Saturday, September 30, 2023

Cosy at the Equinox

The weather has turned cool and wet, and the leaves on a large number of trees have changed colour. Autumn seemed to have been paying attention to the calendar this year in our part of the world, as the season started acting its age just about the date of the equinox. I don’t mind, as I like the cooler days and the chilly evenings; they are warmed by cups of hot tea next to dishes of hot, buttered toast. The gloomy days and early nights are brightened by the glow of lamps inside our private refuges.

And those who reside inside discover the comfort of snug chairs and beds…

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Play and Learn

I enjoy watching cats for many reasons. One is their intelligence. I can actually see them learning.

Brazil has been very skittish. He is now, however, at the point at which I can reach down at pet him at almost any time, and he will not only stay, he will lie down for some long strokes along his back and flanks. He is also coming to want face-rubs. But he has been rather afraid of the toys that I use in playing with the cats. He plays well with toys by himself, and very well with Aurora, but string-toys had appeared to him to be a menace.

Lately, and specifically last night, Shimmer didn’t run from the pennant-stick that has come to be a favourite with the younger crowd. Instead, he watched. He watched how the pennant fluttered behind the stick, how it went up and how it went down. Then he descended from the cat-tree, where he had been observing, and looked on as Aurora played. Brazil watched as the kitten chased the colourful streamer, lie in ambush for it, wrestled it.

This is often how cats learn, and one of the many reasons why it is good, if one can, to have a couple of cats, rather than just a single. Brazil is almost a year and a half old, yet he still learns, particularly from another cat. He may be teaching others the joy of playing with the pennant-stick some day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A Little Lap-time

Like Brazil, Aurora continues to make progress with humans, though in her case, it is the usual kitten progress. One of the problems with being raised in the Cosy Apartment is that there are few opportunities for cats to meet other people. I had a fellow-member of the rescue group drop off some cat-food yesterday, and Auro was frightened of her. Even so, the kitten consented to be held by the stranger. Such shyness will, I think, be easily overcome in a new home. Kittens are highly adaptable and Aurora will form a close relationship with anyone who treats her with affection and gentleness.

My newest house-guest’s only fault is that she is very bitey. Even with her needle-like teeth, her actions do not hurt, and are likely the result of being removed from her mother before weaning was fully completed. I am working to discourage her from nipping, as it may be a disincentive for adoption, though I suspect not a decisive one.

And there is this to compensate: last night, Aurora spent time on my lap after dinner. This is the first time she has chosen to lie there. She seemed to like it, purring contentedly - until she saw something interesting out the window. But it was a pleasant ten minutes for us both.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Imogen and Co.

Imogen is slowly becoming accustomed to Aurora. Miss Silky still growls and hisses at the kitten when the latter is too close for the former’s comfort. Tellingly, however, Imo will tolerate Auro’s proximity if she comes no closer once the warning is given. The younger cat is not very bothered by Imogen’s dislike, and accepts the limits imposed by the older feline. As may be seen, close is all right; closer is not.

Imogen doesn’t care for Brazil, as the latter still likes to chase her. He will rush at her and even jump up onto the tops of kitchen cupboards after Imo, which of course angers her. I don’t know what Brazil’s object is in these actions, whether it is actual hostility – which I can’t believe – attempted intimidation or even a misunderstood invitation to play. For now, though, I must intervene when it occurs, as my girl is unnerved by such events, and I will keep them separated if I think Shimmer is approaching too closely.

Nonetheless, Imogen’s attitude toward at least half the newcomers is improving, even if she still likes to take her meals to great heights…

Saturday, September 23, 2023

No Longer On the Menu

When Aurora first came to live with me, I fed her what she had been eating in her previous foster-home, but without success. She didn’t like it here, for whatever reason. A variety of soft-foods was attempted, but none met with her approval except one that was of fish. It was strongly fish, as could be discerned by the smell. Auro enjoyed it and ate it up.

Her digestive tract did not care for it. Her next poop was liquidy, which the previous droppings were not. A change of diet, no matter the content, frequently causes diarrhea in cats; I have seen it in many of the beasts who have come here. I suspected the new food, but continued to feed it to Aurora in case it was simply a matter of growing accustomed to it. That plan changed, however, when she couldn’t even make it to the litter-box one evening; her habits until then had been exemplary.

