All Hail!

Who’s that curled up all cozy on the mushroom?
15-1

Why it’s Lefty!
15-2

Care to share a few words with your fans, Lefty?
15-3

Clearly, he’s got nothing printable to say…

Seriously, though, this is a major step forward. Sure, he was uneasy, not to mention annoyed at being awakened. But nevertheless, he stayed put long enough for me to stick my phone through the barely opened door and take several pictures.

All part of the evolution of his attitude. He still hides under the futon when we come into the room, but he stays much closer to the edge, and he’ll actually come out into the room to get treats.

He’s quite the elegant fellow–though he’s still not happy about being watched–and he’s still keeping a safe distance, even when treats are involved. But his definition of a “safe distance” is getting smaller and smaller.

Hail the Formerly Feral Feline, who’s becoming increasingly “formerly” every day!

Cuddle Buddies

Just a brief post today, for reasons.

But I had promised to try and post video of Lefty and Rufus indulging in mutual grooming. And I do keep my promises.

One has to admire Rufus’ patience with his companion.

The Fellows are a bit distant, I’m afraid. No zoom on the camera. So, to make up for that, here’s a snippet of them sharing the mushroom condo, at the other end of the camera’s range.

For some value of “sharing” anyway.

Littering

Those of you who don’t have cats can probably skip this post. Unless you like theoretical problems in waste disposal, you’re probably better off leaving this one to those with practical experience.

As you might expect, with nine cats–counting MM–and eight litter boxes, we go through a lot of litter.

The catio box gets the old standby, clay-based litter. Not because it’s cheap, although it is, but because the box and the storage cabinet are outside. See, the clay stuff comes in a plastic jug, which keeps it dry even in wet weather. Handy. It clumps fairly well, making scooping the box simpler, and most importantly, MM is comfortable using it.

Matters aren’t so clear-cut indoors.

We used to use corn-based litter, either World’s Best or Pet Food Express’ house brand equivalent. It has advantages over clay. It clumps better and produces less dust.

On the down side, it’s not so great on odor control–a major consideration for us–though no worse than clay. And it’s getting more expensive and harder to find. WB raised its prices recently, and the PFE “Smart Litter” has vanished from the stores.

One might have expected the opposite, given what the current trade war with China has done to the price and availability of corn. But history shows that logic bears only a passing relationship to economics.

But I digress.

Lately we’ve been trying Nature’s Miracle. It’s also corn-based, though the packaging emphasizes that it uses corn cobs, rather than dried kernels. It’s loaded with “bioenzymes” (type not specified) and judging by the scent, a certain amount of evergreen wood.

The piney scent does help with odor control. The biggest problem with the NM is that the particles are smaller than the other varieties we’ve tried. Smaller pieces means more mobility, i.e. more litter migrating out of the box. That’s annoying but manageable: the stuff does vacuum up easily. What makes it a problem is that the litter doesn’t clump well–or rather, the clumps tend to fall apart during scooping. So used litter accumulates in the box, migrates out of the box, and makes the nearby floor unpleasant for humans and felines.

We’ve had some luck mixing litters. Get the proportions right and you wind up with the best of both worlds: good clumping and good odor control. Unfortunately, figuring out the correct ratio and thoroughly mixing the hybrid litter are non-trivial problems. Get the balance wrong or fail to properly integrate the two types, and you get non-clumping litter that doesn’t do diddly to suppress odors.

We can’t be the only people facing this dilemma.

Any feline caretakers out there who’d like to offer advice? We’d love to hear what varieties of litter work well or what tricks you use to improve the performance of what comes out of the bag.

How to Handle Change

Some people never change.

Take MM, for example.
01-1

This is not a cat who’s happy to see me. Even though I’d just filled her food bowl, exactly as Maggie and I have done for the past seven months or so. Cleaning the litter box is often performed with a soundtrack of hisses.

She’s mellowed enough to take cover in one of the shelters when it’s particularly wet or cold, but that’s not much a shift.

