Thursday, February 29, 2024

What We Say To Each Other

I’ve observed an interesting thing about Imogen. Whereas other cats I’ve had - most notably Renn - will bump their heads against me to show affection, Imo is the only one I’ve had who pushes her head forward when she can’t reach me. I then respond by bumping her head with mine.

I get the impression that she expects me to respond in that manner and, further, that she understands it is a sign of affection on my part. Other cats have not indicated that they want me to bump them back; it is a one-sided display on their part, and they are satisfied with that. Any attempt to respond in kind has met with what seemed to have been perplexity, as if they can’t figure out why their human hit them on the head with his own.

When I bump my head against Imogen’s, however, she seems pleased. I may be quite wrong, and she too wonders why I am assaulting her with my brow every time she leans forward. But I don’t think so. Different cats communicate in different ways, distinctions in the usual feline manner of talking to us. It may be that Miss Silky comprehends that what she does means the same when I do it. I hope so.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Of Bowls and Other Vessels

Not much new to report today, which is just as well, considering the veterinary activity that has been prevalent here. But I would like to thank those who, during Neville’s problem with his alleged lip-swelling, suggested ridding my cupboards of plastic bowls.

I think that’s a good idea. I have heard this advice before. For some reason, plastic, no matter how well-washed, seems to retain bacteria of some sort. These appear enough to create irritations of various kinds. However, I use only ceramic and glass bowls, with smaller ones of metal – though I have utilised plastic bowls for certain occasions (such as when there are extra cats to feed), if only for short periods. My current four eat and drink from non-plastic vessels, so I wondered how that material could have contributed to Neville’s problem. The fact that he didn’t have such a problem answered that riddle.

Thank you again to all the well-wishers out there. While some suggestions are not always practicable here, please keep on making them if and when they occur to you. I’ve learned much on the Cat Blogosphere, and the world can’t have too many ideas exchanged.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Health Addendum: Neville Surprises

There was an interesting turn of events regarding Neville yesterday.

As you may recall, he had a swelling on his lip, for which he was given various anti-biotics, including one injected into him that should have solved the problem. It did not. Instead, I noticed, several days ago, a kind of growth near that swelling; it was in Neville’s gums and looked long, rough and brown. I made an appointment for the doctor, but it would not be until next Tuesday. I called the hospital to which Renn goes (different than Nev’s because the latter is a foster-cat). They too could see us next Tuesday at the earliest, though they called an hour later and told me that a cancellation gave me an opportunity to bring the Nevsky in at two o’clock that afternoon. I was lucky enough to see the same veterinary Renn sees, someone of whom I’ve always had a high opinion.

She thought the growth resembled a decayed tooth. I recalled that when Neville’s teeth were taken out a year and a half ago, some were left in place because their removal would risk damaging his jaw. This growth may have been one of them. In any case, it was sore to the touch, as it had caused infection. The doctor contemplated sedating my lion to remove the tooth (if that’s what it was), though sedation has its risks for an older cat, especially one who’s diabetes is resistant to insulin. But she then decided simply to try pulling the object; she and an assistant were able to achieve this. It did indeed resemble a tooth.

As for the swelling, there was indeed some inflammation but that was likely caused by the bad tooth. The original swelling, which started all of this was, this doctor explained, not any kind of infection, but a natural protuberance that some cats develop on their lips as they age. Neville had another, rather differently shaped, on the other side of his mouth. That it was a natural part of his lips would explain why anti-biotics had no effect on it. (Though the medicine probably did help fight the infection instigated by the bad tooth.)

The veterinary also felt the flattish lump on Neville’s side and concluded that it is probably simple lipoma. With the growth in Nev’s mouth, though, I feared it might be cancer, and linked in some way to the new trouble.

So, the problem that I had noticed weeks ago (the swelling) was not a problem, but led to the notice of something else, which was a problem (the bad tooth) which has now been removed. The spot in the gums was flushed with water and, though it might have hurt last night, due to the pulling of the tooth, such discomfort will pass quickly, certainly faster than that caused by the rotten tooth. I will of course keep watch on that location in Neville’s mouth. It bled some last night, but it should heal normally.

