The Surprising Power Of Cat Therapy
One sunny September afternoon, I stepped into Kačių Kavinė, the award-winning cat café in Vilnius, Lithuania. Immediately, I sensed a change in the atmosphere. Extreme quietness, the kind that made you afraid to make any noise, for fear of upsetting the tranquility of the cat kingdom.
The royal presence of the cats was unmistakable. Fourteen cats were present to be acquainted. Leisurely, I moved around the cozy café, a serene space for interspecies socialization, meeting and greeting every one of the feline inhabitants. During my interspecies interaction, I noticed that the cats were very much the boss of the café, and me the human was their humbled guest. There was no warm or elaborate welcome, but their lazy and playful demeanor clearly suggested a sense of inclusiveness, as they readily and tenderly embraced me without any trace of rejection or discrimination. A sense of solace and belonging gently enveloped me. That was their way of welcoming me into their home, a place for the tired soul.
The longer I stayed at the café, the more I relaxed. My stubborn muscular tension gradually melted away. At the same time, more and more customers poured into the cat kingdom. The increase in human guests did not in any way disturb the serenity of the café. As I continued to marvel at the ethereal quality of the space, I began to realize that the simple beingness of the cats was what made the ambiance so remarkably serene. And by simply being in that powerful feline serenity was very therapeutic.
Learning to De-Stress Through Cats
Gradually, I noticed other nuances in the ambiance. The underlying power structure between the cats and their surroundings was quite different than that in the most domestic environment. In the café, the cats were the boss, the center of their universe, the master of their own home. With that feline mentality, the cats fully externalized their true self, their majestic quality. As they were being fully themselves, I too was becoming more myself—a very healing shift.
Lying on the couch next to the cushion with a cat face, somnolence stealthily overcame me. My parasympathetic nervous system was activated by the coziness and peacefulness of the cat kingdom, whose effect was akin to that of meditation, a practice of consciously switching a person’s nervous system into a parasympathetic mode to begin a series of bodily repair and rejuvenation.
The deeper we shift into that mode, the state of being, the more our body becomes nourished and nurtured. Healing is the shift toward our natural state of being, which precedes any attempt at doing. So next time when you need to de-stress but don’t want to meditate, try finding a kitty!
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