Lessons from the Cat

We’ve all seen those articles talking about things learned from a pet. I’m sure we’ve all also said, “Yeah, right! What can you learn from your pet?” Well, I found out this past week that it can be quite a bit.

We had to take in my mother-in-law’s dog, Buddy.  Buddy is a very gentle Boxer that was raised with cats. The problem with having him stay with us was my allergies to dogs. He had to stay with us for over a week until my sister-in-law could drive four hours to our house to pick him up. I love Buddy but hate itching so I wasn’t too heartbroken to see him go. Our cats weren’t heartbroken either.

Our cats are all rescues and we don’t know exactly what happened to them before they came into our lives.  Since they have been with us, they’ve lived a pretty dog free existence. The reactions they had to Buddy were a bit mixed. Mainly they would make their way around him but one of them paid no attention to him at all, another followed him around, another tried to constantly steal his food, and one was scared to death.  That would be Tripp. He lived in our bedroom for a week.

Tripp quickly retreated to the bedroom upstairs as soon as Buddy walked through the front door.  I had to put water and his food dish upstairs since he would not come out of the bedroom.  What was truly bad were the times that Buddy would try to come into the bedroom looking for me. I’m impressed that Tripp didn’t have a heart attack.

We didn’t keep the door closed and Buddy was typically good about not going in there. Keeping him out of there was the main reason I lasted so long before the allergies really started getting to me. There were no barriers keeping him out or keeping our cat in. Everyone was free to move about.

Many of the personal growth gurus talk about how your fears or your mind are the only things that keep getting in your way. Your fears are harbored in your mind so it truly is your mind that stops you. It’s a good theory but can your mind really stop you in your tracks? If you got to see Tripp, you would believe it.

Buddy is a very mild-mannered dog that doesn’t even realize that he is a dog. We left him alone in the house along with the cats. Nothing happened. Our cat, Haley, refused to give up her sleeping spot and the dog steered clear of her. Our cat, Sam, took Buddy’s bed away from him. Tripp wouldn’t leave the bedroom.  If he heard the jingling of the collar for the dog, he was under the bed in one second flat. I didn’t even know this cat could move that fast.

For Tripp, the danger of the dog was all in his mind. He perceived the dog to be evil and that he had to keep himself a safe distance from the dog. You could tell that he wanted to go downstairs to join the others for breakfast but he could not make himself step passed that door. I felt so sorry for him.

Then it dawned on me that there have been so many times in my life when my mind has told me danger was around when it was truly safe. I went into an anxiety attack at the thought of getting onto a zipline. It was probably more dangerous to crawl back down the rope ladder than it was to fly to the other side. It took forever to climb back down, too.

So when you can’t make yourself take that step outside the door, think about Tripp. You can stay trapped with the imaginary bars on the door or you can bust out. I say it is time to bust out of the prison of our minds.

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