Tuesday, February 28, 2023

My Day of Remembering V

Every year at this time, I publish a blog-entry in remembrance of my cats who have died. I prefer not to commemorate them separately on the anniversaries of their deaths but, rather, together, when I recall something about each of them that is indelible in my memory.

Bear-Bear was the first to leave me, nine years ago now, in February of 2014. One of the things I recollect about the BB was his length. He was a long cat, long and lean, his slenderness accentuating his length. Even his posture reinforced that image, as he would often lie on a cat-tree, with his tail or a foreleg hanging over the edge of a platform. I suppose when one has Bear-Bear’s dimensions, one always has a bit extra. What a friendly fellow he was.


Tungsten was my first cat, and the second to go away, leaving in March, 2015. The tiny terror taught me much about cats, specifically that they can imagine. This is different than pretending: I often see cats pretending that a fuzzy mouse is a real one; they stalk it, pounce on it, throw it about. But the fuzzy mouse is real. One evening, Tungsten and I left the bedroom. She was on the bed and, in departing, she jumped into the air and suddenly spread all four legs. They were tense, with the claws extended in the paws. But when she landed a second later, her limbs were relaxed, her claws retracted, and she calmly accompanied me to the sitting room. She had imagined prey in front of her, and she attacked it, in her mind. The orange one made me see cats in quite a different colour.

Parker, another ginger, left in early June, 2019. He had, like many cats who had been abandoned and forced to live as a stray, bad teeth. Nine of them had to be removed. By the time of his surgery, he had lived with me for a while, though I don’t recall exactly how long it had been. I was came to collect him at the veterinary hospital. He was brought out in his carrier, his back turned to its door, and unresponsive. I spoke his name, and he turned around, rubbing his face on my fingers through the bars. I realised then that we had become friends. We stayed very good friends, and he is my friend, still.

Raleigh was another stray. This one I brought inside myself. He had been hanging about on the fringes of the feral colony that I help manage at my work-place. He was new, clearly not one of the crowd, and in a bad way. I thought he was an aged cat - the Old Campaigner, I called him. I was determined to capture and neuter him. When he was caught, it was found that he was young and not feral at all, just fearful. He lived with me for less than two years, until May 15th, 2020. I will always remember seeing this sad and lonely feline waiting by himself for the food that was brought every day for the ferals. He had come early, hoping to eat something before the others arrived, when he would be too scared to claim his share. My Peachy.

Cammie, the indomitable. It took a long time for her to become my friend, but when she did, we were very good friends indeed. She had suffered through the abuse in her original home, then through the uncertainty of a new one; her adoption was unsuccessful, to say the least, and she was returned. She had a stroke and went blind. Despite all this, her spirit stayed strong, and she overcame all obstacles. All but one: a second stroke made her life impossible, and she left it behind on the same day Raleigh left his. But Cammie’s spirit remained - and remains - unbroken.

Josie, my Chubs, loved books. I recall her lying across many of them that I had left open on a table or a bed. I don’t know if she read many, but she seemed to prefer books on architectural history. She rarely got up on a table - her girth made jumping unattractive to her, though she surprised me with her agility from time to time - but when she did, it seemed to be when a book was open. The Great White was a literate lady, right up until she died in February of 2021.

Tucker died in December, 2021. He was a very good friend of mine. The Tuxter was the roly poly sausage. There was a lot less roly in his poly latterly, but when he first came to me, he was practically oval-shaped. He reminded me of a fat-cheeked infant and, indeed, I considered him to be the baby of the family, though he was not the youngest. How he would fill a cat-bed! I like to think of him in his blimp-days, happy and content, as he no doubt is now.

Minuet was the latest of my cats to leave me - in August, 2022 - though, alas, she won’t be the last. Her previous owner couldn’t cope any more with Min’s wetting outside the box. Madame, as she came to be nicknamed, was also deaf, wouldn’t groom herself and was allegedly diabetic. It turned out that she was not diabetic, did groom herself and, with the right encouragement, used the litter-box almost without fail from soon after she arrived in the Cosy Apartment. It was true, however, that she was deaf. But I will always remember, after her litter-box had been filled with Cat-Attract litter, her almost proud expression as she sat by the box she had just used. My very-oldster was with me the shortest time of all my cats, except for a few early fosters, but she made quite an impression. Even now.

