Sunday, February 27, 2022

Onward and Upward

Minuet continues to do well. I now let the other cats go into the library if they want, though under supervision; it’s really the only way Min will become accustomed to their presence. I must balance this, however, with the need for her to retain a safe room. She does come out of the library now and then, but when she encounters one of the other beasts, she starts growling and wailing, and retreats to the library. I’m not worried about this, as this is normal behaviour for a new cat, especially, I imagine, an old one used to having her own way. The others, for their part, don’t seem to have any hostility or resentment toward the newcomer, just curiosity. That in itself, though, is something that must be watched and restrained to an extent.

Madame continues to surprise me with her robustness. She climbs to the top of the smaller bookcase every day, snoozing there, or using it as a spot from which to view the world through the library window. But she has climbed even higher, and takes the taller bookcases as her vantage points, too.

I intend to have buy a cat-tree to place in the library, to enable Minuet to ascend and descend to her spots more easily. Though she may be able to reach those places now, I can’t help but think the climb is a bit of a strain on her old joints. And coming down may be simpler, but there are unavoidable jolts involved in letting gravity assist you. I want to have the tree custom-made, as I feel the platforms on a standard cat-tree are too distantly spaced.

My new resident is eating and drinking well, and using the litter-boxes as she should. I will use Cat-attract litter for her from now on, though if the day comes when she roams freely throughout the apartment and uses the other litter-boxes without issue, I may cease to buy it. I find it an ordeal to scoop, since one doesn’t scoop this clay litter so much as one chisels it. But if it helps Min hit her target every time, then it is worth the effort.

Friday, February 25, 2022

My Day of Remembering IV

Every February 25th, I dedicate a blog-entry to those of my cats who have passed away. I prefer not to commemorate them separately on the anniversaries of their deaths but, rather, together on this day, which is when I suffered my first feline loss.

That loss was Bear-Bear. He died on this day in 2014. He was a very friendly cat, who loved people. I remember well his lean but cheerful face. It always looked honest and open; there was never any craft or cunning to the BB. He spoke the same way; very conversationally, as if he enjoyed small talk because it was a way of making friends. I miss his happy voice even now.

Tungsten, my first cat, was our household’s only top-cat. She was the tiny terror to those cats who stepped out of line, but with me, she was a true lap-cat. She liked to lie curled around my hand, as it rested on her tummy. She would lie facing right when on my lap but, when on my shoulders (to which she would jump, sometimes causing myself a bit of a start), she would face left. The difference may have had to do with stability; I don’t know. I enjoyed having her in ether spot. Tungsten died on March 26th, 2015.

Parker, or Puck, as I sometimes called him, was a strong-willed fellow. He had a temper, and could become angry, though never unmanageable. When we were outside, he on his leash and harness, he would protest my decision to return inside by clawing at the ground and grumbling. He did that inside, too, when something struck him as unsatisfactory. When he had to leave me, on June 2nd, 2019, he didn’t want to go. He enjoyed life too much, and demonstrated his displeasure in no uncertain terms. But I know he went to where there is no reason to grumble - though he probably still does from time to time, to keep in practice.

My friends departed rapidly thereafter, it seems. Raleigh wasn’t with me long. He was an unhappy stray who had edged his way into the feral colony at my work-place. But a cat more accustomed than my Peachy to a sheltered indoor life would have been hard to find. I could always tell when he wanted more food at meal-times. I would take away his emptied dish and, if upon bringing it back, he greeted me with an inquisitive trill while he sat abruptly upright, he wanted more. I liked that he was so quick to enjoy the benefits of civilisation once more. Raleigh died on May 15th, 2020.

Cammie also died on May 15th, 2020. She had adapted very well to her suddenness blindness following a stroke a year before. My princess was not one to let events dictate to her. She was not one to let anything dictate to her. Whenever she was finished with something - a meal, petting, playing - and she wanted no more of it foisted upon her, she would give a gruff, sharp bark: ‘ranh!’ This didn’t change when she lost her sight; Cammie remained imperious to the end. A second stroke made her life impossible, however, and even her peremptory demands couldn’t alter that.

Josie was my pillar; her presence kept the household in order, even when all was chaos. She was with me for more than twelve years. My Chubs enjoyed lying in the sun, like most cats, but I recall seeing her often in the white heat of a summer sun, when the air was already sultry; she sometimes would step out of a heated cat-bed and lie in the torrid light, her white fur bright. How could she stand it? I wondered. She didn’t suffer abnormally from the cold; there were times in our house when she would lie with her bum on the vents to catch the cold bluster of the air conditioning. My old lady liked what she liked. The Great White died on February 17th, 2021.

