It’s His Expression That Makes It Work

Sachiko has been feeling frisky lately. Since her usual tussling partner is Watanuki–tuxedo cats have to stick together–we get a lot of scenes like this.

“Hey, Big Brudder Nookles, let’s throw down! Imma take you dis time!”

You can just hear him thinking, “Yeah, right, Kid. Just like you have the last umpty-dozen times I’ve nipped your ears for you.”

So then, of course, he throws the first slap.

We get about ten seconds of mixed martial arts, followed by thundering hoofbeats as Sachiko heads for the supposed safety of one of the condos.

‘Nuki doesn’t bother to chase her. He knows she’ll be back for another round (more than) soon enough.

Sisterly Affection

Kokoro and Kaja have a fraught relationship.

In Kokoro’s opinion, Kaja is a late-arriving interloper on her turf. Contrarily, Kaja considers Kokoro to be an old fuddy-duddy, blocking her ascent to rulership of the household.

At least, that’s the way it has been for years. Recently, however, we’ve bee seeing signs of moderation. Maybe it’s because they’re getting more accepting as they age. Maybe they’re banding together against all the new arrivals. Or perhaps it’s just that in order to make sure Kokoro gets her meds and plenty of nutritions, we’re making her spend more time in Kaja’s presence.

Regardless, we’re pleased to see moments like this:

Meet the Pirate Queen

I hope your Thursday was pleasant, regardless of whether it was Thanksgiving for you. And, as I promised, here’s more on MM’s situation.

Or, more accurately, on Emeraldas’ situation.

Yes, she does have a name, rather than a description*. Given her history and general attitude, naming her after a pirate of some sort seemed highly appropriate. Her backstory matches up well with that of the Leiji Matsumoto character–I hesitate to call her a heroine, but anti-heroine doesn’t seem quite accurate either–and when we realized we could keep the initial “Em” sound, everything came together.

* At various times in the past, MM stood for Mysterious Meezer, Ms. Meezer, and Meezer Mommy.

In addition to giving her a new name, we’ve also been giving her more freedom of movement and more opportunity to interact with the other felines.

You can’t see it in this picture, but the door to Maggie’s den is open, allowing Queen Em to get acquainted with Kaja and Rhubarb. Sachiko was also in the vicinity when this picture was taken, but I couldn’t squeeze her into the shot.

Em has developed a fascination with Yuki–one might even call it a fetish without stretching the point. When not separated by the fence, she’ll take every opportunity to rub against him.

Yuki seems to like her, and for the most part he tolerates her overly aggressive friendship, but sometimes it does get to be a bit too much for him.

As for the rest of the crew, Emeraldas’ relationships are works in progress. Kaja uses highly spiced language when Em appears, but then, Kaja does that for just about everybody except her littermate. With Lefty, Em alternates between friendship and slap fights.

As for everyone else, she maintains largely cordial-but-distant relationships.

Well, almost everyone else.

Kokoro, the senior meezer of the household, is distinctly unimpressed with the new arrival. Nose-sniffing sessions are punctuated with hissing and end quickly.

For the most part, however, Her Imperial Majesty prefers to ignore a mere Queen. Given her druthers, she’d far prefer to curl up on a warm blanket and wait for the pretender to go away.

Everchanging

Sachiko and Watanuki have a peculiarly inconsistent relationship. Sometimes he’s her idol, sometimes her best friend, and sometimes beneath her notice.

Simultaneously, but not synchronously, she’s his favored companion and security consultant, sometimes his chief rival, and sometimes his best chew-toy.

The constantly changing combinations can be dizzying.

Take, for example, the other night. The Tuxedoed Terrors were sitting together at the foot of the bed. Suddenly, ‘Nuki began washing Sachiko’s ears.

By the time I was able to reach the headboard and grab my phone, he was affecting boredom while she washed his ears.

And then, by the time I adjusted the flash settings in hope of getting a better shot, Sachiko had been demoted to “Evil Villain Who Must Be Gnawed Into Submission” and ‘Nuki had been laterally transferred to “I’m Getting Away From Him Before He Eats My Throat”.

