Monday, November 23, 2015

A Bit About Noah

I found a couple of photographs I took of Noah the last week he was with me. This is him doing the dangle over the parapet of the tallest cat-tree's highest platform. I figured they would be good illustrations to go with the update I had of him from his new foster-home.

The update is about a week old but it shows that the boy is doing well. He has been out at night, at the same time as Channing, his new feline roommate. His foster-guardians don’t know where he has been sleeping but if he and Channing aren’t chasing each other, fighting or growling, then things are going well. He has been quiet and not too mischievous -  his new people have something to look forward to, then…

What I was worried about most was that he would prove too much of a character for Channing. But the latter wants someone to play with, and Noah is all about playing, so I am hopeful things will get only better. I will keep everyone apprised.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Unsurprised by Joy

I realised last evening that I have not published anything on my blog for more than a week. I don’t consider it necessary to post anything if nothing is happening, however, and nothing new has occurred about which to write.

Even so, I was thinking about the situation in which I find myself - selling my house, or at least attempting to do so (no offers yet) - and the worry and bother that comes with it. This year over all has not been one of the better ones for me, and it is not improving. But something makes each day better.

I call my cats ‘my joys’. That’s what they are to me. Each day, they make me smile or laugh, or at least feel good. Last night, I lie in bed and listened to Tucker run about. I think he may have been chasing Josie, or vice versa. In any case, I heard two cats running, and there was no hissing or growling. Then I heard just Tucker. With his diabetes, his rear is still weak, and he lopes like a rabbit, but, remarkably, that hasn’t slowed him down. And he sings to himself. “Aaaooouu. Aaaooouu.” He is, as I have mentioned before, a cat who wants to be happy, and he’s not about to let diabetes get in the way. And he makes me happy because of it. Sometimes I need only speak his name to get him purring; look at him, and he squeals and twists his head about to be petted. Just the way he looks makes me smile: he’s hardly a cat in appearance; more like a wombat, or the dormouse from Alice in Wonderland.

Cammie cannot be called a happy cat. And yet she too gives me joy. She can purr loud and constantly at times. Last night, I lie on my back and invited her on to my chest, where she stayed for half an hour. A waste of time on my part? It made me feel good and useful, so it was hardly thirty minutes poorly spent. The way she talks is unique: a series of creaks and squeaks, expressive and significant. And of course her hisses. I am glad that I’ve been able to offer her a refuge, even if it is also inhabited by three other cats whom she no doubt wishes elsewhere. The heated towels have returned to the parlour (and Noah has not) so the princess spends much of her time there now. I like watching her curl up there or even just crouch and drift off.

My big boy is a sucker for hearing his name repeated. I will see Renn thumping down the hall (his muscular legs are not as quiet as a cat’s) and start talking to him. His back will arch and he will rub against me, and then that engine starts going. Sometimes, if he is in my way, I’ll tell him to move, and he’ll throw himself back by first lifting himself up on his rear legs, then coming down on all four and trotting away. But he’s a lazy dog, and I chuckle when he groans and whines if he is forced to move. He is the first to come to bed and the last to get off it in the morning, the sluggard.

And Josie, my Chubs. Watching her patter away with her, shall we say, girth, waddling about beneath her always causes me amusement. I’m sure my reaction is an affront to her dignity. And she doesn’t growl, she cries out in anger, like an old lady insulted by a stranger. I can almost see her shaking her umbrella in fury. But she enjoys my company and loves a good petting session, even if she doesn’t lie still for it for more than a few seconds at a time. She is one of my new lap-cats, not overtly sensitive, but a softy inside.

My beasts don’t delight me all the time. You should gauge my mood when all of them decide they dislike what is on the menu at dinner-time and I am left with a lump of unwanted food in each of four bowls. But when I come home from a day at work that was less than pleasant (fortunately those occur only five times a week), my bicycle moves a little faster knowing I will see friends when I reach my destination.

