What I’ve Learned from Cats and Kittens about Life

If I dare to be humble enough, I can learn from anyone and anything.

I got my front teeth knocked out when I was 17. I nearly drowned when I was 18. What did I learn?

“My parents were separated before I was born. I never met my dad. He died when I was 18.”

Yes, I learned a lot from that, too.

Granted, not all learning opportunities come from something painful. They can also come from something enjoyable, like cats and kittens.

Today, I share what I’ve learned from cats and kittens about life.

Starting with:

#1. Curiosity Helps You Learn

Cats are willing to explore. They want to discover what their environment is like. They’re interested in exploring the world around them. Each day, each moment presents another opportunity to learn.

Yes, cats are curious. And their curiosity isn’t usually dangerous. They want to experience more. They’re hungry for adventure and experimentation. Cats engage their senses wherever they can. Seeing. Smelling. Hearing. Touching. Tasting.

Cats’ curiosity helps keeps them young. And being around them has helped me be young at heart.

Rather than being cynical and thinking there’s nothing worth learning and nothing to learn, I can be curious instead. When I’m curious, I’m open to learning. And learning is exciting.

Thank you, cats and kittens, for helping me have a positive attitude. Thank you for your shining example.

Cats enjoy their environments and interact with them in fun and interesting ways. And cats know that:

#2. There’s Always Time to Play

Cats, especially the friendly, happy ones, have a childlike quality. They’re curious and playful.

I’m amazed that cats can make a game out of anything. They’ll chase their own tail. They’ll try to catch their shadow or a laser dot moving around on the wall. They’ll wrestle with other cats. They’ll run around with such reckless abandon. They’ll use a wide variety of surfaces as a scratching post. They’ll climb trees. They’ll play tag.

Cats enjoy being in bags, boxes, cupboards, closets, and other tight spaces. They’ll go under beds and on blankets. They’ll explore various surfaces as if they’re on a grand adventure. And they take flight with the greatest of ease. They leap and climb and pull themselves up to a higher place.

Cats approach life as if each day is a gift. In this way, they show greater awareness than so many humans, especially me. I witness cats be their ever-loving selves, and I remember what it was like to make a game out of pretty much anything.

I was an only child. I grew up without siblings and without a dad. My mom knew we needed to have someone with us, so we got a cat when I was 6, and the cat was only 8 – 10 weeks old, and we named her Sparky. Sparky and I grew up together. She was family. We had 14 years together. Those glorious years were filled with so much love and so many good times.

Sparky liked being at Grandma’s house, too, and being outside and exploring the neighborhood.

My mom and I took Sparky for walks on a leash. She didn’t always like being on the leash but played along.

A few times, I had Sparky chase after a toy, running laps in our apartment. We did that long enough for Sparky to get panting from all that running. I knew then it was time to stop running and let her cool down.

Sparky enjoyed her scratching post(s) and had certain toys that were her favorites. There was a toy mouse stuffed with catnip, a wheel with a ball inside that she would hit from the sides or on top, crumpled-up flyers tied to strings, hollow plastic balls, and tinsel.

My mom and I took countless pictures of Sparky. I treasure all those times we had together and the memories.

I dedicate this post to Sparky, the cat I’ve spent the most time with. Here’s to you, Sparky. You were the greatest, and any cat I get to visit or spend any amount of time with reminds me of how rich my life was because you were a part of it. Such an important part. I’m grateful for you. You were such a loyal companion and so loving. I love you, and I miss you.

Cats and kittens can be a great delight in one’s life, and since they have shorter lifespans than humans, eventually, there comes the pain of having to say goodbye. I’ve never really recovered from that, even though it was so long ago. It doesn’t help that I seem to connect with cats a lot more easily than I do with people. I guess it comes with the territory of being a highly sensitive introvert.

Besides curiosity and playfulness, I’ve learned another very important lesson from cats and kittens, and it’s to:

#3. Share Your Happiness

I struggle with applying these lessons that cats teach. They are excellent teachers. It’s simply that I’m not a very willing student.