Then there are those who try something new, give it up, and come back to it.
01-2

After an extended period of terrestrialism–completely voluntary, I assure you–Sachiko has resumed her acrobatic ways.

It’s probably a misperception, but I tend to believe she’s spending more time balanced on one of the banisters than on the ground.

We’re hoping it’s a phase. Not that we begrudge her indulgence of her aerialist tendencies, but the truth is, she’s not as svelte as she was the last time around, and we’re concerned about the ramifications of a misstep.

And then there are those who revel in change.
01-3

After something of a slow start, Lefty seems to be turning into quite the fan of indoor living. He adjusted to a mixed gooshy/krunchie diet rather quickly and picked up the art of the litter box faster than MM. After that, though, progress was slow for several months.

But ever since we let him out of the cage, he’s been enthusiastically trying out new things. As in the picture above, he’s finding great joy in nesting in the blankets on the futon. Curiously, however, he’s still not at all interested in having a cushion in any of his caves–we often find one or another condo pillow in the middle of the floor. (Not yet available: video of Lefty and Rufus sharing the futon and exchanging ear-washings. Hopefully I can pull it off the camera in time for next week’s post.)

And, speaking of the middle of the floor, the other thing we often find there is Lefty himself. Sometimes by himself, keeping a watchful eye (sorry) on the activity outside the room, but more often in company with his buddy Rufus.
01-4

Blankie

Watanuki’s love affair with Maggie’s new blanket–or rather, plural blankets–continues.

25-1

I don’t know if the colder weather we’ve been getting lately, with overnight lows in the lower forties, or just a desire for snuggles when there are no humans around.

Certainly, he has been snugglier than usual lately, which is suggestive, but not conclusive.

25-2

Regardless of the reason, it’s quite common these days to walk into the bedroom and find a thuggish head poking out from under the blankets.

Oddly, he seems to be the only feline* so enthralled.

* Maggie is nearly as fond of the blankets as ‘Nuki. Nearly.

Rhubarb spends nearly as much time on the bed, but he’s quite content to stick with my familiar slightly fuzzy red blanket.

25-3

Maybe he likes the way it feels. Maybe he thinks it complements his own fur. Or maybe he’s just a creature of habit. Like me.

Personal Growth

As I’ve noted from time to time, Rhubarb is the perennial undercat around here. Nearly everyone bullies him; the lone exception is Sachiko, who’s treated him with a sort of wary respect ever since she was a kitten. (Which is not to say that there’s no strife between them. Sometimes she just can’t resist a casual claw swipe in his direction. But that’s Sachiko being Sachiko.)

Of late, Rhubarb has been trying to assert himself more. It doesn’t work very well, but it’s nice to see him trying. He just hasn’t figured out that he needs to sustain his effort. One hiss or paw slap to the forehead gets attention, but not the kind of respect he’s looking for.

It’ll come to him eventually, I suspect.

And until then, he’ll be our contemplative smoked-salmon-and-cream-cheese fellow.

18-1

Mind lost in rapturous thought, butt firmly planted on the bed.

Floof Is Everywhere

Floof is everywhere.

For starters, here’s a picture of Yuki I missed last week.
11-1
Maggie calls it “Swirl of Floof.” It’s convincing evidence in support of the theory that cats are liquid and will take on the shape of whatever container they put themselves in. In this case, it’s the condo we refer to as “The Hammock,” a favored hangout for Yuki, as well as Sachiko and Watanuki.

And, speaking of Mr. ‘Nuki, here you see him field testing Maggie’s new blanket. Yes, the purple and blue one.
11-2
She got it because it’s warm and snuggly–floofy, even–but ‘Nuki is a suspicious sort and he takes his role as head of household security seriously. He’s not going to approve it for use without extremely careful testing.

So far, he’s been testing it around the clock for ten days.

He won’t commit to a schedule to wrap up the testing. Though it should be noted that the actual testing process requires quite a bit of wrapping up.

Maggie may yet get to use it without Mr. Knuckles’ supervision, but at the rate he’s going, that may not be until June.

