Lessons My Cat Taught Me

As pet owners, we spend a lot of time figuring out the best foods, products and care for our beloved animals. But what do they give us? In cat owner, author and psychotherapist Jennifer Freed’s book Lessons from Stanley the CatNine Lives of Everyday Wisdom, we can learn the example our pets provide for us in living a fulfilling life.

Through her interactions with her late cat Stanley, Freed noticed how her cat’s actions impacted her own attitude and even her approach to her career. From these observations, Freed has crafted a witty, sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious set of life lessons on subjects from loving ourself and others to getting our loved ones “off that darn computer”. It is the example of her pet’s innate ability to live the good life that guides us humans out of our dizzying schedules and toward a more natural approach to living life.

Some of our favorite lessons (each accompanied by quirky drawings by Swedish artist Tone Gellerstedt) include:

  • Take time out of your day to take time out of your day.
  • Sit quietly next to someone crying and look up at them compassionately. There is not really anything you have to say if you show them love.
  • Keep yourself well groomed and smelling wonderful. Everything will respond to you better.
  • Pursue your goals like prey. Take time to make a good plan and have the patience to follow through a number of times. Failure is simply another opportunity to create a different strategy. Do not take mistakes personally.
So, pick up a copy of Freed’s book, put on your feline-colored glasses, and give yourself what she calls an hour-long “personal time out” with Stanley the Cat.
Lessons From Stanley the Cat: Nine Lives of Everyday Wisdom
By Jennifer Freed
$12.95, Perigree Trade;
212-366-2000; http://us.penguingroup.com