If I were truly curious about people and various areas of life, I would ask many more questions. I would be a great conversationalist even as I give other people a chance to talk and share about things that matter to them. I would learn to be a better human as I put my curiosity to work. I would learn so much about the people in my life and the world around me.

If I were genuinely playful, I would find joy every day in every moment. I would be especially connected with my heart. I would laugh like there was an endless supply of laughter. I would smile as if it were my default setting. I would dance like no one is watching and like nobody minds. I would sing like that time at karaoke, where I got to be a rock star for a song. “It’s my life, and it’s now or never.”

In short, I would be sharing my happiness. Cats already share their happiness in various ways, including smiling, meowing, and purring. They’re happy when they’re curious. They’re happy when they’re playful. And they’re happy when they’re sleeping.

Countless times, I petted Sparky when she was sleeping. She did a purr meow, woke up, and got purring. Her happiness made me happy, too.

I’ve been around many cats, and they tend to be very happy. It’s contagious, too. They share their natural state of being. Cats live to spread happiness.

Imagine waking up every day with that mission in mind. How would it inform my life? How drastically different would my life be if I lived up to that mission?

I wonder what cats dream about…

#4. Get Your Beauty Rest

This is an area that cats seem to have down to an exact science. They sleep wherever and whenever they can. They’ll sleep somewhere warm, like on a blanket, on a bed, on a rug, on a chair, on a couch, by a fireplace, or next to a heater. They’ve also slept on my legs, on my lap, on my stomach, on my chest, and on my shoulders. Plus, it helps that they’re always wearing a blanket – their fur.

I’m always amazed at the variety of positions cats get into for sleeping. They get so comfy. And they can fall asleep so fast. It’s been said that cats sleep for approximately 16 hours every day. While that can be excessive for humans, it works well enough for cats.

I’d prefer not to sleep at all, but cats remind me that sleep isn’t bad. I can rest and wake up ready to be curious, play, and be happy. Living up to that opportunity would be a dream come true.

Cats show me that such a thing is possible. If they can do it, so can I.

#5. Ask for What You Require

My mom’s cat, Mickey, demonstrates this lesson quite well. He makes it clear what his needs are at any given time.

What are some of Mickey’s needs? He requires food, new water, petting and scratching, brushing, catnip, and being let inside or outside. Mickey has different ways of asking for what he requires. That can be based on his meows, where he is, the looks he gives, or his attempt to open the door to get at his catnip.

Mickey makes sure to show his appreciation, too, with the very loud purring he does when he is petted and scratched or brushed or picked up and held. Mickey and I get along every time I visit. He is another cat who has taught me a life lesson. I’m listening, Mickey, and I thank you for being one of my teachers.

Asking for what I require can make all the difference between being and not being, doing and not doing, or having and not having. “Ask, and it shall be given to you.” I see that truth demonstrated with Mickey. He asks, and he receives. Can life really be that simple?


I’ve learned from cats and kittens how to be a better human. It’s another matter entirely to apply what I’ve learned. And that requires belief I can, a plan for daily implementation, and the willingness to put the plan into action and adjust as necessary along the way.

As a reminder, here’s a quick recap of what’s been covered:

Curiosity helps you learn. There’s always time to play. Share your happiness. Get your beauty rest. Ask for what you require.

Also, please share what you’ve learned from cats and kittens. They have so many lessons to teach, and the wisdom they provide enriches their lives and our own. I am grateful for cats and kittens. Indeed, our world is a much brighter place because they are here.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from Cats and Kittens about Life”

  1. Hey James, thanks for sharing your life experiences. #3 really got me. Like with cats, life is better spent with a companion. Not just being there for someone sharing a moment of great happiness, but also getting through rough times together.

    1. Hey Jeanie, I agree about life being better with a companion, especially one that is there through the happy times and the rough times. My girlfriend and our cats are all sleeping right now. Life is best with excellent company.

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