Floof Face Friday

It’s important for me to remember that all the fuzzies need attention. I can’t allow myself to get caught up in over-posting the latest arrivals. Though anyone who’s followed the blog for a while knows I’m not always good at following that rule. Sachiko got a disproportionate amount of attention until Rufus came along, and he got more than his fair share until Lefty arrived.

In an attempt, however fleeting it might be, to redress the balance, I’ve chosen to devote today’s post to Yuki. And the fact that he tried to climb into my lap and demand pettings yesterday had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Without further ado, please enjoy this installment of Floof Face Friday.

04-1
Call this face “Inquistive”. Also known as “What the heck are they doing now?”

04-2
It’s not uncommon for “Inquisitive” to be followed by “Regal”. Yuki is above such mundane matters as humans wielding cameras. Ignore the blob of goo in the corner of his right eye. Yuki is also above such mundanities as grooming himself for his closeup.

04-3
“Reproachful Irritation” is the face he presents when his grooming is interrupted.

04-4
And “Sleepy Ire” is what Yuki displays when awakened from slumber by the camera’s infrared focusing light.

04-5
Then, of course, we have “How Can You Resist Those Big Yellow Eyes?” which is also known as “I Can Haz Pettins Nao?”

04-6
And finally, there’s this one. It’s either “There’s a Bug On the Ceiling” or “Chin Skritch Time”. Yuki’s facial enunciation isn’t always perfectly clear.

Two Left Paws

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Lefty had accidentally tipped over his condo. Now that I’ve had a chance to review the footage, I’m not so sure it was an accident.

It looks to me like he really put his back into it. And is it just my imagination, or does he have a satisfied expression on his face after the second flip?

Maybe it was an accident. Or maybe it was encroaching cabin fever. After all, he’s been in the cage for more than a month. His nightly interaction with Rufus and the occasional brief visit from the other cats will only go so far for entertainment value.

Regardless of the cause of the Great Condo Flip, Lefty settled down after that. For about a week and a half.

Christmas Eve morning, he had a little accident with the litter box. No, not that kind. He’s been very well-mannered about using it. This kind:

That was unquestionably an accident. Just look at his bereft expression as he hunts through the debris. Not quite as grim a disaster as the California wildfires, but Lefty was only able to rescue one toy: his ball*.

His favorite catnip lemon turned up later, safely hidden in the condo. There was much rejoicing.

Alas, less than two hours later, a second disaster struck.

Despite Lefty’s best efforts, the ball remained in his water bowl until we came upstairs and discovered the wreckage, some four hours later.

Clearly, something had to be done.

Lefty’s Christmas present was a broadening of his horizons.

(No, he didn’t have to wait until that late in the day to receive his gift. We opened the door several hours earlier, but he wanted to be sure it wasn’t some kind of trick, so he kept it under surveillance.) I find it significant that his first action outside the cage was to examine the tools we use to clean the litter box.

He’s now spending most of his time under the futon, but he’s still going back to the cage to use the box and eat.

Relations with Rufus are largely cordial but wary. There’s a certain amount of jockeying for dominance–Lefty’s gotten a slap or two upside his head, but pushed back by stealing some of Rufus’ food–but we haven’t seen any sign of full-blown fighting, or even much in the way of foul language.

We’re still discussing the next steps. Whatever we decide, he’ll have plenty of time to grow accustomed to having the freedom of the library before we stress him with anything new.

But it’s progress. A Merry Christmas, indeed.

Merry You-Know-What

The tree is up, the heat is on, and the cats are gathering.

21-1

Yup, must be Christmas time.

No matter where you fall on the scale* between “Christmas? What’s that?” and “Woo-hoo! Best day of the year! More celebration!” I hope you’ll have a good day, secure in the knowledge that 2018 is nearly over.

* I’m aware there’s at least one more dimension to the scale–the religious one. But (a) representing a three-dimensional graph in words is grammatically incomprehensible and (b) If two thousand years of scholarship hasn’t come up with glib captions everyone can agree adequately summarize the religious extremes, I’m not fool enough to try.

Stay warm, stay dry, and stay safe.