To Receive Love, You Must Give Love

A word to those who think cats are fiercely independent: You need to learn to love a cat properly.

Holiday week was especially difficult on our cats. The Hayley house is a happily co-dependant one, from spouses to fur-babies. Mornings are usually spent with a bit of lap time and evenings are anchored by at least an hour of family time: all of us piled together on the couch. Shannah giving Kelly a head massage, Kelly stroking Ben and Bridget coming and going for spots of affection and attention.

Holiday week didn’t allow for any of this normal activity. We were out late every night and rushed every morning. I threw food at the kitties and offered treats as a poor substitute for more meaningful expressions of affection. They, in return, became absolute monsters, tearing through the house, knocking things down and fighting.

It was stressful for everyone.

When we finally got up Saturday morning, the first order of business (after coffee was made) was to love each other. Ben climbed on Kelly and promptly fell asleep. Bridget sat on her mom and made an absolute love-fool out of herself.

Properly loving a cat means watching while you stroke the fur. A little head turn means “Please rub that cheekbone.” A buried head means “Oh my ear itched so much, thank you for rubbing it and please don’t stop.” A quick shift onto the back, spreading the back legs a bit leads to what can only be described as a kitty hugging you with complete trust – my hand is on the belly, legs holding my hand in place.

There we sit. I know that Bridget loves me. She purrs slowly and softly. She stares at me until her eyelids start to droop. A paw reaches out and rests on my chest – claws extended to hold the paw in place.

And you know, I enjoy making her feel good. I dutifully rub the nose when she asks me too and shift to the chin as directed. She’s happy and I think to myself, “I did that.” You know that contented purr? I did that, too.

To receive love, you have to give love. Giving love requires time and attention.

But the rewards are so wonderful!

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