Sunday, 19 August 2012

Jack Spratt and his Wife

Red and Magic have been having some weight changes reminiscent of the old nursery rhyme. I've been quite concerned about Red as about two weeks ago I noticed that he seemed lighter than a puff of air and 'folded' into my arms when I lifted him up. Because he is so fluffy it is hard to see if he is losing weight. However, on holding him it became clear that he was seriously light as his little hips were jagged and his spine and ribs were very prominent under the fur with almost no fat or muscle. His little face also seemed pinched when you looked closely. He's always been a skinny little racing snake but I could not work out what had gone on as he was lively and engaged enough just very, very thin. By contrast Magic was getting ever heavier and is now a two handed rugby tackle to lift her.

I tried to work out what could be wrong. Was it the move that had unsettled him- possible. Was he not getting enough food- certainly not the case as he is fed three times a day and Magic lets him eat first from both bowls. Was he ill or hyperthyroid, were his teeth painful, was he retaining furballs- all possibilities but he can crunch whiskas or Felix 'sweeties' and he yakked up a couple of mighty furballs so should be eating ok.Still he was shrinking. So I decided to give him a week with some booster feeds to see if the issue was just dietary before a visit to the vet while observing him to see if I could work out why he was disappearing and Magic was inflating.

The answer, oddly enough, came to me when I was standing in a queue  buying cat food. There are often very dry meaty bits left in the bowls which I end up throwng away and thinking what a waste. It then occured to me that although Red gets first dibs on the food he might be taking the gravy and Magic is eating the food. I watched them looking out for this specifically and that is exactly what was happening.

So, after some supplemental high protein kitten feeds each night he feels a little heavier and his bones seem more padded. He only eats a little at a time, presumably because he's been existing on gravy three times a day but I re-offer it during the evening till he eats it all. Applause for Applaws Kitten food.

I've also dropped the wet feeds to two meals a day so that Magic is not eating the best part of six bowls of food per day.She doesn't fuss about food normally and seems quite content. So hopefully she'll drop a little weight to take the pressure off of her poor little arthritic back legs. She's also been going outdoors with me and, although I wouldn't say she is expending much energy while sprawling on the patio, it does give me time to give her some special attention which balances up the time I am spending with Red during the booster feeds.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Red's despair

As the house move was a considerable one it had been decided that it would be done in two stages with half going into storage 10days before the main move. This was great from the packing point of view as it enabled access again as once everything was emptied and packed it took up far more space than before. This meant shimmying round the reduced access created by the boxes which wasn't great. However, the great day dawned and the first stage container move went ahead.

Sadly, for Red tho', his wardrobe that he slept on was one of the items which went in the container. He was bereft and couldn't quite fathom it out. He'd walk past the space, leap on the bed, onto the chest of drawers, then wobble at the edge as he tried to leap up to the missing wardrobe while looking into an abyss. Somehow no amount of staring at the space or me seemed to conjour up his high level bed.

I made him up some additional sleeping spaces but he likes to sleep in a 'safe' spot either high up or under a bed. So under the bed  is where he spent his last few nights sleeping, probably still wondering where his bed went to....

Blind cats

The new home came with vertical blinds on most rooms. They are very useful and do the job of covering the windows. How long they will last is less obvious. Within the first few days Magic had got her considerable backside wrapped up  in one and in annoyance wrenched herself free thus breaking the bottom weight, ripping the slat, and pulling all the beaded connectors off. Thankfully the previous houseowner had left me a couple of spares as she had a child and knew pets and children were hard on these blinds.

The next blind emergency was Red related but he was much more mannerly about his predicament. We'd all had an unsettled night and as a result the bedroom door was left open allowing access  to the rest of the house which is rare for the cats during the night. I woke again unexpectedly because I became aware of it being very light suddenly. This was because Red was standing very patiently on my pillow with his front paws while staring intently at me trying to communicate.

The problem was that he'd tangled his backside and tail in the slats and couldn't work out how to extricate himself. So he walked over to my pillow dragging the blind as far as he could which was pleated round his backend, hence no window covering to shield the light. Nice he knew to come for help instead of just ripping the blind down like Magic but not exactly ideal at 4am.

Anyway, like a good cat servant, I got up sorted the problem by lifting him out. I told him not to do it again, but really I think this was more for my benefit as, after a wee thank you lick, he pelted off to cause chaos elsewhere. They seem to be getting the hang of not winding in and out now so here's hoping; otherwise this could get expensive!

Cartoon Cats

Something I haven't managed to capture on camera is Red's cartoon run/scattering. This is when he is running from, or at, Magic and can't work out why he either isn't moving, or can't stop, despite his big long back legs going at warp speed. Wooden flooring which doesn't give you any purchase in the hallway would appear to be the obvious answer. Unless you are Red, that is, and then the answer is still a mystery...!


It is all change in our household as we now have a new home. It has been a very busy and stressful few weeks but we have managed it, with the help of some truly wonderful friends, and we are now  located in our new address.

Utter gratitude goes to the wonderful friends who gathered on the day. Without them and their amazing efforts, it just would not have happened. It was a Herculean task and I can barely believe it was managed in the timeframe. I am truly humbled by how hard they worked and unendingly grateful to them.

The fur ones were dispatched to their 'holiday home' at the cattery a few days in advance of the move to minimise distress to them and brought home two days after the move. Before they left they had both learned two new phrases - "watch out, sweetie/Red/Magic" and the more strident "Out the way" which was usually used when carrying something heavy or unstable.

On return, as could have been anticipated, Magic took it in her stride and set to work casing the new joint, assessing the dangers, layout and generally taking stock. Red, also reacted true to form, in so much as he spent most of the first day saucer-eyed and shuddering under the bed. All conversations with him had to be carried out lying prone on the carpet while peering under the bed. He did come out eventually and I think that seeing Magic and the humans being very relaxed and calm seemed to rub off on him. He is getting better but remains hyper-alert and bolts at any unknown or loud noise - no change there then!

The new abode has a garden and patio doors. The intention is to see if they would like go outside.I've bought harnesses as a possible means of gradually introducing them to the world but have yet to try them on them which will no doubt take some getting used to as they dont even wear collars. I've been encouraging them to smell the new smells at the windows and settle into their location. I'd planned to keep them in for a month or so before begining the gradual introduction to outside,

If I go near the patio doors Red bolts out of the room in terror, but Magic remains and appears quite anxious when I go outside to hang out washing. She stares at me through the glass and I suspect she is unhappy she cannot be there in her role as my protector. So, on one of the last washing runs, I held the door open for her to see what she did. I just chattered away to her as normal and she very delicately stepped outside, sniffing around and wandered around without going down the couple of steps. Unfortunately after a very short time I thought I heard a car in the driveway and in fearing the gate would be opened I lost my nerve and gently picked her up and took her indoors. My fear rather than her's.

This was a good start very early on for a housecat who has never been outside. I also reckon if I start trying to train her on a harness she will freak at the indignity of it so I am tempted to play it by ear with her as she is such a sensible little cat. Red on the other hand I will harness train, if possible, as he is a complete liability. The first loud or unfamiliar noise will cause him to bolt and, given his athleticism, he'd be entirely likely to start hurdling the neighbours fences till he got himself even more lost and scared. I also wonder if he will actually ever want to go out or whether he'll reject the chance to tootle round the garden and lie in the sun. Time will tell.