OK, so I’m obsessed with my cat. Grimoire isn’t even a year old yet and already, I’m not sure how I ever got along without him. As someone who works from home, he’s always around and we hang out a lot.Many times when work or a life problem has be stumped, a purr and a cuddle, or something silly he does has me laughing and back down to earth again.
Sometimes a pet can be man (or woman’s) best friend, in more ways than one. The animals we live with often have a lot of life lessons that they teach us. Here are the top seven that Grimoire teaches me everyday.
- Don’t take life too seriously: No one knows how to be silly quite like a cat. Sometimes a cat’s silliness is just the ticket to get you laughing when something has made you sad. But there’s a more important lesson there too. Cat’s (like all animals) can be very graceful and regal animals, but they’re also really silly and not afraid to act like a kitten no matter how old they are. They don’t care what you think, and they aren’t afraid to look foolish. Probably because they have secret plans for world domination, or you know, whatever. The point is, get out there, don’t be afraid to look foolish and try things. Because you can be regal and also ridiculous, as long as you’re having fun.
- Listen, without talking: I talk to my cat. I’m one of those people. And I don’t expect him to reply. But there is something about talking things out with someone who just listens and doesn’t judge. (And OK, who purrs too) that’s really helpful. The skill is called Active Listening, and it’s something that a lot of people don’t know how to do. A lot of people are just waiting for their turn to talk, and some people have thoughts about how you should feel, what you should have done or what you should do. Active Listening is just being there for the other person and really listening to them. And animals are a master at it.
- Talk without listening: Sometimes Grimoire doesn’t care what you think. He walks around the flat shouting. He wants what he wants. He’ll speak up and miaow til you play with him or feed him. Or if he doesn’t want to be picked up. And you can’t convince him that he doesn’t want what he wants. And you know what? That’s basic assertiveness. It’s OK to be available for hugs all the time, and it’s OK to say no sometimes too. It’s OK to ask for what you want.
- Take regular naps and cuddle breaks: There are loads of times when I have to focus and hit a deadline, and sometimes when a piece of writing or other work isn’t coming together properly it can be really discouraging. When I’m in the middle of my working day, often Grimoire pads over and tries to sit on my keyboard or starts purring and butting me with his head. And he has a point, because stopping for a cuddle or a short nap is often just the thing to come back to your problems refreshed and restored. It’s more than that though. Doctors have long known about he power of touch. People who have cuddles recover more quickly from illnesses and people who have pets have a lower risk of heart disease and other health problems. So, Grim is right. No matter how stressed you are, take regular naps and cuddle breaks.
- Remember to play: No matter how old we are, the power of play and playfulness keeps us young and open minded. Cats stay limber and practice the skills they need for life through play. But they also explore their world and yours, and never lose the curiosity that they had as kittens. As people, we too have to remember to be playful and remain curious. There is always more to learn and know, and getting down on the floor and playing is a wonderful thing.
- Think outside the box. Or inside the box. In other words, get creative. A thing isn’t just a thing. For example, right now Grim has a cardboard box with window holes in it for a play house. He also has a long boa of tinsel which he loves to pretend is a predator or prey depending on his mood. It’s easy to get into a routine and not see the world around us, but cats (and other animals too) have a wonderful way of making anything into a toy and love the present as much as the box that it came in. They remind you that often it’s the little things in life that are the most fun, and that with imagination, anything can be turned to a new use. What possibilities are you missing?
- Meditate and stretch: No one does yoga poses like a cat. They’re incredibly flexible. I find their athletic ability really fascinating. If you’ve spent any time around a cat, you’ll soon be convinced of the power of regular stretching routines. Grim also often sits quietly with his eyes closed and just listens to the world. Cats calm and centre themselves regularly like true little spiritual guru’s, and they often purr to comfort themselves when stressed out. I think the wonders of meditation are pretty well known, and doing it on the regular has a lot of great benefits to your sense of calm and health. But what I love is how easy cats make it look. Just stop, wherever you are in your day, just close your eyes and breathe. Simple.