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What Burt, my anxious 8 year old cat, taught me about life.


Burt is an anxiety ridden cat. He didn’t start out that way. He was a small puff of gray fur that cuddled into my warm embrace. I remember his little cat body jumping on my son’s vinyl record player and taking a spin round and round. As he grew, he became anxious about everything. The sound of someone’s car door opening out in the street, seeing a piece of furniture out of place in the house, and even when I would walk into a room where he had been napping.


I’ve done all I could to help him calm down and enjoy life. I think some of it is helping. Here are some lessons he’s taught me.


What’s that noise?

First, it’s ok to be cautious about new noises. I was traveling for training and stayed in a hotel room with an outside entrance toward the back of the building. In the night, I awoke, aware of shouting and loud engine noises in the parking lot. I learned this was a hot spot for drug deals. The next morning, I requested moving to a room near the entrance, non-isolated, with bright lights. As a single woman traveling alone, this saved me unknown misery.


Curiosity is a good thing.

Curiosity is one of Burt’s best qualities. He’s mostly curious about me. Why am I getting up from the couch? What is in the box that I brought in from the step? What am I doing awake at 2 a.m.? It’s a good quality to be curious. I’ve learned when with friends, to put my own stuff of life on the back burner and have curiosity about them. Ask them questions, learn about what makes them tick, or what’s going on in their world, without offering my take on everything. People are so interesting, and I was missing that when consumed with myself every minute.


Simple is better.

Speaking of the box brought in from the step, Burt loves boxes. He loves them more than the many fake mice filled with catnip that I’ve bought for him. He prefers the box to the soft cushy cat bed that I was convinced he’d love. Simple, easy, and free. I’ve simplified my life over the past few years. I don’t need a big home, with brand name items filling it. I need simple and clutter free. I need easy so maintenance is low. Free is always a good thing.


You can get through this.

Burt’s anxiety is getting less and less with age. This goes for mine too. As years go by, I realize that half the stuff I was worried and anxious about never happened. I can just relax a bit and know that life has its ups and downs and I’ll get through it.


Warmth and connection.

If you needed a cat for companionship, Burt’s the guy. It doesn’t matter if I decide to curl up on the sofa for a minute, or sitting on my bar stool typing away, he wants some lap time. He loves the warmth and the connection. I need this too. When my husband and I have crossed lives like ships in the night, I sometimes just find wherever he is in the house and ask for a hug. Time with bodies touching renews the soul. Burt knows this, and now I do too. Well, he knows it until a car door slams in the street.


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