Animal lovers usually enjoy projecting human motives and traits onto their pets. We pretend we know what they’re thinking—in human terms. Although our cats, dogs, parrots, horses, and guinea pigs are probably chuckling quietly whenever we do that, there is still much to learn—as humans—from the animal world. Animals don’t second guess themselves. They live as they are intended to live and they fulfill their destinies as best they can. That alone is a lesson worth learning.
This week I’m going to share some relationship wisdom—right from the kitty’s mouth. If you fall for a cat lady (or gent) you will be in good shape because their cats teach them some wonderful lessons about how to live authentically and carry out a successful relationship.
As I’ve said on this blog many times before: In order to have the relationship you want, you must know yourself, know what you want and need, and how to get it. Who better to teach us that than a proud feline?
Tricks the not-so-crazy cat lady has learned from her cat/cats:
Trust your intuition. If your cats could explain this, they might say it this way, “You do you.” Have you ever seen a cat look around to see if everyone is okay with her decision to jump on top of the radiator? Um… no. Cats exemplify the self-confidence we all strive for. Just like all cats, everywhere, you do not need the approval of others to do what is right for you.
In a relationship, that ability to “do you” creates balance and equality. When your cat wants to be on your lap, are you obligated to sit there as long as the cat chooses to nap? No. But you might sit there a little longer than you would have, because… love is love. In your relationship with cat or human, you do what you do, not out of “I should” but out of “I want to.” Your choices are fueled by your confidence in yourself and your intuition.
Know your boundaries… which includes not tolerating what is unacceptable. Have you ever tried to give a cat a bath? Viral YouTube videos aside, it is the rare cat who will put up with that nonsense. And believe me, if a cat tolerates a bath, she likes it. Don’t kid yourself. If she didn’t, you’d have a streak of soapy cat-print skid marks all the way into the basement.
Like the cat, be certain of where your yes ends and your no begins. If you are clear about that, neither you nor your partner will ever be unsure, worried, resentful, or anxious about where the boundaries are. Every dog who lives with a cat learns quickly where the feline sibling’s boundaries are. If Fido can figure it out, so can we.
Communicate. In this case: communicate what you want and need. Don’t make your partner guess. How does a cat exemplify this excellent lesson? When kitty is ready to be petted, she makes it obvious enough by hopping onto your lap and pushing her head into your hand. Have you ever—God forbid—overslept and thus neglected to feed the cat at the proper time? How does the poor helpless feline convey what he needs? He probably ends up sitting on your chest and either meowing into your face or bopping your cheek with his paw.
Most cat lovers find these moments endearing. We are proud of our cats for being clever enough to communicate with us—and trusting us enough to do so. We also love it when their needs are met and they immediately show their contentment with a rumbling purr. Believe me, being communicated with (even when you are trying to sleep) beats NOT being communicated with, hands down. If you are never sure what your partner wants, or needs, or is thinking from one day to the next, it can be rather anxiety-producing.
Practice good self-care. Have you ever seen a disheveled cat? Exactly. Or a cat who is exhausted and sleep deprived? Didn’t think so. As every cat person knows, cats take time out of their day to groom themselves and sleep. Blissfully, in a pool of sunlight, until it’s time to stretch luxuriously and stroll into the kitchen looking for a healthy snack.
Have you ever wondered why cats purr when they are injured, sick, or under stress? They are healing themselves. A cat has an innate ability to self-heal and it’s all about the purr. Scientists have figured out that the frequency/vibration of a cat purr (between 20-140 Hz) is therapeutic for healing, pain relief, swelling, muscle repair, mobility etc. (By the way their purrs work on us too!) All this to say: a cat knows how to take care of itself and does not hesitate to do so. Great lesson for all of us! When we are healthy, living in balance, rested, and fit, we are better able to be in relationship with others.
Live in the present. Unlike cats, we have the ability to plan and think ahead to the future. This is good as we can get jobs, pay bills, go on vacation, have fun dinner dates with our friends, and get our car inspected—things cats cannot do. We can also look back at the past. A cat will remember what he needs to remember. Otherwise, forget the future, forget the past—he lives in the now. A cat can force you off the hamster wheel for a moment. For instance, when she lies down across your keyboard demanding a little petting session…. She sees an opportunity now and goes for it. If a ball of fluff or a string magically appears in the cat’s world—suddenly, it’s play time! She doesn’t think, “Oh I have so much to get done today; I should ignore that ball of fluff.”
Cherishing the moment is a beautiful ability when you are in a relationship. No one knows the future, and aside from doing due diligence to life-as-we-know it, why fixate on what has not yet happened… or for that matter on what is already in the past? Live your life by releasing the hold of the past and believing optimistically in tomorrow so that today you can play with a ball of fluff.
So whether or not you are a cat lover, or live with a cat, or consider yourself a Cat Person, you can learn a lot from the people who love cats… and their cats.