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Life Lessons From A Cat

by Jean McGuire in My life

When I decided I was going to move, one of the most important things to me was to find a place with a little land. Not only did I want to be able to grow my own vegetables, I wanted the cat to be able to roam outside freely without fear of heavy traffic or feral cat colonies.

I found my new home and after a few months of preparation and renovation, we moved in. I knew I needed to let the cat get comfortable in her new surroundings before I reintroduced her to the great outdoors.

Sugar knows the importance of making your house your home – For the first few days in the new house, she diligently went from room to room rolling on the carpet and rubbing up against the walls, marking her new territory. I was extremely grateful that she is a girl and didn’t feel the need to mark her territory by making the entire house her litter box.

Sugar knows the importance of leaving her comfort zone – After a couple of weeks of staying indoors, it was time to reintroduce Sugar to the outdoor life. I was outside quite a bit working on the lawn and in the garden, so I knew I could keep an eye on her while she learned the ropes. The first trip outside she never left a crouched position. She circled the house and bulleted right back indoors. Every day she got a little braver and traveled a little further. Eventually, she started staying out at night and now roams the entire neighborhood comfortably.

Sugar knows the importance of standing her ground – Being the new kid on the block, Sugar had to establish her place with the neighborhood cats. Sugar is about half the size of the other cats, but she has no problem holding her own. She has come home a few times with scratches, so I know it hasn’t always been an easy transition. Whenever another cat is in the yard, Sugar doesn’t go on the attack, but she squares her body and faces them down until they eventually either leave or lay down.

Sugar knows the importance of compromising – As positions have been established, her feline community is evolving. There are a couple of cats that I am sure are her running buddies. They both come and go freely in our yard. After the first few stand-offs, the three cats all seem to be comfortable hanging out together. I have come home to find multiple cats napping in my yard with Sugar holding her position in front of the door. One time I opened the door in time to see Sugar and another cat napping in the sun snuggled up together.

Every human who cohabitates with a cat knows that they do not “own” their cat. Nor does the cat consider us superior to them, or frankly, even equal to them. They look on us more as staff who must be tolerated to have their needs met.

Sugar knows the importance of training your staff – Being an outdoor cat now means that a decision needs to be made, usually on a minute by minute basis on whether she wants to be inside or outside. She has established a routine of meowing like her tail’s on fire every time she wants on the other side of the front door. If I do not respond in what she deems a reasonable amount of time, the volume escalates until she can no longer be ignored.

Sugar knows the importance of claiming your space – Sugar has established the small table next to the front door as her throne. Never mind that I had a different usage in mind when I set it there. In addition to insisting that the table is hers, she also has decided that when she wants to be petted, I must come to her while she lounges on said throne. If I try to move her from the table so I can cuddle her while I am sitting, she promptly flies off my lap and hops right back on the table and the mewing to come pet her begins again.

Sugar knows the importance of taking care of your staff, even if they don’t always appreciate it – I may not always look before I leap, but I am very grateful I looked before I stepped outside the other morning. Miss Sugar had left a dead bird as a trophy on my front porch. Judging by the number of feathers scattered in the vicinity, I’m pretty sure the poor thing did it’s best to put up a fight. I’m glad Sugar can hunt, but I do not care for dealing with grisly remains first thing in the morning. On the other hand, I am sure Sugar was a little disgusted with me for not eating her gift.

I casually took this cat in two years ago, thinking I was doing her a favor. I had no idea how much I still had to learn in her eyes. We’ve learned how to live together, but much like anyone else who has had to learn how to share their space, it’s an ever evolving relationship.

I’ve got to go now; the cat’s at the door.

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