I am an avid animal lover. A few months ago, I took in three, five week old kittens that needed some extra care from a local shelter before they could be put up for adoption. Our family already has three cats and two dogs, so to add more to the family was a bit of a handful. But, the whole family ended up falling in love with them and when they were old enough to be officially adopted, I just couldn’t do it. I could not hand those fur babies to someone else. After a family conference, it was decided we would adopt them ourselves.
Crazy? Most definitely!
Regretful? Not for a minute.
Having three, tiny kittens helped me to remember some very important lessons in life. So, with the permission of Prince, Hobbes, and Bear – our three newest family members – I share their wisdom with you:
1) Try everything once. If it doesn’t work the first time and you really want it to work, try again. You never know where it may lead you. For instance, if that counter is a bit too high, just keep trying to reach it every day. Jump at it a hundred times if you have to. One day, you will be just a little bit bigger and a little bit better at jumping, and lo and behold, you will reach the counter. And there might be cheese. Or a leftover tuna sandwich. Or you may find a box that is awesome for hiding. You won’t know until you try.
2) Learn the ropes by watching others you admire. You know the old saying: Imitation is the best form of flattery. Would you like to be braver? Learn a new hobby? Get better at a work skill? Being humble enough to watch, listen, and learn from those who have been there can reap some big rewards. For instance, watch that bigger cat steal that Halloween decoration right off the wall and traipse off with it. The next day, when it miraculously is back on the wall after the human stole it from the big cat and the big cat is asleep, try it yourself. Do it exactly like the big cat did. Enjoy that homemade skeleton with the ribbon wrapped around it that you can spend hours taking apart in the closet. It will be totally worth it.
3) Be a part of something bigger than yourself. This will not only make you feel good about yourself, but you will be helping others as well. For instance, when your sister and brother find a cockroach they are circling, join in on the fun. You can bat it around for a while and have some laughs. This will inevitably help your human find it faster and she will proceed to frantically scream and throw a shoe at it. Then, she will hug you and be very happy.
4) Always show others in your life you care. This helps keep the lines of communication open and lets them know they are loved. You can do this in numerous ways. You can bring them small gifts, send an email, hug them, do favors for them, or simply tell them that you love them. For instance, while your loved one is calming cleaning their face, they always appreciate a sneak attack from the side that turns into a fun wrestling match, ending with a sprint down the hallway and up the curtain. Or maybe just save him or her a left over piece of asparagus you found on that counter you finally reached that you put in the dog bowl for safe keeping. That may be just the ticket to help put a smile on his or her face.
5) Find time to relax. The world is a busy place and can create a ton of stress. Be sure to find moments to let the world go and just be free. Don’t let others judge you in taking time for yourself. For instance, take a nap during the day. Or sleep in. Call in to work for a mental health day to rejuvenate. And if it happens to be on top of your owner’s computer keyboard while they are typing, or on his/her lap just when they were going to get up, or right in the middle of the busiest hallway in the house, so be it. Or, I don’t know, in a basket otherwise known as the “place the chips go.” Take it where you can get it.
I am sure that these little ones will continue to teach me a lot. If nothing else, they are super soft and help to soothe me when I am a bit down or stressed. Pets are truly a source of strength for many. I advocate pet therapy often for my clients. I have had numerous clients go to their local shelter and then bring their pet to a session to introduce their new family member to me. I am happy to say that I have had everything from dogs to chickens in my office. I have also brought foster kittens to the office for clients who approve beforehand so they can hold them while they work through difficult issues. Many clients with depression and anxiety find that getting a small fur baby to care for can help calm many symptoms they struggle with. So, if you have not incorporated this into your coping skills for clients, I encourage you to do so. That relaxation that animals so naturally exude can actually calm our brains and our minds. And who doesn’t want a little bit of that once in a while?