I was asked a very thought provoking question this morning. The question was,” Is the cat I am fostering, happy with me?”
The person who asked this is looking after a 16-year-old cat, on a temporary basis, until he goes home again. I know that everything and more is being offered to Angel to ensure his happiness and wellbeing, which is what one would desire.
However, Angel is accepting or rejecting what is on offer, as he sees fit. For instance, some nights he chooses to sleep on the landing, another night sees him snuggled on the bed. Different places, so where is he happier?
His feeding habits are equally varied, nothing unusual in a cat, but does his refusal to eat today what he relished yesterday equate to unhappiness?
The way I see it is that Angel is truly living his life in the moment and in each moment he behaves in the way that suits him best and best serves his needs at that moment. As an elderly cat with some health issues he will naturally vary his responses to his surroundings and the people in them, in ways that make him feel as good as he can feel, at the time.
Having a cat sleeping on the bed can be a very pleasurable experience for all concerned, but I know that not everyone would agree with me there. And that is the crux of the matter, the answer to the question. Having a cat sleeping on your bed is not of itself either a ” good” thing or a ” bad” thing. It is our perception or judgement that will qualify it as such.
If we offer whatever we offer to those animals we have in our lives and we offer it for their wellbeing with love and without expectation of how they will react and then let them choose how they respond, they will be as happy as they can be, at the time.
Some days a cat will eat whatever we offer them, sleep on our bed, curl up on our knee, and greet us affectionately when we come home. On those days we judge this as a sign of happiness. On days when a cat hides from us or won’t eat, he is showing that he needs to have time on his own, or that his body doesn’t need something in the food.
In that sense, he is still as happy as he can be. It is not a judgement on the person caring for him. Observing the cat’s reactions in a calm way and then making necessary changes is what we can do. Emotions, whether being expressed by human or animal, are simply energy in motion, neither ” good” nor “bad”. Allowing them to flow enables the balance to be achieved.
Years ago, I was heavily involved with the welfare of a particular dog. I was discussing his life with a wise woman who ran an animal sanctuary. She said something to me that I have never forgotten, she said,
“You can’t make it perfect for all of them, all the time but you can make it the best you can at the time.”
I think that answers the question.