From the minute I was born, animals have been a part of my life. When I was brought home from the hospital, my parents black Great Dane, named none other than Lucifer, quickly became my surrogate mother. Then we adopted Thor, a Siberian Husky. And years later, when I was in 9th grade, Wednesday, a black and white tuxedo kitten, came to our doorstep hungry and tired. Wednesday managed to worm her way into our dog loving hearts and as a result, our ‘dog family’ soon became a ‘dog AND cat family’. Is a matter of fact, Aristotle, a white fluffy kitten, and Pumpkin, a redheaded stray, were initiated into the family soon thereafter.
When I graduated from college, I traveled a lot for business and didn’t feel it was fair to have animals. Further, spending time away from our family’s felines caused me to develop an allergy to both cats and dogs, which would propel me into a Claritin dependency any time I visited my parents’ home. Needless to say, for the better part of 14 years, having animals was put on the back burner. So, when my mom asked if I would ‘cat sit’ Pumpkin for a few weeks, it was hard to say no.
Let me start by saying that Pumpkin is not a cat. Okay, yes, physically he is a cat. But, mentally, he is the ‘doggiest’ cat you will ever meet, and I have proof: My husband Dave, who has only wanted a dog for as long as I’ve known him, has outwardly expressed wanting a Pumpkin II.
Over the 26 wonderful days we’ve spent with Pumpkin, Dave and I have learned some of the best lessons. Pumpkin honestly knows the most important secrets to life:
- Love should be unconditional. Pumpkin is a good cat, but when he would do something ‘less than stellar’, it was difficult to stay upset. Is a matter of fact, a light scolding would turn into a mutual ‘love fest’. He would give me big saucer eyes and I would ‘have to’ pick him up and smother him with kisses. With people, we often have expectations and when they aren’t met, our love can be overridden by anger, resentment, or disappointment. Letting things go, and understanding that our loved ones make mistakes is part of loving them.
- Take time and do nothing. Before Pumpkin’s visit, Dave and I were always on the go. If we were home, we had to be doing something, even if it was watching TV. A lazy afternoon meant running errands. And, sitting at home on a Friday night seemed boring. With Pumpkin, we could sit on the couch and be with him, with or without the TV. We could pet him, watch his whiskers twitch and listen to his purr for hours. In the morning, we would let him snuggle between us and be content just being together the three of us. We enjoyed our time doing absolutely nothing.
- Any time is a good time to be loving. Pumpkin was always up for affection. He always received love with open paws, and was always quick to return the love. You could even wake him up from his cat naps and give him ear rubs. He never held grudges and he always gave love openly and fully. In our hectic lives, we sometimes forget to stop and be loving towards one another. Further, we sometimes withhold affection if we carry a grudge. Affection is important in bringing people closer, and feeling loved and secure. Further, giving love (and receiving love) releases some happy endorphins that keep you feeling all fuzzy (pardon the pun) inside.
- Put things in perspective. If I felt stressed or anxious about something, all I would have to do was look at Pumpkin and I could feel my face relax, the stress melt away and the corners of my mouth turn up into a smile. Animals have a way of bringing true calm and peace to your being, and it is that calm, that we so often forget to maintain on our own. Animals also seem to ‘get’ what life is about: it is the experience and living in the moment. Being around Pumpkin has allowed us to take things a little more lightly and realize that getting all worked up over some things just isn’t worth the stress.
- Life is precious and beautiful. Somehow, as humans, we take life for granted. We are big, we are strong and we are intelligent enough, for the most part, to keep ourselves from danger. Spending time with Pumpkin, has reminded me how very precious life is. Watching him breathe, watching the end of his tail flicker, watching his pupils become big with adoration…all seemed like incredible feats of life. How something so beautiful can be real, is almost beyond me. Life truly is precious.
The last 26 days with Pumpkin have been anything but boring. I now realize that Pumpkin did more ‘human sitting’ than we did ‘cat sitting.’
Pumpkin left us today. It was terribly painful. His love made our home more loving and more special. He even had a way of helping bring Dave and I closer together. I think every person should have an animal in their lives. They bring so much joy and peace to our existence.
Do you have pets? How do they make you feel?