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Ingridients:
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email: i(at)jamver.id.au

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  • Links
    These are a few of my favourite links.

  • James doesn't write much, but if I tell complete lies about him, his version will be here.
  • Prasenjit is my favourite astrophysicist.
  • Bruno is my favourite web comic.
  • Yarnharlot - even if you're not a knitter, this is one of the funniest descriptions of perfectionism from the inside.
  • LanguageLog is where the linguists go to play.
  • Earthquakes in California, and around the world, as they happen.
  • Misia is writing a book about the history of virginity.
  • Respectful of Otters - politics, HIV, getting the facts straight.
  • Making light on being a leftish science fiction editor
  • UserFriendly is my favourite geeky web comic.
  • NCBI for all your genomic sequence needs
  • Creating Text(iles) - knitting in academia
  • String or Nothing - knitting and sharing knitting resources
  • Keyboard biologist - knitting while living with a geek
  • QueerJoe's knitting blog is exactly that
  • When knitting was a manly art in the wilds of Oregon
  • And she knits too along with running a family and postdoc.

  •        
    Mon, 28 May 2007

    Naughtiness.

    It's clearly getting cold these days: all three cats slept with us (Zeki between our heads, Amber between our feet, and Nemrut on my outside). There was a particularly cute, but stressful, moment, when Nemrut wandered up, and Zeki and he washed each other just above my head. It's stressful because Zeki had been washing me earlier that night, and he can be hard to get to stop, and Nemrut had been playing with my hair earlier (looking for fleas, perhaps), and having both of them doing stuff like that, that close, was a bit unnerving.

    When we got up to have breakfast, I noticed the dry cat food bowl was nearly empty. Zeki was advertising this fact by sitting in the spot where it normally goes, with the bowl pushed off behind the water bowl. I took the bowl off to the laundry to refill it, and Zeki came along, keen to make sure proper procedure was followed.

    When I wanted to return the bowl to its usual place, Amber was now sitting there. Zeki was incensed, and chased after her. He must have been pretty aggressive, because she ducked under the sofa within seconds. I don't know if Zeki doesn't fit under the sofa, or just thinks he doesn't fit, but at least Amber has a safe retreat.

    And Zeki went straight after Nemrut. Now, Nemrut had been nowhere near any of this. Our standard definition of Zeki's aggression being over the line is when he switches immediately to fighting the other when the first ducks out, and they haven't been up to anything together.

    So James hauled Zeki into the sin-bin. He sat and sulked on the post inside the cage, with a real "that wasn't my fault" attitude. Nemrut chose to do the equivalent of wheelies, running back and forwards along the stretch of corridor near the cage and around the side of the cage, with little leaps and galumps. Nemrut doesn't strike me as the kind of cat to rub something in, but it did really look like that. Mind you, Amber was off getting something to eat, so maybe Nemrut was trying to distract Zeki.

    Later, Amber and Nemrut curled up together in the basket at the end of the corridor, putting the household on diabetes alert. James took a picture, and Nemrut can so ham it up for the camera. He has the kind of expression you expect from a Hollywood star having his picture taken with a fan.

    We let Zeki out just before going to work, and he rushed off to the food. Maybe he'll remember next time to get something to eat before picking fights with the others in front of us.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Zeki

    James and I don't seem to have been co-ordinated enough on the weekend for me to sort out the picture thing, but I thought I should introduce our new cat anyway.

    Zeki is a nine-year old pedigree Turkish Van who was a breeding male at a friend's cattery. He's now been desexed and pensioned off to us.

    But please don't feel sorry for us, imagining us adopting such an old cat, grumpy and tired and set in his ways and inclined to dislike us because we're new and responsible for the loss of his masculinity.

    No disrespect intended to Berenice, but if Zeki was a human, he's the type who after retiring, divorces his wife, moves into some kind of free-love relationship with a younger couple, and spends his days playing golf and football, travelling, enjoying nature, and showing off his body, with the odd bit of skydiving thrown in.

    This is a cat who intends to enjoy his new life. Or as Annette suggested, he took one look at us and thought "I've got it made."

