Maybe we should all learn to be a bit more ‘cat’

I confess that I am not exactly thriving under social distancing conditions. I am, of course, abiding by all of the restrictions in place but I am, like many of you, finding this a less than pleasant experience.

I am used to working from home 2 days a week. Video and telephone conferencing are enabling me to keep in touch with my team. But we have been restructured recently, so trying to train new people and get used to my new management role without being in the office with people is definitely posing a challenge. Our new starters are taking it all in their stride, to their credit, but it has not been an ideal first few weeks for any of us.

Last week I was busy, desperately trying to prepare some guidance documents for our practitioners. The week before that, the case of A that I have discussed separately was taking up most of my time. But this week is calmer, and, for me, that is when the cabin fever starts to set in.

I miss the gym immensely (which is something I never thought I would say), and popping to a cafe for tea and cake with my husband. Because I have what I call an over-active brain and I need these little distractions to quiet it and truly relax. Sitting on the sofa watching netflix isn’t having quite the same effect. And the shortage of flour rules out my preferred ‘at home’ distraction of baking. I am left too long with my own thoughts, and this can become a problem for me.

I was thinking about this today, and then I happened to look over and see this

And it got me thinking about resilience, and coping with change.

Because cat critic is a rescue cat. He was taken into our local rescue centre as a stray. We don’t know how long he had been a stray, but he was brought in because he had a nasty eye injury that needed treatment. As far as we can tell, his story is this:

Cat critic once had a home, and a family, and he enjoyed this immensely. I try not to think about his first family, I worry that they still miss him, even though they never claimed him during the months he was at the rescue centre. But I like to think that this was a happy time for him.

Then either he got lost or was abandoned, and found himself being a street cat instead. It would appear he also rather enjoyed this. He wasn’t malnourished at all when the rescue centre took him in. He still enjoys being outside. The scars under his fur and the injury to his eye suggest he was a fighter. But he was largely healthy and happy.

But then he finds himself in a rescue centre. He’s shut up in a room with strangers coming and going and different staff checking in on him. And didn’t this little cat just enjoy that too. He liked watching the dogs go for their walks, and sitting on his cat tree. He purred contentedly when the staff came in to look after him.

And then we show up, we meet him a few times and then put him in a box and take him to our house: a strange place filled with strange smells.

I have rescued cats before, and I was expecting him to need time to trust us and feel comfortable.

Not this cat. He’d been home less than an hour before he’d curled up in my husband’s lap and fallen asleep. The first night he slept at the foot of our bed like this had always been his home. He sits in the window, watching the traffic, and runs around like a lunatic in our garden. I hope that he is happy here too.

But now he finds his home filled with these people ALL THE TIME. They used to leave him to his important cat business during the day, at least a few days a week. And now they barely leave. They take the best spot on the sofa, they sleep late rather than giving him his breakfast. It is all rather strange.

So what does cat critic do?

Cat critic decides that he will make himself comfortable in my office and make contented noises at me when I am getting stressed. He is a wonderful assistant, even if his snoring can be somewhat distracting. I swear yesterday when I was in a conference call and had closed the door, he knocked to be let in. I’ve had less considerate office mates.

The point of this story is that if my little cat, who has no understanding of the world around him, can cope with that much change and upheaval in the space of a year, then I can cope with a few more weeks of social distancing without falling apart.

And so can you.

The point of this story is perhaps also that I am going a little bit mad stuck at home. But to quote the words of Lewis Carroll “all the best people are”.

Stay safe guys. And remember that what you are doing matters now, even more than it did before.

In case it isn’t obvious from the fact I still haven’t identified the authority I work for, the views expressed on this blog are my own opinion and not the opinion of that local authority

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