Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Good Record for a Hundred

Minuet continues to wet periodically outside the litter-box. It is occurring rarely. This second bout of her problem began when she went to the veterinary regarding her abscess. I believe that the litter-box problem was due to the stress of the hospital visit. I therefore bought amounts of Cat-attract cat-litter, which solved the issue the first time, when she initially came to live with me. I think it worked again, but created a secondary cause for the same problem.

The Cat-attract works well. It appeals to cats who have a wetting problem, and those who don’t. I have three who don’t. They use the boxes in the library that have been liberally dosed with Cat-attract. This leads to large amounts of waste in the litter. The most recent instances of Minuet wetting outside the box have occurred when the boxes were what could be called ‘loaded’. Certainly they may have seemed so to a hygienically-minded feline such as Madame.

I therefore decided to lure the boys away from the boxes in the library by using Cat-attract in the boxes in the store-room, which originally had been the only litter-boxes in the apartment. This has not worked. They continue to use the library boxes. This is not troubling when I am home to scoop the litter relatively often. While I am at work, they load the boxes in the library and only now and then use the store-room.

I tried closing the door to the library while I was at work, but in that case, Minuet wet outside the box, near the threshold, which is a difficult spot to cover with protective plastic. I think in this case, she was a bit anxious at the door being shut.

While I think the Cat-attract worked again, I also think it is no longer necessary. I believe Min will use the boxes stocked with regular litter as long as she feels it is clean enough to do so. But with access to the library open, the boys will also use the boxes there, which may cause Minuet to wet outside. If I close the door, Min may wet outside, on a part of the floor the carpet of which is imperfectly protected. This is my dilemma.

My solution is to leave the door to the library open and allow the boys to use the boxes there as they wish. If Minuet feels she cannot use them at any time, what part of the floor isn’t covered with vinyl will be covered with soaker-pads. As the regular litter succeeds exclusive use of Cat-attract, I hope the boys will revert to utilizing all of the boxes. I think this solution will cause the least anxiety for Minuet, and the least damage to the environment.

As with Renn’s situation, as detailed in a previous blog-entry, there is likely no ideal answer to the riddle. I aim for that which is most convenient and comfortable for the cats. Washing soaker pads or cleaning vinyl flooring is a bit of a bother, but there are greater tribulations. And, like the Meezer’s Mews’ Pipo, who put his front paws in the box and thought that was enough, there is little one can do when the cat believes it is getting it right. Madame still gets it right ninety per cent of the time; when I am a hundred years old, I will consider that an exceptionally good record.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

In the Good Old Summer-time

32° C (89.6° F) last weekend - probably hotter inside - with a cat (38° C (100.4° F) average body temperature) on my lap… When’s autumn coming?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Silent Chatter

I’m sure most people who have cats have seen or heard of cats ‘chattering’ at birds they see outside, as if they are talking to animals they hope will be their prey. I’ve seen it before in some of mine, but yesterday I observed a variety of it I have not come across previously. Not surprisingly, I observed it in Hector.

Hec was chasing a fly that had found its way into the apartment. My little panther ran and leaped and grabbed but couldn’t catch his quarry. At one point the fly landed on a window-screen, out of reach of his hunter. Hector sat and stared up at the fortunate insect, and ‘chattered’. But he didn’t make a sound.

I had not heard of ‘silent chatter’ from a cat before. Certainly, I have come across silent meows. Tucker used to give me those all the time, and I loved seeing the almost reticent little expression. But any ‘chatter’ had always come with high-pitched, staccato sounds.

I have read that such an action by cats is an instinctive preparation for eating or perhaps killing a live and struggling prey, loosening the jaws, like a singer’s exercises before a performance. If that is the case, accompanying sound is probably incidental, rather than purposeful. Whatever the reason, it was hardly unexpected that Hector would devise his own method.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

With Little to Report

It’s been almost a month since I’ve featured Renn on my blog. The interval has been taken up by Minuet’s issues – her recovery is still satisfactory – and Hector’s antics, with a couple of guest appearances by Neville.

The fact is that my big boy is doing well, with little to report, which, in the case of the latter, is probably good. Renn has off-days, when he won’t eat breakfast. That almost always means that he will throw up some time during the day, and be off his food till the morrow. This happens once every ten days or so. I’ve taken him to the doctor more than once to investigate it but nothing untoward has been found in his blood or urine, or in x-rays or physical examinations.

Irritable bowel syndrome has been hypothesized; among its symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea (Renn’s bad days usually give him watery poop). Few other symptoms coincide, however, and the management of the syndrome involves steroids and/or dietary change. I am hesitant to give Renn drugs, and he is very fussy about what he eats.

