Ruckus was a malnourished feral kitten when we first found him. Under our care, he has grown up to be a tub o'lard and quite domesticated. But when he was little, man, he was WILD. It took so long to tame him from his street-cat roots that I can remember having to feed him itsy bitsy portions of food (single bites, basically) at a time because otherwise he'd eat everything in sight and then, of course, get over-full and be sick. I also had to give him medicine that tasted bad (antibiotics) and medicine that tasted good (like liver, or so the vet said. She actually lectured me on NOT trying it myself because it was a strong painkiller, like morphine. As if! It smelled super gross and I am not a morphine addict, lady!) which he also hated because cats don't like taking medicine. For the first month or so after we found him (he had a fractured pelvis and broken femur) I had to hold him in the litterbox so he could go potty because his right leg was too weak to hold his weight. I also had to clean up all the consequential pee on his tail and litter stuck to his legs and bathe him regularly. I also got the fun duty of cutting his nails and cleaning his ears and all the other regular kitty maintenance which made me The Bad Guy.
Right off, he fell in love with Ryan. He'd purr up a storm and hobble on his broken legs just to be near him. Me? Not so much. I don't blame him - he associated me with all the bad stuff (medicine, someone holding you while you poop). So when ever I would spend time with him, he'd just scowl at me. He'd give me this fierce lizard face and I was honestly afraid that we would never bond and that I might never like this cat.
But he was so cute! He had this dark black nose and lips and eyeliner and paws! And the vet said that when he was older, his black nose and paws would fade to red (which they have), which has just made him cuter. And, eventually, we did fall into a better cadence. He started seeing me less as "nurse" and more as "mom" (which, actually, aren't much different) and we started building a relationship. But it was still a good few months before he'd really be sweet to me. He'd like me if Ryan wasn't around, tolerate me if Ryan was. Mostly it was just a mutual regard more than a lovey-dovey relationship.
Which is why I love this picture so much. It's somewhere in late 2000/early 2001 and we are at our first apartment still (whole other Oprah!) and I came home sick from work and fell asleep on the couch. When Ryan came home, he spied this scene and snapped a picture. It was silly and cute, but also kind of a nice moment. It's a visual representation of the fact that my cat started liking me. Enough for him to crawl up on my chest and fall asleep while hugging my neck.