FAQs

I recognize that Bear is undoubtedly the star of Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat: that’s why our header describes the blog as about the adventures of an extraordinary feline – with his Momma just along for the ride. Most days, that is EXACTLY what life with Bear is . . . going to all the wild and wacky places that sharing one’s life with a cat provides. Things don’t often go “my” way – but I enjoy the ride.  And at the end of the day, the snuggly, purring ball of fur makes all the claws and fangs MORE than worth it. Because here's the thing about Bear: despite his attitude and feistiness, he's a total sweetheart at the core. I try not to let our readers forget that, but his attitude and feistiness are ridiculously funny so they probably get more attention.
Momma's boy.

In recognition of Bear’s star status, I don’t include much about myself on this blog. I’m actually a rather private person, but I thought some of you might have questions or wonder where Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat came from. And after getting a few inquiries about the purpose of our Facebook page and blog, hopefully this will clarify matters. As always, I REALLY WANT feedback! Without feedback about what you like and {ESPECIALLY!!!} what you don't like, I'm destined to make the same mistakes over and over again. I'm REALLY bad at trying to figure out whether I'm doing well or not, I always assume I'm failing miserably, but that also leaves me clueless as to what to change. 

I'm new to Momma Kat, what posts will help me catch up?
Bear and I are glad you're here! Bear LOVES an audience and Momma loves dishing on Bear, so we hope we can make you laugh and show you you're in good company if you share your life with a cat(s). This post contains all the "fundamental" links and pages:  Understanding Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat (for our new friends).

Why does Bear call Momma Kat, "Momma" and not "Mom" or some other proper noun?
My insight into Bear's personality tells me he's a whiner when things don't go his way, when he doesn't get what he wants, or when Momma isn't paying enough attention to whatever scheme he's up to now. "Momma" can be dragged out in a very satisfying whine (MooooooommmmMMMA!), while "Mom" isn't quite as amenable. Kitty's personality was more aloof and "I'll pull myself up by the bootstraps and deal with it," so in the few conversations she's part of (mainly in What Your Cats Are Really Saying - To Each Other), she addresses me as "Mom." I can't imagine her whining about much - except maybe when Bear was constantly pestering her and she just wanted to be left alone. Kitty was very no-nonsense, while Bear is very dramatic. "Momma" leaves all kinds of possibilities for Bear to manipulate when he's unhappy. And the "Kat" part is just a nickname for Momma's first name, Katherine, which Momma is preferential to, since she loves cats (obviously). I can't think of any higher honor than being called "Cat," so "Kat" will have to do.

Why does Bear say, "I hate you?"
I've struggled with whether to include that phrase or not . . . it's not very nice or pleasant. But again, my perception of Bear's personality is that he's impulsive and enthusiastic and he often blurts things out without thinking them through. This is why there are so many {Pause}s in our conversations - he needs time to think about what he just said and adjust his thoughts and comments as necessary. In that way, Bear is very much like a five year old who shouts, "I hate you!" at a parent that isn't giving the child his way; it's not an indictment so much as part of a temper tantrum. And Bear LOVES temper tantrums. I know he loves me and doesn't mean it - he's not mean or cruel, just passionate. Kitty was more aloof - and the only times I remember her looking at me with pure hatred were the times she accidentally got hit in the cross-spray while I was using a spray bottle to get Bear to back off bugging her. No doubt, she was very displeased - first she had a brother she didn't want and then she got sprayed because he couldn't leave her alone. Unfortunately, Bear's never cared much about getting wet - so the spray bottle became pointless and was eventually retired. So Bear says, "I hate you!" because he's dramatic, he's a cat, and sometimes, as much as we love them, life isn't entirely pleasant when you share your life with a cat.

What is Bear's full name?
Pooh Bear. After finding out "Lily" was a girl, I really agonized over choosing a name because I wanted to give him a name that reflected his personality vs. Kitty who was so named because no one admitted to having a better idea. For the first few days Bear was inside, he was overly cuddly and sweet - which made me think of Winnie the Pooh. Given that he also gave giant bear hugs with his front paws around the arm of the person who was petting him, Pooh Bear sounded just right. At least until Bear was allowed out of isolation and became hell on paws . . . in which case, a one syllable name was much easier to spit out. He hasn't been called "Pooh Bear" for years - and over time, the name "Bear" seemed so much more appropriate too. Because his heart is bear-sized, but so is his personality - the enthusiasm and spunk and impulsivity and indignance - and all the wonderful things that make Bear, "Bear." I added the "Cat" in the title to give people an idea of the focus of the blog if they're just scanning a list of blogs - but I've also taken to calling him "Bear Cat" in conversations and when I call the vet because of how often most people assume "Bear" is a dog (last time I checked, "Bear" was in the top ten most common dogs' names).
In case you missed the posts the first time around: The good news is your cat is not pregnant . . . the bad news is . . . (or How We Met) and Naming "Male Kitten."