I believe Sachiko bounced off of three different walls and the ceiling in making her escape.

Watanuki turned, sprawled across my ankles, and dared me to move.

I knew better.

Another Style

Coincidentally*, at just about the same time last Friday’s post on feline land-ownership styles went live, MM declared herself the owner of the room which she previously shared with Lefty.

* Or perhaps it’s no coincidence at all. There is a computer with unrestricted Internet access in that room. I may need to check the browser history.

The key word in that sentence is, of course, “previously”. MM’s style appears to be both autocratic and intolerant. She rules with a set of iron claws and doesn’t bother hiding them in a velvet mitt.

The immediate result of her declaration was Lefty pounding on the door and demanding to be let out. He has refused to return to the room since then, even though MM retreated to the cage and demanded that we lock her in.

MM, it should be noted, appears to exhibit a certain amount bipolar behavior. Her explorations of the room were during an “up” period, during which she’s curious, calm, and almost charming. Her declaration of ownership and subsequent retreat to her stronghold are typical of the other pole.

In any case, since Lefty won’t go into the library–in fact, he won’t even go upstairs–no matter what treats we offer, he has necessarily become a citizen of the house. There’s a learning curve: he’s still working on the concept that there’s nothing to stop Sachiko from stealing his dinner if he doesn’t eat when it’s served, and he’s still not sure about his right to sit on the dining room chairs (he’s allowed, as long as ‘Nuki doesn’t get there first.)

It’s been less than a week, but he’s seeming more comfortable downstairs than he had been before the change. He’s beginning to request patting and neck scratching. And he’s trying out new experiences.

That has a learning curve as well. His early attempts at condo living all resulted in a dangling tail.

Many had dangling paws as well.

He’s been working on it, though, and has several times succeeded in getting his entire body inside.

As for MM, she is, for now, content to remain in the cage. Since that room is one of the hottest in the house, especially in our current heat wave, we’re willing to let her stay caged and leave the door of the room open for air circulation.

We’ll revisit the situation in a week or two, when temperatures and tempers go down. For now, though, MM is happy in a grumpy sort of way, Lefty is happy in a cautious kind of way, and we’re happy in a no-thud-thud-thud-yowl-thud-hiss-yowl-in-the-middle-of-the-night way.

It’s a Question of Style

Kaja has laid claim to Maggie’s office. She spends much of her time surveying her domain from the highest available spot.

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She brooks no trespass on her domain. Anyone attempting to join her on the shelf is soundly cuffed, and non-resident felines entering the room are resoundingly cussed.

By contrast, Watanuki rules a much smaller territory. The foot of the bed is his and he only grudgingly shares it with bipeds.

As for other felines, one can tell how much favor they’re in by how close he allows them to settle.

For example, he’s generally on good terms with Sachiko, and they frequently hang out near the kitchen window together. But when it comes to the bed…

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Enough said.

Yuki, however, is another matter. ‘Nuki isn’t much of a snuggler, at least with other cats–he’s a master drooler upon biped legs–but he’ll generally make an exception for Yuki.

They’ve been together since late kittenhood, and the Knucklehead watches out for his less agile brother.

Cuddles are common.

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Poke, Poke

Last month I said I was curious whether MM’s next move would be to explore the room outside her cage or to regularly eat with us present.

Vexing creature that she is–it’s a meezer trait, after all–she’s chosen the middle path. She eats with us present irregularly, but increasingly often, and she has begun to explore the room at night, but her explorations generally last no more than a minute or two.

To be fair, some of the tentative nature of her explorations can be laid at Lefty’s paws. He has a regrettable tendency to invade the cage and eat MM’s food.

She hasn’t yet figured out that if he’s eating her dinner, there’s nothing stopping her from eating his, but we expect that bit of insight any day now.

She generally defers to him when the cage door is open, allowing him to munch at will, and then moving in quickly to hoover down whatever he left uneaten.

