I’ve had the world’s best dog [don’t we all?] for nine years and there was not a soul I’d known who was more loving and devoted to our family than he was. He had vowed “till death do us apart” and was true to his unspoken words until the end.
So when I adopted a cat later, I couldn’t help but compare the two of them. Cats are born with certain qualities. I had little experience with them until I got her, but as she stayed with us, I started to understand her. I also started to appreciate her qualities that we could learn a lot from. Here are some that I thought were apparent:
Never underestimate your size:
She is as light as a bunch of feathers and as tiny as our feet. But she is incredibly swift, has sharp eyes and is stealthy. If you piss her off she’ll sink her teeth into your flesh, enough to make you howl in pain.
If she’s hungry in the middle of the night, she will slide inside your blanket and lick your leg, then nibble your skin and then bite it with all her might. Maybe that is why my family dumps her in my room [or wherever I sleep] before they scuttle to their respective rooms and lock their doors with triple bolts.
And you can’t leave her out of the room to enjoy a good night’s sleep. She won’t let you, and she will meow your ears off until you let her in.
Why care what others think of you when you think you’re awesome:
She doesn’t give a damn about what you think of her. She wont entertain you if she’s not in the mood. And when she’s in the mood, she’ll let you entertain her—pet her, give her love, feed her, things like that.
When she thinks you’ve crossed a line, she will give you a bite and before you can examine your wound, she’ll hope off and look for the next thing to play. You curse her? You say she’s mean? Well, not her problem. She knows you’ll come around. All she has to do is widen her pretty eyes and you’re a puddle at her feet.
And she truly believe her kind is a God’s gift to humankind. And she’ll make sure you never forget that.
Unlike my dog, my cat will usually make sure she’s safe first before she tries and saves any of us.
She is unafraid. She can climb trees without breaking a sweat. She can also drop all our precious glass wares on the floor with one swipe and without being apologetic about it. Or about anything else, for that matter.
She was born with table and toilet manners. When we are hungry, we attack the food in front of us and never really care what we are gobbling, how it tastes or if it’s even fresh until we are half full and realize the smell was rather stale, and the taste weirder than it should be.
In her case though, when she’s hungry she’ll rub herself against your leg, follow you quietly and unless you’re keenly listening you wont even hear her gentle, almost melodic “meows”. When you do finally place a bowl of milk in front of her, she’ll first smell it, see if its worth digesting, then squat down on all fours, lean forward so only her mouth is inside the bowl, and only let her tongue touch the milk. She will pause after every two or three sips, gulp it and then dive in for another lick. I mean; wow. Patience.
And she always has this elegant, sophisticated way of sitting—curling her front paws in a heart shape and curling her tail around her body. Oh, that pose. I have never seen a human that graceful, let alone a cat.
Lets be honest here. My cat doesn’t really need us. Half the time she doesn’t even want us around. It’s her innate sense of independence that gives her kind a bad name of being selfish. But I think this is an incredibly valuable lesson. Nobody likes a pushover, a person who is overly dependent on you, especially emotionally, right?
Have a life, have self respect—that’s all she’s trying to teach.
That also makes things a lot easier for us. With dogs, they are so attached to you [and you to them] that they can’t bear to stay away from you for longer than five minutes. They have to see you to feel they’re not alone, abandoned and unloved. And that is adorable, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Leaving your dog home for five minutes feels like five hours and leaves you feeling terribly anxious.
While my cat did make me anxious when I left her home for almost half a day when she was too young to go out, she was unfazed when I returned. I almost died crying, cuddling her and saying sorry over and over again, promising to never leave her for so long and meaning it, kissing her and petting her—while she sat on my lap, contentedly eating the fish cat food that I’d bought for her as a pathetic compensation.
Now all she does is roam in the outside world for days at a stretch and come home when she’s hungry or sleepy.
No matter where you are, CLIMB:
She’s an ideal motivator to turn to when you feel low in your life.
No matter where she’s standing, her gaze is always trailed up, towards the sky. She’s always looking for ways to get to the top of things—top of the bed, drawer, inside the cupboard, over the bed, on top of that cupboard, over the wardrobe that almost touches the ceiling or the top on the tree, car etc. when she’s outside. And if you try to get her down, she’ll slap your hand and move back, away from you.
But all she means to teach us is no matter where you are in life, you should strive to climb up and keep elevating yourself.
Most people are dog people; I’m one of them. But there’s just something about cats that make you want to love them. They might only be devoted to you because you feed them, unlike dogs, but they’re here to stay. And the worst part is, they know you know that.