I was raised in a tough-love environment — we children got the strong message that we should depend upon ourselves. I grew up with this mindset and I still hold pieces of it (which can be both a good and a bad thing). So imagine my delight to learn, over time, that my cats really can help me through life’s big changes! I don’t have to go it on my own.
Change is something we can all count on in life, whether it is a planned change (a move, for example) or a unplanned change. Change has the potential for great turmoil; it also has the potential to facilitate our own huge transformation. Time and time again, my cats have helped me through huge transformation.
How? Here are five ways cats help me through change:
I don’t have time to listen to the drama in my head regarding change, because my cats keep me busy! They have needs to be attended to — feeding, care, playing, and daily loving. If my mind starts going off on some unnecessary tangent about the change in my life (and it does go on about the silliest things — “Oh no, I have no new friends!” “Oh no! I can’t find the grocery store!”), my cats help me get my mind back in a good place. Isn’t it more fun to play with my cats than regurgitate drama in my head? Yes!
Change can be chaotic. Having just made a huge change myself by moving, I’m surprised and amused at how easily I keep wanting to return to the normal, the easy, the typical. I call this our desire to return to homeostasis (just as nature does). But sometimes a little bit or a lot of an edge is a good thing. And sometimes it’s good to push out of our comfort zone. When the chaos of change threatens to engulf me, all I have to do is to remember to pet my cat. It instantly puts me in a better place. I calm down, remember to breathe, and the chaos dulls its roar. I have a T-shirt that says, “Camping is cheaper than therapy” — maybe someone should design a “Cats are cheaper than therapy” or a “Cats work better than therapy” T-shirt!
Sometimes, the drama I create around change is not warranted, and cats remind me of what’s important. They do this by making me laugh in the moment. They help me get my head out of chaos and around love. I think if more people understood and experienced the depth and benefit of a relationship with a companion animal, maybe there would be even more pet adoptions. Love is the great equalizer, and learning to feel it and do it is something my cats constantly bring me back to. And that’s a good thing.
Am I feeling a little edgy about some change in life? All I have to do is watch my cats and admire their spirit of adventure. They’re fearless, whether they’re exploring a new place, jumping gleefully after an insect, or playing with each other on the cat balance beams in the house.
There have been many instances during life’s changes and turmoils when my cats have very distinctively come to comfort me. One that sticks in my head was the passing of Kali. Kali and I had a strong bond — she was a passionate and tender cat who wasn’t shy about showing her love and asking for what she wanted. When she passed, Chester, my orange boy and a buddy of Kali’s, came and sat with me and her for almost an hour. There have been many other times cats have comforted me, but this is the memory I keep coming back to.
Our cats are really so much more than “just cats.” The relationship between us and our loved cats is complex and rewarding. How have your cats helped take the edge off big change in your life? Share your thoughts!
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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 Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), 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.