor. She would leap from the bed without hesitation, and liked to zoom through the nylon tunnel. She would time her run for when I walked past the tunnel so that she would shoot out the other end as I reached it. Tungsten grew old before her time, and died on March 26th, 2015. But she was young once, and vital.

Parker, my sturdy-boy, was a foster-cat, like Bear-Bear and, also like the BB and Tungsten, orange and white. I can’t mention my friend Puck without writing about how he was an outdoorsman. He loved going outside on his harness and leash. He would start purring whenever I brought it out, and scratch at the door with impatience. His joy at being outside was expressed in his words: he talked while walking along a sidewalk, sniffing the air; he liked to tell everyone that he was outside, having fun. He died on June 2nd, 2019. But If any cat would appreciate the fields of Elysium, it is Parker.

Since this day last year, I have lost three of my roommates, half of my feline population, two of them on the same day. May 15th, 2020, was a hard day for me.

Raleigh was dying, and I had scheduled his final appointment with the veterinary for that morning. Raleigh was a sweet-natured fellow. He had no animosity or hostility in him. But something else about him I remember is what he did when he was hungry, or when food was in the offing. He would scratch at the corner of wooden furniture. I thought it a very specific gesture: never on plastic, never on the face of something; wooden corners only. His big polydactyl mittens scratching away in eager anticipation will always stay with me.

Cammie had had a stroke a year before, and had gone blind. She adapted astonishingly well to her handicap and was living decently. I think she enjoyed her purry times lying on my chest, and sniffing the outside air through the window screens, and snoozing in her heated bed. But on May 14th, 2020, my princess had another stroke. There was no swift recovery from this one; for a cat, already advanced in years, a slow, painful recovery is hardly recovery at all. I said good-bye to her the next day. What I remember about Cammie was how sudden she was to end an activity. Whether it was eating or receiving pets on her fuzzy head, it would end abruptly, often with a scratchy grunt of “runh”. She enjoyed her moments, but when she was done, she was done, and there was no continuing. She was indeed my princess.

On February 17th, 2021, my Chubs, Josie, died. I have already written at length, and recently, about my old lady. What stands out when I think about her right now is how she grew increasingly deaf with time, so that whenever she saw me, it struck her as a surprise, and she would give a little jump. I tried to warn her that I was approaching or already near, but how does one warn a practically deaf cat without startling her? If I touched her, it would produce the same reaction. She could even know I was in the room and be surprised when she saw me again. It may have taken a slight toll on her, but I couldn’t help smiling at it. It was like a running gag in a tv situation comedy. Despite her departure, the Great White makes me smile.

These are the cats I have cared for and lost. They have gone on ahead and, I hope, are waiting for me. I hope too that they remember me, because I will always remember them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Improving, Again.

This is just a short entry to let everyone know that Renn has improved a little. He ate a good amount of food last night, which was my main concern, and is drinking water. So far as I can tell, he has not deposited anything of substance in the litter-boxes for several days, but I will continue his laxative treatment indefinitely, on the same schedule as Tucker’s.

Another complication that my big boy is suffering at the moment is a cold; he has had them before but this one is worse than the previous and, for the first time, seems to be interfering with his appetite. Despite colds often negating a cat’s sense of smell, my beasts have not ceased eating when they’ve contracted a cold. (Tucker too has a cold right now, and is eating his usual, small amount.) With the cold, his constipation, the anaesthetic and pain-killer from the surgery - and the accompanying stress - it’s no wonder Renn has been feeling low. (Undine found an interesting and concerning correlation between buprenorphine and hair-loss; I thank her for bringing it to my notice.)

But hopefully, Renn is now on his way up. I am grateful for all the good wishes and thoughts directed toward my big boy by readers. The positive feelings were most appreciated.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Regulars

While Renn and I work to make him feel better, we can’t neglect the outsider-cats.

I have five coming to visit the food- and water-bowls at Café Cosy now. The most frequent visits are from Sable and Arliss. Sable is all black, with the rim of her right ear white. This may indicate frost bite damage. I don’t recall seeing it last winter, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. She looks healthy and strong, and was spayed years before in a community effort. She used to be inseparable from her sister, Sablette. The latter girl, shyer and a little smaller, disappeared last year.

