Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Old Hang-dog

When a cat is as old as Renn, and has his medical problems, each day may be the one that has the climax of his crises. When he is sleeping so peacefully he is still, and I hear no sound from him, I have to check to see if he is breathing. On the other hand, when I hear strange noises coming from him, I have to check, as well.

This weekend, I heard dreadful wheezing coming from the saddle-topped cat-tree. I knew Renn was lying there. He is prone to respiratory infections which leave his nostrils clogged, and he sometimes has difficulty breathing properly. I quickly moved to determine the problem.

The problem was my old hang-dog. From the first days that he came to live with me, Renn has had the habit of drooping his head over whatever he is lying upon; often, it is the platform of a cat-tree. He’s been doing this for fourteen years. He was doing it this day, too.

But his body isn’t what it used to be. Instead of hanging his head from the neck, as he had, he is hanging it on the neck. In other words, he puts his head on the cat-tree platform so that his throat is on its edge. The idiot was half-strangling himself.

I spoke to him and made sure that he could, in fact, breathe. He seemed to be just fine, collecting no less air than normal. He was making rather frightening sounds, but nothing was amiss, this time. It was just my old hang-dog.

I think he wants to kill me before he goes himself.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

His Reluctant Progress

Iago is making progress, whether he wants to or not. I am leaving the library door open all the time when I am home and awake, though I close it for meals, so my little Venetian villain will have some peace. Last night, late, near bedtime, he came out and explored. Brazil, who has been the most curious about the newcomer, hissed at him from about six feet of distance. Iago hissed back. But Shimmer’s response to Iago’s presence has been one of interest rather than aggression or intimidation. So far, none of the perma-cats have been bothering the new boy overly much.

I try to give Iago lap-time before bed each evening. Until last night, he had to be on the carpeted bookcase under the window, or on Min’s cat-tree, before descending to my lap. Last night, he was on the floor in the corner, behind a bookcase (the lowest shelf now divested of books), but nonetheless came up to sit on me when I settled myself on the couch. He enjoys it enough to purr the entire time and drool excessively. And then he hisses at me when I leave.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

He Is Old

He is old. He sleeps most of the time, perhaps dreaming of nimbler days. He moves slowly and he can’t walk properly anymore. He stumbles now and then. He is thin, very thin. When he lies on his side, he looks flat. His once powerful body is no more than two inches wide, without the fur, and his formerly large features have shrunk and grown gaunt. His spine is so prominent and unpadded, it could slice bread. He is constantly assailed by clogged nostrils and often wheezes, just to breath. He must visit the litter-box too frequently, and take medicine to keep from visiting more. He periodically brings up his food because of his ailments, and he has less appetite than in years gone by; he doesn’t eat much even of what he likes. He is old.

But he sits up when meals are served, and enjoys the taste of a favourite dish. He walks, albeit slowly and cautiously, to the water-bowls, and doesn’t miss the litter-box, though now and then he brings bits of debris with him when he leaves. When his human sits near by, he rises from where he is lying and laboriously lumbers over to where he is nearer still. And at night, he assumes his preferred place on the bed, next to his person. The two of them talk about their day, and he purrs.

He is old, but he will grow a little older ere he leaves. He is old, and suffers discomfort but no pain. There is still satisfaction in his life, the delight of a soft blanket, the warmth of a gentle heating pad. There is something to be seen through the window, from the perch of his favourite vantage point; it almost frightens him to try climbing there now, but the view is worth it. And there is his friend, the human, who always has time for him.

He is old, but yet still too young to leave.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Wake Myself With Laughing

Dreams are odd worlds, similar to our own in many cases, yet different.

I dreamed on the weekend of two of my cats, both orange, and both lost. In my dream, Tungsten, my first cat, and Brazil, one of my latest, missing from the Cosy Apartment. The building in which we lived was, in my dream, the same one we inhabit in the waking world, but it was rather different - as is often the case in dreams. I searched for the cats through all the corridors - there seemed to be more storeys to the building than in reality - and someone brought Tungsten to me in a zipped-up nylon bag. She was well and unhurt.

