One of the most precious things about being a pet owner is understanding the value and experiencing unconditional love of your pet. Whether you have no makeup on, or have love handles or even a bad hair day your pet is not judging you. They just love you just the way you are. They give with no expectation and a purr in their throat or with a wag of their tail. They are just content. Reflecting on my time raising my two cats Precious and Dusty, from beginning to the last days of their lives, I’ve learned some life lessons along the way anyone can relate to. With that said, here are 10 life lessons my cats taught me.
One thing my cat Dusty showed me is her patience always paid off. In the early mornings before the sun rose and while I was still asleep, she would scratch at the door for breakfast. She was hungry. I’d shush her away to let me sleep. At times if the door was ajar she’s push right through and hop on the bed and knead away at my arm for me to wake up. After seeing that didn’t work, she just laid beside me close, patiently waiting until I woke up. I guarantee you she’d be waiting at least an hour or so. The lesson learned here is even though you want immediate gratification, you don’t always get what you want when you want, so be patient and things will fall into place.
Every once in a while take a chance and JUMP.
One of the fondest memories I had was watching my cats at play and leisure around the house. As a cat owner we all know how well our cats can jump from various heights always finding a way to land upright on their feet. But once in a while, even they misjudge the distance and lose their footing or balance. Ninety nine percent of the time my cats landed on their feet but it was those few times where they would be off and fall over or take a misstep which in the moment is hilarious. But the lesson I learned here is in life just take a chance and go for it. Do you have an ambition or dream you want to try but are too scared to fail? Try it anyway! So what if you fall down, you get back up and try again. At least you took that chance in life and tried.
Just being there counts
This is a universal message for everyone. Sometimes when times get tough or you are going through a hellish ordeal personally or even professionally at work, your pet knows you inside and out. I can remember many occasion when my cats would be there to comfort me. Whether I was having an allergic reaction to nuts and had a break out in hives and a fever or crying my eyes out or just sick with a cold, there were right there. My cats would hop up on the bed beside me to let me know they were right there by my side. No they cannot get water or put covers on me, but just being there purring next to me helps soothe the soul. Just being there as a show of support is enough.
We are all wonderfully and beautifully made.
I love cats. It’s no secret. What I also love about cats (and dogs) is the variety of breeds that exist. The same manner that people come in all shapes, sizes and skin tones, our pets do too. I just find it remarkable the beauty in nature and God’s creatures on this Earth. I remember how scrawny my youngest cat Dusty was as a kitten and she grew up to be quite pretty with her Calico and Siamese mixed pattern on her shiny coat. To witness her growth and transformation from being a super scared insecure kitten into a confident inquisitive cat was quite remarkable. Her sweet and kind disposition really transcended to the outside. The beauty that is within really does emit to the outer shell of our being.
As a pet owner that understood the magnitude of issues domesticated cats and dogs face daily, I knew as a young adult the significance of people adopting from shelters and also spay and neutering their pets in an effort to reduce pet overpopulation. I’ve raised two cats for over twenty years collectively and what I have learned is that these cats are grateful. In particular, Dusty was very grateful. I actually got her from 2 kids selling kittens in a box in front of a supermarket. I paid $5 and took her off the street stoop and brought her home. I don’t know what kind of home she was living in as a little kitten but I think it may have been abusive because of her frightened demeanor anytime I would go to reach for her , she tucked her head down. Luckily, with enough food, love and attention over time she grew to become more confident and outgoing. Knowing where she came from to where she was in present day was a testimony to growth and gratitude. I know she was grateful to be out of a poor environment and I too was grateful as her guardian and cat mom to help and give lots of hugs and love to her.
Less = More
One helpful tip I witnessed for 13 years was watching how my youngest cat Dusty would eat just a little bit and walk away. She maintained her healthy weight for 13 .5 years. She was never overweight or had any arthritis issues. I could learn a lesson from her. Eat until your full but do not overdo it. Have enough food to be satisfied and be able to walk away and play. This is yet another life lesson to live by. Have food to live, but do not live for food.
Sleep is precious
Another pastime I had since long forgot about since my high school days is the joy in taking a nap and getting proper rest. With adult responsibilities, stress, and everyday life it’s easy to lose track of time and get to bed very late. Over time this catches up with you and then fatigue sets in. Your brain can become foggy or you may be a little more forgetful than normal or even experience some fluctuations in weight. Both Precious and Dusty showed me in their daily lives, there is always time for a nap. As a matter of fact, as a cat, that’s mandatory! Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. It’s essential. Science is showing us that stress kills and exercise is beneficial for the body. Proper adequate sleep is essential to overall wellness as well. It’s when we sleep our cells replenish themselves and our body gets a chance to recharge and reboot.
Playtime = Food for the soul
With the stresses of life and work life balance it’s easy to get into the mode of work, go home, watch TV, sleep, and repeat all week long. If you do too much it can lead to burnout. Moreover, doing the same routine day in and day out gets monotonous and exhausting. It does nothing to feed that inner passion for creativity and joy. Dusty and Precious showed me that anytime is a good time for playtime and fun. It does not even have to involve expensive toys either. Playing with newspaper crumbled up in puffs in a box could keep them entertained for hours. The point here is take time at least once a month, if not more, to take part in things you enjoy or used to do. I used to love to love art class and listen to music as a kid. Within the last few months I discovered Paint Nite classes for adults and I instantly fell in love. It’s like I reverted to my childhood days of things I enjoyed. It was soothing, relaxing and fun to me. I also have gotten a chance to take weekend getaways with my husband a few times each year. These trips are not extravagant but perfect way to have fun, relax and enjoy a new environment or city to explore we never would see normally. We always enjoy ourselves, learn something new and the experience feeds our soul for we enjoy traveling. You only live once.
Live in the moment…enjoy the quiet moments
Have you ever seen a cat bathe in the sunlight tummy side up? It is one of those times when you know they are most vulnerable yet happy. With the fast pace of life, work and kids, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. Seeing my cats bask in the sun light reminded me how to enjoy the little things. Enjoy the sun, blue skies and warmth of the sun. It’s natural Vitamin D and healthy for you in moderation. Take a walk outside, breathe that fresh air and take some quiet time. It’s summertime so it’s the perfect time to take a book and read, people watch or just sunbathe as the kitties do.
Last but not lease, my cats showed me unconditional love. This is what we all as human beings can strive to practice every day. My cats did not care if I had make up on, dressed in tide dyed clothes and wore flip-flops every day. They just were a constant show of support and love every day, all day. Of course, they had their days of being moody or days where they wanted to be left alone, but regardless they were always present, lived in the moment, and eager to share the love demonstrated with a head butt and a purr. They showed me we are in this journey called life together. The lesson of LOVE is the greatest lesson we share.