Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Running, Leaping, Pouncing, Rolling, Etc.

The younger crowd at the Cosy Apartment enjoys its play-time. Brazil hasn’t let his brief sojourn to another residence disrupt his fun: he has been accepted by the siblings as a game-fellow. At various times, Brazil, Aurora, Theodore and Chiff are chasing each other, wrestling and ambushing the unwary. (Before I could break them up yesterday, Shimmer seized Auro by the head and threw her over his shoulder in a perfect judo move.)

Brazil has also learned how to use the nylon tunnel to his advantage in fighting with the streamer-toy. In fact, that wand is a favourite of everyone - except Neville and Renn, who are too old and dignified to play very much. Most of the time, Imogen prefers the security of playing on top of the kitchen cabinets. Now and then, however, I lock the others away and she and I have some more earthbound entertainment.

Please excuse the blurry photographs: between trying to take pictures with one hand, and the subjects’ activity, clarity was not a possibility.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Dining Together

Though Imogen still has problems with pretty much everycat except the two oldsters, caution on the part of Theodore and Chiff with regard to Brazil didn’t last long. Here are Brazil and Miss Chiff feeling peckish simultaneously this morning.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Home Again

The aftermath of Brazil’s return was not very bad, I can report. Catching him was easier than - well, not as difficult as - I thought it would be. I let him run about his room for a few minutes. Each time he abandoned a hiding spot, I turned it over or otherwise blocked it. He ended up on a window sill where I scruffed him and pushed him into his carrier. As before, when I first took him to his abortively new home, he could have made things much more troublesome - indeed, painful - for me, but he did not. Also as previously, he seemed to resign himself to incarceration when he was half-way into the carrier. The one advantage of his debacle is that I know now that capturing him initially was not a fluke; I can do it again if need be.

Released at home in the library, he ran into the closet, which I had opened for him. But he did not stay there long, and was soon out and smelling familiar surroundings. I kept him in the room until after snack-time. He was fine with his return. He sniffed the cats he knew and the cats he didn’t. The newcomers, Theodore and Chiff, hissed and growled at him, arching their backs, but this reaction seemed rather half-hearted; they didn’t fight and Shimmer accepted them almost without comment.

With me, he was shy but not frightened. By this morning, though, he was allowing me to pet him at any time, and rubbed up against me as of old while waiting for his food; when I left him to go to work, he was once again sharing the top of the taller sitting-room cat-tree with Renn.

Aurora’s spay surgery went well, though some of her baby-teeth (two of which I had found in the past few weeks) seemed to have caused a slight infection, so she is receiving antibiotics for that. You will note that she is not wearing a cone in the photograph. I watched her through the evening, and this morning, checking her tummy as well. She paid the incision no attention, and any grooming she did was over her fur, to rid herself of the hospital smell.

Naturally, the usual post-sterilisation instructions to keep the cat calm and inactive were to no point: Auro is a five month old kitten, living with two four month old kittens. Previously, though, she growled at Theodore and Chiff, and was inclined to remain aloof from them. Now, very suddenly, she is interested in them and even engaged in some play with them - right after her surgery! I tried to break up their fun without discouraging them, but it has done Aurora no harm.

Feeding seven cats in the morning was interesting, and some polishing of the routine will be required; more bowls, too. But it can be done.

The cat who seems most affected by the numbers of his fellow felines is Neville. He does not have Renn’s easy-going nature, accepting whatever comes along from other cats, and he wanted to find a spot to avoid everyone. I will help him find his comfortable place.

Imogen has yet to be bothered by the returned Brazil and Aurora. For her peace of mind, she is in the bedroom alone while I am at work. I will see how things develop among those three.

Some of the rescue-group’s members have offered to take cats off my hands, but the only ones they can take are Brazil, Aurora and the siblings. Moving Brazil again is out of the question, and Aurora is recovering from surgery. Theodore and Chiff would make a fine transition, I think. But the few foster-homes we have are also loaded with cats and, while they may have more room, and the people in them more time, I hesitate to shift anycat, simply because they’ve all been moved about already. I will consider my options again later, but for now, the Cosy Apartment will be the Crowded Apartment.

