Another Guest

We have a catio guest!
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Involuntary and hopefully of strictly limited duration, I hasten to add.

Way, way back last July, when Rufus–called “GT” at the time–moved into our garage for what we expected would be a short visit, I said “Once everything settles down and they [Fix Our Ferals] reopen, Tuxie will be paying them a visit.”

“Settles down.” It is to laugh. But it has gotten a little quieter around here, and FOF is reopening, so…

Tuxie’s appointment is Sunday morning. We wanted to make sure he didn’t miss it, so we snagged him Tuesday afternoon and moved him into quarters on the deck.

I suggested he think of the time not as pre- and post-op, but as an extended vacation. He doesn’t seem convinced.

He spends most of his time lounging around and complaining.
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Mind you, that’s basically how he spends every day. And to be fair, I should note that the previous photo shows him mid-yawn, not mid-yowl.

Tuxie is a bit skinnier than we’d like, but two meals a day should help with that.

And we really, really hope that he’s not FIV-positive, because that would really give us a difficult decision to make. Realistically, the Rufus solution is not on the table. Of course, it wasn’t on the table last August either.

But be that as it may, at least Tuxie will get to spend a week or so in a luxurious retreat with catered meals and plenty of attention.

He doesn’t seem too unhappy about that.
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As Excuses Go…That’s a Pretty Good One

Writers are justly famous for our ability to procrastinate.

But–do you want to hear a secret? Okay, come a little closer so I can whisper–the truth is we’re actually no better at it than anyone else. We just document it better. Because writing is what we do.

And we’ve been at it for a long time. How long? Well, Excuse for Not Writing Number 1 is “Sharpening my charred stick.”

Technology has made some changes. In many parts of the world, Number 2,745 (“Washing the dishes”) has been largely replaced by Number 68,117 and 68,118 (“Loading the dishwasher” and “Emptying the dishwasher”).

At this point, many writers do it more because it’s a tradition than because they feel any deep personal need to procrastinate.

There’s something of a thrill in extending a tradition.

I speak from experience. I’ve just been notified that I’ve had an excuse added to the list.

Official Excuse for Not Writing Number 237,630 is “Rufus demanded a tummy rub.”

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I’m proud, honored, and humbled to have made such a significant contribution to my field.

Quota

One of the main reasons why the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups recommend Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) over euthanasia in reducing feral feline populations is that feral colonies are rarely isolated.

As with any wild animals, population will increase to roughly that of the environment’s carrying capacity. Removing cats from the colony, rather than fixing and returning them, simply lowers the population to the point where the local habitat has a surplus of resources. And then cats from surrounding areas will typically move in, and the population will rise back to the local maximum.

Since we’ve adopted Rufus, we’ve begun to see this phenomenon playing out.

Meet Bunter.
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Maggie named him, not for his prowess in wielding a bat, but for the character in Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey stories. As Wikipedia puts it, “Bunter conveys an air of awesome solemn dignity lightened at rare intervals by an icy sarcasm and an understated but biting criticism.” That sounds about right.

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Our Bunter has been showing up intermittently for a couple of months–and the expression he* turns on us when we interrupt him at the food bowl is the most eloquent icy sarcasm laced with biting criticism I’ve ever seen.

* As usual, in the absence of evidence, I’ve assigned pronouns via coin flip.

MM, of course, has been keeping a close eye on Bunter.
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As queen of the local chaos of cats, it’s her responsibility to pass judgment on the suitability of any would-be immigrants. She’s also drawing on the talents of Ooki Brothers Security in monitoring Bunter’s behavior.
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They naturally take a special interest in tuxedo-clad cats.

Nor is Bunter the only feline who’s been dropping by.

During the February rains, we spotted a new arrival.
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He slipped into the yard when MM and Tuxie weren’t around and checked the food bowls for goodies. After a couple of days, he vanished, and we decided he must have found fault with the environment and moved on.

Until a couple of days ago, when it started raining heavily. Sure enough, as soon as it got wet out, there he was.
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He hasn’t been around long enough to acquire a name. For the moment, we’re using our usual fallback of naming based on appearance. So he’s known as “Somewhat Bedraggled Meezer.” If he sticks around, we’ll need to replace that–or at least shorten it.

MM is on the job, keeping an eye on SBM, though as yet she hasn’t called in the Ooki brothers or their assistant.
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It’s too soon to say whether either of our visitors will become regulars–though we do have another bowl ready for deployment if it’s needed–but the queen seems to have given tentative approval to both of them. Or, to be more precise, we haven’t heard any debates in the yard, nor have we seen any pointy politics.

Still a Way to Go

Rufus continues to acclimate to his new life.

Despite the traditional family humiliations heaped on him–see yesterday’s post for an example–and the continued misbehavior of Mr. AssholeWatanuki, Rufus is making longer forays around the house and looking more comfortable while he does it.

‘Nuki’s latest trick is to climb into Rufus’ bed.
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Once firmly in possession, he glares through the holes at the rightful owner.
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Who, for the most part, cheerfully ignores him. Rufus has figured out that if ‘Nuki is in the bed, he’s not in a position to prevent him from exploring.

Lately, he’s been hanging out at the top of the stairs. Yes, the stairs that are the nerve center of the entire house, and the spot where Rhubarb and Yuki generally hang out.
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Now, granted, that top step is roughly four Rufus-lengths from his “safe space”–that’s the door at the left–but it’s unquestionably a sign of progress.

And he does look amazingly relaxed, doesn’t he?
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Well, OK. Maybe not too relaxed.

Almost There

We’re almost there. The MLB preseason is just about over. Opening Day is Monday, though as usual, we’ve got Scheduled For TV games on Sunday–three of ’em this year.