    I admit I'm confused - cats are supposed to not like new surroundings, and Zeki went from staying in one room to visiting the entire house within a fortnight, and now seems vaguely disappointed there aren't any new rooms to explore. Also, Turkish Vans are known to attach themselves strongly to one or two people, but I assumed that meant he would be pining for Berenice, not attaching himself to us within hours of first meeting us.

    Zeki can also play like a six kilogram kitten. His favourite toy so far seems to be an old hairband - the sweat smell seems to be part of the charm. He knocks it around, chasing it, and also picks it up between his front paws and tries to chew it.

    This morning we were surprised to discover that Zeki may also be trying some advanced education as part of his retirement. He somehow managed to get the hairband around a powercord. The diameter of the hairband isn't much larger than the plug - it would be fairly tricky for a person to do it one-handed, which I would have thought was a reasonable comparison.

    I hope I can get some Zeki photos on the blog in the next few days.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    The Truth about Cats and Football

    So, I've now played quite a bit of Zeki-football, and I've got a good idea of what works as a football: small, rounded objects that roll or slide, but irregularly. Grapes have been very popular recently.

    I've also noticed his persistence with this game: when the football disappears under something, he'll go to a lot of effort to get it out again. Even if he can't see it, if he knows where it is, he'll keep at it.

    However, he usually needs help to get started - James or I have to roll the grape (or whatever) around in front of him a few times before he starts chasing it. Once he gets going, he doesn't need our help at all.

    The rest of you had probably figured this out, but I discovered the true origin of Zeki football this morning. He's chasing a cockroach. Very persistently.

    Somehow, a cat that's a mouser is a bit more glamorous, but I'll take what I can get.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    The turkish team

    The cats are playing golf. With a fluorescent orange golf ball. Actually, to watch, it's more like soccer. Maybe they've been inspired by the World Cup.

    Amber is particularly enthusiastic and persistent, which surprises me, because in the past, I've had sort-of soccer games with Zeki and she usually looks on in disdain.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Scaredy cat

    We've set up a pattern during the day while we're at work which seems to be working okay - Zeki goes out into the living/kitchen area, and Amber and Nemrut are in the bedroom-bathroom area, with the sliding door closed almost all the way, so they can look through. (There's a point a little bit wider where it appears that Amber can move through fairly easily, but the other two can't, which we might progress onto later, given how things are going. Convenient that the cat everyone accepts is the smallest one.)

    On Monday night, James decided we should let all the cats move around the bedroom end of the house freely. This was a mistake. At some point while we were asleep, Nemrut and Zeki got into quite a big fight under our bed.

    Nemrut has been a bit of a nervous wreck since. I haven't been able to pat him like I could on Sunday and Monday morning. I think he will eventually calm down, but he's been extremely skittish, and sprints between the blue room (where he hides behind the TV) and the bedroom (where he sets himself in the middle under the bed, except if you approach him, when he will move as far away from you as he can, staying under the bed.)

    Zeki is definitely relaxing around Amber - they're both on the bed at the same time now, I don't think he's hissed at her for over 24 hours, and this morning, he was sitting in the corridor, while Amber did loops around him, brushing against him and purring. He didn't purr at all, but he didn't hiss either, which I think is progress.

    Because it's obviously a much bigger deal for Zeki to accept a male than a female (even if they're neutered) the fact is that Zeki has effectively been an only cat his entire life - I doubt he ever had to share territory before, as he would probably only have had direct interaction with other cats when mating, and then of course he got our whole house to himself.

    So I'm crossing my fingers that once he gets used to Amber, the learning curve to accepting a male cat around will be much shallower than going straight from only cat to sharing with a male. And in some ways, we are expecting a pretty old cat to adapt to some pretty major changes in his life and he's been remarkably adaptable so far.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    After ten days

    Zeki is getting more relaxed about having other cats around, and isn't trying to mount Amber as often any more. He also doesn't look quite so puzzled each time she refuses, either, so I think it's actually sinking in that she's not interested.

    Amber has sort of settled in. She doesn't strike me as fully comfortable or at home, but she exudes a really strong air of "I'll manage". She accepts that this is where she'll live and it's okay, she just needs more time to get used to everything. We have the sliding door so she can move between the two areas, but I believe she spent all of last night out in Zeki's zone.

