Cat’s Got Bugs’s Tongue

Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone . . . .

Bugs has lost his voice.  Before Fangie’s death, he had pipes on him worthy of the Metropolitan Opera.  After, he has been mostly silent – except when uttering a reedy, rusty, pitiful whimpering.

Bugs comforting himself on Fangie’s old goatskin.

I didn’t want to drag Bugs to the vet and add to the stress of the Barney introduction, but in the dark hours of last Thursday night I let myself get scared to death.  I became convinced Bugs had caught what killed Fang.  He had only seconds to live.

Believing this, I had a visitation of one of those heart-stopping moments I’ve come to recognize, in which time stands still.  Life penetrates like a glass-shard.  I am impaled by terror and grief.

I’ve come to value such moments.  I say to myself:  Take this in.  It’s real.  It’ll soon pass.  Let this moment transfix you.  There is nothing else but right now.

So, I said to myself, looking at Bugs, stroking him – I said, take in Bugs.  Take in his beauty.  Take in his mystery.  This moment will soon pass.  You do not want to miss this.

There is stillness in such moments, a sharp clarity.

They come on me now because I know there were so many moments when Fang’s beauty, his mystery, were present – and I was not.

I don’t want love to pass me by like that again.

Bugs looking haggard, half-in-half-out of Barney’s cave in Base Camp.

The moment did pass.  And it was a long, anxious wait til dawn.  Fortunately our vet knows about Fang and she made room for Bugs late Friday afternoon.  In the middle of a violent thunderstorm. Thanks very much, Cod, we needed that extra drama.

Bugs found his voice on the car-ride.

The vet pronounced him in splendid health. She thought he’s simply grieving, which grief is exacerbated by the added stress of Barney’s arrival.  She tried some Feliway on him and she thought he eased up a bit.  She persuaded me to try a can.

I think she’s right.  Judging from one day’s trial, it seems to have helped.

Since Friday, Bugs has spent the night on my bed by my feet.  First time he’s done that in living memory.  Last night I woke to find both boys asleep there.  Is it the cooler weather since the storm?  Have the boys begun to chill out together?  Both those things?  Neither?  Whatever.  I’m glad.

I have a few snaps for you, pre-Feliway, of Territorial Tournament Round 9,512.  After Feliway, we’ve only had Round 9,513 and the boys were easily separated in that one.  And Round 9,514, commenced as I’m writing this, ended quickly of its own accord.

Looks like an embrace.  Not.

Negotiating between skirmishes.  Biggify the picture to enjoy Barney’s adorable chin and black lips.

Bugs ponders his next move.  Hard to know what that might be, with your windpipe stiff-armed shut.

Action resumes.

But as I said, with the Feliway, the boys might be finding other ways to plumb their inner peace.

Bugs in East Bed.

Sure seems true for Barney.  But then Barney has always been an essentially peaceful soul.

This inner peace.  With practice, Grasshopper, it can be yours, too.

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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37 Responses to Cat’s Got Bugs’s Tongue

  1. FeyGirl says:

    *deep breath of relief*…. i know the fear well. their poor systems are all messed up after such turmoil.

  2. I’m glad the vet says Bugs is in excellent health. Surely that will help to ease your worries some, but it’s natural to have fear after a situation such as you went through. These boys will get along, I just know in my heart. Poor Bugs though…I do believe that cats and all animals grieve for lost companions. Some show it by misbehaving. I see Bugs being quiet as just him in a respectful sort of silence for his friend.

    On another note, I just get chills looking at Barney because he looks ever so much like my Annabelle. He’s a boy and she’s a girl, so obviously there is a slight difference … and her fur is a bit longer. But if ever there were two cats who looked alike, facially, it is Barney and Belle. Have you seen pictures of her on my blog? There’s one up on the 31st in Naughty Kitty Chronicles. Check it out! You would also do a double take, I’m sure. =^..^=

    • nadbugs says:

      Double-take? I about fell off my chair! Amazing, Julia!

      And thank you so much for noting that Bugs could be misbehaving — so I should appreciate that he’s just sad. I find this unbelievably moving. And your empathy for my somewhat-extreme reaction is balm. I am sad in my own way. Which is actually mysterious to me, too.

      Gad. I had no idea.