And Tucker, my roly poly. He was always with me, it seemed, and we were very good friends. I would lose count of the times even in one day that he would amble over to where I was standing and rub against me; sometimes, it was as if he would lose confidence before he got there and turn around. I would catch him up and rub his sides. He was insecure, I think, so I tried never to miss an opportunity to show him I liked him. He would greet me when I returned from work, and accompany me at dinner; he would often lie near me while I worked on the computer, and rarely missed a night at the foot of the bed. I would find him there in the morning. I like to think he will be the first to greet me again some day. Tucker died on December 4th, 2021.

These are the cats I have lost; too many of them. They will always be with me, but not in the way I want them to be. That will have to wait. Until then, I will miss them all, and I will remember them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Not As Planned

Yesterday, I took Auric to the veterinary for his booster shot. It didn’t happen. I pointed out to the doctor that Auric’s right eye was showing a great deal of its third lid, and that he was rather noisy when breathing. The doctor thinks the Golden Boy is experiencing a return of his respiratory infection; it’s not as bad as it was the first time, but it still prevented his second vaccination.

So Auric is now on more oral anti-biotic, and a liquid that I must push into his eye. He’s like an eel when it comes to taking medicine by mouth; you can imagine how co√∂perative he is when I have to poke a finger into his eye. Still, he is eating well, though he is past the stray’s initial phase of consuming anything and is now in the pampered rescue-cat’s phase of being fussy: he will eat only the most expensive soft-food. And he is still very active, chasing and wrestling with Hector much of the day. If Hec doesn’t want to play, Auric will have solitary fun with a toy. I am grateful that his current ailment is not slowing down what matters.

Auric did not make it easy for the veterinary and me yesterday, though I don’t suppose there is a reason why he should, from his point of view. He disliked the probing and poking, and preferred exploring the examining room. I was lucky enough to take some photographs of him, so we can enjoy his wanderings as much as he did.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Minuet's Flying Colours

Minuet did very well at the veterinary hospital yesterday. I initially wanted to take her to the doctor due to a lack of appetite, but that problem solved itself, and Min’s eating is good now. Nonetheless, I felt that, with such an elderly cat, a veterinary visit was not a bad idea.

As well, Min’s bum-fur needed trimming, as I thought that it was collecting unpleasantries. Despite being told by her previous owner that Minuet doesn’t groom, she does; I’ve watched her. She washes her face and her paws and her rear end; her efforts probably just aren’t what they used to be. She had been cleaning her rear quite often, in fact. Now, her hair is trimmed and what equalled diaper rash is being treated with medicinal ointment. I suspect she feels better in that region.

Her mouth was examined and, though she has some tartar, her gums, the doctor remarked, “looked happy”. Minuet is about eighteen or nineteen, but with healthy sounding lungs and heart. The doctor looked over my list of Min’s blood-glucose readings, compiled during Madame’s three weeks with me, and took one herself: it was 5.6. The doctor agreed with me that Minuet does not have diabetes and likely never did.

The staff at the hospital were very pleased to meet Minuet. When she was taken from the examining room to the back for her trimmings, I heard a number of people ooh and ahh over her, and say very complimentary things. It is only her due, I think.

Just as good as what I heard at the hospital was Minuet’s reaction to the trip. She did not seem alarmed or stressed by it; when she came home, she was hungry and enjoyed an extra portion of food before bed-time. This morning, I found her, despite receiving a claw-cutting on each foot, on the carpeted top of the bookcase under the library window, perhaps waiting for sunrise. There was some wet outside a litter-box, but it was at the very lip, and there was more in the box, so I think it was only a hasty exit that deposited some where it should not have been; there were also two other wet deposits in the litter, and a satisfactorily firm stool added, for good measure.

Now that my latest cat has been to the veterinary, and the results are what they are, she need not go back unless something specific arises. I am planning to have Minuet shaved soon, to remove the remainder of the troublesome mats she has. She will start afresh and I will try to stay on top of any fur issues that arise.

Gladly, a long weekend looms. The library door will be open for Minuet’s exploratory possibilities and I will be able to spend more time with her. The veterinary visit was an auspicious end to Min’s first three weeks with me, and a similar beginning to the rest of her hopefully very long life.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

A New View for Madame

Minuet goes to the doctor today for her general examination. I will also have her claws cut (she’s getting stuck to the carpet in the library) and her bum-fur trimmed.

She has been with me for less than three weeks, but I think she is doing well, considering she was dropped into a strange world after sixteen years in a familiar one. The problems that caused her to be surrendered would appear to have been resolved.

