Tuesday, January 31, 2023

His Various Paths

Neville is doing poorly. I wrote in a  previous entry that his doctor prescribed for him an anti-biotic to see if his exceptionally high blood-sugar numbers, and the lack of insulin’s effect insulin on them, were caused by an infection. The anti-biotic has prompted Nev to throw up his food. Initially, it was just the hard-food he ate; he would regurgitate that almost immediately, but he continued to eat - and retain - his soft food. That has now changed, and he isn’t keeping anything down, and doesn’t want to eat.

I stopped giving him the medicine on Saturday, but the effects are still with him. I resorted to Cerenia yesterday afternoon, and that appeared to help, as he ate a small but decent amount of soft food last evening. This morning, he threw up the hard-food he ate, and refused any other, not unnaturally. If he still refuses food this evening, I will give him another injection of Cerenia.

The next stage of my plan for Neville depends of course on curing this latest and most pressing problem. If I can do that, I will run a curve on him this weekend. If it turns out satisfactory, another will be run the following weekend, and then a new electronic sensor will be put on him for a detailed examination of his numbers. As one can see, the Nevsky’s future can go in a number of directions. His road is still uncertain.

Monday, January 30, 2023

And In a Surprising Development...

Hector will be going on a trial-adoption next Sunday.

I was surprised by the inquiry made about my Little Turk because he has had very little interest shown in him in the sixteen months he has been with me. But now his chance has come.

I am a little apprehensive. This is not due to the prospective home to which Hector will be going. Our rescue-group’s adoption process is thorough, and if the person in charge of the process is pleased with the home, then I am satisfied. Hec will be going to a small, young family, with a resident cat.

My concern comes because of Hector. He is not like Horace. With Ivory, what you saw was what you got, and he could fit in almost anywhere. Hector is more idiosyncratic, and requires time to understand. People must learn about him. He will have two weeks with his new humans. I don’t expect them to understand him in that time, but if they realise in that fortnight that he is a complex little fellow and needs further opportunity to display his character, then the people will be happy.

But it is the other cat who is the key to Hector’s happiness in the new setting. Hec requires not just a companion, not just another cat with whom he gets along. He needs a playmate. The resident feline is young enough for that, and has lived well with others of her species. If these two become friends, if they chase and wrestle with each other, I will be happy.

This will be an anxious time for me. Hector and I have become good friends. But this is his chance. Adoptions of black cats don’t come along as often as with other colours. If it does not work out, he will of course come back to the Cosy Apartment. But, as confused and perhaps frightened as he will initially be, this trial-adoption represents everything that has the possibility of making him happy for the rest of his life, and that’s what cat-rescue is about.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Unexpected But Welcome Visitors

Deer show up in the middle of my city quite a few times. They probably live in the river-bottom but, considering the number of streets, buildings and parking lots between there and where I live, the number of times I see them is surprising. They are never troubled by humans near by, nor of their automobiles. Yesterday a small herd of them showed up on the lawn behind my apartment.

One relieved himself there. I felt privileged, sort of. Hector and Neville were probably thinking the deer to be rather unsanitary, not using a box, or even cleaning itself afterward…

That one joined his fellows. There were five that I counted (there is one to be viewed between the dumpsters), and they were indifferent to the noisy repairs underway in the alley. This may be the same group, probably an extended family, whom I have seen near my building on other occasions. Sometimes, I have been within ten feet of them as they munched leaves or grass. I am sure that they are suitably cautious of street traffic but I worry about their safety nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Uncertain Road Ahead

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke with the veterinary about the disappointing results of Neville’s insulin use over the last two weeks. The doctor, too, was disappointed. He feels that Neville has become largely resistant to insulin. There are several possible causes and several possible courses of action.

In terms of reasons for this remarkable and unsatisfactory state, the doctor first suggested Cushing’s disease, which is, as he stated, very rare in cats. Nev does not have most of its symptoms, anyway. There is the possibility of cancer, though it has not been accompanied by weight-loss. I have had several of my cats die of cancer, and each has suffered a great and relatively sudden reduction in poundage. However, the doctor told me that there are some forms of cancer that are not characterised by weight-loss. And, of course, there is the possibility that Neville simply hasn’t begun that phase of his illness. A third suggestion was a kind of infection that is countering the insulin’s effects.

The chance of infection is the one that is most easily tested and cured. Neville will be receiving some anti-biotics, starting today. If there is cancer, there are treatments, of course, depending on the kind and extent of the disease - surgery, chemo-therapy - but none that would not bring still more distress to this sensitive fellow’s life.

The alternative of trying another kind of insulin was discussed. The doctor felt, however, that if the glargine and the ProZinc did not make an appreciable effect on the blood’s glucose-numbers, another kind was as unlikely to do so. I will, though, switch to another variety of insulin once this supply of ProZinc is finished; the opportunity will be present, and I can’t see the harm in trying.

