Animals as Teachers

Yochabel’s Wisdom: Securing the Bond

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Guest post by Casey Hersch

This is the second in a series of posts by Casey Hersch. Casey discusses the many lessons she learned about caring for Yochabel during her illness, including her quest to stop Yochabel’s cancer from growing/spreading, barriers present with senior cats, variations in diet including supplements and herbs, and how to focus on the individual cat’s needs. Yochabel was not only Casey’s feline companion. She left Casey with ways to cope with her own illness, and with a greater sense of acceptance and gratitude.Continue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: How Cats Helped Me Find My Bliss

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I’ve been on a journey of following my bliss for more than two decades now. Not surprisingly, cats have not only been teachers throughout those years, they also played a significant role in helping me guide me toward the fulfilling career I have now: writing about and working with cats.

A couple of weeks ago, I was the featured guest on Dr. Heike Jung’s weekly webinar series.Continue Reading

Anya the Snowshoe Cat Teaches Lessons in Love

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Guest post by Will Hodges

After reading Buckley’s Story and having a chance to visit The Conscious Cat website, I wrote Ingrid to thank her for her wonderful ability to put into words the love she has shared with the cats in her life. I also wanted to share my story with her. I am honored that Ingrid decided to share my story with all of you.

I’m new to the world of cats. I was a dog person, having received my first dachshund when I was five. When I was young, none of my close friends owned a cat, and my first experience with one was when I was 20 years old and visiting a friend in Los Angeles. Their young kitty thought my suitcase was the litter box. That didn’t get me off to a good start when it came to having feline friends.Continue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: what has your cat taught you about life?

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I have always believed that cats come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love. But they also teach us to stretch and grow, to reach beyond our self-imposed limits, and to expand our consciousness.

I’ve been blessed that I got to share my life with the original feline master teacher, Buckley, and the original conscious cat, Amber. Both of these cats changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.

And both inspired books. Many of you have already read Buckley’s Story. I’m currently working on a new book which will feature Amber, and will be both a prequel and sequel to Buckley’s Story. You’ll be hearing more about it very soon!

Buckley’s and Amber’s lessons ranged fromContinue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: Living an authentic life

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The authentic self is the soul made visible. –  Sarah Ban Breathnach

Life is a series of conscious choices. Every moment present us with an opportunity to choose to be authentic. Merriam Webster defines “authentic” as “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” To me, living authentically means making choices that are in alignment with my value system. It means taking responsibility for my life, and for my choices.

It’s easy to blame things outside ourselves when life isn’t going the way we want it to, whether it’s the governemnt, the weather, or other people. We can’t control everything. Life happens, and trouble finds everyone at some point. Life is not meant to be perfect. But we can control how we react to life as it happens to us, and by making conscious choices, one moment at a time, we eventually create an authentic life for ourselves.Continue Reading

Animals can teach us the value of vulnerability

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Today’s post resonated deeply with me when I first read it on the New England Pet Hospice Blog. It reflects much of what I experienced with Buckley toward the end of her life. She, like no other cat  in my life (or human, for that matter), taught me about opening my heart. As a result, my life expanded in ways I never could have imagined. I am honored to share this very special guest post with you today.

Guest post by Heather Merrill

Sharing our lives with animals is a huge lesson in vulnerability. We know from the outset that we will almost certainly outlive them. That they will become sick, old, challenged, and that it will be us who must care for them and advocate for their welfare making excruciatingly difficult choices along the way.

And yet they bring us the most pure form of joy, contentment, and happiness. They inspire us and our creativity in countless ways.Continue Reading

I rescued a human today

Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher cat on sofa

I’ve always believed that animals come into our lives for a reason. They teach us about unconditional love. They help up open our hearts. And sometimes, they even save our lives.

The beautiful poem below makes the rounds on the web periodically, and every time I read it, it moves me to tears. I recently came across this version, slightly altered and adapted for cats, on Romeo the Cat’s blog, and wanted to share it with you today. 

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor
peering apprehensively into the cages.

I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I meowed, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.

As she read the sign on my cage I hoped that she
wouldn’t feel sad about my past.

I only have the future to look forward to
and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.

I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up
against the bars to comfort her.

Gentle fingertips caressed my neck;
she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and
I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my cage door opened and
her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.

I would promise to always be by her side.

I would promise to do everything I could
to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.

So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors.

So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Did your cat rescue you? Please share your stories!

Photo of Buckley, taken after she rescued me in 2006.

This poem was originally written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog’s professional dog trainer. Janine’s passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2011 Rescue Me Dog; http://www.rescuemedog.org/.

Wise beyond their whiskers

Guest post by Angie Bailey

Feeling stressed? Lacking confidence? Aren’t getting enough rest? Put down that latest self-help book and behold the stealthy swami that is the cat. These sleek sages know how to expertly embrace a peaceful, present, and playful existence. When I observe my three fuzzy felines and the manner in which they “are,” I cannot help but pick up a few tips.

