Sssweet Bugsssy, You P-r-r-r-t-y Thang

So I said, earlier this morning (“Projection, Introjection”):  I want out! of the Projection racket.  I want to learn to Listen instead.  And with Bugs, truly, I have very little, really no, idea how to do that.

So remember what Roger Scruton said about “scrupulous optimists”?  (“A Dash of Tropics,” 1/9.)   About how his midwife – that paragon of virtue and veritas – would “consult the existing store of knowledge and authority”?

I’ve found an “existing store of knowledge and authority” I like.  It’s Life With 4 Cats,

I appreciate that the human behind it – Sara – trains her focus and expertise on feline health plus psychology.  I trust her because she’s said a few things that jive with my own experience as a FELDENKRAIS practitioner – for example, about how human and cat feet and leg-bones were designed to walk on forgiving surfaces like leaves and grass, and not so much on concrete, tile, so forth.

So I was really glad to read what she says about the stark difference between what we think we’re saying to cats, and what they might be hearing instead.

Again – to keep focusing (I’m turning over a new leaf here), I repeat:  This blog is about interpreting what Another Being is saying.  It’s about Listening.  It’s about applying the Five-Part Test, to generate some Love.  (Bugs’s Excellent Adventure, 12/16; Love for Other Species, 12/13)

And here’s how that Five-Part Test works, boiled down, this time, into two elements:

The goal is to work toward transforming indifference and negation – and let me add ignorance, also – into Love.

The essential skill for how to do that is to refrain from laying down certainty all over the place.   To work, instead, to come to  understand differences.  To Listen, in other words, with empathy.

(Consult Empathy category-button, on the right.)

So I’m very glad to find Sara sharing her “store of knowledge and authority.”  I’m especially glad.  Because I myself have such a long, habitual history of indifference and negation or worse.  Because there are so very many inherent differences between Bugs and me.  Because these circumstances challenge me, they invite me, so often, to drop into Projection-Land, instead of Listening.

This morning I applied Sara’s advice to conversing with Bugs.  I’m excited to report that I may have found some experiential data to support her recommendations.

Sara writes on her blog about a misunderstanding between her mother and Sara’s cat.  (“See Mom Come,” 1/6/11.)  The misunderstanding goes like this:

Mom to Cat:  “Oh you are S-S-O-O- S-W-E-E-E-T-T! what a  S-P-P-eSHHHal boy you are. look how S-S-SWeeTT he iS-S-S.”

Cat’s Interpretation:  “Oh you are HISS HISS SPIT what a SPIT HISS boy you are. look how HISS SPIT he HISS.”

Cat According to Sara:  “Of course he is afraid. She marches into his territory and then tells him she is going to take it over and not just drive him away, but KILL him if he tries to stop her. He just sits there with eyes gone big with fear and I can tell he has gone white under his fur.”

Doesn’t that just make you wanna holler?

So the first thing I realized is maybe I shouldn’t be calling Bugs Bugsss.  Maybe I should be calling him Boo-Boo.  Buggy.  Bee-Bop.  Boo-Ga-Loo.  Bunny.  Bugley.  (Guilty as charged.  Many times.  In the privacy of our home, just between him and me.)  I mean, I can keep calling him Bugs in print here – but not to his face, maybe not so much.

The second thing Sara advises is:  The word “meow” might be a favorite with cat-commercial copywriters, but it’s not what cats say to each other.  If they want to do some Love-generating, they say to each other – once, softly – “p-r-r-r-t.”

So I tried that with Bugs.  Here’s how it went.

Me:  “P-r-r-r-t.”

Bugs:  [flops over on his side and looks up.  Adoringly?  Why not?  Ordinarily he doesn’t flop over on his side unless he wants to play – and he rarely flops over in the place where he was.  Plus, I think he responded to what I said.  I think I’m talking causation and not correlation. (Nov. 30).  Plus usually he flops over only when he feels like it and to be honest, lately he hasn’t apparently felt like flopping over as often as I’d like to see.]

So I’m excited.  I’m cautiously optimistic, as my dear dad used to say.  Not to say, just yet, scrupulously optimistic – not just yet.  Let’s first see if we can replicate these results.  Sara warns not to p-r-r-r-t Bugs too often.  Might wear it out.

And what did Bugs say about all this?

— “snark”

Oh well I’ll fess up, I’m messing with you here.  All this is, is a picture of Bugs in mid-yawn.  Not to say he was bored.  Or –

what do I know.

About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
This entry was posted in Empathy, Feldenkrais, Philosophy-Psychology, Things Cats, Humans Do and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sssweet Bugsssy, You P-r-r-r-t-y Thang

  1. lifewith4cats says:

    Thank you for this post. Im so pleased I dont know what to say. Im so glad you had a new conversation with bugs today. I bet he was surprised to hear pprrt. As to the last line of your post. what do you know? Answer: You know a great deal. after all, to love with an honest heart does not require innstructions.

  2. Eleanor says:

    I thought I was a bit strange to put so much time and effort into conversing with my cats. I’m glad to see that other people do it too AND do it seriously.
    I try to copy their happy noises and they usually respond. The ‘prrrt’ is always a good one. I don’t know what it means to them, but they do seem to like it.

  3. nadbugs says:

    Well, but, Eleanor — aren’t we all really pretty strange, when it comes right down to it? I feel that way so often, I’ve just yielded to it. Now feel it’s a badge of honor with me. Prrt to you and your cats. Loved the yoga thing, BTW, totally.

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