Fellowship

Contrary to what you might have thought after watching last week’s video, Lefty and Rufus actually get along well most of the time.

Even dinnertime is generally peaceful, now that they’ve arrived at a regular routine. Granted, the routine is “Rufus chows down on Lefty’s gooshy food,” but as long as they’re okay with it, we’re not going to interfere.

Oddly, Rufus seems to prefer Lefty’s gooshy to his own, but much as he loves his own krunchiez, he rarely touches Lefty’s. To be perfectly clear, they both get the same dry food, and the only difference between the wet food bowls is a little added water in Rufus’.

But I digress.

Despite the occasional spat, they hang out together and watch out for each other. Rufus guards Lefty when the horrible cat-eating monster (i.e. the vacuum cleaner) visits. In return, Lefty keeps an eye out when they’re sleeping.

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Take a closer look at Lefty’s face:

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Have you ever seen a better example of “Mess with my buddy and I’ll mess you up”?

All Hail!

Who’s that curled up all cozy on the mushroom?
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Why it’s Lefty!
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Care to share a few words with your fans, Lefty?
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Clearly, he’s got nothing printable to say…

Seriously, though, this is a major step forward. Sure, he was uneasy, not to mention annoyed at being awakened. But nevertheless, he stayed put long enough for me to stick my phone through the barely opened door and take several pictures.

All part of the evolution of his attitude. He still hides under the futon when we come into the room, but he stays much closer to the edge, and he’ll actually come out into the room to get treats.

He’s quite the elegant fellow–though he’s still not happy about being watched–and he’s still keeping a safe distance, even when treats are involved. But his definition of a “safe distance” is getting smaller and smaller.

Hail the Formerly Feral Feline, who’s becoming increasingly “formerly” every day!

Cuddle Buddies

Just a brief post today, for reasons.

But I had promised to try and post video of Lefty and Rufus indulging in mutual grooming. And I do keep my promises.

One has to admire Rufus’ patience with his companion.

The Fellows are a bit distant, I’m afraid. No zoom on the camera. So, to make up for that, here’s a snippet of them sharing the mushroom condo, at the other end of the camera’s range.

For some value of “sharing” anyway.

Littering

Those of you who don’t have cats can probably skip this post. Unless you like theoretical problems in waste disposal, you’re probably better off leaving this one to those with practical experience.

As you might expect, with nine cats–counting MM–and eight litter boxes, we go through a lot of litter.

The catio box gets the old standby, clay-based litter. Not because it’s cheap, although it is, but because the box and the storage cabinet are outside. See, the clay stuff comes in a plastic jug, which keeps it dry even in wet weather. Handy. It clumps fairly well, making scooping the box simpler, and most importantly, MM is comfortable using it.

Matters aren’t so clear-cut indoors.

We used to use corn-based litter, either World’s Best or Pet Food Express’ house brand equivalent. It has advantages over clay. It clumps better and produces less dust.

On the down side, it’s not so great on odor control–a major consideration for us–though no worse than clay. And it’s getting more expensive and harder to find. WB raised its prices recently, and the PFE “Smart Litter” has vanished from the stores.

One might have expected the opposite, given what the current trade war with China has done to the price and availability of corn. But history shows that logic bears only a passing relationship to economics.

But I digress.

Lately we’ve been trying Nature’s Miracle. It’s also corn-based, though the packaging emphasizes that it uses corn cobs, rather than dried kernels. It’s loaded with “bioenzymes” (type not specified) and judging by the scent, a certain amount of evergreen wood.

The piney scent does help with odor control. The biggest problem with the NM is that the particles are smaller than the other varieties we’ve tried. Smaller pieces means more mobility, i.e. more litter migrating out of the box. That’s annoying but manageable: the stuff does vacuum up easily. What makes it a problem is that the litter doesn’t clump well–or rather, the clumps tend to fall apart during scooping. So used litter accumulates in the box, migrates out of the box, and makes the nearby floor unpleasant for humans and felines.

We’ve had some luck mixing litters. Get the proportions right and you wind up with the best of both worlds: good clumping and good odor control. Unfortunately, figuring out the correct ratio and thoroughly mixing the hybrid litter are non-trivial problems. Get the balance wrong or fail to properly integrate the two types, and you get non-clumping litter that doesn’t do diddly to suppress odors.

We can’t be the only people facing this dilemma.

Any feline caretakers out there who’d like to offer advice? We’d love to hear what varieties of litter work well or what tricks you use to improve the performance of what comes out of the bag.

How to Handle Change

Some people never change.

Take MM, for example.
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This is not a cat who’s happy to see me. Even though I’d just filled her food bowl, exactly as Maggie and I have done for the past seven months or so. Cleaning the litter box is often performed with a soundtrack of hisses.

She’s mellowed enough to take cover in one of the shelters when it’s particularly wet or cold, but that’s not much a shift.

Then there are those who try something new, give it up, and come back to it.
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After an extended period of terrestrialism–completely voluntary, I assure you–Sachiko has resumed her acrobatic ways.

It’s probably a misperception, but I tend to believe she’s spending more time balanced on one of the banisters than on the ground.

We’re hoping it’s a phase. Not that we begrudge her indulgence of her aerialist tendencies, but the truth is, she’s not as svelte as she was the last time around, and we’re concerned about the ramifications of a misstep.

And then there are those who revel in change.
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After something of a slow start, Lefty seems to be turning into quite the fan of indoor living. He adjusted to a mixed gooshy/krunchie diet rather quickly and picked up the art of the litter box faster than MM. After that, though, progress was slow for several months.

But ever since we let him out of the cage, he’s been enthusiastically trying out new things. As in the picture above, he’s finding great joy in nesting in the blankets on the futon. Curiously, however, he’s still not at all interested in having a cushion in any of his caves–we often find one or another condo pillow in the middle of the floor. (Not yet available: video of Lefty and Rufus sharing the futon and exchanging ear-washings. Hopefully I can pull it off the camera in time for next week’s post.)

And, speaking of the middle of the floor, the other thing we often find there is Lefty himself. Sometimes by himself, keeping a watchful eye (sorry) on the activity outside the room, but more often in company with his buddy Rufus.
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Blankie

Watanuki’s love affair with Maggie’s new blanket–or rather, plural blankets–continues.

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I don’t know if the colder weather we’ve been getting lately, with overnight lows in the lower forties, or just a desire for snuggles when there are no humans around.

Certainly, he has been snugglier than usual lately, which is suggestive, but not conclusive.

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Regardless of the reason, it’s quite common these days to walk into the bedroom and find a thuggish head poking out from under the blankets.

Oddly, he seems to be the only feline* so enthralled.

* Maggie is nearly as fond of the blankets as ‘Nuki. Nearly.

Rhubarb spends nearly as much time on the bed, but he’s quite content to stick with my familiar slightly fuzzy red blanket.

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Maybe he likes the way it feels. Maybe he thinks it complements his own fur. Or maybe he’s just a creature of habit. Like me.

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.