One Step Forward, One Step Sideways

Lefty is starting to feel more comfortable. He’s spending more time sitting on top of his condo, grooming–at least when there are no humans around.

Let one of us come into the room, and he reverts to his “Lurker in the Shadows” persona.
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But even there, he’s less obnoxious about it. He no longer flees at the first sight or sound of humanity, and if he accidentally comes out of hiding while we’re around, he looks us over carefully–especially if we’re interacting with one of the other cats–before ducking for cover.

Which is not to say that progress has been smooth or without issues.
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To be fair, we’re almost certain toppling the condo was an accident. The video* suggests he was trying a Parkata Felis maneuver, flipping from “bowling pin” atop the condo to “fuzzy donut” inside it without occupying any of the space between.

* Unfortunately, it’s not ready for posting. I have to pull the recordings off the camera in batches, and that one is still pending.

It didn’t quite come off: he appears to have gotten a toenail snagged in the carpet around the top of the condo.

No harm done, as far as we can see, and he split his time between the milk crate (as seen in the photo above) and the condo*.

* Well-known fact: cats are liquid, assuming the shape of whatever vessel they’re placed in. A curved floor is no problem at all.

While his stare can be unnerving, we find it reassuring to know he’s keeping his eye on us. (Sorry.)

(Mostly) Quiet Moments

A few quick updates on the gang.

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Kokoro will take any opportunity to sprawl on my lap, even if it means sharing with Rhubarb. Since the weather turned colder and wetter, she’s been even more enthusiastic. The weird thing, though, is that the colder the weather, the more she melts.

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‘Nuki needs his toenails clipped and he’s got no qualms about using that fact when he demands attention. He hasn’t quite figured out that his threats would have more gravitas if they didn’t include those cute pink toebeans.

Lefty continues to be cautious about bipeds. He spends most of the time in his condo, and if we catch him outside, usually retreats immediately.


However, he’s realized that once we turn off the light, we rarely come back into the room. So he’s often at the food bowl before we even finish closing the door. His fastest time from light off to nose-in-bowl is three seconds, although the average is closer to six.

When humans aren’t involved, Lefty seems to be a rather mellow fellow.  At this point, he’s met most of the others, at least briefly, and Rufus spends every night and most of the days with him.  And so far, all the encounters have been peaceful.  No threats issued from between the bars in either direction.

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But Lefty takes relaxation almost to Rufusian levels.  Most cats I know would be uncomfortable in this situation. Not Lefty. He glanced out of the condo when Rufus climbed on top of the cage, then went back to sleep.

Two formerly feral fellows sharing a peaceful moment. What could be better?

(Lefty does love that poor catnip lemon, by the way. He’s all but disemboweled it and keeps it close to the condo at all times. But oddly, the pumpkin doesn’t get much love. He’ll play with it occasionally, but he always comes back to the lemon.)

Irresistible

I know I’ve posted pictures of various cats under the covers before. But really, how could one ever get tired of the genre?
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Just look at Sachiko’s expression of grim determination not to be bothered. At her whiskers carelessly curled under her chin. The handsome tail lovingly curled and pointing to the pink toe beans.

Irresistible!

Post-Thanksgiving Cats

“Hey,” I hear you all thinking*. “What’s up with the ferals?”

* Not really. It’s a rhetorical device. Relax, you don’t need to invest in metallic headgear. You can if you want, of course. I’m hardly in a position to give you fashion advice.”

I haven’t said anything about them because there hasn’t been much to say. The coyotes–or at least one coyote–are still around. We seem to have them scared: they run past our house instead of lingering in the common space. Clearly, that’s of limited utility in keeping the cats safe, so they remain in protective custody.

MM is still in the catio.
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She spends most of her time on the highest shelf, alternately keeping watch, grooming, and sleeping. She descends for dinner, of course, and to use the box, but otherwise prefers to be as high up as possible. Not uncommon among meezers, to be sure, though it’s rare to see them so oblivious to rain.

