Here We Go Again

You all know what it means when this happens, right?

24-1

Yes, the transitional cage in Lefty’s room–formerly known as Rufus’ and Lefty’s room, formerly formerly known as Rufus’ room, formerly formerly formerly known as the library–is clean.

Parenthetically, this migration was in the works more than a month ago. It got put on hold by Rufus’ departure and an in-house epidemic of feline sneezing. So, please don’t think this is in any way an attempt to fill the Rufus-shaped gap in our lives. (Not that it would work that way. For somebody who didn’t wear clothes, Rufus left behind some very big shoes to fill.)

We’re hoping that Lefty will step at least partly into those metaphorical shoes and pass along some of the lessons he learned from Rufus. With that in mind, we’re not pushing him into full integration with the others: still feeding him separately and shutting him into the room at night; if he and the new arrival bond, it should smooth the transition for both of them.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that the new resident is MM*. She’d been obviously bored in isolation out in the catio, and had been neglecting her self-appointed sentry duties. We had to do something, and letting her go wild again still seems like a bad idea–yes, the coyotes are still around.

* Renaming will come later, when we get to know her as an indoor cat.

Her transition is going slowly. Which is fine. We’re not in a hurry, and we can give her as much time as she needs to adjust. For now, she still spends most of her time curled up in either the milk crate:

24-2

or the condo:

24-3

But she does seem healthy. Her appetite is good

and while she definitely prefers gooshy fud to kitty krunchiez, she doesn’t neglect the later.

She interacts with the other cats–primarily Lefty, since he spends more time in the room than anyone else, even without counting the bedtime lockdown hours.

And she has been exploring her new residence–with, it must be admitted, mixed results.

Check out the upper right hand corner of the screen. That bright light is Lefty watching the show and, no doubt, laughing.

Continued Progress

Lefty continues to become more comfortable as a house cat.

He’ll occasionally indulge in some relaxed bonelessness.

10-1

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.

10-2

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.

10-3

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.

Relativistic Vibrissae

Is it just me, or do Watanuki’s whiskers appear to have been designed by M. C. Escher?

03-1

(For the best effect, display the picture full-screen and position your nose approximately three inches from your monitor. That’s the view ‘Nuki prefers to give me when I’m trying to go to sleep.)

The Hardest Words

15-1

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.

13-1

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.

13-2

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.

06-1

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.

28-1

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.

28-2

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–

28-3

–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

21-1

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.

14-1.jpg

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.