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The weird lighting and rapidly changing temperatures have everyone in the household a bit unbalanced and prone to hiding in caves and/or under the covers*. The result is a notable lack of entertainingly cute pictures this week.

* I include the two-legged inhabitants in that assessment.

So, instead, how about a Rogues’ Gallery of all of the quadrupeds with a minimum of commentary?

In order of increasing seniority:

MM

Lefty

Sachiko

The Ookis came into the house at the same time, but ‘Nuki is clearly the senior of the two.
Yuki

Watanuki (three months older and far more dominant than his shelter-brother)

The Flying Monkeys don’t fly as much as they used to when they were kittens. But again, Kaja is the obvious senior.
Rhubarb

Kaja (a born leader and much more aggressive than her littermate)

And the grande dame, Ms. Kokoro

Another Style

Coincidentally*, at just about the same time last Friday’s post on feline land-ownership styles went live, MM declared herself the owner of the room which she previously shared with Lefty.

* Or perhaps it’s no coincidence at all. There is a computer with unrestricted Internet access in that room. I may need to check the browser history.

The key word in that sentence is, of course, “previously”. MM’s style appears to be both autocratic and intolerant. She rules with a set of iron claws and doesn’t bother hiding them in a velvet mitt.

The immediate result of her declaration was Lefty pounding on the door and demanding to be let out. He has refused to return to the room since then, even though MM retreated to the cage and demanded that we lock her in.

MM, it should be noted, appears to exhibit a certain amount bipolar behavior. Her explorations of the room were during an “up” period, during which she’s curious, calm, and almost charming. Her declaration of ownership and subsequent retreat to her stronghold are typical of the other pole.

In any case, since Lefty won’t go into the library–in fact, he won’t even go upstairs–no matter what treats we offer, he has necessarily become a citizen of the house. There’s a learning curve: he’s still working on the concept that there’s nothing to stop Sachiko from stealing his dinner if he doesn’t eat when it’s served, and he’s still not sure about his right to sit on the dining room chairs (he’s allowed, as long as ‘Nuki doesn’t get there first.)

It’s been less than a week, but he’s seeming more comfortable downstairs than he had been before the change. He’s beginning to request patting and neck scratching. And he’s trying out new experiences.

That has a learning curve as well. His early attempts at condo living all resulted in a dangling tail.

Many had dangling paws as well.

He’s been working on it, though, and has several times succeeded in getting his entire body inside.

As for MM, she is, for now, content to remain in the cage. Since that room is one of the hottest in the house, especially in our current heat wave, we’re willing to let her stay caged and leave the door of the room open for air circulation.

We’ll revisit the situation in a week or two, when temperatures and tempers go down. For now, though, MM is happy in a grumpy sort of way, Lefty is happy in a cautious kind of way, and we’re happy in a no-thud-thud-thud-yowl-thud-hiss-yowl-in-the-middle-of-the-night way.

Poke, Poke

Last month I said I was curious whether MM’s next move would be to explore the room outside her cage or to regularly eat with us present.

Vexing creature that she is–it’s a meezer trait, after all–she’s chosen the middle path. She eats with us present irregularly, but increasingly often, and she has begun to explore the room at night, but her explorations generally last no more than a minute or two.

To be fair, some of the tentative nature of her explorations can be laid at Lefty’s paws. He has a regrettable tendency to invade the cage and eat MM’s food.

She hasn’t yet figured out that if he’s eating her dinner, there’s nothing stopping her from eating his, but we expect that bit of insight any day now.

She generally defers to him when the cage door is open, allowing him to munch at will, and then moving in quickly to hoover down whatever he left uneaten.

But recently we’ve seen signs that MM is not going to let Lefty establish dominance unchallenged. The cage door does, after all, change the dynamics of the room–as does the presence of bipeds.

Leading to this little dance routine:

Despite what you might think, we’re regarding this as a good sign. Interaction with the rest of the house’s inhabitants is an indication that she’s starting to come out of her isolation funk.

There’s a huge distance between MM poking Lefty’s neck while he’s distracted and allowing us to brush her tangled fur*.

* It should be noted that Lefty has discovered the pleasures of the brush. He’s not entirely comfortable with the concept, but then, he’s also still not sure about the whole patting-and-neck-scratching thing either. But he does enjoy a good brushing when he allows us to do it. Progress!

But in many ways, she’s come almost as far already, from hiding at the back of the cage to sitting just outside arm’s reach. We’re quite pleased.

Every Word Is True

Lefty has appointed himself Yuki’s guardian. He follows his ward almost everywhere, using full-body headbumps to keep Yuki from going anywhere dangerous: up the stairs, down the stairs, onto the bed, off the bed, anywhere there might be food…

Maggie recently put a snuggly blanket on the bed–you see where this is going, right–and Yuki was determined to try it out. It took a good five minutes of maneuvering, but Yuki won out in the end.

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Of course, Lefty couldn’t leave Yuki alone anywhere so risky as a bed with a cuddly blanket.