After far too long in the garage, Lefty has finally made the move inside. I hasten to add that the delay had nothing whatsoever to do with his behavior. We had trouble coming up with a cage that fit into the available space, gave him sufficient room to move around, and didn’t risk him hurting himself through lack of depth perception. We finally combined a large cage with a bunch of snap-together wire panels. Hooray for zip ties!

It took no persuasion whatsoever for him to exchange the plastic carrier for a condo, and the camera frequently finds him sitting on the condo roof. However, he’s still quite shy where bipeds are concerned, and immediately ducks inside when he hears us coming.

He hasn’t met ‘Nuki yet, but they do have one thing in common: a tendency to leave body parts dangling when sleeping in an enclosed space.
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Actually, the only one of the crew he’s met so far is Rufus. Not only was Mr. Alexander the logical choice, given his calm demeanor, but the library–Rufus’ home territory–was the only place in the house where there was enough space for Lefty’s domicile and where we could control his interaction with the other cats.

By and large, it’s working well. Rufus is free to roam the room, so he can ignore Lefty or engage with him as he sees fit. Granted, it’s usually the later (note the eyes at the upper right).

Yes, to our surprise, Lefty has turned out to be quite the talker when he wants Rufus’ attention. Ferals are rarely talkative, so we have to wonder if Lefty grew up as an indoor cat.

You can see Rufus’ tail just to the right of the glowing bar. Clearly, he’d rather eat than talk. Which is not to say that he won’t go looking for Lefty when he’s in the mood.

Naturally, Lefty reserves the right to ignore Rufus if he doesn’t feel social. He’s well aware of Rufus’ efforts, however, as can be seen by the glowing eye in the condo in the last few seconds of that clip.

Every so often, however, both gentlemen are feeling social at the same time.

They haven’t become bosom buddies, but their interactions seem peaceful. Quiet regard and cautious nose-sniffing are the actions of the day. That works for us.

As I said earlier, Lefty still ducks out of sight when he hears us coming. But now that he’s indoors and has had some time to adjust, we’ve started hanging out quietly in the library to accustom him to our presence in a (hopefully) non-threatening fashion. A couple of days ago, he accidentally came out of the condo to visit his food bowl while Maggie was in the room. He didn’t panic and didn’t threaten, just watched her for a few seconds, then ducked back into shelter when he heard me approaching. Definite progress.

In the near future, we’ll try leaving the library door open while we sit with Lefty. That should let him begin to meet the rest of the gang while still giving us control over their interaction.

There’s a long way to go before we even consider letting him out of the cage, much less give him free rein to wander around the house. But we’ve taken the first steps.

As “things to be grateful for” go, being able to offer shelter and love to those in need–Sachiko, Rufus, MM, and Lefty in particular–is high up on my list.

New Cave

The fuzzies have a new lair. To nobody’s surprise, Watanuki tried it out as soon as it was unpacked.
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He must have found it satisfactory because he didn’t waste any time getting back inside when we put it in its permanent location.
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No, he didn’t ride upstairs in it, but I think he might have tried if we hadn’t waited until he was distracted by food.

‘Nuki’s infatuation with it lasted all of a day and half before he went back to sleeping on the bed.

Which just gave others a chance to try it out.
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Yes, the TV Cave has the Rufus Seal of Approval.

Fringe Benefit

If recent posts have given you the impression that Watanuki is being more of an asshole than usual, you’ve gotten the right message.

Unfortunately, Rufus has been the main recipient of Mr. Knuckles’s counter-social behavior. As a result, he’s been spending time in Maggie’s office.

See, that’s Kaja’s territory.
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She rules the room with an iron paw and steel claws, only barely hidden beneath the velvet fur. More importantly, ‘Nuki isn’t allowed in there.