These are the cats who have gone on head of me. I hope to catch them up one day; we’ll talk over old times, and make new ones. But until then, I will remember them. I will remember my friends.

Monday, February 27, 2023

How My Ladies Sleep

Most of the time, Zofia and Imogen sleep in normal positions, curled up on something soft and warm. Now and then, however, they prefer something extraordinary.

Imogen, for instance, will periodically burrow under the heated blanket in the library. Initially, I thought she was hiding. But when she wants to be left alone, she will resort to a corner of the room behind a bookcase. I believe that when Imo slips under the blue blanket, she is merely enjoying the heat from above, rather than below. She has, after all, the couch’s cushion for warmth, so she is snug from both directions. Fortunately, she likes lying on top of the blanket when I am sitting with her.

Zofia is more idiosyncratic. Her favourite spot for being alone is under the moveable staircase next the bed. She is so slender that she can slip under its edge without trouble, though there is little more than an inch of space available for that. When she first snoozed there, I became quite worried as I couldn’t find her in the apartment. A curious kitten could be anywhere. I think I located her only because a bit of her was sticking out.

Little Miss Zed also likes backing herself under the comforter on the bed. And she has also decided that, when waking me - half an hour before I need to get up each morning - she will tunnel next to me under the sheets and then turn around and lie against me for a minute, before crawling out again. Considering her length and slenderness, I’m surprised I don’t have nightmares about being overrun by ferrets…

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Their Hard Life

My principal outsider-cat, Sable, has a hard life. It’s not as hard as many ferals, since she knows she can come to Café Cosy and she will find hard-food at any time of the day or night. If I am home, she will likely be offered soft-food, too. Nonetheless, she can meet with adversity and even danger at any time.

This fact was reinforced last week when I observed that Sable’s left ear seems to have been injured. Her right ear is rimmed in silver, which indicates that she probably suffered frostbite at some time in the past. This new damage is not on the edge of the ear, and looks like a gouge in her skin. She may have received it in a fight. If so, it looks already healed, at least to the point at which it no longer visibly bothers her. The old wound and the new are illustrated in the pictures below. Please excuse the unwashed pane of glass.

Yesterday, Sable brought her friend Arliss, and I was able to have a closer look at that white and orange fellow. While he is broad and big, his fur has that scaly, rough look that outsiders acquire, from not having the time and leisure to groom themselves properly. He didn’t stay for soft-food; he rarely does, being too skittish.

Also skittish is Cicero, a white-and-dark-tabby cat whom I have seen coming to the hard-food bowl. He is so timid that he will run if he sees me watching him from a distance through the glass door to the ditch. Even so, he has recently started to wait by the corner of the fence. This gives him the opportunity to see me leaving soft-food out for him. I am certain he now knows that I provide it, though this doesn’t mean that he will wait around for it. In fact, he usually runs off, and comes back later, to lick the bowl clean when I am not present.

I doubt that I will ever get to know these outsider-cats better than I do now. But at least I can make their hard life a little easier.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Toys Are Where You Find Them

Though I am sure Zofia misses Hector, she is not one to moon about over a departed chum. And though I believe kittens need a playmate and companion, and therefore should be adopted into homes that already have a young, active cat, or be adopted as pairs, little Miss Zed has nonetheless compensated for being without a feline friend by keeping herself busy.

Among the many toys she has – rolly balls, fuzzy mice, springy cylinders and nylon cubes – she has those with which she improvises entertainment. Unfortunately, one of those is the stick that controls my sitting rooms blinds.

That’s it there, hanging to the right of the vertical blinds, behind Renn.

I’ll take you closer. Do you see it? So does Zofia.

It’s a marvellous toy, she has decided. When she strikes it, it goes back and forth, side to side, and in circles. And when she strikes it hard enough, it bangs against the glass pane of the door. When she bangs it repeatedly, it bangs against the glass pane of the door, repeatedly. What fun. It can be particularly enjoyable at night, in the dark, when humans are trying to sleep. What fun.

In a quite unrelated statement, I’d like to remind readers that Zofia is available for adoption…

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Small Leaps

Imogen is showing herself to be a sweet-natured girlcat. She spends most of her time in the library, and her favourite pastime is simply to lie on the heated blanket next to me and receive face- and chin-rubs. Her purrs are becoming more audible, though she also kneads a great deal when she is feeling good.

