5 Ways Cats Teach Me Patience


I’m not the most patient person in the world and I can be pretty impulsive. There are times when I’d rather make a move than wait. I am not always patient with my great partner or my wonderful cats, either. It’s a streak that seems to run in my family. But my cats have taught me many good things, including how to be more patient, with them and with life. Here are the five ways I learn patience from them.

1. They help me laugh

Some cats could try anyone’s patience! It’s saying a lot for me, because I often have more patience with my most trying cat than I do with some people. But often, the cat who tries my patience the most is the same cat who can soften a situation in an instant. This is the cat who knocks something off the counter and then looks at you with such a sweet expression that you can’t help but melt. Or the cat who does some patience-testing stunt, and then leaps into your arms, snuggling his head into your chest and purring.

Kieran routinely steals my husband’s favorite corner of the futon, but then he purrs so loud that he vibrates. When the cats make me laugh or feel good, even right after they’ve pulled some insane stunt, I feel good and the stunt is quickly forgotten — usually.

2. They make me stop and take a breath

For me to regain patience, sometimes I need to slow down and take a breath. Really, is the situation I’m so revved up about worth my internal fretting? And here’s where the cats help. Petting them instantly calms me. My mind is off the thing that is bothering me or causing me to be impatient. Pretty soon, my breathing has slowed and my thoughts are calmer. The thing that was making me crazy suddenly doesn’t seem so huge anymore.

3. They distract me

Want to forget about some frustrating or patience-trying life situation? Watch your cats. They’ll give you an instant distraction. Your cat will be happy to oblige. Whether it’s an instant demand to play, or a vocalization, or feeding time — your cat wants to help! And even though it may feel as if they’re testing your patience, you can reframe that. They’re not testing your patience — they’re giving you an opportunity to forget about something else that is trying your patience. They’re letting you learn, and practice better patience! Anything can be reframed — just try it!

4. They remind me that I am NOT in control

This is a super lesson that I seem to need to learn all the time. Much of my struggle with patience probably stems from my want to control everything possible. Don’t we all want this?

Just now, I am reminded of how futile it is to think I am in control. I’m trying to write a Catster article, there’s a foot of new snow on the ground, and I’m worried because I have to drive four hours in it, later today, to get to a Pet Expo. I may sell a ton of books — I may sell none. And as I’m typing this, Norton climbs into my lap, sits on my forearms, and warms my hands as I type. (I save the document frantically so Norton’s big paw doesn’t accidentally erase it.) I’m never ever in control, and life gets a lot easier when I realize that. So I just go with the flow and enjoy Norton’s warmth and purring body on my forearms, until he decides to move on! My cats are always teaching me that I really have no control over anything, and that’s okay! It’s a freeing perspective, when I’m able to achieve it.

5. They help me wait out what I’m waiting for

Cats are the best waiters in the world, and sometimes I need to be, too. Watch a cat mousing. He’ll stare at a corner for hours on end, hoping to capture that hidden mouse. He’s not impatient — it never crosses his mind. He knows that with waiting, good things come. If one door closes, another opens. And that’s a good reminder for me.

Have your cats helped you with patience? Do they teach you, or try you, or both? 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 a short story collection about people and place. 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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