Tuesday, November 28, 2023

No Problems for Theodore

Theodore’s surgery went very well. As it turned out, his testicle had descended by the time of his appointment. That fortunately occurs at times with this condition, so his operation was the usual kind for a neutering.

He returned with a collar and the first minutes out of the carrier was pushing himself along the carpet, the cone on the floor and his tail between his legs. I removed the collar, his head came up, as did his tail. He of course cleaned himself off; as with Chiff just over a week ago, I watched the new patient carefully and, again just like Chiff, Theodore concentrated on washing the hospital scent from the base of his tail and his upper rear legs. It must gather there; perhaps the anal glands lend it extra pungency. In any case, any licking of the surgical spot was incidental and insignificant.

He ate a couple of small meals until snack-time and then tucked in to something larger. He played, chasing Aurora and Brazil and being chased, and tussling with his sister. There was little I could do to stop that, barring isolating him. But of course there was no damage done. I expect his recovery to be full and swift.

Undine wrote that she didn’t know a male cat could have an undescended testicle, and they are indeed uncommon, though this is the second the rescue-group has had in a couple of months. Often, though, as in Theodore’s case, time will correct the situation. In terms of effort, cost and, most importantly, inconvenience and comfort for the little fellow, all went well.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Theodore's Turn

Today, Theodore will be neutered. Most such surgeries are simple and quick; Theodore’s will be more complicated, because he has an undescended testicle. The operation therefore will be more invasive; more like a spay than is the normal neutering.

However, there is no reason why everything shouldn’t be completed well and without difficulty. The little fellow should be back in the apartment by the late afternoon, and I will endeavour, with my usual lack of success, to keep a kitten inactive for several days. Wish us both luck.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Reluctant Uncle

Neville doesn’t like other cats. He doesn’t dislike them; he has tolerated the other perma-cats quite well. Those who spend a long time in the Cosy Apartment learn that the Nevsky has no interest in them, and they leave him alone. Renn and he acknowledge each other, like two old men who nod a greeting when they pass one another in the corridors of a retirement home, but they don’t associate with each other. Nev and Imogen are each happy to ignore the other’s presence.

The relative newcomers are different. They are young – even Brazil isn’t long past kittenhood – and they are eager at least to meet other felines; if they cannot make friends with them, they at least want to know them. So it is with Neville. He won’t play with the youngsters, tries to avoid them when he can, and even grumbles (I can’t really call it a growl) and moves away when they are near.

But sometimes, as one grows older, it is easier just to put up with inconvenience, rather than go to so much trouble that one causes even more inconvenience. Thus, Neville seems slowly to be taking on the persona of the reluctant uncle. You know the one: he sits in his chair while the visiting children clamber over him; he doesn’t leave because it’s his chair and he’ll stay there, no matter what. The children will try to put a funny hat on his head so many times, it’s less bother to leave it on than keep taking it off. When the kids at last leave, he can lie back and snooze, enjoying the peace.

Many families have a reluctant uncle. Neville appears to be ours.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The End of a (Minor) Era

I at last had to say ‘good-bye’ to a familiar member of the household: the elongated ottoman.

I had bought it second-hand, along with its matching loveseat, about thirteen years ago, when I moved into my house. It came to the apartment with me when I moved, and in both locations has provided much comfort to cats and to me, especially while I watched my Saturday night movie. Later, when Minuet came and I brought in a cat-tree for her, there was insufficient room for the ottoman in the library, and it moved out to the sitting room.

Alas, it suffered damage over the years, principally because cats would, in jumping up on it, use their claws in the fabric-covering to gain purchase. The resulting tears and rents only grew with time. They were holding their own until the kittens arrived. Their curiosity proved the ottoman’s undoing, as they continued to pull the stuffing out. Recently, I have been finding it on the floor of the sitting room and farther afield. As well, it can be cleaned only so often before the effects of innumerable cat-barfs could no longer be erased. It was time for the ottoman to go.

The sitting room feels larger now, and rather empty. The kittens quickly used the space for chasing each other, which nonetheless didn’t preclude them running into various objects during their games. I and the other oldsters here will miss the furnishing more than they. It had served us well.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Her Comfort

I’ve told people that cats love their routines - until they don’t. For some months, Imogen has been spending the night up near the head of the bed, curled against me. She would usually settle into her position as I was settling into mine, and remain there most, though not all, of the night. I think she enjoyed a certain security it gave her, especially since I started the night with my arm around her. She may have thought that, if another cat tried to jump onto the bed to get her, my arm would deter him.

