Friday, March 27, 2015

Bon Voyage, Floof King

I want to thank everyone who has viewed my announcement of Tungsten’s passing, and everyone who has left their condolences on this horrible event. Each comment makes my days easier. I will write more fully about Tungsten later.

This post is a short one, but I wish to let everyone know that Kola was picked up by his prospective adopters on Wednesday. That was the day before Tungsten died, so the occurrence was overwhelmed a bit, which was unfair to the Floof King.

I haven’t received any word on Kola in his new home; it’s early days yet. He knew something was up, and didn’t want to be put in the carrier. It was hard for me to let him go, but this is his chance to have a whole house to himself - barring some humans and a dog - and the undivided attention of his people. Seeing a loved cat with other humans is always difficult, I think, because their ways may not be one’s own, and one must let them interact with the cat as they will. Kola will grow used to his new environment, and he will be loved and love in return.

I will publish any account of his new life that I receive. I write the monthly newsletter of the Lethbridge PAW Society, and always follow an adoption with an interview for an article, so I will be talking myself to the couple who now have Kola, probably within a fortnight.

I wish my favourite talker all the best in his new adventures.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Tungsten died today. Like Bear-Bear, thirteen months ago, her slow decline accelerated tremendously in her last week. I took her to the animal hospital at eight o’clock this morning, and she left me about twenty minutes later.

I will write more about her life and death another day. This is just to announce the passing of my friend, my constant companion of seven and a half years; the orange one, the tiny terror, top-cat of my household, and feline queen of my heart.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A New Home for Kola

Amid the problems that Tungsten is facing, there is good news, though even this is bittersweet for me. Kola will be going on a trial-adoption this week. The signs look good, however, that he will be staying in a new and permanent home.

His prospective adopters are from High River, a town about an hour and a half away from where we reside. Since Cammie’s mercifully short adoption by someone in Regina, I’ve been very wary of long-distance adoptions. However, this is not like sending Kola to Seattle (there was an inquiry for him from there once). It’s no trouble at all for him to come back from High River if things don’t work out.

But the people who are going to be coming to take him home on Wednesday seem very nice indeed. I haven’t yet met them but have talked to one of them. They are a mature couple, the husband of whom is fully retired and home all the time, so Kola will have company all day. They are experienced cat-fanciers whose last cat passed away at eighteen. They are friends with another person whose adoption from the rescue-society I work with (the PAW Society of Lethbridge) was and is successful. These are all positive signs.

I spoke with the wife of the couple on the telephone. There was none of the ‘yeah, whatever; give me the cat’ attitude that came from the woman who briefly took Cammie home. Kola’s prospective adopter asked pertinent questions and listened to the replies. Significantly, the questions she asked were phrased in a manner that suggested she was looking for ways to make Kola comfortable and happy - does he need this, should he have that - not in a way that conveyed worry that there may be inconvenience or bother. She inquired about whether he liked cat-trees, even though he is declawed, and if there were indications of arthritis, an ailment that sometimes goes with declawing. She wanted to know what food Kola ate and whether he would like to sleep on the bed. This was all good for me to hear.

I will miss the Floof King. Like all my foster-cats, I was reluctant to take him on and will be even more reluctant to let him go. But each day here, he must be locked away in the parlour when I go to work, because I can’t risk Tucker fighting with him, which still threatens to occur. Each night is the same. Kola is wary of all the other cats, though he does interact with them. He is expanding the area in which he lives in my house, but the process has been slow.

Now, he will have a whole house in which to have fun. He will be the only cat, though there is a little dog. I foresee less trouble between the two of them than I have witnessed between Kola and the other cats in my household. He has lived with a dog previously, and I think a compromise will be quickly reached between the animals. Kola adapts quickly. He loves attention and will receive plenty of it.

I will report more when his new people come to collect him and, later still, when I talk to them in a few weeks. While Tungsten struggles to keep the life she has, Kola is given a new one. That is how the universe works.

Tungsten at the Gate

Tungsten is in the hospital at the moment. Last week was a bad one for her. She began throwing up, one day vomiting three times, twice each instance. Her stomach was empty and wouldn’t keep anything down. The subcutaneous fluids would give her water but she would starve unless I could put nutrition into her.