So much depends on the doctor one chooses - or happens to be given by circumstances. Their experience and training, as well as their rapport with the client and his pet, count for much. We are lucky in our town to have numerous hospitals for our pets, though there are not enough veterinaries, and their schedules are usually crowded. But the notion of a second opinion is a valid one, and I am glad I was able to have one given for Neville in this instance.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A World of Her Own

While Aurora has been in her new home for only a few days and is still adjusting to it, Theodore and Chiff have now settled into theirs very well. I have not spoken with Theodore’s people yet, but I’ve had a conversation with Chiff’s new humans. They sent me some photographs of her in her permanent home, and have given permission to put them on this blog.

This is Chiff, former foster-cat, in a world of her own.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Long and Lean and Healthy

The last cat to be described in the current review of the beasts’ status is Brazil. So far as I can tell, this long and lean cat’s health is excellent. He is certainly an active fellow. I know he would love a playmate, someone to run with and chase, perhaps someone to cuddle with, though that is probably secondary to playing. However, he does pretty well on his own, rushing about, pouncing on toys and climbing cat-trees. (He doesn’t scale a tree leaping from platform to platform, but rather climbs using the outside edge of each platform, similar to one of those people who ascend cliffs by finding narrow hand- and foot-holds.) He and I play, too, but he doesn’t derive as much pleasure out of that as he does from a game with a feline friend.

He is also a people-cat, so long as he is given time to know and trust his people. He likes to rub up against me, then lie down at my feet, asking for some attention; long strokes along his back, over the top of his head and, to a lesser extent, chest-rubs, are what he likes. He has reached the stage at which he is now rather a lap-cat. He hasn’t jumped up on my lap of his own accord, but if I place him there, he remains for some time, enjoying the benefits of face-rubs.

Shimmer has come a long way, and will go further with someone who makes no demands of him, and lets him be himself.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Silky Freedom

I think Imogen feels the household has improved with the removal of Aurora. The latter had an unnerving effect on Imo; the younger cat stalked the older too often. Whenever Imogen would jump down from a height, or move from a room, Aurora would notice and follow. There was never any dangerous confrontation; I don’t believe that was ever Auro’s intent. It was something akin to a game to her. To Imogen, however, being followed everywhere by a cat who crouched low and hurried toward her, all the time seemingly ready to spring, must have had a tediously wearing effect.

Now, Miss Silky is less guarded. She moves about more and feels she has more freedom. She of course always was able to go where she wished but, like a man afraid of an omnipresent bully, she did not always wish to go anywhere, because of Aurora.

There is still Brazil. Brazil’s behaviour toward Imogen is similar in some ways to Aurora’s, but distinct in others. Unlike Auro, Shimmer will rush at Imo to make contact with her, and that contact is not always pleasant. Also unlike Auro, he will follow Imogen rarely. He may watch her from a distance; the hazard of contact comes only when the two are already near each other. Much of the time, Brazil will pass by Imogen without incident; neither will go unnoticed by the other – and there may be hissing and/or growling from the girlcat – but, contrary to Aurora, Brazil seems to have other things to do.

Aside from her relations with the other beasts, Imogen is doing well. She plays well and hard sometimes. When she is not distracted by her wariness over Brazil – I take her in the bedroom, close the door and bring out the string-toys – she will run and leap and roll in enjoyment. Other times, she will get it into her head, as cats do, to rocket about the apartment, rarely going into the sitting room, where Brazil is likely to be, but nonetheless exercising her youthful vigour.

Miss Silky is eating well and is diligent in her litter-box habits. And I was even able to cut some of her claws. How all this will be affected by the next addition to the household when it comes, will remain to be seen. That is the future. Today, Imogen is good.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Renn the Oldster

Chapter two in the continuing updates on the health of the Cosy Apartment’s remaining cats features Renn. My big boy, now also officially my oldster, is doing well.

The problem with his urination is being managed. The veterinary originally prescribed three units daily of an anti-inflammatory medicine. It worked well, apparently reducing the mass in Renn’s bladder and, correspondingly, decreasing the desire to wet frequently; the latter was caused by the mass filling the bladder’s interior and making it feel full of urine. Renn would make repeated trips to the litter-box and leave very little or nothing. Leaving nothing was troubling to him because he would then simply sit in the box waiting for urine, that wasn’t there, to flow.

