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.

Here We Go Again

You all know what it means when this happens, right?

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Yes, the transitional cage in Lefty’s room–formerly known as Rufus’ and Lefty’s room, formerly formerly known as Rufus’ room, formerly formerly formerly known as the library–is clean.

Parenthetically, this migration was in the works more than a month ago. It got put on hold by Rufus’ departure and an in-house epidemic of feline sneezing. So, please don’t think this is in any way an attempt to fill the Rufus-shaped gap in our lives. (Not that it would work that way. For somebody who didn’t wear clothes, Rufus left behind some very big shoes to fill.)

We’re hoping that Lefty will step at least partly into those metaphorical shoes and pass along some of the lessons he learned from Rufus. With that in mind, we’re not pushing him into full integration with the others: still feeding him separately and shutting him into the room at night; if he and the new arrival bond, it should smooth the transition for both of them.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that the new resident is MM*. She’d been obviously bored in isolation out in the catio, and had been neglecting her self-appointed sentry duties. We had to do something, and letting her go wild again still seems like a bad idea–yes, the coyotes are still around.

* Renaming will come later, when we get to know her as an indoor cat.

Her transition is going slowly. Which is fine. We’re not in a hurry, and we can give her as much time as she needs to adjust. For now, she still spends most of her time curled up in either the milk crate:

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or the condo:

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But she does seem healthy. Her appetite is good

and while she definitely prefers gooshy fud to kitty krunchiez, she doesn’t neglect the later.

She interacts with the other cats–primarily Lefty, since he spends more time in the room than anyone else, even without counting the bedtime lockdown hours.

And she has been exploring her new residence–with, it must be admitted, mixed results.

Check out the upper right hand corner of the screen. That bright light is Lefty watching the show and, no doubt, laughing.

Further Changes

No Rufus today. Sorry, Jackie.

But I got a new picture of Lefty that I just had to share. Unquestionably my newest and favoritist photo of the Formerly Feral Fellow so far.

Observe:

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He’s still a little nervous about the camera, but he really did let me get within arm’s reach while I was pointing it at him. And better, he looks almost relaxed about it.

No, seriously. Take a closer look; I ask you, is this the face of a worried cat?

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And since you’re not here, I answer for you, “No”.

Cautious, yes. Worried, no.

Makes me want to rub his nose and scritch behind his ears.

We’re not at that point yet, if ever. But we’re a heck of a lot closer than we were even a week ago.

That’s our Lefty: putting the “Formerly” in the “FFF”.

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.

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.

Highs and Lows

A few quickies to wrap up October. The last few days have been a strange mix of good news/bad news and excitement/terror.


It rained on Halloween. The rain started around 9:00 and stopped about 2:00. Naturally, Sunday’s newspaper was full of bad puns about the “reign” on the Giants’ parade.

Other than puns, the only significant effect of the rain was to discourage trick-or-treaters. We had about ten, considerably below last year’s high water mark (sorry) of three dozen or more.

No pumpkin spice costumes* and no broken bolts. Superheros predominated, but there was at least one ballerina/fairy princess. That’s a tough distinction to make when you can’t see if she has wings, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by asking.

* Now that Halloween is over, can all of the pumpkin spice foods please just go away? No, really. No need to wait until after Thanksgiving. Honest!

The Kitten Chow was popular. We had a mixed assortment of Reese’s Pieces, Almond Joys, Reese’s Miniatures, and Hershey Bars. Most of the kids were young enough that being told to take a handful of candy was so mind-blowing they didn’t even care what kind it was. So, no statistics on popularity, just some very happy faces.


Did I say there were around ten young bandits? Actually, there were two who didn’t show up in costume. Meezer Mommy showed up shortly before sundown with Little Black and Tiny Tux in tow. They all shared a bowl of kitty krunchies and a few cat treats we tossed from the window.

More happy faces.


The sad news arrived Saturday when MM showed up with only Tiny Tux. As promised, we had put out an offering for the little grey critter (gooshy food, which was quite enthusiastically devoured by Faux Tux and Grey Tabby) both Friday and Saturday. But when Little Black didn’t show up, our tenuous grip on our willpower failed.

Tiny Tux, aka Little Bit, aka TBD is now living in our spare bedroom. Yes, we went out and snagged her* Saturday afternoon. She had her first vet visit yesterday, and will remain in isolation until we’re sure she’s healthy. She’s getting antibiotics for an eye infection and she’s sufficiently undernourished and dehydrated that we don’t want to give her vaccinations or flea medications quite yet. Nor, at her age (estimated at 6-8 weeks), are the tests for FeLV and FIV accurate. So, isolation for her, multitudinous hand-washings for us.

* She’s still at an age where sex is a matter of opinion. We think “she” is the genetically correct pronoun, and will work on that basis unless proven incorrect. And if she has a different gender identity when she grows up, we’ll support her completely.

Taking on another kitty, especially one who’s going to need special care and attention to civilize, is a bit of a scary prospect, but, well… Let me put it this way: Sunday night we gave her a bowl of food, tucked her in (figuratively speaking), and went to bed ourselves. Five minutes later, a coyote started howling just beyond our back fence. I can’t think that bringing Little Bit inside was the wrong decision, though I suppose the coyote would beg to differ with me.


Meanwhile, Meezer Mommy is now temporarily residing in our garage. Or rather, around the time this post goes live, she’s at Fix Our Ferals to ensure that she doesn’t gift the neighborhood–or risk her own health–with another litter of kittens.

We suspect she’s a stray, rather than a lifelong feral, and she’s such a beautiful lady that we wish we could (re?)socialize her and find her a new home. Unfortunately, that’s just not going to be possible at this point. Perhaps she’ll forgive us for the indignity of her current incarceration and non-consensual surgery, and continue to hang around the backyard bowl. If so, well, who knows about the future?