Meet Percy! Baptiste and I recently adopted this one and a half year-old bundle of affection, energy, and frankly, chaos. Neither of us has ever had a cat before; we’ve only lived with roommates’ cats. So, this has been quite a new adventure for us, as he gets to know us and we get to know him.
You may notice he has an AirTag on his collar. That’s there because two days into living with us, he broke out… by literally breaking the side panel on our window AC unit. After a couple of nights outdoors, we got him back, and then he spent the next two weeks meowing plaintively at us. Now, we have a way to find him if he ever “Houdini”s his way out again. Happily, he’s settling in, and seems content to stay here for now.
I think that having this small, sweet beast in the house has been teaching us a good deal about relationships. We can’t expect him to get with the program of how things work in this house immediately. We have to find loving and non-punitive ways to redirect him from behavior we don’t like and reinforce positive behavior.
Scratching the chair? We can physically show him the nice scratching post we bought for him. Licking all the dishes in the sink? Maybe we don’t need to leave dishes in the sink. Attempting to climb the curtains at 2:00 am? We’ll let gravity teach him why that’s a bad idea.
It goes two ways; he’s teaching us how he wants to be treated too, by asking for attention when he wants it, and taking time away when he doesn’t. And, of course, he always reminds us that we are responsible for keeping him fed.
Percy reminds me that sometimes relationships are that simple. Even when we do things to upset one another and push one another’s boundaries, we can take the time to attune to the other and notice the effects our behavior is having on them. We can speak up when behaviors or dynamics are not working for us, attempting to communicate in ways that the other will understand.
Attuning with another person, let alone another species, can be so hard! Yet it is possible through continued attention, and the intention of care and building a relationship. Thankfully, we have our whole lifetimes to do this work.
If you want to boost your relationship skills, but aren’t trying to adopt a new pet, maybe you’ll want to come to our Community Connections Learning Retreat this weekend. More info & registration here.
See you this weekend, I hope!