My cat died last week, all of a sudden. He came down with a viral infection and in less than 3 days, he was gone.
I have had a wonderful journey with him. Barring his last few days, the whole experience with him was both pleasurable and memorable for the positive impact he had in my life. In the hindsight, my pet taught me so many lessons which I realize only after he’s no more.
- Here are the 10 lessons I learned from my cat:
- 1. You can find happiness in places you least expect
- 2. Not everyone thinks and acts as you do
- 3. You must forget your fights and move on
- 4. Your best companions understand you and stand by you when required
- 5. Things are sometimes beyond logic and materialistic pleasures
- 6. Don’t let the voice of others bother you
- 7. When life gives you a second chance, grab it with both hands
- 8. The most important part of communication is to hear what isn’t being said
- 9. You cannot control everything in life
- 10. You get caught in the future and ignore the present
Here are the 10 lessons I learned from my cat:
1. You can find happiness in places you least expect
I was not a pet person before we got our cat. Not that I hated pets, but neither did I have any hatred nor cartloads of love. I was neutral and found them cute, that’s about it.
That changed when my wife convinced me to get a cat. Since I had to travel quite often for work, I agreed with her idea because the cat would give her company. I never expected I would get attached to the cat when I drove to an adoption camp.
When I stepped inside the camp, the gentle meows of the kittens produced a soothing effect on the ears of all cat lovers who had gathered there. I stood there as the odd man out and my mind raced, “Is this even a good idea? Can I handle the responsibilities of having a pet?” But since I was there already, I gazed around.
There he was in the corner, pressing his paws against the enclosure, waiting for someone to take him home.
When I first played with him, a wave of peace ran through me. “Maybe taking him home isn’t such a bad idea after all,” I told myself. He was less than 5 weeks old and was no bigger than a large-sized apple. But he had eyes, legs and a thin layer of fur. Someone had abandoned him near a vet, who handed him over to the cat adoption squad.
He now had a home and we named him Kuku. He would fit within my palm.
In no time, he became a part of our lives. He filled the otherwise empty house with his soft meows which grew louder with time. As weeks went by, his playfulness increased, so did his appetite and his habit of scratching us.
When he would curl up next to me after a tiring day, I would feel a sense of serenity. When he would turn playful on the day I wanted to play with him, he brought in excitement. In short, he brought happiness in our lives in ways we least expected. He brought me and my wife closer and strengthened our relationship.
2. Not everyone thinks and acts as you do
Cats have their own style. Call a dog’s name, he will come running to you. Call a cat’s name and he won’t bat an eyelid most of the time. Pet a dog and he will jump all over you and lick your face. Pet a cat and he might sometimes walk off with a death stare which says, “Leave me alone, you idiot.”
Cats have their way of showing love. Every morning, he would brush his body against mine. Sometimes he would curl up to sleep touching a part of his body to mine. When he was in the mood, he would even sleep on my chest.
I now understand, expecting people to think and behave as I do is incorrect. Each person has their own opinions, beliefs, and perspectives on life. If someone does not behave in a way you expect, it does not make him wrong or you right. Learning to respect a difference of opinion without trying to find a winner is the best thing you can do to your self-improvement.
3. You must forget your fights and move on
My cat would make my blood boil when he dropped things off the shelf. We could not decorate a Christmas tree because he would pull the decor off in no time. On one occasion, he was on the top of the tree as a tree topper.
I would chase him away and grumble. He would meow at me with anger and run away scared, knowing he had got on my nerves. But when I met him an hour later, he would not even remember the tussle we had.
Similarly, you and I will disagree, argue and fight with people. Sometimes, you hold the grudge forever over a small fight. But is it worth it? Anger and hatred only bring in negativity.
If you show a big heart, you can put your fights behind you and improve your relationships.
4. Your best companions understand you and stand by you when required
I had a routine with my cat. I would trouble the heck out of him by pulling his ears, pinching his nose and covering his head with my palm and shaking him. In return, he would bite me with anger and scratch me all over. He would even plan a few sneaks attacks. He would hide in the corner and pounce on me out of nowhere. I annoyed him and he gave it back, fair and square.
But one day, I was sick with dengue for a week. During that week, he never troubled me a tad bit. No scratches, no surprise jumps. He was always around me, curling up to me when I was sleeping.
You might consider people who party and enjoy the happy moments with you as the best partners and companions. But the real comrades stand by you when you need someone to have your back. Not always do they have the ability to solve your problems but their presence helps you take on any problem head-on as the best version of you.
The right person will make your shoulders raised, your chest flared and your fists pumped.
5. Things are sometimes beyond logic and materialistic pleasures
My cat never judged me. He had no clue if I was rich or poor. He had no idea what car I drove or which watch I wore around my fist. Whether I lived in a mansion or a small shed made no difference to him.
