I never thought of my cat as a role model for wellness before quarantine. But as we spend our fifth month together at home, I realize that cats are the masters of self-care and that I could learn a thing or two.
My cat, Gatito, is a 13-year-old American shorthair. I took him in when he was seven and his previous family moved abroad. I jokingly call him the worst roommate I’ve ever had because I have to provide for him and clean up after him. He doesn’t even offer cuddles in return.
But now that much of my world is on pause, I spend more time mindfully noticing things around me. Here’s what I learned from my cat:
Make your needs known
Gatito doesn’t hesitate to meow when he needs attention, food, or is about to get rolled over because he cuddled up to the wheels on my office chair again. I realized that sometimes I need to use my own voice to ask for a hug or suggest we order take-out because I can’t deal with cooking.
We live in Seattle and sometimes neither of us wants to go out in the rain. But when the sun comes out, Gatito knows to seize the opportunity and go lay out on the deck or take a stroll on the patio. It does good things for my mental health when I, too, get out while the weather is nice.
Stick to your routine (and make sure everyone else does, too)
Since we started working from home, we turned off our morning alarms. Gatito doesn’t use an alarm, but he’s always up at the same time ready for his routine of getting brushed, having wet food, and going outside before napping by my desk.
Show your love
OK, I’m not going to nuzzle my loved ones’ pant legs like Gatito does, but I can show my affection in more human ways. It feels good to start a conversation with a friend or former coworker by tapping out a thinking-of-you text. Similarly, I can call my parents or brush Gatito to show my love.
Gatito has a knack for finding comfy spots where he feels safe–like in the back of the closet with some shoes or by burying himself under a blanket. I can find solace under a cozy blanket on the couch or by climbing into fresh clean sheets on the bed.
I often find Gatito just gazing out the window. He looks so calm and peaceful. It reminds me to close my laptop or put down my phone and just take a minute to do the same. Taking time to be mindful and not distract myself with gadgets and to-do lists gives me a chance to clear stresses from my mind. Now I love watching bees, flies, and hummingbirds visit my flowers and blueberry bushes and watching new buds open up.