As per the doctor’s instructions, I tried lowering the amount of medicine Renn received daily, or keeping the amount and reducing its frequency (ie. giving it every other day). These attempts were not successful. They led to more trips to the boxes, more tiny lumps left in the litter; never as much as when he received no medicine, but still bothersome for the big boy.

Currently, he is being given three units a day again. The difficulty with this is that it will hurt his kidneys over time, but a shorter, comfortable life is, I think, preferable to a longer uncomfortable life, at least for a cat. I have gone over this argument previously, and so won’t waste space doing so here. Each reader has gone through something similar, so each understands.

The question I have is whether the mass in the bladder reasserts itself effectively each time I reduce the amount or frequency of the anti-inflammatory medicine. It seems unlikely – and cannot be determined without daily or even hourly ultra-sound examinations – so it may be that the mass is caused by, causes, or in some way is related to, cystitis. Previously, Renn’s urine and blood were analysed and found to be surprisingly healthy. Therefore, it is probable that idiopathic (veterinarian for ‘I dunno’) cystitis – connected in some way to the former mass in the bladder – is at fault here. The most that seems practicable is what is being done now – application of the anti-inflammatory – so I have not talked to the veterinary again about this. But I will need to renew Renn’s supply of medicine soon and, though the doctor has considerately left an indefinite prescription for it, I will likely take the opportunity to go over Renn’s situation with her.

For now, however, I am please with my oldster’s health. I can tell that he is not suffering pain from anything; when he had the feeling of needing to urinate, he was restless, clearly in some discomfort. I wish he would eat more but those familiar with Renn’s past know that he has never eaten much; he is simply consuming now an amount commensurate with an older Renn. His gait is a little more uncertain, especially on narrow paths, and he is slower. But these are the signs of age, I’m afraid, an illness for which there is as yet no cure. If my big boy suffers that ailment in reasonable comfort and contentment, all is well.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

A Little Inactivity

With Aurora in her new home, it’s time to look at the other residents of the Cosy Apartment, specifically Neville.

The Nevsky is still sporting a small swelling on his lower lip. The injectable anti-biotic did not have an effect on it. Unlike the previous anti-biotic, it did not remove his appetite or give him diarrhea, though it caused him to throw up after a couple of days. I administered some Cerenia, and that calmed Nev’s stomach. It could not, however, force the anti-biotic to do what it would not. The swelling is the result of something that is resistant to anti-biotics, or which is not caused by bacteria.

I wonder if there is a connection between the swelling on Nevill’s lip and the flattish lump on his flank. The veterinary offered to perform a biopsy on the swelling, but if it is cancerous, then there is a danger similar to conducting a biopsy on the lump: that the procedure would spread cancerous cells.

I will consult further with the doctor next week, but for now, there is nothing to be done for my grey lion but to let things be. The swelling is not hurting Neville. He doesn’t paw or scratch at it, shake his head or roll on it. If it is indicative of a tumour, there would be little to be done anyway for a diabetic cat (for whom insulin is ineffective) now in what I think is his fifteenth year.

As long as he is enjoying his life - well, it’s Neville, so… As long as he is not disliking his life too much, I will let things go unchallenged for now, while continuing to observe and discuss the situation. Nev seems content with my decision.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Another Farewell

Aurora went to her new home this afternoon. The first report is encouraging. She was scared, of course, but nonetheless came out of her carrier readily, and was not very shy about meeting her new person. I am not worried about her eventual adaptation to her novel surroundings, though being an only cat will likely take some getting used to. Nonetheless, I think that, with an attentive person, she will not miss other felines much.

Even so, the worst part of fostering remains the dispatch of a cat to her new home and family, no matter how nice they may be. It is the fact that the change cannot be explained. From their point of view, the adopted cats have been abandoned by the people they had come to know so well. Aurora was sleeping peacefully minutes before she was placed in her carrier.

