"Oh, would you like me to move? Too bad."
I admit it: I am a cat lady. I do love dogs, but as I get older cats grow on me even more. The fact that a cat never requires a walk at 2 a.m. doesn’t hurt.
Yet cats are more than awesome companions: By nature, they show many great self-care tips, especially for women. Don’t believe me? Here are five reasons cats are self-care gurus:
1. They tell you when something is wrong.
If you’ve ever owned or lived with a cat, you know this situation: the cat shows its belly only to bite you after three rubs and run away. Perhaps your cat claws you any time you try to pick them up. Either way, cats are very good at communicating when something doesn’t work for them.
Yet, this is a good thing. Cats use the tools they have to communicate. They stand up for themselves; their wants and needs.
For so many women, this is radical. How often have we smiled instead of telling someone off? Yes, there’s a place for politeness. You don’t need to tell your Aunt Marie that her meatloaf is worse with the Marmite, but you can say no to a second helping. You have the right for your wants and needs to be heard by those around you as well.
2. They enjoy alone time.
Cats can be alone for hours. Sometimes, I house-sit for a cat that I may see once a day, racing across the kitchen to get its food (I think, in another decade, we’ll become friends.) Living with cats is great: I never feel guilty for going to work. They enjoy being alone.
For women, we often become overly conscious of ourselves when we’re alone. Who hasn’t worried about becoming a spinster? Do you feel self-conscious about going out by yourself? We live in a world that judges women for being alone or wanting to be alone.
You have the right to alone time. Whether you’re an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert, you get to decide when and how much alone time is right for you. There may be some people who find that strange, but they aren’t people that value your wants or needs.
3. They are engaged with the present.
What do you need to entertain a cat for hours? It’s not an expensive list: a few yards of string, a box, and a big window. If you want to step up, add a laser pointer to the mix. If you ever watch a cat engage with any of these items, you’ll notice this: they are fully engaged with the present.
Mindfulness, or staying present, has huge benefits for humans. These include...
- Reducing stress
- Boosting your immune system
- Strengthening self-esteem
- Improving ability to handle criticism
Being present is also just enjoyable. Cats remind me of how wonderful the present can be. Whether I’m noticing a butterfly on a flower or the sun warming my skin, I enjoy beautiful little moments. If it happens to improve my health, it’s a great bonus.
4. They value their bodies.
Cats care about their bodies. Grown cats can spend half of their waking hours cleaning themselves. OK, we may not think that licking your own fur is a way of cleaning, but it helps them stay cool and waterproofs their fur. It’s so important that kittens learn to groom themselves by the time they’re two weeks old.
For women, taking pride in our appearance is a double-edged sword. Often, our bodies are only valuable in what they do for others. Can we have children? Are we desirable? We have to look pretty for others. Taking pride in our appearance though can make people call us vain or shallow.
Yet, until there are major scientific breakthroughs, the longest relationship any of us will have is with our own bodies. Treating our bodies well, from keeping them clean to regular physical movements, isn’t vain or selfish. It’s necessary for our well-being.
5. They love naps.
Cats can take naps on the strangest things. Cable boxes, printers, shadow boxes above curtains, or inside dirty laundry baskets. Name a place, and a cat has probably slept there.
On the other hand, humans are struggling to stay awake. Most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night, Yet the NIH found that 30% of adults reported averaging less than 6 hours a night. Millions of adults aren’t getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make even the simplest tasks difficult. If you drive, you could be a danger to yourself and others on the road.
So while you may not be able to nap all day like a cat, you can prioritize sleep. That can be allowing yourself to take a nap on a day off, or getting offline an hour or two before you need to go to bed. Prioritizing sleep as part of your schedule will ensure you don’t fall asleep on top of your keyboard or on the drive home.
While I adore cats, I get that not everyone likes them. Still, these five tips are great for anyone looking to improve their self-care and relationships. Who knows? You may just give a cat a good belly rub just to say thanks.