Wordsworth wrote a poem called “Surprised by Joy” (a title later borrowed by C.S. Lewis for one of his books). It is about realising with a shock that an important and tragic event had been forgotten. We all need to be surprised by joy now and then, but I think it is much better to have it so much in our lives that it doesn’t surprise us at all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Noah's Next Adventure

Noah will be leaving me. He is not, unfortunately, going to be adopted but, rather, is going to a new foster-home.

Neither I nor the rescue-group of which I am part care to change foster-homes in mid-cat. The animals have no way of knowing that they are not in a permanent residence, and when they are adopted, the change is often significant enough. To switch their homes a couple of times before adoption takes place is jarring and confusing to the little creatures.

But there are several reasons for this move in Noah’s case. If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know that I am selling my house. I have not yet achieved that goal but I hope to soon. This will necessitate moving to a smaller residence in which four cats and I will find ourselves in cramped quarters. A fifth will make it even more so. Even that would not be so bad, but the perma-cats’ dislike of the boy requires him to be locked up in a room alone when I am asleep or absent. This will reduce the living space further by about a third, assuming I move into a two-bedroom apartment.

Just as significant a reason, though, is why Noah must be sequestered much of the time. He is picked on by Cammie - some days all evening - and by Tucker. The foster-home to which he will go recently had two cats, who would chase and wrestle with each other. One was adopted. The remaining beast misses his friend. Noah, on the other hand, disturbs the calm of my household largely, I think, because he wants someone to play with him - and no one does. Just last night, I watched him rush at Renn, and stop short. He wasn’t attacking my big boy; he was having fun. He wanted Renn to pursue him - in play - or wrestle with him; something enjoyable. Renn growled and warned the boy off.

This is Noah’s chance to have a pal with whom he can enjoy himself. He will also be free to roam about the house when the people are gone or sleeping. (Hopefully, he doesn’t roam too much during the latter time.) I believe this will mean much to a young, energetic cat.

He will of course be confused and perhaps frightened. But he is adaptable, and finding himself in a new environment with a whole new world to explore will keep him occupied until he grows accustomed to his new foster-guardians.

I will miss the boy. He can be annoying at time, I must admit. He is usually into something. But these are the high spirits and exuberance of youth. He is a warm-hearted cat who now purrs much more than he did. He is smart and learns quickly, and above all he is entertaining. He will go to his new home - may it be of short duration before his permanent adoption - tomorrow. Peace will reign once more in my household, and the perma-cats will rest more easily. But something will be missing. Whenever a cat who has been in my care leaves, he takes something indefinable along with him, and it isn’t replaced. It’s because no cat can be replaced. Noah will be absent but his adventure will continue.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Closed Door, Open House

I am trying to sell my house. Toward that end, my realtor arranged an ‘open house’, which means that I leave and strangers enter my home and touch my personal belongings, if they want. They may also see what the house is like with a view to buying it. If purchasing my house means going through my socks, then so be it.

There have already been several instances of potential buyers coming to the house to see it. I must not be present during these viewings. My realtor told me that people tend not to stay as long or look around as much if the owner is present. I can understand this. So I leave for an hour or, in the case of the open house, two. During this latter period, about a dozen couples came through the house. My realtor was pleasantly surprised at this. He stated that two or three couples in particular were promising.

I have, of my own volition, advertised the house on both Kijiji and, at the suggestion of a co-worker, Facebook. Kijiji is good but realtors tend to flood its ‘houses for sale’ section with their clients’ property, and my own house gets pushed down the list every time these twenty or thirty new listings are added. I then renew my ad every day. As for Facebook, I am not a Facebook sort of person. I don’t have ‘friends’ there. If someone is my friend, they will give me money and put me up for the night. People on Facebook would, I suspect, be reluctant to do this. So they are not my ‘friends’. I also don’t ‘like’ much on Facebook. It is, however, looked at by many people, and I believe that it was my announcement on the site of my open house that brought the numbers that came.

