Uncertainties

Sachiko has a new favorite perch.

14-1.jpg

The condo is on the landing, halfway up the stairs. This is a recent change, and she finds it irresistible.

Note the casually world-weary expression on her face. “Nuffin’ in dis house can surprise me. I knows it all.”

And, to be fair, the perch is well-positioned to allow her to keep tabs on the majority of the house.

Changes are coming, though. Alterations in the basic fabric of her existence that will shake her certainty and test her resilience.

Okay, that’s overstating things quite a bit. But it sure sounded dramatic, didn’t it?

And there really are changes in the offing. More news soon, I hope.

Certain Things

In times of uncertainty–and really, when is it not a time of uncertainty–it’s helpful to focus on whatever reliable things you can find.

One can, for example, count on Rufus to find a cozy place to curl up.
07-1

(It should be noted, by the way, that despite the label on the cave, he routinely snoozes for far longer than thirty minutes at a time. That’s also a certainty.)

And, no matter how deeply asleep he may seem, Rufus can be counted upon to notice when a camera is deployed in his vicinity.
07-2

Notice and demand the the photographer get his best side. And his worst side. And every other side he’s got.
07-307-4

Strange to think that being able to count on someone’s personal vanity should be a good thing.

Not to Plan

This past week has not gone according to plan.

As some of you know, Yuki has hip and knee problems. Always has. He wobbles when he walks, has trouble with corners, and has his own unique style of movement–very Ministry of Silly Walks at times.

He’s never been so bad off as to need surgery; instead we’ve been giving him glucosamine and other joint-friendly compounds. However, recently he’s been wobblier than usual, and last Friday it was obvious he was having serious difficulty managing his hind legs.

So we took him to the vet.

Of course he took the trip in his usual phlegmatic style. Which is to say, not at all. He complained all the way there. He complained while we were sitting in the waiting room. He complained while being examined by the vet tech.

He finally shut up when he was allowed to take up residence on the floor. In a corner. Under a chair.

Once there, he settled down and displayed great dignity.
31-1

That lasted until Round Two, when the doctor came in, at which point the complaints resumed. They continued until well after we got him home.

Based on the X-rays, there doesn’t seem to be any significant decay in his joints. We’re hoping his current problems are a simple strain, rather than a spinal issue.

He’s currently on a two or three week regimen of painkillers, prescription-strength joint-support medications, and “don’t let him jump or go down stairs.”

This has been a major hardship for Yuki, given his preference for spending most of the day on our bed–a significant leap–with occasional forays out to the staircase to hang out in the center of whatever action is going on.

The first couple of days were especially bad for everyone: we had to confine him to the master bathroom. He complained incessantly, and we were sorely tempted to do likewise.

He’s now in a multi-crate cage in the living room. That’s much better all around. He can maneuver more easily on the carpeted floor, the other cats can–and do–visit, and we can give him pettings without worrying about him making a dash for the bed.

He’s alternating between goofy flop-on-his-back-and-wave-his-paws-around, as a request for tummy rubs
31-2
and giving us the Big, Reproachful Yellow Eyes of Doom.
31-3

It’s still too early to be sure, but I think he’s doing better. He seems a little more stable, and his complaints have more to do with his usual belief that we’re not feeding him enough or in a timely fashion than they do with excessive pain.

Cautious optimism, in other words. But please keep a paw or two crossed on his behalf.

Relax!

Want to see something amazing? Check this out:

24-1

Yes, that’s Lefty. Asleep. I actually got close enough to take the picture without waking him up!

Admittedly, I did use the phone’s zoom lens, so I wasn’t quite as close as the picture might suggest.

But even so, the fact that I was able to get that close without putting him on high alert is astounding.

Want to see something even more amazing? Sure you do!

24-2

Left to right, that’s Rhubarb, ‘Nuki, Lefty, and Yuki.

I think it’s safe to say that Lefty is now one of the gang.

But the impressive part is that they’re sharing a bed, all asleep.

This is an event of earth-shaking magnitude, probably on a par with total solar eclipses for rarity.

Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole.

But it’s nice to see Lefty fitting in and learning to take the presence of bipeds–even bipeds with cameras–as nothing to stress out about.

Kitteh Parteh

Whenever we walk into the kitchen, felines gather in hope of a kitteh parteh. The big rush is in the morning, since that’s when we’re most likely to distribute random treats, but even in the evening, the odds are good that somebody will come in with us.

A typical morning looks like this:
17-1

(Sachiko was a bit late to this particular party, though she did make it before all the goodies were gone.)

The regulars have learned the fine art of prairie-catting.
17-2

Yuki’s hind legs aren’t up to the challenge, but he does stretch his neck upward in a giraffe pose.

‘Nuki is a good prairie-catter, and Sachiko is no slouch either (sorry).
17-3

Lefty is deeply suspicious of the concept. He still insists on receiving his treats with all four feet on the ground as the Ur-Cat intended.
17-4

(That shot makes the kitteh parteh look quite placid and polite. Don’t be fooled: there’s quite a lot of pushing and shoving and demanding of attention. All of which, by the way, Lefty is showing great talent for. He’s got a unique head-bump that involves his full body, and which has been known to send smaller cats flying across the room.)

The true champion of the prairie-catters, however, is Rhubarb, paws up.
17-5

I’m fairly sure that by this time next year, he’ll be levitating to gain extra inches on his competition.

