Friday, June 30, 2023

Flatter Cubes

The nylon cube is losing its cubidity. Even when it is opened as much as possible, it leans at a sharp angle, which makes it easy to collapse. Fortunately, some cats don’t let that stop them from enjoying it. Both Dabney and Percy take advantage of even the flatter shape of the cube, but the latter seems really to enjoy it.

Neville however, appears rather unimpressed with the cube’s continued use.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

No Purrs for Percival

I am surprised I didn’t write of this before.

Percival is a happy little fellow for the most part. He likes to play, to look out the windows, to have his chest and chin rubbed. One will know when this fuzzy guy is happy. But one won’t know by hearing it. Percy doesn’t purr.

He has been with me almost three months now, and I have yet to hear him purr. I can feel him do it; his throat vibrates with the tell-tale signs of gladness, but there is nothing audible. The closest he comes is when he is having his neck and chin rubbed and his head is right back; he then emits a series of little puffs out the sides of his otherwise closed mouth. And that’s it.

I thought initially that Perce didn’t know how to purr. But he is a naturally good-humoured mancat, and it’s hard to believe that he would have lived as long as he has without learning. And the motive is there. Just not, perhaps, the motive power. He may have a physical defect about him that prevents purring. Who can say?

The important thing is that Percival is usually in a good mood, usually pleased with life, usually happy. Under such circumstances, whether he tells everyone or not is immaterial.

Monday, June 26, 2023

A Reverse

Dabney’s integration suffered a set-back last night. It happened almost at the very last minute of my holidays. I was ready for bed and checking on the cats before I turned out the lights. I was in the library, where Neville was on the bookcase under the window, and Dabs was lying down at the room’s threshold, as he often does. I had just seen Percival reclining about six feet outside the library.

Without warning, Dabney screamed and launched himself at Percy. There was fur flying before I could intervene. But even with me standing between them, the new boy wanted to rush at Perce again. I was able calm both of the boys down and coax Dabney into the library again. He spent the night alone in there. This morning, he was reasonable again, but I didn’t want to take a chance, and he is in the library while I am at work.

I don’t consider this an insurmountable problem. I think Dabney was trying not to hurt Percival; in the instant between the contact he made and my separation of the two, there could have been bloodshed. A cat bent on doing real damage would have grappled with his opponent. I have seen several battles in my home - between Josie and Wixie, Tungsten and Luther, Parker and Tucker - and each was more serious and severe than this. (Of those three pair, Wixie and Luther were adopted, while Parker and Tucker came to an accommodation with each other.) I believe that, for whatever reason, Dabs has decided he must intimidate Percy, show him who’s boss. He was, in effect, demonstrating what could happen; this was a warning, though what Perce could do to avoid a similar or worse occurrence, I don’t know, since he was not in the least threatening, so far as I could see - and probably in his own mind. To Dabney, the situation was different.

But before I left this morning, I did let the little combatant out, and he behaved as he had formerly toward Percy. Nonetheless, the latter was wary, and Dabney was eyeing Percy rather diligently. I will allow everyone their freedom this evening and see how things develop from there. Dabney may require another week in the library during my absences. We will see what follows upon that.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

A Bit More About Neville

In a brief addendum to what I lately wrote about Neville, I will state that I have decided not to give him a daily dose of his pain medicine. I have been watching him and talking to him, and he does not seem to be feeling pain. Though the veterinary thinks he is suffering a little, I don’t see it. The Nevsky is sleeping well and comfortably, he is not restless, he is not licking or grimacing; he appears normal.

This would not be a problem but for his morbid fear of receiving any oral medicine. The pain-killer I have is relatively easy to administer, but the stress Nev feels is out of proportion to its delivery. 

So I will wait on the medicine. This entails a certain risk that I am wrong, but I will observe my friend carefully each day, and make a judgement accordingly. To be honest, I believe he is more content at the moment than he has been for some time, with the various anti-biotics, anti-nausea injections and hospital visits of the recent past. I hope I will know if that changes.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

No Blood on the Moon

When I return to work on Monday, I will probably leave Dabney out of the library all day. I don’t believe he requires the room as a safe-zone but, more importantly, I don’t think he and Percival will cause each other damage in my absence.