I altered her food again, and fortunately, have found one that she finds appetizing. Her body agrees. It is not cheap and, being a kitten, she eats a lot of it. But it is a good food. She is still attracted to other brands, nonetheless, and, when I was not looking last night, finished up some sole-cod-shrimp variety of Fancy Feast that Renn had left in his bowl. Within a quarter-hour, little Auro was in the litter-box leaving a liquidy review of the tasty but digestively-unfriendly Fancy Feast. A stricter vigilance led to a more solid deposit in her next visit to the facilities; the effects of different foods on her are that rapid. If I needed confirmation about her necessary diet, though, I had it.

These are the discoveries it is useful to make before a cat in foster-care is adopted. In Aurora’s case, the discovery is…no fish!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Mr Shimmer Teaches Us

I am very pleased with how far Brazil has come. Though I may be repeating myself regarding his progress, I can add that there is now very tentative interest in him from a couple. They realise his extremely timid nature and appear to be the sort who will give the orange fellow with the shimmery fur the time he needs to adjust to a new home. It will be a wrench for Brazil to go to a different environment, but what he has achieved with me shows that he can come around to new people.

Brazil came to live with me on the first day of August. In seven weeks, he has reached the stage at which he almost never runs from me when I reach to pet him, so long as I am slow about it. Sometimes he will dart away as I approach him, but he usually comes back. I normally feed him in the library. When he previously finished his food, and I would come to check on him, he would zoom past me into the corridor; I think he hated the idea of being trapped. Now, he still runs past me, but it is without fear, and calmer.

He and Aurora are getting along very well. In addition to chasing each other, they are beginning to play-whap each other, and may soon be wrestling. They groom each other, and I would not be surprised to see them lying together some day soon. Neville still dislikes Shimmer’s proximity, but that’s Neville. Renn has little problem with it. These are generally good signs, as the family interested in Brazil have a young cat in need of a playmate, and an old cat in need of someone to be the younger cat’s playmate.

I wrote some weeks ago that one of the advantages to fostering a cat is to watch his behaviour evolve. Another advantage is being able to allow it to evolve. Foster-guardians aren’t like adopters who usually like - and have a right to expect - a cat to be their companion, in one form or another, from the start. Thanks to Brazil being in a foster-home, we know that his shyness can be overcome to the point of welcoming physical attention; that he enjoys playing with another cat; that he will not bother cats who want nothing to do with him. If such qualities are what an adopter seeks, then we are now aware that it is a matter of time until Brazil shows them. These, and other facets of his character, are valuable things to know; tools to help find Mr Shimmer the home he deserves.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Little Fun, Now and Then

Renn is sixteen and a half and fighting kidney failure. His off-days seem to be coming with more frequency now, but so far, each time, he has recovered. He sleeps a great deal but he and I still have our talks at bed-time and spend most movie-nights together. And, once in a while, more often than one might think, he plays.

I don’t make it too strenuous for him, but he lets me know when he feels active, when he’s not in the mood, and when he’s done. Yesterday, my big boy wanted to play.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Receiving Instructions

Cats make some interesting sounds, and Neville is no exception. He will make appreciative – possibly critical – comments when I bring him his soft-food meals; sometimes he will talk while he eats – not polite, but not quite rude, either. Rarely, he will speak at other times, seemingly for no reason, though there must be some cause.

Unlike Tucker and his eerie calls to the Home-world (, Nev’s talk doesn’t last long enough for me to record. Instead, I must transliterate. Last night, while I was brushing my teeth, he was in the sitting room, and piped up again. This is what I think he said:

“Ohhh ahhh, ohhh ahhh…errrrrrrrrrrrrr… all right, all right.”

It sounded as if he were acknowledging the receipt of instructions. I hope they were benign…

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

A Sudden Thaw

Yesterday, I came home from work to a surprise. I heard a low, heavy hum when I opened the front door, as if a motor were running somewhere in the apartment. It took me a moment to connect this sound with the sight of the open door to the freezer compartment of the refrigerator.

