It is not uncommon for a pet owner to look at their seemingly stress-free pet as he lounges on the sofa and think, “Man, you really do live the good life.” Though they may have simpler existences than that of humans, there are still principles that we can gain from observing a cat’s lifestyles and choices. Cats were once worshiped as omniscient gods whose wisdom was infinite. While we can hardly deign to give them half that credit, there is no denying that the feline-approach to life may have some hidden truths we can still benefit from.
1. Take a leap of faith. Cats pretty much always LEAP even when the goal looks too far or seems a long shot. The precision of their pupils allow felines to gauge the distance and more accurately assess if the will be able to cover the distance. While cats may have spinal flexibility that we do not, their willingness to try should inspire us to do the same. Don’t be afraid to aim high; even if the worst happens, perhaps you will just land on your feet!
2. Independence is healthy. Cats are the perfect blend of independence and autonomy while still being affection-needy. They are not co-dependent creatures, but are content to entertain themselves. They eat when they need to, know where to find the restroom, and can figure out how toys and obstacles work all by themselves. You don’t ever see a cat looking to another cat to solve its problems. While community is important for humans, too often we rely on others to do for us what we can tackle ourselves.
3. Focus is an enormous part of success. It is very difficult to distract a cat if he is in hunt-mode, or is on a mission. If a cat is given something to focus on that is worth his attention (such as a window outside, a fish tank, a laser light, or a moving toy) he will stare at it intently, body poised and directed toward whatever the object might be. Cats do not relent until they have pounced on the item, and will leap repeatedly with endless determination after the laser light they are trying to capture. Even if the outcome is disappointing (like trying to grab a wiggly, immaterial green dot!), we would do well to mimic the focus cats direct toward their goals.
4. If you need something from someone, speak up! A lot of the time in relationships or work environments, people tend to let life and circumstances happen TO them, rather than taking an active stance. If a cat needs food, or wants to be let out, he doesn’t hesitate to communicate it. That is an applicable principle for us too.
5. Find the balance between affirmation from others, and self-worth. It is healthy to expect attention and affirmation from your loved ones. Cats will mew for attention, rub against their owner’s legs, and put their heads out to be patted. They feel entitled to a certain amount of attention from their humans, and they make sure they get it. Similarly, they are also good about getting quality time to focus on themselves. They groom daily, stretch, practice clawing to keep their paws intact. Cats are well balanced at connecting physically with their humans, while getting their alone time. This is a great lesson for us to hug our spouses, kids and friends, but also leave time to get our hair done, or pay for that hour-long Swedish massage.
6. Naps are important. (Anyone had a cat nap in the sunshine? It’s heavenly!) Cats break up their day between activity, high-output playing, eating, exploring, and taking naps. We humans tend to steam-roll through our day without really pausing to just sip a tranquil cup of coffee (while doing nothing else), or going for a short walk and enjoying the breeze. We crank out one assignment to the next, fill our days with meetings, and even use our breaks to catch up on social media, rather than “resting” from it all. Next time you go on lunch break, leave your phone behind, and enjoy a peaceful, unrushed moment outside.
7. Rest should be a top priority. Cats sleep from 16-18 hours a day. While humans cannot afford to devote that same amount of time to sleep, and on busy days often it is our sleep which goes right out the window. Cats do not even have a concept for “burning the candle at both ends.” What humans consider to be an unavoidable delay (eating, sleeping, etc. –the things which slow us down!), cats regard as a priority. We should make sure to get our complete REM cycles 8 hours-a-night too!
8. Perspective is everything. Ever notice that cats love to be up high, hidden safely away where they can survey everything? Sometimes people get so landlocked that we lose the broader perspective of what is going on in our lives and in the world around us. So, when things start to feel overwhelming, back up from your immediate circumstances and get a little perspective.