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.

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.

Unhappiness

No cute picture this week.

Sorry, I’m not feeling the toe bean love. Or the sleeping cat, cat in a small space, or, indeed, any other cuteness.

A family of coyotes–mother and four or five pups–has moved into the neighborhood, and is hanging around the area outside our fence.

All the cats have gone into hiding. Hell, even the damn Trash Pandas have made themselves scarce.

We’re doing our best to annoy the coyotes into leaving, making loud noises and throwing pine cones when we see them. And we’ve moved the Backyard Bowl to a somewhat more protected location. The felines sneak out when things are quiet, grab some food, and vanish back into hiding again.

We saw MM late Wednesday night.

Tuxie hasn’t been seen in more than a week. This is not good.

We’re clinging to the hope that someone else saw his charm and charisma, and has given him the indoor home he’s been angling for. It could be. We know he’s been visiting more people than us, and the last time we saw him was a couple of days before the first reports of coyote sightings.

But it’s hard to maintain optimism, especially knowing he’s got a microchip registered to us. Surely if someone had adopted him, they’d have taken him to the vet for a checkup, right?

Or maybe someone spotted the coyote and gave Tuxie some temporary shelter. That could be too.

And there are still other cats around. We’ve caught glimpses of a black cat from across the street and an unknown black and white critter.

But they’re not our buddy Tuxie.

So, no pictures today. Maybe next week.

Odd Couple

Tuxie and MM have, for the most part, arrived at a workable arrangement. There’s always some jockeying for position when the food bowls go down, but after a minute or so, they settle down to the serious business of eating.
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To be quite honest, we’ve arrived at the point where they spend more time shoving each other aside to get petted before they eat.
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It’s a bit awkward, but quite endearingly cute.

Adaptation

As I’ve mentioned, it has been cooling off around here lately. Not to the ridiculous extremes everywhere else in the country, but enough to be noticeable.

Tuxie and MM have been evaluating different approaches to maximizing sunlight acquisition and retention.

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Sharing body heat, in other words. MM has decided that Tuxie makes a darn good hot water bottle.

Though some positions work better than others.

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We’re pretty sure she wound up with a stiff neck after trying to sleep this way.

But it’s nice to see how nature adapts to changing conditions.

Flap

Whenever Maggie fills the bird feeders (affectionately known as the Cat Entertainment Devices), we get swarms of the feathered noisemakers.

I’m not a bird person, so I only recognize three types:
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Jays

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Doves
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Little Twitter Birds

Life is even simpler for Sachiko.
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She calls them all “ek-ek-ek-ek [tail swish]”. As best I can tell–and why doesn’t Google Translate handle Cat/English?–that means “Lemme outta here, Daddy! I’ll moidelize da bums!” ¬†Approximately.

You might think that MM and Tuxie would spend most of their time in the yard, watching and drooling. You would be half right.
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To be fair, MM does spend time keeping an eye on the avian activity.
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It’s not a very aggressive eye, but it is an eye.
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Note the orange little twitter bird at the silver feeder and the gray one at the red feeder, which is almost directly above MM’s head.

Based on our observations of MM’s interactions with the birds, we’re fairly sure that she, like me, has three names for them. About three-quarters of them are “Meh. Too much work.” Two-thirds of the remainder are “Missed it by that much.” And the remaining eight percent?

“See? I don’t need hoomins to feed me.”

Holiday Photos

Thanksgiving is, or should be, among other things, a time to share with those less fortunate. This year, we elected to give something a little special to the Backyard Bunch. Several things, actually.

First, while preparing our turkey, we donated the bird’s liver to the gang. Surprisingly, the cats don’t seem to care much for liver. The raccoons and possums, however, appear quite fond of it. Enjoy!

We also saw that MM was after a bird of her own, though she is sensible enough not to try for a turkey. She had a couple of unsuccessful stalks, but did manage to bring down one unwary avian.
27-2 Apparently it was more feather than meat, as she gave up on the idea of eating it after partially plucking it.

So instead of the usual bowls of cheap kitty krunchies*, they got cans of gooshy fud. Turkey, of course.

* Costco’s house brand, actually. Unlike many of the low-priced foods, it actually has meat as the major ingredient. Obligate carnivores, remember. Their fuzzy little tummies don’t do well on a diet of rice or corn.

As usual, they queued up in an orderly fashion to enter the yard when we approached.
27-1 For local values of “orderly”.

MM was a bit skittish. She, even more than most cats, takes comfort in a set routine, and not only did we both go out with the food instead of just one of us, but we also went out somewhat earlier than usual.

But once the food was in the bowls and we left the yard, everyone settled in for their Thanksgiving turkey.
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I’m particularly taken by the sight of MM and GT sitting butt-to-butt, tails almost entwined as they nommed away, so here’s a closer look.
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And, in the interest of equal broadcast time, a closer look at Tuxie with his face buried in his bowl.
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I hope your Thanksgiving was as peaceful and pleasant as ours.