For example, this little fellow snuck into our home not too long ago and has taught us so much since then.
My husband noticed a skinny shadow slipping along the narrow space between the shoe rack on the deck and the sliding glass door. The “shadow” sped into the house, headed directly for the cat bowls, and devoured the food as though prompted by an insatiable hunger.
Eleau won his chow and in less than an instant our hearts as well.
“What should we do?” my husband asked. Bernie knows feeding a wild kitty is never a one time affair. We have two adult cats already. They finally made peace after a several-year stand-off and can actually (sometimes) sleep on the same bed.
The odds of their accepting a newcomer seemed slim, but fortunately Eleau had youth on his side. And how could we turn a baby away?
Integrating this spunky cat into our tribe has had its ups and downs, but in the end love prevailed. Here are some of the most important life lessons Eleau brought to us.
1. Follow Your Intuition and You’ll Find Home
I don’t know how Eleau found us, but I bet he trusted his gut and followed the clues: there’s cats, there’s food! He wasn’t looking for love. He just wanted to survive.
Life Lesson: Follow your intuition and you too will find your family, your tribe, your home.
2. Attachment: It's Impossible to Escape
Feelings of attachment for this little kid immediately bloomed.
When Eleau didn't return by early evening on the second day, I began to wonder, “Will we see him again?” I felt a mixture of sadness, longing, and fear. As the afternoon light turned into dusk, I suddenly saw his little black ears, in the distance, pointing up out of the wild grass.
My heart flipped.
Why do we feel attachment to some animals or people and not others? It could be connected to karmic debts and therefore the cosmic joke about love. Our best friend may have been our worst enemy in a past life! So it makes sense - at least to me - to try to love everyone equally.
Still, I can’t deny my attachment to Eleau. But I can keep it in perspective and give him my love, full well knowing every animal and every person is a passing guest in our life.
Life Lesson: Whatever comes together will eventually part.
3. Know Your Priorities
One priority dominated Eleau’s mind: Food.
Even though it meant treading into unknown territory, he went for it. He didn’t wrap himself in doubt, low self-esteem, or over thinking. He blended intelligent caution with sensible daring.
Life Lesson: Know your priorities and don’t let anything else get in the way. [Click to Tweet]
4. Learn through Observation
You could easily call Eleau a copy cat. Tara chews grass. So Eleau gave it a try. Tara settled herself on the bed. So So Eleau leaped on too, mirroring her reclining posture with an uncanny exactitude.
Tara and Chitta receive regular cuddle units and tummy rubs. Now that perked Eleau’s interest! “What’s this, they’re letting humans touch them!” It took awhile, but it wasn’t too long before Eleau was turning over for his own tummy rub too.
Life Lesson: Be observant and willing to learn from others, especially those who succeed. But still be yourself.
5. Life Will Sometimes Feel Like the School of Hard Knocks
In his youthful enthusiasm, Eleau pushes his face into another cat’s bowl when she’s already there trying to eat. He wants to make friends so he leaps up on the chair, practically landing on top of Chitta - the sensitive one.
Eleau gleefully gets in your face without a second thought. He loves to pull on my hair and I have scratches on my legs and arms from his playful attacks.
As a result, Eleau has received plenty of hisses, a ton of kitty whacks, and several adult screeches and screams. Fortunately, he's started to learn about boundaries. But he's never gotten discouraged or lost heart.
Life Lesson: Not everyone will be your best friend and some people may even be rude. Don’t let it hurt your heart or discourage you. Carry on!
6. Know Your Limits
We’ve always set our limit at three cats. I learned - before our precious Bodhi died - that three cats can be a handful even when they - in theory - live outside. Each one has a different personality and consequently different needs. Each one wants to come and go at his or her own bidding, which requires the vigilance of a doorman.
Eleau’s entrance into the tribe stirred things up. As much as we loved Eleau, we had to ask ourselves more than once, “Can we really manage this?”
Life Lesson: Respect your limits if you want to live with sanity and peace.
7. Create Harmony
Our older cats - Chitta and Tara - believe the purpose of life is to sleep in a comfortable place during the day and hunt at night. Well, we’re not sure Tara even hunts since she loves to chew grass and we've never seen her in the act. But there’s an unquestionable consensus about sleep.
Eleau, on the other hand, springs up at the slightest provocation. He wants to play with you even when you don’t want to play with him and doesn’t hesitate to chase after you. He also likes to sit underneath Chitta’s chair and grab at her tail when she just wants to get a few winks between visits to the cat bowl.
Tara is steadfast like a mountain. Once she’s sunk into the bed, very little perturbs her. But Chitta - the sensitive one - couldn’t take the commotion of our new jumping bean. She disappeared for long stretches of time, making a loud and clear statement, "This is not for me."
"This isn’t right," we thought. We can’t alienate our number one cat. Would we have to find a new home for Eleau? That also pained our heart.
We learned to separate the cats at crucial times: Eating and sleeping, in particular. Then we lured Chitta back home with special hugs and petting galore.
Now all three rub noses and smell each others' bums - telltale signs they're part of the same tribe. It’s not perfect harmony, but much better than at the start. One evening all three cats even managed to reside peacefully in the same room.
Life Lesson: Harmony may require intention, creativity, and heartfelt action.
8. Panther Energy
Totem animals can assist you on your path of personal growth and spiritual evolution. Since Eleau looks like a mini black panther, we were curious to discover the energies associated with this totem animal:
- A protective presence
- The Mother, the divine feminine
- Death and rebirth, a new path
- Reclaiming power
- Eliminating fears of the darkness
- Magic, power, and mysticism
- Understanding the shadow powers
- The need to pace yourself
- Graceful movement
- Acute sensitivity
- Cellular healing
- Sexuality and sensuality
- Quick decisive action
While my husband and I relate to Eleau's presence in a different way, we both feel he arrived with purpose as a blessing for us.
Life Lesson: When animals enter your world, they may have a special message for you.
9. Cultivate Joy
How could a cat fiddling with your foot hidden under the blankets bring so many giggles and endless joy? Or what about when the kid crawls under the blankets himself? Youthful energy lightens things up.
Life Lesson: If life feels too heavy, it’s time to play. [Click to Tweet]
10. Slow Down
Since our kitties are so desirous of cuddle units and tummy rubs (who isn’t?), I’m forced to slow down and comply. Number three must be here to tell me to slow down even more.
Life Lesson: Slow down. “There’s more to life than increasing its speed.” - Gandhi
We checked with our neighbors before the final adoption of Eleau. One of them had been feeding Eleau's mother and knew her litter well. He then left for the mainland and his caretakers had rambunctious dogs. Eleau's mother disappeared and one of his siblings was found dead.
It's official, Eleau is part of our family. And three pounds heavier to boot. Now, if we could only teach him not to bring unsavory creatures into the house!
Whatever’s happening in your life right now, take a moment to step back, reflect, and draw out the life lessons. Then act on them. You’ll create a richer and more deeply satisfying life.
Has anything new or different appeared in your life recently? Are there any life lessons to take away? I would love to hear.
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