Enthusiasm Is a Variable Quantity

The cats got their Christmas present a couple of days early.

As one would expect, reactions are mixed. Nor, for that matter, has everyone expressed an opinion. But early returns are encouraging.

Yuki is neutral. He knows it’s there, but hasn’t shown much interest.

Watanuki, on the other forepaw, is enthusiastic.

Very enthusiastic.

Lefty is interested. Cautiously interested.

Especially cautious with Mr. Knuckles watching him. Lefty needs a certain amount of reassurance that he’s allowed to use it.

However, there’s no question about who’s most enthralled by the new playground. That’s Sachiko, paws–and all other body parts–down.

Well, okay, toe beans up, even if the other parts are down. But it’s hard to beat a twenty-beans-up rating.

Two Takes

On one paw, we’ve got MM.

She’s getting more comfortable around bipeds. She’ll take a treat from Maggie’s fingers–as long as nothing but her fingertips come into the cage. She allows me to put her food bowls in the cage without retreating into her Condo of Safety–as long as I don’t make any sudden motions.

And she’s mostly okay with us admiring her and taking pictures, even with the cage door open. Granted the shot above was taken with a bit of zoom, but I was right outside the open door, and her glare has more to do with my interruption of a grooming session than my proximity.

And then there’s Watanuki.

A charming pose–though it’s probably a trap intended to lure an unwary bystander into rubbing his tummy so ‘Nuki can savage their hand.

But those cute little vampire fangs are just too adorable not to memorialize.

Sound Off!

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

Everchanging

Sachiko and Watanuki have a peculiarly inconsistent relationship. Sometimes he’s her idol, sometimes her best friend, and sometimes beneath her notice.

Simultaneously, but not synchronously, she’s his favored companion and security consultant, sometimes his chief rival, and sometimes his best chew-toy.

The constantly changing combinations can be dizzying.

Take, for example, the other night. The Tuxedoed Terrors were sitting together at the foot of the bed. Suddenly, ‘Nuki began washing Sachiko’s ears.

By the time I was able to reach the headboard and grab my phone, he was affecting boredom while she washed his ears.

And then, by the time I adjusted the flash settings in hope of getting a better shot, Sachiko had been demoted to “Evil Villain Who Must Be Gnawed Into Submission” and ‘Nuki had been laterally transferred to “I’m Getting Away From Him Before He Eats My Throat”.

I believe Sachiko bounced off of three different walls and the ceiling in making her escape.

Watanuki turned, sprawled across my ankles, and dared me to move.

I knew better.

It’s a Question of Style

Kaja has laid claim to Maggie’s office. She spends much of her time surveying her domain from the highest available spot.

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She brooks no trespass on her domain. Anyone attempting to join her on the shelf is soundly cuffed, and non-resident felines entering the room are resoundingly cussed.

By contrast, Watanuki rules a much smaller territory. The foot of the bed is his and he only grudgingly shares it with bipeds.

As for other felines, one can tell how much favor they’re in by how close he allows them to settle.

For example, he’s generally on good terms with Sachiko, and they frequently hang out near the kitchen window together. But when it comes to the bed…

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Enough said.

Yuki, however, is another matter. ‘Nuki isn’t much of a snuggler, at least with other cats–he’s a master drooler upon biped legs–but he’ll generally make an exception for Yuki.

They’ve been together since late kittenhood, and the Knucklehead watches out for his less agile brother.

Cuddles are common.

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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.

Relativistic Vibrissae

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

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(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.)

Relax!

Want to see something amazing? Check this out:

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Yes, that’s Lefty. Asleep. I actually got close enough to take the picture without waking him up!

Admittedly, I did use the phone’s zoom lens, so I wasn’t quite as close as the picture might suggest.

But even so, the fact that I was able to get that close without putting him on high alert is astounding.

Want to see something even more amazing? Sure you do!

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Left to right, that’s Rhubarb, ‘Nuki, Lefty, and Yuki.

I think it’s safe to say that Lefty is now one of the gang.

But the impressive part is that they’re sharing a bed, all asleep.

This is an event of earth-shaking magnitude, probably on a par with total solar eclipses for rarity.

Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole.

But it’s nice to see Lefty fitting in and learning to take the presence of bipeds–even bipeds with cameras–as nothing to stress out about.

Kitteh Parteh

Whenever we walk into the kitchen, felines gather in hope of a kitteh parteh. The big rush is in the morning, since that’s when we’re most likely to distribute random treats, but even in the evening, the odds are good that somebody will come in with us.

A typical morning looks like this:
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(Sachiko was a bit late to this particular party, though she did make it before all the goodies were gone.)

The regulars have learned the fine art of prairie-catting.
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Yuki’s hind legs aren’t up to the challenge, but he does stretch his neck upward in a giraffe pose.

‘Nuki is a good prairie-catter, and Sachiko is no slouch either (sorry).
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Lefty is deeply suspicious of the concept. He still insists on receiving his treats with all four feet on the ground as the Ur-Cat intended.
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(That shot makes the kitteh parteh look quite placid and polite. Don’t be fooled: there’s quite a lot of pushing and shoving and demanding of attention. All of which, by the way, Lefty is showing great talent for. He’s got a unique head-bump that involves his full body, and which has been known to send smaller cats flying across the room.)

The true champion of the prairie-catters, however, is Rhubarb, paws up.
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I’m fairly sure that by this time next year, he’ll be levitating to gain extra inches on his competition.