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8 Lessons My Cat Taught Me About Kindness and Love

8 Lessons My Cat Taught Me About Kindness and Love

It’s National Be Kind to Animals Week. While we should always be kind to animals, I’d like to share what my kitty, Missy, has taught me about kindness. It might seem a little woo-woo to some, but I believe that our pets are our teachers. More specifically, they are here to teach us what they’ve already mastered: unconditional love.

Cats are notorious for being aloof, a little (or a lot) mean and not interested in pleasing their owners. Let’s be honest, cat guardians, this post wouldn’t be so popular if you were absolutely sure about your cat’s love for you.

Even so, Missy has taught me several timeless lessons about kindness and unconditional love over her long 18 plus years:

Kindness is: Not Always Getting What You Want

Missy wasn’t my first pick of the litter. To be fair, we didn’t even know she existed. The 8-year-old me wanted a much smaller orange kitty that was all over me. Missy was hiding under the bed, and they only brought her out because she looked similar to the cat that I wanted but that they were keeping.

I also wanted a lap cat who was super affectionate and outgoing. And that wasn’t Missy. Well, it wasn’t her in the beginning. After a decade, I grew on her and she trusted me, so we did it on her terms. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I learned and got so much more.

Kindness is: Keeping it Simple

Cat tree? Check.

Cat stroller? Check.

Cat hammock? I was dying to buy her one, and the leopard print was screaming my name, but I had learned my lesson by now. Almost Check.

Missy didn’t approve of any of the fancy toys and accessories that I splurged on. Our weekly Costco boxes were more her style. If I spruced them up with some 99 cent wrapping paper, then that was acceptable.

Kindness is: Protecting Your Territory

Missy knew when and how to protect her territory. And she could be fierce doing it. Yet, her territory radar wouldn’t go off for every cat in the neighborhood.

Boundaries were important to her, and they should be to all of us. Just keep your guards up wisely.

Kindness is: Lots of Tolerance

Missy put up with my messy hair, no makeup face and the occasional body odor that I couldn’t even stand. She still found her way on my belly whenever she saw me lay down just to tuck her head under my chin.

She put up with the river of nicknames that I gave her. And I made the annoying baby voice to match. When Missy wasn’t Missy, she was: mi niña, Misha, green-eyed monster, linda wawita, sunshine, mi bebe… Poor cat, right?

But nothing tested her tolerance like the arrival of the dog — a Yorkie with a bossy attitude and an even bigger Napoleon complex.

She put up with a lot.

Kindness is: Taking Purrfect Care of Yourself

Even though Missy loved me despite my disheveled appearance, I think Missy was always sending me hints about the important of self-care. She liked looking in the mirror, grooming was non-negotiable, and her anxiety went up if there was something that she couldn’t clean herself.

I like to think Missy was from Paris or she read the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” She ate when she was hungry, savored every bite, took her time and she stopped when she was full.

She always stayed perfectly hydrated.

She got her sunshine fix everyday, too.

Taking purrfect care of yourself isn’t easy, but Missy certainly did.

Kindness is: Snuggle it, Dont Smother it

Missy eventually learned the joys of snuggling, but she never let me over do it. Too much petting or petting that was too rough could result in a “love” bite. When she had enough kisses, she wasn’t afraid to literally put her paw on my lips.

Affection has boundaries, too; I’ve carried this over to my human relationships.

Kindness is: Being Selfish Sometimes

If she was angry at me, then she would take her time to decompress and compose herself before letting it go. She never let me smother her with affection.

Sometimes she liked to just go off and be by herself in another room.

She always took care of her internal needs, and that’s okay. We don’t always have to be “on” for everyone all of the time.

Kindness is: Letting Go

In early April 2014, the light that made those gorgeous green eyes sparkle had to turn off.

The vet said it was cancer. While I could go into a lot more detail, I’ll just say that Missy knew that she was dying.

The cancer gave us a few months to make peace and eventually accept that she had to go. While I’m happy that she’s off continuing her journey and that she’s not in any pain, I’m still trying to let go of my human baggage (i.e., guilt and doubt) about her passing. I know that she wouldn’t want me to hold onto those feelings.

Acts of kindness, whether they are to a human, an animal or the planet, are great. But true kindness is a lifestyle, and Missy lived it well. She innately knew how to be kind to herself and kind to me. Her love and kindness continue to give me permission to be kind to myself, and I work on it daily. Even though I never liked sharing her, you all have a piece of her now. I hope that she can teach and inspire you, too.

