A Lesson About Discontent I Learned From My Cat This Morning

Every morning (and night for that matter) when I come into the kitchen my cat stands by her food and water dishes and meow screams at me. “GIVE!” “GIVE”! “I NEED!” “I AM STARVING” “HEEEEYYYYYYYYY” (things I imagine her saying as her tiny face is screaming at me). Hearing the demand, I look down at her situation and 9.5 times out of 10 she has a bowl of food at least half full, a clean looking bowl of water and a nice little plot of cat wheat grass; everything a kitty could need.

So, I think to myself: she doesn’t need food and water, so she must want attention. So I proceed to talk to the cat. “Hello squeaks! I love you! How was your day today? Did you pretend to apathetically play with any toys? Did you nap in the sun? My day was alright…” (I was an only child so I am very skilled in carrying on single-sided conversations.) As she continues to squeak at me I say “I hear you squeaks. You don’t need anything. Stop squeaking” — and the like. The point being to let her know that I hear her, and to give her the fifth element she may be lacking (love). (Not seeing dead people. That’s the sixth element.)

9.5 times out of 10 she will continue squeaking relentlessly (which is actually more like cat yelling). After trying to just ignore her for a while I give her an ice cube. Marley (my cat’s real name; we just call her squeaks because she yells and squeaks so much) loves ice cubes. 9.5 times out of 10 this makes her happy. She merrily drinks the water with the ice in it and forgets about how discontent she is for about 15 minutes.

Then…. squeeeeeeeeeeeaaakkkk!

*sigh*

This scenario happens to me daily, in a number of configurations. Sometimes it’s the morning, sometimes it’s night, sometimes I appease her by picking up her bowl and spinning around and setting the bowl back down again. Sometimes I pick her up and snuggle her and tell her I love her a hundred times, sometimes I pick her up and toss her out of the room. There must be a rubiks cube worth of me-versus-my-spoiled-cat options.

So, what did I learn from this rigmarole today?

Three things, actually:

1) My cat is spoiled. And it’s probably (entirely) my fault. There are many things my cat has taught me about raising children; this is one of them. (The lesson, in brief: Don’t spoil your children or you end up with Veruca from The Chocolate Factory.)

willy-wonka

2) I am my cat’s slave bitch. She says SQUEAK! I say Ice Cube, M’Lady? Snuggles? How may I serve you?

oy.

3) “Cats and dogs often absorb our vibes and after a while begin to act, obsess, relax, and even look like us.”

See, my cat’s problem is that she is infinitely discontent with what she currently has. She doesn’t even know what she wants, she just wants something that is not what she currently has.

Never mind that she has everything she needs and more — food, water, shelter, a plethora of toys she’s not interested in, WHEAT GRASS, fresh water with ice cubes, two humans who regularly contort themselves in bed so that they don’t disturb her tiny sleeping body that takes up a less-than-tiny amount of bed space, infinite snuggles and love, no dogs to bite her, expensive prescription food, and a spot in the sun where she sleeps all day long in perfect silence. Never mind all that luxury. My cat has a bad case of first-world perspective disorder. IE: “what I have will never be what I want” disorder, also sometimes referred to as “the grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome in folk songs.

It’s actually really sad.

So what did I learn from my cat?

I don’t want to be like my cat.

Marley

Marley.

I can’t give my cat perspective, because she is a cat, but she has given me a world of perspective.

While I’d say that I don’t have perspective disorder as bad as my cat (I don’t wake up every day screaming; not literally, at least) I do find myself squeaking at the world more often than I’d like to admit. Staring at my half-full proverbial food bowl wishing it was filled with something else. Squeaking entitled demands; “I know I have everything I need but if only I had that — then I would be happy! Whhhhyyyyyy! Squeeeeaaakkkkk! Serve me, world!”

I (and my cat) need to be more humble and less entitled.

It’s funny because I don’t even know exactly what I want … and I fear sometimes I am asking the world simply to pick up my food bowl, spin around, and set it right back where it was, exactly the same amount full.

My world is filled with so much wheat grass but it doesn’t consistently bring me joy because I am too busy begging for an ice cube (or for my food bowl to be picked up and spun around and set right back in the same place).

Insight Leads to Action

Here are my takeaways from all of this: Before I start screaming for something new — or something else — I need to take a look at what’s already on my plate right in front of my face. Take an inventory of what I already have; spend a moment in gratitude — in recognition — before seeking anything else.

I respect my cat’s diligence, and refusal to give up hope. (You can’t win the lottery unless you play, right?) And that is actually a lesson within a lesson I take from this — the power of persistently seeking what you want — but my prayer for myself is that I may find an eloquent balance between striving and presencing in my life. And that I may find the wisdom to scream for change — rather than just screaming to have my food bowl picked up, spun around, and set down in exactly the same place as it was before.

A balance and wisdom that allows me to:

  • Be aware of what I currently have
  • Live in gratitude for what’s already on my proverbial plate
  • Not be afraid to ask, but ask thoughtfully; asking the world to please, please, please pick up my bowl and spin around and put it right back in the same place doesn’t make much sense

About Chelsea A.