The fact is that the episodes are, in my opinion, too few and infrequent to demand remedies that may affect him more adversely. For quite a while, Renn has been enjoying two kinds of hard-food (of which he has his choice whenever he asks for them) and a small variety of soft-food; none of these are bad for him. He doesn’t like any additives, such as pro-biotics, and will refuse food that has been so diluted. I feel that his life, despite the odd bad day, is proceeding too well to tamper with. And, as he is fifteen, I don’t like the idea of messing with what is, for the most part, working. This may be a miscalculation on my part, but if he has just a few years remaining, which seems likely, I would prefer them to be mostly filled with his easily-purring attitude.

Thus, my big boy’s life is largely uneventful. At our ages – his and mine – I think we both prefer that. Our existences are prone to sudden changes, so this may all be rendered immaterial tomorrow, or next week. But for today, Renn is doing well, with little to report.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Equilibrium and Equanimity

So far, Minuet’s recovery from her stress-induced litter-box issue is proceeding. She did wet out of the box yesterday, but I excuse that instance. My boys use the Cat-attract litter, too. In fact, they use it to the exclusion of the ordinary litter in the store-room’s boxes. This is annoying because, firstly, they’re using the more expensive product when they needn’t; secondly, four cats in eight hours can generate a lot of contents for a litter-box.

When I came home, Min had not wet outside the box. She did a few minutes later. I believe it’s because she felt there was no room to move about in either of the two boxes available. I think this was unconnected to her latest issue. Unfortunately, with the soaker-pads on the threshold, I cannot close the door to the library to keep the boys out, and I feel it’s not quite safe yet to remove that absorbent precaution.

As Minuet grows re-accustomed to using the proper place for her business, I will start mixing in the regular litter. This will slowly cause the boxes in the library to lose any special appeal for the boys, and things will return to their proper equilibrium.

And on the subject of balance, I can state that Min is coming to regard her foster-brothers with a bit more equanimity. She doesn’t worry much about Renn - who comes into the library only to relieve himself - or Neville, who likes to relax on the carpeted top of the lower bookcase by the window. Those two hardly elicit a peep from Madame. Even Hector, who invades her space in search of food out of the ordinary, causes complaints much subdued when compared to earlier protests.

While I don’t expect her ever to become friends with the boys, it is good to see Minuet handling their proximity with more aplomb than previous. This will create less disturbance in her day, and ease still further any stress she might feel. And that is good for everyone.

Below is a badly-lit photograph (taken in the evening light) of Lady Sunflower on Tucker’s Tuffet with the Nevsky on the couch behind her.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Another Challenge

Minuet is a very sensitive lady. Following her abscess and a trip to the veterinary hospital, she started wetting outside the litter-boxes again. I’m pretty sure that this was caused by the upset in her routine, and especially by the doctor’s appointment. Once again, I have bought Cat-attract litter, the heavy clay litter that does just what its name states.

At first, I thought it was failing me. The first day that I put it in the library’s boxes, Min continued to wet outside. She had selected as her spot the entrance-way to the library, where the jamb and the door itself create odd angles, corners and obstructions. The plastic that I put down on the floor of the library therefore covered the carpeting there incompletely. This was, naturally, where Minuet chose to wet. The results were as one might expect… I replaced the plastic there with soaker-pads, and she wet on four of them the very evening I put Cat-attract in the litter-boxes.

However, later that night, Min used a litter-box. Then she used it again. That was going on two days ago, and so far, she has continued to go where she should. I watched her one time: she walked to the threshold of the library, stopped on the soaker-pads, turned, hesitated for a couple of seconds, and then climbed into the litter-box. (Soaker-pads are a mixed blessing, since they retain the smell of cat-urine, to some degree, even after repeated washings. They were probably calling her as was the litter-box, though, fortunately, to a lesser extent.)

Madame is a creature of habit, perhaps more so than most cats. She is also sensitive to a high degree. If driven by disorder to disrupt her routine, if a disturbing unpleasantry, such as a hospital visit, throws off her balance, it takes work to bring her back to where she should be. But she wants to be there, and that helps. As problems go, this is not a major one for me; I worry more about Min. Yet, considering how well she has adapted to the greatest challenge of her life - coming to the Cosy Apartment in January - I think she is strong enough to overcome this latest difficulty.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Café's Best Customer

This is Sable, my outsider-cat. She has been coming to my apartment’s Café Cosy for food and water for more than four years. She used to come with her shyer sister, Sablette. They would disappear for months at a time, only to return as if they had never been away. One time, Sablette did not come back.

Now, Sable shows up periodically with a chonky white and orange cat I’ve named Arliss. He is very timid and may have a home somewhere, as he accompanies Sable rarely. Nonetheless, they appear to be good friends.

