One Step Forward, One Step Sideways

Lefty is starting to feel more comfortable. He’s spending more time sitting on top of his condo, grooming–at least when there are no humans around.

Let one of us come into the room, and he reverts to his “Lurker in the Shadows” persona.
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But even there, he’s less obnoxious about it. He no longer flees at the first sight or sound of humanity, and if he accidentally comes out of hiding while we’re around, he looks us over carefully–especially if we’re interacting with one of the other cats–before ducking for cover.

Which is not to say that progress has been smooth or without issues.
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To be fair, we’re almost certain toppling the condo was an accident. The video* suggests he was trying a Parkata Felis maneuver, flipping from “bowling pin” atop the condo to “fuzzy donut” inside it without occupying any of the space between.

* Unfortunately, it’s not ready for posting. I have to pull the recordings off the camera in batches, and that one is still pending.

It didn’t quite come off: he appears to have gotten a toenail snagged in the carpet around the top of the condo.

No harm done, as far as we can see, and he split his time between the milk crate (as seen in the photo above) and the condo*.

* Well-known fact: cats are liquid, assuming the shape of whatever vessel they’re placed in. A curved floor is no problem at all.

While his stare can be unnerving, we find it reassuring to know he’s keeping his eye on us. (Sorry.)

(Mostly) Quiet Moments

A few quick updates on the gang.

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Kokoro will take any opportunity to sprawl on my lap, even if it means sharing with Rhubarb. Since the weather turned colder and wetter, she’s been even more enthusiastic. The weird thing, though, is that the colder the weather, the more she melts.

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‘Nuki needs his toenails clipped and he’s got no qualms about using that fact when he demands attention. He hasn’t quite figured out that his threats would have more gravitas if they didn’t include those cute pink toebeans.

Lefty continues to be cautious about bipeds. He spends most of the time in his condo, and if we catch him outside, usually retreats immediately.


However, he’s realized that once we turn off the light, we rarely come back into the room. So he’s often at the food bowl before we even finish closing the door. His fastest time from light off to nose-in-bowl is three seconds, although the average is closer to six.

When humans aren’t involved, Lefty seems to be a rather mellow fellow.  At this point, he’s met most of the others, at least briefly, and Rufus spends every night and most of the days with him.  And so far, all the encounters have been peaceful.  No threats issued from between the bars in either direction.

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But Lefty takes relaxation almost to Rufusian levels.  Most cats I know would be uncomfortable in this situation. Not Lefty. He glanced out of the condo when Rufus climbed on top of the cage, then went back to sleep.

Two formerly feral fellows sharing a peaceful moment. What could be better?

(Lefty does love that poor catnip lemon, by the way. He’s all but disemboweled it and keeps it close to the condo at all times. But oddly, the pumpkin doesn’t get much love. He’ll play with it occasionally, but he always comes back to the lemon.)

Post-Thanksgiving Cats

“Hey,” I hear you all thinking*. “What’s up with the ferals?”

* Not really. It’s a rhetorical device. Relax, you don’t need to invest in metallic headgear. You can if you want, of course. I’m hardly in a position to give you fashion advice.”

I haven’t said anything about them because there hasn’t been much to say. The coyotes–or at least one coyote–are still around. We seem to have them scared: they run past our house instead of lingering in the common space. Clearly, that’s of limited utility in keeping the cats safe, so they remain in protective custody.

MM is still in the catio.
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She spends most of her time on the highest shelf, alternately keeping watch, grooming, and sleeping. She descends for dinner, of course, and to use the box, but otherwise prefers to be as high up as possible. Not uncommon among meezers, to be sure, though it’s rare to see them so oblivious to rain.

After far too long in the garage, Lefty has finally made the move inside. I hasten to add that the delay had nothing whatsoever to do with his behavior. We had trouble coming up with a cage that fit into the available space, gave him sufficient room to move around, and didn’t risk him hurting himself through lack of depth perception. We finally combined a large cage with a bunch of snap-together wire panels. Hooray for zip ties!

It took no persuasion whatsoever for him to exchange the plastic carrier for a condo, and the camera frequently finds him sitting on the condo roof. However, he’s still quite shy where bipeds are concerned, and immediately ducks inside when he hears us coming.

He hasn’t met ‘Nuki yet, but they do have one thing in common: a tendency to leave body parts dangling when sleeping in an enclosed space.
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Actually, the only one of the crew he’s met so far is Rufus. Not only was Mr. Alexander the logical choice, given his calm demeanor, but the library–Rufus’ home territory–was the only place in the house where there was enough space for Lefty’s domicile and where we could control his interaction with the other cats.

By and large, it’s working well. Rufus is free to roam the room, so he can ignore Lefty or engage with him as he sees fit. Granted, it’s usually the later (note the eyes at the upper right).

