4 Things Cats Know

Claudia Stack

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1) If it’s worth going up to the door, it’s worth going through. Cats are wholly committed to whatever they do. Once they have a goal, they pursue it fully until they attain it (or until someone locks them in a bathroom to calm down). Cats don’t let apprehension get in their way. They operate on a the principle of “if I want the lizard, I go for the lizard 100%.”

2) Sometimes you just need to relax and be here now. At times the most productive thing you can do is not do, but just be. Cats are unapologetic masters of being. They surrender completely to the moment. Here is a partial list of things that do not worry a cat: The email he didn’t send. The fact that dinner isn’t even started. That unpaid bill. Nor that great, unanswerable question: If ammonia is what makes cat pee smell bad, why do we use it as a household cleaner?

3) Travel light. A cat knows that he really only needs a carry-on, and half of that should be filled with snacks and books. A cat knows that Lycra and fleece are gifts from God. A cat knows that it’s okay to wear the same outfit day in and day out, as long you clean it. He also knows that lots of luggage weighs you down and can get lost, causing even more anxiety. Cats travel light. They don’t worry about clothing they didn’t pack, or expensive clothing they don't even own. They just show up, and know they are enough.

4) Worry is useless. From birth, cats know something that took me years to realize: Worry is useless. In my experience, 99% of what I envisioned, good or bad, never actually came to pass in the same way that I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, troublesome and even awful things do sometimes happen. They just aren’t the things I projected. So I took note of my cat’s attitude, and gave up worrying. I don’t think much about the future, except in the most general way. I don’t plan excessively. I just throw intentions out to the universe, and wait for them to come back. It is amazing how often they do. Once, I witnessed a masterful demonstration of this principle. I watched an elderly barn cat stare at a mouse until it actually ran right over to the cat. Then the cat leaned down, not even hurrying, and picked the mouse up with his teeth. The cat didn’t make a complex effort to pursue the mouse. He just held a pure, worry-free intention. I may not ever be that masterful. However, I do know that things rarely unfold as we think they will, so our mental energy is better spent lavishing good thoughts on the people and activities that make us purr in the present moment.

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I am an educator and filmmaker. My documentary films on historic African American schools have screened at film festivals, colleges, libraries, and other venues. In Fall, 2017 I completed SHARECROP and SHARECROP: DELTA COTTON, documentaries that showcase oral history of the South’s “forgotten farmers.” These films have screened at festivals in major cities including London, Atlanta, Detroit.

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