    Oh, and she managed to fall off the climbing beam this morning. James was mortified, but we think she's okay.

    The climbing beam: it goes over the stairs, and is attached to the top stair railing at the stained glass windows upstairs, and near the sliding door, so it goes over the landing and the lower part of the stair case. It was originally installed so we can paint the walls in the stairwell, but it quickly became a favourite for Zeki, and Amber has shown absolutely no fear on it, and maybe even tries to get too tricksy out there. Nemrut has also been out on it (when Zeki is closed off on the front balcony). We've been talking about making it a permanent feature, since it is so popular.

    Nemrut is still skittish, but he is getting better too. He spends quite a bit of time in the corridor when we're home, often with Zeki on the other side of the sliding door. There's some caution between them but I think just letting it be like this for a time will work.

    Nemrut's skittishness around James and me is getting to be a bit of a joke - if we wait, he will come out from under the bed, and circle our legs, purring and rubbing our legs, but if we leave and then walk back in, ten seconds later, he sprints off with that "busted!" expression. Then, we wait again, and he comes out, lather, rinse, repeat. We have had him up on the bed, and he seems to quite like that, when he's convinced he's allowed up there.

    We've had all kinds of disturbing feedback from people with experience with Turkish Vans, socialising stud males after their desexing, and so forth. Apparently some desexed studs never get the idea. Apparently it takes at least six weeks to judge if it's all going to work. Apparently you can expect males (even if desexed) to still be trying to kill each other after a week in the same house.

    I'm glad we heard all this after we'd had the new cats for a week, because I'm not sure I needed the extra stress of knowing that what we're doing is apparently very hard. Now I think things are going well enough that we can be pretty sure that the worst-case scenarios don't apply to us.

    I don't think it would have helped the cats either to have me around with higher stress levels. I don't think we've performed any miracles - I mean, it's not like we haven't had a few screw-ups, Zeki and Nemrut fighting, and Amber facing down Zeki. There really was fur flying one time - Amber is very impressive, because Zeki and her were having this particular fight in front of the sliding door - she could just have nipped through and he wouldn't have been able to follow - and she held her ground, until he got the idea that she was not up for being mounted. Maybe she didn't realise that she could escape, but on the other hand, in terms of getting the message home to Zeki this was probably better. I hope she can stand up to having to do it a few more times, as I imagine she'll have to.

    Anyway, I have to assume either that Berenice socialised these cats better than most, or that we've struck it lucky. James is very good at being insistent, a bit pushier than I'd be, but it seems to work most of the time. I'm more the type who gets really bloody-minded once I think it's all gone far enough, before then I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt, which means I don't impose myself as much on them.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Cat Cleared of Scratching Charges

    Brisbane, Thursday 18th November, 2004. Authorities yesterday released Zeki (also known as Vanstar Coma Berenices) without pressing charges, following a scratching incident.

    Eyewitnesses reported seeing Zeki consorting with close personal friend Ingrid Jakobsen, when he "suddenly leapt into the air" at a noise, scratching Ms Jakobsen's toe, prior to running away from the scene.

    Investigation revealed the noise to have been produced by a shredder operated by Mr James Lever. Repeating the noise caused similar reactions from Zeki, although decreased. After about an hour, the shredder noise ceased to alarm Zeki altogether.

    "It appears to have been totally accidental", a spokesbeing said. "Zeki was simply startled by an unfamiliar sound. There was no intent to harm Ms Jakobsen."

    Further investigation has revealed that the shredder in question had not been operated for several months. Authorities advised Ms Jakobsen and Mr Lever to be careful when making any new, loud sounds.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Water cat

    Turkish Vans are known as swimming cats, and are apparently the only breed of domestic cat who enjoy water. One story is that it gets very cold and snowy around Lake Van in winter, and very hot and dry in summer, so the cats need waterproof coats to survive the snow, and so are also able to go swimming to cool off in summer.

    Zeki isn't showing any sign of swimming yet, but he is certainly much more fascinated by water than any cat I've ever seen. He's very curious about the shower and it's not impossible he will get in one day.

    Yesterday I was out watering on the front balcony, with Zeki eagerly following me around and watching the water pour out of the watering can.

