|Skugga, in July: 11 months old|
Skugga, you may recall (or not) came to us last November a scant few days after Idris died. (I am not linking to that post. I still cry.) He was not a replacement, but he was the kitten (with all of the needs kittens have) and the next cat who would have to carve out a place in the family.
He is not Idris. That was part of the reason he came home with us. He was physically different. Bigger. Fluffier. Clearly Maine Coon in the mix. He was also older and not as dependent. And most importantly, for me, he seemed pretty confident.
I had hopes of getting someone more like Pooka, my first cat, who was an unflappable badass (and a little bit of an asshole, because he was the boss cat, and made sure all the other cats knew it).
Instead, I have a sweet, gentle lummox (in the photo, he was 13 lbs. Now, a month later...he's a little bit bigger). Louhi can back him down if she needs her space, even though he's twice her size.
Skugga's been much slower to develop, both physically and emotionally/intellectually. He's been big all along, but he had that kitten sprawl much longer than any of the others. You know. Knobby elbows, barrel belly and narrow shoulders, feet too large. He had this little tiny head until suddenly he didn't; he had all belly fur for 8 months, and this sad little floof of a ruff; all of a sudden all the fur's the same length, the ruff is respectable, and he looks like a cat instead of a fiber-arts experiment. He's not stupid, but he's also not precocious. Once he learns a thing, he's got it, and he can apply the principle consistently. He just takes longer to get it in the first place. Like, he took about 2 months to learn his name (and to come when called): wait, what is this skoo-gah you keep saying, OH THAT'S ME GIVE ME THAT TREAT.
He's not aloof, but self-contained. Curious and cautious. So I decided to see if we could do leash-training. Pooka, alone of all the other cats, had the badassitude to walk around on a leash. He was also a big cat, and we still have all his gear. We started Skugga at about 13 weeks--not going outside, just getting used to the harness. Then a little outside. Nothing too regular, because putting the harness on was a crisis, and I didn't want him to hate it.
Then, as with all things Skugga, there's a tipping point. One day, nope. The next day, it's all good. We went from duck and sulk at the harness to sitting by the harness-drawer and meeping (because he has the tiniest meow, like he still is that 5 lb kitten) and looking hopeful.
And now it's a nightly event, our perambulation. (Which, between the time I started this draft and the time of posting, has doubled in distance and gone from cautious meander to determined patrol of the borders, and also climbing the cork trees.)