Bedding Down

Lefty continues to become more comfortable with the other cats. Unlike Rufus, who seems to be something of a loner, Lefty clearly wants to be around others. When Lefty comes downstairs to hang out in the bedroom or kitchen, Rufus visibly relaxes.

So it’s a definite step in the right direction when we find this sort of thing happening.
10-1

One Formerly Feral Fellow, comfortably sandwiched between a pair of Ookis. All the available evidence suggested they’d spent several hours snoozing on the bed together.

Nor is Lefty restricting his bed visits to times when other cats are present.
10-2

Those are, in fact, my shins he’s relaxing between. To the extent that Lefty ever really relaxes, anyway. He’s getting better about it, but he rarely sleeps so soundly that he doesn’t wake up when I point the camera at him. Or even peek into the room.

I’m rather fond of this last shot. My pillow is Rhubarb’s favorite snoozing place, so it was rather a shock to walk into the bedroom the other day and find this:
10-3

“Yours? Don’t be silly, hoomin. This is my sleeping spot now.”

And he kept it for a good hour after that, until the sounds of his dinner in preparation drew him downstairs to the kitchen. At which point, of course, Rhubarb reclaimed the pillow.

Portraits in Grey and Silver

This one’s for Jackie. I know she could use something to distract her from the Orioles’ winter maneuverings…

So how about a shot of Sir Rufus looking every inch the regal gentleman that he is?
03-1

Of course he does have his playful side. He’s quite the photobomber, as this shot of Lefty proves.
03-2

Yes, it really is a photo of Lefty, as this enhanced version proves.
03-2a
Even the camera prefers to focus on Rufus. Which honestly doesn’t bother Lefty one little bit.

(By the way, all the photos in today’s post are Maggie’s work. I’ve been running in enough circles lately that I haven’t gotten any good shots of the fuzzies. Hopefully that will change soon, but many thanks to Maggie for filling the gap.)

Despite his fondness for the camera, Rufus is still a very sound sleeper. Even the shutter noise can’t awaken him once he’s gotten into deep sleep/power save mode.
03-3

When all is said, though, Rufus’ essence remains his quiet dignity and thoughtful mien.
03-4

(My favorite shot in this batch and one of my all-time favorite shots of Rufus. Handsome under any circumstances, but his shadow sets him off perfectly here.)

Year End Reminders

In this, the final blog post of 2019, I want to remind you of a couple of things.

First, change is inevitable.
27-1

I believe the subject Lefty is discussing with Rhubarb is “If this is the dining room, why aren’t the hoomins giving us food?”

Second, technology advances.
27-2

This shot of Lefty was taken with my work iPhone 11 Pro. Over my shoulder. Without being able to see the subject. (I’ll note that the photo is heavily cropped. Lefty was nowhere near the center of the frame. But it still came out rather nicely.)

And third, some truths are eternal.
27-3

Just as the mound is sixty feet, six inches from the plate, the dining room heat vent is exclusively owned by Sachiko from November to May.

A very happy New Year to one and all. May 2020 be better for you and yours than 2019. See you when the arbitrary astronomical odometer kicks over the tens place.

Nesting Behavior

A quiet, if chilly, morning with the Formerly Feral Fellows.

20-1

Lefty’s fur is thicker than Rufus’, so he doesn’t feel the chill as intensely. Still, he finds the blankets cozy and highly relevant to his interests.

Rufus, as is his wont, has found himself a cave to help him retain heat. That it’s actually got an electric heater is an unanticipated bonus.

The cave is the space under the computer desk and the heater is the UPS. Needless to say, we’d really prefer that he not spend time in there. We wage an endless battle, rearranging the pillows to block access, only to find he’s shoved them aside or sculpted them into a comfortable nest.

Did You Expect Anything Else?

Even though the iPhone is supplied by and intended for work, there’s nothing that says I can’t use it for my own fell purposes.

It’s been functional for about thirty-six hours at this point. Can you believe I’ve only taken thirty photos of the cats in that time?

I’m still experimenting with the functionality, so I’ll spare you the worst of the blurry*, overly dark, poorly framed, and redundant shots.

* I can already tell I’m going to have a hate/hate relationship with Live Photos. Once I get some basic familiarity with that feature, I’m probably going to turn it off.

Here, forthwith, my first halfway worthwhile iPhone 11 Pro cat photos.

Sachiko, enjoying an evening snooze behind the heat vent in the dining room.
13-1

Modern technology is impressive. We’ve upgraded the staircase to support up to four feline channels, and the amount of fur it collects is just amazing!
13-2

Lefty won’t get on the bed unless there’s already at least one cat present. Yuki seems to be his favorite bed partner at the moment; it’ll be interesting to see what happens if Yuki tries to use Lefty as a pillow, the way he does with Rhubarb.
13-3

Rufus and Lefty hanging out in my entirely-too-cluttered office. The vertical black blob in the middle of the screen is a stuffed octopus; Lefty is the vertical black blob behind the eight-legged critter.
13-4

And, finally, my favorite shot of the batch. Kokoro was sitting on my lap when I took this one. I’m amazed at how well it came out, given the short range. I’m even more amazed that she didn’t stick her muzzle into the camera lens as is her usual mode of operation.
13-5