Sable has a distinctive right ear, with a rim of silver; possibly this is due to frostbite. Lately, I think that the silver portion has increased, though I may be quite mistaken about that, as I see Sable almost always in the dark. Observing her in the relative brightness of an early twilight may allow me to see more of what was always there.

In any case, Café Cosy’s principal customer appears to be in good shape. She is not thin; I know she has other food sources, as she not infrequently takes several days’ hiatus from visiting, and is none the hungrier for it. (Even so, once in a while, she will show up famished; I can tell, and feed her extra then. This will happen, for instance, after several days of rain or strong wind, the latter which she seems to dislike greatly. She sometimes will come to my apartment first of all her sources of food, and will be hungry because of it.) Here, though, she has clean water and soft-food, though I’ve had to restrict her menu to two tins of Fancy Feast or the equivalent at each serving, due to the sharp increase in the price of everything in the world. She does, however, have an unlimited amount of hard-food at her disposal, and that, unlike the soft-food, which is given only when I see her, is available all the time.

I have debated trapping her and trying to make a house-cat of her, if ever I move from the Cosy Apartment. I would worry greatly about her if I left her behind. On the other hand, she clearly has at least one other benefactor, so she would likely not suffer - at least no more than would any other outsider-cat - and socialising her would be quite a project.

But for now, Sable remains Café Cosy’s best patron. She is polite, sharing her table with Arliss, and tolerating the mildly uncouth eating habits of a skunk, Horatia, whenever the latter comes by. One day, Sable may not visit any more. When that happens, I will be able to hope only that I made a hazardous life a little less uncertain, and was able to provide some enjoyment in a world at times too severe.

Monday, July 18, 2022

The Return of the Lion

Neville’s fur has grown back in its entirety. It’s been four months since he was shaved. His lower legs, head and neck were spared the trimming, but the rest of his hair was disposed of, right to the skin. Now his thick coat has returned; a few mats have, as well, despite brushing, so tonight I will be busy with comb and scissors.

In the meantime, my lion is back.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Madame Feels Good

Minuet is doing well. I think the abscess is gone, though it has left behind an ugly scab. That will disintegrate, with some grooming on her part and mine. I have some anti-biotic remaining, and will use it up, though the doctor said that five days’ worth would be sufficient. I tend to keep the treatment going for a little longer than prescribed, simply to make sure of the effort. I will watch the results.

I have decided to cancel Min’s follow-up appointment on Tuesday. I don’t think it is worth the stress to her (and the cost, which must always be considered, unfortunately). I don’t believe hers is a dental matter. The abscess was on the outside of her face; it burst and leaked puss and blood externally. I’m sure I would have seen them in her water, her food and drooling from her mouth, if it were an internal wound.

Her behaviour suggests that she is recovered. She is eating well and talking as usual. As well, it has been three days since she wet outside the litter-boxes. She had left one or two puddles outside the boxes each day for a few days, six to twelve inches from the boxes. I am certain those incidents were caused by the discomfort of the abscess; the fact that she is no longer doing this indicates relief from pain. I was ready to buy some more Cat-Attract litter, though I wonder now if that would have helped, the reason for her mis-aim being stress from a physical injury. (She now and then wets enough outside the box for the urine to travel underneath it; that is a different matter, simply not being far enough in the box. At her age, that she is able at all to get into a box – even one with a very low entrance – is commendable.)

I will keep her under observation, checking the remains of her wound for renewed swelling or puss. A second trip to the hospital is not out of the question, but is on hold for now. Madame is feeling good.


Friday, July 15, 2022

The Little Brain at Work

Hector is a smart fellow. I learned this early on in our acquaintance, but I see evidence of it all the time, usually when he is playing or attempting to get somewhere/food he should not be/have.

As an example, we were playing with a string-toy consisting of a stick, a string and a rather vague representation of a winged insect at the free end of the string. I would swing the pseudo-bug about and Hec would try to grab it. The rules are pretty simple. But the insect this time landed among other toys and was hidden from sight. I watched Hector look for it for several seconds, his green eyes darting about, his head moving. After a brief moment of indecision, he rejected the notion of searching further, and simply attacked the string. And why not? Pulling the line will bring the bug as surely as pulling the bug itself.

On the weekend, we were again playing, this time with a long, black shoe-string. Despite being even simpler than the string-toy, the shoe-string is preferred. Perhaps there is less artifice about the game. Anyway, at one point, I lay the string under a large box; I had one end beyond the near side of the box, while Hector tried to pull at the bit of string appearing from under the box at the far side. I pulled the string more and more toward me; it was disappearing under the box and, eventually, there was too little for the dark knight to seize. Thereupon, he rushed to my side of the box, where he found plenty of string to grab.

Hector observes and thinks; he considers possibilities and weighs options. There is a brain in that little furry head, and it is usually working.