I called the veterinarian and she suggested a simple antacid, in this case Pepcid AC, would help. Indeed it did. But Tungsten was showing no interest in food, so I had to use a syringe to feed her Recovery, a brand for convalescing cats, and those who are not taking in enough nutrition. I thought things were stable, if not improving.

Yesterday, however, the orange one took a turn for the worse. She was very weak and lethargic. Though she did express an interest in drinking some water in the morning, she quickly reverted to an apathetic state. As well, her breathing became laboured, with a puffing sound between inhalation and exhalation. I thought she was dying.

I took her to the hospital; though it was closed, it will open for emergencies. Tungsten has lost another half-pound in weight, and she was very dehydrated. I was clearly not giving her either enough food or water. She was put on intravenous fluids, and kept in the hospital over-night. She is there right now.

I will be giving her subcutaneous fluids every day now, which should keep her hydrated. But unless I can stimulate her appetite, I won’t be able to get enough food into her to keep her going. I will be trying a probiotic called Azodyl. This has helped another senior cat of whom I know who also has kidney problems. If this does not work, however, Tungsten may be facing an irreversible fate.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tucker and Kola: Together Again

Tucker dislikes Kola. I don’t know why, but I have my suspicions. I think, whether consciously or otherwise, the roly poly one feels the need to emphasise the Floof King’s subservience. It’s a struggle for last place, which is rather pathetic, but that’s Tucker.

I’ve written about this before, but lately there has been a change in their relationship. Tucker still watches Kola like a hawk - a long, heavy, tubular hawk. Now and then, he still chases my foster-cat. Because the opportunity exists only when I am present (due to Kola being shut up in the parlour when I am asleep or absent for long periods), I am able to break up most fights before they start. Thus, I don’t know exactly what would happen; it may be no more than a brief welter of fisticuffs, though I did run up the stairs from the basement one day upon hearing a melĂ©e, to find a tuft of fluffy orange fur in Tucker’s mouth. He was hurriedly trying to eat the evidence of his transgression.

Lately, however, Tucker has been coming into the parlour when the door is open. I am home and he is free to come and go, barring there is no violence. To my surprise, he has been slipping, very timidly, into the room even while Kola is in it, to drink from a small ceramic bowl in which Kola’s water is placed. (Kola prefers the big glass bowl in the dining area but I am out of thick glass bowls to distribute; Josie likes aluminum; Tucker will drink from the aluminum bowl when the ceramic one is not available; everything about cats is a complicated affair.)

I don’t believe that Tucker is doing this simply to invade Kola’s space. He will drink from the little bowl even when Kola is elsewhere. And there is an identical bowl on the floor of the bathroom now (because Tungsten, when she will lap water from a dish, prefers ceramic to anything else.) Tucker will sneak in (though he has no reason to resort to sneaking; that’s how timid he is) and drink from there, too. Part of it is, therefore, the urge to have the taste of water from fired clay. (He doesn’t phrase it like that, though.)

Part of it is also, I believe, a genuine progression in his attitude toward Kola. I will be at the computer, which is in the parlour, and Kola will be sleeping in his cardboard box. That is usually placed near the doorway. Tucker will walk in, skirt around Kola as much as he can, and continue to the water-bowl. He will often look at Kola as he goes past, like a tubby little Brooklyn greaser eyeing the new kid who’s moved onto his turf. The Floof King, for his part, will admirably react with little more than one of his rolling, throaty grunts. As well, Tucker will enter the parlour just to snooze on the ottoman. He used to do this all the time before Kola arrived; whenever I was on the computer, in fact.

I am encouraging Tucker in these endeavours. As long as he behaves himself, I don’t want him to feel excluded from any part of the house, and I want Kola to feel safe with any of the other cats, as long as he is given reason to feel safe. Tucker, I realise, is reluctant to be physically near Kola because of my reaction to his attacks; (‘attack’ is too strong a word in connotation; its denotation, however, is accurate.) He associates proximity with chastisement. He isn’t quite clever enough to reason that I become angry only when he uses violence. After all, the roly poly one still hasn’t figured out the purpose of the flight of two steps I placed at the bottom of my bed a couple of years ago.

If Tucker continues to exercise his restraint, and Kola has the courage to keep calm in his presence, things should be much improved in the household.

Oh, and there is one more factor involved. A few days ago, I had occasion to clean Tucker’s bum. After taking him into the bathroom, applying a warm, wet cloth and then drying the area, no part of which Tucker enjoyed, I opened up the door to release him. The first cat he encountered was Kola.

