Rarely does a day go by when I don’t think about how grateful I am to have three wise and wonderful cats in my life, and for all the awesome, silly and precious felines who paved the way for my current four-legged overlords to have lives that are the envy of some of my human friends. February is Cat Appreciation Month, so this is a great time for me to share some of the reasons I appreciate my cats.
Like most children, I didn’t think much about nurturing others … until the day our family cat, Iris, trusted me to save the life of one of her kittens. From that day on, the ability to care for and protect small, helpless creatures has been a part of who I am. Also, who doesn’t love kittens?
Years ago, I had a job that involved ridiculous stress levels, inhumanely long hours and office bullies. All this crap triggered some of my own personal demons and left me in a pretty awful state of mind. The only thing that salvaged this job at all was the fact that I met one of my cats thanks to one of my co-workers. To this day, I still think, "Yup, that job really friggin’ sucked, but if I hadn’t worked there I never would have met Thomas."
It wasn’t until I spent three brutally cold Maine winters in a poorly insulated apartment, whose only source of heat was a propane heater with just about enough power to warm a closet, that I understood just how fortunate I am to have three purring heating pads.
For the past eight years, I’ve been blessed with at least one cat who loves to pull goofy antics and give me silly looks. I just can’t stay angry or sad when my goofball kitty, Bella, is flailing around after a toy or doing jiujitsu moves on the cat tree.
If there’s anything a cat knows very well, it’s that an appropriate amount of sleep is crucial to well-being. It took living with cats for my whole life to figure this out, and even to this day I sometimes fail at good "sleep hygiene," so to speak. But my cats are always there to remind me that bed is good.
Some things about living with cats are gut-wrenchingly difficult, and one of these is knowing that you’re almost certain to outlive your feline companions. Sometimes this lesson comes way too hard and fast, like it did for me when my six-year-old Dahlia died of cancer: It was about two weeks from the first emergency vet trip to the last, and the whole experience left me reeling for months.
When I brought Kissy into my home, she was very aggressive with my other cats, but I quickly figured out that her aggression was due to fear. I spent several months working with her and my other cats, using flower essences, massage and Reiki. It seemed like for every step forward, there was at least one step back, until one day I came out of my office to find Thomas and Kissy, between whom the most vicious battles had raged, snuggled together on the couch. I took this photo through tears of joy.
If it hadn’t been for my lifelong love of cats and a series of fortunate connections with other well-educated cat lovers, I never would have been inspired to learn everything I could about them. If I hadn’t bought and every book on cat health and behavior I found, I wouldn’t have thought to combine my knowledge of cats with my knowledge of website development to create Paws and Effect.
What do you appreciate about your cats? How have your feline friends changed your life? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.
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