Practicing Purr-poseful Gratitude


Gems in her usual relaxed state

If most cats have nine lives, my cat Gems entered this world with at least twice that many.

By the time she was five, she’d been abandoned, lived on the streets, been hit by a car, had chronic health issues as a result of the accident, been rescued, and landed at SAFE Haven for Cats (a local no-kill shelter), where she lived for eighteen months.

It takes a special cat to live through all that and still be sweet, relaxed, and social. And that’s Gems.

Within minutes of meeting her, she crawled into my husband’s lap and we fell in love.

But we had no idea we were getting Super Cat.

Gems is sweet, affectionate, social, smart, and laugh-out-loud funny.

She has dog-whisperer powers, turning our two cat-hating dogs into her best friends. And she’s now the pack leader and best buds with our new dogs Jasper and Elsie, who weigh in at fifty-five and seventy-five pounds.

She navigates her health-maintenance routine with an if-I was-any-more-relaxed-I’d-liquefy energy. (It’s a routine that would turn any other cat into a caterwauling mess.)

And time and time again she’s defied the odds when it comes to her health.

But just like every super-hero has a limitation, so does Super Cat. She’s the slowest eater on the planet.

And that has led to our twice-daily, slow-as-molasses, please-spoon-feed-me ritual.

Gems gets her medication mixed into a small amount of canned cat food. What would have taken my prior cat 15 seconds to scarf down can take Gems up to 15 minutes.

It’s not a health or taste issue. She’s just an incredibly slow eater and often wants to eat the food off my finger in very small scoops. (Perhaps she’s an adherent of the slow-food movement.)

Whatever the reason, our ritual remained constant for eleven years … until a few months ago.

Now it includes a gratitude practice.

Three months ago we had a major health scare.  It looked like Gems was getting close to the end of her many lives. Thankfully, it seems she has at least one left.

My impatience with her one-slow-lick-at-a-time approach to eating vanished.

No matter how busy I am, I’m incredibly grateful I get to feed her twice a day. I’m grateful she’s still with us. I’m grateful that Dr. Audra Alley, the best vet in town, takes such good care of Gems.

And now, twice a day while crawling through our feeding ritual, I express my gratitude.

Which has led to something quite unexpected:  the slower she eats, the more relaxed I feel.

As counter-intuitive as that might sound, it actually makes sense.

Consciously practicing gratitude triggers your parasympathetic nervous system … and that calms you down.

Your heart rate drops, blood pressure falls, and breathing slows and deepens. And that reduces both the feeling of stress and its physical impact.

That alone would be reason enough to practice gratitude. But there’s more. Studies show that gratitude boosts happiness, and happiness boosts success.

Another reason Gems is Super Cat:  she’s given me a built-in structure for regularly practicing gratitude. 🙂

Consistent gratitude practice gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

  • It helps you stay focused on what’s most important.
  • It reminds you that sweating the small stuff is a waste of time and energy.
  • It reminds you of the positive in your life.
  • It makes you feel good.
  • It reminds you to express your gratitude to others.
  • It helps you navigate the rough days with more grace and ease.
  • It escalates your positive energy which increases your positive impact.

You don’t need a Super Cat feeding ritual to practice purr-poseful gratitude.

The beauty of a gratitude practice is that it only takes a few minutes a day.

You can practice by writing, speaking, or thinking about what you’re grateful for today. You can practice solo, with a friend or partner, or as a family. And you can practice anywhere: in your favorite comfy chair, sitting on your porch, around the dinner table, in the shower, driving to or from work – anywhere that works for you.

The more you appreciate what’s good, the more the good in your life will grow.

So go get grateful!

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ G.K. Chesterton


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