Things I’ve Learned from my Cat

Things I’ve Learned from my Cat

Don’t let her fool you. She loves me.

If you’re a regular reader (if not, why?) you’ll know that in February we adopted an incredibly shy Russian Blue kitten named Monica.

For several weeks Monica hid under our furniture on a very chilly, wood floor.

I would spend hours lying flat on my stomach reaching under the couch as far as I could, hoping to touch her with the tips of my fingers.

It was so cold where she decided to hide.  To me, it made no sense; she should have been in my lap where it was warm and safe.

The internet said too try to make eye contact and blink at her very slowly (called ‘kitty kisses’).  But each time I caught her eye, she would turn away and curl up in a tight ball with her back to me. [You can read more about it in my blog post, “God and the Couch“.]

Those first few weeks were so difficult for both of us.

She was moving into a new home, with people she didn’t know and surroundings that were new.

I was at a transitional point in my life, feeling isolated after taking a sabbatical.

Monica was to be my new companion; my confidant, my shadow, my support pet, my new bff.

The only thing holding this relationship back was her.

Or so I thought.

Hubby and I grew up with dogs; we didn’t realize how different they were from cats.

I know… duh.

Cats don’t just run up and give you slobbery kisses the first time they meet you.

Cats don’t want to sleep with you the first night in your home.

Cats won’t eat out of your hand, won’t jump in your lap, or play no matter how enticing you make the game, the food, or…

Actually, cats don’t trust a damn thing you do.

It took a while but we eventually figured all this out.

We’re stupid humans.

As it turned out, only time was needed for Monica to settle into her new environment before she began to trust us.

Baby steps.  After 7 months, all is good.

I learned a lot and felt called to share:

Monica has taught me patience.
Change takes time especially when your life starts out with neglect, a lack of love, and a home of filth.  I had never encountered a being – person or pet – from such a background.  Gaining this kind of trust takes a lot of time and effort, a lot of waiting and tears, but rejoicing in the baby steps… such as a ‘kitty kiss’ from far under the couch.

I find it difficult to imagine the patience that our all-loving God has for me.

Monica has taught me empathy.

I needed to place myself into her little paws and imagine a world of complete distrust, suspicious of every new sound, living in constant fear of being preyed upon, and scared of being placed with yet another new human who might not treat her well.  It took patience to let her know that she would no longer be left alone, deserted, or passed on.

Authentic love takes time, intentional accompaniment – it’s the ministry of presence.

Monica has taught me the importance of play.

This sound silly, but it’s true.  When our daughters were little I had a difficult time stopping whatever chore that needed done in order to play with them.  By nature, I’m a very product-driven person.  Things like Barbies, coloring books, and hide & seek were not necessarily productive in my mind.  Monica has taught me that slowing down, being silly, and dedicating time to play is something that is necessary and that I need to be intentional about doing.

True story – I stoved my neck playing with her.

During a game of chase, she ran under my bed and I jumped on top then slid across all the way to the other side and onto my head on the floor.

God laughed.

Monica has taught me how easy it should be to forgive.

I’ve stepped on her tail (mistakenly), I’ve locked her in my closet (mistakenly), I’ve shut her out of our bedroom at 3am when she decides to play with my hair (on purpose).  And every time I do something which could be hurtful on some level, she rubs up against my legs and gives me kitty kisses.

Every.

Single.

Time.

I’m pretty sure this is how God forgives. Maybe not with kitty kisses, but you get the point.

Monica has taught me to live with less.

I can’t tell you how many silly toys I bought when we first brought her home. There is a box in the living room filled with bright, colorful shiny toys, some with feathers and bells… and maybe a laser attached.  Monica wants nothing to do with any of it.  Instead she likes springs.

Yes, you read it right.  Plastic coated, 3″ springs.

I throw them.  She fetches them.  That’s it.  Springs.

God wishes the same detachment for us; to trust Him with all our needs. We actually need very little.

Monica has taught me how to show love. 

Once she realized that I would feed her, keep her warm & safe, and not abandon her, Monica opened herself up to receive love, and she began to show love in return. I’ve read that cats rub their heads and bodies against their humans to mark ownership.  Monica is constantly rubbing up against me.  She lets me know that I am hers and she is mine.

Come to think of it… Baptism has marked me as God’s, and I have chosen, through Confirmation, to be marked and sealed as priest, prophet, and king.

I am His and He is mine.

I never thought I would learn such things from a cat.  She has taught me more in these last few months than I’ve learned in many years.

She’s been schooling me tough!

Now I confess, I have new goal for her:

Next summer Monica will become a kayak kitty and join us on the water.

Hey, it could happen.

I’m patient and retired.

On the other hand I may get schooled again.

Monica still has a lot to teach me.

Pray for me and Monica as we pray for you.

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