I thought, it being Thanksgiving week, that I would ask my cat Luna about her gratitude list. Abstract concepts like gratitude can be difficult to convey to animals, so I started by asking what she likes most about her life.
Luna is a slightly skittish cat, leery of loud noises and unexpected activity. She is also extremely sweet-natured and at the same time is very vocal and expressive. She loves to talk and is never shy of voicing her opinions about anything. She’s also a big purr-bunny, with a purr for every occasion. Cats, like most non-human animals, tend to be very much in the present moment so her immediate response to my question was that she likes the warm, soft spot she’s found on the bed to nap and the fact that it’s quiet this morning.
Wanting a little more from her, I thought about all her many different purrs. There is the one that she uses to soothe herself or me, when either of us is in need of comfort. There’s the complex purr she uses when she wants to encourage me to do something, like rub her tummy or adjust my position to make her more comfortable. There’s her warm, sleepy purr, and then there’s the purr that expresses pure contentment. That was the feeling I offered to her when I asked what makes you purr the most?
Here is her list:
“Snuggling with you in the bed at night, when you pet me and talk softly and listen to my purrs and feel what I feel so that it is like we purr together;
waking up from a nap and finding you here and food in my dish;
mornings when it is quiet and peaceful and there is sun to warm me;
being the first to claim the big cozy chair [papasan] and having it all to myself for as long as I want;
when I sit on you in your chair and you comb me and talk to me.”
At this point, it seemed like Luna was getting into the spirit of the discussion I had intended, so I asked if there were other things that made her happy even if she didn’t purr. She offered these:
“The way my new toy sounds [crackly] and smells [of catnip];
seeing the birds perch outside the window makes me feel excited and happy;
when I hear that music that I like [Luna is a U2 fan, and also loves the meditation music I play].”
Thinking it might be a little off topic, but wanting to continue while we had the conversation going, I asked her how she felt about what I sometimes perceive as the relative sameness of her days. To my surprise — and bringing us right back on topic after all — she gave me a happy purr. Her routine makes her feel safe and comfortable. She appreciates and relies on it.
So, for Thanksgiving, my light-bringer, Luna, offers food for thought about the little things that we can all be grateful for in every moment. Appreciation and gratitude is where Luna resides. What might your beloved animal companion be grateful for right now?
With our warmest wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving and for the giving of thanks and happy purrs for families and beings of all species.