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7 Life Lessons Learned From My Father’s Cat

True wisdom is found in watching a cat.

By Scott NinnemanPublished about a year ago 5 min read
Top Story - June 2022
7 Life Lessons Learned From My Father’s Cat
Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

Her concentration is unbreakable as she crouches close to the ground. Every muscle stays perfectly still except for the tip of her tail, which wags ever so slightly as the only warning to her intended victim. With eyes fixed on one spot on the ground, she’s a statue waiting for her prey to make a terminal mistake.

A leaf falls from the tree above, breaking her concentration. When she glances back, her next meal has already escaped to freedom. Unaffected, she rolls on her back to scratch the itch that’s been bothering her.

Sitting on my deck, I watch her dance with butterflies in the yard. My thoughts drift through time, pondering all the life lessons she taught me.

Who is she? My father’s cat, Bootsy. She’s the last picture in this post.

What follows are the seven life lessons she’s taught me so far.

By Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

1. Patience

All good things take time to achieve. Bootsy understands this lesson better than me. She’ll stand sentry for hours in her backyard kingdom, daring a chipmunk to venture into the sun. Even if an entire afternoon goes by unsuccessfully, she never gives up. The next day, she’ll return to her post and wait again.

One dictionary defines patience as, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Patience is rare in today’s instant-gratification world, but you can cultivate it with time. Bootsy knows if she is patient long enough, she will capture her prize. Success might not come today, but it will come.

What are you chasing? A degree? Career? Romance? Don’t be quick to give up. You may be closer than you think.

By Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

2. Persistence

If Bootsy decides the mole in the yard has to go, she’ll hunt him until she wins her fight. Day after day, she observes every moment, learning her prey’s habits. Before long, she conquers her foe and her kingdom is again free of pests.

Achieving goals in life takes the same determination. You must decide you’re willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the time requirement. Even if you fail today, you try again tomorrow.

Missing your goal is only part of the game. Showing up every day is the only way to win.

By Utku Özen | @theutkuozen on Unsplash

3. Focus

When Bootsy fully commits to catching a certain pest, nothing can break her concentration. She’s oblivious to sounds and movement, except for that of her intended victim.

Focus is a trait I struggle with daily. While writing is my passion, email and social media alerts snatch my attention from the words on the page.

Focusing requires you to block everything else out. Your current mission deserves your full attention, even if that means shutting off your phone or placing it in another room. Sorry, Instagram. You’ll have to wait.

By Kim Davies on Unsplash

4. Play

Bootsy plays every day. Her favorite toy is an old pill bottle with a plastic ball inside. She’ll throw and chase the bottle for hours, enraptured by the rattle inside.

Play is the best part of life. As kids, play develops our imagination and teaches us about communication and interaction. As one gets older, play often gets neglected. Your mind thrives on diversion, and play is key to a healthy reset.

Play can mean different things to different people. Once upon a time, I loved tennis and hiking. As chronic illness steals more and more of my vitality, most of my fun now revolves around writing and video games.

Whatever you like to do, schedule some time each week for play. Creative recreation will refresh your mind and body.

By Gökhan Konyalı on Unsplash

5. Comfort

Bootsy is unrestrictive about getting comfortable. I’ll frequently find her asleep on her back with her feet in the air or wrapped tightly under an outdoor rug on the deck.

Full comfort may be impossible at times. I’m sure my boss would be unimpressed if I showed up at the office in my robe and slippers. Still, it’s important to be comfortable when you can.

Finding comfort includes learning to recognize and pursue the things that make you feel relaxed and peaceful. It also involves the people in your life. Maintaining comfort may require making a conscious choice to spend time with those who let you relax and be yourself.

By Chris Yang on Unsplash

6. Protection

I always know when it’s going to storm. Bootsy is an outdoor cat and prefers to be outside. However, she hates thunderstorms, fireworks, and extreme cold. She’s my little barometer and will come pounding on my patio door when she senses any of those things.

Just being inside isn’t always enough. Thunderous storms will drive her to a quiet spot under my bed.

Keeping yourself safe is essential, but your inclination might be to ignore it. There may be some comfort in toxic relationships and soul-crushing jobs, but the long-term impact is too high. Protect yourself, even if that means making big changes or giving things up.

By Brett Jordan on Unsplash

7. Love

Bootsy is unrelenting when she needs love. When inside, she’ll find me wherever I am and make sure she’s my chief concern. That often means getting on the back of my chair while I’m working at my desk. She’ll climb my chair even during Zoom meetings if I’m not fast enough to stop her. If she’s especially needy, she’ll jump on the desk and sit on my keyboard.

As important as love is, many grow up believing you should never ask for it. Some equate expressing a need for affection with weakness. Wanting to be strong, they keep their emotional needs hidden.

Love is a vital component of a healthy life. Expressing the need for love shows that you recognize the importance of taking care of yourself. It’s a hallmark of emotional intelligence and maturity. I don’t recommend sitting on keyboards, but you should be just as direct.

Pay Attention

Life lessons are everywhere around you. If you’re willing to listen, everything can teach you. Bootsy is no exception.

Keep your eyes open and pay attention. You might just see the way to be as happy as a cat.

My Bootsy. Image by author.

Learn to banish your negative thinking with my free Speaking Bipolar Positivity Club. The club is valuable for everyone but specifically written for those battling mental illness. Join today.


About the Creator

Scott Ninneman

Bipolar for 49 years, chronically ill for 36. The voice behind the Speaking Bipolar blog. Wrestles taxes by day, wrangles words at night. Thinker. TV Addict. Poet. Links:

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (9)

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  • Angela Shiflettabout a year ago

    I love your take! It is awesome that you outlined all that you have learned from Bootsy! Perfect piece!

  • Muhammad Naeemabout a year ago

  • Call Me Lesabout a year ago

    Absolutely adored this. I know just the creator who'd agree! Cathy Holmes writes cat-centered pieces as well. I have too, lol Please come and join us in Great Incantations. Would love to have this story shared. Link in my profile. Also, fellow bipolar writer here as well. <3

  • Peter Evans about a year ago

    It's really interesting that you can learn something from a cat.

  • Cordellia Novisabout a year ago

    I Lost my cat this May...he was so close to me...i hope he is in a good place. stayed with me for six years, reading this reminds me of all his habits. thanks for writing

  • Jason Gretencordabout a year ago

    I struggle with focus, myself.

  • Rebecca A Hyde Gonzalesabout a year ago

    Nice read - We have four cats in our home. I have even written a couple of poems about them. (nothing published).

  • Aisha Shamim about a year ago

    v nice and informative

  • Irene Mielkeabout a year ago

    Cats are awesome. I have two myself!

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