After yesterday’s checklist, one thought remains. I may have become, to my horror, like many parents I know.
But if I ask instead: Do I see Bugs relaxing into, enjoying, all I’ve done for him?
Not so much, I’d have to say.
I’ve had my fun, in this blog, pumping up Mr. Bugs as superhero / athlete / demon. Recently it’s dawned on me, though, that his over-the-top behavior might be expressing stress, not just high spirits. Of this I am not proud. He seems edgy. He yells at me, especially in the morning. He thrashes his tail,
a lot constantly it seems.
I thought touch would help. My touch, I mean. I’ve spent years refining my touch with the FELDENKRAIS METHOD. Surely that would count for something?
Especially when I’m so ably supported by Teresa, and the TELLINGTON TOUCH adaptation of FELDENKRAIS?
Touch clearly works – when Teresa’s the one who’s doing it. To her, Bugs responds. His breathing deepens, he relaxes, you can just see him climbing off the ledge he seems to be up on a lot.
I, on the other hand, don’t get the same effect. Humans pay me to touch them, and then my humans lie down and we get on with the work and everyone’s happy. Bugs lying down, however, is quite another matter.
Lately I have simply dropped expectations. I’ve contemplated, instead, that when I ask Bugs to let me touch him, and he says “no,” and I persist, I am actually adding to Bugs’s stress.
So here’s what I’m planning on doing for me, and my need to touch, and indeed my need to do face-plants, on and in a cat, early, often, and whenever I want: I’m thinking of finding a lap-kitty cuddly-cat ally-type feline who will put up with me and maybe even enjoy the process.
For Bugs? I’ve backed off the touch thing. And here, I’m pleased to report, is how things went this morning.
We successfully negotiated the critical early-morning claw-launch time-period. There were no launches of any kind, claw or otherwise. I got up when I wanted to. On Sunday. Can I get a witness.
We did the hunt-catch-kill circadian thing. We played vigorously late last night, and again this morning right after we got up, plus I brought in a live grasshopper and Bugs had fun with him and then ate him.
Here are some shots of other parts of the “vigorous-play” stage. I hide treats in the dead drum-head, and Bugs appears to enjoy foraging them out. He purrs!
Here he’s alert, as he pauses to check out a noise in the east window.
Here he’s relaxing a notch.
Here he’s definitely mellowing.
Here’s he’s going down. (And if you look hard you can see the (unmolested) treat hiding in the drum-head.)
So we arrive at the eat-groom-crash circadian stage. I feed him his “real” food, he eats it all, then he naps.
The-e-e-n-n-n we come to the next potential danger-point. Bugs wakes up. We enter Stage II of the morning ritual:
I’m working on the computer in the bedroom. He comes in and sits on the floor by me in claw-launch position. He either doesn’t say anything and just stares at me, or he starts yelling. Intervention is required, or I’m going to get launched-at.
So I invite him up on the bed next to me. He hops up. He’s salivating for a treat. I comply, but only after requiring that he first drop down into crouch position. As he noms, I touch him only around his cheeks and the top of the head, straying down his flanks and haunches and tail only occasionally.
I give a couple more treats and then stop. He waits for more, and when no more are forthcoming, he catapults off back to the play-room. I work some more.
The cycle is repeated.
The-e-e-n-n-n we come to the third danger-zone. This time on the bed he flops over, tunks his head under his arm, and shows me his belly enticingly.
Thi-i-i-s-s-s is a tricky bit. I decline his invitation and continue working.
He puts a paw on my arm. No claw yet, so no foul.
When claws inevitably start showing, I give him a gentle “TSHHT” and, when the claws go back in, a treat.
Repeat several times. He then gets up, goes down to my feet, tentatively tries the claws on ankles. I give him the gentle “TSSHT” and treat him when he comes back up.
Throughout this stage, I could swear I can see him thinking about all this. Mulling it over. I’m pretty sure I can actually see the wheels turning.
I feel very proud of him and tell him so.
He then gets up and moseys – no dashing; friends, he does appear to have climbed off the ledge at last – he moseys over to his window-bed.
Following are some shots of him – yes, I do believe enjoying himself. Before the pics, though, I want to say this, to Bugs and to you:
I am holding close to my intention, my heart, the following wonderful word:
It derives from the medieval Latin “assecurare,” ad + securus (secure). Its synonyms are comfort, cheer, and soothing solace.
This is what I want to see.
For Bugs. For all of us. For me.