Everything I Need to Learn about Sheltering in Place, I am Learning from my Cats

Growing up I was a cat hater. One cranky old cat, belonging to my great-grandmother, decided the reputation of all cats, present and future, by scratching me and drawing blood when I was five. After that, I was done with cats. Or so I thought.

Dogs were our pet of choice in the Lohenry Family. First came Max, a charming Welsh Terrier. And after Max succumbed to diabetes which sent him to dog heaven much too soon, we welcomed Muffin. She was a black
Cockapoo who, despite my father’s pledge he would never love another dog, overcame the challenge and won him over. I don’t know if it was her daily delivery of the newspaper at his feet or the overzealous greeting she demonstrated each day he came home from work, but she was successful.

When my husband and I deemed it a good time to add a puppy to the Gilligan household we returned to the terrier breed and brought home a West Highland Terrier who was quickly dubbed Coconut. But quite sadly, our dog days were numbered and after some excruciating deliberations, he was sent to live with a new family.

Trying to replace a new puppy with something like a gerbil or hamster or fish or bird didn’t seem to cut it with my five year old, so against all of my deeply rooted prejudices, we rescued a cat. My husband had some limited experience with them and assured me they were quite easy and entertaining. Against my instincts, I trusted him and boy am I glad I did!

Currently our family pets include Sweet Pea, 11 years old and Finnegan, 9 years old. They have been incredible companions on the journey of family life and each has charmed and delighted us in individual ways.

Sweet Pea can be kind of cranky, but if you find yourself feeling under the weather, or just sad, she will gently show up to be a support and comfort. “Nurse Peep” is her nickname for times such as this.

Finnegan, we are convinced, was gifted by the Creator with the super power of cuteness to save him from the consequences his devious side should merit. He has the ability to look so cute that any anger or frustration he elicits with his devilish ways instantly melts when he employs this, his greatest weapon. He has at least 25 nicknames, all to which he responds with a charming gaze. To be completely transparent, there may just be more pictures of him on my phone than there are of my own kiddo.

In these most difficult of days brought to us courtesy of a global pandemic, it became very apparent, very quickly, that Sweet Pea and Finn might just hold the key to our better survival of such times. After all, they are indoor cats (minus the occasional supervised minute outside the front door) and their lives consist of perpetual sheltering in place.

To help organize and focus myself during the chaotic days of pandemic living, I began sharing daily on Facebook the lessons I was learning through a closer observation of their ways. After all, we are stuck in a tiny house, approximately 1,000 square feet, with 3 humans and 2 cats. I figured I might as well try to make the best of it.

So without further ado, in an act of repentence for my former hatred of the feline species, I share the ten lessons my beloved Sweet Pea and Finn have taught me:

Lesson #1:

Look as cute as possible. It helps those who are stuck inside with you ❤

Finn, giving one of his “looks”

Lesson #2:

Spend at least a little time each day contemplating the beauty in nature. It’s good for the soul ♥

Sweet Pea, gazing out the kitchen window at the birds who visit the neighbor’s bird feeder

Lesson #3:

Take this time to share more meals with those with whom you are sheltering. It gives you time to connect positively ♥

Sweet Pea and Finn sharing meal time on the kitchen island

Lesson #4:

Take naps. It gives your body, mind and soul some much needed rest and rejuvenation during these stressful days ♥

Nap time for Sweet Pea
Nap time for Finn

Lesson #5:

Get outta your silo and spend some extra time hanging out with those you love ♥

Finn and Sweet Pea just hanging out on the stairs together

Lesson #6:

Sometimes you just gotta get creative in the pursuit to entertain yourself ♥

Finn entertaining himself by repeatedly catching his tail

Lesson #7:

Do not waste food. You don’t wanna have to go to the grocery store more often than needed and right now, more than ever, is a time to be grateful for the blessing of food ♥

Sweet Pea, face deep in a can of tuna, licking it clean until it was spotless

Lesson #8:

Some days call for some lazy time spent basking in the sun. We all can benefit from an extra dose of Vitamin D ♥

Sweet Pea soaking in the heat of the sun, just outside the front door
Finn basking in the sun from inside the house, as he cannot be trusted outside

Lesson #9:

Even though we don’t always get along, it is nice to have family with which to self-isolate. We are stronger together ♥

A rare moment of civil togetherness, stalking our resident chipmunk who taunts them

Lesson #10:

If you want alone time in a tiny house, you absolutely gotta get creative and find a good hiding place ♥

Sweet Pea as found at the bottom of a cabinet among wine glasses
Finn as found tucked behind a Batman mask

Though the days ahead may bring more freedom than we’ve known for the last 8 weeks, I’m grateful for the 10 lessons imparted from my wisdom teachers, my beloved cats. Certainly they will prove helpful should I be required to self-quarantine due to exposure to the corona virus or even if I just find myself yearning to embrace my inner introvert for awhile.

Stay safe and healthy y’all!