Yes, to our surprise, Lefty has turned out to be quite the talker when he wants Rufus’ attention. Ferals are rarely talkative, so we have to wonder if Lefty grew up as an indoor cat.

You can see Rufus’ tail just to the right of the glowing bar. Clearly, he’d rather eat than talk. Which is not to say that he won’t go looking for Lefty when he’s in the mood.

Naturally, Lefty reserves the right to ignore Rufus if he doesn’t feel social. He’s well aware of Rufus’ efforts, however, as can be seen by the glowing eye in the condo in the last few seconds of that clip.

Every so often, however, both gentlemen are feeling social at the same time.

They haven’t become bosom buddies, but their interactions seem peaceful. Quiet regard and cautious nose-sniffing are the actions of the day. That works for us.

As I said earlier, Lefty still ducks out of sight when he hears us coming. But now that he’s indoors and has had some time to adjust, we’ve started hanging out quietly in the library to accustom him to our presence in a (hopefully) non-threatening fashion. A couple of days ago, he accidentally came out of the condo to visit his food bowl while Maggie was in the room. He didn’t panic and didn’t threaten, just watched her for a few seconds, then ducked back into shelter when he heard me approaching. Definite progress.

In the near future, we’ll try leaving the library door open while we sit with Lefty. That should let him begin to meet the rest of the gang while still giving us control over their interaction.

There’s a long way to go before we even consider letting him out of the cage, much less give him free rein to wander around the house. But we’ve taken the first steps.

As “things to be grateful for” go, being able to offer shelter and love to those in need–Sachiko, Rufus, MM, and Lefty in particular–is high up on my list.

Clever Fellow

Turns out Lefty is an unusually clever fellow.

He’s a bit of a slob when it comes to eating his gooshy fud. That’s not uncommon. However, unlike most cats, who would slop it onto the floor and then lick it up from there, he just drizzles it down the side of the bowl.

And then he does this:

Kokoro is his match intellectually–she figured out how to keep can lids from sliding across the floor by holding them in place with a paw while she licks them–but it’s a level of sophistication most cats never match.

Mostly, he’s a dignified fellow. But he’s quite taken with his magic lemon. Shortly after this video was taken, he carried it into his Fortress of Solitude (the carrier visible at the far left) so he can love on it in comfortable seclusion.

We catch occasional glimpses of the lemon. It’s slowly being ripped to shreds and losing its stuffing. We may have to get him a new one in the near future. Or offer him a magic banana.

Lefty Update

Lefty paid his first visit to our regular vet earlier this week. He’s now up to date on his vaccinations, and aside from one issue, has a clean bill of health.

Somehow he did a number on one of his hind feet, possibly snagging his toenail in something, and tore the foot slightly. It doesn’t seem too serious, but he’s taking a course of antibiotics, and we’ll need to keep an eye on him. Of course, we would anyway, but we might not have tried to figure out how to look at his feet. Still working on that…

Anyway, in honor of his good behavior, enjoy this brief video of him hanging out, looking very cool and elegant.

I’m particularly enamored of the tail curled gracefully around his toes. Gotta keep them warm, after all. Interestingly, unlike so many of the cats in the neighborhood, he doesn’t cock his hind legs outward when he sits in the bowling pin pose.

Makes you want to poke his turbo button, doesn’t it?

Settling In

Lefty and MM remain in their separate quarters. Though neither is particularly accepting of our presence, we think Lefty may be starting to accept the idea that this indoor living gig might be worth considering.

Yes, there are a lot of conditionals in that sentence, aren’t there?

In any case, he still spends most of his time in his Fortress of Solitude, a carrier secured to one wall of his cage. But he seems slightly more relaxed when we’re around. He no longer glares at us, but eyes us speculatively.
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And, as you can see, his face is looking much, much better. His forehead seems to be healed up and the fur is largely regrown. The bridge of his nose is still furless, but then, that’s where he took the most severe damage, so taking longer to grow back–if it grows back at all–isn’t surprising.

Note the lovely red tones in his fur. Tuxie, you may recall, showed similar shading, especially when he pulled his color-changing trick. Makes me wonder if the two of them aren’t related in some fashion. Though that’s purely speculation, I hasten to add.

In any case, Lefty does emerge from his fortress for more than eating and using the box.

Note the quick glimpse of his turbo button.

He does love both the gooshy food (middle bowl) and the krunchiez (near bowl). And, unlike Rufus, he does drink, so we don’t have to mix his gooshy with water.

He seems to like the camera. We’ve got a fair amount of footage of him leaning up against the bars where it’s mounted. My guess is that he likes the feel of the infrared lights on his flank.

Yes, the camera does do IR, which is nice, since we can keep tabs on Lefty at night, when he’s most likely to be out and about, without leaving the garage light on. Though it does mean sacrificing color. A fair exchange.

We gave him the ball toy last weekend, and he completely ignored it until Wednesday, when that second video was captured. He’s rather more interested in the catnip lemon.

