Thursday, April 23, 2015

When the World is Fresh and Green

Spring has arrived, with temperatures rising on some days as high as 23° Celsius (73.5° Fahrenheit), though it’s more often a few degrees cooler. Even so, afternoons are becoming quite pleasant, and the nights are nearing the time when windows may be left open wide. That means one thing around my household: the storm windows come off and the screens go on.

The cats of course enjoy this time of year, as do I. The days are enjoyable without being unbearable, and fragrances are in the air. Blooming trees and bushes are floating their scents about without regard for where they may end up. Little noses are atwitter at what they can smell, and big noses are glad of the more vibrant aromas they detect.

There are more ways to enjoy the fresh air than just smelling it. It carries with it the noises of outdoor activities, and even those which carried on through the winter now provide a soundtrack to go with their sights. The silent films have become talkies.

Some of my cats want to enjoy as much of the outdoors as possible, without actually going outside. Cammie would probably have the best chance of survival in the wild (ie. the alleys and rubbish bins of the neighbourhood) of any of my beasts, but she isn’t about to risk the dangers by clawing through the tough mesh. She’s happy to fill as much of it as possible, while remaining close to her comfortable couches and chairs.

And this spring, I have put the screen back on the bathroom window. I had ceased doing so, because it was a favourite haunt of Tungsten, who would, in her healthier times, leap up onto the sill. When she could no longer make such a jump, I kept the bathroom window shut all year, to avoid giving her temptation. Now, the orange one is gone, and the window is open again.

And so the seasons roll by, year after year. We come and go, human and cat. Some day, we will all follow Tungsten, as she followed those before her. But for now, spring is here once more, the windows are open and the world is fresh and green.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Missing Star

I find that there are different aspects to missing Tungsten. First and foremost, there is the great sorrow that this neat little cat is no longer alive, no longer enjoying her heated cat-bed, no longer purring after we play our game, no longer leaning into the head-rubs I give her. I know that she did not find enough good in life at the end to stay. But there was a time when she was healthy, or just healthy enough to stand the indignities and inconveniences of treatments. I miss her company.

Beyond that, though, I miss her mere presence in the house. I wrote to a friend of an analogy which I find appropriate. It’s been many years since I have watched television, but it still lends itself to this comparison.

Tungsten’s absence in my feline family is like a television series that has lost its principal actor; she probably left to concentrate on movies. The series continues but without its main character, who is not replaced. The others in the series are excellent actors, portraying beloved characters, and no viewer wants the series to end. But there is a large element missing, a centre around which plots revolve, and everyone is waiting for the main character to return, or for a voice-over to announce that “the role of so-and-so will now be played by…” But there is no new actor, and the character is gone.

Each cat of my household, each life in existence, is its own story, its own novel, its own television series. Some are comedies, some are tragedies, some are mixtures. Many are badly written, some have no plot at all, while others are popular, hits or bestsellers. Each of my cats is a character - in several meanings of the word - and I want to enjoy them season after season. But the star of the show is gone.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cammie, Suddenly

Cammie is now a member of the family, as well as of the household. She was before, really - just as Bear-Bear was - but when the adoption papers are signed, it will be official. I have changed the heading on this blog to reflect her new status, and to reflect another alteration in the population. One happy and one sad. Such are our lives.

My Siamese princess is going through a strange phase right now, and it is undoubtedly related to the transition in our home. Kola left, Tungsten passed away, Faber came and went… Those are many things to deal with, even when you know the reasons behind them. To Cammie, they are bewildering mysteries. So she has been restless, especially when it comes to lap-time. She has jumped on to my lap numerous times, only to jump down again a second later; in some cases, that’s literal: a second later.

On the other hand, she has been getting up on the bed more often, spending time there, snoozing there. She has done that previously but not to this extent. And when she gets down, she uses the steps provided, rather than leaping down.

And Sunday night, the strangest event occurred. Cammie had joined me on the bed when I was ready for sleep. She lie half on me and half off, and purred, as if she were on my lap. Evetually, she got down. I woke in the middle of the night, however, to feel a cat lying on me. This one was in a position similar to that which Renn adopts, so I gave him a gentle push on the rump to move him. But it wasn’t him, it was her. It was Cammie.

It was Cammie on the bed with all three other perma-cats. They were all in their usual positions, except for the princess. She doesn’t have a usual position. Yet she lie down next to me and stayed there for some time. I fell asleep and think I woke when she got down. But for her to settle on to the bed while the others - or even one other - were there, or to stay while others joined her, is unprecedented. She did not repeat this startling action last night, and may not again for some time. But she did it once, so I predict she will do it again.

