Bugs and Bean Take It Up A Notch

Writing on Father’s Day, I dedicate this post to my essentially kind departed father.  Zichrono l’bracha.

It’s been too long without a picture of His Highness, so let me get that done next.

This was shot back in the day when the weapon of choice was the Weapon of Pink.  The Pink Tizzy is still upon us and it will no doubt be further documented soon – as soon as Bean masters the challenge of the new camera.  Until then, let this snap stand in.

For those readers who need fewer words and more pictures, do scroll down and enjoy, especially the end.  But I’d be sorry if you didn’t come back for more words.  I’d really like you to know an important news-flash:

Bugs and Bean have jumped up a notch.

I’m excited.  I’d like to share the joy.  Here are details.

Background:  Bean spent her formative years training in intolerance.  She grew up unable to tolerate anything that reminded her of the past.  And everything reminded her of the past.  So to deal with that dilemma, her strategy of choice was kindness.  But of the cringing variety.  Fueled, that is, by underlying fear and hatred of oppression, and general overall cluelessness about understanding of self and others.

So Bean spent a lot of years in empathy bootcamp, with her nose rubbed in intolerance’s opposite:  Learning.  Concentrate of Kindness.

Enter Bugs Street Monster.  Hip-hop pants-down –

– and the whole Big Bugs shtick.

Bean fell in love pretty much instantly.  Cue harps. 

But it was Mr. BigBugs StreetMonster for whom Bean fell.  Not for the many and various other intolerabilities that rode in on Bugs’s back (and ears and gut and so forth).  These intolerabilities fell into two broad categories:

(a) A complete revulsion for the ecosystem hitchhiking in (fleas, mites, worms, upper-respiratory infections, what have you).  We grow ‘em big and tall down here in Arkansas.  The ecosystem indoors alone is pretty much more than Bean can handle, without adding to it.

And (b)  The harm that can befall outside-cats.

No way would Bean expose Bugs to any of that, nor would Bean expose herself vice verse.

So.  Call Bugs a mollycoddled, sheltered, pantywaist Mama’s Boy.  Call him what you will.  Don’t care.  Bugs outside, roaming free over the wide range and the purple sage, is just not going to happen.

Research reveals that Bugs’s native male-cat territorial range would ordinarily be between one-half and one mile.  This real estate would be populated with several clowders of females and kits.  In the case of Bean and Bugs, then, the situation would have to be cut back (ouch) to one Bean, the inside of one small Arkansas cabin, and minus other anatomical appurtenances unnecessary to dwell on for our purposes here.  Put that math together –

One big street-steppin’ still-enough-of-a-man-cat —

Plus one traumatized Bean, with a lifelong tendency to err too far on the side of “tolerance” (fear-fueled cringing kindness), and, now added to that, guilt and shame for curtailing Bugs’s life, in such a drastic way, by holding him in(small)doors. As a result, we have Bean unable to find clarity and backbone (boundaries, generous self-care) –

And so no rocket-scientist is needed to foretell that issues are going to arise.

Adding up the positives, though:

Step One (re-cue harps). 

Bean’s tremendous faith in, and practice in, and eventually a modicum of skill in, the ability to learn.  Plus her faith that the ability to learn is shared by every sentient being with a brain, a face, and parents.  I.e., other human beings.  And also i.e. cats.  (Tell the truth now.  Which do you think is more difficult.  Getting an old-dog-Bean to learn new tricks?  Try it sometime.  But not at home alone.)  (Or, think it’d be hard to find a way to connect, as rusted-shut Bean, with cats?  Cats as willing, sentient, learning beings too?  Not the easiest thing in the world either.)

Maybe the hugest plus of all was you.  Especially in helping with the latter issue.  You who know cats more than I, you who have been so generous with your care and attention and experience and wisdom, your wit and warmth and encouragement. 

With all that, here is the news flash from the Bean-Bugs household.  It is:

Learning can happen.  On both sides.

Three essential learning tools have come into play.