She comes out of the library periodically. She and Zofia got into a fight a few days ago. I don’t know if Zofia tried to start something; I think it more likely that she simply was too forward. Nonetheless, there were screams and blows exchanged. Since then, I put Zo in the bedroom - where she likes to relax of an evening anyway - and open the library door. Imo doesn’t always come out. When she does, she is very cautious, and won’t approach Neville or Renn, though she doesn’t hiss at them much, either. I hope to integrate the newcomer with the oldsters first, and then move on to the kitten.

An interesting occurence took place last night. Imogen was exploring in the bathroom and was on the counter by the basin. I came up to her and, without warning, she jumped on to my shoulders. She didn’t use her claws either to secure her landing or to stay in place; she used balance to maintain herself, but dropped to the floor about twenty seconds later.

I don’t think I’ve had a cat leap to my shoulders since Tungsten. One or two have climbed onto them, but not jump. Had Imogen done this with her person? Is it something new to her? Why did she do it? I can’t answer these questions, but I know that it is another sign of her trust that she would try it at all.

Though she may be fine with other cats after a patient and gradual integration, I think Imogen will always be at her best as an only-cat. It’s people she loves, and, as there are many humans who enjoy the company of an easy-going, affectionate and undemanding feline, I think this trusting lady will find her perfect home some day. In the meantime, I will have the pleasure of her presence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Why They Go

A number of readers have commented on my blog, in connection with Hector’s adoption, that they don’t think they could foster, as it would be too difficult to give a cat up to someone else. I can certainly understand those feelings.

I have not formed the same sorts of bonds with all the cats I have fostered. Of those recently, Hector has been a tough one to let go, because, as I wrote in my last entry, I didn’t really think I would ever have to. As well, he had become more affectionate with me, lying under my desk by my feet when I worked at the computer, for an example. Horace, on the other hand, I liked tremendously, and would have had no problem keeping. Yet, though we were good friends, we didn’t have the same connection that Hec and I did. As well, I knew without a doubt how easily Ivory would settle into his new home. That was not the case with Hector. It was only with the news that he and his new roommate had become playmates as well that my mind was set at ease.

Similarly, though I have great fondness for Zofia, my parting with her would not be like letting Hector go; I know little Miss Zed would adapt well and be her happy, carefree self within a short time in a new home.

Reluctance to let them go is determined as much by how well I think they will prosper – and how soon – in a new world, as by how I will feel about their absence. I must be confident that they would be at least as content as they are with me – and that they would be understood, in the way they need to be. The latter is one of the reasons why I adopted some of my foster-cats: Cammie, for instance.

But letting a foster-cat go to a loving and happy home does something else. It frees a spot for another cat who isn’t fortunate enough to be loved, or isn’t ready to move on as someone’s pet. This is always in the back of my mind: that I will have room for another. I never try to accelerate an adoption for this reason; the prospective home must be exactly right for the foster-cat, or else he stays with me. Nonetheless, when it works out, as in Hector’s case, and Horace’s, there is a double victory: a cat finds a family who will love him and whom he will love, and another cat can prepare that journey for himself.

It can be a jolt, letting them go. But I am not the best that most cats can have. That awaits them beyond the Cosy Apartment. If one remains with me, then I try to be all he needs. If one goes, then it is to a better family, a better home; I am certain of that – otherwise, it would not happen. But he goes, and another comes. It’s rarely easy; it’s sometimes nearly impossible. But it’s always good.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Hector Has a New Home

Hector will be staying in his new home. His adoption has not yet been finalised, but it will be.

He made rapid progress with the resident cat, progressing from hissing at a distance, to eating within sight, to lying in the same room, to playing together. The last was what I was waiting for. An adequate home for the little Turk would have been one in which he was loved and cared for; a happy home was one in which he had a feline friend and playmate. He and his new pal chase each other, and wrestle over who gets a string-toy.

Hec was with me for almost seventeen months, and, to be honest, I didn’t think he would be adopted, being a black cat and having very little interest in him during his time with me. That made me settle into a frame of mind that told me he would be in the Cosy Apartment forever; having that change, relatively suddenly, is a bit of a wrench.

But he is in a loving home, with a young family and a friend his age with whom he will grow old. He and his chum have many years of action together, and when they are too weak and arthritic for that, they will lie together in comfort and companionship. I can’t ask for better than this for my friend. Things are quieter here, and less hectic. That they are not completely calm and peaceful is due to the fact that he taught his little grey and white protégé well.

Hector made his mark, and will again.