The Hardest Words

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The hardest words are “It’s time”. They always come too soon.

There’s a Rufus-sized hole in the universe today. Not in our hearts, because he’ll always be there, but in my office, the upstairs hall, and most especially the library, aka “Rufus’ and Lefty’s Room”.

Grief bombs abound. The “Rufus Inside” sign on the library door. His food bowls waiting in the kitchen. The way he always bravely placed himself to defend Lefty from the evil vacuum cleaner.

It came on so quickly. He was, to all appearances, fine last month when he had his annual vet visit. Even a week ago, he seemed his normal, snuggly self.

And then he refused to eat. Never a good sign.

We don’t, and won’t, know the full cause. Massive kidney failure linked with, or perhaps caused by, something gastrointestinal.

When we visited him at the vet yesterday evening, he seemed restless and only intermittently lucid. By this morning, he wasn’t tracking at all, and was clearly looking for a way out.

We said goodbye and let him go.

He never got to meet Dad, not in a cuddles and skritches way, but they would have loved each other. Hopefully they’re hanging out now, with Rufus shamelessly extorting tummy rubs.

We had three and half wonderful years with Rufus after he moved inside from the catio, and all those years getting to know him as one of the Backyard Bunch. Wouldn’t change a minute of it, up until the last few days.

We’ll miss you, Buddy. Always and forever.

 

Just In Time

Lefty’s incorporation into the family–and indoctrination into the family obsessions–continues. Just in time for the most important element to be put on hold for a couple of weeks.

A few days ago, he joined me on the bed for a while. I was watching the Mariners beat the Padres, and Lefty seemed to be watching the action with curiosity and perhaps even a hint of approval. I took advantage of the opportunity to let him get a closer acquaintance with The Game.

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He was intrigued and gave the ball a good sniff, but declined to demonstrate whatever pitching prowess he might have.

And, as soon as the game ended, he pointed out that there are–at least in his estimation–some things more important.

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Subtle, he’s not.

I got the point, however, and began preparing the feline’s evening repast.

Comfy?

Rufus is an incredible camera slut. I’m convinced he can hear the sound of a smartphone sending power to the camera, because the instant I launch the app–on either of my phones–he wakes up and comes rushing over to make sure I get plenty of shots of his good side.

That means candid photographs of him are hard to come by. Not quite “scarce as Rufus teeth,” but close.

But I finally managed to get a shot of him in his favorite sleeping spot in something approximating his usual sleeping position.

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Note the dangling tail and hind paw.

Note the gracefully curled front paw.

Note the small light next to his cheek. That’s called a “power button” and it can be used to turn off a computer.

Did I mention that the computer in question is the main file server for the house?

Of course he’s stepped on the button. Several times. He’s a cat isn’t he? If he isn’t causing trouble while looking cute and innocent, he’s failing to fulfill his duties as a feline and as the instructor of Lefty’s ongoing class in proper interactions with bipeds.

Three Faces

Kaja!* is a very articulate lady. Not (usually) very verbal, but a Grand Mistress of body language.

* Legal paperwork doesn’t include the exclamation point in her name, but when I told her I was working on a post featuring her, she was quite explicit in telling me how it should be spelled. Point(s) taken.

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This is, of course, Impatience. Also, as Maggie so eloquently titled the photo, “Feed Us Already, Hoomin!”

Contrary to rumor, Impatience is not actually her resting face–although there are elements of it, certainly.

Then there’s Smug.

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Even though Kokoro and Rhubarb were in the room, Kaja! secured the best cave for herself. Cushioned floor, slightly elevated for the best sight lines. It’s highly coveted turf.

And then there’s–

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–uh, actually, I’m not sure what this is. When I took the picture, I was sure it was Boredom, but on further review, I’m not as certain.

There’s definitely an air of laughter, incompatible with Boredom, especially at the cosmic level of achievement Kaja! can attain.

Perhaps it’s an emotion of her own invention.

Or maybe she’s just trying to freak me out. I wouldn’t put it past her.

Minor Changes

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Why, yes, the lemon tree is producing most prodigiously these days.

Oh, Emmem? Yes, she’s still in protective custody out in the catio.

Her mood oscillates randomly from “secluded grump” to “vociferous grumpy” with the occasional side-jaunt into “pensive grumpy” as seen in the photo above.

With the demographic changes to the outdoor wildlife over the past couple of years, she doesn’t get much feline company. The bowls of Kitty Krunchiez we leave outside the catio are more likely to be emptied by trash pandas or possums than by cats.

Emmem finds this trend distasteful.

But then, she finds many things distasteful.

Eternal grumpiness notwithstanding, she seems in good health. Her appetite is fine–she’s definitely put on some weight–and her fur is lush and shiny (and much darker than in the past, thanks to the recent weather conditions). We haven’t seen any signs of the eye condition (excessive goo at the corners) lately.

And, while she spent much of the winter hiding inside her well-insulated cave, now that the weather is warming, she’s seen more and more often sitting on the highest shelf in the catio, keeping a cautious eye on her surroundings.

With the occasional foray to the floor near the house. She’s got a good view of Yuki’s current habitat in the living room, and Emmem is clearly unsure what to make of his residency.

But at least it means she gets some opportunities to interact with other cats, even if it is through her wire walls and his window.

Uncertainties

Sachiko has a new favorite perch.

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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.
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(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.
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Notice and demand the the photographer get his best side. And his worst side. And every other side he’s got.
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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.
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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
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and giving us the Big, Reproachful Yellow Eyes of Doom.
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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:

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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!

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