There’s been some hissing and some aggrieved looks, but by and large, it’s been peaceful.
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Not all catnip and sunlight, but relatively peaceful. From Rufus’ perspective, it’s much quieter than the rest of the house.

As a fringe benefit, Rufus has also been establishing better relations with Kokoro, who’s been spending time in Maggie’s office for much longer than he has.
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They’re not best buddies, but they’re coexisting nicely.

And cutely.
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Winter Is Coming

And no, I’m not talking George R.R. Martin.

We are seeing the first signs of winter’s approach. Specifically, cats hogging the heat registers.
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Rhubarb’s been doing it for years. He’s got the technique down: block the entire vent so no heat escapes his fur.

Since the overnight temperatures dropped to a glacial 55 degrees or so, he’s been at one vent or another most mornings. Never mind that it’s a good ten degrees warmer inside. Everyone knows it’s the psychological effect of the cold outdoors that does it.

Sachiko doesn’t quite have the details sorted.
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Maybe it’s because she’s younger and hasn’t worked out all of the ramifications.

Or perhaps she just doesn’t feel the cold in her bones as much as her older brother.

But regardless, she knows her extremities get colder than her torso, and she’s figured out what to do to avoid a frostbitten tail.
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Anyone want some nicely toasted caudal vertebrae? Just the thing for breakfast on a pre-winter morning. Sachiko thinks so. Or maybe she’s just grooming. I don’t think her tail is any shorter today than yesterday.

Patience

Those don’t look like Rufus’ toes…
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It appears that somebody has staged an invasion. But who would be so dastardly?

Silly question.
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Who but Mr. Thugbutt would be so evil as to take over Rufus’ mushroom? Nobody, of course.

To be fair, it’s not really Rufus‘ mushroom. After all, the mushroom not only predates his arrival in the household, it’s been here longer than Sachiko.

But since it’s in the room Rufus considers his, the mushroom must also be his. (Which means Rufus also owns a computer, a printer, and several thousand books. None of which he’s ever shown any interest in, fortunately.)

No, of course Rufus didn’t fight for the mushroom. He’s a Mellow Fellow, and a pacifist of almost Gandhian proportions.

He knows ‘Nuki will vacate the ‘shroom eventually. And until then?
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What cat can resist a sun-warmed spot on a comfortable cushion in front of the window? Certainly not Rufus.

Stuffed

Rufus has a new hangout.
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Well, okay, it’s actually an old one. Just about the first place he went when we started letting him explore the space outside his transitional cage.

But we’ve recently rearranged the room and made the mushroom more accessible, and he’s taking full advantage.

And yes, we realize it’s probably supposed to be a tree stump, but really, with that domed cap, it looks more like a mushroom.

And besides, mushrooms are funnier. Especially when they’re cat-stuffed mushrooms.

Anyway, that dubious look is rather atypical for the normally mellow Mr. Alexander. But at the time I took the picture, he’d just finished a round of territorial negotiation with ‘Nuki, so any unusual activity was cause for suspicion.

Normally, Rufus is considerably more relaxed when acting as mushroom filler.
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Yes, he was snoring. And the mushroom acts as a resonator. I won’t say the walls were shaking–but they may have quivered a bit.

Sleeping Arrangements

Surprisingly, our feline crew have orderly minds.

Granted, cats generally have a strong preference for tradition and regular routines, but ours even carry it over into their sleeping arrangements.

Right triangles are popular.
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Though equilateral triangles are almost as common.
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And the straight line is evergreen.
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(The line is straighter than it appears in this photo. Kokoro and Rhubarb were lying on my legs, preventing me from aligning the camera properly.)

Having said all that, I should clarify that such geometric specificity applies only at the interfeline level. Individual cats are always free to be as goofy as they wish in their pursuit of teh kyoot.

And they do.  Take a closer look at Watanuki in that last photo:
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Note the paw over the nose, the brilliantly pink toe beans, and, most important of all, the tail carefully curled around the end of the rear leg.