Monday, May 29, 2023

Dabney in the Lions' Den

For those who are wondering about Astrid, I can write that she has not had her kittens yet. We are still waiting impatiently for the big event. Her foster-guardian has seen and felt the babies move inside the mother-to-be, and estimates that there are five. That would be a large number for such a young female cat to have, but certainly within the bounds of possibility. Astrid has spent a couple of uncomfortable hours in the early mornings, due to her approaching time, which surely can’t be far off now. In the meanwhile, she is allowing - and enjoying - belly rubs, pets, and strokes along her soft-furred back. Then she remembers that she has to protect herself and hisses. Such ferocity isn’t quite credible anymore. I will keep everyone apprised of developments.

And back in the Cosy Apartment, Dabney’s integration is progressing very slowly, though not unsatisfactorily. He sneaked out of the library last evening while all the others were dozing after dinner. He crept through the assemblage without much bother, until one and then another woke and noticed his presence. Then he slunk back to the library as though about to be ambushed. He doesn’t know he’s not, so one cannot blame him.

Since Dabs is reluctant to come out and meet the others, I am leaving the library door open, under my supervision. I dislike having his safe-room violated by the residents, but he needs to see them, and see them behaving normally and without threat. I allowed Percival, the most inquisitive and forward of the lot, to go into the library. He ate some of Dabney’s food and lie on the blanket on the couch, and then left. I was quite pleased at his restraint. I think such actions will do Dabney good - despite the fact that the intrusion caused him to resemble a movie villain who was about to cut someone’s throat. Just before bedtime, with the library door still open, he was about to come out and explore, but had the misfortune to run into Perce and Neville simultaneously. That was too much for him and he retreated.

Nonetheless, I am optimistic about his eventual integration. I think the trouble is that, unlike Percival, who was indifferent to other cats, and Imogen, who merely disliked other cats, Dabney is afraid of the others. Considering the scratches and scrapes he suffered outside, I can’t blame him for his fear. But the Cosy Apartment has a good, likeable group of felines, and I don’t think Dabs will be long in figuring that out.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Beware the Lump

As readers may know, Imogen likes to snooze under the bedclothes – under the comforter, under the bedspread or blanket, even under the sheets. Renn is considerate and tries to step around her, not always with success, while Percival usually just trundles over her, regardless of protest. Yesterday, it was Neville’s turn.

He was walking across the bed when he stepped on the edge of the Lump. The Lump hissed and the look on Nev’s face was akin to a caveman hearing a voice from a radio’s speaker. He stared at the Lump for several seconds, then retreated, as though to ponder how to address this astounding situation. He eventually lie down again, figuring that the effort to circumvent this strange obstacle was not worth the candle.

I think this demonstrates that sometimes, a cat’s behaviour is as odd to other cats as it is to us – especially when they become the Lump.

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Call of the Wild

Not all cats are interested in bird-watching. Neville doesn’t care about our winged neighbours, and Percival will watch if he’s not busy. Imogen is a cat who likes observing birds. More than that, she will scurry up to the window if she sees them, combining haste and what I’m sure she believes is stealth. Well, she’s sneakier than Tucker used to be, at any rate.

But more than that, Imogen has learned to discern her preferred avian species from what she considers the more mundane. This evening she was comfortably curled in her favourite spot, the cylinder-house of the cylinder-house cat-tree. There had been birds chirping earlier, a sound that had caught Imo’s attention, but not enticed her to the window. Then, she heard the rusted-metal cry of a specific kind of bird. In a second, she had dropped to the floor and was running silently to the screen of the open glass door in the sitting room.

Most indoor animals are intrigued to various extents by the great outdoors. But not every one can distinguish one call of the wild from another.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Going For a Record

This is Astrid. She is in my bathroom. Astrid is pregnant.

Astrid (the name intended for Dabney before he had the discourtesy to be a mancat) had been appearing irregularly about my apartment building for a couple of months. She seemed very skittish but was not feral; she would consent to be petted now and then. I wanted to catch her - partly to have her right eye seen to; it is cloudy, with a dark blue patch in it, though it seems not to be troubling her - but she showed up too infrequently, and without warning. Then, I and other tenants noticed that Astrid was becoming wider.

She’d been coming to outside food-bowls - mine and others - for a while, so I brought in a trap from the rescue-group to which I belong, and prepared for an impromptu capture. Last evening, I had my opportunity. Astrid came to eat from the hard-food bowl, but I knew she preferred soft. While she ate the hard, I retrieved the trap and some soft-food bait. She lazed on shaded grass while I set it up - another sign of her (mostly) socialised nature. She could smell the food inside, so I left her to it. Unfortunately, I had not set the small dish back far enough in the cage for her weight to trigger the door. I hurried back inside for some Temptation Treats, which I sprinkled deeper in the trap. This worked, and I caught her.

Astrid spent last night in my bathroom. I doubt that she slept much, because she used much of the time to pound on the door. But she ate quite a bit last evening, and she used the litter-box provided, an excellent sign of her adaptability to the inside; also, an indication that she had been an insider-cat previously.

She is young, I am sure; she has a juvenile’s face. If I am right, she probably won’t have many kittens. When she does, she will be in a setting prepared for the event: she is being moved to another foster-home in our group later this morning. There really isn’t any room in our groups’ foster-homes (we don’t have a shelter), as may be inferred by the fact that I have five - six, with Astrid - cats in my apartment (if she’d had her kittens last night, I would have had a record feline population.) But some homes are better suited for certain kinds of situations. Astrid will be well cared for, and she will have her kittens in a safe environment with humans experienced in this sort of thing.

