I’ve learned some amazing life lessons from my two cats. However I’m a dog person… well at least I thought I was until I adopted my rescue cats. I now realize the mistake in my thinking; you can be both! You can love loyal adorable “mans best friend” and love independent cuddly sometimes stand-offish felines. Being new to the cat game, I have watched with awe, Jackson (our older cat) and Luna (our baby kitten), live simple, yet adventure filled lives with us. I have decided to put together 8 tips they have taught me, that will hopefully help everyone reading this to live a more fulfilling life!
The 8 Life Lessons
1. Stay Hydrated
Jackson loves water. LIVES for water. At any given time he is aware of multiple sources of water, just in case. A strange apocalyptic preparation technique, although he does have that in common with his dad! If you leave your cup of water unsupervised? It is shocking how quickly his head is in your cup taking a sip. If your Christmas tree water is available? He’s in it, loving that potentially toxic pine flavor. If the toilet is looking extra clean? He’s sitting on the seat having an afternoon cocktail. It’s a little insane, but Jackson will always stay hydrated. Water is essential to life and knowing where to get it is important. Drinking a lot of water will do wonders for your body, a fact that has been more prominent in nutritional culture recently. It’s something really simple, but continues to get over looked or replaced by sugarery juices and sodas.
Action: This life lesson is simple. Just drink more water. If you work in an office walking back and forth to get water will ensure that you are not sitting down all day. Keep your reusable bottle close, and full. Out of sight out of mind is real, make it obvious on your desk! You can even go as far as setting a timer or a reminder to drink!
2. Stay Limber
Jackson and Luna are both constantly stretching. After hour-long stretches of time napping they immediately stretch upon getting up. You know, they have quite a rough life napping, eating and being cuddled. Not only do they stretch upon waking, but throughout the day. Each time they get up to change their napping venue, stretch. After having a scarfed down meal (so the other can’t eat their food first), stretch ! This sedentary lifestyle is unfortunately similar to a lot of ours. Sitting at an office all day, standing behind a desk, we are usually in prolonged postures that may be unhealthy for us. So being flexible is not only great for our felines, but also great for our own bodies. It’s more than about how many times you stretch, and more about how long you hold each stretch, as time will create permanent muscle length changes. I usually stretch while I’m binge watching my favorite shows, trying to hold each stretch 30-45 seconds.. permanently changing my muscles instead of the butt indent in our sofa.
Action: Life lesson two. Stretch more. If you are watching a show make sure you do some stretches during it. You can find stretches anywhere, you tube, past gym stretches, just keep your body moving! You can start with a few, and slowly build your way up. Notice where you’re most limited and start to feel great, like you’re creating your own body’s motion!
3. Play A lot
Luna is our newest kitten, at a little over one year old she can literally find anything to play with. She can entertain herself for hours by playing with a receipt, a sock, or even her older brothers tail. If you put Jackson and her together and they can get into all sorts of fun, or trouble depending.They can Catjitsu together (a form of ninja cat art), play with irritating bell toys grandma brought (noise toys are quite ill-advised), or my personal favorite the “paper bag” from our recent seamless order.
It’s like small children who like the box more than the present, they can spend hours with the bag. They often practice their boxing moves, or create a new super secret crime fighting squad. It’s an unfortunate bias that one is supposed to “stop playing” when they are grow, or when you yourself are too busy to remember to take that time for yourself just to have fun. Personally, I have to consciously make an effort to I corporate playing in to my daily routine. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to make sure the fun you’re having also helps you reach other goals such as weight loss, etc.
Action: Life lesson four. Play more! The easiest way to create that change is to make it a part of your life, not some huge big deal. Start small with maybe a new exercise or cooking class, something you really enjoy. You don’t have to love everything, so try different things, and try them often. Try to even set a goal, such as trying something new every 3 months. Most important though, is just to have fun!
4. Be Curious
Luna is so curious, it can be inspiring and angering to watch all, at the same time. She is constantly sniffing, pushing, scratching, licking… literally anything and everything. From random tiles in the kitchen to strings that may be hanging from your shirt. Jackson is a little older and much more chill. You get the vibe that he’s “been there, done that”, no more need to exert extra energy to explore. This is similar to us as we age. With experience comes more knowledge, and less drive to go out and explore things we may not actually know about. Luna has reminded me that curiosity is the fountain of youth and being curious about things is essential to our development. I’m not saying go out and lick random kitchen tiles (as that would be slightly mental), but I am suggesting you develop your curiosity and your desire to learn, explore and grow.
Action: Life lesson four. Get out there! You don’t have to go looking for the ever elusive wolf of Central Park, it can be something as simple as trying to learn why a certain coworker at work gives you attitude every Wednesday at 6:15pm. Other ideas can be going to MeetUp.com and join a group that seems interesting to you. For example they may have groups that go up one weekend a month and hike in the Hudson Valley. The more you engage with other people, especially those with similar interests, the more you will explore and learn about yourself. Make yourself feel uncomfortable, learning to thrive in new and uncomfortable situations will expand your horizons as well as nourish growth within yourself.
