Monday, May 31, 2021

The End of the Beginning

Portia continues her progress. Saturday represented, I think, a big step forward in her relationship with me. Though the door to the library (the new girl’s safe-zone) is now open all the time when I am home, so that she may come and go throughout the apartment as she wishes, she still spends quite a bit of time in that room. It was movie-night Saturday and, while she refused to sit with me on the couch initially, she later lie above my head on the bookcase under the window.

Two thirds of the way through the film (Colorado Territory, starring Joel McCrea), Portia decided to join me. She slipped down on to the couch and lie against me for about half an hour, and purred while I stroked her head.

Since then, the number of times she has hissed at me and warned me away has diminished, and she has reposed against me several times on the library couch. I sit with her and read. She will more often than not keep me company. It seems to me that she is a cat who enjoys being with people, but not of course with people she doesn’t know or trust. Once familiarity replaces strangeness, friendship can begin.

With regard to the other beasts, her progress is less noticeable, but is being made nonetheless. Renn is the least objectionable to Portia. Tucker growls and grumbles at Portia as much as she does at him, and Neville now keeps his distance, though he likes to come into the library for a drink of water (he has always preferred the bowl there) and to eat Portia’s hard-food. Why he does that, I don’t know. She has now made the transition to Orijen, which is what is available to the Nevsky, and at the same times. Perhaps, like the water, it tastes better in the library.

I feel confident in the interaction – or maybe in the lack of it – between our guest and the perma-cats to contemplate leaving the door to the library open at night, at some point during my holidays. (During my holidays because, if there is a fuss, I can make up the loss of sleep the next day…) I already leave it open when I am gone from the apartment for short periods.

Portia is purring more and hissing less. There is a long road ahead of us yet, but we are no longer at the start of our journey.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Woodchuck That Wasn't

Optical illusions are interesting things. They are neutral, of course; they don’t try to frighten or brighten. It is up to our interpretations as to what we feel about them. Most of the time they are, initially, puzzling, and then, entertaining.

Yesterday, I was walking outside on a very pleasant late spring afternoon and saw a woodchuck across the street. I thought this odd, because I’d not seen a woodchuck in my town, and I was pretty sure that, unlike the deer who seem so accustomed to human and automobile traffic, a woodchuck, or any rodent, would not tolerate such proximity of our species.

I thought that he may have been paralysed with fear, unable to move, even as I approached him. Perhaps he had been struck by a car or truck and was injured, or worse. I wondered if I would have to call a veterinary to treat this unfortunate wild animal.

Then again, perhaps he was not a chuck, but a chunk – a chunk of a tree branch, lopped off and lying between the sidewalk and the street. Perhaps I need my eyesight examined…

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Holiday, With Cats

Tomorrow afternoon, I start my holidays. I will have three weeks away from my job, which will be a great relief to me. As always on my holidays, I will have much to do, but it will be in my own time and at my own speed. There is cleaning to accomplish, and I have Portia to work with - and take to the veterinary - but life will be much more relaxed.

I will continue to write in the blog, if the cats provide material for the entries, and will visit other blogs, too. I will read and watch movies, listen to music and sit with the cats. It’s not a fortnight by the seaside, or a journey on the Orient Express, but I am looking forward to it with pleasure, nonetheless. If you’d like to visit me during my time away, please do. There is always room for more in Idylland.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

My Fashionable Salon

I haven’t seen either Sable or Arliss for weeks. Sable has a history of disappearing for long periods, but Arliss hasn’t done so, though I haven’t known him for a year, so he may have taken up with Sable and they are both roaming in other parts of town. I hope they are safe, and together.

The soft-food is eaten each night, but very late, too late for Sable or Arliss’s usual habits. I suspect it is Beaumont, whom I have seen around. He is a night-owl, if one may describe cats as such. Orlac the raccoon, who has not been by much lately, doesn’t care for soft-food.

But - and the Trout Towne Tabbies may want to cover their furry ears - my newest diners at Cafe Cosy have been arriving by air. I think they are starlings, and they love the hard-food I leave out (for cats, actually) and will empty a bowl in an afternoon. They come by in small flocks, hang about by the food’s shelter, have a nibble and fly away, only to return for more. I think they view the cafe as more of an open-house, a fashionable salon of the eighteenth century type, where friends may drop by, have refreshments and then leave. I hope their conversation, which they have continually, is of the proper standard.

They may steal my food, but the birds do provide entertainment for the cats. Their programme is just long enough: by the time they are finished feeding, the beasts inside are tired of their dancing and discussions. The diners may be insulted that they have an audience for their meals, but they can consider the perma-cats as the lower classes, watching them with envy. What the perma-cats think of that is probably best left untranslated.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Time, Mountains and Cats

Given time, much can change in a cat’s life, and in her attitude. Playing is always a good sign in a cat. Portia had played a little previous to this weekend, but on Saturday and Sunday, she was more active, especially with a string-toy. She also wrestles with a fuzzy mouse on her own, which is, I think, a better sign.

