Widening Horizons

A couple of weeks ago, Rufus came to visit me in the bedroom. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. In truth, I lured him into exploring with copious quantities of petting.

But the point is, he made it into the bedroom.

Barely.
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As you can see, he was under close observation* by Watanuki, who considers the entire house to be his territory.

* If you’ve never seen cats playing the “I’m not looking at you, so you damn well better not move a muscle” game, I pity you. It’s hilarious.

Eventually Rufus retreated to his familiar territory upstairs, and he hasn’t been back downstairs since. But it’s still progress.

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His new den has been rather more successful. It took him about half a day to decide it was a great hangout.

Mind you, we had intended him to sit on top of it so he could look out the window, but so far he’s not interested.

Which may be a good thing, as someone else is.
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Surprisingly, their interactions have been peaceful.

Mostly.

‘Nuki occasionally tries to figure out what’s going on underneath him.

Fortunately, he’s a bit unclear on the concept.
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I don’t think Rufus even noticed Mr. Knuckles’ investigation.

Some Things Never Change

I hope nobody thought I’d leave you without a cat picture or two today, just because I posted the Rufus picture on Wednesday.

Oh, no, I wouldn’t do that. Special means exactly that.

So, without further ado, Rhubarb and Yuki, doing what they do best.

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Even when the politics get furrier than usual–and they have been, what with Rufus’ integration, ‘Nuki’s determination to be boss, Sachiko’s on-again-off-again feud with Kokoro, and too many more continuing dramas for me to conveniently count–they still find time to snuggle up and snooze.

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Is there anything lovelier than a pair of intertwined tails?

Topsy Turvy

Everything’s a bit topsy-turvy around here.

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Yes, even Watanuki. (All joking aside, he spends hours in positions like that. I know when they want to be, cats are, for all practical purposes, boneless. But how can he possibly be comfortable?)

It’s all because of the political implications of Rufus joining the gang.

Truth to tell, he’s doing very well. Negotiations rarely come to violence in the halls–at least not of the sort that requires human intervention with leather gloves and/or squirt bottles.

Clashes, yes. But for every moment when somebody gets a paw-slap to the forehead or a cold nose up the ass,14-2

there’s also at least one like this:

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Chillin’

Rhubarb and Sachiko hope you’ve had as good a week as they have.

Rhubarb’s spent most of it chilling on his favorite chair.
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It’s also my favorite chair, which has made for a few awkward moments, but since he gets it for approximately twenty-two hours a day, I don’t feel too guilty about dispossessing him for the other two hours.

Sachiko, on the other paw, has resumed her on again/off again love affair with the spare chair on the other side of the table.
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It’s got a nice, comfy cushion, but more importantly, it’s conveniently placed for her to stare at Rhubarb for hours on end.

It doesn’t bother him much, as far as we can tell. But when I take over the chair, her staring sure makes me nervous.

Misnamed?

Those of you who are kept by cats may have noticed that they have favorite spots to hang out, but that those spots change over time.

Rufus’ current favorite:
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Yeah, the back of the futon in his room.
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He seems comfortable, but even so, I think it looks a bit precarious.
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Maybe we should have named him Snoopy.

On a related note, we’re seeing him in places–and in proximity to others–we wouldn’t have dreamed of even a few weeks ago.
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Rufus isn’t fully integrated yet. There’s still a lot of political drama, most of it with Mr. ‘Nuki, no matter what that photo suggests.

And Rufus is still very reluctant to go downstairs–upstairs is his turf; downstairs is the Great Unknown.

But he’s making progress. And that’s all one can ask for, really.

Lifestyles of the Furry Set

Rufus’ socialization and integration continue.
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He’s still not really comfortable with any of the other cats, but as long as they’re not openly antagonistic, he’s willing to live, let live, and sniff butts.

* Yes, my office floor does need vacuuming. That’s one bit of auctorial procrastination I’ve been procrastinating on.

Which means he’s mostly getting along with everyone but Watanuki, who continues to earn the epithet “Mr. Thunk”* every day. Even there, however, relations are improving. ‘Nuki mostly confines himself to chasing Rufus up the stairs and then polishing the already-empty food bowl. Rufus, for his part, regards ‘Nuki with caution, but little fear.

* A portmanteau of “thug” and “punk”.

And not everything is going ‘Nuki’s way. Sachiko has taken over his traditional role as “Lurker Under the Covers”.
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She’s been remarkably resistant to his efforts to chase her off the bed. But then, she’s never been especially intimidated by him. She’s been trying to chew his ears off since she was a kitten.

Watanuki’s response to the disarrangement of his routine has been to declare his intention to run away to sea and become a pirate.

I pointed out that cats aboard ship are expected to work. His response, delivered with impressively lofty tones and deep snottiness?
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“Nonsense. I shall be a figurehead.”

I had to admit that he’d be a good one. He’s got the attitude and the pose down. I asked him how he felt about the ship’s bow smashing into a wave while he was on duty.

His answer was largely unprintable, but hinted that he doesn’t believe the ocean would dare drench him.

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.

Changeless

Some things don’t change much at all.

The spider’s had to rebuild her web a couple of times, but she’s still hanging around in front of the house.
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And hiding on days when I have the good camera handy. I presume she’s concerned about having her picture out on the Internet in this age of facial recognition.

Yuki still thinks Rhubarb is the greatest pillow known to felinity.
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And snoring. Not surprising with his head at that angle.

The turkeys are still terrorizing the neighborhood. This shot was taken shortly after they held off the dog next door while stealing everything edible in his yard.
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And they’re beginning the preliminaries to their mating rituals. It is that time of year.

Rufus is still negotiating territorial rights with Watanuki.
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And there is much staring.

Integration

“Separate but equal” is not an acceptable option.

Accordingly, we’ve been continuing to introduce Rufus to the rest of the gang with increasing levels of interaction and self-guided exploration.

Thursday evening, we opened the door to Rufus’ space*, and then sat back to watch what happened and intercede if the political negotiations got out of paw.

* Which is also the space where Sachiko lived until she was sufficiently socialized to join the “big kitties”. As such, she takes a certain proprietary interest in that room.

Rufus spent a few minutes sniffing around the bathroom.
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Not finding much to interest him, he headed down the hall in the other direction. Kokoro, ‘Nuki, and Yuki were much more interesting than the bathroom.
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And, of course, they found Rufus quite intriguing as well.

Approximately three seconds after that picture was taken, ‘Nuki and Rufus exchanged a few paw swats, none of which made contact.

Discretion being the better part, Rufus returned to his room, to discover that somebody had taken advantage of his absence to explore.
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Shortly thereafter, Yuki decided to join the party.
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As you can see, Rufus wasn’t amused. He returned to the hall, sending Yuki into a precipitous retreat–so naturally Kokoro and Sachiko took advantage of his absence to explore.

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When he came back, Kokoro made a successful escape, but Sachiko panicked, and tried to hide under the futon. She realized it was a mistake almost as soon as she stopped moving, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave past Rufus. Nor could we lure her out–even her favorite treat–licking the fork that we mix Rufus’ food with–couldn’t tempt her out.

The poor Skittercritter stayed under the futon, growling at nothing (or perhaps herself) until we gave Rufus his dinner. As soon as Sachiko realized he was distracted, she hurled herself across the room, out the door, and down the stairs at the end of the hall. She didn’t quite crack the sound barrier, but I think she exceeded the freeway speed limit.

That was all more excitement than we had planned for one day. So the next few days we’ll step back and limit interactions to what they can do through a just-barely-ajar door.

Once everyone’s chilled out, we’ll let them mingle again.