While I remain hopeful for the Nevsky’s immediate future, his prospects are not promising at this point. He remains his usual self, nonetheless: content, if not happy; pleased to eat the limited types of food he enjoys, and satisfied for recreation in looking out the window at the wide world, and receiving chin-rubs. As long as my friend takes his minor delights in such a fashion, I will be happy to assist them.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

That's the Place for Me!

As I have already related, Neville’s use of ProZinc insulin, rather than the glargine, has been a failure. While it gave him a couple of good ‘curves’ two days out of the last ten or so, that is of course not enough, and cannot be depended upon to give him good health. Furthermore, the sensor, which was to operate for two weeks, ceased working Saturday morning. I initially thought there was a problem with the sensor itself but, in fact, it was due to the device coming off of Neville, the little prong on the its under-side no longer penetrating his skin. The first sensor was glued rather too strongly to the Nevsky, and had taken off all his fur underneath when it was taken off. I think to preclude a recurrence, this second device was adhered deliberately less strongly. Even so, it did its job for the time it was attached to my furry grey friend; it told me what I needed to know. And Nev won’t have to go to the hospital once more for the sensor’s removal.

Pondering this led to other thoughts, not directly connected to Neville and his diabetes. There was a time when I was what one might have called a pessimist. Then again, there was a time when I was young. I suspect that, in my immature state, I fancied that being pessimistic gave me a certain cachet. I also suspect that, if it did, it was entirely in my own mind, and everyone else found my attitudes tiresome and dull. I myself think the past me deserved a good smack, followed by more, until I was rendered unconscious and of no further annoyance to the general population.

As I aged, I became more optimistic. This is strange, considering I find the world having become worse during the same time period. Nonetheless, I am now an optimist. This made me in turn recall a movie I saw lo, these many years ago.

It was called Mr Patman, also known as Crossover. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it. It was a Canadian film from 1980, which pretty much guarantees its anonymity. Besides which, 1980 was the height of the Canadian film industry’s tax-shelter period, when terrible movies were made by incompetent people for financial reasons. Thank goodness those days are long gone and our film and television industries has thrived for more integral reasons. Some good features were nonetheless produced and, to be honest, I don’t remember if I liked Mr Patman. Most of those who reviewed it – and acted in it – did not.

Just in case you are about to watch Mr Patman, I will warn you that I am about to spoil the ending for you; if you don’t want that, skip to my last paragraph… The story involved a male nurse, portrayed by James Coburn (who was never incompetent or terrible at his job), working at a psychiatric hospital. He realises that, like the inmates, he is beginning to lose his sanity, and he eventually checks himself into his own asylum.

Early in the film, he is conversing with an inmate, with whom he is friends. The inmate explains that there are two kinds of people in the facility. Some are optimists, others are pessimists. The former eventually get better and leave; the latter do not.

At the film’s end, Patman, now a patient, is welcomed to his new home by his friend, the inmate. They must choose a bed for Patman, and the inmate suggests Mr So-and-So’s bed, as he won’t be needing it anymore.

“What happened to Mr So-and-so?” asks Patman.

“Oh, he was an optimist,” the inmate answers.

Then, with a big and toothy grin, the likes of which was unique to James Coburn, Patman tosses his bag on to the bed and declares, “Then that’s the place for me!”

I have found that optimists may not always be right in their view of life. They tend not to have fewer troubles because of their attitudes; they probably don’t even have more friends. But I think they find more to enjoy; there is more sunshine, and if there is rain, they like the sound and smell of it. Optimists tend to smile more, I think, because even if pessimists are right, what they are right about brings them no joy. And, I believe, when events are conspiring to lock one away with lunatics, optimists will get out of the asylum sooner.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Fred and Ginger and Zofia

It’s not always easy to finish one’s work when one is host to a kitten. Zofia has discovered the computer screen, and all the fun things that move on it. Two of those are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, here in a scene from Shall We Dance. Who knew little Miss Zed liked the classic movies?

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Our Disappointment

After more than a week of giving Neville the new insulin, I must admit that the experiment has not been a success. Nev had been on ProZinc before. The reason I switched him to Lantus glargine a year ago was that ProZinc’s results were erratic. I realised that this had been the case when I brought him back to this substance, but I thought that the length of time on glargine would accustom his body to that insulin, thus allowing ProZinc to be viewed as a novelty, with beneficial, even if short-term, results. As well, I was paying strict attention to Neville’s diet, and thought I had found a good combination of food that would aid the insulin.

Alas, ProZinc’s has been, by and large, a failure. On a few days, it gives him exactly the sort of response I want. The rest of the days, however, are divided between the insulin having no effect and having a negligible result. This is, unfortunately, what happened the last time he was on ProZinc. While not strictly insulin-resistant, Neville’s body is clearly not using it, or even welcoming its presence, as it should.