The loss of a top-cat can lead to widespread changes in situations and behaviour, I have no doubt, or it may lead to nothing new. But Cammie may feel that without Tungsten certain behaviours are permitted. She may have decided not to attempt sleeping on the bed while the orange one held sway. Whether expressed or not, rules applied. Now that the tiny terror is gone, Cammie may not feel the bed is out of bounds.

But it is a coincidence that my newest cat decided to try the bed the very weekend I told her that she was with me to stay, that she was part of the family. Can she understand my words? She ignores them most of the time, so I see no reason why she wouldn’t in this case. But a slight alteration in attitude, in tone, the changed circumstances in the household… All may contribute to new dynamics. 

I hope to have all four perma-cats on the bed with me again. This time, Tungsten will have given her spot to Cammie. And I doubt if the orange one will be hissing at her this time.

Breaking News: Faber Goes Home

In an unexpected and unusual turn of events, Faber has gone home - to his old home, not a new one. I and the others in the rescue-group to which I belong, the Lethbridge PAW Society, thought he was abandoned, as it seemed that no one was looking for him. It turned out that, like many cats who are eventually rescued, he was lost. In his case, however, he was found again.

The family to which he belonged were indeed searching for him, and published a picture of him on-line. The woman who had kindly fed Faber for two months and then called the PAW Society about him, recognized him. She contacted the family, and they contacted PAW.

Faber - or Frodo, as he was originally named, perhaps because of his feet - was collected yesterday, in the early evening. His people cheerfully reimbursed PAW for the cost of neutering and other medical attention.

I am glad to be part of reuniting him with his family, but I will miss him. He was with me less than a week, but he was such an easy-going and friendly fellow that he impressed himself upon me quite rapidly. My perma-cats , though, won’t miss him. They will, I think, be glad to have the parlour back; that’s where Faber (as I will continue to call him) was quarantined. Ironically, they spent hardly any time in there last night. Cammie, whose favourite room it was, didn’t come in at all. But it may take time for everyone to get back into their routines.

So my household returns to one of four cats; excitement fades and everyone settles once more into equilibrium. But I give a thought to Faber, and wish him luck and continued affection in his home.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Faber Ventures Out

Faber was let out of quarantine for the first time yesterday. It was for just an hour, and with only Renn and Josie out to see him. Tucker and Cammie were locked in the bedroom.

Faber enjoyed exploring everywhere. He encountered Renn in the sitting room. My big boy remained on the armchair, but growled the whole time that the new fellow was out. Faber need not have even been in sight, and Renn growled with the regularity of breathing. It may have been because Faber was only recently neutered, and still smells like a tom-cat.

For his part, Faber was a bit alarmed by the growling, and hid in corners twice. I had to coax him out. Aside from these instances, however, he roamed free and wide. He found the stairs to the basement, where he seemed to find many interesting smells. He wanted up to the library window and though little can be seen from that ground-level view, he thought it fascinating.

Josie seemed unconcerned by the newcomer, though she kept to the top of the tallest cat-tree, and merely watched Faber’s peregrinations.

There was no fighting - though Faber didn’t care to come close to Renn, so I don’t know what will happen if he ever does - but I am encouraged by the new boy’s apprehension at Renn’s fierceness. I don’t want Faber to be afraid, but I’d prefer him to respect the resident cats rather than try to assert himself forcefully, as has happened with some foster-cats in the past.

Each day, Faber will be released for more explorations, and each day my lot will grow more accustomed to him. Integrations at my house have always required patience and tolerance. I have the former; I’m hoping the perma-cats will contribute the latter.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cammie is Adopted!

Things have been happening in the household and we’ve had some big changes lately. My orange one, Tungsten, died last month. When I hear things that sound like noises she made, I still look to her cat-bed, and for the briefest instant, wonder where she is, because the bed is empty. Kola left me, too, but to go to a new home. I haven’t had a first-hand report on the Floof King’s adventures but from what I have been told, he is doing well and…he is going to be adopted.

And now, Cammie.

My Siamese princess has been adopted. The process hasn’t been finalised yet, but there is no going back. This little animal will at last have a home from which she will never be parted. I consider it a good home for her; it’s not ideal, as there are other cats present, and Cammie would do best as an only-cat, the sole object of her human’s attention. But I believe that she will be content, and her transition will be smooth.

She will be staying with me.