Bean learned through the body-self, with the FELDENKRAIS METHOD:  Learning through sensation, through the sensory-motor loop into the cortex of the brain, through exercise of executive brain-functions that go under the rough heading of “choice” and “not-habit” on the physical plane.  www.feldenkrais.com  And

Bean learned through the emotion-self, through the basal brain-functions like those of the amygdala and limbic system, leading to higher-brain functions like understanding, empathy, and care, of self and by and through and for others.  Also leading to the exercise of executive brain-functions that go under the heading of “choice” and “not-habit.” This occurred through therapy and NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION.  www.cnvc.org  And

Bugs’s learning, on his side, has been furthered by the tremendous grace of Miss Teresa of TELLINGTON TOUCH.   http://www.ttouch.com/  And lately, also, Bean has been watching streaming vid of the “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan.  Bean must tell you that she is now utterly swamped in admiration and respect for Cesar’s great and magnificent and splendid and fine example too.   www.hulu.com/dog-whisperer, www.cesarsway.com

(I mean, come on cat blogosphere.  We can have our fun about how inferior dogs are to The Great Cat – but when it comes down to it, we all know that dogs (and that delightful website Pet of The Day also amply demonstrates that horses and hamsters and parrots and gerbils and ferrets and snakes and turtles) are just as much Masterpieces Of The Universe as The Great Cat.)

And we humans are masterpieces, too, of course.  Though on a bad day, should you be exposed to too much media of the social or other varieties, you might have difficulty connecting with that.


Do keep in mind that what follows is speculative and, also, that this is an ongoing work in progress.  That said, what may have been going on, at Bugs’s end, may have been this:

Bugs, as a sentient being with a face and parents, was born needing relationship with other members of his clowders.  To fill that void, Bean was the only sentient being around.  But vis-a-vis Bugs, Bean was pretty much an empty sack, as far as self-understanding of her own needs was concerned.  She was unable to know, or to communicate, her needs.  Was having trouble relating to Bugs.

So Bugs acted like an American tourist in a foreign country.  He spoke up.  Louder.

Result:  Bugs looking pretty frustrated.  And Bean bleeding at the end of her tether.

Now, again, with the caveat that this is a work in progress, Bugs and Beans might be on speaking terms.  The IAEA, in the form of Teresa of Tellington, is overseeing the drawing-down.  The closing of the Red-Weapon silos.  Opening negotiations are on-going with the Weapon of Pink, as an alternative strategy.

There are other strategies that are being brought to bear as well.  These include the squirt-bottle.  That alone is to be celebrated.  This morning, after only two mere threatening gestures on Bean’s part, when Bugs wanted to use the claw-on-feet method of announcing his needs, he did so by looking Bean in the eye and tapping her foot, when Bean was already awake.  Not by launching at it, hammer and tong, while she slept.

There will, no doubt, be more to say about other specific strategies (and gains and losses, too, no doubt) in future posts.  The topic of this post, however, is:


Bean’s Aikido guru used to say:  If you know what the question is, you’re eighty percent of the way to answering it.

Moshe Feldenkrais said something like that too.  His version was something like “before you make a change to what you want, you must first know what you’re doing.”

Or, per Bean:  If you want to learn something, SHUT YOUR GOB.  ASK, DON’T TELL.

Just stop, with the argumentation and contradiction and explanation and rationalization and opinionation and justification and theorizing and strategizing and editorializing and look-on-the-bright-side well-meaning sunny-side-of-the-street homilies.  Just shut all of that hoo-hah.  For a minute or two.  Or fifty.  QUIET PLEASE!

And I’m not talking about the kind of quiet here I’d call cunning.  The kind that sits mute, waits for an opening, and then pounces.

No.  I’m talking about STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, and do all that CARE-fully.

That’s to say, devote full and careful attentiveness to the exact, specific, history-driven-into-the-here-and-now dimensions of the thing. The question.  The issue.

Here is a first principle, in answering the question, resolving the issue.  Here is the sine qua non, without which nothing:

Without care-ful listening, awareness, and understanding, learning, change, and improvement cannot happen.

At least not the kind of learning, change, and improvement I’m talking about.  And that is:

How to find the stout-heartedness to be able to tolerate seeing our dear selves in our bone-headed mistakes, the same damn ones that keep on and keep on repeating and repeating; and

How to hold our dear selves with care and understanding, to really get where those damn mistakes are coming from and why they keep repeating themselves; and

How to assess where different we want to go, what we want to happen instead, and what choices are available that stand the best chance of getting there; and

Relationships are everything.  Everything, everything, everything.  If relationships aren’t working to serve, to further, the purposes expressed in (1-3) above, something’s got to give.

Rinse, spin, repeat.

With all that –

Peace, justice, and ecology appear to be on the resurgence in the Bean-Bugs household.