I continued to hunt for Brazil, but the scene shifted to a very crowded hospital, with large numbers of doctors, nurses and patients thronging the corridors, and I recall thinking in the dream that I would never find Shimmer there. I woke with him still lost.

I cannot fathom what this all meant, except perhaps an anxiety over losing the cats. But why Tungsten and Brazil were chosen as subjects, I do not know. The hospital might be a version of a veterinary clinic, which  terrifies Brazil so much. Other than that, I see no analogy.

My dreams always seem to constitute stories that are relatively logical, at least until I ponder them from the vantage point of consciousness. They are usually adventurous, more so than waking life, so I don’t grudge my sleep its fun. I just wish the cats would stay inside while I’m in bed as much as they do when I’m not.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

This Is Where I Came In

Well, another movie-night brought a surprise, as Jackie from Memories of Eric and Flynn thought it might. I was watching the film, with Iago above me on the carpet-topped bookcase. After about half an hour, he descended and, with a little coaxing, came over and lie on my lap. I petted him and he purred for about twenty minutes. That was longer than he has done so far.

I think that Iago wants a human to be close to, and is willing to forgive some ordeals to have it. Nonetheless, he hissed at me this morning when I entered the library and caught him out in the open. I believe he is a cat who needs to choose when and where he lets his guard down. This may change as he grows accustomed to me. For the time being, I am pleased that he decided to give movie-night another chance.

As well, I was able to observe that my plan with the big carrier will require refinement. Though Iago had already had something to eat at snack-time when the movie started, I put some treats in the back of the carrier and left it open. I think he smelled them from five feet away. Anyway, he went to find them. Even though they were as far back in the carrier as they could be, Iago’s tail protruded quite a bit out the door. I was counting on him being entirely in the carrier, and simply shutting the door on him. There’s a chance that I could close it gently on his tail, forcing him to turn, and then shutting it completely in that moment. But, as readers may imagine, anything might happen then: he might scratch at my hand closing the door, he might force the door open with his weight before I can secure it, I might accidentally shut it too hard on his tail… All of this while another veterinary appointment is pending.

So while the plan remains in place, it will need adjustment. The important thing is gaining his trust, and that took a great step forward last night.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

A New Plan

I have implemented a new strategy in relation to Iago. He is still largely in hiding, though he comes out, usually at night, and lies looking out the window. He dislikes me. My strategy is in two parts.

The first consists of a plan to get him to the veterinary hospital for an examination. I have begun feeding him his soft-food meals in a large carrier that the rescue-group possesses. He has no problem entering it to eat the food. The next stage is to have him enter the carrier while I am present. Eventually, I hope to be in a position to close the door while he is inside. This necessitates, of course, catching him in there when there is a vet appointment in the offing, which means the appointment and a successful collection must occur the same day and, preferably, not long apart in time.

(An advantage of the larger carrier is that it feels less like a trap than a small one. It is easier to put a cat in and to take him out.)

The other part of the strategy is to remove the books from the lowest shelves of the two corner bookcases in the library. This will, unfortunately, remove Iago’s immediate security. It will, however, allow him to see me more often and to have some form of interaction. That I will not attempt to grab him when he still wants to hide there will, hopefully, give him a kind of security. In any case, he needs to be forced into the next stage, at which he will have greater observation of me, and vice versa.

As well, after the second stage is begun, I intend to leave the library door open, when I am present to supervise. I do not believe that Iago is intact; I have not been able to see the relevant part of his body that will tell me one way or the other, but his urine does not have the distinctive odour that unneutered males’ wet-waste has. This does not, of course, mean that there will be no fighting between him and the others, but it should reduce it. And waiting until the books are removed so that he can see who is coming will eliminate him being surprised by the sudden intrusion of, say, Brazil’s nose into his hiding spot.