Arliss is a bulky orange and white fellow. Very timid at first, he is slowly becoming accustomed to me. No longer will he trot away just because he sees me looking at him eat. I often watch him, let him see me watching him, then walk away, so that he knows my primary interest is not his capture. I hope this makes him feel that my presence doesn’t mean danger to him. I believe he knows that I am responsible for the food, or at least associated with it.

Stygia is a very shy tortoiseshell cat. She will run, swiftly, if she notices that she is under observation. She has a distinctive white bib and, possibly, chest, which I don’t see much in tortoiseshell cats.

Then there are two others. Beaumont - who may be the Cecil of several years ago - is a large tabby and white boy who is both nonchalant and fussy. He rarely bothers with the hard-food bowl, but comes to check out what’s on the menu in the way of soft-food. If there is no soft, he won’t waste his time with the hard; this tells me that he has other sources of food, clearly superior in his mind to what I have to offer. I haven’t been able to take a recent picture of him.

The newest cat I have seen only once - and may not seen again, as is the way with outsider-cats. I have named him Enoch; in the artificial light that brightened the side of my building one night recently, I saw a pale-furred fellow with nothing more than a knob for a tail. I hope he found Café Cosy to his liking, and will return.

Sable I know has no home; the others may. She is also the only one whom I know to be fixed. I would like to invite them all in, but they will have to remain outside. At least they know where to come for a good meal, clean water and, if they want, shelter in the still unused cylinder-cat-house. The management of Café Cosy extends its welcome.

Monday, February 22, 2021

More Fur Renn

Renn continues to feel the effects of his surgery, which was a week ago last Thursday. He is suffering tremendous shedding. His hair is coming out by the handful. This is accompanied by dreadful dandruff, the worst I’ve seen in any man or beast. Some of the flakes are a quarter inch across, and there are thousands of them. He is not enduring any itchiness or anything that he can feel, so far as I can determine. The picture below is not a good one but the light-hued bits are dandruff.

These fur and skin problems may not be related to the surgery. I have found no documentary evidence of a  correlation between the new pain-killer that he was given and fur-loss or dry skin. However, these issues began a couple of days after his surgery; coincidence suggests cause-and-effect. 

I have started giving my big boy salmon oil, on the same schedule as Tucker (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays). I don’t think it would be bad for him in any case, but in this instance, it may help. I spoke with the hospital and instructed them to annotate my records, prohibiting the use of the sustained-release buprenorphine in any of my cats. I also told them not to use any new drug, medication or procedure on them without consulting me first. Though I did not mention it, I will use only our usual doctor at the hospital, so far as I am able; she knows my cats better than the others, and she knows I know them best of all.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

I Have Three Cats, Again

This youngster has been removed to his new foster-home. He has already met – through a closed door - one of the other cats (another foster), whom we hope will be his playmate. There was hissing and growling (from the established cat), but that is to be expected, and is of course no indication of what might follow. I will pass on what news I receive.

Now that Xanadu is gone, just a few days after Josie died, I am left with three cats. It has been a long time since my feline population reflected the title of this blog. I last had only three cats in 2010. As someone pointed out recently, even then I didn’t stay at just three for long. For a year and a half, I had the two girls, Tungsten and Josie. Then Renn (or, as his name was spelled then, Ren) came to stay (and stay and stay) with us in May, and soon after that, I started this blog. The title was meant to be temporary but I didn’t know much about Blogger then (and even now it can confound me) and changing the title was more trouble than it was worth. When I learned enough to alter things, the title had become established.

In August, 2010, a cat named Devon arrived as a foster, and my feline numbers haven’t been below four since – until now. (Devon was adopted in October of the same year, and the afternoon of Devon’s departure, Tucker showed up. Readers know how that foster-situation turned out.)

For much of the past decade, I have had five or six cats. Once, when I was babysitting another feline for a week, my numbers reached seven. Now, they are at three again, and represent the first time I haven’t had a girlcat living with me. If (if!) I bring in another, I would like it to be a middle-aged female; the age will be a change from kittens and make for an easier integration, I think, as will the gender. However, I usually don’t have much control over who comes to live in the Cosy Apartment. Fate takes care of that for me.