For a week now, however, Miss Silky has been sleeping on the folded comforter at the foot of the bed. She prefers that even when it is not night-time, and she wants merely to have a snooze. Why she has varied her routine, I can’t say for certain. Who knows what goes on in a cat’s mind?

However, if I use my imagination, I could venture that it has to do with safety. Imo may feel safer now that she has established herself in the bedroom. She may no longer feel the need to stay close to me at night for protection. In other words, comfort - and the comforter is softer and thicker than the rest of the bedclothes - has superseded security in her estimation.

This may be wishful thinking. But I believe Imogen may be feeling generally safe from Brazil’s unwanted attentions. The kittens are another matter. They will climb onto the bed when Imogen is already there, but won’t bother her very much. A low growl or a hiss usually suffices for her purposes. She will even jump onto the comforter while the kittens are already on the bed.

If I am correct about the reason behind her new position, then this represents a step forward for Imo in dealing with her feelings about the other cats. I wish she had the whole apartment in which to feel safe, but that may come in time. Until then, she is finding more comfort, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

About Teeth and Foster-cats

The problem with my tooth turned out to be the crown that had been put on it. For some reason, I thought the tooth next to the one that had cracked had been the tooth that had been fitted with a crown. The crown will be repaired as soon as an appointment can be made; it is not what I would consider a major issue. In the meantime, I must be careful of the tooth, but it won’t cause too many problems before it is repaired.

Things are continuing adequately in the Cosy Apartment. A number of people expressed the desire that Brazil should stay with me permanently. The rescue-group is still hoping that the right person will adopt him; I hope for that, as well. I like Brazil and know that he is comfortable with me and his young pals. But the truth is, I cannot keep every cat who fits in. And, in fact, Brazil doesn’t fit in entirely; his effect on Imogen is bad, and that must be taken into account.

I have fostered about thirty cats. That’s a small number compared to many involved in animal-rescue, but the number would have been far smaller if I had adopted every cat whom I liked and would have wanted to keep. I would have had my maximum years ago, and Brazil, the current crop of kittens, Imogen, Percival, Hector, Auric and many others would never have made their appearances on this blog. Allowing those in my care to go on to other, better homes is what permits me to continue to help in rescue. If I weren’t involved in cat-rescue, I certainly wouldn’t have seven beasts living with me, as I fully expect most to be adopted; I consider the current population a temporary measure.

Shimmer will remain available for adoption. His life with me is not ideal; he doesn’t receive enough attention. Once the kittens are adopted, he will suffer for a playmate. Some day, I hope he will have his permanent family, who have plenty of time to give him, and a lasting feline friend. That day may never come. He may stay with me for the rest of his life; that is a necessity with some cats. I think he would be content with that. And if that comes to pass, I think I will be content with it, too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Ah, the Tranquil Refuge of One's Home

Sometimes it’s better not to go home.

Yesterday after work, I came back to the Cosy Apartment, and was greeted by a couple of the kittens; Brazil, too, came to make sure I wasn’t bringing in a stranger; all seemed well. Then I heard an urgent mewing from somewhere. A kitten was in trouble. A kitten was trapped!

My first thought was that I had locked one in the bedroom with Imogen when I left her in there upon my departure that morning. But I suspected she wouldn’t be crying so insistently to be let out in that case. Then I saw the storeroom door was shut tight. The others had locked Chiff in the storeroom!

I suspect what had happened was that Chiff went into the storeroom to use a litter-box and two of the others, undoubtedly Theodore and Aurora, started wrestling against the outside of the door. They eventually pushed it closed. It has happened before, but not to the extent of actually latching shut. I prefer to think it was accidental than a deliberate prank… I have no idea how long she was in the storeroom, though it was not long, to judge by the amount of debris in the litter-boxes.

I released the little prisoner. She had not panicked, I suspect, but she had been everywhere in the storeroom trying to find a means of escape. She had knocked down and emptied the laundry basket (into a litter-box), pulled a bag full of bags from a shelf and scattered the contents and, of course, had thrown litter about. Not bad work, considering it was all done in the dark.

Then I opened the bedroom door to free Imogen. She had, at some point, knocked over the small rubbish bin and thrown its contents on the floor. In the library, I noted, someone (probably Brazil) had pulled the cords from the window-blinds and tossed them aside.

At least no one had thrown up. (That had been done early in the morning.)

After cleaning up the mess, washing and sweeping and vacuuming, I fed the cats and then myself. During the meal (chicken), I felt some food stuck on one of my teeth. That was an unusual but not irretrievable situation. I went to the bathroom to have a look in the mirror. No, it wasn’t food adhered to a tooth, it was a tooth that had failed to cohere to itself. Part of a tooth had split (both literally and, in terms of slang, departed.) Well.

