What our cats taught me about love

By now, it is hard to imagine life at the tiny house without Phobos, Deimos, and Fake Deimos. It is every bit their home as much as it is ours. My sister always says the cats decided to adopt us and not the other way around, and I really have nothing to debate that.

Our relationship started in May, when we moved into the tiny house, and since then, these are the lessons our cats have taught me about love.

Space is important; plenty of space.

At the start, the cats ran when they saw us and would only eat their food when we are far back. They hung out in separate corners of the garden, far from us, and would look at us with uncertainty and fear. We understood they have traumas from their visible scars and just let them be. We cared for them at a distance.

Eventually, the cats would sit with us when we have tea in the garden in a socially distanced way. It looks ridiculous, but there is a quiet tenderness in it. Now they trust us enough to come when called and stay comfortable when we are around. Still, they take their space and do not compromise their needs, and that is okay.

Understanding the traumas make a big difference.

Phobos and Deimos have scars; burn marks that broke my heart the first time I saw them. Understandably, our cats will have a world of issues against humans, and it will take time for them to heal, even if they like us.

Knowing this gives us more patience and empathy. We do not get frustrated and we respect where they are coming from. It cannot be easy for them, and if they take their time, it is totally fine.

You can both love each other but not be ready.

We used to call them stray cats, but by now, they are just our cats. They answer to our calls, greet us like dogs do when we come home, and hang around us on downtimes.

Deimos allows us to scratch him now! Before, he would follow us around the yard and scratch himself on the plants, chairs, and baskets while walking with us. The poor plants. It took a while before he got the concept of how scratches work, but he got there.

With Phobos and Fake Deimos, there is still no touching them, but they are more relaxed in our presence. For now, that is enough. We are not forcing it. If they are not ready, we will wait.

Take a chance.

Markus hesitated about the cats at the start, but together we made the decision to take responsibility for them. They bring so much character to the tiny house. They are entertaining and fun and fat.

It is pure joy, watching them sleep or relax or play. We can only hope that the cats are also happy they took a chance on us. Our relationship is in progress and it is exciting to think about how it will grow in time.

Keep loving.

Love is a verb. It takes plenty of work and time. We cannot hurry, force, or fake it. It does not help that it can be confusing most times and that there are tons of understanding and reflection involved. Talk about a demanding and frustrating endeavor.

But we love because we deserve love, to give and receive it, and experience the depth and intensity of emotion that comes along with it. There are no guarantees, but that is not the point, is it?

The fact that it makes us better people – more open, patient, respectful, vulnerable, brave, understanding, humble, and empathetic – is enough. No matter who or what we are loving.

We have decided to love our cats and we are investing in our relationship every day. It is not always easy, but we will keep loving them anyway.

What is the most important love lesson that you have learned?

128 thoughts on “What our cats taught me about love

  1. Awwwwww cats are such loving animals, and just like people they need loving care, you’re so wonderful to take them in and care for them so lovingly. xo

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  2. Aaaaaaaaaaaa. You have no idea how much my little heart rejoices everytime I come across posts about cats! On top of that, this one was sooo wholesome and just adorable! I loved reading it. Thanks for sharing the pictures of the furballs. 🤩🤩🥰

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      1. Oh yes they are just purrfecto companions. Not here, unfortunately. But I have fostered stray lost kittens until theybwere adopted quite a lot of times and I had visiting stray cat back in Kolkata where I was doing my postgrad and living alone. She used to spend long hours of the day with me. Without her I’d have faced the first three months of lockdown isolation very much alone. 🖤💕

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  3. This is such a heartwarming story! I learnt the value of space and loving without making someone conform to your idea of love from cats and it’s served me well in other areas of my life! Happy new year 🙂

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  4. I’ve learned to love and value the important people in my life – my family and genuine friends, mentors.😍 I gave love and so I received love.😍

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  5. How awful that these cats have been abused by people. So very sad. We have two cats, one is my friend and the other is my dad’s special friend. Push-Push (mine) ignored me for two days after we returned home on Wednesday. She was most disgusted that I deserted her [although my dad and mom were both here to look after them both]. Ah, cats, they have so much character.

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  6. Micah this is beautiful, so beautiful. These lessons are important, and so much easier to see when we’re talking about an animal we love. I feel like I need to print this out and hang it beside my desk so I can remind myself. ❤ I'm a cat lover too, and wish I could have more than one, but my queen Racecar does not allow other cats anywhere near. It's ok, because we adore each other and have been tight companions during the pandemic. What have I learned from my cat about love? I guess that honesty pays off. She never, ever behaves a certain way because she knows it's what I want, she tells only the truth. I know if she really hated living with me, she would leave. When she's mad at me, she tells me, and annoys me or avoids me. But I keep loving her, and doing my part for her, and things get better, and later I see that she loves me just as much as she always did, and was only mad at me for awhile. It makes our relationship feel authentic.

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    1. Oh, wow, thank you for sharing that. Really important point. I love your relationship with your cat. And if only we can be this honest with our human relationships! It is just crazy, the kind of best-foot-forward culture we have, then somewhere along the relationship we complain that our partner has changed, when truly they are just being themselves now. We would avoid so much drama if we were just honest to begin with, no?

