I never knew a cat could purr and growl at the same time. And what an odd sound it is.
It's all Schooner's fault, of course.
Tanya and Tomba have become separated. Tanya's staying under the bed on the top floor, despite the heat that's built up there over the last few days. I keep the ceiling fan running on low, to stir into the still pall of atmosphere what little cool air-conditioning struggles up that far. Tomba is mostly hiding in my bedroom closet, lurking well-hidden behind the racks of clothing whose hems hang inches from the floor. I surprised him this morning on the stairs from the first floor; he was a step or two below the landing, startled to discover that I was out of bed and advancing toward him from the bedroom. He stared at me for a moment, then scuttled away downstairs. But the bedroom closet is his chosen lair.
Despite their continued insistence on hiding, both cats are warming toward me. I can reach in under the clothing to skritch Tomba, getting small head surges and purrs in return, and I do so several times each day. This evening I gave him a few minutes of a good body-scratching and stroking, and he very much enjoyed it. He will still flee if he thinks I'm hunting him, but he's purring strongly now when I caress him.
Tanya very nearly came out from under the bed this evening! I'd been spending time with her off and on all day, ten or fifteen minutes at a pop, just lying on the floor between the twin beds talking and kissing and chirruping to her, letting one hand slide in under the bed. She'd shift herself toward me, let me skritch her, then slither back.
This evening I lay there for a long time. We went through several rounds of advance and retreat. She began purring a few minutes into the session and continued rumbling at every distance. Once she hitched herself so far toward me that her face emerged from under the bed, as far as her eyes! Too daring; too soon; as I started to stroke her neck she backed away out of reach.
But she wanted my attention, that was clear. I lay quietly on my side, making small encouraging sounds, and otherwise not moving (darn near drifted off to sleep, in fact, despite the discomfort of my position). She scrunched closer. Got some head rubs. Inched closer, offering her side. I reached in as far as my awkward position would allow (the bed is too low to fit more than my arm under it) and rubbed her side, then her belly. Heaven! Nirvana! Yes YES YES!!! Belly rub! I withdrew my hand. Tanya mulled it over, still purring strongly. She swung herself toward me. I waited. She hitched a few inches toward me. I waited. She inched closer yet. I waited. She purred and purred and purred and....
A solid weight, concentrated in broad little paws, landed on my hip. Tanya looked that way. Her steady purr mutated into a rumbling low whine-edged growl. She shifted away from me as Schooner walked up along my body and plopped down into the narrow space between me and the bed. He stared under the bed at her. She stared back. He jumped up onto the bed in back of me, then meandered about over both beds, his sturdy body making the bedclothes rustle with his passage. She retreated farther into safety. The bizarre purr/growl, soft but clear, continued.
I told Schooner what I thought of his ill-timed arrival. He looked happy. Schooner believes that everyone loves him and is always pleased to have him around (hisses and swats bounce right off his cheerful confidence), and of course his human must naturally be delighted to see him! Go away? Why would I say that? So I gave it up for the night, content with the progress made.
A side note: The residents are getting along better now with each other than they did before T&T arrived. I guess there's nothing like an alien intruder to make a family pull together, eh?