It didn’t hurt, which surprised me, but I think that suggests -and it looks like - there is no cavity. It was just a weak tooth which decided to take off on an adventure of its own, without so much as a by-your-leave! “So long rest-of-body, I’m off to seek my fortune!” I will be going to the dentist in an hour or so, and she will try to fit me in at some point.

And, finally, I deleted a comment someone had left on yesterday’s blog entry. The ‘publish’ command is immediately above the ‘delete’ command, and a slip of the finger on a mouse produces a result the opposite of what is intended. It has happened before, and will likely happen again. If you are wondering where your comment went, Roberta, that’s where. Sorry.

And that was yesterday. I am agog at what could occur today…

Monday, November 20, 2023

Play-time for One

Making the bedroom into Imogen’s safe-space has proven successful. The other cats are permitted in, of course, except for Brazil, and this has allowed them slowly to encroach, and reduce, Imo’s antagonism toward them. But there was still a problem with play-time.

With the door open, the younger cats kept rushing in to wrestle with the string-toy I use to entice Imogen. As a result, Miss Silky was most reluctant to play, as it meant interaction with the others, with the highly probably chance of physical contact. I decided that, at least during play-time, the door to the bedroom would be closed, and Imogen could have some fun without interruption.

It has worked. Before Brazil’s advent, Imo would leap and twist and pounce when fighting the string-toy. That exuberance disappeared upon Shimmer’s arrival, and even the semi-refuge of the kitchen cabinets didn’t reproduce it. Last evening, though, Imogen jumped and rolled after the string-toy, assured by the fact that she was alone with me. (Well, Renn was on the bed, too, but, as I have mentioned, he plays but rarely, and slept - or tried to - through all of Imo’s fun. He doesn’t bother her in any case.)

This separate game-time adds still more to my schedule, but it’s worth it to see Imo put some effort into her playing again. I don’t think it impossible that she will one day play with others, but for now, this will have to do. And for now, it does well.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Ready To Go

Chiff’s surgery went without a problem. She returned wearing a cone, as the staff of the hospital believed she was licking her wound. I removed the cone and closely observed her (and I mean I lie on the floor a few inches from her and watched while she groomed herself.) It was clear that she was attempting to remove the hospital smell from her body. She concentrated on the base of her tail; I’ve seen numerous cats do that after an operation, and I wonder if the anal glands collect scent, as well as disburse it. In any case, she licked everywhere, only incidentally touching her incision. She groomed herself less and less through the evening, never putting much thought into the site of her cut.

She had a good late dinner, and then needed to get back into the swing of things. She played much of the evening: wrestling with a toy, chasing and being chased by her roommates, kicking her brother in the stomach while her brother was trying to swallow her head. The usual.

I of course tried to restrict her activities but attempting that with a five month old kitten is an impossibility. After a playful evening, and a semi-restful night, her incision still looks good. The only trouble that I’ve witnessed was Aurora’s growls at Chiff when she first returned. Those vanished during the fun of the later hours.

Thank you to all our readers for their kind thoughts about the little one. She is almost recovered already, and prepared for whatever life has to give her.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Miss Chiff and Surgery

Chiff goes for her spay surgery today. She was originally scheduled for the 27th of this month, when her brother goes for his neutering, but it was thought better to take her in a little early. We’ve been previously caught by an early heat cycle (Zofia’s), and that would mean an extra delay, as well as discomfort for Chiff and discombobulation for everyone else.

I have no doubt that everything will go well. Chiff is a healthy youngster, with no problems. She will be back in the Cosy Apartment later today, where I will try to keep her calm and inactive. Maybe Brazil will help, and take the lead in arranging plenty of this.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Re-arranging the Pieces in the Puzzle

Imogen is still having problems with Brazil, but we’ve hit upon a semi-solution. The bedroom has become Imogen’s safe-room. She rarely spends time on the kitchen cupboards or the micro-wave oven now. I started putting her in the bedroom (with the door open), and feeding her there. She quickly took to the idea of spending her time in the room. And I keep Brazil out.

As a result, Miss Silky seems much more relaxed. She is not always looking over her shoulder for Brazil. She sleeps on the bed, or on a cat-tree or even my chair, and usually eats her meals on the top of a bookcase. She looks out the window, and can have fresh air now and then, if it feels stuffy in the room.