Whatever the case, the important thing is how the cats behave during all this. They dislike it. I must put them in the spare room downstairs and close the door on them. I put a sign on the door declaring that people are free to look within but not to release the cats. So far, this condition has been observed.

Predictably, Noah is the easiest to corral for imprisonment. Ever up for an adventure, he would think that being framed by several former friends and cast into Chateau d’If for ten years would be really neat. Becasuse he may be picked on by others, and I would not be present to protect him, he goes into a large carrier for the duration.

Just as predictably, Cammie is the worst when it comes to being put away. She knows the signs: I clean too much too fast. I re-arrange things. She heads to high ground, the tallest cat-tree, or goes underground, beneath the bed. I must use the vacuum cleaner to force her from her perch and grab her as she attempts escape. The sounds she makes are blood-freezing. They are exactly the sort of hair-raising shrieks that precede a victim’s throat being torn by a wild animal. Yet, once in my arms, she begins to cry and is relatively still. She could flay my skin from my bones, but she does not. She is a wonderful little creature and, when bad things happen, puts on a ferocious show, but then hopes for the best. She too goes into a container, a large cage - she is too apt to escape and be difficult to catch again. Both her cell and Noah’s are covered with sheets for what I hope will be calming privacy.

The other three act like I am taking them to the last rendezvous, but are easier to catch and carry. How the five of them react to strangers walking up to the closed door, opening it and looking in, I can only imagine. When I come home and release them, they scurry out, glad to be free. Afterward, they usually have something to eat - I will feed them a soft-food meal; I think a return to normalcy as quickly as possible helps. I know it does me. Then they relax.

To be truthful, I think they are largely untroubled by the events. Each time I must put them in the spare room, they probably think that this is the time I don’t come back for them. But once free again, all is fine. Even Cammie, who was most assuredly displeased with me the first time I had to lock her away, now recovers quickly, and is forgiving. It’s her prerogative as a princess.

I am hoping for something positive from the open house. I think the event provides more time for potential buyers to look about, more liberty, than being brought and shepherded by a realtor. Maybe this will be the last time the cats will see a closed door during an open house.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tucker R. Poly, M.P.

Recently, we had a federal election. Many of the old politicians will be very soon thrown out of the House of Commons, and many new ones will come in. As with the creatures peering through the windows at the end of Animal Farm, however, it may be difficult to determine a difference between these two groups. Each individual member of Parliament is meant to represent the people of a constituency. In fact, an M.P. has always struck me as more the prime minister’s man in his riding, rather than his electorate’s man in Ottawa. To my mind, an elected politician should embody the best of his country, or province, or town. Instead, what results is a legislature filled with the lowest common denominators on which the majority could agree.

I have a better example to put forward. I suggest no one other than my cat, Tucker.

As you may know from having read this blog, Tucker is now suffering from diabetes. This necessitates an injection of insulin twice a day. This is not too great a hardship for the roly poly one. He simply lies down when I tell him to, and calmly accepts the needle, which he may not feel too much anyway.

What must be onerous for him are other effects of his condition. Just this weekend, I had to perform a ‘curve’ on Tucker, drawing blood from him every two hours for a glucose reading. I am getting better at stabbing that little sausage in the ear, but I still don’t produce blood each time. Yet each time, the most resistance he gives is to flatten his ears. I can tell, especially as the day progresses, that he is unhappy with the discomfort of having his ear jabbed. Who wouldn’t be? But he submits to the indignity even so.

His rear end is weak, and he sometimes lopes like a rabbit when it walks rather than hops. I brought a litter-box upstairs for his convenience, but he doesn’t always use it. Most nights, about nine o’clock, he trundles slowly downstairs to keep his regular appointment. Then he struggles back up, coming to rest on the landing. Does he wonder why he can’t walk as he once did? If he does, he doesn’t appear angry about it. His veterinarian does not want him to take B12 to strengthen his rear right now. We are hopeful that once his insulin dosage is managed, he will regain his all-wheel drive.

