"You know you're spoiling your cat when...you won't turn over during the night no matter how uncomfortable you are because you might disturb the cats."
~ Allia Zobel from her book, Women Who Love Cats Too Much
1. Be engaged with life, and amazed daily by its wonders. Allow life to surprise you with good!
Misty and I were cat napping together yesterday when a dove flew up and perched on a hanging basket just outside the window, only about two feet from Misty. Birdwatching is one of the few select activities which actually outrank naps in Misty's world. She was immediately on full alert and in stalking position on her side of the window. The dove then grew even bolder, after shifting position in the plant several times, to Misty's intense interest, it then flew directly in front of her and perched inches from her face on the windowsill. It was quite an amazing interaction to watch: Misty, frozen in stalk-mode, except for tiny twitches in her tail, whiskers forward in pleasure and fascination, eye to eye with the dove. This went on for some time as the dove turned its head this way and that, trying to get a better view into the room, Misty completely focused on its every minute movement. I was enthralled and thrilled to be witness to her catly acumen and the enthusiasm she displayed. When the encounter finally ended, she remained vigilant, keeping an eye to the window for the rest of the afternoon. So, the lesson here is you should never be afraid to stalk what you desire, whiskers forward in anticipation of receiving, and you're never too old to dream!
2. Sleep around (in the literal sense)
No, not that kind of sleeping around! Get your mind out of the gutter, folks! Misty has made an art form of selecting the very best sleeping spots, which meet her precise and exacting requirements for sheer comfort and security. She has an incredible knack for finding the coziest spots in the sun, and spends quite a bit of time on her sleeping schedule and strategy. Certain sleeping spots are reserved for special occasions or during certain seasons of the year, or cycles of the moon, or some other mysterious formula known only to Misty. Sometimes, there is total panic in our house when we can't find her, but these are not warranted. She always turns up safe and sleepily stretching from a newly discovered nap spot. So her wisdom to share with humans is that sleep is a very good, worthy activity, requiring some planning and superb execution. Since the latest research bears out just how important sleep is to humans as well as felines, I think we should learn from her napping technique. Start immediately to identify prime napping spots in your house (or yard -- hammocks and swings make wonderful napping locations in warm climates). Make them cozy, soft, secure and distraction-free -- Happy zzzzzzzzz's to you!
3. When someone you love is feeling sad or ill, offer a cuddle and a purr.
This one is self-explanatory. There is no substitute for being present for those you love in warm and comforting ways. It's good for the soul!
4. Meet life with curiosity.
Misty has a new habit. I call it the interrogatory trill. When I walk into a room where she is (usually) sleeping, she elicits a sound that is a cross between a purr and a glissando slide up the scale, as if to say "I'm here, don't step on me -- Yes, can I help you? -- Want to play? -- Want to pet and adore me? -- Want to feed me?"
Sometimes the trill morphs into a meowy sound or a yawn, but it always welcomes and expresses willingness to connect. I love this about her. And it is a very valuable lesson. Always be open to life, to learning, to seeking the new and interesting. Curiosity is a powerful tool for engagement with life's mysteries.
5. Make do with what you've got.
Misty is not shy about asking for what she wants. Loudly. Repeatedly. In the wee hours of the morning, or whenever the mood strikes her. She still has no respect for weekends or my sleeping schedule, which often does not coincide with hers. However, if her repeated demands for attention are not met (i.e. no one is immediately springing into action to replenish the food or water bowl, or scoop out the litter box, find her catnip toy, or other urgent need), she is satisfied to have called attention to the issue. Then, she lets it go and looks for an alternative for the meantime. (not to the litter box, thankfully). She will usually find the bowl of dry food left for her snacking pleasure and have a few bites to satisfy her hunger until mealtime. Or she will grudgingly drink hours-old water from her bowl.
This lesson also has a great wisdom to bear: Ask for what you want. If it is not immediately forthcoming, make it clear, put it out there, and then look around for a temporary satisfaction of the problem. This is not compromising your high ideals, but rather using your creativity to temporize until what you desire manifests. It is a good skill for any human or feline. Many times, we find that all we have is all we need.