Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Neville Yesterday, Renn Tomorrow

Renn will be going to the hospital tomorrow to have his bladder examined again by ultra-sound, but yesterday, it was Neville’s turn.

My bulky little misanthrope has a swelling on his lip. I suspected that it was a minor infection that would need antibiotics, and that’s what it is. There is nothing to worry about in this case. However, also I wanted a small, flatfish mass on his right side checked, too. The doctor took a sample to scruitise under a microscope.

The mass appears to be lipoma - a benign fatty lump - but it also has indications of spindle-cell carcinoma, which sometimes surrounds itself with fat tissue. This carcinoma could grow, but the veterinary stated that it tends to be local, and doesn’t spread much. It can be excised through surgery, but it is not always easy to catch it all. For the time being, it will be left alone and watched. It is not bothering the Nevski, who is much more annoyed by having to take medicine for his infection.

While nothing will be done about the mass - which may or may not be harmful - the visit was useful in learning what it could be. We will be vigilant, my grey lion and I.

As an aside, Neville, who usually wants to be left alone, except for the odd chin-rub, stuck close to me at the veterinary hospital, rubbing against my legs and purring much of the time. When his examination was over, he walked over to the carrier; I opened the door, and in he went, ready to go home. He’s a good patient, when over-awed by his surroundings.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Just a Bit

Brazil is feeling better. He’s been eating satisfactorily, and playing. This morning, he didn’t eat as much, but I could tell that this was fussiness, rather than ill-health.

He is like that now and then. I have learned that Shimmer can be a bit of a complainer. He will wander the apartment expressing displeasure at various things: his missing friends, the day’s menu, as yet unscooped litter-boxes…

I have read more than once that when the British soldier stopped complaining, something was wrong. While Brazil was feeling poorly, he was quiet. He refused all food and generally seemed out of energy. Today, he wandered about grousing, but with a light step; his tail was up the whole time. (And what a tail! Look at that thing: it’s like a monkey’s.)

We come to know our feline friends. It’s one of the benefits of fostering an adoptable cat: we learn their moods, their attitudes, their behaviours. Brazil is well again. He’s just a bit of a complainer.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Our Patients

Brazil appears to be in improved condition. He is eating a little more; he’s clearly hungry but most food still turns him off. I gave him some less than nutritious supplemental food that comes in a pouch, and he consumed every drop and morsel. That supplied solid food, as well as needed liquid. When a cat isn’t eating, the quality of the food that he will eat is less important than the quantity. But he also finished off a small portion of Fancy Feast, and has been nibbling some hard-food. I saw him playing with a fuzzy mouse, which shows that he is feeling more energetic than he had been.

In scooping the litter-boxes as soon as Shimmer used them, I found that he had deposited some solid waste; well, it was very soft, no doubt due to the hairball medicine I’ve been giving him. But his deposits tell me either that he has been eating enough solid food for the body to require ridding itself of the excess, or that there was a clog somewhere and the medicine has helped clear it. He is certainly not out of the worry-zone, but he is its borderlands. For future use, I will be buying some coconut oil, as recommended by the Trout Towne Tabbies.

A positive feature of this illness is that I know now that I can put medicine into Brazil if it is needed, and if it is liquid. I was anxious over that, but knowing it is possible is a relief.

As for my other patient, Renn is feeling better, I think. I haven’t heard him breathing noisily in some time, and his sleep is undisturbed. The flare-up of his respiratory issues appears over for now. His wetting pattern has not, however, encouraged me to lessen the amount of anti-inflammatory he has been receiving. Nonetheless, that too is better than it was. He goes back to the hospital for another ultra-sound on Thursday.

For now, then, signs are positive, and all of us, human and feline, are looking forward to a continued pleasant weekend.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Brazil in the Long Run

Brazil is under the weather this week. He ate only half as much as usual Tuesday evening, and nothing at all for breakfast Wednesday morning. His uninterest in food has continued until now. He has nibbled enough to keep his internal organs working but this is not like him. On top of this, he has been throwing up; a couple of times a day, and last night’s was quite pink.

The problem could be a number of things, but the simplest and easiest to remedy is a hairball, so I am treating this first. ‘Easiest’ is, of course, a relative term.

I have been dreading the day I would have to medicate Shimmer. It would come sooner or later, if he was to stay with me any great length of time. It came sooner. I acquired some hairball remedy -  you know, the kind that tastes great and that cats love. Whether or not it tastes great, I can’t determine, but Brazil didn’t want to ingest any of his own volition.