Why does Bear say, "RATS!?"
Again, Bear talks first and thinks later . . . I needed something that wasn't an expletive, but was a tad ironic and funny. I thought of using "Curses," but it didn't feel right, so I held off. A few months later, while I was still thinking of the best word to use for his frustration, I found another blog where the cat says, "curses!" and I didn't want there to be any question of plagiarism - so that ruled out "curses" permanently. In the end, I think "RATS!" works best for Bear because you can bet that if he actually SAW a rat, that WOULD NOT be what he exclaimed. From under the bed. Again, the touch of irony.

Do the incidents reported in the posts really happen?
Obviously, Bear doesn't actually talk in human terms. I extrapolate the dialogues from what I know of Bear's personality, his body language, and general "cat-ness." Most of the incidents described DO actually happen (like when Bear got caught in the handle of a plastic bag {found in Bears Behaving Badly} , or the chair spinning incident {found in Mistreated, Misunderstood, Unloved . . . }) - though some of the dialogues are more contrived than others. If it's in prose - like the Bears Behaving Badly post, it happened EXACTLY as described. Also, occasionally you'll find that Bear says, "Meow" during our conversations . . . the "meows" are quotes - where he says "meow" in real life. I could translate those to "human," but I think leaving the reader to determine the meaning within the context of the conversation is more descriptive and accurate. When a cat meows, the human isn't ENTIRELY sure what that meow means, so we use other clues (is it around the time the cat is fed? is he standing by the front door? what does his body language indicate? what do I know of cats?) to give the meow meaning. I have no doubt I've misinterpreted meows, as much as I'm fascinated by Bear's internal workings, I'm still a dumb human.

What led you to start the blog/Facebook page?
I've long been fascinated with psychology - why people do the things they do. Most of my interest was in why people do the HURTFUL things they do, and my hope was that one day I would help other people in less than ideal childhoods. Eventually, I got bogged down in the analysis of everyone - not only is it exhausting, but when you can find excuses for others' behavior there's a danger you'll subject yourself to it much longer than someone who doesn't care why people act a certain way. And I'm a bleeding heart - I am so good at empathizing that I actually experience other people's feelings and can't separate from them. Not so good for a therapist - and even worse for one's mental health. So I started considering the internal life of cats because they are such AMAZING, EXPRESSIVE creatures and humans, with all their complicated issues and motivations, exhaust me.

Anyone who has a cat knows there MUST be a lot going on in there. I'm no expert, but I started speculating on what Kitty was thinking (mainly "Foolish human," I think). The first story line I created centered around Kitty's close supervision of me making dinner. She was smart enough not to get under my feet, but always found a spot where I couldn't miss her. My then-husband joked that she looked like she was starving . . . and thus, the Hungry Cats of America (HCA) was started. With Kitty's superior begging skills, she seemed well suited to the job of lobbying - for all the POOR, POOR, starving housecats in America. Occasionally the HCA took up other causes, and Kitty even considered a run for Congress. Once we'd adopted Bear a year later, I'd gotten in the habit of developing intricate story lines as a way of stress relief - a kind of escape from reality. At first, Bear was training for the same job as my husband - and accommodation issues were decided (does Bear get a litter box in the regular bathroom, or a briefcase/litter box). His toy mice became "spies" that he met with and "dealt" with. And he was especially concerned with TCC's (terrorist cats in caves . . . this was the Afghanistan era). Separate from that, we both enjoyed Bear's strut - it looks EXACTLY like a streetwalker working his or her stuff . . . and Kitty became the rough and tumble pimp (not everything was appropriate). 

After the divorce and Kitty's death, it was just Bear and I. The stories changed according to my fascination with the mind of cats - trying to figure out what they're thinking when they knock something off the counter, or have the "crazies," or the times I'm standing still thinking through what I need to do and Bear runs up behind me, chomps on my leg, and just as quickly goes to hide. In that specific case, maybe Bear is really just bored - but maybe he's thinking I look like a chump and I'm easy prey. Also, cats are VERY expressive - I'm pretty sure I know EXACTLY what Bear is thinking in most situations . . . because unlike Kitty, he wears his heart on his sleeve. So Bear and I started having "conversations." When I really started paying attention to Facebook in Fall 2014, I started posting our conversations and funny vignettes on my personal Facebook page (among these were the precursors to the posts Chair + Towel + Cat = Tons of Pictures and Kitty Diva or Pop "Tart?") . My friends thought they were hilarious and encouraged me to blog about my cat that "almost seemed human." When I started the Facebook page for the blog, I transferred over all those posts from my personal page to the blog's Facebook page (you'd have to scroll back to the beginning of the Facebook posts) - so they are available if you are interested. 

