As everyone who knows me will confirm, I love cats! I have spent a lot of time with a lot of cats, including my own cats, other people’s cats, and the cats who were available for adoption when I worked at the Humane Society in Miami during college. Cats, unlike humans, rarely appear to make mistakes. For example, when their aim is off center and they miss jumping onto a high shelf, instead of acting embarrassed, cats usually shake it off, then walk away as if nothing unexpected happened, only to try jumping again later. When cats chase a toy or other prey (inanimate or animate, including an unfortunate lizard), but miss their intended target, they often lie down, give themselves a couple of licks, then act as if they never wanted to attack that toy anyway. In my opinion, cats possess a certain degree of charm and grace lacking in most people. Most people, at least in my experience, make a big deal of their mistakes, failures, and disappointments. Instead of bouncing back from a setback, many people remain “stuck” and unable to move forward. We humans can learn a lot from cats. Invariably, life is going to be full of disappointments and the way we react to them can be life changing. Sometimes, people’s reaction to misfortune says more about them than the misfortune itself. By acting as if a small misfortune is the worst thing that ever happened in our life, we communicate many things about us; first and foremost, we communicate that we are too weak to handle anything with truly important consequences. Instead of the frequent, “woe is me” response to everyday crises, we can learn from cats who, having been unsuccessful in achieving their goal, pause, regroup, then try, try again. So, when the going gets tough, act like the cat!
I kicked our cat the other night. It was an accident, really it was. One thing about many cats, ours included, is that they can be stealthy when they want to be – it’s all about survival. Rex sneaked up behind me when I was packing – an activity he has learned to dislike because it means we will be away from him. I turned around, and there he was. The kick wasn’t too hard, but it was enough that he took off like a rocket and made a graceful leap to the couch where he perched on the armrest looking as if nothing had transpired. A couple pats on his head and all was forgiven and, presumedly, forgotten. It’s hard to tell, though, as a Siamese, he’s pretty talkative, yet I haven’t learned his language. However, in that he was quiet, purring, and not acting afraid, I interpreted his behavior as all was forgiven. The lesson is get over those minor things in life that sometimes get blown out of proportion and move on to better tasks, like begging for dinner or taking a nap. Napping is a way of life for cats – why waste energy? Save it for critical tasks, playing with toys, running around the house, or chasing innocent lizards. To emulate the cat, rest up for the important things in life, at least whenever this is possible. And, lastly, like a cat, be clean. Cats don’t need signs telling them to wash their hands/paws; it comes natural. That cat tongue gets much more use than the average human sink or shower. Cleanliness is a virture!