These plans will take time. The rescue-group has socialised many a shy and frightened cat. Iago is not feral, and is already socialised; he simply has to learn that I am not his enemy. We both have time for that.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

And On the Other Side of the World...

 Apparently, my book is going for 15 per cent off in Korea... (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Débâcle, with Accents

Unfortunately, Iago did not go to the veterinary yesterday. He has been amenable to being touched lately and I thought I could pick him up and put him in the carrier, which I had done in the bathroom. I was mistaken. He took fright and fought to free himself; I wasn’t going to be able to put him in any kind of container after that, and he hid behind the library’s bookcases for the rest of the day, hissing and growling.

It will take quite a while until Iago can go into a carrier, I’m afraid. It’s as well that visiting the doctor is not a necessity. I blame myself for his fright. I could have lured him into the carrier with treats, but that would have created an uncertain timeline; perhaps he would have gone in quickly, perhaps only after a long period. He may not have gone in at all while I was present. I will try other strategies.

Such are the ups and downs of rescue.

Monday, April 15, 2024

An Attack on the Oldsters

My oldsters experienced a bit of illness several days apart last week.

Renn was the first to suffer it. He started throwing up at about 3.30 one morning. This is not unusual; cats with kidney problems tend to vomit in the mornings, and 3.30 is his normal time. It wakes me up, and is too close to the time I have to get up and start my day for me always to fall back asleep. The point is that Renn’s upchucking so early in the morn was not extraordinary. But he continued it through the day, being unable to keep anything down, and his feces were runny. I determined to give him Cerenia, if this condition remained in place the next day. I don’t like to give Cerenia too swiftly in response to sickness, but Renn cannot afford to lose much more weight, and needs his food. Fortunately, he not only kept food down the following day, but wanted to eat. After this, he was back to normal.

Then, a few days later, Neville started bringing up his food, beginning immediately after his breakfast. He too could not retain anything in his stomach, and threw up several times that day. His litter-box deposits were runny. Though the Nevsky could stand being sick for longer than my big boy, I readied the Cerenia in his case, as well. But, as with Renn, Nev’s condition improved, and he was feeling as he always does, with a good appetite and more solid waste, the next day.

A touch of ‘cat-flu’, perhaps? A stomach ailment? Something that was too weak to affect the younger members of the household? In any case, it had come and gone reasonably quickly, for which I am thankful. But what it was that came and went, I will never know.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Movie-night with Iago

I like movie-night in the Cosy Apartment for a number of reasons. One is that it gives me and a new cat a chance to get to know one another. I close the door and he and I are alone. I can gauge how he reacts to me, a stranger; how far he needs to come in socialising with strangers; how he shows anxiety, affection, curiosity. There is of course no wrong thing that a cat can do in such a situation. Nonetheless, it is always pleasing when a cat shows that he is the trusting kind, the sort who wants to be friends and isn’t too wary of a new human.

Iago and I watched a film last night, and he decided to give me a try. He sat on top of the carpetted bookcase for a while. I urged him repeatedly to join me on the couch, and eventually – probably in spite of my urging, rather than because of them – he descended Min’s cat-tree, walked down an arm of the couch and lie beside me. From there, he decided to test my lap.

Iago lie on my lap for about fifteen minutes, purring for most of the time. Then, he moved off and lie on the soft blue blanket beside me. I liked that because it told him that here was a comfy spot for him, if he wanted it. He is not a frightened fellow, and, I think, is eager to make friends, though not incautious about it. He meets me at the library door when I bring him his soft-food meals.

He dislikes his legs being touched, though this may be something that will be overcome, once he grows acquainted with me. However, I have noticed that he has a slight problem with one of his rear legs, the right, I believe, in that it sometimes causes him to stumble. It does not appear to hurt him, and may be an old injury. He also has two tiny pink nodules, one on the rim of his left ear, the other behind it. All these concerns will be addressed at the veterinary hospital Tuesday.

For now, though, Iago has made good progress, and will make more.