    As an experiment, I poured the rest of the water on his back. His response was to start chasing the water running off his back, as it ran towards the railing. I stroked him - his back was pretty drenched and I was distributing the water further - he purred cheerfully.

    Definitely a water cat.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Runaround

    I woke up at 5:10 this morning, intending to go for a run. I left for the run at 5:50. This is why it took so long to leave:

    I got up and let Zeki out into the living area as usual, while I was getting my stuff for my run. Next thing I know, Nemrut has also snuck out into the living area (I obviously didn't close the sliding door enough) and the two of them trotted around the living room, mainly at a distance, but also with some sniffing of each other. I felt rather optimistic at this point.

    Then Zeki zips back into the bedroom area and runs into the blue room (which he basically hasn't been allowed in since last weekend) and sniffs around the kitty litter and very deliberately urinates in it. Hopefully it won't scare Nemrut off using it (I did clean the waste out later, but I'd probably have to ditch the litter and clean the tray to remove the Zeki smell). I'm feeling just a tad stressed at this point because now all the cats are in more or less exactly the wrong locations.

    Anyway, I head out to try to get Nemrut back on the right side of the sliding door. (Zeki was happy to follow me out once he'd done his thing.) Nemrut is still scared of people who stand up and walk around, so he decides he has to escape down the stairs.

    Next thing I know, I've got three cats running around the renovation area downstairs, and I'm wondering if perhaps I was wrong in my earlier assessment that I had all the cats in the wrong location. Nemrut is skittish and scared (he's never been downstairs for a start, and Zeki is running around after him) and eventually Nemrut wedges himself between a sofa and a box - he can't move much, but I can't move him either. Zeki is standing nearby, watching him.

    I try to stroke Nemrut, to get him to calm down, and eventually he starts to move out, so I lift him up on the sofa, and I cuddle him some more, putting my body between him and Zeki. Eventually, I hope he's calm enough, and I pick him up to take him to the bedrooms. The closer we get to the sliding door, the more he fights. I've now got a couple of nice scratches on my shoulder.

    I get him on the right side of the sliding door, but unfortunately, Zeki's been following, and Zeki now chased Nemrut in under our bed. I didn't see what happened, but there was some hissing and whatever you call that screeching sound fighting cats make.

    By the time I get to look under the bed, they're sitting a meter and a half apart, looking at each other and eyeing me off too. James is still trying to sleep, but I had to ask him to coax Zeki out and take him out to the living area, so James also has a few nice scratches today...

    James makes some rude comments about disrupting his sleep, and finally I can go out for my run.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Zeki in trouble

    Zeki's been surprisingly quiet the last few days. As far as we can judge, he spent all of yesterday in one spot on the couch. I was worried he was ill, but he was rather playful this morning, so he seems to have recovered. Possibly a bit too much.

    I was packing up after breakfast, and had taken my laptop with me into the kitchen. Suddenly I realised Zeki was on the kitchen bench next to my laptop. I yelled at him in surprise, he panicked.

    Rather than jumping off the kitchen bench the straightforward way he had come up, he ran behind my laptop, realised he was trapped from jumping off that way by the table James is restoring, didn't want to go where I was, and so continued straight through where the water bottles and glasses stand.

    He took a rather nice green striped glass with him as he jumped off. He sprinted towards the stairs, but James caught up with him.

    Zeki and James had a major altercation, and Zeki was eventually timed-out in the blue room.

    James got several deep scratches on his arms, and when he asked why there was a weird discoloured spot on the back of his calf, we discovered that his right thigh was also covered in scratches.

    We cleaned up the scratches and applied tea tree oil, James not feeling a thing.

    Later, when James re-opened the door to the blue room, Zeki stayed on the couch in there, cautiously looking out. It looked like "I can't get into trouble if I stay here" to me.

    I hope both Zeki and James will be okay.

    As for me, I've got to try to remember not to yell when Zeki does something unexpected, and just pick him up and put him where he's allowed to be instead. I am bigger than the cat, after all.

    In the "every cloud has a silver lining" department, next time I see funky-looking glasses, I have an actual excuse to buy one or two, provided they're not too expensive. I mean, there's an actual spot in the glasses cupboard they could fit.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Happy families

    It looks like the whole Zeki, Amber and Nemrut show is reaching a happy ending: Zeki and Nemrut can tolerate each other in the same room, and even sleep on the same bed.

