There is a cat in the kitchen and her name is Gracie. When she wants something, she tells us. When we ignore her, she tells us louder. When we ignore that, she either runs around leaping off of furniture like a maniac or if we are sitting on the couch, jumps on the back and sniffs in our ears.
Cats want what they want when they want it and they don’t accept no. All animals do, it’s just that some can become more tamed than others. Those less tamable, like cats, we call selfish. But actually, it’s the reverse: taming them to “behave”—which means to do as we like at our pleasure—is selfish. In fact, we wish they’d behave as an extension of ourself.
Teaching another to tolerate greater levels of discomfort so that we can serve them less is the necessary evil of living with pets and humans alike. But can pets choose to leave? Some make the great escape and we react by looking for them. We know they didn’t mean it. Why would they prefer freedom to us?
Truth is, animals act on their needs and wants with immediacy; it is we who get in the way. They behave in the now and we cultivate a self that is a barrier to the now. The self creates an interval of time through self-serving decision making. We have an internal clock telling us when to rest and when to be active; however, we rarely have the vital energy to run by it.
Our decisions are primarily reactions, not actions. One type of reaction affords us the time to think over a decision, which means not having to make one. A second type means greeting another with a preconceived image of them. When it comes to pets, this may translate to, “You’re hungry again?! I just fed you! You always do this!” And then you will likely drag your feet because getting off the couch is inconvenient. The sense that this always happens leads to fatigue. The actuality is not fatiguing. If you believed your pet was legitimately starving, you’d likely jump up and feed them. You’d act. But when they’re “always” like this… suddenly it’s a burden to feed them. Meanwhile, they don’t know the difference. Hungry is hungry. So don’t be surprised if in those wasted moments ol’ Fluffy makes a break for it through the open back door.
Not our Gracie, though. She’d never do that. She loves us. 🙂