It must be this way. She will have a loving home and another cat will have the chance to be taken into foster-care. In this particular case, Auro will no longer contribute to Imogen’s stress, and that will be appreciated by all here in the Cosy Apartment. But Aurora will be another cat whose unique personality will be remembered, even as her memories of her erstwhile home disappear.

Monday, February 12, 2024

And Away She'll Go

The news today is that Aurora will be going to a prospective new home on Friday. The rescue-group certainly has not had a lack of interest in this little beast, but many of those inquiring after her were not in a position that would be considered promising for a pet-adoption: they were often very young, in university, with no permanent home yet (except their parents’) and no job or clear idea of their futures. This prospect, however, is quite different, so Auro will be travelling to meet him at the end of the week.

Aurora is another instance of a cat I would be happy to keep but for her relationship with one of the perma-cats. Like Hector and Renn, Auro feels compelled to annoy Imogen whenever possible, and that is causing stress for Miss Silky. Even so, the right adopter had to present himself before Aurora left for her own home. We think that home has been found.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Five Together

It was a quiet weekend in the Cosy Apartment; so quiet, in fact, that I was able to take this picture: all five of the beasts in one room. Though I have been able to capture more than this in the bedroom – in the final days of last year, six out of the seven I had at the time were together – and just a few days ago, I published a photograph of Miss Silky with her two bĂȘtes noir (ironic, since she’s the black one) near by, this latest picture includes everyone. I was most pleased at this minor triumph and, maybe, if they had given it thought, the cats would have been, too.

Friday, February 9, 2024

The Personal Touch

Aurora is a cat who would do well as a single feline or with company. This is especially the case when she is snoozing. Sometimes, she prefers to be apart, while at other times, she likes some propinquity. And then there are times when there must be physical contact, even if it’s just a little.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Progress of Sorts

I am rather pleased at how Brazil and Imogen are coming along in their relationship. There is still far to go, but it isn’t what it was. It’s always been my goal to allow Shimmer into the bedroom, since relative proximity would be necessary for any workable relationship to exist between the two in the apartment. Brazil now comes into the bedroom often and, as long as he is relaxed and situated away from Imo, the latter will tolerate him. 

Certainly, there are still incidents. Those late at night are undoubtedly because Brazil chooses to come too close too fast to Miss Silky. Other times, out of my sight but not my hearing, the issue may be caused by Imogen simply disliking how close her roommate is; there is consequently some paw-action and screaming. When I am present, things are calm, as I am able to keep distances and to reassure Imogen. The more Brazil stays in the bedroom without causing trouble, the more Imo will accept him.

He is, in fact, less of a problem to Imogen than is Aurora, who follows Imogen whenever she leaves the room, stalking her and causing anxiety on the part of her ‘prey’. On the other hand, Auro has very rarely tried to rush Imogen, so she has been tolerated in the bedroom from the start. Nonetheless, crouching near by, as if ready to pounce, and staring at Imogen, is not conducive to good order. Fortunately, she is not always like that. When Aurora is adopted - and she is likely to be - the situation will be eased considerably.

Here are the three in question last weekend, when I was in the midst of changing the sheets on the bed. The process took longer than it should have.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Hero and the Hospital

Today, Neville travelled back to the hospital, albeit briefly. He went only to receive an anti-biotic injection to combat the swelling on his lip. My lion handled the procedure well; he becomes much more upset about having to take medicine orally than he does about a journey to the hospital, similar to Sweetie, one of the Eastside Cats. The swelling is not bothering the Nevsky, but with his history of bad infections in the jaw or mouth, it’s best to tackle this one while it is small.

Once Nev returned home, he found a favourite spot on the bed and lie down. In a few minutes, he was purring. Though he was probably just pleased to be home again, it may be that he believes he’s defeated once again whatever nefarious purpose his human has in taking him to the House of Ill Stinks.

Who am I to crush his heroic day-dreams?

Monday, February 5, 2024


Once upon a time, my good friend Tucker enjoyed short ambles down the corridor of the apartment building. He didn’t go far and never liked to move too great a distance from me. Now, Renn seems to have taken a similar interest.

