Day 154 ~ 177 Days of Unexpected Health Project

9 Healthy Lives

Today is another shout-out to my four-legged friends. Now, I have talked ad nauseum about my dog, Lucca. I have told stories of her companionship, her mirroring, and of my sheer terror when I thought I had lost her (I can’t even remember all of the days I have mentioned her so far). I have sung praises to the health benefits of animals in general, and in particular, (wo)man’s best friend, dog. But today, as I sit and watch two of the craziest, most personable non-human friends of mine, I discovered the Unexpected Health in…cats.

Riley and Bentley to be exact. Those are the names of my two opposites–both in looks and in personality–my cats. I rescued these little feline friends when they were merely four and five weeks old. In case you were wondering, I never wanted two cats. When my little buddy, Jordan, died, I knew that I needed a very special cat to even come close to the cog (not quite cat, not quite dog, I called him cog) I had. When I buried him, I swore I wanted a cat that looked nothing like him…hence my desire for an all white cat (Jordan was obviously black). When I found Riley, he fit into the palm of my hand; in fact, he fell asleep there. Of course, his little nap was plenty of time for me to decide I wanted him. But he came with a catch: because he was so timid, he could only be adopted with a ‘friend.’ So, I perused the cages, looking for a companion for my little white ball of fur resting in the cup of my hand. And there, peering out with her nearly crossed eyes was a little black and white furball with long white whiskers. “I’ll take that one too,” I said…and off I went with not one, but two kitty cats.

Bentley and Riley as kittens (Riley is already turning brown)

Fast forward four years, and you will see my once little white ball of fur is more like a brown and black BIG guy (turns out he is a talkative Siamese!), and my white-whiskered little puff of fur is definitely the ‘ruler of the roost.’

You might be wondering at this point, what my cat story has to do with health. I have already discussed the health benefits of animals, so I will not regurgitate that information again. But the Unexpected Health in cats is that their individual, sometimes aloof, and oftentimes quirky personalities is a brilliant reminder of the balance we need in our lives…and being reminded to stay balanced is healthy.

As I have mentioned, my cats are very different from each other. One is adventurous, fearless, and stubborn (for those who know them, I bet you know which one this is!). The other is timid, cautious, and needy. But the two create a perfect balance. What I thought I could NEVER replace in the ONE cat I had, I found in two. And isn’t this lesson a fantastically healthy reminder for life? How many times have we put ‘all of our eggs in one basket?’ How many people have been our all-in-all; our everything…only to come tumbling off that pedestal they should have never been on in the first place. We can put all of our hope into one thing; one job, one relationship, one period of time, one accomplishment. But this one event, person, or experience will not keep the sea saw (our life) balanced. We need the experiences of many, the lessons learned from multiple people, and the ups and downs of possibly numerous jobs to find our homeostasis…our balance; our resting place.

I often question why I have two cats (and a dog for that matter). I complain about the fur, the litter box, and the pillow-sharing (Bentley thinks my pillow is her sleeping throne). I profess that I will never have this many animals again. But then I look at my sleeping beauties (all THREE of them) and I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me. I am amazed by the education–and the health–I have received from my four-legged friends. So the next time you wonder why in the world you have your animal, remember that our feline and canine companions may be unable to speak, but the health they share and the balance they display need no words. All that is required are open eyes to be witness to the lessons. -Until tomorrow, Jaime

The most honest vision of balance…my YIN and my YANG…

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