PURR: What cats can teach us in lockdown

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05 May 2020
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Claire Owers takes a look at what she's learnt from her cat Maisie throughout lockdown. Can you relate?

Like many people at the moment, I confess to be struggling in lockdown. Suddenly thrust into a new way of being, I am trying to learn from my cat. Maisie continues to go about her days blissfully unperturbed.

Psychologists stress the importance of routine in this new situation, and cats are surely the monarchs of routine. I observe Maisie’s morning behaviour. Breakfast served at 7.00am by my husband. Then up to see me for a quick snuggle, or more likely, recently, a spell on the window sill staring out at the birds, whose song is delighting me as I wake. After that, back downstairs with me for biscuits while I eat my breakfast.

My new routine now involves a ten minute breathing meditation, followed by sitting in front of my computer attempting to work – challenging for a teacher whose main job satisfaction arises from face to face contact with her students. At this point, Maisie is retiring to rest on our bed.

Lunch and daily exercise/shopping are followed for me by a period of relaxation. Twice blessed, by the weather and a beautiful garden, this often takes the form of gardening. At around 3.00pm Maisie generally stirs from her slumbers, and pops out to say hello.  She often just sits and watches, but sometimes plays at chasing insects or her tail to unwind.

I think she enjoys having a human at home at this time of day, as she can mount an early campaign of pestering for her dinner – usually served at 6.00pm.

Should I decide to check in with my computer again at around 5.00pm, not a chance! Sitting on my chair is but a prelude to that ‘cat thing’ of walking all over the keyboard and blocking the screen.  Succumbing to her behaviour, I allow her to get her way. I give her an early dinner, and off she goes to play again.

I spend the early evening finishing computer tasks and preparing dinner for myself and my husband, who is a keyworker in the NHS.

He desperately needs to unwind when he gets home, so we play a game of table tennis before dinner – sometimes helped by Maisie!

And after dinner we might play a game of Scrabble – and again sometimes Maisie chooses to join in.

So, what have I learnt from Maisie in all this? What are the factors that define her existence and which could help us humans in lockdown? I think the answer is simple:

P    play

U    unwind

R    relax

R    routine