After yesterday’s checklist, one thought remains. I may have become, to my horror, like many parents I know.
After all I’ve done for you?
A little gratitude might be nice.
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.
I have a basket for Julius on a corner of my computer desk upstairs and he eventually learned to just sleep in it if he wants to be close when I am workiing. He is like Bugs in that he is too active to often sit on the lap or do it for long. So if there’s some approved thing to do while you work, it’s a lot better than if there’s nothing at all.
I want Gus. I love Gus.
Poor Bean, compromise with a Cat means doing all the compromising! Bugs may still be fighting his feralness about being touched, it took me three years with CC to trust, and Scouty, even after five years, refuses to be approached. On the good side, CC is a utter attention whore now–especially at bedtime, complete with biscuits, drooling, and a thunderous purr.
It is VERY gratifying.
Oh Lounger this is such a help. I’m smiling from ear to ear. Biscuits, drooling, thunderous purr — all praises to you and CC. Hard-won fruits are all the sweeter. And Scouty, listen. Have you ANY idea how good you have it?? Have you??
Congrats on letting go of attachment Ms. Bean! It’s absolutely the best thing you can do for your own peace of mind. You can’t control Bugs method of showing you love, any more than we can control how other beans show us love. It’s part of being here now and accepting what others have to give us, when they want to give it. I just KNOW he will capitulate to your charms eventually! Relaaaaaax and let it happen!
It’s the relaaaaaax part I find so difficult.
Well — it’s all difficult.
But so worth it.
Not kissing and touching the belly when you want to is so hard, isn’t it? But rest assured you are doing the right things. Gotta respect the cat as an entity in his own right.
Self- and impulse-control. Never my strong suits.
I think you’ve reached a point in your relationship with Bugs that some people NEVER achieve with their cats, much to their regret (and their cat’s regret, I’m sure.) But anyway, it’s a good thing to see the world through his eyes. He’ll come around. He’s come so far as it is!
It does feel that way, Melanie, increasingly so, that some understanding is running both ways. One of the things I most love about this process is that I am not permitted to fool myself for long. Mr. Bugs is so very quite, what’s the word I’m looking for, emphatic about that. And, truly — if he’s come far, it’s only because I have first. I really do think he’s been perfectly, absolutely, unvaryingly clear, from the git-go to this moment — it’s just I who have mightily struggled with seeing the world through his eyes. You, everybody here, Jackson, and Cesar have all contributed so much to my education. My student-loan payout should go to you instead of the gubmint. Oh well. I guess the gubmint kind of needs it pretty badly these days. No wait. It’s the lender it’s going to. It’s the taxes that go to the gubmint. A complicated world we live in. But I digress. From what? I’ve forgotten. Oh yes. Gratitude to you. Back on task now.
Sorry, I kind of fell of the earth for a while so I’m catching back up. I think you are right – some cats are not cuddlers, and we’re all happier if we adjust to their personalities. Zoe is an odd one. There are times when she absolutely does not want to be petted. She’ll LET you, but she hunkers down like she’s being punished. So, during these times, I have to make myself not touch her. Other times, she craves pets and scratches, so I get my fill during these moments. One of the things that I think is so super about the no kill shelter here is that they let all of their cats have free roam of the place. You get a pretty good feeling about their personalities – you know which cat just has to have a lap to sit in all day, every day. However, the shy ones can be tricky. Once you get them home, they can turn into an entirely different cat when they’re not surrounded by 30 other cats.
Anyway, I now need to continue reading to see what else has happened this month – maybe you already HAVE another cat!
jana, mom to the OK Cats