Sometimes when I work with shelter cats, my first instinct is to fall inside the sadness of the animals’ situations. But thankfully, in my work with Reiki over the years, I’ve found a better way to serve animals in need—by turning away from that instinctual desire to focus on what’s wrong.
My secret? Two things, actually: First, staying positive. And second, learning to see the heart of things—in other words, focusing on the bright, beautiful light of the animal.
It’s not always easy to do, but as the following wonderful Reiki experience illustrates, there’s great power in positivity, no matter the situation:
“My little old dog … a heartbeat at my feet.” —Edith Wharton
Anyone who’s loved a cat or dog into his or her golden years understands the powerful bond shared following years of weathering life’s ups and downs together. And though our senior animals eventually succumb to health problems—a road not easily traveled— physical hardships don’t alter the size of their heart or their capacity to love.
But you may be surprised by the age at which your best furry friend is considered a senior. Different breeds age at different rates: Irish Wolfhounds (so adorable!) enter their sunset years at the mere age of 4.5; other breeds, like Dachshunds, don’t dip a paw into the next chapter until 11. (You can check your dog’s breed here.) Cats become seniors anywhere between 7 and 10 years of age. Keeping up on well checks helps you stay informed.
What is your perfect number of cats? As a child growing up, I never had less than two, but sometimes we had up to four (a real clowder—that is your new word for the day 😉 ). Of course, my parents realized early on that having three daughters meant three was the absolute minimum. That way, we each had one to call our own: Cassy (mine); Cassy’s daughter, Pinky (born in our garage in the days before we knew about spay/neuter and kept by my sister Charlotte); and Tux, a cute stray we rescued from being tormented by neighborhood boys whom Maureen persuaded my parents to keep. These special kitties all lived until our college days.
Today I don’t have a cat (we have allergies in the family), but both of my sisters have one. And they sometimes think about adopting another one, but it can be hard to know the right time, don’t you think? Life feels perfect as is, but sometimes it can feel as if something is “missing.”
It’s a big decision a lot of us think about—especially when we encounter a really cute one as a stray, at a local shelter or while “just browsing” Petfinder.com (everyone does this, right?).
But when is a good time to introduce a brand-new feline into your household? Here are some signs you’re finally ready to bring another cat into the fold:
1. Your one cat seems lonely. You know your cat better than anyone. Some cats are loners and would not take to another cat well. But plenty others are social creatures, interested in neighborhood dogs and friendly with strangers. If your cat is playful and open to new experiences (and creatures), she just might appreciate having a companion around. The more the merrier, right?
My very first cat: Cassy
My sister’s childhood cat, Pinky, who was also Cassy’s daughter
Tux, rescued from a life on the streets by my other sister
2. You’ve got this cat thing down. Once you find your groove, caring for a cat is so easy! They sleep all the time; they don’t require daily walks; they’ll survive if you work late a few nights a week; they’re content to simply catch some Z’s on your lap while you binge-watch House of Cards. The good news is, the workload of a second cat is basically the same as having one. (OK, there is twice the litter to scoop, but still.) And your kitties have a playmate now, so you won’t worry so much when you’re away.
3. Your cat has a bit of a tummy. If the vet has told you that your cat is overweight, think about why: Perhaps he’s eating fattening food? Or perhaps your cat just lounges around too much because he’s, well, bored. Unfortunately, cats that lack adequate exercise are at risk for obesity, which brings with it a whole host of health problems. When your cat has another cat to play with, he runs and jumps every day, is psychologically challenged by having another personality to contend with, and is emotionally fulfilled by having another lifelong friend.
4. Your heart is extra big. Unlike the Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, yours is extra big, with an unlimited amount of room for lots and lots of fur children! That kind of love is so precious in this world—and we all know homeless animals who’ve been rescued because of it.
5. You’ve dreamed of adopting another one for as long as you can remember. Simply put, sometimes we just need to take the leap and follow our heart. Two cats means twice the love, twice the purrs, twice the affection—and twice the fur! If you think you’ll be happier with two (or even three), you’re probably right.
Always use common sense, though—you want it to be a successful introduction, after all. Make sure any new cat fits with the personalities of your other cats (and possibly dogs), and consider if you have enough money and space to care for your newest family member.
Now you’re ready to adopt your next kitty from a shelter! (On a side note, here are 10 awesome reasons why adopting is the way to go—vs. buying from a pet store.) Have fun and let me know how it goes.
“Pray to understand what man has forgotten.” —Native American proverb
It’s been a tough several days of news for animal lovers. Right on the heels of the incident that resulted in the tragic death of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, the world-famous tiger temple in Thailand has been closed amidst evidence of wildlife trafficking.
In addition, in Miami, a judge dismissed the Orca Network’s case against Seaquarium for violations of the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to this ruling, Lolita—the orca captured at age 4 and kept in the smallest orca tank in the U.S. for 45 years—will not be allowed to live out the remainder of her life in a seaside sanctuary in her home waters where her relatives still live and travel together, protected.
What a sad world we live in, where parental negligence and human error and misjudgment can result in the killing of an innocent.
I’m talking about Harambe, the majestic 17-year-old western lowland gorilla shot to death at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend after a child slipped into his enclosure. Many in the public are outraged, questioning whether his death was even warranted. But there’s actually a larger issue here, one that most people aren’t talking about, as so eloquently stated by Steven M. Wise of the New York Daily News:
“The major problem is that the Cincinnati Zoo is legally permitted to treat such extraordinarily cognitively complex and gentle animals as slaves in order to sell tickets to gawkers, and that Harambe, like every other nonhuman animal, was a legal ‘thing’ that lacked the capacity for any legal rights, even the fundamental rights to his life and liberty.”