Cats are the masters of single-pointed focus and obsession. I could learn a thing or two from them. If I could learn to focus (and obsess?) like they do, I’d be a powerhouse. I don’t think anything would get in my way. Anything and everything would get accomplished! Perhaps this is the cat’s true lesson about focus. Maybe obsession isn’t such a bad thing.
I’ve always believed there are lessons everywhere in life, if I just have the ability to see them. Here’s how my cats teach me about focus and determination — through their obsessions! Here are seven of my cats’ strangest.
We live in the country, and mice get into the house, no matter how tightly sealed the house seems to be. Fall is a particularly busy time, when mice are looking hard for warmth and apparently anticipating the cold winter. My cats may not have much patience if I don’t feed them on time, but they have infinite patience when it comes to waiting out a mouse. I have seem Rama stare for hours at a bi-fold door that was on the floor (waiting to be installed). A mouse was hiding behind it. Rama sat for hours, staring at that door. He was not giving up. My cats have the determination that you can feel in the air of New York CIty — the drive, the ambition, and the never-give-up attitude.
Norton is one determined kitten, and he probably comes out on top as one of the most driven cats in the household. He’s smart, and he knows what he wants. And he had lots of ‘tude. Norton does not forget anything easily. If it’s on his mind to open a drawer (which he’s very good at), nothing will deter him. I wrote about Norton’s drawer opening abilities here; I’ve never seen a cat intentionally do chin ups and leverage his swinging body weight to open a drawer. But then, Norton is an exceptionally determined cat!
Some cats love to repeated leap vertically for something, whether it’s the red dot on a wall, a fly on a tall window, or in Norton’s case, a small bump on the refrigerator. Norton must think this bump (I’m not even sure of the function of the bump) is some kind of prey. He’ll leap at it repeatedly, honing in on it with his unbreakable focus. Flies are great fun too, of course, and Rama and Norton will spring four to five feet high to snap a fly between their jaws. It’s a tasty treat until I get around to feeding them.
Lift the piano lid, and Kieran comes running. I’ve never had a cat so tuned into the piano. If I’m playing, he MUST be there. He’ll sit on the bench next to me at first, and then he’ll join in. He loves to walk across the keys and experience the sound or the feel of the vibrations. Kieran also comes running when my husband pulls out the guitar. He’s a musical cat!
Kieran is also obsessed with The Brush. He’s my biggest brush lover, and all I have to do is take it out of the drawer, and he comes running. It’s a good thing he does love brushing so much, as he has the thickest fur that sheds the most of all the cats.
Cats can be trained to form an obsession, too! I’ve learned this accidentally. This could be a good or not-good thing. When I began taking Chester to my office with much more frequency, he began associating the cat carrier with the trip. He’s made such a strong association that all I have to do is bring the carrier into the house. Chester comes running and leaps into the carrier, even if it’s stacked upon one or two other carriers. He has never missed his aim, and he lands squarely in the carrier, ready to go to the beloved office.
I’ve had cats stare for hours at a spot on the ceiling, once after another cat had passed on. Were the cats seeing a spirit? Who can say? I don’t rule out anything. Ceiling fans are also a source of fascination to some of my cats, who love to watch the rotation of the blades. And once in a great while, I’ve had a cat who was afraid of the ceiling fan. If we were carrying him and inadvertently walked under that fan (even if it wasn’t running), he’d shrink away from it and press into our bodies.
Do your cats have funny or interesting obsessions? Share your thoughts in 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 two short story collections. 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.