Catching Brazil was not difficult; he likes being petted and stroked and that’s what he thought I was going to do. I was holding him firmly, but when I put the syringe to his mouth, he flew from my grasp. Then, like the times I had to put him in a carrier, it was a matter of cornering him. I closed as many doors as possible and eventually caught him in the bathroom.

Brazil’s reaction to being caught for some distasteful procedure is intriguing. He races about to avoid me but, when he has nowhere to go, he gives up. I was able to hold him and gently push the syringe between his gritted teeth and give him a dose of the hairball treatment. He could have clawed my skin from my bones, as he could have when I had to insert him into a carrier, but he did nothing of the sort.

Afterward, he hid under the bed for an hour. Though he and I are reconciled again, I will have to do this a second time tomorrow, and possibly on a third day. If there is no improvement by then, a hospital visit may be necessary. I hope, however, that his ailment proves as cooperative as Brazil has – in the long run – himself.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Now We Are Six

Theodore and Chiff are doing well in their respective prospective new homes; when their adoptions are finalized, and I have permission, I will share some pictures of them.

But back at the Cosy Apartment, things seem a little out of joint. For myself, I keep thinking I am missing cats. I count only five now, and it seems there should be more. Kittens have an expansive effect on a household.

More than I, however, Brazil has been affected by the siblings’ departure. He misses their companionship, I know, and they’re play together. Since Sunday, he has been wandering the apartment crying a great deal. I think he is calling to Theodore and Chiff to come out and play, to keep him company. Aurora isn’t adequate compensation for their absence, as she and Shimmer were never great playmates. Auro played with the others, but usually with the siblings, and not Brazil. Even when she had fun with the others, it was usually beside them, rather than with them.

For the moment, Brazil will have to be lonely. I am sure other cats will be along, but , as A. A. Milne wrote, “Now we are six.”

Monday, January 22, 2024

A Generous Invitation

One of the numerous blogs that I find interesting is Strange Company (, written by Undine. This blog is about the odd, the unusual, the intriguing. Sometimes it features tales of the supernatural or paranormal, or stories of encounters with aliens or unknown creatures. Just as frequently, the blog tells of crimes and criminals, both unsolved and punished. Then again, there are the straightforward articles on rather unstraightforward people, the eccentric, the influential, the obscure. In each case, there is a facet of the story that is a little - or a lot - out of the ordinary, perhaps unexpected.

Undine and I have been reading each other’s blogs for years, and, following the publication of my book, Inductions Dangerous - which she was kind enough to read (and even kinder to praise) - she asked me to write a guest post for Strange Company. I have done so, and it is featured on her blog today. Unable to match her story-telling of the unworldly and mystifying, I decided to be more earthbound in my subject, and wrote about one of the above-mentioned unstraightforward individuals of history, one who had an influence on the whole world, and on the fictional one I have created in my book. I hope you find it as entertaining as Undine’s own posts - which I strongly encourage you to enjoy.

Thank you, Undine!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

All Accounted For

All of my outsiders are now accounted for, following the very low temperatures we experienced here a week ago. Yesterday, I saw Sable come to Café Cosy for a drink. As I mentioned, it’s all she comes for now. I don’t mind; she – as well as Arliss and Cicero – don’t come often anymore, so they would have starved long ago, if they didn’t have alternate sources of food. I was simply worried that they had suffered irreversibly during the deep-freeze. Now, I know all three are still doing well.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Fewer, Again

Theodore left for his permanent home today. He is one I will miss quite a bit. Despite his annoyingly intense food-obsession, he and I were becoming good friends. He started lying on my lap, and likes to have his chest rubbed; though he will pretend to bite the human, his teeth won’t make contact. We have been sent pictures already and, while he appears apprehensive, he is neither hiding nor shying away from the touch of those as yet strangers. I have no more to report about Chiff; I will pass on information about them as I receive it.

The apartment seems under-populated again. There will be less bustle at play-time and, perhaps, more time saved when serving meals. Cats are, however, rather like gas and volume, in that they tend to fill whatever time is available. It’s going to be quieter here, I know; when Aurora and Brazil play together, they tend not to make themselves heard as much as the siblings did. I will miss the sound of kittens having fun.

To compensate for lack of a picture of the recently transported, I will instead present a failed attempt to take a more updated photograph of Auro.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Putting In Appearances

Miss Chiff is now off on her new permanent-home adventure. Despite her name, she is the least mischievous of the four youngsters I have had living with me recently, so my work-load is not diminished appreciably yet. I will tell readers how she is doing once she settles in a bit.