I don’t know how how long the door had been open, but everything in the compartment was thawed. Fortunately, I don’t keep all my frozen goods there, just those that I use often or will use soon. There were also some items that I stored there until they would be moved to the deep freeze. As a result of this little mishap, I will eating a large number of hot dogs over the next few days.

I don’t know for certain how the door to the freezer compartment opened, but I have my suspicions. They rest on someone who likes to lie on the top of kitchen cabinets and periodically leap across the narrow room to the top of the refrigerator.

Someone who, in not quite making the complete jump, might use her rear legs to give herself a push to the surface of the fridge’s top.

Someone who was lying innocently on the refrigerator when I came home, who rubbed her face on my hand as if nothing untoward had occurred. I have my suspicions, but no proof.

I wonder if she likes hot dogs…

Monday, September 11, 2023

Play of Many Colours

Aurora knew how to play before she arrived at the Cosy Apartment, but being confronted with a long cloth ribbon of many colours confounded her momentarily. She didn’t know what to make of it at first. She then started grabbing at it. She fought it and wrestled it, and now she leaps into the air to grab it. I use it to play with her and Imogen simultaneously - though separated by several feet - to show the latter that the kitten just wants to enjoy herself, as Imo does.

I enjoy learning about little Auro, and have discovered that she likes chest-rubs: very gentle chest-rubs, as befits her size and fragility. She likes being held and carried; that’s when her purring reaches its greatest strength.

Though kittens may feel delicate to humans, they don’t think it of themselves. I watch as Aurora prepares to leap from the bed to the cat-tree by the window, gathering her power in her rear end, urging herself forward. I can almost hear her exhorting herself, “I can do it!” And indeed she can.

Brazil has started grooming her. I don’t think Auro knows what to do about it, but if she doesn’t respond positively yet, neither is she put off. I heard them both running about the apartment this morning as I was preparing to leave for work, but every time I looked, they had vanished from view. I don’t believe they were running together, but feeling energetic and active at the same time is another step closer to playing together.

And afterward, even kittens tire out and need a rest. An adult sized cat-bed will do just fine.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Improvements and Not

Some things have improved since Aurora’s arrival, some have not.

Brazil has come out of hiding and is nearly back to where he was before being traumatised by the suggestion that he eat his meals in the bathroom. He allows me once again to pet him but, as priorly, I must calm him first and not startle him. That aspect of his socialisation will, I trust, become better with time. He is also trying to reacquaint himself with Aurora, sniffing her back and flanks a great deal and even seeming to invite her to chase him. Nothing has come of it so far.

Imogen feels very put out by Aurora, and has even abandoned eating on top of the cylinder-house cat-tree because Aurora has taken to lying in it. I feel very badly about these self-imposed limitations that Imo has made for herself, but there is little that can be done about them at the moment. We will see what time will cause in that regard, too.

But I don’t think that Aurora will be with me for long. She is too attractive and lively a kitten not to be noticed by some likely adopter. When that happens, Miss Silky won’t be so sulky. Until the next new arrival comes to stay.

Friday, September 8, 2023


Last Sunday, I wrote about the rescue-group’s attempts to capture the injured mother of three kittens we had managed to trap. I am pleased to write that, between then and now, the little mother-cat has been caught. This is her pictured below; she has been named Emori.

She is pregnant again. She has seen the veterinary who assessed her missing foot (there will be surgery on that) and discovered that Emori is carrying six more kittens, to be brought into the world as early as next week. A small girlcat, not more than a year old, Emori weighs less than 3.5 kilograms (7.716 pounds), and a substantial portion of that is unborn kitten. To feel her body, one can easily determine that Emori is under-weight, and had not been finding enough food to keep going. Without the kind couple feeding her and her offspring (the same couple who contacted the rescue and helped trap the family), Emori likely would have starved. She was, even before they were trapped, showing some hostility to her first litter, which suggested a second was on its way.

(As an aside, Emori soon will have had nine kittens within four months. A feral’s life outside averages six years; if an abandoned insider such as Emori is lucky enough to survive that long, nine kittens, every third of a year for six years, produces 162 kittens. Few of them would have lived long, which is another kind of tragedy.)

