Lessons We Can Learn from Cats

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

As many of you know, most of the time I write about dogs. It’s not that I don’t like cats, it’s just that I seem to be “more successful” writing about dogs. I have five different stories published in five different Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and each story is about a dog. I have submitted other stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul, including ones for their planned cat books; however, none of those submissions have been accepted for publication. So perhaps I’m not the “purr-fect” ‘caterwauler’ for these anthologies, but I do believe we can learn some valuable lessons from felines, observations and inspirations different from dogs, but important just the same.

Experts believe anywhere from 74 to 96 million cats are owned by people in the U.S. (but, can one truly “own” a cat??!). Two cats currently reside at my house. They are sisters, born of the same mother but most likely with different fathers. These two girls are NOTHING alike! They look different, they act different, and they don’t even seem to like each other (although they used to sit together or lie beside one another when they were kittens). Murphy is a long-haired black and white cat with a loving, outgoing personality (she was the runt of the litter interestingly enough); Bailey is a short-haired tortoiseshell who is quite independent and a bit timid around people, particularly strangers.

Murphy and Bailey as kittens.
Murphy and Bailey as kittens.

I’ve had cats most of my life, starting at age seven, and I’ve learned some great lessons from them. Here are a few:

  1. Take time to rest. Cats sleep a lot during a 24-hour day. In fact, some experts say healthy cats sleep 50 to 70 percent of the time! Even the big wild cats, such as lions and cougars, take cat naps, conserving their energy for those big kills they need to make to survive. Why do house cats that are well-fed and don’t have to hunt sleep so much? You got me – I guess they just know sleep is vital to one’s health!Bailey_Basket1
  2. Soak up the sunshine. Kitties often spend much of that nap time lying in the sun, basking in the warm rays like a beach queen. Sunlight lifts a person’s mood, especially during a long winter season as many of us have experienced this year!
  3. Taking a leap of faith is sometimes necessary. My cat Murphy likes to jump from the top of our deck to the patio below (scares me to death, I do admit!) She isn’t afraid of taking that leap of faith to get her to the destination she desires. Teaches me that although it’s scary, sometimes a leap of faith is just what we need to get to our next goal or place.murphy_deck rail
  4. Appreciate the little things in life. Ever notice how a cat can play with the smallest piece of paper or scrap of yarn? No bling needed to satisfy Fiona Feline!
  5. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and those you love. Remember seeing the video of the cat chasing off the dog that was attacking a young boy? http://kdvr.com/2014/05/14/watch-family-cat-saves-boy-from-dog-attack/Cats will defend not only the humans in their lives, but also themselves against attackers, (including their own sisters, in the case of my kitties!)
  6. It’s okay to desire love as well as to be independent. My two kitties epitomize that truth – even Bailey has become more of lap-sitter lately – yet both of my girls like their independence and “me-time.” Many relationships die due to someone being “too clingy” while most thrive when each person has interests separate from the other (case in point: my husband sings barbershop and participates in the Coast Guard Auxiliary while I attend writer’s group meetings/conferences and transport dogs for rescue, yet we also travel together and enjoy our cabin on the mountain as a couple as well as independently, and we attend baseball games together, especially when his favorite team is playing in Denver! He and I share interests separate from each other as well as together, maintaining our love through togetherness and independence.Gayle and Greg_Cardinals

So, I’m here to dispel the myth that Gayle only likes dogs – NOT SO! Although I did watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show earlier this month, I also watched Kitten Bowl II the day of the Super Bowl. I’m also writing this to remind people that cats are special too, and just like dogs need rescuing and adopting, so do kitties. In fact, studies show that only 2 percent of cats that are brought to shelters as strays are returned to their owners because (1) owners don’t come looking for them and (2) there is no identification on the lost cat by which to contact an owner. Additionally, nearly 41 percent of cats entering shelters are euthanized every year. It seems a large number of people think cats are “disposable.” A sad testament to the mind-set of many people.

In addition to the wonderful lessons we can learn from our feline friends, cats often are easier to care for than dogs (you don’t have to walk your cat or take it to the “cat park” for exercise, for example). So, if you’re thinking about adding a pet to your home, consider the more independent, yet still affectionate cat – there are a variety of breeds, colors, and temperaments, and there are thousands in our nation that need loving homes.

Learn more about cat breeds at http://www.catchannel.com/breeds/ and find a kitty in your area that needs a home through your local animal shelter, rescue group, or at www.petfinder.com.

bailey basket                                     Murph_backofchair


Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.


SageBigAdventureFront-small    SageLearnsShareFront-small   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover


10 thoughts on “Lessons We Can Learn from Cats

  1. What? No dogs today? I think you love all animals, right? I didn’t know your “cat” side, but thanks for sharing this wonderful post. Cats definitely have their own agendas, yet they can be great pets. It’s so good to know that some pets live in loving homes, and makes one sad, yet determined, to help abused and homeless pets who don’t have any inkling what love and kindness are all about. You are spreading that love throughout the world with your books, appearances and blog post. Thanks Gayle. I appreciate you!


  2. I have to admit… I had wondered why no Writing Wranglers cat posts — until now. I assumed you had them. Now I know. Your “cat” submissions haven’t been accepted — so far. Your dog stories have nice hooks. One of your cats need to save a life… then a story will get published. Lol.


  3. Hallelujah! As you know I love cats and get angry when people think they can just dump them. A very good, no fabulous post. Cats are special, and everyone I’ve had since a young girl has been special. Thank you for talking about my favorie and the lessons they can teach. Doris


  4. The fact that Chicken Soup for the Soul wouldn’t accept your cat stories doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer of cat stories. Perhaps there’s another publication that will take your cat pieces. If not, you can post them on your blog. I enjoy reading about dogs and cats and wish you continued success with your pet rescue efforts.


  5. I’ve learned some of those same lessons from my cats too, Gayle. Another I would add that my tortie Zoe teaches well is be yourself and know you’ll be loved for it. She’s such a cuddler and so much just her.


  6. Hi, All — I am on the road traveling with hubby and parents but wanted to thank you for your comments and Stephanie, that’s a great addition to the list! I’d add to the ‘be yourself” is to “accept yourself and others” (although my tortie likes to spit and hiss at others! LOL) Doris, I KNEW you’d love this post, and it’s one reason I wanted to write it! Kitties are home with a pet sitter and I understand Murphy greeted and has welcomed a new “friend” in the pet sitter!! Thanks again, everyone, for your comments and also for your encouragement to keep trying my cat submissions — I shall! Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!


  7. I believe some people have a perception that if a cat is unwanted its not so important because it can fend for itself in the great outdoors – and that seems so wrong to me who has no pets at all. I know of people who have massive attachments to their cats but also others who have not been overly upset to have given one away if they have made a house move- claiming that the cat would be taken out of its ‘own’ environment. to me that’s a ‘cop out’ unles moving to some far flung place that has quarantine regulations. Like people, I’m sure a cat becomes acclimatised to new surroundings. I’m positive your submissions to the magazines will bear fruit soon- it’s abundantly clear that you adore all of your animals. 🙂


  8. I love cats and dogs and every other kind of animal. My youngest grandson and his wife just got a Maine Coon from our local shelter. It’s still a kitten. A very large kitten. They also have an English Mastiff. Their house is big enough.that they will still have room for baby. Pretty cats you have. Cher’ley


  9. Thanks again, everyone, for your comments. I appreciate your reading of my words and the encouragement you give me. When Greg and I returned home from our little weekend away, the kitties were quite happy to see us … plus the sitter forgot to give them tuna so we learned why they REALLY missed us! HA!!


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