Some of the biggest transitions in life are marriage, divorce, death, and moving. Twenty years ago, we made a big move from the city to a remote rural area. I was ill-prepared in many ways, to say the least. But looking back on those funny and crazy times, I am so grateful for the presence of my cats. They really helped me get through it.
Have your cats helped you through a big transition in your life? Here’s how my cats helped me, many years ago. There may come a time again when we’ll move, and I want to remember my cats’ lessons!
How can you possibly get freaked out about something new and strange when your cats are keeping you busy laughing, not to mention fascinated, with their antics? In our case, we moved from a really tiny house in the city to a rented double-wide in the new rural area. Once the three cats got over their unease about a new place (this took three days or so), I had a great time watching them explore.
The double-wide rental was huge, compared to our house in the city. Suddenly the cats had all kinds of room to run, new rooms to hide in, and places to explore. They could experience the heat from a wood stove for the first time (which they loved). They seemed endlessly interested in the new view outside, even though they were indoor kitties. I loved to watch them race through the new place and enjoyed their sense of exploration. Hmmm, maybe they were trying to teach me how to ease into this transition with the best attitude possible.
I must admit that I did some pretty strange things when I finally got to the new place. (My husband came up first with the cats, and I followed six months later after wrapping up some business in the city.) My husband had a new job to fill his days, and I was suddenly creating a new existence from scratch. But the presence of the cats forced me to look beyond myself (always a good thing!). I had to figure out where I would go to the vet now, where I would get cat food and cat litter, how to cat-proof a new place, etc.
And the cats kept me on my toes too. Unused to a new environment, we were unprepared for certain things that can happen in the country. So one night, when we heard squeaking from the back of the double-wide, we went to inspect and found that Milo had cornered a weasel in the bedroom. How it got in, who knows? We had enough sense to know that a weasel could really do some damage to our cat, but Milo was not in the least bit intimidated. Somehow, we collected our wits quickly, made a makeshift hallway, and chased the weasel outside. Mission accomplished, and Milo didn’t get hurt, thank goodness. Not that Milo would ever had admitted that his getting hurt was a possibility.
As I said, I was starting from scratch. I knew nobody. Also, I was trying to build a new business as a piano and a voice teacher. The cats really helped out and stepped up to the plate! No one knew me in this new place, and everyone knew each other, so I was a real outsider. But when students came to the double-wide for lessons, the presence of the cats served as an instant ice breaker.
Most of the kids (and my adult students, as well) loved the cats. I remember Milo (of weasel fame, above) gently batting at the long hair of one blonde student, a five-year-old girl. I remember her smiling and saying, “Oh, Milo!” Somehow, I didn’t feel like so much of a stranger in a strange land any more.
Unwittingly, we made a good choice, and we got the cats to the new place right away, even though I had to remain behind for six months. This turned out to be a real good thing, because I missed my husband and cats so greatly that I wasn’t tempted to stay behind! So when moving to a strange new place, send the cats ahead, if you can. Then you won’t be tempted into having cold feet about the move!
Some things that were originally very strange about the new place have become commonplace now. I have my cats to thank for helping the transition go smoothly. Hmmm, maybe I’ve been in this place a little too long … time to think about what’s possible in the future, with the cats’ help, of course!
Have your cats helped you with a huge life change? How so? Go ahead and share your stories in the comments!
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.