My principal sensation at having Brazil home again is, I find, that of relief. He would have integrated in his new environment; it would have worked. I feel that the will on the part of the people was not present. They were involved in a crisis with their other cat, it's true, but that did not preclude bringing Brazil into their lives. It was a friendly home but not sufficiently sympathetic to his personality. Will he go on another trial-adoption? It's not out of the question, but the circumstances and the people involved will need to be very extraordinary. For now, Brazil is home.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Upheaval in a Small World

I learned yesterday some discouraging news. Brazil will be coming back to live with me. As you can imagine, this is very disappointing. This was his chance and, I am certain, he won’t have another. The young couple who had taken him in are very worried about their cat – not the one for whom Brazil was intended to be a playmate - but her roommate. She is sick.

That is distressing, of course, but Brazil’s integration would have waited. He was doing quite well. I was impressed with how he was coming along: he was eating freely and playing by himself with toys. There were other reasons given for wanting Brazil to leave and, though I don’t think they are entirely feasible, there may be, as a friend commented, other circumstances of which I am unaware, or the circumstances of which I know may be more significant than revealed.


Even so, this will be hard for Imogen, whom Brazil was harassing. Aurora seems to have learned the same behaviour from Brazil and chases Imogen, so Imo has taken to staying up on the kitchen cupboards. Aurora stands a fair chance of being adopted sooner or later, so that would have passed. Brazil will likely be with me permanently.


There was always the possibility of Shimmer coming back, but I thought it would be after the family had given him the agreed month’s-worth of trial. Taking in Theodore and Chiff, I considered it a good chance that they would be adopted in that period; Brazil being elsewhere is why I took them in. For the time being, then, I will have seven cats living with me. The Cosy Apartment will be cosy indeed.


I am also worried that Brazil will be affected by his time elsewhere. He will be confused, even if he is back with me, the poor guy. I will have to see how he is when I collect him later today, which action will itself likely be an ordeal for him.

On top of this, Aurora goes for her spay today. She will need to be kept quiet and calm afterward, which of course is an improbable prescription for a kitten, though I will try to follow it.


Brazil has not met Theodore and Chiff, so their introduction will simply add to the apprehension of the coming weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Lessons Continue

Yesterday, I watched another example of how kittens learn from one another. Aurora enjoys playing with a ‘stacked’ track-ball toy, the balls moving in tiered grooves. Miss Chiff and Theodore were interested in the sounds the toy was making while their foster-sister played with it, so they came close to watch.

Eventually, Chiff, who is more shy than her brother with people but bolder in regard to toys, came nearer. Aurora, still unsure of the relative newcomers, moved away a bit but observed, as a teacher might observe her pupils. Chiff started playing with the track-ball. Then, Theodore, who also had been watching, tried his paw at the toy. Now all three enjoy it in turns.

And so life is taught…

Monday, October 23, 2023

Settling In

Theodore and Miss Chiff have fully settled into the Cosy Apartment. Theirs was an easy transition, as most kittens’ are. They were wary of me for the first day. I was able to pet Theodore first, but he kept his tail down. The next day, the tail was up, and now both cats purr when I stroke them. Theodore is the bolder when it comes to people, and most new things in general; he let me pick him up before Chiff did, though now I can hold both. Even so, Chiff might scurry away from my approach.

Though they are not a bonded pair, it would be very nice if they could adopted together. (Rescue-groups don’t like listing a couple as bonded unless they truly are: two kittens are harder to adopt out than one.) I believe either of these kittens would adjust to a new situation singly, but they are definitely good friends, lying together for comfort and companionship - I saw that during their first couple of days here, especially - and playing together. They will whap at each other in friendly combat, leap over each other and pursue one another with thunderous sound effects. (How creatures who weigh little more than clouds can make such noise, I’ll never know.) But I do like hearing the sound of happy and healthy cats enjoying themselves.