    I'm not quite sure I can guarantee my sanity though, as they choose to sleep as follows: Zeki sleeps between me and James, on top of the doona, holding it down on that side; Amber sleeps between me and the edge of the bed, holding the doona down on that side, and Nemrut sleeps on my feet (on top of the doona), keeping that end down. I woke up at 3:30 am, imagining I was in a very tight sleeping bag.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Pigeons among the cats

    Last spring, we had a pair of pigeons (spotted turtledoves, in fact) nest in the hanging fern on our balcony. I noticed some pigeons hanging around near the balcony on Wednesday, and this morning, I see there are actually a pair of pigeons in the fern.

    Last spring at this time we did not have three extremely inquisitive, playful, high-jumping cats. Nemrut literally has his nose squeezed against the glass watching them, and I hate to think what's going to happen next time the cats are out on the balcony.

    Unfortunately, I don't know if the cats are out on the balcony often enough to dissuade the pigeons from nesting there until it's too late for this batch of eggs. The only vaguely positive thing I can think of is that it's not like these pigeons are rare, so I don't feel particularly obligated to provide nesting space for one particular couple.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Do not buy a used cat from this woman

    James and I had mentioned to Alys that we were enjoying Zeki's company and if Berenice had any more cats that needed a new home, we'd be interested in perhaps a female.

    Alys replied last week that there was indeed a little girl, Amber, who was looking for a home, and would we like to meet her? So on Saturday, we went to meet Amber, who is indeed very cute, and we also got to meet Nemrut, who, it turned out, was good friends with Amber and also looking for a home.

    It seemed a shame to break them up, and Nemrut was very affectionate, and, somehow, suddenly, we found ourselves with three cats rather than one. As with Zeki, we've put them into the blue room, which was probably a kid's bedroom once, but is now an office-cum-technology-storage-area.

    Yesterday was mainly spent cleaning them up - they haven't had enough TLC lately, so we flea-treated them and trimmed their claws. And Nemrut had some nasty felt balls in his fur that we had to cut out - the largest almost as big as a golf ball. He obviously needs some human help grooming all that fur.

    Zeki is Not Impressed. He's happy to share the house with humans, but cats are a different matter. We'll see how it goes, if we keep them apart from him for now. Certainly it seems like a good way to invoke his curiosity, to show him some new cats he can disapprove of, and then put them in a room where he can't get to them.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Zeki's press agent.

    I've been playing with google, and not only is this blog now the top hit for "Vanstar Coma Berenices" (Zeki's pedigree name), but it also comes in about ninth if you search for "Zeki cat".

    If you search for "Ingrid Zeki", it's first, and "James Zeki", it's tenth.

    I conclude that I am now Zeki's press agent, responsible for spreading news about his gorgeousness to the world. My job would be somewhat easier if I could show you some pictures of him.

    <nudge, nudge>
    James, you've taken some stunning shots which lots of people would admire, both for the cat and the photography, you know?
    </nudge, nudge>

    Actual Zeki news: well, he spent the day snoring behind the TV, and emerged to wash James' toes and my fingers, and is now sleeping on the back of a couch.

    He's probably trying to recover from all that socialising he had to do yesterday.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Nemrut is a springbok.

    Or at least he wants to be one, desperately. He's practicing by leaping around and over the potted date palm on the balcony. I think he even scared Zeki back inside.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Mon chat en rose

    I decided last weekend that I wanted to see how I looked with purple hair. It hasn't been a big success - the colour was beetroot at its most vivid, and it's already fading and is now more Ingrid-as-redhead than anything. I'm going to have to see Nel (my hairdresser) and get her help to try real purple.

    The colour, as you can guess from the rapid fading, comes out each time I shower or sweat. And now Zeki is turning pink. It is his own fault - he spent most of the night tucked up next to my head.

    Since Nel has a white cat of her own, she might even understand when I explain I want a hair dye that doesn't stain the cat.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    White and furry

    Because the world could use some light-hearted news.

