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why I have a cat...

Some people wonder why I still have a cat. Jazz in particular. She has a reputation of not-so-nice behaviour. She attacks people, she tries to intimidate and dominate, she can be anti-social, she often tries to escape, and she is always ready for a fight. Plus, she has allergies and bad eyesight. Frankly, I don't think anyone else would have her. She is not a pet for the faint of heart. And that's one of the reasons I like having her around: she demands a courageous master.

Since I was a young girl growing up on the farm, I have always had a great affection for cats. Yes, I was the cat whisperer. I could tame the wildest feline with patience, love, and consistency. I learned how to read them by spending hours watching them and playing with them. I received a lot of scratches in the process, but I also gained a lot of insight. Every life situation is a learning situation, and those things we are particularly fond of can touch us and teach us in particularly significant and profound ways if we let them.

I won't regale you with all my cat knowledge here, like how to gain their trust, how to know if they are angry, content, playing, or sick, how to approach a cat properly, how to react to aggressive behaviour, what it means when they flick their tail, what their favourite sitting and sleeping locations mean, and on and on. Perhaps one day I will develop a set of DVD's on how to relate to cats and make my fortune, but not today. What I will offer are two of the ongoing reminders that I receive from being a cat owner:

1. I sometimes forget that I am not my own master. I am a lot like my cat. I do not like to be tamed. I resist being told what to do and when to do it. I don't like to be disturbed from a deep sleep. Sometimes I would rather escape the confines of a restrictive environment than have to learn the hard lessons of obedience, submission, and loving interaction. When I feel abandoned, displaced, threatened, or imposed upon, I have been known to lash out. I sometimes show anger instead of humility. I want all my needs to be taken care of but don't want it to cost me anything. When things get scary, I hide, or make a lot of distressing noises, but don't always stop to think why. I want to belong, be safe, and be loved, but sometimes sabotage those very things by my anti-social behaviour. However, if I trust someone, I will show them my most vulnerable parts. I will wait patiently for my friends. I will sit with them when they are going through a bad time. I love to keep them company when they are working. I can be a very faithful companion, present yet undemanding. My gift is being there, always being there.

2. I can be a courageous leader. Having a cat with dominance issues has forced me to be a stronger leader. I know I have the ability to develop an atmosphere of trust, and this is my starting point. I am learning that I can be patient, loving, and humble while still commanding respect. By listening and understanding, I can learn how to react wisely to bad behaviour. I can train others to excel and help them overcome their fears. I am not helpless and need to remember that I can always improve a situation. I have the ability to set the tone, especially in my areas of authority. In fact, it is my responsibility to do just that. If I am afraid of getting hurt, I will flinch when I need to be strong, and this is the sign of a fearful and hesitant leader. Instead, I must be ready to suffer discomfort and work through conflict in order to bring comfort and resolution into situations. Being passive is not an option. I must be engaged. I must be aware. I must be actively listening and looking. And when the right time comes, I must leap into action with confidence.

Most days, I really like having Jazz in my life. It is never boring. This is a photo of her during an afternoon nap. She is seldom caught offguard.

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