Yet through it all, Tucker maintains his good spirits. I have always thought of him as a creature who wants to be happy. He still plays, and looks forward to it. Our regular sessions are with a string-toy, but we play in other ways, too. We play peek-a-boo, which he finds exciting. Other times, I will creep up on him, in plain sight; he starts purring and when I grabbed him, he squeals. He will hurry into the nylon tunnel and wait for me to terrorize him from the outside.

He spends more time on my lap now. That started almost simultaneously with the discovery of his diabetes. And at the end of the day, some time during the night, he comes to bed - using the steps each time now; he has mastered them at last - and sleeps there with me, Renn and Josie. Cammie disdains our close company, but sleeps in the same room.

My point in all of this is that Tucker, to me, represents some of the best qualities in a cat. He is friendly and loveable, playful, inquisitive, intelligent. Above all, he has patience and endurance; in his forbearance and fortitude, he is an exemplar. It’s true that he will still chase and fight with Noah - rather impressive considering his diabetical disabilities. But he has been through much in his short life, much that would discourage others. He remains cheerful and childlike, without being childish.

If only our elected representatives had the same qualities, if only they could stir our admiration in the same way. But perhaps that’s why we have pets. We spend our lives hoping for something from our politicians. We actually get something from our pets.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The End of the Beginning

This weekend, I conducted another ‘curve’ on my long-suffering cat, Tucker. I woke, as always, at 5.30, and poked his ear to draw blood. Then, after his insulin shot and a breakfast, we all went back to bed, only to rise again two hours later, for more blood-letting. That was too early for a Sunday, so we returned to bed yet again. Though I did eventually stay up, the jabbing of Tucker’s ear went on all day.

I am pleased to record that the results were at least worth the effort, though Tucker may disagree. The lowest point in his numbers was reached about 1.30, and, according to the roly poly’s veterinarian, to whom I emailed my findings, the results are “fantastic”. She is very pleased with Tucker’s situation right now. It will need to improve, of course, but for where he is at this point, he is doing very well.

Naturally, there is a way to go. That the insulin is having an effect may be seen from the fact that all of Tucker’s numbers, from before dawn until dusk, were lower than those found during his first ‘curve’, though the dosage is the same. That dosage, of three units twice a day, will remain unchanged. I am told that insulin does have a cumulative effect and is being used well by his body.

This is a great relief to me. My cat has a long fight ahead of him; constant vigilance will be required. But, as Sir Winston Churchill said at one point in World War Two, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life Lived Upside Down

Noah is one of the more interesting cats with whom I’ve lived. He’s young yet, of course, and so much of life remains a game to him. What isn’t a game is something to explore. As soon as a cupboard door opens, he is there peering in. When something drops on the floor, he hurries over to investigate. He likes rearranging things. I doubt that it is to make anything into the way he wants it; it’s simply to see how it will look or feel in a different order.

I have several cat-beds placed about the house. The boy likes to lie in them. They are comfortable and he sometimes even comes close to snoozing in them. He never seems actually to sleep, as he is constantly alert to the slightest sound or action that may lead to some sort of fun. But he has relaxed in the cat-beds, and knows what they are for.

Why then, does Noah like pulling them apart, or flipping them over? Surely the bottom of a cat-bed, rough and cold, can’t compare with the proper insides, snuggy and warm. And yet, there he was one day, lying on the bottom of a cat-bed, even though he was on top of it.

I’m not certain if he thought he had discovered a new dimension, or was pretending it was a boat on wooden seas, or had simply flipped something over and was resting until he could find something else to disarrange. In any case, he didn’t stay long on the upside down cat-bed. He hurried off to annoy Cammie or knock about curtain cords or wrestle with a Kick-a-roo. This is life with the energetic, enthusiastic boy, life lived in a rush because there is always something that needs to be done right away. After all, slowing down is for middle age.