    Zeki appears to be slowly re-commandeering the bedroom. He's not actually in there with us, but he's sleeping just outside the door, and Nemrut and Amber seem to be down in the living area again.

    Zeki and Nemrut have been getting awfully cozy with each other during the day. Now I fully realise that for cats, sex and cuddling have nothing to do with each other, but I'm enough of a human that I get perverted overtones from the sight of: Nemrut lying stretched-out, half on his back, Zeki close alongside, with his head buried somewhere near Nemrut's armpit, and Nemrut's arm over Zeki's face. They also did a yin-yang symbol, only all in white, the other day. I think part of the effect is the fact that Zeki is an ex-stud, and originally didn't want to have anything to do with another male cat.

    This evening, it was Nemrut and Amber curled up together for a change. Amber looks about half his size when they're curled up together. Then Nemrut managed to fall off the top of the cage. He'd been doing his very convincing "furry ooze" impersonation, and pushing the pillow off the edge of the cage top, and suddenly, bam, Nemrut and pillow on floor. He's enough of a goofball that that kind of thing doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest. Both he and Amber can fall over backwards when they get really enthusiastic, jumping for ribbon. Amber tends to look embarrassed. Nemrut hasn't heard of the word.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Friends

    It's another cat update: our cats all seem to be playing nicely with each other for now. There's an actual photo or two with all three of them contented together within .25 square meters.

    We think Nemrut and Zeki might be getting up to a bit of trouble together - Van males can be like that. Nemrut is also learning from Zeki about when feeding time happens and where to hang out, nagging the humans to make the microwave go faster.

    Amber is still not quite at home and she's a bit unhappy about the toilet facilities (as far as we can tell) but I'm not sure how to rectify it. She does come to bed every so often, whereas Zeki had more or less taken it over for himself last week. She also has an unhealthy fondness for used cotton buds, and clearly we need to install a bin with a lid in the bathroom.

    They all three love the front balcony. They line up in front of the door when I get up in the morning, or if one of them is caught out by being elsewhere, comes sprinting when they hear the door open. Even Amber has gotten into grass-chomping. Nemrut has been eating it since he moved in, but I was picking some and bringing it in for him.

    It's also an interesting exercise to see what's been moved around during the day when we come home. There might be a hairband at the bottom of the stairs, or some re-arrangement of the dirty laundry. And we have a pile of thin plastic foam from all the Ikea furniture that is obviously the site of some major action every day, because we keep moving it back in a corner every day. When we're around, all we see is Zeki sitting on it, or Amber hiding under it.

    I've heard stories in the past that re-arranging the furniture can help, so I wonder if we got the new furniture at the right time. They all seem pretty happy with the new sofa, which is not surprising as it allows comfortable lounging on the back. And Amber likes the fact that she fits under both the sofa and the recliners.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Cat update

    So, we've now had three cats for five weeks, and how is it going?

    Zeki is somewhat of a bully. He is clearly also trying to play with the others now, not fight all the time, but they don't see the difference clearly and I think he gets frustrated and upset and more likely to fight. His personality towards James and myself hasn't changed much, although I think he's a bit jealous if I'm patting one of the other two.

    Personality and behaviour wise, he is the old man of the group. I know I said when we first got him that he wasn't like an old cat at all, but next to the other two, he isn't as energetic or agile. Maybe Turkish Vans are just hyper, or any cat would have been hyper after Vilya.

    I expect we'll have to continue to separate him from the other two every so often for a while. It actually seems to reassure him to go into his cage sometimes, and of course he can still interact with the other two through the cage.

    Amber I still haven't got a complete handle on. James thinks she's the brightest of the three, and she's certainly the one who seems to plan the most, be aware of what others might be thinking, and so on. She's also the most reserved, keeping to herself quite a lot, and it will take a good while to really get to know her.

    It's always funny with the whole gender thing when you're faced with a cat, who, to quote my friend Ruth, "doesn't consciously perform gender", but nevertheless manages to be such a girl. She's pretty and dainty and quite fussy about her grooming, and acts slightly insulted if you try to help her. She eats less than half what the "boys" do, and when she gets carried away with playing and falls over, she gets that "I didn't just do that" look. The other two don't care they've fallen over.