Astrid’s new life - and those of her soon-to-be offspring - is about to begin.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Agility of a Cat...

While Dabney grows used to his new environment, the other beasts carry on as normal, aware, though, that a stranger is in their midst and that they will have to instruct him in how to be an insider-cat once more. I will be counting on them, though it may be well for Dabs not to learn everything they have to teach him.

Take Percival, for instance. My big-headed fellow is loveable and playful. And clumsy. His awkwardness appears to come from having no sense of his immediate surroundings. He will jump for a string-toy and forget that he jumped from the edge of a couch, an edge that has seemingly moved in the course of his jump. He will watch the outside from a window, unaware that a slight roll to one side will throw him off his perch. I’ve observed him snoozing on top of a cat-tree; he turned in his sleep and dropped with a thud to the next platform. He shook his head and returned to his nap. He was at the kitchen window, standing on his hind legs to view the outside from the ledge under the pane. He adjusted his stance, slipped off the ledge, and descended perfectly upright to the floor, like a fireman sliding down a ladder without touching the rungs.

Such is the mentor Dabney will soon have.

Maybe I should find him a new foster-home…

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Toys and Time

I think Dabney’s transition to his new life will be a bit more attenuated than had been Percival’s or Imogen’s. His integration with the other cats may go well but I have a feeling that he will need more time to grow accustomed to indoor life.

He was out in the apartment over the weekend. Three of the other beasts were in the bedroom, the door of which I closed, and Neville was at the top of the taller cat-tree in the sitting room. Dabs had good look around, sniffing a great deal. All cats use their nose extensively, of course, but some are more obvious about it. Renn is one, and it looks like Dabney is another. He growled at some objects, scenting the others on various items; he was about to go into the nylon tunnel, but the olfactory presence of his predecessors was a bit too strong for him yet.

Instead, he discovered the denim Kick-a-roo and seemed to find enjoyment in that. He, unlike some cats I’ve fostered, at least recognised what the toy’s name signified.

Nev chose this time to come and have a bite to eat at the hard-food bowls. I was ready for problems, but the Nevsky, predictably, ignored the newcomer, while Dabney growled a bit, though he must have sensed that the oldster was little threat. The growl was perfunctory and of short duration. That is a good sign.

Dabney doesn’t care for me yet. He will tolerate me petting him, and I can briefly pick him up - to move him, not to hold him - but he has warned me off more than once. Yet he has also lie down for extended periods next to me in the library. Our relationship may be less straightforward than others I’ve had recently.

Nonetheless, indications are positive, even if the progress made is slow. That’s all right: time is on our side.

Monday, May 22, 2023

A Benefit of Baldness

I have been considering Neville in connection with his recent shave. He of course had the usual reaction: finding warm cat-beds and soft blanket-beds on which to snooze, feeling the air to be cooler than it was, despite the current warm temperatures. But just a week after the trimming, this reaction is fading, as I knew it would.

But there is another reaction I have found. Neville wanted on my lap one day following his shave. I responded with plenty of the face- and chin-rubs that he loves, but also by petting and stroking him down his now smooth and nearly bare back and sides. He purred most of the time, and stayed for half an hour, which is an extraordinarily long time for him.

I started thinking that he must have felt my hands on his body to a greater degree then than when his coat was long and thick. His hair grows in very dense; it is coarse, as well. It must insulate him not only from cold, but from touch; a human’s hands running along such a coat must feel like little more than a slight pressure, and a slight pressure on fur that is almost hard; surely not an appealing sensation. It’s my belief that Nev finds greater pleasure in contact when his hair is short, when he is in fact almost bald.

My decision, then, is to have him shaved every two to three months, no less than quarterly, in order to keep his hair short. This frequency will allow for a greater ease in the operation, too. The disadvantage is that the Nevsky might feel the cold in the dark months. But the Cosy Apartment is so named with good reason. Though I like the fresh air in autumn and winter, I keep in mind the beasts’ comfort, especially that of the oldsters. I will provide more and warmer spots for Neville to lie, though I suspect that he won’t use them. In any case, I think the compensation of the comfort that comes with the shorter hair will be worth it. And if I am wrong, then it will be only a matter of weeks before his hair is once again as thick as any other cats’.

But I expect that Neville will be grateful for the continually short hair. He just won’t express it.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Secure in the Night

Imogen has taken another step forward in joining the usual suspects in the Cosy Apartment. This one surprised me.

I suspect that Imo spends most nights curled up in the house atop the cylinder-house cat-tree. It’s her favourite place, and I have often found her still there when I wake in the mornings. Lately, she has been venturing into the bedroom more, and spending time on the tall bookcase near the window. But she has always slept the dark hours away somewhere else.

Two nights last week, she slept on the bed with me. The first time, I heard somecat coming up the staircase to the bed. I knew it wasn’t Renn or Neville, as my two oldsters were already on the bed, at its foot. Percival was on a cat-tree by the window. Dabney was, then, locked in the bathroom. It could only have been Imogen. She walked across me and lie down on the far side, against me. She remained for most of the night. The second time she did this, I was already unconscious when she arrived, and woke to feel her next to me.

I had thought she was committed to spending the night elsewhere, a cat who preferred not to be on the humans’ bed. I think she will not stay every night there, but that she did, twice, is a great change for her, an indication that she likes my company and feels secure in it, and untroubled by the others on the bed, though I felt that they were always the least of her concerns.

Had Miss Silky slept with her previous person? Or had she not been allowed or determined not to, and that was why it took so long to decide in this case? We will never know. I do know, however, that having Imogen lying next to me gladdens me, and makes the night’s rest seem more complete.