More good news came a couple of evenings ago. With the horribly low temperatures that we had, I worried about my outsider-cats; I hoped that they had warm refuges from the abysmal cold. They must have had, because the night after the air began to warm a little, both Cicero and Arliss visited Café Cosy for some soft-food and clean water. I was relieved to see them, but wonder where they had been and how much they had had to eat during their absence. Whatever their situation, I was glad that they knew where to come for some nourishment.

As for Sable, she now rarely shows herself at night, just during the day, and not usually for food, only a little water. I haven’t seen her since the deep-freeze, but she is an old hand at surviving the outdoors, and I believe she will let me know soon that she is all right.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Same Cat, Different Problem

Renn headed back to the hospital again today. He has had a chronic respiratory issue for some time now, and it usually manifests itself in sneezes and the odd snort. Since Sunday, however, it has affected his breathing, so that his nose is often clogged and he has had trouble finding a comfortable position in which to sleep. Given my big boy’s age, I worried about the possibility of pneumonia.

The hospital to which he goes was booked solid today but, even though I told them it wasn’t quite an emergency, the receptionist was able to make room for Renn late this morning. After an examination, it was concluded that while the infection is bad this time, it had not reached his lungs and that it is indeed in the upper reaches of his air-passages. He was prescribed some anti-biotic, as well as an injection of Cerenia daily, for two or three days (depending on its effects); Cerenia, along with easing the stomach, is also used as a decongestant, as which it has been used recently in our rescue-group.

While Renn was at the hospital, the doctor suggested a quick ultra-sound to check on the mass in his bladder. My friend didn’t lie still this time; he needs to be held on his back for the reading, and his difficulty breathing probably caused him distress when he was held, so the image was unclear. Nonetheless, the doctor believes the mass is less than it was. Renn also was less annoyed at its palpitation. The veterinary stated that they will usually treat an animal with anti-inflammatory medicine when there is evidence of a tumour, to see if the mass in question responds to that drug. Right now, Renn is on two thirds the amount of anti-inflammatory he had been given, and he seems still to be benefitting from it.

So another feline scare has been dealt with. We have been lucky so far. Though the day will come when our luck will run out, as it eventually does for all of us, Renn and I are pressing it a little further for now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Their New Adventures

The big news this week is that both Miss Chiff and Theodore are going on trial-adoptions. They will be heading to separate homes; it may be thought that they would be better off going together, and this would certainly be the case if it could be arranged, but they are not bonded and can certainly thrive apart. It is difficult finding homes for pairs of cats. Most people who adopt already have a cat or more, and they often want another as a companion for the one they already have. Those who don’t already have cats are reluctant to take on two together.

But the siblings will be going to good homes suited for each of them. Theodore’s prospective people were initially interested in Aurora, but were open to any cat we might want to suggest. Considering the home, I thought Theodore would be the better fit. There is a cat there who very much wants a playmate; he met another cat who stayed with him temporarily and he tried to coax her into games, but it didn’t work. Theodore will be much more amenable to play. Furthermore, the resident cat likes to tussle and, while Aurora wrestles, she is not as much a fan of it as is Theo, who is, on top of that, quite physical in his play; Auro complains of the roughness. I think Theodore will do well there.

Chiff will be going to a home with another cat and a small dog. Her prospective person is experienced with cats. Chiff is slower to warm to people than her brother, but she will, I believe, follow the lead of the resident cat. Also, she is a rambunctious player, especially after string-toys, so I suspect it won’t be long until she is ready to meet her new family.

As scheduled, Chiff will leave the Cosy Apartment tomorrow, and Theodore on Saturday. There is a big snowstorm predicted to reach us in the next day or two, so the time-table may be disrupted somewhat. Whatever the case, it looks like the last two of Astrid’s kittens have found their homes.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Experiment or Crime?

Some time on the weekend, somecat decided to see what comprised my bathmat. I don’t know if the investigation was conducted under purely scientific conditions, but whoever did it certainly saw the insides. The closer view reveals red stains. I thought initially that they were blood, and that some cat had hurt himself. I decided to check the felines for injuries; it would also provide a clue as to the guilty party. But no one exhibited any serious damage, either then or later. It may have been a scratch due to too-eager claws, or it may not have been blood; perhaps a reaction to something on paws. In any case, I never found out who was responsible.