A slow rolling cyclist looking to be an active participant in my own life. Interested in straw bale building, Wayne's World, books on tape, and taking it all one day at a time.

Posted on March 4, 2015, in Random Introspections and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. this is awesome! thanks for inspiring self awareness and change xo

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  2. I absolutely love this. Great insight and hilarious.

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  3. I love the lesson in perspective you received from Marley, especially as it relates to our first world privilege and the need for meaningful change. However, as I get older, (and older and older), one of the important lessons I am learning is that one of the many reasons we humans are here on this beautiful green and blue planet is precisely to “spoil” our cats as much as possible. They are kitties and ipso facto to be adored and indulged and do whatever they want whenever they want. This includes both squeaking and wailing. (Also, she probably wants some wet food).

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    • Ha! Jane! Some excellent insight you’ve brought to this post… and, wisdom. I know the cat wants wet food. She is obsessed with the idea. Here is a side story that goes tangentially with this post (I wrote it in originally then cut it for the same of brevity): Last year Dustin and I started giving Marley one small teaspoon of Friskis wet food periodically. Not every day; not instead of dry food ever; just once in a while as a treat. She freaking loves it. It is the greatest thing in the entire world to her. (As you, clearly, understand.) Yadda yadaa yadda fast forward… we started weaning her off the wet food (we call it “junk food”) and now I haven’t given it to her in months. But still, she clings to the memory of the wet food with every ounce of her tiny cat heart. For MONTHS she has not received the wet food when screaming, but she just cannot get over the idea of the wet food; the hope that one day she will scream and it will appear. Like I said in my post, I actually applaud her persistence. That is another thing I can learn from her: never giving up hope no matter how bleak it seems.

      This cat really lives for two things: wet food and ice cubes. (Again………. totally my fault in creating this demanding Veruca beast. I was the Daddy Warbucks of wet food and ice cubes for half a year and now my cat refuses to live without the finest Golden Eggs. #Spoiled.) (And, yes, I know that simile just became a pop culture stew. It works better that way, really.)

      On one hand, I hear what you are saying: just spoil the cat! It’s a cat… not an actual human. It’s not like this cat ever has to get a job, or interact with society in a meaningful way one day. She’s just a cat brought to me to wear fluffy pantaloons and be showered with treats and tiny pieces of produce (she also loves produce). So why not give her her every last desire?

      Well.

      On the other hand, I’m really trying hard holding onto the hope that if I don’t reinforce her bad habits (IE: Screaming does not equal reward; calm, quietness = reward) I might one day be able to have a morning or an evening that is not filled with screaming cat demands. I just really dislike aggressive demands from anyone; and I especially dislike them from my incredibly entitled fur child. So, I am thinking, although I love her and her fur pantaloons, I should not reward her for being a Veruca.

      Sigh.

      It’s complicated.

      Lately, as I am making my dinner and Marley is screaming at me for her requisite [insert thing she wants despite her plethora of having everything she needs right in front of her] I’ve taken to asking her, “Marley, do you want to be a Charlie, or a Veruca? Nobody wants to be a Veruca…! Now… please, please, please, please, please, chiiiilllaaaxxxxx so that I can make myself a meal in peace.” Then I pick her up and snuggle her into quiet submission.

      (This works until I set her down.)

      Anyway. There’s a long epilogue about wet food for ya! ❤

      Thanks for reading the blog, Jane.

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  4. I have a similar issue with our rabbits; they’re so thirsty for affection that all they ever want is to have their heads scratched. No amount of head-scratching will ever be sufficient; they’ve never said “Thanks poppa, your work here is done. Go and enjoy yourself.”
    I guess I need to make sure I’m not treating the universe and those I meet the same way, constantly asking and never seeking to give. I do get caught up in the “work so I can buy stuff” mentality which is a corollary to this sort of thinking, just focusing my energies on acquisition.

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  5. Actually, I did not mean she was “just a cat.” I meant that being a cat, she was a superior being entitled to any and all of her heart’s desires. My cats went years without eating wet food. I can’t remember why I changed that routine, but I started having the 4 of them share a can of wet food for breakfast. Their main diet was still the dry stuff, but there was no turning back on breakfast. It made them so ridiculously happy and excited. Unfortunately, it also made them sing a wailing chorus starting at about 5 AM. I don’t enjoy that, but I know my place in the world and I am not in charge in my house. They are. Now, my main guy and soulmate, Pagie, has cancer. I am feeding him whatever he wants and as much as he wants. Wet food 73 times a day, fresh chicken, whatever. You had better hope no one with my obvious character flaws ever visits you, or Marley will be happily munching Friskies Salmon Pate behind your back. I have no shame and I am a willing slave to feline cravings. (I’m just a girl who can’t say No.) In fact, your comment about her clinging to the memory of wet food made me want to mail her some so we could sneak it by you. Even Veruca should be allowed a piece of candy once in awhile.
    PS I love your blog. Wouldn’t miss an installment.

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  6. what she is saying is my mother use to lick and groom me as I nursed and since you became mom I want to be petted and loved by my new mom so I know that I am truly loved. my cats do it and so many cat owners I know, say their cats do it too. its just a cat thing and who doesn’t spoil their child, furry or not!

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