    Nemrut is still tricky to handle, but an adorable goofball. He is very skittish, and seems to keep forgetting that we're his friends, and feed him and pat him. But he is relaxing around the house, more likely to come up to me and follow me around (cautiously, still). And he is getting very comfortable on the sofa, next to me, as long as I stay seated and don't make surprising movements or sounds.

    He's also the one who objects least to getting groomed. This is a good thing, because he has a lot of fur, and he had quite a lot of tangles when we got him. He's also throwing up furballs much less often now, and he's taken to the grass on the front balcony with great enthusiasm. Now I'm not sure how much of the early fur was shedding the summer coat for the winter coat, or the result of those fights, but I'm pretty sure regular TLC is a major reason for the reduction in furballs.

    We're now waiting for their pedigrees and certificates, so I can tell you all their full names, how they're related, and how many cat shows Nemrut has won. Otherwise, we're just going to patiently wait (and time-out Zeki as needed) for the three of them to settle happily with each other.

    [/zeki] permanent link

    Room service

    I was cleaning up the spare room in preparation for Kirsten's visit next week, and Zeki came in and parked himself on the bed. He watched me with this air of "oh, yes, this will meet my requirements". I hope Kirsten can keep him out of there when she's here.

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    Corridor dynamics

    Although our cats have pretty much settled down with each other, there still seem to be some power and territory issues that either haven't been resolved, or simply won't go away. I guess this is the point where I start to learn the more permanent characteristics of the cats from distinctive, yet changeable traits.

    After the first night of all three being friends and sleeping with us on the bed, Zeki must have Had A Word, because since then, Zeki has been the only cat in the bedroom with us. The other two would sleep at the other end of the corridor, near the kitchen. We tried taking the others to bed, but they'd leave the room as soon as possible.

    Last week, James tried locking Zeki out in the living area by closing off the sliding door, and having Amber and Nemrut with us on the bedroom side. Within about ten minutes of turning the lights out, we heard an odd bang. I couldn't be bothered getting up to find out what it was - we couldn't hear any fighting or anything bad.

    In the morning, we woke up to Amber being very cosy and friendly with us on the bed, and Nemrut nowhere to be found in our end of the house. We slide open the door, and Zeki is sitting on the climbing beam and Nemrut on a cardboard box at the end of the corridor, looking perfectly comfortable with himself.

    We've reconstructed that what must have happened is now the old carpet is out, the sliding door doesn't have tracks on the floor. Zeki must have pushed the sliding door so it swung out sideways, from the track above, and Nemrut could squeeze out, and the bang would have been when the door fell back in place.

    We have no idea how they figured this out, or why, but given that we can't see how Nemrut could have got any leverage from our side, it had to be cooperative.

    We're also thinking of replacing the sliding door with something else.

    We went back to just letting them do their thing. In the last few days, Amber has started to come into the bedroom in the morning. I've seen Zeki swipe at her several times, so I felt confirmed that he was actively keeping them out.

    So, I think I have a handle on it all, until last night. Last night, as far as I can tell, Amber and Nemrut spent the night on our bed, and Zeki was at the other end of the corridor.

    But the most amusing thing happened this morning. I was in the living area, James still asleep, and I could hear some minor hissing and fighting noises down the corridor. So I wandered over to have a look. Halfway down the corridor, all three were sitting, perfectly spaced, wall, middle, other wall. And looking at me like "Go away, you're not involved." So I went back to my laptop.

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    Playtime

    Zeki would like everyone to know what a great guy Paul the air conditioning installer is.

    First, he brings these long skinny tube things, draped over the sofa with the end of the tube near the floor and moving slightly - definitely a interesting new version of "catch-the-tip".

    Then, after making various weird noises, he creates brand new zeki-footballs to chase up and down the corridor.

    Paul also complimented Zeki on his looks and cool mismatched eyes. He even left one of the new zeki-footballs behind, for play this morning. I think Zeki is looking forward to Paul's next visit on Wednesday.

    [Paul was very apologetic about the tiny melted spot on one of the units. He'd never tried welding copper pipe while a cat batted at the pipe end, about three metres away. And 4 cm of 3cm diameter PVC tube appears to be an ideal zeki-football.]

