7 Life Lessons I Learned from My Cats

Caturday February 25, 2023

Image shows a “cat tree” with a calico cat and black cat sitting on different levels. The calico is looking out the window.
Author’s photo; Zak and Zoe enjoying their “tree.”

I obviously missed “Love Your Pet Day” on Monday, but I love my cats every day so I don’t need a designated holiday for it.

I was inspired by Robin Wilding’s post “7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from my Grumpy Old Dog.”

Cats can be many things — cuddly, calming, loyal, funny, and quite clever. For all their wonderful qualities, they often get a bad reputation. However, many important and educational lessons can be gleaned from examining the way they go through their daily lives.

Shut Up and Be Patient

Image shows a calico cat looking down at a bit of string poking out from underneath a rug.
Author’s photo; Zoe “stalking” a string

When dogs go after something, they are very loud and obnoxious. They don’t hide the fact that they are in pursuit of their game. A cat, however, is very quiet, carefully stalking, moving inch by inch, and sometimes even sitting silently outside of a mousehole, waiting for their prey to emerge.

A dog and its relatives often hunt in packs as well, but most cats take down their prey on their own, though there are exceptions. A cat will wait it out and eventually get what they’re after.

Most of us don’t have to hunt for our food, but we do have to hunt for jobs, housing, and sometimes a partner. If we are impatient and take the first thing to come along, many times it results in disappointment. A little patience can make all the difference.

Be Cautious

Image shows a black cat hiding under a blanket.
Author’s photo; Zak hiding under a blanket.

When I open the back door to let my cats outside, they look around and shift their heads back and forth a bit before stepping out. When meeting someone that visits the house — especially for the first time — they must smell the person’s hand before they’ll allow the person to pet them (IF they even come out of hiding).

When entering into an unknown situation, do you jump in with both feet? Do you ask questions, research, and look over the contract or terms of service before signing or clicking “accept”? Being a bit more cautious can save you a lot of headaches later on.

Remain Balanced

Image shows a calico cat perched on the shelf of a cat tree.
Author’s photo; Zoe sitting on the shelf of a cat tree.

As most people are aware, cats have great balance. They easily walk thin lines at great heights and you’ve probably heard the saying many times that they “always land on their feet.”

“When cats are off balance, their inner ear lets them know. They start righting themselves with their heads, and then their front feet and body follow behind.” Vet Street

Their flexible back and lack of a collarbone help as well. They can twist around easily if they fall and then land safely on their feet.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced or heard about it — the struggle for balance between work and home life. If you play around all the time, you won’t have time to make enough money to support yourself. However, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It also won’t bode well for your family.

Entering into a relationship can be challenging. When you’re single, you develop a certain routine of work and leisure. Adding someone else into your life requires some adjustments. You have to compromise and learn to balance.


Author’s photo; Zoe lounging on the carpet

Cats are pretty “chill,” for the most part. There are exceptions, but most will lounge around with their eyes half closed like Garfield. They don’t get overly excited when you come home or stressed out about you leaving. I do have a cat named Zak that has a bit of anxiety (a true scaredy-cat), but anxiety appears more in certain breeds of dogs rather than cats.

There are a lot of things we can be concerned about in our daily lives but worrying, in itself, doesn’t solve anything. Plan, prepare, hope, pray, and if it doesn’t work out, readjust. Most things aren’t worth the stress of worrying.

Only Speak if You Have Something Important to Say

Image shows a calico cat looking up at the camera with her mouth open
Author’s photo. It’s hard to tell, but she is meowing.

According to the ASPCA, cats don’t meow at each other. They may growl, hiss, and let out some caterwauling when they’re in heat, but usually, they don’t communicate with one another through meows, except when they’re kittens. Their meowing is for humans and it is almost always because they want something.

Some cats are more vocal than others, of course, but my cat Zoe only meows when she has something important to say. Sometimes she wants to go outside, sometimes to the basement, or she wants to be pet or held, and other times it is a questioning meow.

When she was younger, she would basically tell on herself. She would sit in front of my open closet and look up at my hanging clothes. She gave a questioning meow and I knew she was about to jump up and climb my clothes to get to the shelf above the closet. Sometimes I would be in time to stop her, but other times…well, some of my shirts have a few holes in them from a certain calico’s claws.

Many people talk because they crave attention. After their long spiel, you realize how little they actually said. I’ve seen it in this platform as well — endless paragraphs of droning, and then when you reach the end, you wish you could have those minutes of your life back.

If you don’t have something to say that is educational or uplifting in some way, maybe just…don’t.

Be Okay Alone

Author’s photo; Zak is contemplating his next move.

Based on what I’ve heard from a lot of people, cats have a reputation for being aloof, solitary, and unsociable. In my opinion, individuals who attribute these characteristics universally to all felines are misjudging these creatures. Cats can be very social — with humans as well as other cats. In fact, some cats (like Zak) even display symptoms of separation anxiety when left alone, though this is much rarer in cats than in dogs.

My cats are sociable but often enjoy time by themselves as well. If I were to assign human traits, cats would be introverts and dogs would be extroverts. Introverts are able to socialize, but usually are better at one-on-one connections and are recharged by having “alone time.” Extroverts are like social butterflies and make instant connections with anyone and feed off of other people’s energy. For more on these personality types, read “Social Butterflies and Wallflowers.”

You don’t need someone else to make you happy. It is okay to go to a restaurant by yourself. If you want to go on a trip alone, that’s fine too. Learn to enjoy being with yourself. Find out what you enjoy without the presence or influence of anyone else.

Take Naps

Photo by author; Zak and Zoe enjoying a nap.

Cats are sometimes seen as lazy because of how much they sleep during the day. What you may not always realize is that they are usually more active at twilight — according to an article on hillspet.com — is they use the daytime for their slumber. The other reason they take frequent naps is that they are conserving their energy so they can remain on high alert for potential predators.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to take naps during our work weeks. For those with families, the weekends don’t afford many opportunities either. If you do find yourself with some free time, you might want to consider taking a little snooze. According to the Mayo Clinic, napping has several health benefits.

“Napping offers various benefits for healthy adults, including:


Reduced fatigue

Increased alertness

Improved mood

Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory”


They go on to say that in order to get the most out of your naps, keep them short (20 minutes at most) and create a restful environment, which can include a dark, quiet space and a comfortable temperature.

It seems that cats may have written these recommendations themselves. They are infamous for taking naps such as these; hence the name “cat nap.” For cats, these benefits — like increased alertness and quicker reaction time — go right along with what I mentioned earlier.

Naps aren’t for everyone as some may experience “sleep inertia” where they feel groggy or disoriented after waking. This can happen especially when a nap lasts too long. Depending on what time of day and how long, a nap can also interfere with your sleep at night.

If you have the time and opportunity, try catching a little nap and see if you experience the positive effects.

Catalog These Lessons

As humans, we may think we are the dominant, most intelligent species, but we also have a lot to learn; just look at our leaders. Before you go thinking you have it all figured out, take a few lessons from your cat and you might just be a little better off for it. Let their behaviors be the catalyst for your improved life journey.

Copyright © 2023 Brandon Ellrich

*Originally published on Medium on February 22, 2023

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please click the like button and leave a comment as well. Follow me if you would like to receive updates whenever new posts are published.

Published by Brandon Ellrich

I live in Central Missouri and enjoy reading, writing, playing tennis, watching movies, and exploring creative outlets. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and I love to take my readers inside the minds of my characters.

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