And he was very, very enthusiastic about the loose catnip we gave him Tuesday evening. I suspect he was stoned on the ‘nip when he played with the ball toy later that night; it does lower inhibitions.

We’d never try to bribe him into domestication with drugs, of course. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

But it’s worth noting that we noticed his attitude change on Wednesday.

Three Cats

A grab bag of felines today–though I don’t recommend putting cats in a bag. Especially not multiple cats.

Lefty continues to heal.
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As you can see, the fur is starting to grow back on his forehead, and his nose no longer looks scabby and raw. And this picture is several days old; he’s looking even better now.

He’s still spending most of his time in his Fortress of Solitude and refusing to interact with us, but he’s moving around well, eating enthusiastically, and keeping himself groomed. In fact, he’s turning into quite the dapper gentleman.

Then there’s Watanuki, who seems determined to prove that even the most thuggish fellows have their charming moments.
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Normally, he’s extremely dignified, but occasionally he forgets himself and winds up showing off his cute side.

Speaking of which…
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Patience may not be a kitten any more, but she continues to embody the very spirit and soul of cute.

Feeling Lucky

If you were wondering, yes, the coyotes are still around. We haven’t seen the adults lately, but the pups put in an appearance from time to time. Needless to say, we’re not happy about that. But what can one do?

Well, for starters, one can put MM in protective custody.
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She’s been an involuntary resident of the catio* for a while now.

* Note, by the way, that the catio has been upgraded with a real roof and a partial wall on the side that gets the most rain. These upgrades should make life much more pleasant for any inhabitants during the rainy season. Assuming we ever have another rainy season, of course.

Don’t let that mild demeanor and the sun-basking fool you. She is not happy to be there.
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Not only did she tear the railing off the shelter and make a massive mess of the straw, forcing us to replace the wooden shelter with one of the plastic “quonset hut” shelters from the yard, but she also tore up and tore apart the rubber floor mats.

She’s calmed down a bit, but she still wants nothing to do with the nasty bipeds who locked her up. She hides in the shelter when we take her food out and we hear an occasional “Cattica! Cattica!” chant late at night. At least we’ve persuaded her that the litter box is for excretion, not residency.

We’re not sure how long we’ll hold onto her, but we’ve given up any notion of civilizing her. Once we decide it’s sufficiently safe, we’ll let her loose.

And then there’s the other involuntary recipient of our hospitality.

Meet Lefty.
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He hasn’t been with us as long, mostly because it took several times as long to trap him. (We caught MM the first night we tried. Lefty was more cautious, and it took more than a week.)

And if we thought MM was unhappy in the catio, Lefty took matters to previously unconsidered depths. He complained. He prowled around, shoving shelters out of his way, and generally created chaos.

Nor, to be blunt, did he get along with MM. She wanted him in the catio even less than he wanted to be there.
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To make matters worse, Lefty is not the most graceful cat we’ve ever met. He’s got an excuse, granted, but the combination of clumsiness and escape attempts resulted in several rather nasty wounds.
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Be glad I’m not showing you any of the earlier pictures. This one is quite upsetting enough; the others are…well, put it this way: I did not look at them, just attached them to an email to the vet and hit send as quickly as I could.

No, he’s not a calico; he’s pure black except for a small white patch on his chest. That strip down his forehead and nose is one of the wounds he picked up in the catio.

He took a trip to the vet and he’s looking better now. We’ve given him separate quarters in the garage while he recovers from his neutering, goes through a course of antibiotics, and generally heals up. That space seems to be more to his tastes: we haven’t seen any sign of escape attempts and he’s eating more enthusiastically than he did in the catio.

We don’t know if it’s going to be possible, but we’d like to adopt him into our posse. Not because every team needs a good southpaw (sorry), but because of that excuse for his clumsiness.

Some of you, especially knowing that we generally give neighborhood cats descriptions instead of proper names, may have figured out why we call him “Lefty”. For the rest of you, here’s a hint:
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That cloudy right eye is no camera illusion. As we feared, and the vet confirmed, it’s unlikely he’s got any vision in it. We don’t know if it’s acquired or congenital, but either way, it’s not curable.

On the brighter side, the vet doesn’t think there’s any need to remove it to avoid infection. So, while a nicely piratical eyepatch might look good on him, he won’t have to wear one.

Further good news: he’s tested negative for Heartworm, FIV, and FeLV.

So he’s been lucky so far. But monocular vision certainly puts him at a disadvantage on the streets.

We’ll see how he’s doing by the time he finishes his antibiotics. If he’s still relatively chill, we’ll see if we can persuade him to adopt an indoor lifestyle. It’ll be a long haul, and an awkward one, since we don’t feel at all comfortable about putting him back in the catio, even after MM goes on her way. But it’s worth a try. Wish him (further) luck.