Friday, April 12, 2024

That Book Again

At the very start of this year, I remarked that my first book, Inductions Dangerous, had been published. Readers of this blog are probably tired by now of seeing it mentioned, but I would like to report that it is now being stocked by Analog Books, an independently and locally owned bookshop here in Lethbridge, Alberta (at 322, 6th Street South). I would like to thank Analog’s owners, Penny and Scott Warris, and hope all those within walking, driving or flying distance (and remember, China is within walking distance if you give yourself enough time) will visit Analog and see what books are on offer – and there are a lot of them! And if walking distance really is too far, you can visit them online:

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Iago in the Open

Iago is spending most of his time out in the open now, while he seems to feel most secure up on Minuet’s cat-tree. He lets me stroke his head and back, though I can’t tell if he enjoys it at this stage.

He is eating well, too, though some time last night, he regurgitated his food. I had been feeding him Fancy Feast, which he ate readily enough, and then moved him onto Merrick chicken. This  change may have precipitated the vomiting. While the Fancy Feast varieties have chicken, the processing may be different. I will revert to a less risky food for the time being, then try again with the Merrick, to determine if it is that which caused his upchucking. It may have been caused by any number of things.

Iago will visit the doctor next week, and then I will start to integrate him. So far, he is taking things well, and is adapting successfully to his new surroundings.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The New Boy Grows Braver

Iago is becoming braver. He is showing himself more, and last night and this morning, he didn’t hide from me, and allowed me to pet him. He didn’t eat his soft-food breakfast, though; I don’t think he came down from the top of the bookcase even to sniff it. But he has hard-food during the day, and I will try again tonight. I am a long way from knowing his likes and dislikes, though he is eating most of the time and using the litter-box a couple of times a day. That and his willingness to learn about his new surroundings and me are positive signs.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

First Water, Now This

In the fourteen months that Imogen has been living with me, she has not, to my knowledge, eaten hard-food. I am pretty certain that it has not constituted part of her diet at all for most of that time.

Since she and Brazil do not get along, and I cannot control their interaction while I am at work, one or the other is locked away for the day. When I sequester either of the cats, I leave them with water and a litter-box, of course, but also hard-food. Shimmer usually munches at his supply during the day. Imo, even with two flavours to choose from, did not touch hers - until recently. I started noticing that the supply of the ‘dietetic’ hard-food - which I believe is tastier than others (most of the other cats like it, too) - was being disturbed in its dish. Sure enough, on some days, an amount equal to a dozen or two kernels would vanish.

This morning, Miss Silky, throwing caution to the wind, ate hard-food right in front of me.

I don’t feel that this is necessary. Indeed, I would prefer the perma-cats to eat only soft-food. Nonetheless, I like the idea that a cat will eat a variety of food, in case the inevitable happens and she decides suddenly and without discernible reason that her favourite nutrition no longer appeals to her. Having options is always comforting. The problem with this option is that the ‘dietetic’ food is expensive, coming from veterinaries only, and, having slowly withdrawn it from consumption by the others, it is not worth buying for the odd nibble that Imo takes of it. But if she acquires the habit of sampling the hard-food during her incarceration, then it may be transferred to one that is still good for her but not as dear as the ‘dietetic’.

Aside from that, it seems curious that I am seeing so much about Imogen all at once. First the drinking of water, then the provocation of Brazil, and now the eating of hard-food. Perhaps she thinks that she is finally home, and, like the university professor who has tenure, can do what she likes without fear of repercussion.

I might have told her, if she had asked, that she could have let herself go right from the start. I wouldn’t have minded.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

At Last, a Newcomer

This is my new guest. I have named him Iago. I don’t know for certain that he is male, really, but he looks like one. He was found wandering a park in my town. Nothing has been seen regarding him on local lost-and-found sites, though I will keep looking for a while. It is likely that, as with many strays, he was abandoned when his family moved.

