Life Lessons I Learned from My Cat

Even if you are not a cat person, bear with me, this story goes far beyond cat mania. Our little tabby cat was frightened and highly-sensitive from the day we rescued her from the SPCA, two and a half years ago. No doubt being jailed there for four months messed her mind. As we came to learn Shylo’s nature we renamed her Shybaby.

Practice Patience, Breathing and Being

Extreme patience was the first virtue Shybaby taught us. We would have to be still, with arm out stretched, finger pointing toward her, and wait for her to rub by our finger numerous times before she would deem to move in closer. Closer contact would have to be her move, not ours. If we rushed this timely greeting she fled. (Often this time consuming ritual was far too much for our teenage boy!)

Yet, if we, and particularly myself (as I must admit that little cat really came to dote on me) were too impatient or too busy to spend time with her, Shybaby became even more skiddish and frightened. Intuitively she knew when I was lost in my hyper, anxious I have so much to do and so little time state, as then, Shybaby fled from my energy. Seeing this I would stop, sit down, and practice breathing and being – my kitty meditation. As I calmed down, kitty calmed down.

Couldn’t we all benefit from a little more kitty meditation in life? Firstly, noticing when we are anxiously driving ourselves and then, practicing patience with ourselves, and breathing and being?

Precious Present Moment

This sweet little soul also taught me the preciousness of each moment. As usual, she leaped upon my bed this morning – with her uncanny knowing the moment I had opened my eyes – to give me her love greetings. I relish her affection even more so today and with a heavy heart knowing she is to die tomorrow. My little girl cat is in the advanced stages of liver cancer, no longer eating, and there is naught else we can do other than love her.

So, this moment with her is so very special because I know it will never be repeated. Soon she will be gone forever from our lives. With bitter-sweet revelation I understand this to be the truth of each single, present moment. We only have each moment now, this once, to fully experience and enjoy it, and then it is gone forever. I am chilled by how carelessly we forget this – rushing onto the next thing, consumed with past and future thoughts – missing the only moment we have!

Keep Things in Perspective

Also, I have my cat to thank for helping me keep things in perspective. Yes, there is a deep hurt in my heart knowing cancer rages in her body and soon she will be gone yet, I am deeply grateful it is not one of us. Our lives have already been scarred by painful losses caused by cancer.

Yet, we are now deeply grateful as my father-in-law seems to have won his recent round with cancer. With much relief, we are no longer visiting him in the cancer ward. I am losing my sweet, little cat but my loved ones are here.

Do Your Best to Keep Loving, No Matter What

Little Shybaby has barely eaten in over two weeks. Although a small cat, she used to have a roundness about her that is lacking now. Although we know we can no longer selfishly delay her death – wanting one more day of her sweetness – it is so hard to let her go. I am amazed at how this little animal – despite illness and lack of nourishment – seeks to be near me and to heal me with her loving purr even now. This too is Shybaby’s legacy on leading a happy life: Do your best to keep loving, no matter what.

So let us all remember the teachings of the wise little Zen master, Shybaby:

  1. Practice Patience in All Things
  2. Practice Breathing and Being
  3. Live in the Precious Present Moment
  4. Keep Things in Perspective
  5. Do Your Best to Keep Loving, No Matter What