  • Ask for what you want. Load your life (or nine) with all of your desires and meow for more! The world is your toy basket – fill it full of your very own equivalent of catnip mice and feathers-on-a-stick.
  • Watching birds is an entertaining and relaxing way to spend a slice of time. Talking to the birds creates an even kickier encounter!
  • Strech out in a spot of sunlight. Cats are the ultimate yoga masters, mastering such poses as Downward Licking Leg, Restful Reclining Reach, and Bending Bum-Bathe. I recommend the first two.
  • Bask in your own personal style – cats don’t worry if a tuft of fur is out of place or if an ear is turned inside out for several hours. Flaunt your fantastic flair!
  • Raucous play can be excellent exercise. Go ahead, burn a few calories by enthusiastically batting an aluminum foil ball around on the kitchen floor…you know you want to!
  • Be sure to eat lots of greens and protein, but indulge in a tempting treat now and again.
  • Create time for naps – curling up with someone else for a serene snooze is even better.
  • If someone flicks his tail in your face, don’t take it personally – find that spot of sun and stretch again. And then nap.
  • Detachment is key to happiness. If your food bowl is moved, adjust and find something positive about the new location.
  • Always trust your intuition. If a situation causes you to pause, for purr’s sake, jump in with all paws!
  • Practice presence. Offer the gift of your full attention to the friend who’s extended her paw in play and when you’ve moved on to patio-door-bird watching, enjoy every morsel of those moments. Look – a sparrow!
  • Unconditional love is what it’s all about. Cats love us when we feel great and adore us just as equally when we wear our cranky pants.

Cats are quite wise beyond their whiskers. Gratefully welcome the profundity of their purrs and their flair for frisky frolicking. Share a sunny spot with a cat for a few minutes and see if you don’t feel a little more centered. Looking to learn the secret to leading a happy and fulfilling life? The cat’s out of the bag – look no further than your four-legged feline.

Copyright © 2009 Angie Bailey. All Rights Reserved.

Angie Bailey writes humorous essays and musings about cats, family, and glimpses into the quirky, delicious, and oftentimes thought-provoking experiences of life for her blog Catladyland.

Holding the Space

Aliza and Matisse – photo courtesy of Laura Kuhlmann

Guest Post by Laura Kuhlmann

Last night, I finished reading Buckley’s Story, Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher by Ingrid King. Although I had purchased this book last fall, it was too difficult for me to read, having said goodbye in November to our beloved boy cat Matisse, aka Mr. Boober, after his brave battle with lymphoma.

Ingrid’s book is more than just a story about a special cat named Buckley, for Ingrid touches upon many aspects of the human-animal bond, as well as the animal-animal bond, including intuition and communication, that really make one stop and think. This is a book that sticks with you after you finish it, and no doubt I will be reading sections over again.

Ingrid talks about her cat Amber “holding the space” which really intrigued me. Here’s a short excerpt, from page 86:

“…..I made sure that I paid enough attention to Amber during this time … She quietly held the space for both Buckley and me. Some people, as well as some animals, are masters at holding the space. It means creating a quiet, safe, and peaceful environment. By being completely centered and secure in herself, Amber focused her gentle energy on allowing Buckley and me to relax into whatever was happening and to find our own way through it with as little worry and fear as possible.”

This concept – holding the space – is what our cat Mr. Boober did in our home, especially with our two girl kitties Lulu (his little sister) and Aliza (for better or for worse, his constant companion.) But we didn’t realize this until he had passed away. The attitudes of the girls, and the dynamics between them, were suddenly all messed up. The girls didn’t know quite how to cope, because the one who had held the space for them was Boober, and now he was gone. My husband and I described Boober as the glue that kept the three cats together and content. Holding the space.

I am fortunate to have met Ingrid via Twitter (gotta love social media!) and we’ve become friends. Ingrid thinks that perhaps Aliza or Lulu might eventually step up to fill the void (and hold the space) but of course it won’t be exactly the same.

It immediately made me think of a series of pictures that I took last fall. Both girls were extremely attentive to Boober toward the end of his life when he went blind. Aliza and Lulu would stick close by him…taking turns cleaning him…just being with him. Aliza especially, who was literally hopelessly in love with Boober, rarely left his side. I wanted to take some pictures of the two of them together, although our digital camera wasn’t cooperating. When I came around the bed, I saw Aliza’s paw and arm on top of Boober’s. My heart melted, and I’m so glad I captured this moment. I think Aliza’s only concern was to provide comfort and serenity in the midst of some scary changes. I think during those moments, she was holding the space.

Laura Kuhlmann is the owner and designer of Petscribbles, a unique line of hand-crafted greeting cards for, from, and about pets.   Laura designs and makes the  artistic and upscale, yet fun, personal, and whimsical cards herself.   The cards are made to order in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, USA, and only the best cardstocks, decorative papers and embellishments are used.  Laura and her Chief Feline Officer Lulu pride themselves on using recycled materials whenever possible. Laura and her husband are owned by two cats: a 9-year old Ragdoll girl named Lulu (the CFO mentioned above); and a 15-ish years young formerly feral kitty named Aliza-Loo Doolittle. Aliza enjoys a fulfilling retirement doing very little work (aka Doolittle).

Book Review: Guardians of Being

Guardians of Being combines the words of Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, with the whimsical illustrations of Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the MUTTS cartoons,  in a heartwarming, inspirational and joyful package.  The Oprah Magazine has called the book “an inspired collaboration between spiritual teacher Echkart Tolle and comic strip artist Patrick McDonnell.  A book to make you wiggle with joy.”

From the publisher:  “More than a collection of witty and charming drawings, the marriage of Patrick McDonnell’s art and Eckhart Tolle’s words conveys a profound love of nature, of animals, of humans, of all life-forms.  Guardians of Being celebrates and reminds us of not only the oneness of all life but also the wonder and joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us.”

This is a book to be treasured.  The wisdom of the words, combined with the charming illustrations, make this a book to be savored, not just to be read.  Browsing through this book is an almost meditative experience, and it will most definitely remind the reader about what really matters in life.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

Everything natural – every flower, tree, and animal – has important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen.

Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time – surrendered to life.

I have always believed that animals are amazing teachers.  It’s nice to see that I’m in good company.  Treat yourself to this book – and while you’re at it, pick one up for your closest friend.