Our cats celebrated their 8th birthday in May. They’ve brought a ton of joy into our lives and some valuable lessons over the years.
Before I get into what lessons they’ve taught us, allow me a little moment to be a proud cat Mum!
Maksim & Anushka are pure-bred Russian Blues and are litter-mates, brother & sister. They’ve been with us since they were 17 weeks old. We chose them as our fur-babies, as I was already sure that I didn’t want to have children. (That is a whole other story for another time)
In the past we’ve had rescue cats. I am a firm supporter of adopting rescues but I also support buying animals from registered breeders as they have stringent standards on de-sexing them. I’m not cool with people allowing their pets roam around, especially if they are non-neutered. We keep our cats within our property and they get supervised outside time and are happy hunting soft toys rather than wildlife. So now you know my position on that…but I digress!
Anyway…what occurred to me about our cats is that their lifestyle is more informed by them than us. Other than us feeding them at semi-regular times they do their own thing & march to the beat of their own drum.
Way down deep, we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them. – Jim Davis (creator of Garfield)
Let’s dig a bit deeper on what I noticed and how that can apply to our own lives.
Lesson 1: Do what you like to do not what others expect you to
Cats don’t always come when you call, when they do, it’s not because you mastered it…but because they felt like it. It’s really hard to convince them to do something they don’t want to. They hold their ground and you need to offer them a pretty good alternative before they’ll change their mind.
Cats are very in tune with their needs and wants. They don’t like to sacrifice them either. Neither should we.
When considering an invitation or a request, we should check in with our inner compass.
I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Early on in my journey to simplify I would often cave in or try to justify myself. Now I protect what is sacred to me: My health and my home life.
This doesn’t mean I don’t do things for others, but I do them because I want to, not because I have to.
Lesson 2: Work to your own schedule in line with your energy
Cats have their own pace.
There is a rhythm to their energy & activities.
They sleep a lot, that’s true. They like their regular feeding times & their activity level reflects that. They also have sudden bursts of intense activity. Maksim & Anushka love to chase each other around the house around 8.30pm every night.
Our energy isn’t metered out in even measures either. I now listen to my body much more than I used to.
I’m still not a morning person despite having to get up early to beat the traffic. My work days have a fairly set structure but I still try to choose to work on tasks & projects in line with how I’m feeling.
I find I write best around the middle of the day into early evening, whether that’s writing at work or at home.
Lesson 3: Regularly & openly show your affection to those you love
Cats love to cuddle up on your lap, smooch by your leg and lick your hand. It’s the way they tell you they love you (or want food).
I’ve never been particularly demonstrative with my affection. We aren’t big huggers in my family of origin. I remember it was normal to just shake my Granddad’s hand.
Before I slowed down, I was too tired and in my own little world, so shows of affection were dropped and opportunities to tell people I loved them were missed. Making time for deep conversations were almost non existent.
Not any more. Hugs & kisses are super important.
Lesson 4: Downtime is a necessity not a luxury
Snoozing is an Olympic event for cats. They can definitely sleep for their country. I would guess that most of us like our sleep as much as cats do, we just don’t necessarily prioritise to the same degree they do. Cats will choose to skip on others things rather than miss snoozing. We, on the other hand will try to manage on a little as we can get by on.
There is a stack of research on the benefits of sleep. Getting enough rest is essential for us to heal. We need 8 to 9 hours a day to operate at full effectiveness. It increases our resilience levels so we can cope better when the going gets tough.
Lesson 5: Being choosy about your food is not a bad thing
Our cats are super fussy. To the point that they can separate the biscuits out they do like from the ones they don’t with their noses or paws. They like certain brands over others, even though they can’t read the labels. They also know fresh is best.
I used to think it was annoying to ask to modify an order in a restaurant and I would never do it. Then 5 years I got diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, and it became necessary. Armed with the knowledge about what causes me pain I now speak up about it. I monitor my diet fairly carefully and this manages my symptoms well.
It’s totally worth it to be a fussy clean eater. My body is now treated more like a temple.
My relationships with my cats has saved me from a deadly, pervasive ignorance. —William S. Burroughs
I am thankful everyday for having Maksim & Anushka in my life. I am even more thankful for the lessons they have bestowed.
From my heart to yours,