7 Life Lessons To Learn From Your Cat
My boyfriend got me a cat for Valentine’s Day a few months after we started dating. We had stepped into the pet store that February evening on a whim. A miserable, skinny grey cat was curled up and peering out from the front of the shop. We tapped on the door of her cage. The kitty craned her neck back to lock her amber eyes with me, as if to say: “Save Me!” Both kitty and I were a little frozen during the car ride home. All the pet store knew about our new cat was that she had been found wandering at a dumpster and subsequently picked up by animal control.
The anxiety-prone, worrywart side of me was full of questions: Was I ready to be a cat mom? What did I know about keeping a cat as a pet? What if she got sick? Years later, I’m happy to share the following lessons that cats teach us when it comes to life and happiness.
1) Some spontaneity in life is good
My boyfriend knew that I’ve always liked cats, which made the transition towards being a cat parent easier and more meaningful. I may never have gotten a cat on my own otherwise. Are you a planner who comes up with pros and cons lists to try and figure out when’s the exact right time to do something? Leaving room for a bit of spontaneity keeps life fun and refreshing, so long as the activity or event doesn’t cross any of your boundaries.
2) It’s okay to say ‘no’
Speaking of boundaries, my cat (nicknamed “Breadloaf”) makes it very clear that she does not like certain things.
Her list of “no’s” includes:
- Certain brands of canned wet food
- Noisy and unruly behavior that startles her
- Going for road trips
- Being overstimulated when she wants to be left alone
It can be very satisfying and educational to observe how a cat balances alone time with social time, especially if you have an introverted temperament. Watching it in action reminds you that it’s all right to say “no” to things that drain you or make you feel uncomfortable.
Cats do whatever they like. Keep this in mind because saying “no” to something allows you to say “yes” to things that truly resonate with you.
3) Having a routine
Do you struggle with maintaining a regular routine? Without a routine, life gets even more hectic and chaotic if you try and do too much on a daily basis. Watch how a cat goes about their daily routine to pick up some valuable tips. Lots of time is dedicated towards grooming and resting. My cat has morning and nighttime routines that I’ve grown accustomed to, and which over time have synced with my own day and night routines. Having a routine can help you be happier and more productive as you have a better idea of how you’re managing your time.
4) Schedule time for rest and relaxation
Every cat owner knows that cats love to do one thing, and that is sleep! On the contrary, it’s hard for ambitious go-getters to unwind and relax at times. If you have this type of personality, you feel guilty or like you’re not effectively using your time if it doesn’t support your dreams or goals. But a quick glance at a sleeping kitty is an immediate reminder of the importance of slowing down. Did you know that sleeping five or fewer hours per night might increase mortality risk by as much as 15 percent? Yep, that’s how vital rest and relaxation are. No more excuses for postponing that revitalizing beauty sleep.
5) Exercise, stretch, and stay flexible
If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking that you’re doomed to a lifetime of stiff muscles, know that flexibility is something that you can train your body to regain. I used to assume that flexibility was a perishable skill that was hard to regain once someone was out of their childhood or teenage years. However, watching my cat effortlessly stretching multiple times throughout the day kept me motivated to try and regain some flexibility myself. I committed myself to performing a daily Sun Salutation, a simple yoga sequence that I had always felt drawn to from the first time I learned about it.
I also scoured YouTube for beginner videos to do the splits and eventually found one that I liked. The last time I had been able to do the splits was when I was a child. Whether or not I would succeed this time around, I was determined to at least try and do the beginner splits video almost daily for several months. To my great joy and amazement, I made a bit of progress every single month. My hamstrings feel much better now and I feel more confident with having a plan to combat the adverse physical effects of having a deskbound job.
6) Show affection
Cuddling a cat is an immensely comforting bonding experience. A study conducted by Washington State University scientists even found that cuddling and stroking a dog or cat for just a few minutes can reduce cortisol levels. This show of affection is a reminder to us on the powerful effects of a comforting touch. Love, trust, and a whole lot more can be expressed simply through touch. So even if you’re tired or not feeling your best, remember how much a touch can convey between you and your loved ones.
Last but not least, a cat will teach you motivation. I drink a lot of water throughout the day from a large mug with the words:
“I work hard so my CAT will have a better life.”
My cat might sometimes be lazy or naughty, but I enjoy doing whatever I can to give my cat a better life, after all the joy and companionship she’s brought to mine. May that motivation spill over into all other areas of your life.
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