I had decided some time ago that Cammie would not be going anywhere. If someone expressed a serious desire to adopt her, I would pre-empt the effort and keep her. I feel that this would be best for her. My reasoning is thus (and I elucidate it here as much to persuade myself that I’m not crazy for adopting her as to justify the action in general).

Cammie is very sensitive and very defensive. She is not what some would term a ‘difficult’ cat; I don’t believe there are such things. But neither is she an ‘easy’ cat. She does not come ‘companionship-ready’. When one adopts a cat, one does so to have a friend, a playmate, a companion. One doesn’t want to wait six months just to be able to touch one’s pet, a year to be able to have her on one’s lap. I can understand that. I was fortunate in that she spent the last two years with me as a foster-cat, rather than as ‘my’ cat. I had the time to, well, ignore her, if that’s what it took to gain her trust. I could let her be herself and evolve a relationship with her over time.

That relationship is, I believe, quite strong. She trusts me. I can pick her up. I can hold her. I can’t boast that she likes it, but she allows it. She still hisses at me when I displease her (which, honestly, seems to be more often than with any other cat, but that’s Cammie); it is just her way. Tungsten would cry out in protest, Cammie hisses. Even when she’s is in a bad mood (which is usually in the mornings, some afternoons, now and then in the evenings, and at night), she will tolerate my intrusion into her grumpiness.

But she can purr. She can purr loudly and lustily. She kneads. She plays. She races around after the red dot of a laser-pointer as if chasing the last mouse in a world of starving cats. She rolls and twists and somersaults to fight with a string-toy. She has her spots about the house, her safe zones and her comfort areas. She knows her world. And it’s taken her two years to get there.

I’m not vain enough to believe that my home is the only one for her. I think that there are many people sympathetic and patient enough to make this creature happy. But unless they were extraordinary, it would take another year, perhaps two, for Cammie to achieve the familiarity and comfort that she has here. And during that period, she would be the frightened tenant in a house of strangers, bewildered by another change in her world, bereft of everything she knew. And that would be over a large portion of the life remaining to a ten year old cat.

Besides, I like her.

I told her some time ago that if something happened to one of the perma-cats, I would be financially able to adopt her. She does not replace Tungsten. No one can replace that tiny beast. And Cammie has been a roommate of mine on her own merits for a couple of years. But now I can afford her. It’s too bad that we need to take economics into account when considering cats and dogs, but those are the realities of life, and not to consider them would be a disservice to the animal. Four is, I think, my limit.

In any case, I think Tungsten would be grimly amused by the fact that I could adopt Cammie only over her dead body. The orange one had a good sense of humour.

And so the Siamese princess comes into her own little kingdom. It’s just in time, as Faber’s advent has upset Cammie a bit, though it may be only the temporary loss of her favourite room that is causing her displeasure. I will be giving her extra attention while my new foster-cat is introduced to the household. And after that, she will have a lifetime with me, safe and warm, with good food and fresh water, plenty of play and affection - and, I hope, happiness.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Introducing Faber

I have a new foster-cat. My home is kept as a kind of emergency shelter by the rescue-group I work with. Sometimes we have ‘returns’ (every cat-rescuer knows about those unfortunates) and, since they are unscheduled, so to speak, they have no where to go. But in Faber’s case, I have taken in a cat who clearly had a home and a loving family, but who found himself abandoned or lost. He was not doing well outside, and though he was being fed by a concerned person, he may not have lasted long in his neighbourhood. That person contacted the rescue-group.

Faber is a lean, dense fellow, a couple of years old, I think. Orange and white, he has extra toes on each foot. And he is friendly. He loves having his face and head rubbed. He purrs very quietly while this is going on, and is not shy about stepping on to my lap if I am sitting next to him, or jumping up onto me if he’s on the floor.

He is eating very well right now, though that may be because he was very recently in the ‘wild’ and learned to eat when he could, as much as he could. His spell as a homeless cat did not make him distrustful of people, however, and he is ready for attention.

I have isolated him in my parlour for the time being, until we are sure he is free of respiratory problems or other contagions. He appears to be in good health. He was bored in the room until I introduced the little fuzzy mice, and then he had a fun time batting them around. I had to recover them from under furniture only eight times the first five minutes…

He is doing very well after his neutering surgery, and will be ready for adoption soon. I want some time to get to know him, though, so we can tell prospective adopters about this fellow. I will be introducing him, gradually, to my lot, starting, probably, with Josie and Renn, my easiest integrators. But I don’t see any reason why he can’t live in a multi-cat household. I guess he’ll let me know if there is one.