My big boy will wait just inside the apartment for when I come home and walk out when I open the door. I am always ready for the unannounced cat exit, and so easily blocked Renn’s initial attempts at minor exploration. But, under my supervision, he enjoys coming out and giving that big nose of his something new to smell now and then.

Such permissions require knowing one’s cat well, of course. I could never trust Brazil or Imogen to come out, even if they wanted to. Renn, however, is a safer proposition. He will walk quite a ways without me but, though not a timid cat, he nonetheless will freeze at unfamiliar voices, and hurry back to safety if he hears a strange noise. And I am ready to catch him up quickly, if need be.

But his is not a dangerous ramble. His curiosity is simply satisfied. Once enough scents are gathered in, he comes back, ready for a meal and a nice nap afterward. Life is good for the semi-adventurous.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Live Action Brazil

Brazil remains shy. He will hide when people come to visit, and runs at sudden noises or abrupt movements. But he has come far in the six months he’s been with me. He loves his pettings, he enjoys being brushed; he can be given oral/liquid medicine and can be corralled for a carrier, if need be. Much of this progress, I believe, is due to being with other cats, who gave him the courage to receive human attention. Theodore and Chiff, his two young pals, won’t be coming back. They have been officially adopted, and are doing well, though of course are still getting used to their new worlds. This is good for them, but, alas for Shimmer.

Tomorrow, however, is a whole new future with new possibilities, and in the meantime, Brazil will continue to grow in his enjoyment of play and attention.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Forgetting the Reaction

When I don’t pay attention or remember, my cats pay the price. Neville has responded poorly to the anti-biotic he received for the swelling on his lip. He threw up – under the bed, which was a new experience for me – had diarrhea and no appetite. I should have recalled such reactions from the past, though, to be honest, he has had more than one kind of medicine for infections, and not all had such effects. However, I did not give him any more of the medicine today – his refusal to eat this morning saved him from another dose – and he is already recovering. He ate a nice little snack of soft-food just now.

On Monday, I will be calling Nev’s doctor and discussing an injectable anti-biotic that helped my misanthrope when he had the infection in his jaw last summer. That medicine gave him no discernible problems and cured his infection. If the veterinary agrees to giving it again, the Nevski will have one more, very brief trip to the hospital, and should improve from then on.

Who needs even to leave home for a life of adventure and mystery when one has cats?

Thursday, February 1, 2024

A Happy Mystery

Renn’s latest visit to the veterinary produced unexpected but good results. My big boy was treated to an ultra-sound examination which revealed that the mass that was in his bladder is gone. His bladder was empty. There was not a trace of the mass.

This mystified the doctor, as she frankly admitted. She had not thought, you may recall, that the mass was either a tumour – due to where in the bladder it formed – or bladder-stones – because of the shadow that it threw. (Furthermore, Renn had gained a little weight since his last doctor’s visit, evidence against a tumour.) Yet the veterinary stated that a polyp usually doesn’t disappear in quite the same fashion, or so quickly. The most she could diagnose is that the mass was caused by ‘idiopathic cystitis’: in other words, an inflammation of the bladder without a specific cause; the internal equivalent of a ‘fever of unknown origin’.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be some continuing irritation of Renn’s bladder; it may be chronic. He had been given three units of Meloxicam anti-inflammatory medicine every day. I reduced that to two a day, as per the doctor’s prescription, to see if Renn’s body could be weaned off the drug. He then showed signs that the reduction was mildly harmful: he started leaving tiny urine spots in the litter, indicating that, as previously, he felt he had to wet but had nothing much to give. The situation was not as bad as it had been before he started on the anti-inflammatory, but it was headed in the wrong direction.

Now, Renn is receiving his usual three units, but only every second day. He is visiting the boxes with more purpose, leaving larger deposits less frequently. It is not quite as good as the results achieved from three units every day, but close enough to justify the reduction. These are the practical signs that whatever had occupied his bladder may have staged a minor return under the two units, but doesn’t care for the three, even if they come every other day.

Renn will stay on the Meloxicam for the foreseeable future, though next week, I plan to reduce its frequency to, perhaps, once every three days, while maintaining the same amount. However that works, my big boy is substantially better now, and we have medicine to keep him that way.