Until then, however, I will have to content myself with this lot.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

In Memoriam: Josie

Josie was my second cat. She was born in the summer of 2004, and found as a six month old kitten in a truck engine the following winter. There was no hope of finding her mother, if her mother had been near by, as the man who had found her then drove to Lethbridge with her still in the engine! Well, aside from that highly dangerous decision, it brought her to the PAW Society, and she was quickly adopted. But half the couple who adopted Josie was allergic to her, so she came back to a foster-home. She was adopted again, but the woman who brought her home ‘didn’t like her’; Josie was throwing up ‘everywhere’, etc., etc., etc. So she went to another foster-home. (Such movements to and fro are abhorred by rescue-groups but, alas, are sometimes necessary.)

This foster-home was very crowded with cats, and Josie, though well cared for, was, perhaps, a bit unhappy there. I recall being told that someone was interested in adopting her but young Josie was reluctant to leave her habitual refuge under a coffee table. This put off the prospective adopter, and she was saved for me.

In 2008, I thought my first cat, Tungsten, was lonely while I was at work, so I decided to bring in a friend for her. As it turned out, Tungsten may have been lonely, but not for another cat; and Josie turned out not to be a friend. I knew little about integrating cats in those days, and the process, if it may be termed successful, was so only after many months. Initially, the two girls hated each other. There was fighting and brawling and even blood-letting. I felt that I had made a terrible mistake. But eventually, the girls settled down to live with one another, even if they never liked one another.

Josie was a bit of a round cat from the beginning. I recall that someone came to meet a cat I was fostering (I believe it was Rachael, now Muffy, the beloved only pet of devoted cat-parents) and saw, upon leaving, Josie lying on the floor.

“Oh, that’s a big one,” the visitor said.

Indeed, my Chubs was spread out expansively on the rug.

She had what some cat-people call an ‘alien face’. It’s plain to see why. I sometimes woke up to this.

Though she and Tungsten did not get along at first, I don’t think that was Josie’s fault. The orange one had objected to the intruder. Josie initiated few problems with any cat; she was almost entirely pacific. Almost. One foster-cat, Wixie, was a big, barrel-shaped girl; very nice to me and her step-sister, Mystery, whom I was also fostering. But Wixie held ambitions of being the top-cat of the household, and, in addition to trying to intimidate Tungsten, bulled Josie, as well. I recall, still with astonishment, seeing Wixie and Josie, tumbling out of the library in the old apartment, locked in paw-to-paw combat, rolling about, screaming, fur flying. No damage was done, but it was a revelation to me that Josie could fight. It was the only instance in which she felt she had to, thank goodness. (Wixie and Mystery were soon after adopted, and lived happily with their family for years. Mystery died recently; Wixie is, so far as I know, still alive and well.)

Most of the time, Josie was accepting of new cats, which was good because many more came after her. She preferred a quiet life. She found her spots about the three of our residences in which she lived, one after another. In our first apartment, she would often lie on the back of the couch, her bulk deforming the top of the cushion. At night, she took to lying on the bed, perpendicular to me, her big bum against my side. As I did with the other cats, I found her presence at night comforting.

She was also accepting of human visitors, and was, until she became ill in her last months, the cat who greeted guests to the Cosy Apartment. When she chose not to meet them at the door, she was always receptive to them if they chose to go to where she was reposing, usually in the bedroom, in her heated cat-bed or in the saddle-topped cat-tree.

Josie played a decent amount when she was younger. I recall tossing her the rings from the tops of milk jugs, and her scrabbling after them. One time it landed, to her surprise, on her face, circling her eye like a monocle. She looked like a furry Mr Peanut. But she wasn’t an action cat, really, and her playing became more and more sedentary.

Josie was superficially unremarkable. She rarely was, until the end, never seriously ill, and didn’t often do anything new; she was probably the least reported on this blog. I sometimes had to write an entry stating simply that she was still with me. But she achieved a brief stardom of a kind in 2015, when she appeared in the Lethbridge PAW Society’s calendar. I believe she was November’s cat. She posed well for the photographer and one of the images captured of her is my favourite picture of my Great White. (And she was great in those days, filling the frame of the photograph…)

She was not often demonstrative in her affection, though, lying in one of her two favoured spots, the saddle-shaped seat of the saddle-topped cat-tree, she would often stand up, then flop down on her side, and watch me, purring. That was a signal for some petting. She did that until quite recently.