Oddly, despite Theodore being the braver in most things, it was Chiff who has taken the lead in playing with me. I brought out the streamer-on-a-stick last night (the same toy that tempted Brazil) and Chiff came out of the library to see what it was about. She watched its movements for several minutes with curiosity and no fear. Theodore too ventured out but was frightened of the streamer and retreated whenever it came close. His sister, however, was soon batting at it and rolling about with it. I am sure she will show Thoedore the way to play, just as Aurora did Brazil.

It’s always a delight to see cats learn and have fun at the same time.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

In Their New Homes, Here and There

Theodore and Chiff arrived at the Cosy Apartment yesterday late afternoon. Though they were somewhat frightened of their new situation, that didn’t keep them from exploring, as may be seen from the photographs below, taken last evening.

By the same time today, they had progressed in their trust greatly. Theodore is the bolder of the two, and was the first to permit me to touch. At first when I stroked him, his tail was down, but now it is up, and he will, after sniffing a proffered hand, rub his face on my fingers. I can also pick him up.

Chiff is more reticent, but nonetheless allows petting. A good sign of their comfort is that they are playing, wrestling together and, from time to time, making a great deal of noise in the library, though when I go to investigate, freeze and return my curious stare. They are eating well, and have already established regularity at the litter-box.

With regard to the other cats, both Imogen and Aurora have hissed and growled at them, to receive the same back. I doubt there will be much trouble from anyone, though whether they will be friends is an open question. Neville has invaded the library several times looking at what they have to eat, while Renn does the same for the purpose of visiting the newcomers’ litter-box. Neither oldster has an interest in interacting with the youngsters.

I am confident enough to leave the library door open all the time while I am present and awake.

Now, some readers have been asking after Brazil. He is, as Lynn and Precious once wrote about him, a tough nut to crack. He refused to eat in his new surroundings, so far as his new people could tell for several days. But last night, he ate some hard-food. He must also be drinking water, as he, like Chiff and Theodore, has been leaving deposits regularly in his box. The corner was turned, we believe, when the husband of the couple who want to adopt Brazil spent the night in Brazil’s room. Shimmer’s reaction to the wife was, she considered, one of apprehension. But during last night, with the man for company, Brazil came out of one of his hiding spots and slept on a cat-tree. (Surveillance of the newcomer is maintained through ‘nanny-cams’, which is rather a good idea for shy cats like Brazil.) It will be a long progression for Brazil, but we were all prepared for that. Now that he has eaten, we can breathe again.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Head To Be Examined At a Later Date

It’s been my practice to wait at least a couple of weeks after losing a cat to an adoption before bringing in another, to give everyone in the Cosy Apartment - including myself - some breathing room, and to ensure that a spot remains open in case of a failed adoption. The latter, thanks to the rescue-group’s stringent interviewing process, is a rarity. And in Brazil’s case, we are giving him at least a month, probably two, rather than the usual fortnight, before we judge the success of the integration. For my part, I have little doubt that he will do well in his new home, given time.

This is by way of a prologue to explaining that in this instance there is not going to be a wait for those two months, or even two weeks. Two days, is more like it. More guests will be arriving tomorrow. Allow me to introduce Theodore and, below him, his sister Miss Chiff. (They are a few weeks older than they were in these photographs.)

You may recall Astrid, whom I trapped outside my apartment. She was adopted with one of her kittens, Dale. (Astrid’s injured eye is healing slowly and, though it will never look the way it did, and she may have some sight difficulties with it, she is prospering.) Another of her kittens, Raven, is on a trial-adoption. That leaves two: Theodore and Chiff.

Why are they coming to my apartment? For the same reason Aurora did: it’s far too crowded in their foster-home. That is where Emori and her second litter are living. Though they are not quite two weeks old, that brood is already trying to explore their world, which will mean in a very short time, six adventurers will be all over the house - well, room, until they are old enough to move about without supervision. As well, a stranger gave Emori’s foster-guardian another abandoned kitten, driving right up to the house and handing it over to her: not circumstances in which one could refuse. So that house is full, since Emori, her six babies and this new one doesn’t include the resident animals already there.

