Life lessons I’ve learned from my cats

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Perhaps it’s the weather that’s making me feel so philosophical. Maybe I’m just tired. Or perhaps it’s just old age.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

For whatever reason, I’ve recently been thinking not only about the values my parents instilled in me, but also about the life lessons I’ve learned from my cats. So without further ado and in no particular order of importance, here they are:

  1. Forgive but don’t ever forget
  2. Loyalty and respect must be earned
  3. Trust is a precious commodity
  4. So is unconditional love
  5. When someone hurts you, take a breath, step back and evaluate whether or not your own actions prompted that behavior
  6. Physical scars may fade with time, but emotional scars don’t
  7. Compassion is not just a human trait
  8. Persistence pays off
  9. Sometimes you have to yell louder than everyone else in order to be heard
  10. Every day is an adventure
  11. Being really cute can get you out of lots of trouble
  12. Being really cute can get you into lots of trouble
  13. Never let anyone know how clever you really are
  14. Never follow orders without thinking about it first
  15. Let everyone else think they’re really smart
  16. Annual checkups are highly overrated
  17. Road trips aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be
  18. Getting enough rest is super-important
  19. So is friendship
  20. Life can be really hard and scary sometimes…
  21. But no matter what, you just gotta have faith that everything will be okay…



Drama, drama, drama…

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As an old friend of mine used to say, “we all have choices.” So I guess there are a couple of different ways I can choose to reflect on the events of last week. I can look back at the first week of August 2016 as one of the most memorable weeks of my life — or as one of the most forgettable.

But the truth is, any way I choose to look at it, there was plenty of drama. And no, I didn’t create it.

As most of you know, the drama began when my cat, Eli, ended up at the vet. At first we weren’t sure what was wrong. We figured he might have had a really bad hair ball — but the vet who examined him said his back was extremely sensitive. An x-ray didn’t yield evidence of any sort of obstruction in Eli’s intestines, but we did learn that he has an extra vertebrae.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The drama continued when his medicine (including some anti-inflammatory pills and very potent pain killers) seemed to make Eli extremely timid and anti-social. He hid under the bed for four days, and only came out to use his litter box. He ate and drank from the bowls I put within reach, and stuck his head out far enough to be brushed, but that was about it.

Eli finally came out of hiding yesterday, but is now camped in the plant room in the basement. At least it’s quiet and cool down there. He’s got a litter box down there. He’ll eat and drink whatever I put down for him, and he’s being a lot more affectionate. Most importantly, no longer seems to be in any pain. So things are looking up…

But wait, there’s more…

Now if only we can get the situation with our kitchen renovation resolved. Due to a potential class action law suit (or other legal remedies) I can’t go into too much detail about this mess. Here’s what I can tell you. We put a kitchen addition on our house several years ago. The project got sidetracked due to unforeseen complications — but the work finally got started earlier this summer. Everything was going well… until our general contractor seemed to fall off the face of the earth.

As anyone who’s ever gone through significant renovations knows, that’s never good. To cut a long story short, last week we finally got a hold of someone who can help us resolve the situation. Of course, we haven’t heard from her since we spoke to her… so we will see what happens.

So much for a quiet weekend

So you would think that the drama would let up over the weekend. But no. Apparently that’s too much to ask.

Yesterday I had to call the cops. It wasn’t an emergency or anything. But let’s just say I wasn’t happy when I finished mowing the lawn, walked down to the river, and found an abandoned skiff tied to our landing. I had never seen this boat before. And there was no sign of the owner.

The most annoying thing — and the main reason I called the police — is  that the only way to get from the landing (which is really a set of steps leading down to the water) to the street is to walk through our back yard. And I’m not really thrilled about the idea of someone I don’t know tramping across our property.

As it turned out, my concerns were merited. Let’s just say the owner is “known” to police. And let’s just say he’s not the type of guy anyone would want tramping through their yard…

Life is complicated

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That does it. In my next life, I’m coming back as my own cat. Seriously.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I’ve officially decided that human beings are definitely overrated. Just look at everything that’s happened lately.  We’ve had cop killings, terrorism, mall shootings, nightclub shootings, and train attacks carried out by ax-wielding maniacs.  And then there’s the collective insanity otherwise known as presidential politics.

Yes, humans are overrated. We think we’re so special because we have opposable thumbs and souls. We also think our ability to reason sets us apart from other animals. Well, for such an intellectually and technologically advanced species, we sure are screwing things up a lot. And for some strange reason, we seem completely incapable of learning from our mistakes.

Yes, people are overrated. And life is complicated.

Don’t get me wrong. Life isn’t necessarily easy for American dogs and cats, either. As much as we love our pets, the sad reality is that there are millions of unwanted animals in the United States. According to The Humane Society of the United States, more than 2 million “healthy, adoptable” dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters every year. The organization estimates that is roughly one every 13 seconds.

Yes, you can chalk that up to human stupidity, too.

But my cats were lucky. We got Tiger from family friends when they moved to Saudi Arabia; if we hadn’t taken her, she would have been left outside to fend for herself. Heals was a stray. A co-worker found her wandering in the neighborhood and took her in, but couldn’t keep her. If I hadn’t taken her, she would have ended up in the local pound. And Eli — my sweet baby boy — my “pit bull in a cat costume”– he was a pound cat with an attitude when I adopted him. I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn’t chosen him.

Today, I don’t think there’s a cat on the face of the earth that has it better than Eli. Eli is spoiled rotten — and he knows it. His chief concerns are when he’ll get breakfast and dinner. Beyond that, his only worries are whether he’s got enough kibble and whether his litter boxes are clean (yes, he has more than one). Oh… I suppose he also worries about being hauled off to the vet, having his claws clipped and how long it will take one of us to figure out that he wants to go out on the deck.

He does not have to worry about being abused or being abandoned. He’ll never have to worry about being neglected. In other words, he’s got a pretty good life — and he knows it.