Plus, in the interests of transparency, it must also be admitted that valerian drops are finding their way into Bugs’s water.  This is America.  If in doubt, turn to pharma.

What the hay.  Something’s working over here.  Bugs is apparently feeling more self-confident.  Here’s the best evidence Bean could come up with, given the challenges with the new camera:


And he knows how to come down, too.

So Bean and Bugs are pretty happy.  At the moment.  And, dear readers, thank you all, so much, for doing your part, each and every one of you, to contribute to this –

Well, it doesn’t seem too much to say –

This miracle.

And to those of you where things haven’t gone so rosy between us –

Back off.

Here’s a snap of one of my very favorite places in the world:  Baja California Sur.

Cactus live there.

Of course, cactus can also do this, like the one just outside my door:

But still.  Watch it.  They don’t call it “jumping cholla” for nothing.

Spectacular photo of Baja – and check out the other phenomenal ones posted on the wiki – thanks to Gregg M. Erickson of Farwestern Photo

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.
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20 Responses to Bugs and Bean Take It Up A Notch

  1. 13 tails UP for BOTH Bean and Bugs! I often think cats ARE the superior being…after all, who stays home and sleeps all day?

    I think if Bugs stopped to consider it, trading his ‘nads for regular meals was eminently fair.

    • nadbugs says:

      I love the 13 tails UP. As for cats being superior? I’ll give them that, not a problem for me. If they’d just BACK OFF. Hell. Groveling is not a problem. I know how to do that. Anything, for peace around here.

      Are you sure about that food-‘nads trade-off? Me, I’ll tell you another thing I’m sick of. Trade-offs. I want it ALL. MY WAY.

  2. This is fantastic news! I kept meaning to mention a new television show to you, but I am scatterbrained. There is this new show “My Cat From Hell” on Animal Planet (http://animal.discovery.com/tv/my-cat-from-hell/). I’ve only caught one episode of it, but this guy is incredible. I learned a lot about a cat’s behavior and needs, and I’ve had cats my entire life. Since you like The Dog Whisperer, I feel even more confident that you’ll like this show. And as for forcing Bugs to be inside, go with your gut. There are advocates for both sides of this argument. After initially letting my cats (previous ones) be indoor/outdoor cats, I now only have indoor cats, and I don’t see myself changing anything. I don’t have to deal with mice and birds heads in my living room (or the *#&^% snakes), the only time they get fleas are the rare times I bring one in the house with me, and most importantly, there are no trips to the vet to get battle wounds treated and no sleepless nights wondering why one didn’t come home. So, congratulations on your progress, and we look forward to hearing more!

    • nadbugs says:

      OKs!! So great to hear from you like this. I had a look @ that My Cat From Hell and unfortunately all I can get, @ that link, are little clips — and of the nightmares, not the crazy guy doing his whisperer thing. I don’t have cable so I’m going to have to find another way — but I sure want to, and I’m sure grateful to you for the tip. I really need as much input on this as I can get. Altho I must say, one thing watching those clips did for me was: Appreciate Bugs big-time, and that means a lot! Man, those POOR people! Bugs looks like Little Miss Butter Wouldn’t Melt In His Mouth, after watching those nightmare scenarios. Especially the white one caught on tape biting down on the poor man’s arm as he slept. Truly truly chilling.

      As for the indoor-outdoor thing, when you say you’ve made that decision, after your experience told you it’s the choice for you — I can rest so much easier. With all you say here — and especially those sleepless nights of worry. I would lose years off my life. DOOR IS CLOSED and there is NO FLAP.

  3. MelanieJ says:

    It sounds like you’re doing great – even if it is a work in progress.

    And I have to agree that your decision to keep him inside is a good one, even if BUGS doesn’t always agree. Most of my many cats were indoor/outdoor cats when I was growing up, and only one of them actually made it to old age. And that was because she was smart and never left the porch… and eventually convinced us that she was purely a house cat. Definitely worth Bugs being a little miffed from time to time to keep him around for longer!

    Good luck with the re-education – it’s something that we have done here too to some extent and as we all can agree, was definitely worth it, even with the blood and tears.

    • nadbugs says:

      Oh wonderful, dear Melanie. How I feel, when I see that your departed ones lived less . . . . I know can change to a certain extent, with all this learning stuff, but I can’t see myself taking on that one. I just don’t have the juice for that kind of emotional challenge a-n-y m-o-r-e in this lifetime, not if I can help it. I love that smart gal on the porch. Where I want to be myself, now that I think of it. Honestly.