The advantages to this are more than the obvious. All the other cats are allowed in the bedroom with the exception of Shimmer. As a result, Imogen has become more accustomed to the kittens. She will hiss at their proximity but do little else, and when they lie down near her, she doesn’t re-arrange herself to put distance between them and herself. Even Aurora is becoming a bit more acceptable. Last night, the two girls sniffed noses without so much as a growl.

The disadvantage to this situation is that Brazil is excluded from the bedroom. However, that is how it will have to be for the present. He has chased Imogen quite recently, and if he is near by, she is disturbed. But Brazil has the rest of the apartment in which to live, run and play, and he does. Furthermore, I do not physically force him out of the bedroom if he ventures in; I speak his name sternly and utter a verbal admonition. That is enough; he knows his boundaries, and he leaves. I don’t get angry with him for being where he shouldn’t. I am permitting him to stay in a little longer if I do find him there. Things won’t change otherwise. And he is more open to me, and braver with previously frightening situations (eg. noises in the corridor outside the apartment) than ever before, so I feel that the new arrangements are not affecting him badly.

During the day, when I am absent, the door to the bedroom is shut, with Imogen inside with all the necessities. Nine or ten hours away from the apartment is too long a period for Brazil’s temptation, and there may be trouble between him and Imogen ere I return. As well, though matters are improving with Auro, the latter still likes to lie in wait for Imogen and chase her. Her pursuit of Miss Silky is different than Brazil’s, and is definitely a kittenish game - but Imo doesn’t consider it thus, and so that too can lead to trouble.

For now, with seven cats, three of them kittens and four very active, this is as good a situation as can be. I fully expect things to improve, but I am patient, and won’t rush the cats, especially Imogen. The beasts have a way of letting me know when a new stage has been reached in their lives.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Eating Event

A memory of Eric and Flynn, over at Two Devon Cats, depicted them in fervent training for a Synchronised Snoozing event of the Cat-o-lympics. It may have been that greatly missed pair who inspired the siblings in the Cosy Apartment to try Synchronised Eating.

To be honest, it’s hard to differentiate their training from the actual event. I feed Theodore and Miss Chiff in the bathroom initially, so that other cats can consume food without interruption. But their sequestration is only an excuse to keep them out of the way. Once the others are done, I release the brother and sister act; they shoot out of the bathroom straight to whichever bowl they see. By then those bowls are empty, and I have time to fill more dishes for another course. The siblings’ tastes keep changing (that’s the subject for another article, I think), but when they eat, they eat with determination.

Their big crowd-pleaser is when they switch. One will move to the other’s bowl, only for the other to take over from the one at the latter’s bowl. From above, it’s like watching an animated feline t’ai-chi-t’u.

However, they rarely finish at the same time, so one then assists the other in completing the meal. That’s when the referee intervenes and gives both of them more. This continues until they decide they are full. I am rarely so indulgent with the other cats, but Chiff and Theodore – and Aurora – are kittens, so they are allowed to eat as much as they want. Eventually all are sated.

After that, however, usually comes the playing event…

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Of Those Who Have Fallen

As regular readers may know, I don’t usually publish anything on this blog that isn’t cat-related. The big holidays – Christmas and Easter – are exceptions, as is New Year’s, as that is a significant change chronologically, if in no other way. But I feel I should acknowledge Remembrance Day, as well.

As a reader of military history, especially those histories that are very detailed or which are memoirs, I tend to think a great deal about the efforts and sacrifices of those who went to war. Those who do so, go for a great many reasons, of course; not all of them are, it must be admitted, altruistic. Indeed, many regulars join up to learn a trade or simply to have a good job; this was often the case in the old days, when poverty was the only other option. No doubt they, like every other sane person, hoped that they would never have to put their training to practical use.

There were as many motives for going into combat, of course, as there were men in uniform. I recently watched a film called Appointment in London, in which the principal character, when asked why he wanted to fulfill a 90-mission ambition with Bomber Command, stated that he was afraid others would think him fearful if he didn’t. Then he added that that was ‘the usual’ thing that is said. It was probably true in many cases. He then stated that he was doing it because he’d told so many people he would that he couldn’t back out. That was probably true in many cases, as well.

From what I’ve read, soldiers, sailors and airmen go into battle for their beliefs, their regiments, their comrades, their countries, their families, and every other reason under the sun and stars. Some go because it’s easier than not going.

Yet what I find astounding, what I find moving, is that when it came down to it, almost every one of them went forward into mortal danger of their own accord. If the majority had decided not to, there would have been little those in authority could have done about it, as has been shown at some points in history. But these men made a conscious decision to put one foot in front of another and step into what may have been their final minutes.