I hope that Thoedore and Miss Chiff will, together or singly, provide Auro with some fun and games; without Brazil, she is concentrating on driving Imogen crazy, and that is regrettable.

Six cats, three of them kittens, is not ideal for my home, but with so few people fostering, we have little choice. There has been an explosion of kittens in our community this year and, to judge from the internet, everywhere in North America. The number of times I read and hear of people who are looking for a cat who escaped its home and who was ‘just going to be spayed/neutered next week’ is absurd. Such a solution to cat over-population cannot wait.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Irony of Fostering

A number of people have remarked regarding Brazil’s trial-adoption - and others cats’ adoptions - that fostering isn’t something that they could do, because it would be too hard on them to let the cat go. I find it indeed quite hard sometimes. There are those whom I would have liked to keep; recently, Percival and Hector come to mind. And, yes, Brazil.

There is an irony in fostering animals for their eventual adoption. We foster-guardians must come to know the cats who live with us, in order to provide the best care. Not only that, but we must know them in order to provide the best future home. As loving as many families may be, not all would have suited Brazil. The one to which he has now gone will suit him; the couple there understands that he may never be a cuddler or a lap-cat - though that possibility, especially in a new environment with new people, exists - and he is there primarily for their cats’ companionship, and secondarily for the people.

It is to keep the cat safe and loved until the right family comes along that there is fostering. It is to become so well acquainted with the cat that the foster-caregiver knows what he needs, when he needs it, how, and how much. To adopters, we can say - in so many words - ‘This cat may not be best for you, and vice versa, but we think this other one will thrive with you, and you will enjoy him immensely.’

But, as I wrote, there is an irony in fostering animals. We come to know them so well that they become our friends, and a great part of us want them to stay. Sometimes they do. Renn, Tucker, Cammie and Imogen came to me as fosters, and were eventually adopted. But most must move on.

Aside from the fact that some cats in my care simply don’t get along with others, and it is better for them to go when adoptions come through for them, it must be considered that other homes than mine will be better for the cat. There will be more time, more money, more companionship to be given; if there is first a capacity to love the cat, then these other factors must be considered. Kittens especially would benefit from younger, more active families. Temperaments sometimes don’t complement mine, however much the cat and I might like each other. And then there is the fact that, while another home may be equally good or better than mine for a cat, there are many cats who have no home, and who may benefit from being in mine. That is why sometimes I take in a new cat as soon as one moves out. It is not a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but, rather, ‘out of home - who now needs one?’ This weighs heavily on me.

I think that as long as I feel gladness at the cats I miss enjoying their new homes and people, as long as I am happy for them, relieved and content, then I will continue to foster. The day may come when I cannot. But by then, I will likely be too old to do so, anyway, and there will be no more cats for me. At that time, I will remember my fosters, and know that my contentment, through their happiness, and that of their adoptive families, will live on.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A Hard Parting

Brazil went to his prospective new home today.

Putting him into the carrier took about twenty minutes. He knew something was up and evaded me when I tried to put him inside the first time. Then followed endless rounds of the apartment. I at last cornered him in the storeroom, and managed to put him in a carrier

He went to the hospital for a check-up, though this was not really achieved. As soon as he was let out of the carrier, he leaped about the room looking for a way to escape. I’ve not before seen a cat leap seven feet to the top of a doorjamb, hoping to hide there. He was eventually captured for a cursory examination and his booster-shot, but that was all. I was glad to have taken the precaution of telling the staff to make sure the doors to the examining room were closed and not to open them while Shimmer was there; if he had gotten into the rest of the hospital, we likely would not have caught him.

Then it was off to his new home. His initial room is set up with all that he could want, though this made little impression on Brazil. He did not rush about in a panic here, however. I left him crouching on a window sill.