As we all know, the beginning of the season means two things: cats are making predictions and this year’s baseball video games hit the shelves.

Let’s start with the bad news.

Check out this commercial for MLB The Show 17.

Assuming you haven’t fled, screaming in horror, let’s talk about what’s wrong with this.

For starters, did you notice that every single person in the commercial is “this guy” and “he”? I’m not sure whether Sony thinks that women don’t play video games or that there aren’t female baseball fans, but either way it’s a damned offensive assumption.

Then there’s the celebration of Manfred’s Kool-Aid. “Quick three inning games”? Are you kidding me?

And speaking of that guy–four jobs and twelve kids? Come on! As Groucho Marx once didn’t say, “I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while!” Maybe if the dude hadn’t dropped $300 on a PS4 and $60 on the game, he could afford to quit one of those jobs.

I don’t play video games–not even baseball games–but I’m tempted to buy a PS4 just so I can boycott MLB The Show 17. The only thing stopping me is that Sony makes the console too.

Moving on.

Of course we’ve begun indoctrinating Rufus into the household traditions. He’s seen some baseball on TV (about ten seconds worth of highlights), so we figured he was qualified to make predictions for the 2017 season.

On the other hand, he is new to the concept, so we decided to start him off with something straightforward: predicting the final standings for the American League West. We’ll keep working with him during the season, and if his predictions pan out, we’ll give him a shot at the playoffs.

He used a treat-based methodology to make his selections.

The final prediction:

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Houston Astros
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

It’s not the order I’d have liked to see, but it’s not completely unreasonable, based on the preseason predictions. For comparison, FiveThirtyEight has Houston, Seattle, Texas, LA, and Oakland.

Rufus definitely enjoyed making his picks.

He was, however, rather less enthusiastic about the obligatory Wearing of the Cap that followed.

Balance

I try to keep my posts fair and balanced. In that spirit, here’s a shot of Tuxie doing his fence-walking act.
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The really impressive part–which I entirely failed to photograph–was him walking across the gate a couple of body lengths behind him.

In a different sort of balance, here’s a shot of Rhubarb, who hasn’t gotten much coverage lately.
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The quizzical expression on his face is the result of me, Maggie, Kokoro, and Yuki all coming into the room at the same time. Rhubarb is wondering exactly what he did that warranted so much attention.

(And yes, this post is late. No excuses: I just plain forgot to prepare it last night. My apologies.)

Integration 2

We’re still working on giving Rufus the freedom of the house. He’s making progress, but it’s slow.

Part of it is on Rufus; he seems to have the idea that we don’t want him to leave his room. When we leave the door open, he waits until we’re not around, and then he sneaks out. As soon as he sees one of us–or even hears us approaching–he retreats to his turf.

We can’t even lure him out of the room to accept cuddles in the hall. He’ll come right up to the door, flop down a careful half-inch inside the room, and roll onto his back for a tummy rub. I’ve started carrying him one Rufus-length outside the door for pettings. He’s accepting it, but it’s too soon to know whether there will be any long-term benefit.

And Rufus is going further on his exploratory expeditions than he did early on. We’ve found him (briefly) in the front hall, two floors away from his safe space. So there’s hope.

The biggest part of Rufus’ failure to integrate, however, is named “Watanuki”. Or, as we’re calling him more and more often, “Mr. Asshole”.

‘Nuki misses no opportunity to steal Rufus’ catnip toys, hunt for scraps of food in his bowls, use his litter box, and generally take every chance he can to invade Rufus’ personal space.

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Note the “Will you get this schmuck out of here?” look on Rufus’ face and ‘Nuki’s “I’m not touching you. I’m not touching you.” expression.

We haven’t seen much in the way of violence, barring the occasional nose-bop, but the political slogan shouting has gotten heated at times.

I suspect the eventual outcome will involve somebody taking a claw to the ear or nose, before they both back down and negotiate a settlement.

Flap

Whenever Maggie fills the bird feeders (affectionately known as the Cat Entertainment Devices), we get swarms of the feathered noisemakers.

I’m not a bird person, so I only recognize three types:
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Jays

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Doves
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Little Twitter Birds

Life is even simpler for Sachiko.
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She calls them all “ek-ek-ek-ek [tail swish]”. As best I can tell–and why doesn’t Google Translate handle Cat/English?–that means “Lemme outta here, Daddy! I’ll moidelize da bums!” ¬†Approximately.

You might think that MM and Tuxie would spend most of their time in the yard, watching and drooling. You would be half right.
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To be fair, MM does spend time keeping an eye on the avian activity.
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It’s not a very aggressive eye, but it is an eye.
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Note the orange little twitter bird at the silver feeder and the gray one at the red feeder, which is almost directly above MM’s head.

Based on our observations of MM’s interactions with the birds, we’re fairly sure that she, like me, has three names for them. About three-quarters of them are “Meh. Too much work.” Two-thirds of the remainder are “Missed it by that much.” And the remaining eight percent?

“See? I don’t need hoomins to feed me.”

And You Thought Herding Them Was Hard

03-1The weather is warming and, far more important, drying out. And that means that Tuxie is once again spending most afternoons flaked out on top of Cape Odd.

03-2Uh…

Have you noticed that even when MM is taking it easy, she never really sleeps? She’s always on the alert, defending her territory against all invaders.

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Oh, for crying out loud, guys!

Make up your minds, already! I’m trying to write a blog post here.

Look, our deal is that we supply the krunchiez, and you pose for the pictures, right? Right.

So–

What?

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Now you’re just doing it to annoy me.

Cats.

Wait’ll you see what I add to the food bowl tonight!

(Note to blog readers: It’s probably going to be some scraps of leftover cheese. What kind of lunatic did you think I was?)