Thursday, November 18, 2010
Pets are wonderful companions, but they can be great teachers, too. If you share your home with a pet, you’re probably being taught important life lessons by them every day. Usually, we’re so busy “being human” that we don’t stop to ponder life from our pet’s perspective. We don’t think about the things we could learn from our pets, but I think we should, because animals are wise beings with many messages to impart. Here are just some of the many lessons I’ve learned from living with cats:
1. Take pleasure in the simple things. Cats don’t need fancy toys or lavish homes to be content. Give them a paper bag and a cardboard box, and all is well. We humans don’t really need the latest, greatest gizmo to be happy either, but very often we’re so caught up in the pursuit of “things” that we don’t take time to experience life’s simple pleasures.
2. Don’t hold a grudge. Forgiveness is a hard thing for humans to achieve. Most of us know that being angry and resentful harms our bodies and our spirits, yet we struggle to forgive. I marvel at my cat’s ability to forgive so quickly. Moments after being harshly scolded for spilling my coffee, Rocky comes back for a pet as though nothing happened. If every human could forgive this quickly – just imagine what the world would be like.
3. It’s okay to enjoy your food. My cats treat every meal as though it’s the most incredible food they’ve ever eaten. They don’t care that they get the same flavor of FELIDAE cat food every day – they devour it, and lick the bowl clean. Watching my cats eat has made me realize that food is meant to be savored.
4. Live for today. Cats don’t dwell on what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow – they live in the NOW. My cats have taught me to be more present in each moment, because this is where life happens, not last week or next month.
5. Trust your gut. Humans often try to rationalize a feeling or second-guess their instincts. Cats don’t wonder if that shadowy figure following them down a dark street is a danger to them– their instinct tells them to flee, and they survive because they do it. My cats have taught me to listen to my instinct, because it is always right.
6. If you want something, ask for it. Cats are definitely not shy about making noise to get what they want – they know that a tasty treat, petting or whatever else they desire is more likely to happen if they ask. My cats have taught me that people are not mind readers, and making a request is a better way to let them know I want something.
7. Patience and persistence pays off. When I lived in the country on many acres, I would often observe my cats sitting by a gopher hole for hours. This never ended well for the gopher. My cats have taught me that I need to keep forging ahead with a goal, even when it seems to be taking an inordinately long time to get to the finish line.
8. Teach others how to treat you. If a cat doesn’t like something you’re doing to them, they make their objection known loud and clear. Humans sometimes keep quiet when they’re being mistreated, for many different reasons. My cats have taught me that it’s okay to speak out, and to never apologize for demanding to be treated with dignity and respect.
9. Pounce on every opportunity. I have a remote-controlled mouse toy that my cats love to play with. When it skitters across the floor in front of them, they don’t sit there pondering if they ought to give chase. My cats have taught me that if I see something I want, I need to leap into action immediately, because if I don’t it could get away.
10. Treasure every sunbeam, because you never know when a cloud might roll in.
11. You’re never too old to play. Even senior cats love to play – they might not do it with the gusto of a kitten, but they have fun nonetheless. My cats have made me appreciate the value of playtime, and I won’t stop having fun until I’m six feet under.
Read more articles by Julia Williams