I don’t want too many tears on this keyboard, so I’ll keep this part short: To mi niña, save me a spot (knowing you, it’ll probably be the warmest spot that you can find) at the rainbow because I’ll be there in no time. I can’t see you anymore, but I feel you always.

I would love to know what lessons your pet(s) have taught you about kindness, love and life, so please share in the comments.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Ramos

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12:29PM PDT on Sep 6, 2014

My first dog Chloe from Battersea Dogs Home chose me. She was a beautiful black and tan mongrel- part collie, part spaniel? Everyone who met her remembered her and her loving nature. She was wonderful with my sons as babies and as they grew up. She chased cats until we had two and she loved them too. She went through everything with me. She knew all that was going on. She was my dearest friend. I stayed up with her the night she was leaving us and she went about 6am. I put flowers on the altar at Brompton Oratory that day. She never left me. She appeared to me whenever a crisis was coming in my life. The last time was about 5 years ago, so maybe she is busy elsewhere right now. I still think of her often. I had a horse who came with a twisted bit in her mouth. It was horrible. I threw it away and only ever rode her with a halter. She was 16 1/2 hands - big - and I'm quite small, but she knew everything I was thinking and I never once fell off her. She gave me some of the very best and magical times of my life. My Siamese cat Aphrodite had a son who she adored and would lie with her arms around him. I was so careful when she gave birth to her kittens - low light and no loud noises. Aphri and her son both died tragically at a very sad time in my life, but none of them ever die...So many rescued animals have accompanied us through the years and every single one has been a joy and a teacher. I would have them lying in state for three days after they left their physical bodies - p

4:55PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Back May 10th, I posted about my cat Beckiegirl who was dying of cancer. I had until June 6th, when I had to accept that it was time for her to go. I know it was time, but I still having trouble dealing with the fact that I had to put her to sleep. I am dealing also with guilt and doubt about her passing and I know that she would not want me to hold onto those feelings. I think of her so often, and I miss her so much. I still have my other cat Victoria and my dog Gator who I love so very much, but Beckie was special, (rescue cat) I think of her the most at night, as she had this little routine when she graced me with her company, and love, and it was truly our special time. I miss it.

The day she was put to sleep, I had her pet sitter (vet tech.) and her vet come to the house. I asked them to check her over and to tell me if they thought it was time. They said yes - she was not able to drink or swallow without difficulty, as the tumour had entered into the throat area. I loved her to much to let her suffer. I held her in my arms and stroked her and told her how much I loved her, and that she will be missed very much - than she went limp in my arms. We all held each other and wept.

I had her cremated and now have her back, I can not see her but I know she is with me in spirit.

3:14PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Lovely story, and sweet comments.

Some people ask me why I usually have around 20 animals at a time...they are a lot of work, the expense, vet visits, when they get sick it is such a worry...having to make the decision to put them to sleep almost kills me...I can never get over playing 'God' but I do it for THEM...
I'm their 'mom'...

I love them all and I get that love back a million times over. There isn't anything like it!

I would not want to live in a world without animals!

4:00PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

Owner training in progress...

8:50PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

Anyone who understands cats sees themselves in your article, Jessica :)
Truly sorry for your loss of Missy. Just remember how lucky she, and you, are to have had each other

8:23PM PDT on Aug 23, 2014

My 3 cats know when I am not feeling well and do behave themselves doing these times. My female cat in the beginning (Flashy) we didn't hit it off in the beginning but I had to find out from some of my friends that female cats will let you know when they want to be petted and right snuggle. Back on January 1 2011 I fell down a flight of stairs in my apartment building and was quite shook up and hurting too; my cats laid around me that night because they knew something had happen to me and I wasn't feeling so good! In fact they behaved themselves the rest of the weekend until I went to my orthopedic doctor the following Tuesday. I did suffer some injuries but with the Grace of God I survived and I am still kicking!

4:39PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

Simply Beautiful xx

4:08AM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

Jessica, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet Missy!! I always have major trouble with the "Letting Go" part. I still miss all of my babies who have already crossed the bridge.
But I still accept cats who people give me because they know "they will be well taken care of." From then on, they are loved and spoiled rotten! I don't want any of them to feel pain or unloved again!

Rest in Peace little Missy!

5:56PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

12:56PM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

This song says it all in my opinion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvZyT9pRemA

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