Cats are amazing pets. These cuddly, furry creatures are excellent companions whether you’re an apartment dweller in the city or a farmer living on a 100-acre farm. Ever so independent and easy-to-satisfy, your cat will gladly provide you affection, companionship, and entertainment in exchange for just some water and food. But there’s more. There are lessons and wisdom to be learned from the way a cat lives its life. And here are some of the things that owning a cat might teach you.
1. Live in the moment.
The past is over and the future is yet to come. While your cat has memories and anticipations, she treasures “Now” the most. When she sleeps, she sleeps like she’s never slept for a week. When she eats, she eats–she doesn’t worry about that cringey thing she did August last year. When it’s cold and she snuggles up to you, she simply enjoys the warmth and the time you’re giving her. She’s not thinking about whether she’s getting treats from you tomorrow. Cats have learned to focus on the present because the present is really all we ever have, and so should we.
2. Personal hygiene matters.
A healthy cat tends to look majestic and elegant (when they’re not being derpy). Someone who isn’t a cat owner might think that cats are born that way. But as any cat owner can tell you, behind that feline elegance are hours of commitment every day. Cats spend a big chunk of their waking hours cleaning and grooming themselves (at least five hours according to SPCA), often after eating or before they go to take their naps. This is how they keep the fur neat and maintain their personal hygiene. What can you learn from that? Well the lesson here is that it’s important to keep yourself presentable. And the bare minimums are: make sure you stay clean by showering daily, brush your teeth to prevent bad breath, wear deodorant, and make sure that your hair looks neat.
Cats are gentle and timid in nature. They are also extremely forgiving. If you’re thinking, “maybe they just don’t remember,” well, cats do have pretty good short-term and long-term memories. Once, I accidentally kicked my cat. He was taken aback for a minute but immediately went back to his normal self after I said sorry to him–like nothing ever happened (I did give him his favorite treats and help him massage the spot, but that was after he’s gone back to normal). That’s how forgiving cats can be to the people they love. And we should all learn to be more forgiving of other people’s mistakes and hurtful behaviors. But just as a reminder, forgive doesn’t mean forgetting. Just because you don’t hold grudges doesn’t you should let people walk all over you.
4. Always be curious.
Cats teach us to stay curious and inquisitive. As children, we were curious about everything in the world. Growing up has part of our curiosity fulfilled but the rest discarded, forgotten, ignored. Cats are curious, nosy animals. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote about cats and curiosity. In a way, cats are like children. They have childlike curiosity, albeit more intense and impulsive. Observing your cat’s curiosity in action is an experience that makes you wonder if you should explore new areas and knowledge in life with more zest–and you really should.
5. Practice mindfulness.
No one can say for sure what’s really going in that little feline brain. But they sure look like they’re masters at mindfulness and the concept of Zen. Just look at the way they sit and watch the birds or when they’re sleeping. They look so calm and peaceful. Like they’re one with the universe at that specific moment. And that’s something we all can learn from the Zen master cats.
6. Be independent.
Left to his own device, a cat will just do his own cat stuff. He needs you to do your chores and he appreciates your presence but he doesn’t really need you. Your cat is capable of going to the litter box by himself. When he’s thirsty, he heads to the water bowl and quenches his thirst. If he’s hungry, he cleans out his food bowl. Of course, he does get a little lonely without you around, but soon his attention will be captured by the sparrow who has just shown up by the window.
7. It’s OK not to care.
Our attention is a precious commodity in this ever-connected world. In return for easy access to information, we are constantly distracted by things that may or may not really matter to us. In this regard, there’s much we can learn from a cat’s way of directing her attention. In satisfying her curiosity, she focuses her attention on things that are new and different. She’s also aware of her own basic needs such as food, water, safety, and playtime. In fact, her curiosity probably comes from ensuring her own safety, after all, the unknown could be dangerous. But other than what is essential, your cat is very likely to ignore the rest. In some cases, that may include acknowledging you by just lazily twitching her tail when you call out her name. What’s the take away here? Well, that means it’s OK to not check social media every hour. It’s fine to not return calls from people you don’t care about. And that it’s OK if you decide to stay in instead of going out on a Friday night.
