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Do You Put Your Cats’ Needs Ahead of Your Own?

Here are ways that I treat my cats better than I treat myself -- and the insight I gain in doing so.

Catherine Holm  |  Dec 17th 2014


I am not trying to be a martyr by writing this, nor to show how great I am. But after years of having cats, I’ve noticed that I often put their needs ahead of mine. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it can teach me a few things about life, myself, and my cats.

Here are the ways I treat my cats better than myself — and you may see some of these patterns in your own life.

1. I brush their hair more

This is not a biggie, because I have short, thin hair that really doesn’t need a lot of brushing. But brushing my cats’ hair is a lot more fun than brushing my own hair. Why? For most of my cats, it’s a time for us to bond. I enjoy watching their enjoyment when I do the brushing. I feel good knowing that it’s healthy for them. With long-haired cats, like Zorro, brushing is a necessity. I enjoy knowing that I’m capturing fur in a brush before it gets all over the floor. It’s a pleasurable activity. (Even when we hosted Ruby the dog recently, I really enjoyed brushing her often, and she liked it, too.)

Brushing my own hair? Honestly, I get more pleasure out of putting makeup on. Maybe I should take some time and learn to love being in the moment when I brush my own hair!

2. I take them to the doctor more

There’s a huge divide here. I’m good about getting my cats to the vet, whether it’s for annual wellness exams or for something that needs immediate attention. I myself hardly go to the doctor. Why? I’m not sure. From years of being self-employed and underinsured, I developed the habit of putting off wellness procedures. I would rather spend the money on my cats. That may not be the healthiest outlook, but that’s what I did. And, I’ve been lucky not to have any serious health issues.

Just as I’m really picky about my veterinarian, I am also picky about my own doctor. I had an amazing practitioner who left her practice, and I got lazy about going to the doctor ever since. There is definitely room for improvement here.

3. I prioritize my cats’ fun above my own

I drop what I’m doing to help the cats have fun, but I have a harder time dropping what I’m doing so I can have fun. Here’s another huge divide. All a cat has to do is walk into my office, chirp or look at me a certain way, and I surrender. I will play, pet them, do whatever they want (usually).

The situation is entirely different when it comes to me. I can get so focused on my work that I forget to get up and have fun myself. A short walk, or getting out of the house to see a friend, or whatever, are actually sometimes the best thing for rejuvenating my attitude about life, work, or anything. In this way, my cats help me. Their distractions force me away from work.

4. I give them more toys

This might be an unfair comparison. After all, cat toys are often significantly less expensive than human toys. It depends upon how you define “toy.” My cats have (and love) toys including the Feline Fisher, crinkle balls, stuffed catnip pillows, and a cat-size tent (which is fraying from hard use and needs to be replaced). Toys for me?

Some people refer to things such as snowmobiles and boats as toys. Those I don’t care too much about. Cross-country skis are a toy I need (my skis got left behind accidentally when we moved). But the greatest “toys” lately in my life (things I really enjoy) are massages, or coffee with a girlfriend. I can be pretty frugal with myself, but I’m pretty loathe to give up a massage, so that says something about the strength and pull of that “toy.”

Cat lovers, I’m sure I’m not alone. How do you treat your cat better than yourself? Don’t be shy — share your thoughts, whether they’re humorous or serious.

More by Catherine Holm:

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 Great Purr, 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.