Twenty years ago, I got called out by a crabby co-worker for telling too many cute cat stories at work. She simply lost patience with my passion, even though she had a cat herself. Quite possibly, I caught her on a bad day. It was a different world, though, and that applies to workplace communication. In 1995, the Internet was just creaking into being. And to be fair, at the time I was part of corporate America (more like state government bureaucracy). There were certain unwritten rules about how you were supposed to behave in an office. Apparently, I had violated the rules.
But today, with the Internet and the prevalence of cat stuff in the world, would this happen? I somehow doubt it.
Here’s what I believe would happen if I were to tell a cute cat story today, in the same office. At least, I hope this would happen. Maybe we can make it so, and in the process raise awareness of cat welfare and rescue right in the workplace. Together we can rewrite the communication rules.
Here’s how I think it would go. I tell too many cat stories, and then:
My office was located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ironically, the Cat Video Fest takes place yearly in either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Who would have thought that this would ever exist, let alone be such a hit? I’m only bummed that we moved and I haven’t been able to attend it yet.
Jackson Galaxy has done so much to bring cats, rescue, and cat behavior on the radar. A few times when I’ve met someone for the first time and he learns that I love cats, the show invariably gets mentioned. Jackson’s made it cool to be a cat guy, and he advocates that we all do something for the welfare of cats. He’s made it okay for cat lovers to be more vocal, without promoting a polarizing cat vs. dog person mentality. I learned so much from watching just one of his shows. Keith Bowers of Catster interviews Jackson here and here.
Instead of telling a cute cat story these days (although there’s nothing wrong with them, and I have plenty to share), I might instead talk about how I successfully trapped a quasi-feral/stray, even though I was a complete newbie to the process. I have a feeling that I might, with this story, come to know that someone else in my office has either done rescue, volunteered in a shelter, or knows someone who works in animal welfare. I don’t think I’d be as tentative about sharing cat stuff as I once was. There might even be someone in the office who has knowledge of what TNR meant.
Rescue seems to be pervading the national radar, and that’s a good thing. A while back, I was amazed to learn that a close relative was caring for a feral colony. I knew this person loved cats, but I had no idea she had ventured into rescue.
Seriously, if you’ve worked in an office, and you’re well liked or at least get along well with others, this could be a great fit. Though I don’t work in an office now, I’m doing a bit of this to promote the book Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes.
Twelve cats, including my Rama, told their amazing tales for this book, and their people are all working hard to get the word out about what a difference rescue has made. An office would be a perfect place for promoting cat rescue or celebrating cats. People like to feel they are supporting something and giving to a greater cause. It’s a win-win for all. You likely have a captive — and hopefully engaged — audience, right in your workplace.
Have things changed? Certainly. Perhaps it’s the circles I run in, but I know there’s a growing awareness and appreciation of cats, and I hope this has led to a growing awareness of the pet overpopulation problem and how the small or big things that we can all do (adopt, volunteer, spay/neuter, TNR, educate, etc.) can help toward these efforts. Certainly, Jackson Galaxy has done a huge amount to bring this into the mainstream.
Are you more at ease telling cat stories? Do you tell them at work, or just among friends? Tell me in the 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 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.