  3. lahgitana says:

    whew. Aw Bugsy, grieve away, but you’re not alone in that grief–you have the sensitive Bean on the journey.

    Both the cats have resumed sleeping with us (read: hogging the foot space) now that the weather has moderated. It’s also comforting for both of them for different reasons. Good luck keeping any part of the(ir) bed once they get REALLY comfortable!

    And in the bigified pic, look at Barnes’ fangs!

    I was just thinking of Fangie last night. Actually, “Fly free, Fangie” jumped unbidden into my brain and repeated, and I felt sad again. Losing him is like crashing into a door, going full-tilt. waaaaahhhh.

    • nadbugs says:

      So true, Lahgitana, about crashing into the grief. It’s just lying in wait, it seems.

      Smiling at the bed antics of your guys. Barney’s taken to diving under the covers and curling around my knees.

      • lahgitana says:

        Hey girl–WP isn’t notifying me again, so I missed your response. I was gettin’ worried….

        Yes, grief hangs around and changes us. You said it so perfectly to Karen Lucas below–the not wanting to be the same. And I sense that the veil of the heavy grief has lifted only to show the gaping maw of the raw grief that is still to be borne.

        Fangie was here and now he isn’t. Still doesn’t seem possible.

        Barney under the covers? awwww! Wait’ll Bugsy finds out there is a potentially active lump in the bed.

        And Bugsy…. I wonder if you have to combine comforts for him: the attention as you describe for introducing a cat to reassure Bugs PLUS extra comfort for him as he mourns Fangie. Do you ever sit next to him when he’s on Fangie’s goat skin? Would he permit that? Am I silly to think he’d get any comfort?

  4. Karen Lucas says:

    I am so loving reading your blog. We have had some cat losses here too – we lost two old cats within days of each other and the kitty who was left was bereft for several months. We adopted a much younger cat who lost her home and the bereft kitty was not so happy but we also tried Feliway and she did accept the new kitty although they were never best friends and she channeled her grief into bonding more closely with us than before. We lost her last fall at 16 and then we lost one of two old kitties we saved from euthanasia 18 months ago this summer. So now we have a 16 year old and a 7 year old and then a 10 year old we saved last Christmas. He is twice the size of the two girls and lives separately from them because he chases and jumps on top of them when out and has given them owies on their sides when gripping them – they are afraid of him but curious so he lives in one of the bedrooms and when he is out they are in – Feliway hasn’t helped with that as he lives to chase them. But anyway, we know how hard it was to lose Fangie and so suddenly – the cats we lost were both 14 and died suddenly two days apart and I thought I would die too but you do find a way to get through it….keep up the wonderful writing and pictures.

    • nadbugs says:

      Karen, thank you a million times for this wonderful appreciation — and I am so sad imagining what you’ve been through. “I thought I would die too” — it’s just awful, isn’t it. “but you do find a way to get through it” — yes. But I am quite sure I will never be the same. I don’t want to be the same. Fangie was here and now he isn’t. That’ll never be the same.

  5. Understand the panic (can only be called such in retrospect) and have had that terrified, sinking feeling that something is really, really wrong and I can’t fix it. Glad the results were 100%.

    I’m still not seeing those pics as battles. My boys do that at least once a day (more if they get some sunshine and become solar-powered), sometimes to high pitched screaming, but they screech to say the game is over, thank ya. And you’ve seen the disgusting cuddles the boys do most of the rest of their day! There’s no puffy tails or laid back ears or hissing from a distance evident here, as there would be if the fight was for real. It’s play – a bit serious now and again I’m sure as one or the other goes too far. They have to learn when their playmate is telling them that the game is over, thank ya.

  6. OMC, OMC! You had me terrified there for a second. Whew… So glad that Bugs is 100% fine. I can completely understand the fear, after what you recently went through. And how about the pictures? Amazing! If Barney were my cat, I’d live hipnotized by his peaceful vibe… as in that last picture, for instance. Hugs for the of you!

    • nadbugs says:

      Oh Ivy I am sorry for scaring you — gosh, it was enough I was so scared, I wish I hadn’t spread that around to you . . . . Thank you for understanding. It has been so, so difficult. Isn’t that last picture something else, though? He is a wonderful, wonderful guy. I feel incredibly lucky to have him near.