By definition, a personal blog is a statement that you think you have something worthwhile that other people will want to read. I've never had the confidence - so I'm always fighting with myself if I should keep up writing or not. Unlike Bear (at least around me), my self-confidence really sucks. But Bear is extraordinary. I recognize a lot of this is more of a personal nature - as in, what Bear means to me. He's taught me to love in a way that was never demonstrated to me by any of the people in my life. Bear took the extra step for as long as necessary to get closer and challenge my comfort zone. And either he was just too darn cute or there was a part of me that was ready and WANTED more from life. It's not so much that I couldn't love or was cold - I just had a comfort zone that limited what I showed. At first, I stressed out because Bear always wanted to be RIGHTNEXT to me or on top of me. No doubt, he could feel the tension in my body. But how can you resist a kitten that just wants to love you and be loved by you? I couldn't - and I lived outside of my comfort zone until constantly snuggling and being together was the norm. Now, I don't think I could live WITHOUT it. I probably tell myself I changed because HE needed it, but I think I did too. This is why I often say that people assume I rescued Bear because he was homeless and hungry and I gave him a home and a full belly; the reality is he rescued me. He showed me that I could be resilient and triumph where my spirit was weak. Because of Bear, I learned, grew, and became a better person - a person who could love with her whole heart - and in turn, I showed myself that my parents' legacy is not mine by default. I get to choose. So the story of his "rescue" is also the tale of MY "rescue." I understand that readers might not get why I call Bear "extraordinary" - because really, ALL cats are extraordinary. But who Bear's been to me IS extraordinary: he just loves me and that is the best feeling in the world (and no, I usually don't talk like that - I'm rather reserved and don't get sentimental, but Bear is one of the few exceptions along with my niece and nephew).

In singing the praises of Bear, I feel guilt because by elevating Bear it feels like I'm making Kitty less - but she's not. Kitty rescued me in different ways because I needed different things. During her life, I was in survival mode and she was the perfect companion for that; with Bear, I've been in growth mode - challenging, overcoming, fighting to have a future that is better than my past. I would give just about anything to have Kitty be here too - no cat will ever replace her and she isn't by any means "less" because of the gifts Bear has given me. The fight for any life in survival mode is JUST as, if not MORE important, than the fight for more than survival. Without the first, you'll never have a chance at the second.
If you want to know more about Kitty: Kitty-Kitty: Unoriginal Name, One-of-a-Kind Cat.

What do I think could enhance readers' experience of the blog?
I'm a very visual learner - and I picture stories as I read and write. Of course, with Bear, it helps that I actually SEE the event happening - because most of the things I write have at least a kernel of truth, if I'm not writing exactly what happened. For instance, the chair spinning incident (found in Mistreated, Misunderstood, Unloved . . . ), where something from my laundry basket hooked the desk chair Bear was sitting in - which sent him spinning . . . it happened EXACTLY that way. So in particular, after the event was over, I couldn't help laughing out loud every time I read the dialogue because I SAW it. And my visual imagination is pretty good as well. Ultimately, I think my dialogues would be best represented visually or animated, so people SEE the looks on Bear's face and his body language - which probably accounts for more of the humor than I acknowledge - but I have no skill at drawing or animation, so I focus on getting the event down. In sum, if you can visualize the dialogues happening, they might be funnier or maybe make more sense. It's very hard to put a cat's indignant body language into words - and let's be honest, Bear's a very indignant and dramatic cat.

What is the difference between your Momma Kat Facebook page and the Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat blog?
I post on the blog four times a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday) - and post the entire conversation (without pictures) and link to the blog for each post on our Facebook page. The content of both is essentially the same - the posts on the blog just include pictures. On our Facebook page, we also share videos (from others) and mini-updates about Bear's antics that we think our readers will enjoy. The conversations are essentially the same either place ... but Facebook has more frequent content in terms of sharing things we find on Facebook and our own mini-updates. 