Was it bravery, was it foolishness, was it vainglory? It doesn’t matter. They did it, and for many it was the last thing they did. And because they did it, I can agree or disagree with anyone or everyone without fear of reprisal. I can worship as I like or not at all. I can protest peacefully and I can tell those in power I dislike them and their ways. I can read what I want, go where I want. Whether or not I manifest my conscience is a matter of my own trepidation or concern, not of the dictates of arbitrary authority.

For this freedom, I thank all of them, the brave and the frightened, the lazy and the dutiful, the honest men and the connivers, the family men and the loners, those with everything ahead of them and those with nothing to lose. Because of them, I sleep in peace.

Friday, November 10, 2023

The Tail of an Older Brother

I am surprised at how tolerant Brazil is with the younger cats. He will play with them and, when I use a string-toy on them, Shimmer patiently waits for it to come to him, while Aurora, Theodore and Chiff (especially the last) barge into each other trying to wrest control of the toy from rivals. He will lie still while Chiff stumps and pushes her way into a comfortable position next to him - or on top of him - in the cylinder-house cat-tree. And he will allow them to play with his tail.

That long, slender tail of his is the object of three active kittens, almost always at meal-times, when it waves about as Brazil eagerly awaits his food. Chiff often grasps my lower legs as I am preparing the cats’ fare - a startling action before I cut her claws - and I thought previously that it was due to her impatience. She was, in fact, trying to seize her foster-brother’s tail, which is more easily done against a solid background (eg. my legs) than against the air. Aurora will try to pull the tail as it passes by a chair she is on. Theodore likes to pounce on it.

Through all the shenanigans, Brazil maintains his equanimity. He seems to have an affinity for the youngsters, and certainly indulges in fun with them himself. If he is fulfilling the rôle of older brother, then he is the sort who doesn’t mind babysitting his siblings, even if they are of the annoying sort.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Her Chin-rest

Some beasts are becoming restless at the attention some other beasts are receiving on this blog, so I’ve promised that this will be the last of the cute kitten pictures for a while. But I felt this one had to be given attention. The rescue-group (and I) think it would be rather wonderful if Brazil and Chiff were adopted together. They needn’t, of course, but in any new home, Shimmer would benefit much more from Chiff’s company than would, say, Aurora or Theodore, each of whom would make friends quickly with whomever was already resident and willing to have a new pal. We would love for any of the four to go with any of the other four but particularly Brazil and Chiff. They are, of course, available separately. Even so, have you ever seen anything like a kitten resting her chin on a big brother’s foot?

Monday, November 6, 2023

Our Programme Will Return After This Brief Message

Theodore would like those interested in adopting a kitten to peruse his profile on the Lethbridge PAW Society website (http://www.pawsociety.com/Theodore1.html). He’s quite proud of it, though he looks a little anxious here; he’s probably worried that there is a spelling error. He would also like everyone to know that he would love to be adopted with another cat, or go to a home with another cat; preferably an active and playful youngster, because that’s what he is. Theodore is enjoying his time in the Cosy Apartment, but there is no substitute for a permanent home of one’s own.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Watching Ahab

Magpies frequent the vicinity of the Cosy Apartment. They are a common bird, and many people dislike them for their noise and voracious ways. They will eat the eggs and the young of other birds. But magpies have their place in the scheme of things, and, like other animals, are welcome at Café Cosy. I scatter cat-food for them and they come, usually in a flock, to partake of the buffet. It keeps them from attacking other birds as both competitors and prey, and it provides entertainment for the cats.

One magpie comes sometimes alone. He has but one leg. I call him Ahab. To balance while feeding, he seems to roll and hop a great deal. But he looks fat and, except for his missing limb, appears in good shape. Yesterday morning, Ahab came to eat breakfast, and to provide the beasts with something to watch.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

And In This Corner...

Theodore the Adorable comes out strong, putting the bitey on his opponent, Miss Chiff. He is confident of victory and gives a knowing look to the audience, showing his disdain for his adversary.

Miss Chiff appears nonplussed, at a loss at how to counter Theodore’s tactics.

But wait! The match isn’t over, as Miss Chiff strikes back. Theodore’s over-confidence may have been his undoing. He’s not preprared for this powerful assault.

With a quick, knockout left to the chin, the battle is ended, and Miss Chiff is the winner!

Note: no cats were harmed in this session. They were chasing each other a moment later, then grooming each other, then trying to pull off each other’s head. The joys of a sibling playmate…