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.

 

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.

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.

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?
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Of course he does have his playful side. He’s quite the photobomber, as this shot of Lefty proves.
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Yes, it really is a photo of Lefty, as this enhanced version proves.
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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.
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When all is said, though, Rufus’ essence remains his quiet dignity and thoughtful mien.
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(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.)

Nesting Behavior

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

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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Census

Why, yes, my schedule is a bit confused this week. What gave me away?

Here’s Friday’s post, only twenty-four hours late.

Four fine, feline fellows.

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Okay, three and a half–that’s Yuki’s hindquarters off to the right there.

(To be totally honest, there were actually five cats present, but I couldn’t frame a picture that included Kokoro at the bottom of the stairs while still keeping Lefty even partially visible. Perhaps it’s just as well. She would indignantly deny being a “fellow”.)

Winter Weather

We’ve had a bit of a cold snap of late. Overnight temperatures are dropping into the forties and upper thirties. Even though we keep it significantly warmer in the house, the weather does have a predictable effect on the cats.

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Kokoro and Kaja are roommates of long standing, and as roomies often do, they tend to hang around together. Kaja is definitely taking it to unusual levels of closeness, though. It’s rare to see Kokoro actually snuggle up with someone who doesn’t walk on two feet.

Rufus and Lefty, of course, have been sharing living space for a comparatively short time–less than a year! They’re still working out the parameters of closeness. Lefty is more inclined to exploration–Rufus seems to have a “been downstairs, didn’t like it” attitude–but they still spend most of their time in reasonable proximity.

Lefty likes to keep an eye on Rufus, to better protect him from those perplexing bipeds.

Even so, they’ve been unusually close the past few days.

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Cuteness reigns throughout the house.

Settling In

Lefty has definitely gotten past his fear of humans. He’s still cautious, yes, but not afraid.

Case in point: while I get the gooshy fud ready–mixing in the Fellows’ medications and adding water to keep their kidneys well-lubricated–Maggie goes upstairs to play with them and distribute a few treats.

Time was, Lefty would hide under the futon as soon as she approached, emerging only grudgingly after he was sure we’d both left the room.

Now? Not so much.
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Yep, that black blob at the top of the photo is Mr. Lefty himself, sprawled bonelessly on the carpet, waiting for Maggie to put down the camera and pick up the feathers-on-a-stick toy.

Can’t get much more settled in than eagerly awaiting a chance to attack a fake bird.

Back to Normal

And after last week’s digression, here we are again, back with the usual crew.

Maggie took a short business trip earlier this week. She didn’t pack until the last minute, so ‘Nuki didn’t have a chance to hang out on his favorite temporary perch.

When she got back, he was taking no chances on missing out again. Less than five minutes after she walked in the door…
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Moving on.

Lefty and Rufus are big on togetherness–though Rufus does sometimes seem a bit relieved when Lefty goes exploring around the house. Most of the time, though, they can be found in tandem.

Naturally, the usual dynamic is that Lefty keeps watch while Rufus sleeps. Wouldn’t do for a hoomin to sneak up and pat his buddy, after all…
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