During my attempts at home to catch him, at the hospital and at his new abode, Shimmer was clearly unhappy, but though he carved a deep scratch in my arm leaping away during the earliest attempts at capture, it was a rear claw, and an inadvertent injury. He could have been ferocious, and, I think, wanted to be – he was on the verge of growling – but that’s not him. He is a nice fellow. I was gratified that both at the hospital and his new abode, I was able to touch him, pet him and calm him.

Even so, I felt terrible leaving him, betraying his trust in me, and taking him away from what he had undoubtedly considered his home. I have helped deliver foster-cats before, and have said ‘good-bye’ to many from my own residence. But having to leave Brazil with strangers, forever, was hard. I won’t be doing the like again. However, this is his chance. I am optimistic with regard to his chances. His new people want him for the right reasons, and are willing to be patient. Indeed, they have waited a long time, their interest in him constant. Nonetheless, it was a hard parting.

This is the worst of fostering. I know that Brazil will, if this works out, have the best of homes, and my own home will be available for another friendless cat. But cats don’t know the reasons for what must seem like abandonment. Soon, though, he will have new loyalties and new joys. The past will be, if not forgotten, unimportant. But not for me.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

More Is Less

Neville received another of his periodic shaves today. It is rather the wrong time of the year for it, as the balmy days of the first weeks of autumn appear to be over and even the sunny hours are cool, but I left the hair-cut too late, and he was at the stage when he needed one.

As usual, a great deal of hair came off my grey lion. The groomer, who very generously does this as a favour to our rescue-group, worked swiftly but expertly. The Nevsky was quite patient with the proceedings, as he usually is, but, again as usual, started to become restless in the latter phase. Nonetheless, he is a most co-operative beast.

I am certain that, along with feeling a little chillier – against which windows will be closed and cat-beds spread – Nev will feel more comfortable. The dense hair that he grows must give him a pebble-in-the-shoe sensation when he lies down. As well, something that the groomer mentioned that I did not consider was that, since Neville doesn’t clean himself well, the fur becomes dirty and gritty. Thus, a shave is hygienic.

This is done for another few months. The Nevsky undoubtedly is an improved fellow, his skin-tight fur velvet to the touch; he certainly looks better. And I can see more of the real Neville, now that there is less of him.

Friday, October 13, 2023

He Who Must Wait

Brazil is scheduled to go to his prospective new home on Tuesday.

Because of the extreme shortage of foster-homes, and the overwhelming number of cats who need them, I am already thinking about who can be next to come in. Certainly, there are numerous calls every day for the rescue-group to take in stray, abandoned or unwanted cats. I haven’t worked out an average; last year, I believe the average number of calls for such help was thirteen a week. With the glut of mother-cats with kittens this year, I believe the number of calls may be rather less, but the number of cats involved more.

There are several outsider-cats I would like to see permanently indoors. This is one. You may recall Arliss from the past. He has returned, though as irregularly as ever. Yet he has changed. He looks better than the last time I saw him, healthier. He appeared rather ragged when I observed him previously, his coat rough and in poor shape. He seems stockier now, and stronger. As well, he is not as timid; he remained, about three feet away, when I placed a food-bowl on the floor of the concrete ditch; priorly, he ran.

But Arliss is feral. He might come around - in fact, I believe he would - if given time. But alas, that time - and space - could be more productively given to other cats, those already socialised but now fearful; those who could be adopted in less time than it would take just to gain Arliss’s trust.

This is the sort of “rescue-triage” that is necessary. We must judge who is most likely to benefit from being taken in; who will derive the greater advantage from our efforts; for whom time will be of most value. These conditions are, of course, set aside in emergencies. Nonetheless, I dislike having to reduce the cats’ situations to such qualities, but it is required, until more foster-homes come available.

For now, then, Arliss will have to content himself with his visits to Café Cosy, and I will have to content myself with the notion that he has somewhere else to go, another source of food, other benefactors, perhaps even a home.