Silver Lining

I mentioned last week that until Yuki builds up more strength and regains more control over his hind legs, we’re restricting his movements. He’s occupying the master suite: plenty of places to hang out, a favored locale for several of the gang, and frequently occupied by bipeds to give him snuggles. And, most importantly, no stairs. He’s definitely not ready for stair-climbing–no matter what he thinks.

He’s mostly putting up with it, but he dearly misses his favorite afternoon pastime: sprawling on the floor outside Maggie’s office and teasing the inhabitants, Kaja in particular.

We’ve never understood the root of their mutual antagonism, but it goes way back. In fact, the last time Yuki had to wear a Cone o’ Shame, it was because he’d incited Kaja to assault.

Since that attack, Kaja has been living in Maggie’s office, along with her littermate, Rhubarb. It was a joint decision: she largely refused to ignore Yuki’s attempts to tick her off, and he couldn’t resist teasing her, but wasn’t nimble enough to get out of her way. So when Kaja stopped roaming the house, we mostly stopped opening the office door except when we were actually walking in and out of the room.

But now, with Yuki confined to quarters, we’ve been leaving the door open in the evenings, so the Flying Monkeys can go exploring. And it’s working. Somewhat.

They’re not hugely brave about it, and oddly enough, Rhubarb has been more adventurous than Kaja. He’s made it down to the dining room and kitchen a couple of times, while she hasn’t even made it to the foot of the stairs.

But they’ve been doing the meet-and-greet with Lefty and Emeraldas, both of whom joined the crew long after Kaja gave up on the world outside Maggie’s office. Largely amicable meets, I might add–for local values of “amicable”.

The result:

Top to bottom and left to right: Kokoro, Rhubarb, Kaja, Sachiko, and Emeraldas.

Yes, five cats in one photo.

Even more impressively, Lefty and ‘Nuki were by my feet, well within sight and smell of the stairs, just ill-placed for photographic documentation.

We’ve been hopeful about reintegrating Kaja before, only to be disappointed. But this is an excellent sign.

Camel-back Floof

As some of you–those who are paying attention–know, I missed a post a month back.

2021 has been an emotional rollercoaster–much like 2020, in fact, albeit in a somewhat lower key. B-flat, perhaps.

The particular Bactrian-cervical-fracturing event was a medical emergency. Yuki was…well, I’m going to avoid graphic depictions here and just say that he was spewing from both ends at once. This despite not eating and not drinking significant amounts.

The short-term result was a series of vet visits, both to his regular doctors and, because they aren’t a 24-hour outfit, the emergency vet for overnight monitoring. Highly stressful for Yuki, Maggie, me, and all the rest of the gang. Many were the nervous looks and plaintive cries of “Where’s the floofy guy?”

To avoid needlessly prolonging the suspense, I’ll leave it at that and say that he’s well past that crisis and doing okay.

The main long-term result is that he’s been switched from his preferred diet (Kitty Krack and regular dry food) to a diet of foods designed for sensitive stomachs. He’s not thrilled about it, but he is eating enough of it to fill his nutritional needs.

And we’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to switch everyone to the new food. It’s amazing how liberating it is not to be buying four different kinds of gooshy food (Kitty Krack for Yuki, urinary diet for ‘Nuki, Halo for Kokoro, Kaja, and Rhubarb, and Purina One for everyone else). We’ve had a few upset tummies along the way–even if the food is for sensitive stomachs, any dietary change can be a problem for the feline digestive system–but that seems to be settling down, and nobody is voicing major objections.

Yuki is still regaining strength, and it’s an open question how much he’ll be able to do. His hind legs have been an issue for years, and they’re definitely more wobbly than they were in, say, July. (Note from Maggie: the issue with his wobbly hind legs isn’t so much a matter of leg problems as it is cerebellar problems — although he also has wonky knees and hips. Whatever’s causing his hindlimb ataxia seems to be fairly stable, but one of the known side effects of the metronidazole he was taking is…ataxia, and it can take awhile to wear off)

But he’s largely cheerful, he’s getting around the portions of the house we’re giving him access to (no stairs!), and he’s jumping well enough to get onto the bed.

The naked areas at the base of his tail, on his front leg, and on his stomach (shaved for sanitation, catheterization, and ultrasound, respectively) are a fashion statement he doesn’t much care for. We’re not crazy about it either, for that matter.

But if it’s a choice between concentrating on his walking or regrowing his floof, we’re all in agreement that we can live with a bit of feline nudity.

Overflow

I don’t know why pictures of cats who don’t quite fit into their chosen spaces amuses me so much.

Maybe it’s the subtle–or sometimes not-so-subtle–puncturing of their superior attitude.

Or perhaps it’s because it’s an excellent illustration of how flexible the parameters of “If it fits, I sits” can become in the right paws.

Or–most likely of all–because it’s just gosh-darned cute.

As Yuki demonstrated recently.

There is a cat attached to that tail, but I sure can’t prove it.

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.

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

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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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.

Who’s Really In Charge

Yuki scoffs at Sachiko’s claim that she controls the house.

After all, she may have laid claim to the gooshy, but he’s got the high ground.

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From the top of the stairs, he can keep tabs on nearly the entire house–and who cares what’s going on in the downstairs bathroom.

Knowledge is power, you know, and Yuki sees all and knows all, no crystal ball required.

Fear the big, yellow eyes, for they miss none of your misdeeds.

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.

Not to Plan

This past week has not gone according to plan.

As some of you know, Yuki has hip and knee problems. Always has. He wobbles when he walks, has trouble with corners, and has his own unique style of movement–very Ministry of Silly Walks at times.

He’s never been so bad off as to need surgery; instead we’ve been giving him glucosamine and other joint-friendly compounds. However, recently he’s been wobblier than usual, and last Friday it was obvious he was having serious difficulty managing his hind legs.

So we took him to the vet.

Of course he took the trip in his usual phlegmatic style. Which is to say, not at all. He complained all the way there. He complained while we were sitting in the waiting room. He complained while being examined by the vet tech.

He finally shut up when he was allowed to take up residence on the floor. In a corner. Under a chair.

Once there, he settled down and displayed great dignity.
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That lasted until Round Two, when the doctor came in, at which point the complaints resumed. They continued until well after we got him home.

Based on the X-rays, there doesn’t seem to be any significant decay in his joints. We’re hoping his current problems are a simple strain, rather than a spinal issue.

He’s currently on a two or three week regimen of painkillers, prescription-strength joint-support medications, and “don’t let him jump or go down stairs.”

This has been a major hardship for Yuki, given his preference for spending most of the day on our bed–a significant leap–with occasional forays out to the staircase to hang out in the center of whatever action is going on.

The first couple of days were especially bad for everyone: we had to confine him to the master bathroom. He complained incessantly, and we were sorely tempted to do likewise.

He’s now in a multi-crate cage in the living room. That’s much better all around. He can maneuver more easily on the carpeted floor, the other cats can–and do–visit, and we can give him pettings without worrying about him making a dash for the bed.

He’s alternating between goofy flop-on-his-back-and-wave-his-paws-around, as a request for tummy rubs
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and giving us the Big, Reproachful Yellow Eyes of Doom.
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It’s still too early to be sure, but I think he’s doing better. He seems a little more stable, and his complaints have more to do with his usual belief that we’re not feeding him enough or in a timely fashion than they do with excessive pain.

Cautious optimism, in other words. But please keep a paw or two crossed on his behalf.