I feel very bad for the Nevsky. He has gone through a great deal, just to have his patience and fortitude disappointed. I will be speaking to the veterinary about what next to do. I had mentioned in an earlier blog-entry about other kinds of insulin, but I hesitate to change Nev’s prescription any time soon, as I feel too much alteration over such a short period would be bad for him. On the other hand, very high blood-glucose numbers cannot be anything but detrimental to his well-being. He must feel poorly much of the time.

Yet he still finds enjoyment in life. He usually greets his meals with delighted rumblings and gravelly mutterings, and he likes his chin rubs, with which he repays my efforts with purrs. But if I could find a way of managing his diabetes, I would be making his life pleasant, rather than just tolerable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Watching Zofia

Watching Zofia play with Hector has reinforced in me the conviction that kittens need companionship. I certainly don’t mean to denigrate those who adopt just one kitten; any good, loving home is a victory for a cat, no matter its age. But if adopted alone, a kitten must have a great deal of attention from its people, and endless opportunities for play.

With a playmate, that situation pretty much takes care of itself. That’s not to imply that human companionship for the kitten - for any cat - isn’t necessary. It is. I pet, stroke, pick up and talk to little Miss Zed all the time; I suspect too often and too much for her liking, but I think the more familiar she is with the ways of humans the better.

But it is feline fraternisation that a kitten requires. It needn’t even be friendship; playing is, I think, the most important element of a kitten’s relationship with another cat, but grooming and cuddling together come tied as very close seconds. A kitten is still an immature cat, and longs for the closeness that its mother would naturally give it, if the family stayed together.

I don’t think it is just the burning of energy that is significant in play-time. Certainly they can, and do, expend tremendous amount of energy all on their own. But playing is learning, just as with human children. I haven’t had the experience with kittens that others have had, but I’ve watched the ones who have lived with me. I’ve seen kittens learning to be cats: stalking, fighting, carrying, hitting, protecting. These characteristics may not be as useful to a domesticate house-cat as to a feral feline but, like a person’s individuality when living in a community, they contribute to a strong and healthy creature.

Playing builds confidence in a cat. If playmates are equal, a cat develops its cunning, speed, agility and close-quarter combat skills against an opponent who is doing the same. If one is older, what it can teach the younger is invaluable, and it provides a feeling of safety that only another of the same species can give.

I was lucky with my first pair of kittens, Oleo and Bisto. They were adopted together, two brothers who’d known each other from birth, playmates and friends. I would like to see Zofia stay with Hector, but in truth that is neither necessary nor - to be realistic - likely. But the rescue-group is fully aware of what Zo needs, and when she is adopted, she will go to as perfect a home as can be found for her. Then others will have the delight of watching Zofia.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Horace's New Views

I thought readers might like to see something of Horace in his new residence. He is called by a different name, but I won’t mention it or any others here; I have permission to publish these pictures in my blog.

Horace lives with an oldster cat and a youngster dog. Horace and his fellow feline are getting used to each other; there has been some whapping but nothing serious. The dog wants to play with the newcomer in the worst way, and his eagerness has to be kept in check by his humans. But the beginnings of a good relationship are there, as well.

I spoke with Horace’s people last evening for an article in the rescue-group’s newsletter. They talked about him for half an hour, telling me that they knew the first day he spent with them that they would be keeping him. They wanted a cat who was easy-going and casual; that is Horace, and then some. My friend Ivory has found his home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Back to Her Normal

Zofia let me sleep last night. I suspect that she needed the sleep, too. I also suspect that one, some or a combination of the drugs she was given for her surgery reacted on her, making her hyperactive, restless and distracted. She would periodically attack her incision, and even her eating was affected.

Yesterday, she was much more her usual self. She is eating well again, is playful to a normal extent (close to hyperactive at times, anyway, being a kitten), and ready for sleep when the day has tired her out. I am keeping little Miss Zed isolated when I am absent, but allowing her the usual freedom when I am present; keeping an eye on her movements, and the dangers that may be presented to her wound, calming her and Hector down when they become too rambunctious.

I have not insisted on a cone. It didn’t stay on when I went to work yesterday, and she did not bother her incision. That is the most important factor in my determination, and her frantic attention on Monday to her surgical site seems to have been occasioned by both the medication and some fresh feeling coming from the wound. I check the site often while I am present, and it has remained a light and healthy pink, like the rest of her shaved abdomen. She is now unconcerned by it.

By the end of the week, I doubt that I will quarantine Zofia even when she is unchaperoned. Her medical care will be complete and she will be once again available for adoption, perhaps with her black-furred best pal and playmate. Just in case anyone reading might be interested…

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

And Then What Happened?

Zofia’s spay surgery was successful, and included no complications. Those began after she returned home.