However,  Emori is safe inside now, and ready for her second big event. Her first three (we hope they were her first) are also safe in a foster-home: presenting Julien (the orange boy), and his sisters, Klarra (black) and Evelyn (tortoiseshell).

But their advent - and the future arrival of more kittens - has necessitated a re-arrangement among the few foster-homes the rescue-group has, including mine. Consequently, I have received another new cat. Meet Aurora.

She is a four month old torbie; an orphan, she was taken in by the family who were fostering Astrid (readers may recall her and her four). Astrid and one of her kittens have been adopted, while another who, like Aurora, was accepted by Astrid as her own foster-kitten (even as she herself was being fostered) has also been adopted. This leaves three of Astrid’s still waiting for their permanent homes, plus Aurora. They are joined in foster hood by Julien, Klarra and Evelyn. So far…

Is that all clear?

But wait, there’s more! Aurora is the sweetest little creature you could want to meet. She was quite unfazed by her changed world, and didn’t even need to be isolated, since she came from another foster-home, and was ready to come and meet everyone.

Everyone was not ready to meet her. Before Aurora arrived at the Cosy Apartment, I assumed she would need isolation in the safe-room (the library). Though Brazil does not need the library anymore, it is still where he takes his meals. He objected to being fed elsewhere - in preparation for Aurora, I uncouthly suggested the bathroom for Brazil’s dining room. He objected. That and the appearance of the new kitten put Brazil under the bed for the rest of the day.

This is ironic, since he knew Aurora in their previous foster-home and they had played together. I am still hoping they will become friends and take pressure off of Imogen.

On the subject of Miss Silky, she has taken immediate offence to the newest-comer and has retreated to the highest kitchen cabinets.

So we have some work to do with regard to feline relations. I have no doubt that all will turn out well; it is just a matter of time. I do wonder, though, if Aurora might have been re-named Spanner upon coming to live with us. She seems, after all, to be one of them in the works…

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Relaxed in the Saddle

Brazil has made great strides in trusting me, which now allows me to get to know him further. He will alternate between running madly away from me and remaining still or even coming up to me, and I haven’t determined what I do to influence his decision in the matter. But when he runs, his retreat can often be arrested by calling his name in a coaxing manner. It’s as if he flees as a reflex, rather than in a reasoned response.

He will lie down frequently and permit, even want, me to stroke his back, down to his tail. He seems a little skittish about having his head and face rubbed, but I will work my way into that. A stride forward has been achieved in his simple tolerance of my presence. For instance, when he took to lying in the saddle of the saddle-topped cat-tree in the bedroom, he would always vacate it as soon as I stepped into the room. Then, he started waiting until I walked around the bed, in his direction, before jumping down. Now, if I keep my back to him, I can usually make my way around the bed without startling him into flight.

The newcomer needs a playmate. He tries to interest Neville in playing. This merely angers my grey lion. He fares no better with Renn. And attempts to chase Imogen are interpreted by Miss Silky as attacks, and result in growls and hisses, or worse. At the moment, I am not in a position to bring in a fifth cat, but that is an option. There is, of course, no guarantee that a newer-comer would be more receptive to play than Imo or the oldsters, but it is a good possibility.

For now, I will try my hand at playing with Brazil though, so far, he has been unnerved by such actions, so this too will take time. However, I have seen that time is a friend to Brazil and me, and we will continue to see what it can do to help.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Her Attention Caught

For some reason, Imogen has never been interested in looking at the world through the kitchen window. But yesterday afternoon, something caught her eye after she jumped up on the ledge under the window, preparatory to leaping up to the top of the kitchen cabinets. She stopped and spent considerable time watching.

If you enlarge the third photograph, you may be able to make out the magpie, to the left of the yellow sand-bin in the middle distance. Fortunately for Imo, the bird hopped closer, oblivious to the possibly murderous desires of the cat behind the window. Or perhaps fully cognizant of them, and chuckling.