What is the focus of the blog?
Bear Cat and humor. On a personal level, because you really only have to choose between laughing and crying when life REALLY, REALLY, sucks, I've always chosen to laugh and lessen the burden through sarcasm and finding the absurd in the everyday.  The benefit to humor increases when the subject is out of our control: and what is more out of a human's control than a cat? In any case, I try to capture the hilarious and often frustrating aspects of sharing one's life with a cat. I love Bear and he's changed my life in very profound ways - at the heart of it, my blog and Facebook page attempt to share him and show my respect and appreciation for all aspects of his personality (even the ones that make no sense or break things). Additionally, I'd like to do awareness posts about subjects I don't feel have been adequately addressed. You can find a list of these issues, and links to our own posts and those of others, on the "Awareness" pageI'm working to expand the resources provided for the issues listed on the "Awareness" page.

A note about humor regarding cats . . . I've seen claims from a couple sources that comics and humor based media about cats has hurt their reputations and affected the number of cats adopted. That may be true. But I'd contend that the people who read about the reality of life with cats (and all their quirks), and choose not to adopt are probably doing the cats a huge favor. Other than straight out torture, nothing breaks my heart more than reading or hearing about some cruel person who decided a cat wasn't for them and just abandoned the animal outside. Cats are unique, and while they differ a lot in their personalities, there is a general "cat" attitude. If you can't handle that attitude, you probably shouldn't own a cat. If I thought for a second my blog would affect adoption to good homes, I wouldn't write it. Cats are much like babies, in that they look to you for all their needs. If you resent having to provide that - and aren't able to recognize them as their own beings (with motivations and thoughts and desires that will often differ from yours) - a child, a cat, or any pet is not for you. A lot of people assume cats do fine on their own - but I've seen a lot of evidence to the contrary. Even Kitty, who was more likely to be in the same room with you than snuggling, had very clear needs for affection. Sharing one's life with a cat is a privilege - if you can't handle the responsibility, don't take it on. 

Humans have failed cats miserably: we domesticated them, but we haven't provided population control and homes that they need. Cats really AREN'T bred to live outside. Responsible farmers will tell you that their farm cats are fed and provided for during winter. And they'll also probably admit that the life of those cats is only a few years. I might be coming close to being judgmental, but the lives that some cats have are horrendous. Bear started out on that path - he was homeless - and for whatever reason, he couldn't hunt. All it took was feeding him a few times and he was more interested in love than food. Not all ferals are like that - but it was a privilege to be chosen as his person. And if I hadn't adopted him, the world would have missed out on an incredible cat. Every cat matters. Their lives are no less valuable than any other. I think doing cats the best justice means being honest about the reality of sharing one's life with a cat: it's not for everybody, but for those who it is, the rewards are infinite and on many different levels. I get frustrated with Bear, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I admire him and love him even more at those times - because he's just being Bear. Because of the way I grew up, where everything was so strictly controlled and it was strongly discouraged to show any sense of self, I see the beauty in a cat that feels secure enough to be whomever he wants to be. And his example has given me the encouragement and proof that being one's self is just as lovable, if not more lovable, than always conforming to what the people around you expect. I love Bear for all his personality quirks - even the ones that frustrate and confuse me - because I appreciate him in his own right.

Do you make any money off the blog or Facebook page?
No. They are labors of love. In one way, I've love to migrate to my own domain name and get the blog to turn a profit (I could definitely use the income), but I also recognize that involves selling myself, which I don't have the confidence for. I also hesitate to take endorsements and promote brands that I wouldn't use for my own cat; I put a lot of research and time into choosing what I buy for Bear, and because of what he means to me, I can't imagine myself promoting something I've ruled out for my own cat. Maybe in the future . . . I can't say never, but I do take that responsibility very seriously. Please don't take this as an indictment of blogs that do accept advertising - I'm just a lousy saleswoman and feel more responsibility toward others than most people (and more than is entirely healthy).

What are my hopes for this blog?
I'd love to publish all of my posts and dialogues from the blog and Facebook page in a book. For as long as I can remember, I've been told I should write a book - only the content has varied (my life, my struggles, my cats, my insight . . . ). I don't have the patience or confidence that I have much to say that would be worthwhile for most of those topics. But I've played around with writing about my cats - and when I'm writing as Bear, I find a confidence I otherwise wouldn't have. This is another reason I've shied away from posts solely of prose - I don't have a whole lot of confidence in what I say, but as Bear, I feel much freer and able to just go with it. 

