The Unexpected Teacher

When I welcomed Oliver into my life a little over a year ago (remember this?), I knew he would change my life. I knew he would bring me so much joy, make me laugh, annoy me to pieces, and melt my heart. I didn’t know, however, that he would end up being somewhat of a teacher. Cats are divine little creatures, and sometimes I think they know a lot more than they let on.

It’s not my cat has taught me things I’ve never known before. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just by being him, he reminds me to live out the life I already know I want to be living. To continue to put into practice that which sometimes slips my mind. In the time I’ve known him, my cat has never stopped sending reminders to…

Enjoy simple pleasures. Life is about the little things. Well, that’s how I’ve always felt — and it seems that cats feel just the same. This little dude can spend hours basking in the sun, staring out the window, and rolling around in catnip. Each time I see him doing one of these things, I’m reminded to be present. To stop what I’m doing, silence my mind, let out a deep breath, and focus all my energy on just what I’m experiencing in that very moment.

Cat flowers bed

Cat, pillows, candles

Be good to your body. The practice of eating for energy is something I’ve always found kind of difficult — choosing food that will make me feel light instead of weighing me down, eating enough to energize me but stopping before I feel sluggish. If you put a plate filled with food in front of me, I’d probably make it my unintentional mission to eat the whole thing. Not Oliver. He eats a few bites, goes to play, comes back for a few more, and repeats. Food is his fuel, and his body is his temple. Every time he gets up from a nap, he stretches. Over and over again do I see this boy stretching out his limbs — just as he should. Just as we should. Never forget to stretch. He’s always sure to clean himself, too, and does so with such care. He’s not rushing to bathe so he can get on with his life. He realizes that bathing is a part of his life, and takes joy in doing it.

Cat cleaning paw

Be playful. Whether leaping in the air again and again in an attempt to catch a shadow, chasing his tail, or playing with that crinkly piece of paper that somehow made its way to the floor, my cat never goes a day without playing… and we shouldn’t either. Work is important, but play is, too. Doing something solely for the purpose of having fun — that’s part of what keeps us youthful. Part of what keeps us healthy. Part of what keeps us alive.

Cat, teepeee, ukulele

Show affection. One of my favorite things about my little buddy: his cuddly little self. There’s no greater feeling than love between two beings — human or not. I often feel overwhelmed with love for my little Oliver, and it reminds me to open myself to love in other aspects of my life, as well. When you love someone, always be sure to show it. Let your guard down. Surrender yourself. Love, be loved.

Girl, cat, window

Be curious yet cautious. The curiosity of a cat is kind of like that of a young child. They’re full of wonder and just want to discover — something that I never want to lose. But the difference between a cat and a child in this aspect… is that the cat always goes about his curiosity with caution. Oftentimes I just do… without thinking or planning. Many times it ends in a mistake — which I’ll always learn from — but sometimes that mistake sets me back. I think I could really stand to be a bit more cautious, and I’m thankful that this little one reminds me to do so every day.

Stand your ground. Sometimes I might want to hold my little cat, but he wants nothing more to be alone at that moment. He’s not afraid to show it. First a wiggle, then an amplified meow, and then maybe the claws come out. How can I blame him? He’s asserting himself. If you feel strongly about something, let it be known. Don’t let yourself be pushed around. You’re your own self, and no one can take that from you. Never let anyone take that from you.

Cat, girl, mirror, camera

Let yourself rest. Cats may do this more than the average human can handle, but it just offers more of a reminder to let ourselves rest. Our lives are fast-paced and filled with doing, but sometimes what we should be doing… is nothing. Pay attention to your body, as well as your spirit, and give yourself exactly what you feel you need. When we’re burnt out and don’t allow ourselves to rest… that’s often when sickness comes. By giving ourselves the rest we need, we’re creating an atmosphere for ourselves to thrive, inside and out.

Cat, paw, dried flowers

Have you found yourself living with an unexpected teacher? Tell us about it!

