4 Ways My Cats Anchor Me in Times of Great Change


Cliches are overused, but they’re often based on truths. One cliche is “the only constant in life is change.” Another is “the only sure things are death and taxes.” Taxes aside, it has been a year of big change for me, the biggest being a cross-country move. In the past year, we also lost a dog. Because of the move, everything is new. I’ve spent a lot of time adventuring, getting tired and overwhelmed, learning my way — moving involves numerous social and societal nuances — and getting lost.

In the midst of such change, I am so grateful for anything that offers consistency. And for me, a big part of that consistency is my cats. Everything changed — our landscape, our living space, the people around us. But the cats stayed the same. They are our one link between where we were and where we are now. We brought them with us, and they have adjusted smoothly. Here are the things they do that help me celebrate their consistent presence in my life.

A girl holds a cat by Shutterstock

1. They rally for morning meal time

Is this comforting? Well, yes. Sometimes, it’s a bit overwhelming. I often don’t even do anything in the morning (yoga, workout, eat, work) until I’ve fed my cats. And, there are rituals that go along with the feeding that I’ve been doing for years. (For example, Rama, my black cat, has been getting anti-cancer supplements for years to stave off the reoccurrence of sarcomas.) These rituals are comforting to me. Even if the cats are whining with frenzy, it’s a familiar routine that links past and present (and future!).

2. They want snuggles

This is often a great reminder for me to slow down and smell the roses (another cliche, but it’s also a consistent thread in my life). In a time of great change, that consistency is comforting. I know that as long as I have cats, I will have opportunities to snuggle with them and just hang out. It’s a comforting thing, a huge gift, and a reminder to live in the moment and give those cats love, now.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend recently. She has seven cats of her own, and she also helps cats for a rescue organization. Years ago, she was going through a divorce that she apparently initiated. Her soon-to-be ex said to her, of her new life alone, “But what will you do?” And she said, “I’ll always have cats.” That made her happy; it was her thread of consistency in a time of great change, and I totally got it.

Chester cared for my cats Kali and Karma in their last days and helped bring normalcy to the household even in great chaos.

3. When change comes, they help

I have had many occasions where it seems that my cats are helping all of us traverse some great change. Now, that may sound like a lot to put on a cat’s shoulders, and of course, it is not always true. But I’ve had Chester, for example, help nurse Kali when she was in her last months of life. When no one else would groom her, Chester took that job. Recently Kieran got off his food and wasn’t feeling good for a few days (we made things right with probiotics). Jamie Bluebell made sure to nap near Kieran the entire day, grooming him and keeping him company.

Kieran and Jamie Bluebell snuggle. Jamie took good care of Kieran recently when he didn’t feel good.

4. They need me to care for them

In times of great transition, it’s grounding for me to know that I need to provide for my cats’ care. Even if an entire day goes haywire, for example, the cats still need to be fed; the litter boxes cleaned, toys played with, water refreshed, pets and loves given. It brings me back from the craziness and chaos that can lurk in life.

A woman holds a black-and-white cat by Shutterstock

I’ve always walked a fine line between consistency and adventure (if you can call it that). I love adventure and new things, and I love to return to home base. My cats, in their quiet and consistent way, keep teaching me and helping me return to home base. I am so glad they are there to greet me and to remind me of what’s important.

Do your cats teach you about consistency in your life? Do they help you value it better? How so? Tell me in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: 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.

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