Elegance Personified

Some cats–arguably a near-majority–are naturally elegant. Their fur is just-so, they move through life with grace and style, and they would never deign to humiliate themselves in front of a human.

Then there’s Watanuki.

Yes, it’s time for the Kitteh Parteh.

And, yes, the bib was foisted on him by the bipeds who feared death by drowning in slobber.

And, yes again, standing on his hind legs gets the treats to his mouth a smidgeon sooner.

But he’s certainly not going to win any awards for elegance, grace, or table manners.

Amusing as that picture is, though, check out the scene after the treat goes down his throat and ‘Nuki begins to relax toward his normal four-legged posture.

It’s not so much the “Oh, my Cat, what have I done?” expression on his face that makes it hilarious. It’s the fact that this scene–right down to his expression–is usually repeated five or six times every night.

A Mixed Blessing

Watanuki has been more snuggly than usual lately. Where his usual pattern tends to be to flop on the bed next to one of us (usually Maggie) and demand cuddles, of late he’s been draping himself across our hips or stomachs.

Which is kind of cute, really.

But then there’s that cuddle-demanding thing. He has a very…direct…way of requesting attention.

A quick swat with the paw–claws extended, of course–followed by a soulful gaze…

In fairness to Mr. Knuckles, I should note that some of those holes in my hand are the result of cold weather, frequent handwashing, and even more frequent immersions in various sanitizing fluids. But the longer, more painful ones? Those are all his doing.

The other downside of his cuddliness? Much as it pains me to reveal one of his secret vices, honesty compels me to state that ‘Nuki is a drooler.

Not a demure little drip of happiness.

Oh, no.

Rivers of drool. A downpouring from his lip that could put Victoria Falls to shame.

Fortunately, Maggie has found a solution.

Watanuckles is not amused, but he tolerates the bibs in the interest of attention.

Altogether Ooki

The youngest members of our herd are the fabulous, fearless, and flamboyant Ooki Brothers. Yuki and Watanuki came to us courtesy of the Martinez Animal Shelter – though they were actually resident at the extension site in the Walnut Creek Pet Food Express.

We went out just before Christmas 2010 hoping to come home with one cat – we figured that four was about the maximum carrying capacity of the habitat (i.e. our house). It turned out the one we had been planning to interview for the position had already accepted another offer. We were looking for a black or mostly black cat (black and black-and-white cats are least likely to be adopted) and there they were. They were both such charming fellows that we just couldn’t choose between the two of them and on Christmas Eve, they both came home with us. Unlike Kaja and Rhubarb, the Ookis are not biologically related, but they had been in adjoining cages at the shelter and shared playtimes, so they were very comfortable with each other.

Nuki1Watanuki, the dapper gentleman in the tuxedo, was about six months old. He has always been a bit tightly wound, with a tendency to suddenly lash out at anyone he thinks might be a threat. Of all of our herd, he’s the one most likely to take a nip at a finger if startled. His tastes in play emphasize hunting and chasing, and his bedtime habit of pouncing on anything moving under the covers has earned him the nickname “Toe Ninja”. (His actual name, usually abbreviated to “‘Nuki”, is in honor of the character Kimihiro Watanuki of the manga and anime “xxxHolic”, who has a very similar personality.)

Yuki2Yuki – we couldn’t resist the notion of a pure black cat named “snow” – was about four months old. Although it’s somewhat difficult to see it in these pictures, he’s a long-haired fellow, and is thus often referred to as “Floof-cat” or “Mr. Floof”. He’s much more easygoing than ‘Nuki, but doesn’t hesitate to assert himself, usually to the detriment of big brother Rhubarb. It’s quite common to find that Yuki has Rhubarb cornered in his ultimate defensive location: the counter in the master bathroom. Yuki prefers to observe whatever is going on from a slight distance, and can often be found hanging out on the stairs where he can monitor almost the entire house. When he wants cuddles, though, he wants them immediately and he’s capable of using devastating cuteness to get them. He’s the house champion in drooling-when-happy, leading to his other nickname (Maggie calls it his nom de salive) “Slobber Goblin”.

Nuki2All of our cats are indoor-only, but ‘Nuki escaped through a partly-open window in mid-March. He remained on the loose for about three weeks before we (well, Maggie) recaptured him. I’ll be writing more about his escapade in the future, but for now I’ll just note that he seems to have avoided injury during his adventure; the only lingering results seem to be great interest in the window he used to make his escape and a hint of suspicion about other felines.

Yuki1Oddly enough, despite his newfound interest in the window, ‘Nuki doesn’t show a lot of interest in doors. Little brother Yuki is obsessed with doors. He’s not particularly interested in going through them; he seems to be interested in a career as a draft-stopper, and can often be found sprawled full-length across the width of a door, preventing any airflow – and preventing us from opening it, which can be somewhat awkward when we get home.

We’ll never know how things would have turned out if the black-and-white cat we were originally intending to meet had been available, but we’ve never regretted choosing the Ookis and intend to continue championing black cats.