Dabs has progressed quite a bit in his integration, though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Not more than an hour ago, he had a screaming fit because of Percy, but that is an indication of how he’s developed in the household. He was in the nylon tunnel, which he likes; Percy was peering in one of the holes in the side. I think Dabney realised that Percy was near, but seeing the latter’s fathead poke through a hole was sudden and unwanted.

Significantly, though, on this and other recent occasions, there may have been screaming – on Dabney’s part – but no fighting. Percy moved away and lie down, and Dabs stewed for a few minutes. Then they were done. He does a lot of warning; Percy likes to watch the newcomer and sometimes stares at him, and this annoys Dabney. But of actual fighting, I’ve seen none. To be honest, considering the injuries that Dabney seems to have received in past battles, I think he is most reluctant to come to grips with any other feline; thus, the screaming.

Dabney’s integration, therefore, will take another step on Monday. From the cats’ perspective, hopefully nothing will change, and they won’t take advantage of the referee’s absence.

Friday, June 23, 2023

A Final Time in Idylland

My holidays are now over, and I must bid Idylland good-bye for another year. The time off from work was mostly good, mostly enjoyable. I accomplished a great deal, cleaning the cat-trees, roping those that needed repairing, cleaning parts of the apartment that required more detailed or strenuous cleaning than I could give them during ordinary times. I also started a new project that I hope will come to fruition before the end of the year.

But, as readers know, the holidays were darkened by the shadow of Neville’s diagnosis. Now we know his condition. There will be no more visits to the hospital – except the final one – no more tests, no more anti-biotics. Nev is receiving his pain-killer, which he hates to be given as much as any medicine, and his insulin, which he doesn’t mind. Other than that, he is provided with that which he most craves: to be left to his own devices. He is enjoying his meals – while I was preparing dinner today, I could hear him, calling from the library, wondering where his food was – sleeping in the sun and, now and then, asking for chin-rubs.

Even so, Idylland was good to me, and I am grateful for the chance to visit. And I was glad to be able to bring my friend Neville one last time.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Neville's Last Journey

It turns out that Neville does not have a simple infection. He has, in fact, oral squamous cell carcinoma. He has cancer. The veterinary didn’t give an estimate of how long the Nevsky has to live – there are too many factors – though my reading suggests no more than three months. That, I suspect, assumes that the cat’s quality of life continues adequate until the cancer overwhelms him. In truth, I will probably say good-bye to Neville before then; it will depend on such indications as appetite, weight and level of comfort.

The doctor thinks that Neville is in a small amount of pain now, so a daily pain-killer has been prescribed. It is in liquid form and of a minimal dosage, so he should receive it without a great deal of anxiety, especially as he will now no longer be required to take any of the dreaded anti-biotics. I have usually been able to read the Former Thin Man well, so I will keep him under close observation.

Neville is eating well, as readers may know, and his litter-box visits are without incident, though the anti-biotics he had been receiving softened his feces tremendously lately. The cancer’s first sign was probably the ineffectiveness of the insulin I was giving Neville. I will continue to inject him with that, as without it, he might feel worse.

Neville’s life has not been an easy one, with too many hospital visits and too much medicine. I hope his last weeks or months will be gentler for him, and that he experiences as little trouble as possible until the day he leaves on his last journey.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Continuing Worries for Neville

So far, the anti-biotics Neville has been given for his infection have not worked. They either have no effect on the problem, or they create problems of their own, such as vomiting and loss of appetite, and therefore cannot be continued. He is on his third anti-biotic now. This one has not caused him to throw up as of yet, and he maintains his appetite. But neither does there seem a reduction in the inflammation that has come with the infection.

I will be taking him once more to the veterinary hospital tomorrow. I fear that there is more behind this trouble than a mere infection, though so far nothing has been found. Hopefully, in some form, relief can be found for my long-suffering Nevsky.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

It's All Good Fun Until...