I usually don’t put a cone on a cat unless I see her worrying the surgical site, and initially, little Miss Zed was not bothered by the incision. Later in the evening, though, she started twirling about and flipping over trying to bite her abdomen. A cone was needed.

Unfortunately, there were two problems. The cone supplied was given gauze strips with which to secure it. These did not stay tight, unless I wanted to tie them so tightly that there was a risk of strangling the poor girl. A friend in the rescue-group hurried over with another cone, this one with cloth tapes that are strong and which have a tacky texture, which allow them both to be tied well and to stay in place. After a first failed attempt - Zofia crawled under my bed and used the frame like a bottle-opener to remove the cone - I was able to secure it in place. It didn’t help that the cone is actually too large for a slender kitten.

In any case, things didn’t end there. Because the library presented too many opportunities for a cat imprisoned in a cangue to become trapped, possibly in a dangerous position - she almost fell between bookcases while I was with her, though I managed to grab her - she was removed to the bedroom. While she didn’t spend long in trying to remove the cone, Zofia was nonetheless fully occupied during the night in exploring the room. No doubt rendered restless by the uncomfortable but necessary cone, she wasn’t still for more than a few minutes at a time. My attempts to sleep were foiled by the more or less constant sound of the plastic cone banging, scraping, knocking or otherwise crashing into something. I think I slept between one and two; I know I didn’t sleep before then, and probably not after.

I could have put my little charge in the bathroom, but I thought having my company would calm her. And she did settle down for a snooze about half an hour before I had to get up. In any case, her activities would likely have been the same in the bathroom, but with the sound amplified by its small space. This is a risk I will likely take tonight…

I had thought of a onesie to replace the cone, but the cloth would probably have been no deterrent to Zofia’s teeth. Indeed, this was demonstrated when I tried putting Minuet’s shirt on the youngster. True, it is too large a size for Zofia, but her reaction to it demonstrated what she would do.

The principal regret about the cone is that it is not needed all the time. She is not constantly nibbling at her wound. I suspect that an end of a suture or something similar causes sudden, sharp irritation, but only for a minute or so. The rest of the time, she is relaxed and content. But the damage she can do in that minute would be too great to leave her incision unguarded.

So the cone remains in place (I hope) until I return from work. Then it must go on again when Neville goes for his less dramatic veterinary appointment this afternoon. In a few days, though, it should be safe for Zed to be both unsupervised and coneless. That will be a relief to the both of us.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Zofia Goes to the Hospital

Zofia will be spayed today. Her second heat cycle arrived less than two weeks after the first, and lasted more than twice as long, so we were anxious to get her in before she experienced a third.

Because she would have to go to the hospital early - but later than I would go to work - it was decided to take her to another residence last evening, so that she could be transported directly by the people there, rather than having to collect me from work, go home, release little Miss Zed into their care, then go back to my job.

I anticipate no problems with the surgery, though you may want to direct some kind thoughts to the Cosy Apartment for my attempts to keep her still and inactive while she heals. She’s five months old, so I don’t think I will be having much success in that. I will isolate her in the library, which will displease her, as will keeping her from her pal, Hector, who was looking for her last night. I expect much pounding and scratching on closed doors.

But afterward, Zofia will feel better, the apartment will experience no more disruptions (of the reproductive kind), and she can return to her full-time job of being a kitten.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

The Oldsters

I watched the other day as Neville came into the sitting room after using the litter-box and climbed to the top of the smaller cat-tree. Looking up, he saw that Renn was occupying the top of the taller cat-tree, which is, currently, Nev’s favourite spot. The Nevsky settled down where he was, and had a nap.

This made me think about the relationship between my two senior cats. I don’t think they ever had much antagonism between them. When Neville arrived at the Cosy Apartment in mid-2019, my big boy had already been with me nearly a decade, and I don’t believe he saw much threat in the newcomer. It helped that Neville was a fairly easy-going fellow, and certainly not confrontational. If there was any hissing, it didn’t last long.

Since then, they have each lived a life that barely acknowledged the other. They would pass in the corridor, or lie on the same bed, Renn noticing Nev, and vice versa, but not doing anything about it. Neville prefers to be left alone, and Renn eventually accepts other cats with resignation.

I think their respective ages are a factor. Though Renn is older, Nev is now in his teens. Both have their health issues. These characteristics may create an affinity between them. Like residents at a retirement home, they may nod to each other in the dining room, or make way as they meet in a passage, but, except for their disdain for the younger, foolish generation with which they must share their world, they have little in common. If they met on a park bench, they would shake their heads at the antics of adolescents, glance at each other in silent agreement, then rise with groans and grunts, and go their separate ways.

It may be that the wisdom of age doesn’t necessarily embrace friendship, but extends respect, and that’s good enough for peace.