Minuet spent sixteen years wetting in front of, rather than in, her litter-box. Prior to her adoption, she had been returned at least thrice by people who didn’t want to work with a cat who couldn’t hit the litter. At least the person who at last gave her up stuck with her for a decade and a half, abandoning her up only when she had to move and a cat who had litter-box issues was too great a difficulty. From the start, however, Min has used the litter-box correctly in the Cosy Apartment. I attribute this to my liberal application of Cat-Attract litter, which the previous owner used, but sparingly. Minuet has wet outside but not since her first week here, and then only twice, in isolated instances. I can’t help thinking that the ease with which she changed her aim, after sixteen years or more, suggests that she simply grew to think of the litter-box as the place to wet in front of, rather than in; habit, and not need.

Her diabetes is a non-issue. I will consult with the veterinary about this and have her test Minuet’s blood today, too. But from what I can see, Madame never had diabetes. The belief that she did was another reason she was given up.

Minuet’s certainly had her troubles with me. Stress caused her tremendous diarrhea, and that left its evidence all over the library, unfortunately. It was clearly something she could not control. Extensive use of Feliway, aided by pro-biotic in her food, appears to have corrected that problem. She later experienced another bout of diarrhea, but this time, she made every deposit in the box, so I wonder if the cause, resulting in a more controlled if still fluid output, was different this second time. Her last three deposits have been firmer.

I am not complacent about the end of these issues. Minuet appears prone to stress, so wetting or pooping inside the litter-box may never be something I can take for granted with her. But if she is still uncomfortable and untrusting, each day lessens those qualities. She is beginning to know the routine, and routine is a great comfort to cats. As well, she is exploring her new home more. Unable to hear, I think she judges that the coast is clear by watching for other felines passing by her open door; when none does, she feels it’s safe to look about.

And then there is this. I nailed a strip of carpet to the top of my low bookcase under the library window, not just for a soft surface but for grip, but pondered how to entice Minuet up there, or whether I should, considering her age. But yesterday, I came home to see this.

I watched her climb up there this morning. She does it slowly, carefully, but steps from the back of the couch to the top of the bookcase, using her front claws. Coming down, she relies on momentum. She is in good shape for such a senior, I believe, and this move has given her something to break the monotony of her day while I am gone.

We have a long way to go, Minuet and I, and I hope she  - and I! - will stay long enough for the Cosy Apartment to become Madame’s home.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


I’m very pleased at how well Hector and Auric get along. They’ve actually become friends, I believe. The first three pictures show them wrestling. It looks like they’re trying to kill each other, but it’s all good fun. The fourth photo depicts them resting afterward.

Then there’s this. Auric attempted to groom Hector. That’s a big step forward in their friendship, but I don’t know if my dark knight was ready for it. He was reluctant, but the Golden Boy had him in a head-lock, and for about twenty seconds, he had no choice. But all ended well. The last image captured them spending time together watching the outside world.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Challenge After Challenge

Readers may wonder how things turned out on Friday, when I gave Auric the freedom of the apartment while I was gone. Despite what Hector may have implied in the latest story from the sanitarium, things went well. They were, in fact, rather anti-climactic: when I came home, I saw Auric through the open door of the bedroom; he had been sleeping on the bed, just as I have found him when I returned home every day of his confinement.

Though the Golden Boy still annoys Renn, Hector, for his part, still annoys Neville. These behaviours will likely continue but not be serious. On the other hand, I have watched the two youngsters play, and they obviously enjoy a good tussle and chase. Hector squeaks and squeals sometimes, but it means little. If a cat jumps back into the fray after escaping from it, he’s having fun. For the first time in fourteen and a half years, two of my cats are playmates.

This leaves just the library sealed off, for Minuet’s convenience. She knows there are other cats here, and has seen them all by now. She doesn’t like the idea, but she has come out of the library under my supervision, wandering about. Whether Madame will reconcile herself to living with my lot, I don’t know. That’s our next challenge.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Mutiny at the Sanitarium

Dr Bellen looked up from the papers he was studying at his desk. There seemed to be a bit of a commotion outside his closed door. That was unusual, because most of the fuss at the Cosy Apartment Feline Sanitarium occurred in the wards. With a knitted brow, he stood and walked to his door.

“What in the world is going on?” he questioned.

Three cats stood in the outer office. They looked as if they had been arguing amongst themselves and with the doctor’s secretary, who had not had time to call her boss on the intercom. The three cats froze when Dr Bellen appeared. Sheets of paper seesawed through the air to the floor, having been grasped none too certainly in little thumbless paws. The doctor picked one up.

“What is this?” he asked, frowning at the paper in his hand.

