I’ve been a cat lover for as long as I can remember, and I’ve discovered how amazing life with (at least) one cat could be since I was a child. I am and I will always be fascinated by the way they walk, their tiny paws, their ears, and their expressivity.
But living with cats has also taught me a lot of things, some of them pretty unexpected, and their companionship proved itself to be making a difference countless times already. So here it is, the list of the most important things I’ve learned from my cats so far.
- You’re an individual.
The first thing I’ve ever learned about cats was that they’re not something, they are someone. Someone with clear preferences when it comes to sleep, food, play, and affection. Someone with affinities (or lack of) when it comes to other people or pets. Each cat I’ve ever met had her own individuality and did its best to show you that it won’t allow you to treat her inappropriately.
- There’s no shame in having boundaries.
Every cat I know has limits, and some very clearly marked ones. She won’t accept your attention anytime you want to, just because you want to cuddle at that very moment. A cat needs her private space and time, and won’t let you cross those limits. This is how I’ve learned to stay aware of other’s limitations while trying my best to accept mine.
- Stay honest.
Yes, a cat has a strong personality, enjoys a good life, and loves to be respected. But it does all these things naturally, without pretending. A cat won’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. They are only being themselves, regardless of our wishes or opinions.
- Relaxation must be part of the daily routine.
As I was saying, a cat loves having a good life. And a good life means, from the feline point of view, a routine mixing playtime, sunbathing, walkarounds, and some good naps. Cats will live slowly, with grace and no hurry, finding something worth exploring even in the most ordinary places, and this is by far one of the most important things I have learned from them: that, no matter what, there has to be a little time for relaxing. That time goes by regardless if you’re worrying or choosing to take your mind off that thing that nags you and relax for a while.
- Empathy is a shortcut that never gets old.
You can do a lot of things to a cat, but hiding your real feelings from it isn’t one of them. Cats simply know when something is going on with their human companion, even if you feel sick, have pains or you’re just having a bad day. They know and they act like it. A cat will come to you on your bad days and will just jump into your lap, stare at you until you cuddle them. And then, they purr, and things happen. It was in my darkest times when my feline friends have given me the most efficient help: they just stood with me until the pain faded away. Patiently, they have been there day after day, months in a row.
Because cats are, more than any other animals, capable of empathy. They understand the value of privacy, but they also understand that bad days are not meant to be transited by oneself. And only in times of mental struggle we, their humans, understand the value of the unconditional love that we’re constantly receiving from them.
I have long ago lost count of the moments when I’ve looked at my cats sitting peacefully by my side and asked myself What if I just take everything easier? before getting the courage needed to try again one more time.
These are some of the most important things my gracious friends taught me, and some of the things I will be the most grateful for. But for the rest of the little things that fill up the days and make them prettier, I will remain a cat mom, knowing that love can be unconditional, but never the trust.