“And we saw nothing…”

Sunday, January 14, 2024

The Tail Tells

Though I still have hopes that Brazil will be adopted, I must be realistic. He is not a difficult cat. He is, in fact, rather easy: all you need is a great deal of patience and understanding. He will come around. It’s finding the right adopters that is the difficult part.

In the meantime, I continue to try to integrate him and Imogen. The latter dislikes the former; the former sometimes is rather too forward for the latter. I don’t keep Shimmer out of the bedroom – Imo’s safe-zone – all the time, since that would never advance the situation. He does come in and I allow him in under strict supervision; I am ready for anything that may happen.

What I have found is that Brazil is trying to sneak in to the bedroom without oversight. He thinks he is being stealthy. He will come in and lie under the bed. This is him flouting authority, I think. The trouble is that that long, slender tail of his usually sticks out. It’s like hiding underground but flying your flag over the inconspicuous spot you’ve chosen.

But this is moving in the right direction. If Brazil can be in the bedroom – and often Miss Silky knows he’s there – yet peace is maintained, then it is all to the good. The next stage will probably be Brazil seeing how long he will be permitted to stay while out in the open. Or, more to the point, how long he can restrain himself from making a nuisance with Imogen.

One step at a time.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Winter Has Turned Wintry

The weather here has turned wintry. In fact, until a few days ago, it felt more like early autumn, which suggests that the current situation is making up for lost time. This is what the weather was like Thursday evening. Temperatures are in Celsius.

As you can see, it has warmed up considerably from then.

To be honest, it feels rather colder than -35°, as it is the first time in my memory that even a minute or two without mittens makes the hands hurt. It also makes for difficulty breathing while riding a bicycle, another first. There are, of course, local and minor factors that influence the weather, so the actual temperature and conditions vary quite a bit.

By next weekend, it will be above freezing. This is life in southern Alberta.

I worry about the outsider cats. Since this deep-freeze has begun, I have not seen those in the feral colony at my work-place, or the ones who come to my own food- and water-bowls at home. It is too cold for them to move about; I can hope only that they are surviving. At a time when they need nourishment the most, they don’t feel that they can stir enough to obtain it.

I don’t care for extremes, in any field or subject. Extremes of weather, however, can be deadly; I like very high temperatures and torrential rains no more than I do very low temperatures and drought. Let’s hope Mother Nature feels inclined to put the ‘temperate’ back in the temperate zone soon.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Playing the Hazard

The stereotyped image of a cat-owner looking for his friends’ toys under a couch or kitchen appliance is a true picture for many. It is in the Cosy Apartment. The youngsters, especially Chiff and Theodore, are often knocking fuzzy mice or, in the latter’s case, his ‘puff-ball’, under the oven or refrigerator. In fact, it is a daily, if not, at certain times, an hourly occurrence. I at last realised why.

Watching the cats play, I saw that, while they enjoy fighting with a stuffed ‘kicker’ or a fat fabric mouse on the carpet, what they find more exciting is to bat the small - and thus easily manipulated (if one can use that word in connection with animals who don’t have hands) - items about on an uncarpetted floor, a surface that allows for easy sliding. I have, in fact, seen Chiff and Theodore carry a toy from the sitting room to the dining area, drop it on the hard floor, and start playing with it. There isn’t much space that isn’t carpetted, so they also take advantage of the bathroom and kitchen. It doesn’t take long for a toy to disappear under a big appliance in such a situation.

Other people may have had this revelation sooner, but it took me time to figure out why the kittens lose their toys so easily and frequently. It is, simply, the hazards of the preferred playing field. Objects don’t slide on rugs and carpets, but they don’t provide as much excitement, either. So I will be a bit more tolerant when I see one of the siblings trying to reach, for the tenth time that hour, a mouse or ball just out of reach under the fridge. A bit more tolerant.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A Good Shock

Renn’s urinalysis results came in, and his doctor called me today. She told me that the fluid was “shockingly healthy.”

Everything was quite normal with the urine, except for the specific gravity. For a cat in his prime, it is about 10.5; Renn’s had been 10.24, and is now 10.2. This is, however, what may be expected for a cat with his kidney issues.

What the doctor did not expect was to see no other signs of ill-health. While surprised, she was also pleased about it. If the mass that had been seen in the ultra-sound were cancer, it would likely have given off a few cells in the urine; there would have been blood disturbance, and the red and white blood count would have been irregular. If the mass were a bladder-stone, the sample would probably have contained crystals, and/or some blood. This is particularly the case when, as the veterinary stated, there had been some manipulation and unusual handling, all necessary for the various stages of the examination.

