According to the cats that climb all over me, I’m the world’s most amazing person – for now.
By the time you read this that will have all changed.
Indifferent as a Rule
When my girlfriend, Cristi, and I got together several years ago she had two awesome cats: Sammy and Cleo. I say awesome with really no way to quantify that. They are cats. They do what cats do, which basically means nothing.
When Cristi is here the cats typically hang out near her around her office or follow her around. Sammy loves to cozy up with her wherever she is and Cleo, as stand offish as she can be, is inclined to come lay on her when Cristi’s in her favorite chair.
To me, they’re mostly indifferent. Sammy might lay on me for warmth on occasion and Cleo will actually say “hi” every time I come in the room. To be fair, what she’s really saying is “You’re the person that is inclined to pet me. I’m not saying I’d enjoy a nice back massage, but if you happened to be over here, and I couldn’t stop you, I wouldn’t claw you.”
But, at the time of this writing, it’s all different: to the cats I’m the world’s most amazing person – for now.
As I’m typing this, Cleo is sitting to the left of my keyboard, slightly facing me, hunched over like a vulture, keeping her eyes peeled for the most tasty of morsels: attention. For the past week, my office could have had a constantly rotating turnstile at the door as both Sammy and Cleo come to either lay in my lap (that’s Sammy’s M.O.) or stare me down wondering where their overdue back massage is (that’s all Cleo).
You see, Cristi is out this week and it’s just me. Sure the kids are over some of the time, but that’s just how the cats operate: they have an attention line of succession that governs who’s important and who’s not. If you’re not getting attention, chances are someone higher in the chain is around. If you are, then it’s obviously because everyone else is either out or unavailable.
So, as I write this, with Cleo on my lap purring away I realize to them I’m the world’s most amazing person – for now.
But by the time you read this, I will have become “that other person” and about as valuable as used up litter.
I can’t blame Cleo and Sammy for how they behave. They’re cats. It’s what they do. And they have become more and more friendly to me over the years with Cleo actually saying “hi” to me whenever she sees me. It’s cute.
But when Cristi’s here, they rarely come into my office, except maybe to grab a nap on my couch (yes, I have a couch in my office, and it’s awesome). I’m really not that big a deal. Although I rank higher than the average person, something tells me if the average person had food, I would be dropped like a used cat toy.
Cats are cats. It’s just who they are. But we are people, yet how often do we treat people like they have value when we need something but they are unimportant when we don’t? How often are we just like cats that make our presence known when they’re our best option, but ignore them when someone higher up the list is around?
I know to the cats I’m the worlds most amazing person – for now. I know that will change. It’s just the way it goes. But when we act that way with people, it’s just wrong. People deserve more, and we are better at treating people like they are valuable.
A Better Approach
The next time you’re inclined to move someone up and down on the attention ladder, why not take a second thought? Why not look at how you can treat them well all the time, even if you just check in with them once a month to show them they’re important. A little bit of kind consistency is a lot better than selfish inconsistency.
Be kind. Be thoughtful. We may enjoy the attention of cats, but that doesn’t mean we need to act like them.