Recently… Yes, recently, she still gave the impression of wellness. She was starting to become a little more frail, but her white fur remained soft and smooth, and her appetite was good, if not strong. She would start every day yelling scratchily for her breakfast, and would demand food at different times of the day. I fed her when she desired it, rather than when I was ready to serve her. Sometimes, she renewed her old habit of walking out to the kitchen at meal-times, and eat, initially, in the sitting room, to return to the bedroom and expect her food to follow her. She still climbed from her beloved heated cat-bed in the corner of the bedroom to her equally beloved saddle-topped cat-tree, to lie there and look out the window. I gave her regular doses of a gentle laxative, and that helped her bowels, I am sure.

Then, a couple of months ago, I noticed changes gathering. She started to wake me half an hour or an hour before our usual time for getting up. She would move, then pause, standing stock-still for up to half a minute. She would want to walk to the litter-boxes in the storeroom, but miss the open door and end up in the bathroom. Eventually, she would climb onto the bed at night and then stand, unmoving, as if she couldn’t remember why she had come up, or did not know how she had arrived there.

Despite occasional, hopeful bursts of apparently renewed health, Josie started failing. Her weight-loss, very gradual over the last couple of years, accelerated, and she looked and felt very thin. She started to sleep much more and kept almost exclusively to the bedroom, and her desire for food waned. Always dignified and conventional, she nonetheless mustered energy to go to the litter-boxes to relieve herself. She had a history of missing the box sometimes, but that was a relic of her large size, when her bum stuck over the rim. To go anywhere else was unthinkable to her.

The week of February 14th, her body finally had had enough. On the 16th, I observed that she was quite uncomfortable; when she lie in her cat-bed, she couldn’t bring herself to curl up in it, or even to crawl completely into it. Her breathing was fast. She refused food. Even now, though, her manners did not desert her, and she would make the trek to the storeroom’s litter-boxes. But she couldn’t climb all the way in to the box; when I lifted her in, she didn’t try to come out again. And I saw that she was very shaky in her gait. When she would stand, she would tremble and almost tumble over. I moved a litter-box into the bedroom, near to her bed. I had hoped that this frightening phase would pass, but I don’t think she slept that night at all. I watched her, and knew that she was not going to get better. I knew as well that a doctor could offer only two forms of relief: one, very temporary, would have been a strong pain-killer, which of course would wear off and leave Josie in distress again; I decided that the time had come for the second kind of relief.

I called my veterinary hospital’s emergency number at about five o’clock on the morning of the 17th. They have a doctor on call at all times, and she met me at the hospital. A cursory physical examination revealed a lump near Josie’s kidneys. My Chubs, no long a chubs but still mine, didn’t protest the little indignities done to her in the next few minutes, and she died easily and quietly.

For more than twelve years, Josie was with me. I don’t think she spent even one evening away from me, no over-night hospital stays, and no holidays away from her for me. She outlived others of my feline family, but could not remain with me forever. I will remember her qualities, rarely demonstrative, but always strong. Some things about her stand out in my memory.

She had a sensitive stomach, and sometimes threw up; I carried her, if I reached her before she puked (she usually made a wah-wah-wah cry preparatory to upchucking), to the bathroom, where the floor was uncovered and easily cleaned. She learned from this, and tried her best to get to the bathroom on her own, if she felt ill. Hurrying to the bedroom, hearing her about to spew, I would see her trundling down the stairs from the bed and toward the door. If she couldn’t make it to the bathroom, she went into the storeroom, similarly uncarpeted.

My girl was smart: when we lived in our house with air conditioning, Josie learned to cool the important parts of her body over the air vents…

I remember how she learned from my late friend Parker to cross from the bed to the shelf under the window by walking across my computer desk.

I will always remember that India-rubber-red nose of hers...

I used to think my girl was quite literate; she always seemed to like books, though she couldn't open them by herself.

In her early days, she had a habit of leaning on a diner’s shoulder, if she wanted access to the food currently being eaten. In this one thing, even Tungsten acquiesced.

I saw her tolerance toward new cats, even the intolerable Felons, my foster-kittens, when they, locked in the bedroom with her, would investigate this large, grand-matronly cat in the cat-bed.

I have been grateful for her solid – and often, stolid – presence, my ‘adult’ cat; like Tungsten, always dependable and rarely silly. She was my Great White, who wasn’t really great, but good, a quality infinitely preferable. Josie didn’t conquer worlds, just my heart.