My cat Camille, a grey tabby, lounging by the window in the crow’s nest section of a cat tree, with a bit of gold ribbon beside her. Photo by the blogger.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic had many of us hunkering down and working from home, I’d already been working from home for most of the previous four years. After being phased out of my full-time position as the in-house copy editor/proofreader/writer at a Toronto social/market research firm, I took up freelancing as I searched for a new permanent position, which meant organizing a work-from-home routine.
This meant that I was spending a lot more time at home with my cat Camille, a grey tabby I adopted 12 years ago from the Annex Cat Rescue, when she was about two years old. And when things shut down during the pandemic, I found myself spending even more time at home. With the cat.
And something interesting happened. I’ve always been pretty observant of my cat’s behaviour—from both an entertainment and feline health perspective—but with even more time alone and at home, I found my thoughts turning to how many aspects of her life seemed to be pretty healthy. Inspirational even.
So here, in no particular order, are some things I learned about healthy living from my cat:
- Stretch. It’s good for you and feels so good. This is especially important if you’re working a sedentary job. Get up. Give your neck and shoulders a gentle roll. Stretch those hamstrings. Be a little tea pot.
- Rest. Good sleep hygiene is vitally important, especially during stressful and uncertain times. Taking breaks, downtime, vacation/staycation time—ditto. In the summer of 2020, I shifted to a four-day work week and loved it so much, I made it permanent (with flexible Fridays for urgent projects only). And, this year, I decided to take a couple of extra weeks off—long weekends and that week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when my clients are shut down for the holiday, are just not enough.
- Ask. Camille has no trouble asking for what she wants. Food. Cuddles. Get lost, human. Often, she even uses her words. This is a tough one for me, as I have issues about being a burden or a pain in the ass, but I’m gradually getting better at it. I also often use my words.
- Detachment. Cats are really good at this. Doing their own thing when, where and how they want. Zero f*cks given. While I would caution against the cat extreme of this concept—we do, after all, live in society—I find it’s something that I’m mastering more and more with every passing decade.
- Solitude. While Camille can be sociable, she’s also very good at taking space for herself. Aware that I require a certain amount of solitude, I’m pretty good at this too. And the additional isolation during the pandemic has made me realize where the edges of that envelope are for me. An introvert at heart, I need periods of solitude in order to regenerate and refill—and I find that social gatherings/events, even small ones with my nearest and dearest, drain my energy. A lot. Too much solitude, and I end up living in my own head way more than I’d like to be. And, trust me, you do not want to be hanging out in there too long.
- Resourcefulness. Over the years, I’ve purchased a number of cool cat toys. What does Camille want to play with? Plastic/wire binding coils, bread bag tags, that little plastic stopper thingy you pull out of the milk carton spout, tissue paper—and boxes! Use what you have. This came in very handy during lockdowns, when non-essential stores were closed or money was tight (like when your monthly income is just a bit too much to qualify for CERB). I’d always wanted a white board; and found I had an extra piece of foam board with a shiny side that actually works with dry erase markers. Instant white board!
So there you have it. Stuff I learned about healthy living by observing my cat. Some, or all, of these cat life principles may be helpful for you too. Which of these resonates the most with you?