He is socialised, but frightened. He started, as most do in the Cosy Apartment, in the bathroom, where he hid behind the toilet and turned his head away. But he allowed me to pet him, which caused him at least to turn about, and, eventually, to come further out of hiding. After a couple of hours, he used the litter-box, which is a newcomer’s ticket to the library, where there are better hiding spots – as well as a window, a comfy couch and high spots on which to lie.

Iago has also eaten. That and using the litter-box are always the two big worries with newcomers. The trauma of being captured or shifted about from one place to another, from human to human, can lead to reluctance to do what is in their best interests. But we needn’t worry about that now. This fellow clearly had a home and people who interacted with him at some point. Soon, he will graduate from scared to timid, and then I will start to come to know him. For now, he can relax without pressure in the library, and hopefully enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Saturday, April 6, 2024


Part two of things I haven’t known about Imogen…

I have noted Brazil’s behaviour toward Imo in the past. He sometimes rushes at her and there have been times when they’ve contacted, resulting in bits of black fur being pulled out. I have seen at least one instance. Fortunately, this happens rarely now, though I am always on the watch for it.

Yet Brazil is not always at fault. Miss Silky has frequently hissed at Shimmer when the latter has clearly no intention of running at her. And yesterday, I witnessed something more provocative on the part of the Cosy Apartment’s sole female resident.

I saw her observe Brazil in the storeroom, using a litter-box. Imo quickly ran and placed herself behind the door to the storeroom. I was ready for trouble, but let things proceed, as I didn’t think anything physical would occur. When Brazil came out, Imogen flattened her ears and hissed at him. Brazil froze, but I broke up the scene before more could transpire.

It’s bad enough when Brazil starts something. Now, Imo seems to be to blame at least now and then. It’s tough when the children don’t behave.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Water, Water Everywhere

It’s taken only fourteen months, but I at last have witnessed Imogen drinking water. I can’t write that I am an eye-witness, since I didn’t see her do it. It was at night, after I had crawled into bed, and turned out the lights. I heard the tiny sounds of lapping, like water dropping rapidly from a tap and falling a short distance onto the porcelain of a basin. I knew that Imo had been squatting by the water-bowl at the bedroom door a moment before. I turned on the light, but that of course stopped her drinking, and she merely looked at me. I am certain the sound was that of her drinking.

Has she drunk previously at night? While I have been at work? Perhaps, even probably; yet it is strange that in more than a year, I can claim only once to have been present when it has happened. However, her litter-box routine shows regular and good-sized urine-deposits; since she eats almost exclusively soft-food, which is principally water, she has obviously been ingesting enough moisture. Nonetheless, I am pleased to know that Miss Silky sometimes resorts to the direct approach.

Having seen this unlikely event, the next on the list is catching her cuddling with Brazil…

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A Breathing Space

There hasn’t been much happening in the Cosy Apartment lately, so I haven’t published a new blog-entry in about a week. Right now, there is stability.

Brazil appears to be over his troubles. He is eating well - not ravenously, but decently - and his litter-box visits are satisfactory. The hairball medicine I gave him seemed to be successful in dislodging anything waiting to come out from his intestines. The results were quite soft, and lasted for several days. But this morning, he pooped and, while the deposit was a little too hard for my liking, it, similar to what is happening at his other end, is satisfactory.

Renn, for his part, is doing well. He is eating - principally Recovery, which is fine with me: plenty of nutrients and easy for him to lick up in good quantities, though expensive - and each day, I am giving him one and a half units of anti-inflammatory medicine, for his bladder. Previously, it was three, and I disliked the effect that was having on his kidneys. At half the original dose, he is nonetheless visiting the litter-box less often than when he started taking the medicine, and the amounts he is wetting are adequate. The open question is whether he is still losing weight. I will get him weighed soon to answer it.

Several readers have asked about any new cats coming in. I have been holding off on that until Brazil and Renn were in better condition. That seems to have been achieved. I will look to welcoming a new foster-cat in the next week or two.

And lastly, I need to buy a new nylon tunnel. The old one is coming apart, and not just at the seams. Brazil appears to be embarrassed to be seen with it…