Ear To The Ground

Continuing yesterday’s theme of the listening relationship:  Here’s what I’ve noticed, and I’ve noticed it a lot in my long life.  When we’re talking human –> human English –> English, understanding does not necessarily follow.  And where we’re talking English <–> Cat?  I checked Google Translator.  There’s nothing.

So what we’re left with is the careful attention I so prize.  As uncolored by unscrupulous optimism, or pro- or intro- jection, as possible.

Sara 4Cats offered something that seemed helpful when she wrote it on January 30th.  She describes a gesture as “just lift your chin 1-2 inches while looking at the cat.”  She used this gesture to encourage her cat to jump up on the bed.  She calls it the “you may now enter, come hither” look.

Check out her site to enjoy the whole picture, plus her other amusing ruminations on cat mind-control over husband.


I myself have noticed that Bugs uses a same or similar little chin-thrust gesture.  I’ve clearly seen him do this before, when we play jump-for-treats on his enormous scratching-post.  I’ve also noticed that sometimes he seems unusually precise about where he points his eyes and nose.

This morning, I tried 4Cats’s chin gesture to invite Bugs for an up-close before I got out of bed.  Our usual pattern is that I pat the bed and ask him to jump up.  His usual response is to remain seated on the floor and say something that sounds like complaining.  Or he’ll turn tail and walk into the other room.  This morning, though, chin-up and up he jumped.

Later this morning I noticed – but this next one is not as straightforward.  Bugs’s movements went something like this.  I’ll spoil by coloring the bit to focus on:

Jump up, back away, move forward, purr, present hind-end, twist sideways, rub, head-butt, run over human to other side, repeat, run past treats jar and chin-forward-thrust-eyes-and-nose-point, look toward window, jump up on window sill, come back, repeat d.c. al fine

And all of this, including repetions, took, I don’t know, under a minute?

How easy it would have been to miss the critical gesture.  At least what I think is the critical gesture.  I missed it the first time.  On the re-do I gave him a treat.

Now this is not exactly rocket science – I mean, if in doubt, give treat.  Always.  I never saw such a treat monster.  He actually – I was going to say salivates, but let’s just be direct and say he drools.  I’m excited – I just spent $1.72 on a  treat-ball item plus $5.40 S&H.  Simply handing him treats has got out of hand – he needs to do at least some work for them.

Yesterday a big male but nevertheless cat-guy human friend visited the house.  Bugs took full recourse to his usual strategy in such circumstances, which is to run and hide immediately and unconditionally.  Until, that is, Dennis opened the treat jar.  Whereupon Bugs appeared poof as if by magic.  Drooling.

Anyway.  My theory is that the chin-thrust, translated into English, means what, you obtuse human, are you waiting for.Another chin-thrust I noticed this morning.  I had taken Bugs’s water-dish up, to refill it, and then forgot it on the counter.  Here’s how the sequence went this time:

Run onto play mat, flop over, bite feather wand, jump up, run into kitchen, play jump game with huge scratching-post, run past where water dish should have been chin-thrust run back to play mat, flop over, run into next room [Anita’s in kitchen remorsefully filling water dish] hide under bed, jump for Anita’s ankles when she comes to apologize that water’s now filled, jump up on window-sill to supervise dogs outside, jump down, suck on paw a little while, run over to water dish, drink for twenty minutes.

So – you tell me.

At least close attention can’t do any harm.

Later today we’re going to the v-e-t.  That’ll be fun as we all know.  But you may have noticed, with all these close-ups – or if you need a reminder, here’s another one – Bugs has a spot on his ear I don’t like the look of and it’s getting bigger.

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, Things Cats, Humans Do. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ear To The Ground

  1. lifewith4cats says:

    oh my gosh, what a delightful post. I think it is my favorite. You captured it so well and accurately too. All that purring and jumping around on toys.
    Bugs was trying to trick you into thinking that doing stuff for him would be both fun and exciting for you. Kinda like human kids try to trick other younger naive kids to do stuff that is not fun, by convincing them it IS fun.
    The brief ankle bite was a child’s foot stomp.
    I love this post! The Google translator, and the description of the water bowl story… I love it.
    ha ha, bugs is so funny, I bet he drank longer than he needed just to make you feel guilt.

    • nadbugs says:

      Wouldn’t put it past him! He is endlessly ingenious in the ways he finds to inspire guilt in me. Course, that’s not hard to do! I was born to Guilt! It’s my birthright!

  2. lifewith4cats says:

    oh and.. The water dish incident has played out at my house many times in the exact same way. I am terrible that way.

    I saw that ear spot on yesterdays post and commented to myself about not remembering seeing it. I don’t expect it will be anything bad though. Good to set your mind at ease by going to the vet. Keep us updated.

    • nadbugs says:

      4Cats, great to know I have company where the water-dish thing is involved. And you are right again as always about the ear-spot — no biggie. Just pigment. And also good news that Bugs’s weight is on target. I was worried about that, given Treat-Monster status.

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