None of my friends have ever asked me, “Why do you care about cats?” to my face. They know they’d get a pretty incredulous look from me, or maybe a passionate diatribe. A true friend appreciates me for who I am. I certainly learned that lesson in the past when it comes to friends and cats and cute cat stories.

Questioning why we care about cats is a good ethical question, though. Why care about animals? Why take care of cats? Aren’t there a billion other world problems that need addressing? Are the needs of people more important? Are the needs of stray or suffering animals any greater than that of suffering people or our taxed planet? I bet many of you have been asked why you care about cats. Animal welfare activists likely get this criticism aimed at them as well. Why, people wonder, should we devote energy and resources to rescue and cat welfare? Why, we’re asked, do cats matter more than humans? How does one decide what’s most important?

It’s confusing and I don’t have a definitive answer. I don’t think there is a definitive answer. But here’s what I think. We all comprise the planet — people, animals, nature … all of it. How we treat people or animals or anything or ourselves is a reflection on how we treat the planet, because we are all the planet. Think about that. We’re all connected. This is not just some cliched and overused New Age idea. I believe it is true.

We may have a calling, if we are wise enough to recognize it. Sometimes it takes years of growth and maturity to even begin to know the nature of your calling. It’s something you’re so wired to do that you couldn’t do otherwise. It’s something that once you discover it, you think, “Oh yeah, this is so … right.” You wonder how you could have been so blind not to see this very obvious calling in the past. But there’s a time for everything, and there’s a time we are meant to discover and embrace such an insight. We just have to be open to it.

Following your calling is a wonderful way to live life and achieve something great in the finite time we have here on earth. Finding your calling is a joyous thing. Your calling may be raising and nurturing children. You may be an activist for peace. You may fight to end poverty. You may create beautiful quilts. You may love nature. You may work for the welfare of cats, or dogs, or animals. You might create music that transports people. And make no mistake. When you find your calling, you will transport people.

I have a calling to write. I have a calling to write about cats and about people and about relationships and my observations of life. I have a calling to care about cats. I have a calling to do yoga, to teach yoga, and to connect with people on a deep level. To me, a calling seems to be intrinsic — a part of our “wiring” we couldn’t change if we tried.

(Important point: I’m talking about true callings here — not a “calling” someone else tries to impose on you, or a “calling” you try to wear that doesn’t really fit. Be very clear — you’ll know your true calling when it comes, and it won’t have one tiny bit of an essence of phoniness or not fitting.)

This doesn’t mean I care any less about the myriad of other causes in our world. It just means I’m channeling my energy where there’s the most passion for me. I’m acting in sync with my wiring. I care about cats and I will continue to care about them. I will take care of my cats to the best of my ability and I will support organizations that do amazing work for the welfare of animals. Finding a calling is a wonderful thing. The world, the planet — we all benefit when we act in sync with our values, our wiring, and our own deepest truth.

Do you have a calling to help, rescue, or care for cats? Do you have another calling? How have your cats helped you find your calling? Tell us in comments!

This is an expanded excerpt from Catherine Holm’s new book Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, a memoir of life, love, and the human/animal-companion bond. It’s available at www.catherineholm.com.

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