Marianne's patient, tenacious efforts to make friends with him have shown what might turn out to be his gentler side and, perhaps... a bit of a foot fetish?
Here's what Marianne had to say about her experience with our new, improved Combo:
Some time during the past year, he had to have some teeth removed, including those very scary top fangs. As a result, he doesn't look nearly as vicious anymore when he hisses. In fact, he isn't as vicious anymore. One can now approach up to a foot or so away from him without being lunged or hissed at, a great improvement over being threatened from across the room!
And, get this, he's decided that contact with a stockinged foot is actually kind of nice! I can't remember how this came about for the first time, but for the past few weeks, he's let me sit near him and rub him with my foot. I think there was even a bit of a purr the other day, or maybe that was just my foot trembling in anticipation of the slash that never came. While I'm not yet willing to risk my hand in the same way (even covered in a sock, although I've considered that), I have high hopes for the old boy. He's come a long, long way!
The lactose-free milk Marianne's holding in the first photo as apparently an excellent way to get on Combo's good side. It even inspired Marianne to be brave enough to try a little rub on the side of his face with her finger while he drank. This he found acceptable, though Marianne's OK-to-pat pass was valid only as long as he was busy draining his saucer. After that, he felt it was important to go back to growling and hissing (a cat's got a reputation to uphold, after all).
While quality time with Combo may still be best left to experienced cat whisperers (or people with Kevlar socks) for the present, this old boy is definitely making progress. Maybe one day he'll dispense with the hiss altogether and just go straight to the purr.