      • I can only imagine how hard it has been for you and Bugs . . . But I wouldn’t question the decision to bring Barney along for the ride, if you allow me to say. It seemed that you were following an intuition by adopting him, and you should trust that. So just focus on the feeling of being lucky to have him near. Grief takes time.

  7. CATachresis says:

    Bugs is human too. If you prick him, does he not bleed? Ok being fanciful now, but I do think Barney will be/is like a salve for the wounded soul. Bugs must be missing Fangi. You’re doing great 🙂

  8. I’m sure Bugs is grieving. When Dusty passed poor Kona was bereft, and she was a quite a while coming back to her old self. Cats have long memories for their companions.

    I also see play and not felicide in the tussling photos, as long as there’s not any screaming I think they boys are merely working out who’s who, and some excess energy.

    • nadbugs says:

      Poor all of us. Bugsy and I are teetering, and for sure Barney isn’t getting enough steam out. It’s interesting to hear Kona took a long time. I do have the sense that Bugsy and I are on different time-schedules. It seemed like it took Bugsy some time to understand Fangie was gone (well, me too, come to that) . . . . and now he’s way not his old self (and me neither) . . . . But I am glad you’re not seeing felicide. Maybe it was a mistake to bring Barney in so fast — but I had the strongest feeling to do it . . . . and now of course I absolutely adore him. Come on Bugsy, come on.

  9. I’m sure Bugsy is missing his old buddy, but I think he must like his new buddy or he wouldnt sleep on the bed with him. Cool weather makes kitties want to snuggle, but also when they see someone else do it. So perhaps Barney’s quietude and wanting to sleep on the bed rubbed off on Bugys?
    Skirmishes or not, they seem to be doing beautifully together. Nobody looks that ticked off in those skirmish pictures.

  10. Oldcat says:

    Your first quote is from an old Joni Mitchell song – big yellow taxi.

  11. Oldcat says:

    I recognized the lyric because it has come to mind to me when I was mourning myself. Here’s another song from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds that I’ve seemed to hit the mark with me.

    • nadbugs says:

      Yes. Thank you for this. I loved the flutes, and that last strong guitar lick. And the line about wanting to fly south with the birds. There were times when I just wanted to leave my body.

  12. Dianda says:

    Barney has this ‘old’ look in his eyes. I don’t know if ‘old’ is the right word. Wise! I think. Especially in the last picture. 🙂
    I’m glad the vet said that Bugs is healthy. You can never be too sure. I hope the Feliway works to keep both boys relaxed. 🙂

    • nadbugs says:

      Wise is it, isn’t it, Dianda. I just adore that picture of him.

      And yes, it was such a relief to hear Bugs was healthy. But you know? There’s still this nagging whisk of doubt. Fangie seemed better and better each day — and then crash.

      The Feliway does seem to take the edge off. Not stop the aggro completely — but perhaps soften it. I still want it to be less. Big hiss from Bugsy today. I don’t want him upset like that. He’s got enough on his plate.

      • Dianda says:

        It’s alright to doubt about it. But maybe Bugs is healthy body wise. He can be still grieving, he’s sad, he had a lot on his plate. He lost his friend. I think that if you give it some time, Bugs will be bugs again. 🙂 Big friends with Big. 😉

  13. Anne D says:

    On the darkness before dawn—
    I am a nurse who worked lots of nights. There were numerous times when things looked bad for patients and then turned around with sunrise, sunrise being the only treatment.
    My 15 year old white cat just decided to take her main nap on top of an active red ant pile. Alerted by my husband, I rushed out to rescue her only to find no ants. I guess they fled when that heavy white furry mass descended on them.

    • nadbugs says:

      Oh those nights. They are terrible. I imagine you in that darkness, surrounded by the ill and troubled . . . . nurses are angels, I think, in principle and so often in action. Bless you for doing that.

      Wow. A big white furball defeats the red ants. Shows who’s boss!!

  14. Marilia says:

    Hahahah! Like Nelson with the same mask!

  15. It’s almost unbelievable how animals can react by loosing someone dear, just like us people do. They also need time to grief and process the lost. It will take a while, but they’re doing fine again 🙂

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