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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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.