Jackson is one of the most chill cats I’ve ever met. He really takes life slow, spending
most days split between the napping on black desk chair, judging his sister from the right arm of the sofa, and lounging in the sun on the window sill. Not to mention the joy he has when it’s Christmas time, and he can nap under the festive (and warming) lights on the tree. Even the hyper little kitten knows when to take a rest. She can literally go from chasing her imaginary friend Frank in and out of every room knocking over anything in the way, to passed out in her little bed within just a few moments. Relaxing is notoriously difficult for a lot of people, especially in NYC where we live. The whole city basically runs on the stress and bustle of it’s inhabitants. I have had quite a few conversations about how I need to relax more, realizing that talking about work (regardless of how much I like it), is NOT relaxing. It has been a struggle, and I definitely still fall off sometimes, however it has definitely improved my life (and my relationship with my wife!). I’ve also learned not to sweat things that are out of my control. If I give a presentation at work, I will assess how it went, but I actively try not to dwell and obsess about how every little thing went. What’s done is done. This has really helped diminish a lot of unnecessary and unproductive stress, as well as a glass of wine every now and then!
Action: Life lesson five. Learn to relax and don’t sweat the small stuff. Find a nice spa or place to go and just chill. Go get a massage or play pool with your friends.
6. Sleep for a better life
If Jackson and Luna are good at one thing, it’s sleeping. Sleeping anywhere, during anything, in any position. I think Luna takes after me, because she can sleep in the strangest of positions and somehow look comfortable. She’ll lay on her back with all 4 legs in the air like a dead roach, folded in half in the crack between her grandpa and the sofa, or rolled up in a ball around her favorite stuffed goose. They both definitely take the term “cat nap” to the next level, there are times Jackson won’t even get up when you open the can of cat food because he’s having such a good sleep. Sleep habits have been in and out of fashion forever, from people saying you can “sleep when you’re dead” , and other studies saying we need some absurd number like 10 hours per night. Even in my world of advertising and business its seen as a badge of honor when you can work for days on end with minimal sleep and still resemble a functioning human being. But like we’ve been told before, sleep is essential to all aspects of your health. You should never feel guilty about getting enough sleep so you can crush it at work. Sleep is when your body and your mind recover and heal. Recovery from a tough work out requires sleep. Healing from an injury requires sleep. Being able to focus mentally on the job at hand requires sleep. You can find a million scholarly articles on the importance of sleep, but if you cannot make that a priority in your life it does not matter. Fortunately, there are now companies that train their CEOs on how to be more efficient and effective by sleeping more, creating healthier lives for employees. One of my favorite rappers, Nas, said,” sleep is the cousin to death”, but he is wrong (which is rare!).
Action: Life lesson six. Sleep! Easier said than done I realize, but try. Try to add a half an hour every so often. Also keeping mind how much easier it will be to wake up on those early mornings, when you had a solid 7-8 hours of sleep behind you. Routines take time to develop, so stick with it and see how much better you will feel.
7. Get What You Want
If Luna wants some love, she will get some love, even if it is taken my force! The fact that I may be trying to save the world on my laptop is meaningless to her. She will lay across the key board, even pull your hand away so she can get some cuddles. The fact that my wife needs a good night sleep is also irrelevant, Luna needs to be as close to her face as possible. So close, in fact, that she often sleeps directly on her face without regard for breathing. For me, litter box to pillow is a no-no, but like I said, Luna gets what Luna wants. I realize this may be a negative hit on our parenting skills, but an adorable warm ball of purring is so hard to get rid of! Jackson is also quite persistent. For some reason he has decided standing next to my face yelling at 530 in the morning is the most efficient way to get food. It starts there, and ends when I get home and he again yells persistently (only at me) until he is fed. They both also have this obsession with being in the bathroom with you, every single time. If you lock them out? They will actually claw at the door crying until you let them in. I’m sure you get the point, they are ill behaved small children who have both of their “parents” wrapped around their little finger. BUT it is also a priceless lesson, knowing what you want is half the battle, making sure you get what you want is hard, and not quitting until you’ve got it is the hardest part.
Action: Get it! “A goal without a plan is a wish”. Start incrementally and set a plan to create urgency to actually get this done. Don’t be as aggressive and lacking of social skills as our cats, but do start the journey. And remember, every step no matter how little will still bring you closer to achievement.
8. Squad Shows Up
Jackson and Luna always have our backs. The squad helps with loneliness in the bathroom (although really they just want to be pet), they help with house cleaning (despite the fact they are the reason the vacuuming is required), and they help with putting away the groceries (even though they are really fighting over who eats the raw kale first). Let’s be honest we don’t always need the squad, but it’s always a little comforting to know that they are there. I use to always wonder if they did this with everyone, or we were really special. Turns out it is just us, as confirmed by multiple babysitters who never experienced this much of their love and affection. This is true for all of the people in their lives, we matter to them and although we might not always need each other, the important thing is to make sure you we are there regardless. Kittens, reminding and inspiring us to spend time with the people who matter to us… who would have thought?
Action: Life lesson seven. Show up. Make the time to support your friends and family. Curate your friends list. Make sure they are the people who are there for you, the ones who support and make you a better person. Empathy, compassion, social interaction… all these are part of what makes us special, what makes us “humans”, it’s actually what makes us irreplaceable. So work on that, and everything else will seem easy !
In conclusion: Cats are freaking amazing little creatures that you can learn a lot of things from about life. All of these tips are easy, we’re not asking you to take up sky diving, quit your job and adopt 17 cats. Just try to add one or two of these tips to your life so that it is as peaceful, entertaining and vibrant as our kitten’s.