He glanced up. He was surprised at who the three cats before him were. Two were residents of the sanitarium: Neville, a long-haired grey fellow, middle-aged, who preferred to spend his days sleeping in his room, and Hector, a new youngster, all black, but for the inevitable white patch on his chest. The third cat was Dr Bellen’s principal assistant in the wards, Renn.

“Well?” The sanitarium’s director raised his eyebrows.

“It’s a spitoon…” answered Hector.

“A petition,” corrected Neville, eyeing Hector sidelong.

“A petition! Concerning what?”

“Awl the noo rodents,” Hector said, his head high.

“Residents,” said Neville, with a sigh.

“Aren’t you a new resident, Hector?” Dr Bellen inquired.

“Nooer rodents, I mean…” mumbled Hector, lowering his head.

“We are here as representatives of the signatories of that petition, Doctor,” said Neville, after clearing his throat of an incipient hairball. “We are worried about the number and quality of the new cats being taken in by the sanitarium.”

“I see.” Dr Bellen looked at the papers in his hand but then turned to regard Renn. “Are you a signatory of this petition, too, Renn? I’d regret seeing an employee of the sanitarium attaching his pawprint to a document that would be biased toward some of the residents under his care.”

“Oh, no, not me, Doctor, no, not me,” Renn assured the human. “But there are some who a cat might have a complaint against…” He eyed Hector. “Abuse of staff, and all…”

Before Hector could say anything in response - his mouth was opening - Neville spoke again.

“There are some among the recent residents whom we feel might let the reputation of the sanitarium down, Doctor.”

“Yes. Auric, for wun,” said Hector in shrill indignation.

“What’s wrong with Auric?” Dr Bellen wanted to know.

“Heez too yung,” Hector asserted.

“You’re only a few months older than he,” reminded the human.

“There is the very old lady, Doctor,” said Neville, with gravity. “While we must be kind to seniors, her condition has led to certain unsanitary situations.”

“Auric iz a child…” stated Hector quietly.

“Neville, I’m surprised at you. How many times have you had to have your fur combed and cleared of mats, some very near your—“

“Well, yes, Doctor,” Neville blurted hastily, “but never such as this Madame Minuet has left behind. She makes one think of a barn-cat.”

“Auric iz a baybee…” Hector added, mutteringly.

“Madame Minuet is suffering from a great deal of stress. The change of address has been very hard on her. It often is much harder on old cats than on the young. It would be kind of you to comprehend that.”

“Auric iz a embrio...”

“All right, now,” said the doctor sternly. “I understand your anxieties. What is tough for one resident can sometimes affect everyone. What you forget is that the Cosy Apartment Sanitarium is the last refuge for many cats who have nowhere else to go. Neville, you came here because your diabetes could not be managed, and no one was volunteering to manage it. Do you remember?”

Neville nodded slowly.

“I should tell you that you were not universally welcomed when you first arrived.”

“What? Me?” Neville was startled.

“And you, Hector,” the doctor stood in front of the little black cat, arms akimbo; “do you recall how long you were homeless, because there was nowhere for you to go? Have you seen the weather outside? How cosy do you think it would be to be out in that?”

“Nawt cozee...” Hector hung his head.

“This sanitarium doesn’t accept cats because they are easy to live with or clean up after,” Dr Bellen stated, adding under his breath, “though goodness knows we’d like to…” Louder, he continued: “We take in those whom we can best help, when we can; those no one else wants to help. The Cosy Apartment isn’t the only place like this. There are thousands, all over the world, filled with millions of cats, just like you two, and you, as well, Renn. That’s what rescue is.”

Dr Bellen paused, and then said, in a gentler tone, “So when Auric chases you Hector, understand that he is still learning inside manners. He will; it just takes time. You had to learn some, too.”

“Some he’s still learning,” remarked Neville, again staring at Hector sidelong.

“And Neville, you have plenty of time for snoozing on your cat-trees, even if you are chased now and then. Your life isn’t very hard, is it?”

“No, Doctor,” confessed the grey cat.

“All right, then. Let’s go back to your rooms. It’s almost time to wake everyone for their afternoon nap. Renn, you’ll see to that?”

“Yes, Doctor!” Renn replied, cheerfully.

“Auric is calming down more every day. You and he may yet be friends, Hector… Did you just roll your eyes?… And Neville, Madame Minuet is cleaning herself quite well, considering her age, and we’ll assist her when she can’t. All right?”

“Yes, Doctor,” said Neville.

“Yes, dawktir,” said Hector.

As the two complainants turned to leave, Dr Bellen smiled, and glanced at the petition he still held. He frowned again.

“Wait a minute. All of these pawprints look like the same two sets repeated about a hundred times…” He looked up but saw only his secretary, filing some bills. He smiled once more. “Put this with the records, would you, Miss Beulah?”