Moving Forward While Sitting Still

Queen Emeraldas has taken a huge step forward.

Yes, those are my legs she’s curled up between.

We’re not entirely sure she recognizes legs and feet as being part of reclining bipeds. And she definitely didn’t jump up on the bed to hang out with me.

She’s been showing up in the late evening recently, hopping up on the bed to snuggle with Yuki. Interestingly, she’s allowing him to wash her ears, which is often a submissive signal. It’s hard to picture Em as submissive with anyone, but there it is.

Anyway, on this particular day, Yuki happened to be sprawled between my knees, so Em had no real choice but to curl up where she did.

Every time I so much as twitched, she looked up in alarm, so I wound up holding as still as I could for about half an hour. Naturally, my legs went to sleep, so I did eventually have to restore circulation by moving. At which point, she leapt off the bed and sulked on the floor.

But the truly wonderful thing is that she apparently decided the bed is a comfy place to hang out, even when Mr. Floof isn’t present.

Witness the scene a few days later when I went into the bedroom:

Rather than disturbing her more than I already had by taking the picture, I decided to read elsewhere.

Double-Decker

The microwave/TV condo in the upstairs hall goes through waves of popularity and disinterest.

Until about a week ago, nobody had been much into it, literally or figuratively. Kokoro would sit on top, but neither for very long or very often.

Then, magic:

Emeraldas and Lefty have taken it over.

They seem to like the two-level aspect. Meezers are typically climbers, so being on the upper level may be appealing to Em’s deeper instincts; as for Lefty, few indeed are the cats who don’t like a cave of their own.

(Note, by the way, that Lefty is still–at least as of this writing–wearing his bling.)

As for us, we’re pleased to see Em hanging around parts of the house that aren’t the downstairs.

A Rite of Passage

It took a lot longer than we expected, but Lefty may have confirmed the “Formerly” in his title of “Formerly Feral Fellow”.

Mind you, he’s not exactly happy about it.

Downright grumpy, in fact.

But an apparently incongruous emotional reaction to a life-changing event is far from uncommon.

It’s been more than a year since I wrote “someday soon he will wear it again“. I’m pretty sure that fourteen months isn’t “soon” by the standards of anyone with a lifespan shorter than your average sequoia.

But, yes.

He is once again wearing a collar.

As of this writing, he’s had it on for four days–it helps that this was intended to be his permanent collar, rather than an extremely weak “test collar”–but after a few unsuccessful attempts to persuade Emeraldas to help him take it off, he hasn’t mustered any strong objections.

And, yes, it does have bling.

I’ll skip the jokes about him being the star of our family and/or the bell [sic] of the ball.

He is Awesome Kitty, though, and we’re delighted that he seems to have accepted that the Well-Dressed Cat-About-the-House wears bling.

Welcome home, Lefty, welcome home.

Details, Details

Due to a scheduling misdemeanor a couple of days ago, I wasn’t able to have dinner with Maggie. Fortunately, there’s a very dapper gentleman who was happy to keep her company while she ate.

In truth, Lefty often keeps both of us company during meals–but usually from the floor. Since my chair was vacant, however, he decided to move a little closer to the action*.

* He wishes it to be known that he was not responsible for my placemat’s slow glide toward the floor. In all likelihood, that was Sachiko’s doing: dumping placemats is one of her favorite pastimes.

Lefty is well aware of the house rule regarding cats on the table: not during mealtimes.

He’s not as dialed in on the other table-related rule: Cats do not get to share meals until they demonstrate minimum proficiency with standard tableware. We’d accept proper usage of a fork and knife, a spoon, or even chopsticks.

Nobody, including Lefty, has managed the feat yet, but that doesn’t stop him from sitting between our chairs, looking hopeful.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit it, but he’s often successful in extorting some goodies. And he’s approved of darn near everything he’s tasted: chicken (prepared several ways), tilapia, salmon, steak, burgers (both beef and lamb), cheese (cheddar, naturally), Cheetos®, and even pasta (red sauce only–we’re not going to imperil his tummy with pesto).

So far the only thing he’s turned up his nose at is feta. He took one sniff, declared it “Decidedly not cheese,” and stalked off, radiating offended dignity.

[photo credit to Maggie, naturally]

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.

Her Majesty’s a Pretty Nice Girl

Perhaps some of you are wondering how Emeraldas is doing.

Last I updated y’all, we’d given her limited freedom of movement: restricted to the upstairs hall–with occasional forays into Maggie’s office–and only during daylight hours.

Interestingly, despite her meezer fascination for heights and climbing, she never made an attempt to climb the fence, even when the other cats started jumping over it to harass her.

Inter-feline relationships are still a work in progress for Queen Em, but they have progressed far enough that we’ve removed most of the restrictions. The fence is down and we only lock her in her room for a few hours at night–and that’s only so she can eat in peace.

Her Majesty still stays mostly in her room, though she has been seen in the bedroom closet, down in the living room, and in the kitchen–briefly.

Other than at dinner time, she remains cautious about bipeds. However, her love of Yuki continues strong, enough so that she’s jumped up on the bed to cuddle with him a couple of times.

If she’s cautious about humans, she’s downright paranoid about cameras. I’ve been trying for weeks to get a shot of her in her latest hangout: the back of the futon in her room–it’s a favorite of every cat who’s spent time in that room, thanks to its combination of comfort, a view, and morning sunlight. Every time she sees me coming with a camera or phone, she hides under the futon.

So for now, make do with this telephoto shot of Emeraldas and Yuki hanging out on the stairs.


 

Or is that “stares”?

Breakthrough!

Breakthrough!

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Or, as MST3K would have put it, “We have meezer sign!”

Since we brought her inside, MM has spent most of the time either in the condo or the milk crate.

Make that “most of the time when we’ve been awake”. She’s definitely more nocturnal than the rest of the gang. Not surprising, really, given her previous living conditions.

We haven’t been worried about her, particularly. We knew she’d have a long, slow adjustment to the new surroundings. But we did have a bit of a scare a couple of weeks ago when her appetite dropped off significantly. But after a couple of days, she did a little hurking in the corner of the cage and then started eating more. So we modified her diet a bit–more water mixed into her gooshy fud–and she’s back to her previous eating habits.

But about that breakthrough:

Suddenly, she’s taking more of an interest in us, and is beginning to experiment with eating while we’re still in the room. A few days ago, she came out of the condo and started eating while I was cleaning her box. A couple of days after that, she came partway out: head and shoulders exposed so she could reach the bowl while leaving her tail and butt protected.

Parenthetically, if you check her lower back in the picture above, you’ll see some tufts of white hair. She may have some scarring there, which could explain why she’s protective of her backside. However, it’s equally likely that she’s just going through some heavy shedding. We’re currently in a heatwave and temperatures in that room are routinely hitting in the upper 80s and lower 90s.

Anyway, on Wednesday evening, she decided she needed to supervise the box cleaning. You can see a corner of the box at the lower left of the picture to give you a sense of how close she was to me.

I don’t think she was pleased.

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But the box did get cleaned without any hissing–from either of us–and without any sign that she wanted to retreat to her safe places.

There are plenty of milestones remaining, but we’re very pleased to see her passing this one.

Next up: either coming out of the cage to explore the room, or eating with us present on a regular basis. We’ve seen both paths before, and we’re curious to see which way she goes.

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.