See more of Oliver’s shenanigans here. :)

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  1. My cats are treasures, and absolutely they “teach” me. They remind me to be grateful, as I’m always grateful that they found me. All of my cats are “found” babies, and I feel blessed. My oldest girl was 18 when she left me last fall. I had never before felt such a sense of loss and grief. I wailed in a way that I’ve never heard from myself. The idea of being without my dear friend, my girl who would sleep on my head, it was unfathomable to me.
    Still, I have 2 others and they continue to give me so much love and laughter. I am still blessed to have such loving little ones to share my life with. And who can forget the purr? Such a soothing, at peace sound. It brings such a sense of happiness whenever I hear it.
    Great post!
    Donna and

  2. It’s awesome coming home and my little kitten greets me by rubbing her back on my leg. As soon as I sit down to take off my shoes, she’s in my lap. No matter what’s happening, she shows affection in the sweetest ways and that’s enough to make me smile after a long day. Thanks for this post! I’ve just become a recent cat lover and owner, and I love it.

  3. My cat Luna is similar. As soon as she sees a bit of sunlight, she will spend hours sunbathing. She really enjoys it and it’s such a small and simple thing. Although, it is quite rare in Britain. So I see her as opportunistic as well :)

  4. Having dogs has taught me a lot of similar things. They are slowly teaching me to enjoy the little things and I now love going on long walks just for the little things. Feeling the crisp, clean air slowly filling my lungs, listening to the bees hum and birds chirp, the squeal of tires abruptly bringing in my focus. Love it. Plus, I love to see her smile with every step we take.

    Pets also teach you about forgiveness! It’s so healthy to forgive and move on, and my dogs have definitely helped me with that. If they don’t care that I stepped on their tail 2 seconds ago (sorry babies!), why should I still hold a grudge about something that happened 2 years ago?!

  5. About 5 years ago when I was widowed after 43 yrs. with my wonderful husband, my son & his wife decided I needed a companion against my will. I am so glad they insisted. Maxwell, my gorgeous black cat, has become my ultimate companion. He really takes care of me. If I fall asleep at my desk he wakes me up and waits until I get in bed and then he goes to sleep. Max is affectionate but craves his alone time, as do I. He knows when I am saddened reminiscing about my husband and he will come, stand up, and pull at my arms for attention. I am truly grateful for instinctive care he extends and try always to return his love. I do believe my daughter-in-law & my son received prompts from my husband to gift me with Maxwell, my loving handsome black cat.

  6. Awe I love this, one of my favorite posts…I find a lot of those same things from my little Cleo.


  7. I absolutely LOVE this. I feel the same exact way about my kitty and actually wrote a similar post to this on my blog a few months back. Sometimes animals really are the best teachers. xoxo

  8. I’ve always been a very insecure girl; people gave me the impression that I had to be perfect in order to be loved. My cat was the first living being that made me feel perfect, that made me feel loved no matter how many flaws I had. He gave me the confidence I needed to start a career as a writer and now I’m writing a book about him.

  9. I absolutely love your post! I’m a 1 year and 11 month cat and you capture in words perfectly
    what being a little furry master is all about so congrats to you!
    I give you 5 tunas for this!
    purrs and kisses!

  10. It was such a joy, and coincidence, to read this entry as I too adopted a sweet kitty named Oliver a little over a year ago. My Oliver is whats known as a “friendly feral” – in other words, he once belonged to someone, but found himself thrown out on the streets and took up with a group of feral cats in order to survive. You would think being abandoned, and then mistreated by people while living on the streets, Oliver would be jaded and not want to have anything to do with people, but that’s not the case. Oliver is one of the sweetest, most loving cats I’ve ever known. You mentioned many wonderful cat traits/behaviors we could learn from, and I would include one more – the ability to forgive and forget. Our Oliver has certainly done this. He loves his human family with his whole heart even though by all accounts his past should make him feel otherwise. Thank you for your sweet piece – your Oliver is adorable.

  11. what a lovely kitty and article! i totally agree – we can learn so much from our 4-legged friends!

  12. I love this post, Leo is my happiness after a long or a hard day at work, he taught me to have space for myself and as you mentioned in this post he taught me that my body is my temple and be more selective with the food I eat. Leo is my bless, Leo came in to my life as a birthday present , the poor thing was so sick and was taken to a foster home while he was getting better. My husband decide to adopt him and to surprise me the day of my birthday, he appears at home with this lovely ginger kitty! I’m so thankful to have Leo in my life and so lucky that I’m part of his life too.

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