Tucker flung himself upon the unsuspecting Kola and there was a real fracas as the sausage briefly took out his disapproval of my actions on his unfortunate roommate.

My fault, that time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tungsten Nevertheless

In case you think that Tungsten is demoralised by the sudden tactic of subcutaneous fluids, I’d like to point out something new that she has taken to doing.

It is her habit to come to bed after I have gotten settled for the night. I generally sleep on my side with my head supported by the pillow. This allows the orange one to come up and lie against my chest, with her feet in the palm of my hand and her body curled so that her head rests on my fingers. She likes that. I like it, too, though I will want a change some time during the night.

Turning over to lie on my other side is fine with Tungsten. She will follow me. But now and then, I will lie on my stomach. This leaves my top-cat without a place to lie, or so she sees it. She will then commence to whine. She whines in a very small voice, like a stage-comedian on helium asking “Hmmm?” over and over. Sometimes I will give in and lie on my side again. Sometimes I try to outlast her.

If I attempt this, Tungsten executes Plan B. This comprises stepping onto the small dresser that serves as a nightstand on the near side of my bed. There she finds keys, loose change, pieces of paper and other items amongst which she may poke, and knock about. And she does just that, on the principle, I believe, of not permitting comfort if she herself is denied it.

I find it reassuring, in a very aggravating way, that she can still devise means of annoying me, even as she suffers from her ailments. As long as she can do that, whatever else may be happening to her, she’s Tungsten nevertheless.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A River for Tungsten

This weekend saw the start of Tungsten’s subcutaneous fluid treatment. It went well technically, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it. I had to stick a needle into my tiny cat. This is part of her treatment for kidney failure, of which she is in the second stage.

I was shown how to perform this necessary task by one of the executive board members of the PAW Society, the cat-rescue group of which I am part. I ask indebted to her for her assistance, without which I couldn’t do this. That would have been fine with Tungsten, I’m sure.

The process is familiar to a number of readers, I’m certain, but for those who are not acquainted with it, I will show you the components. There is the solution, which is injected into the subject (i.e. Tungsten). Don’t worry, not all of this bag goes into her at once. In fact, it is a small portion that is used each time, just forty millilitres. But it represents a small river of life.

Then there is the syringe. This I fill with the aforementioned forty millilitres of solution. It looks like a terribly large instrument, but it is not indicative of the needle that is used.

This is the needle in question. It’s large enough, so far as I’m concerned. It comes connected to a very thin tube, the far end of which is attached to the nozzle of the syringe. The tube brings the fluid from the syringe, when the latter’s plunger is depressed, to the needle’s tip. The needle is then inserted into a fold in Tungsten’s skin. Fortunately, she has loose skin. The needle’s insertion caused a little ‘meow’ to escape the orange one yesterday. I felt dreadful about puncturing her, and will each time I must do it. However, it is literally for her own good, and will help her to live longer than she would without the process, and to live well.

All of these items need to be kept sterile. For that I will be purchasing some rubbing alcohol. I also tried some ‘kidney diet’ food. This did not prove a success. As with almost every type of nutrition a veterinarian suggests, my cat did not like it. I think the manufacturers of specialty food must make a profit from people buying their products for the first time - because I doubt that many buy it a second.

This is the amount of food that I had scooped from one tin after almost a week of attempting to get my top-cat to eat it. And of this amount, she barely ate a third each time. As other bloggers have suggested - as the veterinarian did, as well - a senior’s diet may have to suffice. For my part, I rejoice when my orange one eats any amount of food. She is not a big eater.

I will also be purchasing a supplement which will bind with the toxins in her body and carry them to their doom in the litter-box. This is another substance that is supposed to be taken with her meals. Flavourless and odourless, it’s meant to be sprinkled on her regular food. This does not sound promising; I know of nothing that is flavourless or odourless to a cat. However, I have my reserve plan of dissolving it - at least partially - in water and injecting it with Tungsten’s usual ration of liquid - which will be continued - into her mouth.

So my littlest friend embarks on a new phase of her life. I don’t doubt that this will make her feel better, but the initial stages, the delivery of the fluids necessary to achieve this goal, makes me feel worse. I hope I become as accustomed to it as I think Tungsten will.