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So he took up guard duty, and it was a horrible experience. Lefty bore up well under the strain of sitting on a soft surface. Note the martyred expression: “I’ll put up with this for his sake.”

Lefty’s caution was entirely warranted. Just as Yuki settled down for a long nap, the neighbors began shooting fireworks.

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Poor Yuki. Poor Lefty.

It is a nice blanket, though.

Three Views of Lefty

Lefty is a cat of many moods.

Granted, most of them are of the quiet, reflective sort, but we’re fine with that. In a household full of egocentric extroverts*, it’s rather nice to find an introvert.

* Obviously, I’m speaking only of the cats here. Maggie and I tend toward the “disgruntled hermit” end of the spectrum.

He spend a large chunk of his time on “Imperial Majesty”
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Then, naturally, there’s “Are You Kidding Me?”
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Recently, however, most of Lefty’s headspace has been this:
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It’s called “Going Down There Would Be Beneath My Dignity, But If It Comes Any Closer, I’ll Squash It Like A Bug”.

Sitting Handsome

Lefty has a new hangout.

He’s discovered…

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The Condo at the End of the Hall (bum-bum-bummmmmm)

Joking aside, it’s interesting that he’s hanging out there.

That level of the condo has an outside view, but I’ve never seen him facing that way.

The view the house isn’t significantly different than what can be seen from The Cat Carrier at the End of the Hall (which is just barely visible at the lower right of the picture), and the condo offers far less shelter.

The Condo isn’t particularly padded. The Carrier has a cushion, which should make it considerably comfier.

And yet Lefty’s been sitting in the condo lately.

I’d think it’s because he knows how well the white fake fur sets off his coloration, but Lefty is still rather camera shy–I’m amazed he held still long enough for me to get this picture.

The mystery may never be solved–but I’m okay with that. We all need a few unsolved mysteries of no significance whatsoever in our lives to keep us from getting too complacent.

A Bad Fit

Lefty shares some of ‘Nuki’s size and shape issues.

Not that they have bad body images or anything like that. I’m talking about their ability to fold themselves comfortably into caves.

Lefty has been hanging out in a condo in my office lately. Mostly in. Over the past week or so, I’ve seen him leave a leg outside.

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A tail.

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And, on one memorable occasion, two paws and a tail.

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Kind of makes you wonder why he bothers with the condo at all, doesn’t it?

Steps in the Right Direction

Lefty is continuing to settle in to his new life. He’s increasingly comfortable around the humans–he even occasionally accepts a patting (he especially enjoys having his neck scratched).

It’s obvious he misses Rufus at least as much as we do. He’s trying to fill the void by cuddling up to the other cats, especially Yuki.

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We’re not sure if Yuki is just more tolerant of Lefty’s attentions, or if it’s a case of “black cats stick together”. Yuki has missed spending time with Rhubarb lately, so he may be predisposed to hang out with whoever wants to spend time with him. Or it may just be that his mobility issues make it harder for him to get away when Lefty hits him with a full-body head bump.

Regardless, they are spending a fair amount of time together. Though that pose is a little unusual: Lefty is usually the one wrapping himself around/across Yuki, but there is a lot of mutual grooming and reciprocal pillowing.

Lefty has also discovered the kitchen window.

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He’s got a fascinating chitter when prey appears outside. It sounds mechanical; combined with the way his head and tail twitch, he almost seems like a feline bobblehead.

He hasn’t joined Ooki Brothers Security. It’s clear that ‘Nuki doesn’t yet trust Lefty to keep proper watch, and has been known to chase him away from the window when he comes on duty.

But, surprisingly, they do manage to spend some time in relatively peaceful coexistence.

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Admittedly, having a barrier between them helps the relationship–and Lefty wasn’t as deeply asleep as this picture suggests.

It’s definite progress, though, and we’re pleased to see it.

Continued Progress

Lefty continues to become more comfortable as a house cat.

He’ll occasionally indulge in some relaxed bonelessness.

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He always shows up at mealtimes to propose himself as the official can licker. To his credit, if the job goes to someone else, he’s content to sit nearby and wait for them to finish before checking the can for overlooked scraps. Would that the rest of the gang were so well-mannered!

When he takes up residence in one of the condos, it’s because he feels like it, not because he needs a hiding place.

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And he’s decided that hanging out on the bed with the rest of the gang is a darn good way to spend an evening.

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He even gets along with Watanuki. In fact, the only household member who refuses to associate with him is Sachiko. We’re not sure what’s behind her aversion to him. Perhaps it’s something to do with licking the gooshy fud fork: that used to be Sachiko’s exclusive job, but now Lefty gets to do it about half the time.

And, most impressively–but as yet unphotographed–he’s starting to come around to the idea that there might be something to the whole “patting” business.

He’s not enthusiastic, but he no longer takes a swipe at any hand that brushes against his back. He’s even been known to purr while being patted, at least for ten or fifteen seconds.

Progress has been slow, but have no doubt: he is making progress.

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.