This morning, before I rose from bed, I heard Percival and Imogen playing. They were chasing each other. I enjoy hearing that. Yet what I find when I go out to the sitting room is always a surprise. This is what I saw this morning. I suppose I’d better find the Crazy Glue…

Friday, June 16, 2023

Outside In

Percival enjoys looking out the kitchen window. This is what the world sees when he does it.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

As the Years Show

Renn continues to show signs of aging. Signs may be seen in my other cats, too, but as a cat, like a person, grows older, the indications of it become plainer. As well, I know my big boy’s age, so, unlike other beasts I’ve had, these signs appear as if on schedule, the way one might expect a tax notice or other unwelcome news.

Renn was born sixteen years ago, in the dry grasses of the coulees (the hills and cliffs along the river here, easily riven and eroded because they comprise only dirt.) His mother was socialised but abandoned, perhaps already pregnant, certainly unspayed – a familiar story – and gave birth to five kittens, all boys. They were rescued, and all, including the mum, eventually adopted. First, though, Renn spent some time in foster-care, where he bit his guardian. (She had tried to trim his bum-hair, something which still provokes warnings from Renn; I heed them, and take my time with him.) Banished to the basement, he was no longer wanted. He came to stay with me, and I soon after adopted him.

I recall one of his favourite places was the ‘roofless cave’, a lidless box with an entrance cut away, heavily taped in place on top of my kitchen cupboards. Hardly as fearsome as his size suggested, he was, in fact, anxious over many things – the roofers working on the neighbouring building, for instance – and liked to have his refuge. He sprang up to a counter, then to the top of the refrigerator, and from there to his ‘cave’ with the ease and vigour of youth.

This week, while watching a movie, I observed him having difficulty jumping onto the library couch to sit next to me. I insisted he use Tucker’s Tuffet as a step. He did and all was well. Or, rather, the required result was achieved. All would have been well had Renn been able to jump up in one movement. Alas, that is no longer possible.

He also enjoys the corner of the library behind a bookcase. It is a little resort, a hiding spot, like his ‘cave’ had been, though he doesn’t need it for fear; he simply likes to have his own place, away from others. Now, he must share it with Dabney, who also likes it, though this doesn’t seem to annoy either of them. But yesterday, I saw Renn walk along the ledge that runs on the wall under the window. He had intended to drop to the floor behind the bookcase, but Dabs was already there. He tried to turn and go back, but I saw that he couldn’t turn on the relative narrowness of the ledge, though it was enough for walking on. This had not been a problem even a few months ago. Now, he was perplexed. But his intelligence has not deserted him, as has his strength and agility. He put a paw on the back of some books on their shelf and used this point as a pivot, to give himself space to turn.

I have found few compensations for the disadvantages of age. It brings physical pain and the debility to do what one once could. The world itself grows indifferent, and one feels one has less significance than previously. But the most melancholy of the characteristics of growing old is, I think, that friends, maybe less healthy than oneself, or just less lucky, depart. Watching my big boy grow smaller, grow weaker, is a sad study, and will become only sadder.

But Renn is in relatively good health. His kidney failure advances, of course, and he suffers from a chronic respiratory trouble that is sometimes worse, sometimes better. I have hopes that he will live years more. He is the last of the First Four, and he carries on for the other three. One day, he will join them. But not just yet. For now, my big boy ages, but remains.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Almost Forward

Dabney’s integration has stalled somewhat, unable to get past Percival. Dabs dislikes Perce and distrusts him. I can’t blame him, as I don’t trust Percival around Dabney, either. He keeps trying to come too close to the newst-comer, and I don’t care for the way Percy’s tail switches back and forth in proximity to the other cat.

On the other hand, Dabney has rushed at Percival with a scream twice and, though I was in a position both times to step between them even before Dabs had halted, I don’t believe the intention was to make contact. And, for his part, Perce did not appear willing to match his reluctant roommate’s ferocity.

But Dabney is coming out of the library more often, and when he is assured of Percival’s absence – I lock the latter in the bedroom sometimes – he is playful and almost light-hearted. He enjoys the nylon cube, and rolls about in it for fun. He spends time in the nylon tunnel, too, and seems to have hopes of becoming better acquainted with Imogen. (Imo says, “No,” for now.)

I am not worried about how things are going. After several relatively easy integrations, this one is more normal. It will take time. Fortunately, we have plenty of that for cats.