If you have any four-legged friends in your home, these lessons may be relatable to you.
Thanksgiving may have come and gone, but if there’s one thing I’m grateful for till my dying day, it’s the opportunity to live with and love pets. I used to joke that I was raised by cats. You see, I’ve had at least one furry friend in my home throughout my life. At one point, there were six cats running around the place! But how did my house end up being a haven for fluffy companions? I have the cat distribution system to thank for.
You know the phrase, “You don’t adopt cats, they adopt you”? That’s exactly what happened with most of my pets. They just appeared at the doorstep one day, sauntered into my home, and never left. I’ve also had the privilege of having one cat giving birth twice in my wardrobe. It was a mess, but witnessing cats being born in your home is a priceless experience. Living with cats all these years has taught me many invaluable lessons which I still carry with me.
Lessons learnt from living with cats
1. With great power comes great responsibility
This is a no-brainer. Your pets will rely on you for many things: feeding times, companionship, visits to the vet, and more. You must ensure your four-legged friends are fed well and on the dot, their litters are fresh and clean, and they get their mandatory vaccinations.
Think of it as another being to take care of besides yourself. You’re a “pawrent”, if you will. Controversial opinion here, but I can’t stand that term. I refer to my cats as my “siblings” instead of my “children”. And why is that? Well, because age-wise, they’re seven years older than me. Everyone knows cat math!
Responsibility also goes beyond the above-mentioned. What if your pet grows lonely because of your erratic work schedule? Do you know what to do when your cat is living its last days on earth? Can you really bear to let your furry friend go because you’re unable to care for it anymore? These are some reasons you must mull over when you have a pet. And remember: your decisions will affect both of you, so think wisely.
2. What’s wrong with being confident?
That’s my biggest takeaway from living with cats, bar none. Even the smallest feline exudes a level of confidence. So, what does that tell us? It’s not about the size; ultimately, it’s how you carry yourself. Standing tall and proud sends a message to the world that you’re comfortable in your own skin. Whenever I look at my pets, they remind me to always be bold and unapologetic.
You may not realise it, but when you’re confident, you’re able to attract all the things you want. Presenting a good image and impression to everyone you meet? That’s your self-assurance playing a major role. Everyone clinging on to every word you utter? Yup, that’s confidence again. You can thank your tenacity – and your cat – for all that.
3. You learn a great deal about empathy
I can still remember this as if it was just yesterday… I had just broken up with my ex and was crying profusely. It didn’t help that it was close to the Hari Raya season, and being single during a festive season wasn’t what I expected. My cats probably sensed my melancholia and were constantly checking in on me. They’d meow to be let into my room and snuggle close to me until there were no tears left to cry. That’s not to say I couldn’t (and didn’t) confide in my beloved humans. But sometimes, you just want to let the waterworks fall without having to explain yourself.
Felines are also adept at reading the room. They can sense if someone’s nervous or not feeling good, and they’ll do their best to comfort that person. Remember those stories of cats staying close to dying folks? It drives home to the point that no one deserves to die alone.
What’s the lesson to learn from cats? Be aware of your surroundings. Read the room and see if everyone’s alright. Check in privately with those who aren’t feeling super, and see what you can do. Think of yourself like a feline, in this case. Even if you can’t take on more or be of much help, sometimes everyone just needs a listening ear.
4. Loving a pet is unconditional
Everyone knows cats are temperamental creatures. One minute, they’re clamouring to cuddle up with you. Moments later, they decide they’ve had enough and quietly – or noisily, depending on your cat – sashay away. Regardless of their behaviour, your cats love you, warts and all. Who else will bother listening to you rant about your loved ones without judgment?
When I participated in a tarot reading sesh with our Oracle previously, she conveyed a message from my furry friends on the rainbow bridge. “They’re saying you can talk to them whenever you want; they’re here to listen,” she said. I teared up even more after hearing that.
On that note, the unconditional love you have for your pet – and vice versa – goes on even after death. Cue Celine Dion’s maudlin Titanic theme song. I think of my cats who have passed on occasionally, especially when I see their photos on my social media accounts. I can feel their furs on my face and smell their scents up my nose, as if I’m still cuddling with them.
5. Till death do us part
Now, this has to be said: your pets will eventually leave you. Despite having nine lives, felines have a finite amount of time on earth. Did you know the average lifespan of a domesticated cat is around 15 years? It’s not easy to watch someone slip away from you.
The first time it happened, I sobbed until my eyes were red and swollen. It took some time before I eventually made peace with my cat’s passing. Death claimed more cats in our household, and whenever it swung by, I told myself it was the way of life. Afterwards, I’d tell my dying friends I love them and that they shouldn’t have to cling to their lives any longer.
Does it still hurt? Of course, every single time. Death is a bittersweet feeling. But who knows, we may meet each other again eventually.
6. It’s all about living in the moment
It’s a misconception that a cat’s life only revolves around eating and sleeping. Sure, they sleep up to 15 hours a day, which is a great reminder to us humans that we should rest when we’re tired. This is one thing I’m learning to get used to, particularly given that both our Oracle and my recent aura reading experience have told me to get more sleep. Oops.
Felines also do a lot of stretches and enjoy basking in the sun, which are two things we should be doing more of. Don’t stay in one position for too long. Take a break by doing some exercises indoors or going for a walk.
Other important lessons I’ve gleaned from my cats are to communicate my feelings and boundaries, and never to hold grudges. Admittedly, those are things I’m still working on too. How do the furballs do it? They’ll let you know when they’re done with you. It’s as simple as walking away, or hissing and scratching if you don’t get the message. If the latter happens, you just let them be; after a while, they’re back to being lovey-dovey with you again.
Who knew you could gain many lessons from cats? If you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to wrap up and go lie down with my cat. It’s been some time (aka a few minutes ago) since I last saw them, you know.