As I write this post, our dear Mr. Puffer has been gone from our lives for two days. A special needs cat with a unique personality, Mr. Puffer kept bobWP and I busy in the last three months of his life.
But through it all, we felt honored to be his caretakers in a setting that in the end resembled hospice care.
He found his way to our doorstep after he had been attacked by a wild animal in the woods beyond our house. He lost one eye and eventually became blind in the other. He bumped into things and sometimes needed a little help to find his food bowl or litter box.
I cancelled the BlogWorld/New Media Expo Conference Bob and I were both to attend because I couldn’t leave him by himself. So, yes, I was invested in this cat.
Do animals walk into your life for a reason?
But throughout, through all the darkness (literally and figuratively), he kept a positive outlook on life. He persevered. He overcame.
I have had many cats, all strays, but I believe that Mr. Puffer found me because he had some important stuff to teach me. Now you may think that it is a stretch to say that he was my teacher.
But, really, his lessons went beyond how to conduct myself in my work and relationships—to the core of life itself.
Do you know how people come into your life and later, when you think back on it, you realize they had something to show you, to teach you, something you needed to learn at that point in your life journey?
Over the years, I have found that animals from time to time have served the same purpose. And Mr. Puffer had things to teach me.
Six Lessons in Life from Mr. Puffer
1. Get up when you fall down.
For Mr. Puffer, every day was a new day. There was always another chance to fix the thing that was wrong. It wasn’t the end of the world if he stumbled. He just got back up.
What he taught me: I will look at each day as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
2. Adjust and adapt.
When he went completely blind, he accepted this new thing and went about figuring out how to compensate. How to find his way around, how to get to his food bowl, how to let me know when he wanted to go outside.
What Mr. Puffer taught me: I will be flexible enough to drop what is not working in my life and try new strategies in my work as an author and blogger.
3. Refrain from whining.
Mr. P., like most cats, had an independent nature, even when he became sick. It was not about what was wrong with his world. It was how to make the best of the cards he was dealt.
What Mr. Puffer taught me: Though it may be tempting, I won’t rant about what I think people around me are doing wrong. Instead I will recognize and share the stuff people are doing to get it right.
4. Make the most of what you have.
When seeing was no longer his strong suit, Mr. Puffer fine tuned his other senses, responding more to sounds, using his whiskers as receptors to navigate his new world.
What Mr. Puffer taught me: I will build on my strengths, compensating for weaknesses in other areas.
5. Ask for help when you need it.
The boy we nicknamed Puff Daddy knew when he needed help at the end of his life—and he was not afraid to ask for it. If he was lying on a throw rug on the kitchen floor and he needed to use the bathroom, he called out so one of us could come over and carry him to the box to do his business. And we learned to identify that cry.
What Mr. Puffer taught me: I may not need help to get to the bathroom, but I can—and will— allow myself to be vulnerable in my writing, to admit mistakes and ask for help when I need it, because that is how I show my humanity.
6. Share your resources.
There was never a more generous cat than Mr. Puffer. If Booda, our girl cat, decided to nudge her face into his food bowl, he stepped aside for her. He shared the comfy red chair on a winter’s night and even offered his tail as her pillow.
What Mr. Puffer taught me: Part of the joy of life is giving, especially when it comes from the heart.
Mr. Puffer, our sweet angel, rest in peace.
What about you?
Has a furry friend of yours ever taught you something about life?
Do you think animals come into your life for a reason?