8. Be selective with your affection.
Not everything in this world deserves your attention and more importantly, not everyone deserves your trust and affection. Cats understand that instinctively and that explains their behavior of being selective of their human beings. This is why it’s so rewarding when your cat swipes her face at you or cuddle with you and purrs for you, because it’s their way of saying you’re the chosen one and this love is for you only. You should do the same by selecting the people you trust and love carefully. Cut toxic people from your life. Love only those who deserve your love. And when you do, love sincerely with all your heart.
9. Get plenty of sleep.
It’s no secret that cats sleep a lot. They’re doing this for a good reason–to recharge and preserve their energy. In the wilderness, cats are doing this out of necessity, they need the explosive power and speed to hunt effectively in order to feed themselves to survive. Domestic cats haven’t had enough evolutionary cycles to peel off that instinct. That explains why cats do their “zoomies” at night. It’s their way to burn off excess energy. Want to feel like you have boundless energy? Just make sure you get adequate sleep every day.
10. Find time to relax.
Human productivity has shot up over the past century, but our lives are more hectic than ever. As human beings, there are certain expectations the society has on us. We have obligations like work, school, family, etc. that are legit areas to invest our time and energy in, but don’t forget to allocate time for yourself to relax your mind, body, and soul. I’d suggest that you stay off the phone when you relax but don’t let me stop you if that works best at calming your mind. For complete relaxation, try meditation or just do absolutely nothing–become an observer of yourself and your environment and just pay attention to the things around; you can also observe your cat and cuddle with him. Nothing is more nerve-calming than hearing your cat’s purr.
11. Be flexible.
Aside from being masters of Zen, cats are also yoga experts. If you’re familiar with yoga, you’d know that there is literally a pose named after cats–the cat pose. Although from my observation, cats seem to prefer the cobra pose and a variant of the dolphin pose with the face facing forward. Anyway, a cat’s body is so flexible it’s almost fluid, the way its body fits narrow spaces seems to defy laws of physics. You’ll never get to that level, but you can draw inspiration from your cat and become more flexible both physically and mentally.
12. Remember to have fun.
No matter how hectic your schedule is in the bipedal human world, remember that you too deserve to have some fun. So make some room in your schedule by removing some non-essential events and tasks. For the time slot you have just freed up, fill it with activities you enjoy doing or explore new hobbies that seem interesting. Another great way to have some unadulterated fun is by playing with your kitty. As independent and resilient as your cat can be, he does require playtime and attention from his human to maintain his physical and mental health. This is crucial especially if your cat is a 100% indoor cat. To you, he may be just a cat; but to him, you’re his world.
13. Live minimally.
As a cat owner, I’m sure you have had a similar experience. It’s your cat’s birthday and you’ve spent lavishly on an expensive designer cat bed for him. As he is drawn to his velvety new bed, you make a brief exit to your bedroom to get your phone. All the while cute imagery of your cat rolling on his new bed fills your mind. On your return, however, you find the bed empty. There are traces of your cat’s fur but the cat bed is missing the cat. Then you hear the faint sound of a cat purring. It’s coming from the empty Amazon box where you find it no longer empty–your cat is sitting inside, happy with his new home and feeling grateful for this cool birthday gift you’ve bought him. The moral lesson here is, just like your cat, you don’t need many material things to feel happy and that expensive things aren’t always what you need–find your own version of an empty box.
And these were some of the things we think that you can learn by observing and interacting with your cat. Our list ends here but the actual lessons a cat can teach you go on. Cats aren’t perfect (nothing is) but they’re pretty chill pets especially if you take time to educate and interact with them. Just keep an open and inquisitive mind when you’re teaching your cat because there is wisdom your cat can bestow upon you in return.
References & Inspirations
Here are some of the articles that I have read during when researching for this article. I just thought I want to give a quick shoutout to these awesome articles and their equally awesome authors.
- Understanding Tail Language: What Your Cat is Communicating – Wedgewood Pharmacy
- 10 Life Lessons from My Cat – Medium
- 22 Life Lessons from Cats – Bored Panda
- 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dog – The Everygirl
- 10 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Dogs – Homeo Animal