If a logical or illogical habit needed to fulfill an individual’s daily destiny is not accomplished, then that individual’s psychy is disrupted. This attribute is worse in cats, because they have a strong sense of independence. Most times, the satisfaction of their habits are in the hands of their human masters. They tolerate dependence, but it is not in their nature.
Bugsy, my cat, has a set of specific routines that start his day on the proper note. If Bugsy’s needs are not met, he sulks all day and discounts everything, including his own shadow.
Since during the night Bugsy is confined to the kitchen and utility room, his first need is that the proper door is opened in the morning to allow him access to the rest of his domain.
We have a door in the kitchen that allows access into the dining room and one in the utility room that opens into the TV room. The latter is Bugsy’s primary door, since his food, water and litter box are in the utility room.
Routinely, Marian enters the kitchen each morning through the dining room door, prepares the tea and exits through the door she entered. Bugsy, after Marian enters the kitchen, strolls into utility room and seats himself next to the door that opens into the TV room. Stubbornly, Bugsy will continue to sit next to this door, even though he could easily exit the kitchen by going through the dining room.
Eventually, Bugsy will saunter into my bathroom. It’s obvious he used the wrong door, because he discounts my presence. It’s in my bathroom that he attempts to satisfy his second habit. If successful, then his first disappointment is nullified.
He climbs onto the water-spattered rim of the shower and meows loudly. Entranced, he continues to meow without choking while he laps the water. I have to ignore him during this time, because disturbing his ecstasy throws him into a major huff. He then dashes from the bathroom and disappears.
In an apathetic mood, Bugsy returns to the bedroom about the time I’m nearly dressed. His attitude indicates that, up to now, his finicky desires have not been satisfied. He seats himself in the middle of the room and glares at me.
It’s interesting how a cat can stare in total disregard. At this moment, if he could talk, I bet he’d say “You have one more chance to make my day. Let’s get on with it.”
Now it’s up to me to pull Bugsy out of his frump. We’ll have to play Attack-the-Belt. I can see he’s ready because his mood livens once I’ve put my pants on and zipped up my fly. He knows I have to string a belt through the loops around my waist. But, before I do, I have to let him attack the belt.
His body energizes while I slowly lift the sash off the bed. Seated on floor he can’t see the strap, but he anticipates it being snaked around the bedspread. He readies his stance to pounce. I’m aware of his tautness, so I slowly slide the belt across the bed. He jumps onto the bed and attacks the leather snake with passion.
I don’t allow him to capture the belt. I instead whip it around. He dives, lunges, rolls. When he’s on his back, I dangle the belt lively above his nose, while expressing the usual verbiage to encourage him to make the capture. Bugsy paws and grabs at the belt. He knows what needs to be done to allow capture; he has to vocalize a hissy, guttural roar. Then I’ll allow him to grab the belt, rake it and chew it. I continue to tease him for two more hissing bouts and then stopped. He jumps off the bed and dashes toward the kitchen. I find him sitting happily on the TV room side of the utility room door, his proper door, which is still unopened. Once it is, all will be well with Bugsy and his day will be fine.
This essay aired on WLRH on August 13, 2002.
Richard Modlin selected the two essays he wrote about Bugsy (1992—2006) in remembrance of him. Bugsy passed away on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 2006. He was a very special friend and will be missed.