But recently we’ve seen signs that MM is not going to let Lefty establish dominance unchallenged. The cage door does, after all, change the dynamics of the room–as does the presence of bipeds.

Leading to this little dance routine:

Despite what you might think, we’re regarding this as a good sign. Interaction with the rest of the house’s inhabitants is an indication that she’s starting to come out of her isolation funk.

There’s a huge distance between MM poking Lefty’s neck while he’s distracted and allowing us to brush her tangled fur*.

* It should be noted that Lefty has discovered the pleasures of the brush. He’s not entirely comfortable with the concept, but then, he’s also still not sure about the whole patting-and-neck-scratching thing either. But he does enjoy a good brushing when he allows us to do it. Progress!

But in many ways, she’s come almost as far already, from hiding at the back of the cage to sitting just outside arm’s reach. We’re quite pleased.

Every Word Is True

Lefty has appointed himself Yuki’s guardian. He follows his ward almost everywhere, using full-body headbumps to keep Yuki from going anywhere dangerous: up the stairs, down the stairs, onto the bed, off the bed, anywhere there might be food…

Maggie recently put a snuggly blanket on the bed–you see where this is going, right–and Yuki was determined to try it out. It took a good five minutes of maneuvering, but Yuki won out in the end.

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Of course, Lefty couldn’t leave Yuki alone anywhere so risky as a bed with a cuddly blanket.

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So he took up guard duty, and it was a horrible experience. Lefty bore up well under the strain of sitting on a soft surface. Note the martyred expression: “I’ll put up with this for his sake.”

Lefty’s caution was entirely warranted. Just as Yuki settled down for a long nap, the neighbors began shooting fireworks.

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Poor Yuki. Poor Lefty.

It is a nice blanket, though.

All Mine

Sachiko has laid claim to the household’s entire stockpile of gooshy fud.

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Not only does she have the shared stock of Purina and the Fancy Feast we use when someone is on medication (mixing the drugs into the “Kitty Krack” ensures the patient gets their full dose), but on her far side is Watanuki’s special low-residue gooshy and Sachiko has one haunch firmly planted on that case as well.

“Share?” she says. “It’s mine now, and I don’t do shares.”

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If retaining ownership means staying put 24/7, Sachiko is up for it.

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In truth, she’s abandoned her hoard a couple of times for visits to the box and–because her hoomins are rude and refuse to put food bowls anywhere but on the floor–to eat. But she solemnly assures us that those minor lapses “don’t count”.

Steps in the Right Direction

Lefty is continuing to settle in to his new life. He’s increasingly comfortable around the humans–he even occasionally accepts a patting (he especially enjoys having his neck scratched).

It’s obvious he misses Rufus at least as much as we do. He’s trying to fill the void by cuddling up to the other cats, especially Yuki.

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We’re not sure if Yuki is just more tolerant of Lefty’s attentions, or if it’s a case of “black cats stick together”. Yuki has missed spending time with Rhubarb lately, so he may be predisposed to hang out with whoever wants to spend time with him. Or it may just be that his mobility issues make it harder for him to get away when Lefty hits him with a full-body head bump.

Regardless, they are spending a fair amount of time together. Though that pose is a little unusual: Lefty is usually the one wrapping himself around/across Yuki, but there is a lot of mutual grooming and reciprocal pillowing.

Lefty has also discovered the kitchen window.

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He’s got a fascinating chitter when prey appears outside. It sounds mechanical; combined with the way his head and tail twitch, he almost seems like a feline bobblehead.

He hasn’t joined Ooki Brothers Security. It’s clear that ‘Nuki doesn’t yet trust Lefty to keep proper watch, and has been known to chase him away from the window when he comes on duty.

But, surprisingly, they do manage to spend some time in relatively peaceful coexistence.

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Admittedly, having a barrier between them helps the relationship–and Lefty wasn’t as deeply asleep as this picture suggests.

It’s definite progress, though, and we’re pleased to see it.