Return From The Dark Place

I was awakened again at 2:00 this morning to find Fang in my arms – and Bugs grooming Fang’s head vigorously.  This went on for around ten minutes.  I don’t exaggerate.  He covered every hair on Fang’s head with Bugs-spit.  Then the boys leapt up and began thundering around.  Sans disagreements.

Then, later, I heard Bugs playing in the other room with his favorite Chip-N-Chirp ball.  Fang jumped up to join him.  Again sans incident.

I think this may be an important turning point.

The key understanding happened earlier last night.  My long-time cherished cat-lover friend  Kim is a principal member of my Cat Guru Consultation Committee.  Wednesday nights are our time to talk on the phone.  The boys know their Auntie Kim.  Each time I’ve been on the phone with her, something important goes down.  Most memorable was when Fangie broke out of quarantine, four days after gotcha-day.

Last night the hostilities started up again, but this time Kim was right there on the other end of the line to hear the blow-by-blow and to advise.  Here is the point she made last night.  It seems so important it deserves bold type:

The resident cat must be supported, validated, encouraged, and praised.

I had it backwards.  My human-projection thing revolted against Bugsy’s aggression; I simply can’t stand it when I see power used this way.  I needed to jettison that.  Bugsy has been upset that his relationship with me has been upended.  I have tried to protect Fang from him, at a time when Bugsy is trying to make his crucial point that he is boss cat, and he has been confused and upset by this.

He has gone into a Dark Place.

In Fang’s part, he may have perceived an advantage to be got by flaunting his “special status” with me.  “Nyah, nyah, she loves me more than you.”  I needed to discourage that, and to encourage Bugs’s self-assertion instead.

Kim demonstrated how she had done this with her resident dog Ivy, when introducing her two new cats Stewie and Meezer.  Can you believe it?  When she used the “special voice” reserved for that purpose, I could hear Ivy instantly start barking at the other end of the line!  Too hilarious.

It worked — here’s a rendition of a photo of Ivy and Stewie.  Artwork by the wonderful Here There Be Spiders.

So last night, with Kim’s excellent example before me, I did things the other way round.  When Bugs went after Fang, as long as I could keep things reasonably safe, I encouraged him.  Not exactly egged him on – but validated and praised him.  And I broke things up only when they got too hairy; i.e., when fur started to become detached from body.  I didn’t even need time outs – all I had to do was deploy my Cesar Millan “calm-assertive” impression.

It seems to have worked. Bugs seems to have returned from the Dark Place.  He is the Bugs I used to know, before the no-eating no-pooping constipation scare.

Later this morning the boys played together twice.  Twice I saw Fang break out his signature  instigating move, where he lurks, and then leaps in the air and comes down on Bugs’s back.  Bugs was his professorial unperturbed self and let the matter pass without comment.  I praised him to the skies and gave him a treat.

Here’s Fangie keeping an eye on Bugs.  I love how his legginess spills over the chair.

Here he is at the exact moment his little eyes began to close in a love-blink.  What a sweetie.

Here Fang is mind-melding a question to Bugs.

Bugsy receives transmission.  “You want me to demonstrate my Top Cat No. One Gold Medalist of the Universe prowess?”

Sure.  Happy to oblige.

You can’t do this, you know.

I have very fancy feet.


And by the way.  Poop Patrol 2012, with the nation’s gratitude, you may stand down.

The stone is needed for ballast.  Fang, in his adolescent legs-too-long-for-body, keeps knocking over the box.

What.  You thought something else?

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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29 Responses to Return From The Dark Place

  1. Marcy Benham says:

    LOL! TOO funny Anita! I DID think something else, only for one second but still….got a good laugh out of me! I’m just so happy to hear the relaxation in your “voice” as the boys continue to build their happy relationship! While the short term result of adding another critter has been stressful, I can hear that the long term result is going to be nothing but positive for you, Bugs & Fang! NOBODY deserves this more than you 3! Kisses all around!

  2. YES!!! To all of the following: Mutual grooming (can you be next?), poop, calmness of the bean, and poop! Lots and lots of poop.

  3. Hahaha! Yes, I was quite impressed with the sheer size of the litterbox leavings! Thanks for posting my drawing – how did Kim like it? I was too timid to ask 🙂

  4. lauowolf says:

    And once he cleans it, it’s his!

  5. Slow blink YES. All good progress. Big smoochies from our four boys.

  6. Wazeau says:

    I was all like “that CAN”T have been fun to pass” before I thought better of it. Hope you have many more pleasant 2:00AM cat awakenings to come. What a pair those two are destined to become. Just wait till they start double-teaming you. I swear I’ll pet Nekoka for ten minutes after he wakes me desparate for love, validation, reassurance, whatever, and just when I’m falling back asleep, Sass demands her turn. It is never-ending. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  7. Oh happy dance! Happy dance! Best buds, right around the corner! Snuggles, grooming, everything is awesome! I’m so happy for you!!
    I was thinking the same thing for a minute, Wazeau, about the litter box, then I kept reading, MOL! But then I MOLed even louder because of the image of Fang knocking over the box!!
    Again, awesome progress, I don’t think you have anything to worry about any more.

    • nadbugs says:

      It’s quite the sight / sound, Fangie charging off the throne. Hope you’re right about the worry — but I’ll find something else to worry about. Never fear.

  8. CATachresis says:

    Oh poopiness and deep joy!! And a slow blink to boot. Life is good :))

  9. Ivy says:

    Great news keep a-coming, yay! Let me take a moment to tell you that I really admire your capacity to be open-minded and learn a little more about cats and how to better deal with them everyday. I hope you never lose this virtue of yours! Here’s to happy 2 am awakenings!

    • nadbugs says:

      You are so wonderful to say this, Ivy. I’ve worked long and hard to chisel open the mind; let me tell you, it has taken gobs of WD-40! The pay-off in understanding how the world works, and what I do either to gum up the works or to go with the flow of it, is worth all the sweat and toil and then some. The “then some” is for me to have been understood as you have. Heaven. I love your presence!

  10. A good way to wake up, even if it was 2AM.

  11. MelanieJ says:

    Oh, I was glad to read this post! It’s like the clouds parting and the sun shining through. I think I get this moment with every new animal we take in, some earlier than others. That moment that I think to myself that I maybe didn’t make a mistake after all… sometimes the starts are a little rough, but they’re well-worth it in the end.

    • nadbugs says:

      As I write in the morning sunshine, with only one donnybrook to be negotiated and the boys having eaten and now grooming, Yes. Clouds parting indeed. As you know, Melanie, this is the first time I’ve ever done this — so the learning curve was huge. I love hearing you’re already learned, and experienced, and been in joy. This is a wonderful moment. Thank you so much for sharing it with me.

  12. Dianda says:

    Looks like the Cesar Millan-way works on cats too. 😮

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