She still spends much time in the library, though that doesn’t worry me. She knows there are other cats in the apartment, and isn’t keen on meeting them right now. Periodically, Renn and Tucker will use the library’s litter-box, and Neville favours its water-bowl; the Former Thin Man also likes to stare at Portia, though I try to discourage this. Even so, the newcomer feels the library is her safe-zone, and is secure there. When she wants that extra bit of security, she retreats to the corner behind a bookcase.

But when she comes out, she explores. Yesterday, she found a box, in which she spent some time scrabbling with her claws, fighting with a mouse, and relaxing.

Later, in the evening, I sat on the library couch with her, me at one end, and she at the other. (There isn’t much space between us, but she has kept it, nonetheless.) This time, however, she adjusted her position, and lie beside me, up against me. I stroked her head, and she purred. This won’t happen every time we are together, but it happened last night.

Progress is slow, but it is progress, and we both have time. Time erodes mountains, so maybe it will do the same to Portia’s suspicions and distrust.

Friday, May 21, 2021

No More Oven Mitts

Portia continues to explore the Cosy Apartment. I leave the library door open much of the time when I am home, except when it would be impossible for me to hear a cat-emergency - such as when I am in the shower or asleep - but I don’t foresee too many problems between my new foster-cat and the resident beasts. I still have the thick towel handy when supervising her free time, but don’t wear oven mitts.

A day or two ago, Neville did express an interest in the newcomer that manifested itself in a rather too swift advance on her, so I will watch that: I think it would result in the Nevsky’s painful rebuff more than anything else. Nonetheless, I hope to keep any unpleasantness to a minimum, while allowing the calico-girl to wander about where she will.

Her attitude toward me remains ambivalent. I am able to stroke her head for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, but she will decide suddenly and almost without warning to tell me off, with both her voice and her claws. I don’t know if this is a matter of incomplete trust in me, or a deeper issue. Whatever the answer, she and I will have time to discover the cause, and what will be best for her.

In the meantime, I think Portia will adjust to the perma-cats more easily than she will to me, which is preferable. She and I can take our leisure getting to know one another. Once she and her feline roommates reach a modus vivendi - whatever form that may take - she will have the freedom of their small world, and not see me following her everywhere when she is out of the library. My holidays are approaching, and that will permit me to give her more opportunity to grow used to her new foster-home.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

In Conversation

I have known few cats in my life who have ‘meowed’. Tungsten did, and of those still with me, Tucker comes the closest. Renn whines, Neville mumbles and grumbles. Cammie growled and barked. Josie’s voice was like a rusty hinge on an old garage door. But Portia’s conversation is something to hear. She makes Josie sound like Sarah Brightman.

The longer she is with me, the more this calico girl talks, especially when she wants out of the library. She can throw a spate of verbiage at me, all of it sounding like giant granite boulders being pulled across rough, gravelly ground. I think this is a good sign, rather like a shy person becoming loquacious as she grows more comfortable with her surroundings, though Portia is very likely impatient with my periodic lack of comprehension.

But that’s all right. We’ll come to understand one another soon. And maybe she’ll start to moderate her speech, and use a language less harsh and strident, like Klingon.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

I Haven't Felt Like This Since Suez

Thirty years ago, there was a British comedy tv series about the relationship between a long-widowed solicitor and a divorced schoolteacher. In the initial episode, there is a scene in which the former is about to ask out the latter, the first time he’s invited a woman on a date in thirty years or so. Full of anxiety, he mutters, “I haven’t felt like this since Suez…”, referring to the Suez Crisis when, probably, he was a very young and very frightened soldier. The way the actor delivered the line was both funny and revealing, and I use it to myself from time to time when confronted by a nerve-wracking situation.

Though not quite in the same category, I was nonetheless rather anxious as Portia took another walk about the apartment this evening. The perma-cats were in different spots and in various shades of rest. Our guest roamed into the bathroom, where she investigated the tub, into the sitting room, where she hissed at Neville, and into the bedroom. There she leaped up on the bed, to be confronted with a suddenly-wakened Renn. Portia hissed and dropped down to the floor again, leaving my big boy to wonder what had happened.

What did happen was nothing harmful or dangerous. Portia returned to the library soon after and had a nap.

Even so, I worried about her interaction with the beasts, and still worry about it. To be honest, I doubt that there will be a violent confrontation. There will likely be hisses, growls, maybe a few whaps, and retreats. But I worry nonetheless. When Portia explores, I am ready with a big, heavy towel (to separate battling felines) and wearing ‘Ove Glove’ oven mitts, very thick garments made from the same material as Superman’s cape. If they allow me to hold a baking sheet heated to 400°, they should withstand a cat’s claws. Maybe.

I think the newcomer will integrate well enough as I give her more opportunities. Her attitude toward me is ambivalent: purring will quickly switch to hissing and swatting, with rapiers extended. But I would rather she adjust to her own species before mine, as that would mean freedom from the library, companionship, new experiences and maybe playing and friendship. I can always wait.

But each time she comes out to explore, I am nervous. It may not be 1956 Suez, but I’m prepared for warfare, just in case.