The most probable cause of Renn’s urinary problems is a polyp in the bladder, a non-cancerous growth. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be a tumour; the doctor noted that since I am often quick to notice changes to my cats, I may have caught a cancer prior to it presenting more characteristics, though she doesn’t believe this to be the case. Nor does a polyp preclude difficulties in the future. It may grow large enough seriously to impede my big boy’s proper bodily functions.

Even with all the worse possibilities, though, the likeliest condition is a polyp. It is also the most favourable, given all the evidence.

Renn is responding decently to the anti-inflammatory drug. Meloxicam, I have learned, may not be as dangerous to the kidneys as previously believed. In any case, if it helps more than hinders, it may be continued, albeit on a less frequent and smaller scale. I will observe Renn’s habits closely over the next few days and report to the veterinary. As well, my friend will return to the hospital for another ultra-sound on the first of February.

While I certainly won’t let down my guard, things appear better for Renn than they had just a few days ago. I don’t anticipate miracles, but continued peace and contentment for a cat heading toward his seventeenth birthday is a real possibility.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Don't Forget the...

Renn received his first dose of anti-inflammatory medicine yesterday. It is a swiftly-acting drug, so the fact that he ate better last evening and this morning may be attributable to that. It doesn’t mean that this will solve his principal problem, of course, since inflammation may be caused by something more serious. But it might give him some relief.

I was lucky that he wet an adequate amount for his required sample last night (perhaps another effect of the anti-inflammatory drug?). I used plastic pellets as litter, and my big boy didn’t worry that there wasn’t enough to cover the floor of the litter-box. It may be that he doesn’t need litter if he feels he must go. (Though the Tabbies from Trout Towne suggested fish-tank gravel for litter. What a great idea! I will be using that if I need to in the future; it’d be re-usable, too.)

Renn’s sample will be delivered to the veterinary hospital this morning. I was thinking that only pet-owners will see nothing amiss with a note taped to the door as a reminder, reading "Don’t forget the cat’s urine”…

So, while big problems may still loom for my big boy, he and I are working on them.

Monday, January 8, 2024

At the Hospital With Renn

Renn went to the hospital today. He has been visiting the litter-boxes a great deal, usually leaving only tiny drops of urine behind. Now and then, he would leave healthier-sized lumps. He did not seem to be in discomfort, and I was certain it was not a blockage. It was simply that, when he needed to go, he didn’t always leave the amount he should.

The veterinary felt a hardness in Renn’s bladder. He was treated with an ultra-sound, and a mass was revealed. It is a puzzle to the doctor, as it was to a second doctor to whom she showed the resulting pictures. The mass does not cast a shadow like a bladder-stone would, nor was it in the place - where the drain out of the bladder is situated - at which cancer normally forms. The veterinary was reluctant to take a biopsy of the mass since, if it were a cancer, the insertion of a needle - or, rather, the retraction of it - would cause the cancer to pull apart and spread.

Renn has been scheduled for another ultra-sound on the first day of February. This will tell us if the mass has grown. In the meantime, he has been prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug to ease any discomfort. I will also be trying to collect a sample of my big boy’s urine at home, for analysis. If Renn experiences greater discomfort, or even if the drug has no effect, I will contact the doctor once more, as the medicine can be harmful in the long-term to Renn’s kidneys. In the short-term, however, it may be beneficial.

In May, Renn will have been with me for fourteen years. Nonetheless, I would be most reluctant to part with my big boy just yet.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

As Their World Turns

Another sudden change in behaviour: this weekend, Imogen came out of the bedroom and explored the rest of the apartment. Since she realised that the bedroom was her safe-zone, she has remained pretty much within its walls, except to go to the storeroom’s litter-boxes and, now and then, to visit the bathroom. Two days in a row, she came out, of her own accord, and wandered about other rooms.

Each time, Brazil was sleeping. I suspect Imo knew this from the sounds no one was making. Even so, this is an abrupt turn. I hope she continues it. During our play-time, too, her actions are different: previously staying on the bed to fight with a string-toy, she now uses the floor for a battleground, too.

Miss Silky isn’t any friendlier to the other beasts, though I am letting Brazil come into the bedroom when he so chooses. This is while I am present, as I don’t want Imogen to think she is being abandoned, or that her sanctum isn’t safe anymore. But unless they come at least within eyesight of each other, their attitudes toward one another won’t change.

Life is never static with cats.