All he expected was for me to give my heart and he gave me his. Even if I did not shower him with as much love, he still would have loved me unconditionally.
Life entails more than just materialistic pleasures. You can get obsessed with making piles of money, wearing designer clothing, driving a fancy car or buying a 3 bedroom house. No doubt these things can make you feel good about yourself, but they alone cannot fetch you happiness.
Approach your goals and dreams with your mind, but do not forget to listen to your heart.
6. Don’t let the voice of others bother you
When we took our cat for a walk or had visitors at home, different people would show different reactions. They included both positive and negative comments like, “he’s so adorable”, “cats aren’t as good a pet as dogs”, “he is so playful”, “your cat scares me” and whatnot.
No matter what people thought or said, our cat would not give a rat’s ass about it. He would walk like a king or wiggle in the mud like a pig. He would do what he liked when he liked it.
You can often get bogged down when people look down upon you or ridicule you. Do not let the negativity and criticism of others extinguish the flame within you. You are your own master walking down your own path.
7. When life gives you a second chance, grab it with both hands
Just a few weeks before my cat came down with a viral infection, he had sneaked out of the house. My wife and I had gone out to visit a friend at 11 PM. When we returned 3 hours later, we could not find him. Since our house is cat-proof, we spent 10 minutes hunting for him at every nook and corner in the house.
Eventually, I noticed a window open which I had opened earlier during the day to pass a wire outside. I had pushed it close but had forgotten to bolt it and my cat had managed to somehow open it.
I and my wife spent the next 2 hours of the night hunting for him in every street. The street was full of stray dogs and since our pet was a home cat, I knew our chances of finding him alive were pretty slim. After 2 hours, we got back home, thinking our effort of finding him in the darkness was futile.
My wife decided to leave the window open, in case he had managed to survive and wanted to come back in. As she opened the window, there he stood, on the stairs, anxious and panicky. He had a minor cut on his hind foot but he was alive.
We thought we had lost him but we hadn’t. At least not yet.
Not every time do you get a second chance. When you throw a dice and it shows a one, life sometimes tosses the dice back to you and allows you to roll a six. Do not take such chances for granted. You may not get the opportunity again. Make the most of it. I couldn’t.
8. The most important part of communication is to hear what isn’t being said
Only 3 weeks after his escapade through the window, he vomited one night. We assumed it was some indigestion. The next day, when he continued vomiting, we took him to a vet. The doctor gave him medication to stop the puking but it continued.
He was in the hospital on and off for the next 2 days as his energy slowly started waning off. He had stopped eating food and drinking water completely. The doctors could not diagnose what kind of infection it was. The hospital could not extract enough of his blood to perform the necessary tests.
As he was on drips(IV), I held his paw and he meowed. If he could speak, maybe he could have told me the problem. But neither could he tell me what was wrong, nor could I get it.
Too often, you tend to focus on the words said by people. Watch closely and pay attention. Like animals, human beings communicate beyond just words. When you learn to identify the message which goes unsaid, you will turn more empathetic.
9. You cannot control everything in life
We gave our cat all the necessary vaccinations and medications. We fed him the right food and made sure we took good care of him. We always visited the vet when he showed any signs of illness. In spite of doing our best, he died at a young age.
You will hit many obstacles in life. No matter how much of an effort you put in, you will not always be able to influence the outcome. Expecting control over every aspect of your life is impractical, unproductive and worthless.
Stop worrying about the government, the weather, the traffic, and the market. The only corner of the universe you can control is you and that is all you must focus on.
10. You get caught in the future and ignore the present
I have massive goals I intend to achieve. Every day is a grind to get there. During this time, I failed to realize the happiness I experienced with my cat. I had taken it for granted.
From the time he vomited that night, he was gone in less than 72 hours. Poof. Before I could think or react, he was within my arms, lifeless and ice-cold, as I placed him into his grave. We bid our goodbyes and he is not coming back.
You might lose the sense of your present by always looking at the future. I am not saying that you should not aim for enormous goals or work hard each day. Of course, you should and so will I. But during the journey, do not forget to relish those little beautiful moments which pass right by you. You may not have the opportunity to experience them again.
Good and bad things happen in your life. When positive things happen, the world shows a common reaction. Glasses clink, people shout cheers, someone gives a speech and the crowd dances to the music.
What defines you is how you react to mishaps. Am I disappointed that I could not save him? Yes. Do I feel gloomy that he is no longer there to rub against me in the morning? Again, yes. Do I feel heavy-hearted when I remember him? Yet again, yes.
But what is important is how you look back at what happened. I will always remember Kuku as the companion who made me stronger and better.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened”Dr. Seuss
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.