On Being Human, As Directed By Cats

I’m a better person because of the felines in my life. Here’s how.

Chryssy Moor
Aug 20 · 4 min read
Lucy and Linus, curators of human change. Photos: Chryssy Moor

I’ve never really been a pet person. I view pets as a barrier to the life I want to lead. Pets are something to take care of when I am already overburdened. Pets make a mess in my perfectly ordered home. Pets are creatures that take. Pets are something to worry about and pay for when you travel or live life in general.

Then last fall, under intense pressure from the kids who call me mom, two kittens became part of our lives.

Lucy and Linus were born September 30, 2018 and dropped immediately at the Humane Society. They weighed nothing and were fed from a tiny dropper by the hands of kind people. On November 17, the day they were 7 full weeks old, they were spayed and neutered (respectively) and put out for adoption.

This same day, my children walked in the front door of the Humane Society and spotted them. If I’m being honest, I fell in love, too. These two were born to be our cats.

We took our pint-sized toddlers home. They were perfect from the start. Curious and loving; never aloof. As I fell deeper in love with them, I learned things about them. They have personalities. They have opinions. They have needs. They show love.

For those of you well-versed in the land of having pets, I am sure this is not a surprise. For me, it absolutely was.

The more I got to know these cats, the better person I became. Cats, at least my cats, have lessons to lend to humans. Here are a few that I’ve picked up.


The first time I wrote about my cats, I typed, “Cats don’t fuck around. Cats ask for what they want. Cats nap when they need a nap. Cats play hard. Be like cats.”

Man, I give terrific advice.

In observing them I realized that cats really do know how to ask for help. They also know how to persevere. Both of these characteristics more humans should try on for size.

Lucy was closed into a cupboard today. She’d wandered in when I grabbed the Clorox wipes. I, not noticing her, let the door swing shut and finished wiping the countertops.

A few minutes later, I saw the door swinging outward. She wasn’t pushing hard enough to set herself free, but she was trying. She persisted. She did so until she got the door open and strutted out.

Lucy never cried in this situation. She didn’t ask for help. She thought she could handle it, and she did.

This is the same cat who cries ferociously if she gets caught outside. She mewls loudly at the back door. She uses her (not-so-little) voice immediately when she realizes the door is latched.

Lucy is smart enough to know when she doesn’t have the power to go it alone. She employs my assistance and isn’t the least bit concerned about whether she looks needy or frail or any of the silly things people get caught up in that keep us from asking for what we need.

Sometimes the cats remind me that I really have little to bitch about. Or they show me a little lesson in keeping calm when things aren’t just so. Their simple acts of cat-ness show me more intelligent ways to be human.

The best lesson I’ve learned from the cats, though, is how to accept love in a different way. Being a particularly wordy bird, I am one of those people who really crave words of affirmation from loved ones.

I extend this especially to romantic relationships, because, like most difficult humans, I expect more from the person I choose to lie in bed with and share my soul with than I do from pretty much anyone else in my life.

The other day, I sat on the floor with Linus. His purring was the loudest thing in the room. He licked my toe. He curled closer and closer to me. He put his little paw on my shoulder and touched his tiny nose to my cheek. Linus told me, in every way available to him, “I love you.”

As I sat, I pondered. “I don’t expect these cats to speak words to me that make me feel good. That is outside what they are capable of doing. But they show me they love me in other ways.”

Some people are like that, too. People who do things for you but aren’t really comfortable saying all the things they may think. I occasionally tend to more value people’s words than actions. This can honestly be dangerous.

I’ve been with people in the past who can spin such beautiful words that it melted my very soul. But when the actions don’t match, what good has that done me? That only leads to pain.

If my cats could speak and say they loved me, but scratched and bit and clawed, I would recognize they did not. Why is this sometimes so difficult with people?

The kittens have taught me to pay more attention to actions. To show patience when words fail and to be mindful of how I am treated.


Being a person is hard work. Verbal language and opposable thumbs have given us many gifts and many challenges. Using our intellect to learn from creatures with simpler lives, creatures who live in purity and without questioning their own integrity, is a pretty special thing.

I’m grateful to be a human lucky enough to interact with these life-affirming cats.

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

Chryssy Moor

Written by

Not as funny as David Sedaris; Not as motivating as Brene Brown; Not as well-crafted as Cheryl Strayed; but getting closer.

Tenderly

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

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