      Bean to Bugs: Suck it up.

  4. MelanieJ says:

    And… why do they call it jumping cholla? I have to admit that my metaphorical ears perked up as soon as I read that cautionary statement!

    • nadbugs says:

      Ha! I love that your ears perked up! The “jumping” thing? You get the feeling, with both cholla and the prickly-pear pictured, that if you get within, oh, say, ONE FOOT of the damned things, the spines literally leap out at you. Seriously. They are EVIL. I put on gloves of steel anytime I get within shouting distance of mine (I had it indoors, and couldn’t stand it, it went OUT) — and it doesn’t matter. EVERY time I take off the gloves, I have to pick out the teensy inVISible hair-like needles from my flesh. An on-going theme around here.

  5. Cathy says:

    Thank you for stopping by our blog earlier! Very nice to meet you! – Toby, Leia & Cathy

    • nadbugs says:

      I love your site! Only trouble is, it’s blogspot, so it’s not as easy for me, being on WP, to drop by you. If you leave your pawprints over here, that makes things easier. Your pic re substances was hysterical & I NEED those laffs —

  6. Wazeau says:

    Hang in there, Bean – you are doing the right thing, and while it might feel like you are restricting him to the inside world, you are making his life better. Oh, and I do love the way you put a post together, by the way. 🙂 And sorry you can’t have Cesar, he is mine (don’t tell his wife). Now there is a man with total confidence in his own self. I love watching him teach people how to find that same sense of self-worth via their interactions with the animals they love. Funny how it is usually how they express that love toward the animal that is the root cause of all the problems. I learn a lot about myself from his show.

    And good lord, that little pink tongue. Gotta love it. (Bug’s, not Cesar’s!)

    • nadbugs says:

      Oh thank you, Wazeau, I’m just so happy to have this reinforcement — can’t tell which I’m gladder for, the encouragement re the indoor-outdoor thing, or your appreciation of my labors in post-construction — THANK YOU. Both mean the world to me.

      And Cesar? Hon, have at him. He’s divorced now, I hear, so go for it (would *love* to hear his ex’s perspective, mrrrow). Para mi, I’m thinking I have a genteel sufficiency of that alpha-male stuff going on over here, with Sr. Bugs . . . . so I’ll just enjoy soaking up the testosterone-fueled self-confidence at a modest distance — where I truly, truly appreciate it, as you say.

      And love does seem to be the issue. What was that song a while back? love hurts?

      The episode with the bulldog and the dear old golden totally showed that. Where the woman stroked the bulldog while he was devouring something. Wow. Really drove home that point. Can you say am-biv-a-lence?

      It’s Cesar’s teeth-whitening action I find a little much. And the vanity-plate on his little Subaru.

      But what the hay. The downside of the male breed. I love what he does.

  7. Eleanor says:

    ‘So Bugs acted like an American tourist in a foreign country. He spoke up. Louder.’ My laugh for today, thank you. People do that to me here! “She doesn’t understand…I’ll talk louder, that’ll help!” Hahaha 😀

  8. nadbugs says:

    Oh gosh. You get it.

    I said: YOU GET IT!

  9. lifewith4cats says:

    I love when you break out the number pictures. It always means a lively post. 🙂

    3 things made me laugh.
    1. like an American in a foriegn country.
    2. Your response to Elenor
    3. Cactuses grow here

    Valerian drops! What an idea. I never would have thought of Bach Flower remedies but they work like a charm. Cool!

  10. nadbugs says:

    Thank you, dear Sara, for your itemized response. Itemization is big over here, as you’ve noticed. Can’t take credit for the valerian-drops idea. Teresa again (as usual). But there are valerian treats out there — have you seen / tried ’em? Pet– Co or Smart, dang it I can never keep those straight. Co, I think. I think Co is the one that does a better job in the treat dept. Smart has the feather wands and the adopt-a-kit korner. Which is torture for me. I keep thinking about that one I saw there a while back with the gray-&-white w/ bull’s-eye on side. You know what’s going to happen . . . . it’s only a question of time. Teresa agrees but I rely on her to make the timing call. Waiting, excited.

    • lifewith4cats says:

      Im glad Im not the only one with that confusion. Im always confusing them. Its like potato and potahto. Im always handing them the wrong rewards card no matter which one I choose.

  11. Pingback: Up To His Old Tricks | catself

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