Quota

One of the main reasons why the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups recommend Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) over euthanasia in reducing feral feline populations is that feral colonies are rarely isolated.

As with any wild animals, population will increase to roughly that of the environment’s carrying capacity. Removing cats from the colony, rather than fixing and returning them, simply lowers the population to the point where the local habitat has a surplus of resources. And then cats from surrounding areas will typically move in, and the population will rise back to the local maximum.

Since we’ve adopted Rufus, we’ve begun to see this phenomenon playing out.

Meet Bunter.
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Maggie named him, not for his prowess in wielding a bat, but for the character in Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey stories. As Wikipedia puts it, “Bunter conveys an air of awesome solemn dignity lightened at rare intervals by an icy sarcasm and an understated but biting criticism.” That sounds about right.

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Our Bunter has been showing up intermittently for a couple of months–and the expression he* turns on us when we interrupt him at the food bowl is the most eloquent icy sarcasm laced with biting criticism I’ve ever seen.

* As usual, in the absence of evidence, I’ve assigned pronouns via coin flip.

MM, of course, has been keeping a close eye on Bunter.
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As queen of the local chaos of cats, it’s her responsibility to pass judgment on the suitability of any would-be immigrants. She’s also drawing on the talents of Ooki Brothers Security in monitoring Bunter’s behavior.
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They naturally take a special interest in tuxedo-clad cats.

Nor is Bunter the only feline who’s been dropping by.

During the February rains, we spotted a new arrival.
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He slipped into the yard when MM and Tuxie weren’t around and checked the food bowls for goodies. After a couple of days, he vanished, and we decided he must have found fault with the environment and moved on.

Until a couple of days ago, when it started raining heavily. Sure enough, as soon as it got wet out, there he was.
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He hasn’t been around long enough to acquire a name. For the moment, we’re using our usual fallback of naming based on appearance. So he’s known as “Somewhat Bedraggled Meezer.” If he sticks around, we’ll need to replace that–or at least shorten it.

MM is on the job, keeping an eye on SBM, though as yet she hasn’t called in the Ooki brothers or their assistant.
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It’s too soon to say whether either of our visitors will become regulars–though we do have another bowl ready for deployment if it’s needed–but the queen seems to have given tentative approval to both of them. Or, to be more precise, we haven’t heard any debates in the yard, nor have we seen any pointy politics.

Still a Way to Go

Rufus continues to acclimate to his new life.

Despite the traditional family humiliations heaped on him–see yesterday’s post for an example–and the continued misbehavior of Mr. AssholeWatanuki, Rufus is making longer forays around the house and looking more comfortable while he does it.

‘Nuki’s latest trick is to climb into Rufus’ bed.
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Once firmly in possession, he glares through the holes at the rightful owner.
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Who, for the most part, cheerfully ignores him. Rufus has figured out that if ‘Nuki is in the bed, he’s not in a position to prevent him from exploring.

Lately, he’s been hanging out at the top of the stairs. Yes, the stairs that are the nerve center of the entire house, and the spot where Rhubarb and Yuki generally hang out.
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Now, granted, that top step is roughly four Rufus-lengths from his “safe space”–that’s the door at the left–but it’s unquestionably a sign of progress.

And he does look amazingly relaxed, doesn’t he?
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Well, OK. Maybe not too relaxed.

Integration 2

We’re still working on giving Rufus the freedom of the house. He’s making progress, but it’s slow.

Part of it is on Rufus; he seems to have the idea that we don’t want him to leave his room. When we leave the door open, he waits until we’re not around, and then he sneaks out. As soon as he sees one of us–or even hears us approaching–he retreats to his turf.

We can’t even lure him out of the room to accept cuddles in the hall. He’ll come right up to the door, flop down a careful half-inch inside the room, and roll onto his back for a tummy rub. I’ve started carrying him one Rufus-length outside the door for pettings. He’s accepting it, but it’s too soon to know whether there will be any long-term benefit.

And Rufus is going further on his exploratory expeditions than he did early on. We’ve found him (briefly) in the front hall, two floors away from his safe space. So there’s hope.

The biggest part of Rufus’ failure to integrate, however, is named “Watanuki”. Or, as we’re calling him more and more often, “Mr. Asshole”.

‘Nuki misses no opportunity to steal Rufus’ catnip toys, hunt for scraps of food in his bowls, use his litter box, and generally take every chance he can to invade Rufus’ personal space.

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Note the “Will you get this schmuck out of here?” look on Rufus’ face and ‘Nuki’s “I’m not touching you. I’m not touching you.” expression.

We haven’t seen much in the way of violence, barring the occasional nose-bop, but the political slogan shouting has gotten heated at times.