The ironic thing is that after almost a year of posts, I'm finding that what keeps me going (especially when I feel uninspired or that no one really cares about my writing) is that I've created a permanent record of Bear. I knew I needed to have pictures with my blog - so I started playing around with a camera again. Around the time Bear was 3, I gave up pictures because I was so bad at taking them and because Bear always stops what he's doing and runs off when I turn the camera on. So starting the blog got me taking pictures again. Very rarely do I get a picture I'm really proud of, but at least it's SOMETHING. And I record many of the things Bear does (like admiring himself in the bathroom mirror or knocking things in the toilet), so that I can hold on to those forever. When I wrote the post on Kitty, I realized there were a lot of things I was sure I would remember at the time they happened, but that I couldn't remember 10 years later when I wanted to write about her. 

I've also found that I have more patience and appreciation for Bear, now that he's the subject of the blog. People might at first think my posts are complaining, but the fact is that writing about ALL the aspects of his personality have helped me keep better perspective about the less pleasant parts of sharing my life with Bear. For instance, he does everything with his whole heart. So if one of the things I love most about him is his ginormous loving heart, how can I like the other manifestations of that any less just because the results are sometimes frustrating? When I sit down and write my posts, I'm sharing my admiration, respect, and love for Bear. And by focusing on all the aspects of his personality, I get a perspective of the whole versus bogged down in, "He just just emptied the shelves above the toilet INTO the toilet again!" I try to make it clear in my writing that I'm writing from a position of admiration and not complaint, but I also recognize new readers might not catch on to that right away. And let's be honest - the most frustrating aspects of sharing one's life with a cat, are also the funniest. 

Another unexpected benefit of the blog has been hearing the remarkable stories, seeing some handsome, gorgeous kitties of all kinds, and finding support from other people who love cats. I treasure what other people share with me about their own experiences - in fact, I always want to share it with others but with my own preference for privacy, I respect other people's. It also feels good to know other people experience similar things - like that not ALL cats like boxes - or that cats seem to blame their humans for any condition that is not to their liking (including the weather). I love the heart-warming stories my readers share and I've found I've recovered much of my belief in humanity as a result.

So in sum, I'd love to get all of my posts in book form, but I've also come to appreciate the personal value of the collection I'm creating that is gratifying on solely a personal level - and this is what keeps me going when I have doubts about the value I offer others.

An additional goal: I'd love my Facebook page to be a community where everyone feels free to join the conversation. I love feedback, but seldom get it. Please let me know if you have suggestions or ideas - I want to give readers something they enjoy and I never really know how my posts are received without feedback. 

Why does Momma only have one cat?
My usual excuse is that Bear is enough cat for me - or that the period where I had two cats made everyone miserable - me AND the cats. But I think it goes deeper to my fears of competence in loving and fears of being left out and even fear of losing. My income is very small - very, very small - and having a cat is my ONE indulgence (most of my possessions have been with me since high school, over 20 years ago, I don't care about TV, I'm not big on technology or anything trendy, etc.). And along with that, if something were to go really wrong - like if Bear's tumor had been malignant - I would want to have the funds to do whatever I could for him. If I had more than one cat at a time, I'm not sure I could do that. I REALLY did not take losing Kitty well - I was despondent and wasn't sure I'd be able to love another cat the same way - even though I already had a cuddle bug in Bear. Because as anyone who loves cats knows: you can't ever replace a cat. You can get another 500 cats and never find one that was the same or means exactly to you what the one you lost did. When I felt Bear's tumor, I seriously thought about what would happen if I lost him and my conclusion was that I wouldn't survive. I'd go on living, but my heart would shrivel up and I'd be unable to open my heart to another cat as much as I might want to on some level. I'm scared of losing - so much so that sometimes I don't even give my heart a chance to love. Bear was a big chance. A humongous chance - that changed me so profoundly I'm not sure I could live without a cat anymore. So you see my struggle. When Bear was 1 or 2, I seriously considered a playmate for HIS well-being but my vet said it would either go REALLY well, or REALLY badly, and having just experienced the REALLY badly side, it didn't seem worth it since the whole point would be Bear's well-being. I still think about it occasionally - and question my resolve and my reasons. I'm not expecting this paragraph to make sense to anyone - it's confusing and even contradictory at times, just like my feelings.

Did I miss something you'd like to know? Have a question about Momma Kat or Bear Cat? Feedback? Either comment below, send your request via the contact form on the right side {below the Blog Archive}, or send it by e-mail to mommakatandherbearcat@gmail.com.

2 comments:

  1. I very much enjoyed reading this FAQ page and feel I've learned a lot more about you and Bear Cat. I also feel like I have a lot of catching up to do in your older posts!

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    1. Or you could just wait until the conference and Momma will talk almost nonstop about me! No, no. Catch up. Than Momma will tell you everything anyway :) Well, between listening to you talk about Dexter, Olive and Sophie <3

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