Miss Silky was not amused in any case.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Wear and Tear

Recently, I published an entry that featured Imogen lying on the ancient micro-wave oven that I own, one dating back to about 1980. In that year, we probably would have been surprised to learn that forty years thence, people would be thinking of goods manufactured in the last quarter of the twentieth century as of durable quality. But everything is relative and compared to now, craftsmanship of the 1980s was like Geppetto’s skill and care in carving Pinocchio.

The point is that some things last. And others would last but for cats. I write now of my bedspread. I bought it in the summer of 2020. It is still serviceable, but it is showing both wear and tear. At one time, the tufted, narrow ridges running its length were strong and marked. Now, in patches, they have disappeared; too many furred bodies lying, rolling, turning and grooming upon them.

And then there are the holes. It takes only a tiny puncture to begin, like a black hole that will eventually swallow the universe. (I would not be surprised to discover that black holes are caused by the untrimmed claws of a great cosmic cat.) I don’t know who caused the large wound, but of course, once started, such apertures grow. There are a number of them now, weakening the structure of the bedspread and allowing for still more and wider holes.

As well, the bedspread, once a perfect rectangle, has been pulled and stretched, and no longer retains its pure shape.

Some day, I will have to buy another, and another after that. But at some point in the future, I will be too old for cats, and I will look at a bedspread, still pristine after years of use, and wish for a tiny puncture to begin.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

The Exciting Bit

There are different stages to rescue-work. At the moment, the group of which I am part is engaged in trapping a little feline family, whose mother is injured. We have captured the three kittens, but the mother, not feral but distrusting, remains elusive, more experienced and wilier than her offspring. We will get her and help her.

That part of rescue is tense and exciting; it is, when the anti-climactic sound of the trap-door signals a successful capture, greatly rewarding. But it is usually just the start of the hard work. Yet that hard work is exciting, too.

Brazil is not feral. He never was, really, having been caught as a kitten and socialised. But he regressed, and was similar in many ways to a feral, or at least semi-feral, cat. Readers will recall what has happened so far in my attempts to reverse that process. Yesterday, I was able to take a step forward.

(Pardon the blurs: these count as action shots.) So far, such permission to pet has come only at meal-times. Brazil mills about, impatiently complaining, quietly, that his food is taking a long time to prepare. Meanwhile, he allows me to pet him, to stroke him, to run my hand down his back and touch his tail. This is a first for us.

We have a long way to go. But I see progress in other directions. Brazil used to bolt from any room into which I walked. Now, he will sometimes remain. Other times, when he runs, it is with less speed; one might say he trots, rather than gallops, away from me. And as often as not, he will stop when I call his name.

As well, I am learning about his character. He wants a friend. He has been trying to interest Imogen, but Miss Silky is having none of it. Imo was friends with Percival, so it can happen. I have also seen Brazil try to show comradeship, if not affection, with Neville. During the wait for food, the orange newcomer has rubbed up against Nev, under the grey lion’s chin. I have seen that before: several cats in the feral colony I help manage do that when they know food is on the way. The Nevsky has never had such attention and he didn’t like it. He put the bitey on Brazil, in a minor way. (Lacking almost all his teeth, it is in a very minor way.) Brazil has always had feline companionship – to be precise, friendship – and has not been hostile to any of the cats here. A chum in his permanent home would be an asset.

But first things first. A big step has been taken: Brazil has let me touch him, numerous times and at comparative length. It may not be trapping a cat who needs medical assistance, or bringing starving kittens in from the wild. But when it comes to rescue-work, it is, nonetheless, exciting.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

The New Comfy

Other cats live here besides Brazil, and they have been clamouring for attention. Well, they’ve been lying about snoozing. Potayto, potawto…

Imogen has found a new spot for making herself comfortable. It’s hard to believe, but she seems to like it. This is a cat, after all, who spends only half her nights sleeping on a bed, while stretching out at other times on the hard tops of bookcases and kitchen cabinets. This is my newest perma-cat, curled up on top of the micro-wave oven. If she could, she would express pleasure that I haven’t yet changed to a sleek, two-pound, over-the-stove, modern model. It takes a 1980-vintage appliance, the size and weight of a Volkswagen Beetle, to provide true relaxation.