Feline Wisdom: Unpredictably Flexible


I’ve always felt content around order and routine. My children sometimes kid me about my lack of spontaneity and can usually predict my reaction to most anything. I’m working on it, though. For me, routine has always felt safe and comfortable and so I’ve found myself adopting some pretty predictable behaviors.

I love lists and schedules and feel a little woozy sometimes when I veer off the prescribed plan for the day. Do I like these behaviors? Like I mentioned above, I find them safe and comfortable, which is not always a good thing. I’m not saying that routine is detrimental; I just believe it needs a sprinkle of spontaneity to keep things fresh and fun.

My cats love their routine…especially the one surrounding food. Their inner clocks and hungry bodies tell them when it’s time to eat and they aren’t shy about reminding me! I’ve also found cats to be very flexible creatures (and not just in the physical sense). Thankfully, my cats are not the typical nocturnal beings many felines are known to be; they sleep peacefully through the night. However, when I experience bouts of insomnia, they happily awake and join me in whatever I happen to be doing to pass the time. And just when I think I’ll have trouble cajoling one of them into the carrier for a visit to the vet, I’ll find her sleeping in said carrier. And the treat she loved last week? She turns her nose up at it today. Talk about unpredictable!

I’ve sometimes used the phrase, “routine with flexibility.” For me, I guess the biggest factor in letting go and acting out of character is the feeling of losing control. I’ve liked feeling in control, and with a schedule or a list I maintain that control. What happens when I don’t get to that project and instead go for an unexpected ice cream parlor trip with the family? Nothing. It’s not the end of the world and I’ll definitely have fun. What’s the consequence of missing that fabulous opportunity to clean the kitchen floor in order to meet a friend for coffee? A dirty floor that’s probably been dirty for a while anyway, so I might as well let it stay dirty another day and catch up with a friend. I’m not saying every day should be about shirking responsibility and allowing my house to become filthy; I am saying balance and flexibility is important.

Sleep is always on a cat’s to-do list; however, I’ve never known a feline who wouldn’t snap out of a snooze for a treat or a cool catnip toy. And yet, cats remain one of the most in-control beings I know! It’s just another example of routine with flexibility. I want that for myself too and realize it’s all a choice. When I allow myself to deviate from my plan and see the results aren’t a sure sign of the Armageddon, it’s a step in the right direction. And when I ignore my to-do list in exchange for an afternoon nap in the sun with one of my cats, it’s even better.

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