I suspect the eventual outcome will involve somebody taking a claw to the ear or nose, before they both back down and negotiate a settlement.

And You Thought Herding Them Was Hard

03-1The weather is warming and, far more important, drying out. And that means that Tuxie is once again spending most afternoons flaked out on top of Cape Odd.

03-2Uh…

Have you noticed that even when MM is taking it easy, she never really sleeps? She’s always on the alert, defending her territory against all invaders.

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Oh, for crying out loud, guys!

Make up your minds, already! I’m trying to write a blog post here.

Look, our deal is that we supply the krunchiez, and you pose for the pictures, right? Right.

So–

What?

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Now you’re just doing it to annoy me.

Cats.

Wait’ll you see what I add to the food bowl tonight!

(Note to blog readers: It’s probably going to be some scraps of leftover cheese. What kind of lunatic did you think I was?)

My Hat’s Off To You

For reasons she’s unable to explain coherently–“It seemed like a good idea at the time” figures prominently–Maggie recently purchased a cat bonnet.

No, not a bonnet made of cat-printed fabric. One of these. Yes, a bonnet for a cat.

‘Nuki is not amused.
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Neither is Sachiko.
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Perhaps it’s because we haven’t quite figured out how to put it on them. Clearly it doesn’t fit the same way as the one on the box fits the model.

Sachiko has her own ideas about the best way to make use of it.
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But then, as we’ve noted in the past, everything is a cat toy. Including apparel.

Happiness

Right now, Rhubarb is the happiest kitty in the house.

He had his stitches removed Wednesday, and the Cone o’ Shame came off too. He indulged in a mild frenzy of grooming, catching up on two week’s worth of missed washing, and since then he’s split his time between snoring on his favorite stair and hogging the heat vent under the Christmas tree.
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Sachiko, however, is probably the most annoyed feline in the joint.

We figured that it would be safest for Rhubarb to travel to the vet’s office in our largest carrier, so he’d be able to move around with the collar. The last time we used that carrier was to take Rufus to the vet, and then we put in the garage. That being the case, we thought it would be a good idea to put it inside the house so Rhubarb could investigate it and get used to the scent.

He sniffed it briefly, gave a dismissive toss of his head, and knocked it on its side before walking off.

At which point, Sachiko came to investigate. More precisely, she claimed it as her latest den.
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She was not at all amused when we dumped her out of it, loaded Big Brudder Rhubarb, and carried it away.

Worse yet, when we brought Rhubarb back, her den vanished back into the garage!

Forty-eight hours later, she’s still poking around the bedroom looking for it.

At least we know what to get her for Christmas–and it won’t cost a cent!

Fwozen

It’s winter here, at least for local values of “winter”. High temperatures in the low sixties isn’t bad, but overnight lows in the low forties is a bit cooler than I like. And for natives, it’s downright frigid.

That means Sachiko is spending an unusual amount of time curled up in bed.
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Which is not to say that she’s asleep. The Skittercritter is still young enough that she hasn’t quite mastered the fine art of sleeping soundly.

Any little noise–such as a finger tapping a phone’s onscreen camera button–will bring her to full alertness.
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“Oh, dere you iz. Make wif da heats. I fweezing.”

“It’s sixty-eight in here.”

“Kelbin?”

“Right. Fine. I’ll turn it up a little.”  I figure any sign of science literacy should be rewarded.

Thanks

It’s been a difficult, depressing year for many of us. Different reasons for different people, of course, but depressing none the less.

There are two ways to deal with downers*: work to mitigate them, and focus your attention on happier things.

* Let me be clear here: I’m talking about isolated depressing events. Ongoing depression is a completely different matter; one that has surprisingly little to do with specific occurrences, and that needs to be handled differently.

Some things you can work on: the result of an election, for example (right, British readers who didn’t favor Brexit?) Others, not so much.

So, with Thanksgiving approaching, take a couple of minutes to think about something you’re grateful for. Non-US readers, feel free to join in. Even if you don’t observe our holiday, there’s never a bad time to give thanks.

Last night we hit a major milestone.

Much as Rufus loves the neck skritches and tummy rubs, he hadn’t quite gotten behind the concept of laps. He’d flop on the floor of his enclosure for cuddles, and that was pretty much it. If we hoisted him into our laps, he’d stand nervously for a minute or two, then hop down and demand more pettings from the floor.

Then came last night. Maggie set him in her lap and…
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Yup. He settled in. He’d probably still be there if I hadn’t startled him by starting to sneeze.

Right now, warm laps and warm, snuggly cats to sit in them are high up on my list of things to be thankful for.