Things I Learned From My Cat(s)

February 16, 2024
Inside HR
Performance Management
Talent Management
Read time: 3 mins

Pets (cats, in truth) have been a part of my entire life. I know many people are not fans, but my love affair with them has spanned every decade of my life. All have been adopted from shelters or rescues, and have run the gamut from purebreds to alley cats. Each and every one of them has taught me something about life—and how to live.

Felines are pros at being in the moment. My current elderly feline recently lost his sight, and to paraphrase my vet, cats are excellent at dealing with what is currently happening—they don’t fret about what they may have lost and spend no time worrying about the future. These are good reminders about not ruminating on past mistakes and being mindful only of necessary planning for the future.

Cats are also adept at telling you what they need (truth be told, it’s usually food or love). Every cat I have owned over the years has had a completely reliable internal alarm clock, letting me know that it is morning and time to be fed or late afternoon—and time to be fed. Both activities are usually followed by head bumps, a signal that some loving attention is in order. Unfortunately, cats are not particularly good at telling you when they are not well, hiding their maladies until it is often too late. I am still contemplating this tactic.

Have you ever watched a cat play with abandon? Sheer joy (like dancing when nobody’s watching)! From stalking and pouncing to aerial acrobatics, cats will play until they have spent all their energy. It is an excellent reminder that fun is essential to a life well spent.

Back to my senior kitty that has become blind. I spent the first several days following the vet’s confirmation that he could no longer see engaging in “what ifs.” What if he gets lost in the house; what if he makes a misstep and falls down the stairs? The list was endless. After a day or two, it was apparent he has an amazing ability to navigate just fine without my intervention. In fact, when I try to intervene, it just confuses him. If I need to reorient him to his surroundings, I simply put him in front of his food bowl to let him know where he is. He still jumps up on my bed for a cuddle, spends quality time on his heating pad, and navigates the house without issue.

Not to directly compare the needs of our employees to the above scenario, but this experience has left me pondering how we, as employers, approach our employees. It is easy to make assumptions about their capabilities, but the lesson here is not to assume limits based on our concerns but to assist employees in navigating their way, with our assistance if needed, to their own success. You will be amazed at what they can accomplish!