Approaching Em

Queen Emeraldas is still skittish when it comes to humans. However, plenty of bribes in the form of treats have reduced the distance at which her flight reflex kicks in. So we occasionally get treated to near visits:

Contrary to what her location and posture might suggest, she was not waiting for the food bowl to be filled. Her bowl is downstairs (though that doesn’t stop her from occasionally raiding this one) and she knows that the bowls get filled in the late evening, not mid-morning.

So this visit was just “Trying to peer around the doorframe to check up on what the bipeds were up to.”

Timing aside, she also knows that dinner is preceded by a meet-and-greet session. (I’d call it a cocktail hour, but no drinks are served.)

(Top to bottom: Sachiko, Kokoro, Watanuki, Emeraldas, and Lefty*.)

* For those newcomers who may be wondering, no, not all of the cats have Japanese names. It just seems like it sometimes. Not visible in this picture (though present): Kaja, Rhubarb, and Yuki.)

Even though no booze is on offer, we still get the occasional “private” breakout session. When it comes to Yuki, Em is an enthusiastic proponent of the full-body head bump.

So enthusiastic, in fact, that we can occasionally manage to pat her. While she still takes off if she sees us reaching toward her, she has–to bring the post full-circle–reached the point where she doesn’t flee in terror when she belatedly realizes a human is touching her.

Who Else?

Black cats are notoriously hard to photograph*. So who else could I use as the subject of my first experiment with the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera?

* Beth, your royalty check is in the mail.

I guess I could have gone with Lefty, but he’s an easier target. Just for starters, he usually hangs out in well-lit spaces. And his sleek fur doesn’t tend to introduce artifacts.

So it had to be Yuki.

Just hanging out in his favorite cave late one night.

His floof all a-bristle as he waits for me to get out of his face so he can go to sleep.

I love his white, curvy wild whisker.

And the camera did quite well, I’d say. These shots were taken without flash and I didn’t compose the shots or allow time for the autofocus to do its job. Just point, select the zoom level (1x, 2x, and 4x), and shoot.

Obviously, more testing is necessary, but I’m encouraged.

Sometimes You Control the Story…

Every writer knows that you don’t always get to tell the story you planned. Stuff happens. And the story takes control and heads off in its own direction.

This was going to be a story about Yuki.

That elegant plume of a tail, that imperial demeanor, those curiously marbled toe beans.

And then I looked behind him.

‘Nuki does have a way of taking over every story. Something about the way he muscles in, plops himself down, and starts tapping your arm with his murder mitts.

And he glares.

Even when he’s relaxed.

Happy? Glare.

Suspicious? Glare.

Writing poetry? Serious glare.

Incipient Ears of Disapproval*

Kaja has been enjoying her recent freedom to explore the house, but she has been running into a bit of a relearning curve.

Cats are allowed on the table, as long as no food is present. Kaja has apparently forgotten that rule during her years of restriction to Maggie’s office.

So when she thought we were going to forcefully remove her from her latest perch…


…we got “The Look”.

* Photo and title credit to Maggie

Sleep With One Eye Open, Hoomin

The title is Maggie’s, the photography is Maggie’s, but the risk to life and limb is everyone in the house who walks on two legs.

A cat with a jar of peanut butter on its head

(A note to Microsoft Word: No, that is not a jar of peanut butter on Mr. Knuckle’s head. Object recognition is still not one of Word’s strongest suits.)

You Asked For It

Another late post? Yup.

Great art takes time.

And so does what I produce around here, especially when cats are involved. All jokes about cat herding aside, it’s tough to get them to actually pose.

That said, please note that you have been warned: sensitive viewers may want to skip this post.

Seriously.

Ahem.

You wanted Sachiko’s bad side?

You got it.

Just imagine this as the first thing you see when the furry alarm clock awakens you thirty minutes before the other alarm clock is set to come on.

Local Reaction

Sachiko’s reaction to last week’s post.

“Alright, dat’s ‘nough about Big Brudder Nookles. Is my turn now.”

“Attention hoomins! I is Her Batshit Majesty, Princess Pointy Bits. Bow in fronna me an’ worship.”

“Gives me pettings an’ treats, an’ I lets you call me Skittercritter.”

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.