Cinco and Manna are more than just animals that live with Dave and me; they are family, they are our furry children, they are our companions, confidants, and friends. I love that bumper sticker that says “Who rescued who?” It can be hard to explain to someone who hasn’t ever bonded with an animal, but pets like cats and dogs provide as much support for us as we provide for them.
Over the years I have learned a lot of very interesting life lessons from my cats. Sometimes the lessons I learn from the cats are funny and sometimes not so much – sometimes they are really deep. Obviously the cats can’t really buy me gifts from Christmas or my birthday, but they have given me a lot of precious jewels with these truths. I don’t know if this will reveal more about the cats or more about me, but I wanted to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned with everybody.
Just a quick note – Cinco, Manna, Dave, and I are a Christian family (we go to a non-denominational church) and of course these statements come from our point of view. It isn’t my intention to offend anyone of a different faith.
Lesson #1: Nothing here on Earth truly belongs to me.
God made everything and it all belongs to Him. He gives and takes away as He pleases. This isn’t as negative of a lesson as it sounds. It is actually quite freeing. It was incredibly hard to let go of Obi Wan (the cat that was with us before Cinco came along)when it was time for him to be put down. When it finally sank in that Obi wasn’t something that was mine to keep, but that he was more of a wonderful loan, it was much easier to come to a place of acceptance. When Cinco and Manna came into our lives, we saw them as so much more than just pets. He and Manna are two of the most priceless works of God’s art and they are on loan to our family!
Lesson #2: God provides exactly when you need it.
This lesson is actually where Manna got her name from. Manna is the name of a food that God miraculously provided the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. Manna had been abandoned at 3 weeks old and somehow ended up on the front porch of my Dad’s trailer. Dad was ill-equipt to deal with a baby kitten like Manna (he tried to feed her adult kibble). It just so happened that Dave and I had been planning to adopt another cat right around then. We were able to take her to the vet and get her everything that she needed. It wasn’t long after that that Dad’s trailer park got condemned and everything was torn down.
Lesson #3: Never underestimate your the good done from your acts of kindness.
You may think that what you’ve done is a small thing, but it may be much bigger to the person on the receiving end. I didn’t know when I got Cinco that I was not just rescuing him from homelessness, but also from a rescue lady that was performing strange acts of cruelty on the cats (giving them homemade vaccines and such). The relief in coming to my peaceful apartment with people who did nothing but dote on him must have been astounding. What Cinco didn’t know is that I was still very fragile from the heartache of loosing Obi-Wan and feeling very unlovable. Of course, just in the nick of time, here comes Cinco – who never leaves my side.
Lesson #4: Life is funny and God has a sense of humor – go with it.
Cinco is a giant male cat, but he sounds like deflating balloon. When Manna was a little kitten, she pooped down my sister’s cleavage. Manna also fell in the toilet and couldn’t get out. Cinco sits in the window and growls at people walking by. Both of my cats snore. Every now and again Cinco has little territory battles with Dave over me. There are way too many funny moments to list. Finding the humor in life is very important to me.
Lesson #5: Change is hard for everyone.
Don’t believe me? Try moving the litter box. As difficult as cats take change, people are the same way on a different scale. Some changes are easier than others. Upset anyone’s schedule and you are sure to see them get frazzled. The cats yell at me whenever I make a change in my schedule.
Lesson #6: Being a good leader isn’t always about being right.
Sometimes you have to decide what your goal in working with other people (or cats) is. Do you want compliance to an ideal you had in your head or do you just want the job done? My cats won’t scratch scratching posts, but they always scratch this white chair of mine (that I found for free). I decided to let them have that chair. They don’t scratch anything else now. I intend to train them to scratch a post (I think I just need a taller one for Cinco), but I have saved my other furniture in the mean time.
Lesson #7: Your past experiences can shape your future experiences.
For example, Manna often drinks out of my glass if it is lying around unattended. I don’t worry about this because I only ever drink unsweetened iced tea or water. However, Dave left a glass with a little bit of Diet Coke in it unattended one day. Having experienced nothing but water and slightly flavored water (iced tea) coming out of glasses, she reached her paw in to get taste. The look on her face when she licked that paw was priceless. She shot me the angriest look I think I have ever seen from her. Humans do this kind of thing all the time too. We become so used to things being one way that when we run into something that we are unfamiliar with it causes fear or anger.