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    Cat surprises

    We finally got the official papers for Amber and Nemrut today. There were a few surprises.

    We find Amber so much like Zeki, both in looks and personality, in comparison to Nemrut, that we thought Zeki and Amber were close relatives, Nemrut less so. Well, it turns out that it is Nemrut and Amber who have the same mother. And Zeki appears to be Nemrut's grandfather.

    Cat breeding being what it is, Zeki's paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother are the parents of Amber and Nemrut's mother, so they're all cousins of a kind.

    We also learnt Amber's pedigree name, Delismen Kehlibar, the second of which is a Turkish word meaning, you guessed it, "Amber". Nemrut is Delismen Nemrut, for Nimrod, in his guise as Great Hunter. (Zeki is Vanstar Coma Berenices of Delismen, or I guess, formerly of Delismen). Delişmen is Turkish for "madcap, rambunctious, devil-may-care".

    But the real surprise was getting birthdays. We'd already figured out that Nemrut is five (7th June 2000), and we'd pegged Amber as younger. In actual fact, she's almost as old as Zeki: 17th July 1997, to Zeki's 21st December 1995. Maybe their similar personalities is the wisdom of age, and Nemrut is just a ditz because he's immature.

    I've recently been looking in on discussions about how older women are ignored or downplayed socially and culturally. Well, Amber makes a fabulous middle-aged female rolemodel. Charming, active, independent, and fearless.

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    Hide and Seek

    Zeki has found himself a new hiding place. We heard this odd rhythmic wheezing sound, rather like Zeki snoring, coming from the TV, but we couldn't actually see Zeki anywhere.

    It turns out that the corner cabinet that the TV sits in is far enough out from the wall on one side (because of the powerpoint there) that Zeki can squeeze through, and the back of the corner unit is cut off diagonally, so there's a triangular patch of floor he can curl up on.

    And apparently, it's a good place to sleep.

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    To my cats:

    Dear Zeki and Nemrut,

    Yes, I realise you still have to sort things out mano a mano, even though you know we don't like it and break up your fights. Yes, I admit I admire your increasing ability to fight quietly and carefully, so you won't get caught.

    However, if you choose to have such a fight, even if it's dark and you think we're already asleep, I am going to notice if you are doing it on top of my left ankle. Even through the covers, yes.

    That would be why your fight got broken up last night. Also, after I turned off the light and tried to go to sleep again, it wasn't the brightest move to both return to the same location, on top of the same leg, before re-starting the fight.

    That would be why your second fight also got broken up, and Zeki sent down the other end of the house, and the sliding door closed.

    Love, me (and my apparently very desirable ankle).

    PS: Thanks for waking me at 6am this morning with your plaintive meowing, Zeki. It's good to hear that you still have your voice, and it isn't the presence of the other cats that has shut you up.

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    Kitty TV

    Just a minor note: the kitten being tortured somewhere in the first season of Blackadder sounds so realistic that Zeki got up from where he was lounging near the stairs, and wandered over to the TV, trying to locate the poor thing, and obviously wanting to help.

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    Sleeps-with-chillies

    So there was this plastic bag on the coffee table, with some chillies from the plants out the front. I planted the chillies for James, and he seems very happy with them, but he never picks his chillies, so every so often, when I'm watering, I find myself with a handful or two of chillies. This usually happens in the morning, while James is checking email on his laptop, and I dump the chillies in his lap or whatever, to point out that here are yet more chillies he's been neglecting.

    Anyway, that should explain how the chillies got on the coffee table. What I can't explain is that earlier today, Zeki jumped up on the coffee table (which he doesn't do) and when I shouted him down, he left with a reluctant glance at the chillies.

    So I figured that if the chillies got him onto the coffee table, I'd move them onto the carpet. (Which led James to ask why there were chillies on a plastic bag on the floor, but that was probably inevitable.)

    As one expects of cats, once the object of interest was easily accessible, it immediately ceased being interesting.

    However, just ten minutes ago, I caught him asleep in a sphinx-like position, his front paws on each side of the chillies. He was so embarrassed when I noticed that he left before I got a chance to take a photo.

    I thought chillies were meant to be a good household remedy for keeping pets away from things, not something to cuddle up to.

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