During the lockdown over the last 8 or 9 months we have all probably been taught things that previously we might either have overlooked, ignored, or not been concerned with. As we have become more ‘captive audiences’ a number of things have become relevant to us and along the way, teach us a few tricks or tips.
Now during this time, I have had a new companion. For those who don’t know me, amongst other things, I am a RSPCA cat fosterer and during the last 6 years or so I have fostered 17 cats- not all at the same time you will be glad to hear!
Fostering a cat is just providing your home and some TLC to cats who for a variety of reasons find themselves ‘homeless’ through changed circumstances (e.g. an owner going into some kind of care or sheltered housing) or some form of human neglect or on some occasions- abuse. So, I look after them in the Princes Risborough area until we can find someone to adopt them permanently and provide the cat with their ‘forever home’- which does happen although sometimes it can take some time.
As I am fiercely independent living on my own, a cat is an ideal companion. They know their own minds and will do what they fancy whether its human owners agree or otherwise and are generally happy in their own company -provided you feed and water them and give them somewhere nice and warm to live in- cuddles play a role but only on their terms!
‘Angel’ my current charge is unique in my case as she is the only cat that I have now gone on to adopt myself, largely because life has not always been kind to her. To begin with, she only has 3 legs now – she was a stray cat when I took her in, and no one is sure how she lost her leg. However, it does not stop her as she belts up and down the stairs of my house at quite a lick. She is also believed to be a cat flu carrier so she cannot go outside. After taking her in I also discovered that she has cancer- so she does have quite a few things on her plate.
However, as a cat Angel has taught me a lot in the time she has been with me. Despite her disability and having a serious health condition, she does not dwell on things but rather just gets on with her life. Although she is a very noisy cat she is not pre-occupied with what has happened to her or concerned about what may lie ahead. That is why I think cats are great examples to us about how to live in the ‘here and now’. Even though they are experts in chilling out, they are still alert to danger- if Angel sees next door’s cat ‘Meeko’ prowling around she will do her best to scare him off -even if it is through my French windows- but they are not anxious about things. At some level they just accept that there is no point worrying, fretting, or making any grand plans about how to deal with things that may or may not happen.
Animals especially cats instinctively know that when something happens that needs their attention, they will be ready to deal with that. It is the best example you can have on how to manage stress as they are great at teaching you how to relax- they can be on a side of an armchair, be on your lap or frankly up a tree, as they can stretch out and be happy almost anywhere. They can also sleep anywhere and at any time- they do tend to sleep around 15 hours a day so the opposite to us humans but if you want to know how to relax and through away your worries, just look at any cat- they know a few tricks!
Their importance to us as teachers are emphasised by God. In Proverbs 6:6 we are taught:
“ Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise”
Jesus of course taught us in Matthew 6:27 how animals as well as plants show us his Truth:
“Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or gather into barns – and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: they do not labour or spin”.
So, Angel apart from being a great companion, has been a good teacher, and during this difficult time I think all pet owners have appreciated the love and friendship that our pets bring us. They have been a critical lifeline for so many people this year, and we won’t forget how much they have helped us get through this difficult time.