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  7. This is the sweetest! I love how you say “love is a verb”. How you’ve shown so much patience with your kitties. We had cats when the kids were growing up. Now they each have cats, too, and have learned to love them fiercely. xoxo

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    1. We also grew up with cats, and dogs, and all sorts of animals. I think it helps kids. And yes, I suppose we can also say that about love – it requires a lot of patience. Haha!

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  8. Without doubt, re our two cats, it is trust. They are rescue cats and we have had Minnie and Mo (sister and brother) now for just over four years. Mo is like a mini black panther, although he acts like a dog sometimes. He will come and find you and ask that you follow him (he has a very expressive tail) At other times, you can say to him get in a box and he will. Both cats love cardboard boxes to the moon and back.

    Although they are indoor cats, you can say “outside” and they will run to the back door and wait to be let out. Mo can also hear the cheese being opened regardless of how quiet you are. Because he is a big boy, you will find both his front paws and his head poking up over the kitchen bench literally asking for some cheese. Minnie’s not fussed.

    Our stray, depending on how he feels, will either stop and say hello as he walks through our property or will continue walking, pretending we are not there. Sometimes, he will come to the back door and meow – which is him asking for food 🐾 🐾 🐾

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    1. Love your stories, Sean. It is interesting how cats act like dogs sometimes. And you reminded me to test giving our cats a box. Curious how they will react. That is a funny story with the cheese! Not sure if our cats have had cheese. They like fish, and are not interested in any meat things, oddly enough.

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      1. Cats do tend to have a preference regarding what they will eat. They will generally like fish or meat, sometimes both. Our two like both, but turn their nose up at chicken. However, their basic diet is a serving of balanced cat biscuits based on their age and one suited for indoors.

        Even this morning, Minnie was on the lounge and Mo was nowhere to be seen. The packet of cheese hadn’t even hit the kitchen bench when he miraculously appeared.

        Both cats will try to get into any box, regardless of its size. They will even fight over getting into a box they have taken a liking too. So, there are two boxes by the side door onto the patio which they sleep in during the day. They also swap these boxes with each other throughout the day 😂

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  9. Such a sweet story! My husband adopted a dog from a shelter a few years back. It took him a while to adjust to some of the things we view as simple. He had trouble using the potty in our front yard without being easily distracted by passing cars and other noises. He did not like to walk out of the garage door and pass by our cars. You can tell he was abused and it’s so sad to know that. He’s a big dog, calm and loving, but it took some time to get him comfortable. Even after being with us for years now, he still has moments where you can tell he remembers being mistreated. He gets nervous around loud noises or other situations. I just don’t understand how people can mistreat animals!

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    1. Great job for rescuing a dog. I know many people buy their pets, when there are many in shelters that are searching for a new home. But I also understand how it can be challenging to get a rescue, for reasons that you also said. What is the name of your dog? I hope he continues to become more comfortable and happy with you.

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  10. Your cats are good looking and obviously are benefitting from your love for them. So wonderful that you’ve decided to give them their space and a place they can call home when they are of a mind to do so. As for what is love all about? Not sure… maybe it’s a journey down a path, not a destination in which you remain stuck. Seems like love is a process aimed at expanding your spirit by helping others– which then helps you.

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    1. Oh, I love your definition, Ally. Yes, there is simply no ‘there’ in love. We just have to keep working on it every day. Markus and I talked about this once, how being together involves questioning yourself what the hell you are doing every day, and also deciding every day to be in the relationship. And yes, our cats are adorable and seeing them grow in trust and love is very special. Like today, I was having tea, and Phobos and Deimos decided to join me. Deimos sat on my foot under the table while Phobos laid on the plant shelf. Usually, Phobos does not come this close but both of them were there just to watch me. It was really nice.

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  11. Aw..I loved the names you gave them! I agree understanding the traumas do make a difference in helping us come to terms with it. Cats are such wonderful companions to have but I love dogs more. Thank you for sharing what you learned from your cats! It’s amazing how much they can teach us.

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  12. Those are sweet looking cats. It’s sad that they underwent such difficult times before. It looks like you all have something to offer each other, and that the relationship is only going to get better. I have a cat back in North America, her mother was found on our porch, pregnant in the middle of a very cold February in 2013. We adopted one of her kittens who is our cat Sissi, and the mother and all her other kittens were adopted by loving owners.

    Cats are wonderful to have around, even when they’re perilously mischievous and it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

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    1. Oh, lucky you have wonderful friends and family who adopted all the cats. Yes, being with the cats is like any relationship, and it is a joy to grow together every day. Before, I worry when I would not see one or the other for a few days, but now I know they are just going about their cat business. I really appreciate how independent cats are.

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  13. I say that dogs give unconditional love; cats give conditional love.

    I enjoy meeting them on THEIR terms!!

    I adore that you have “Deimos” and “Fake Deimos”. For awhile, I had “Toonces” and “Not Toonces”. NT turned out to be “Bean”, a neighbor’s cat. But since he’s a standard Tabby, I see identical cats all the time.

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    1. Cats think they are Gods, don’t they? Yes, thank you for understanding the Deimos and Fake Deimos situation. They looked alike in the beginning! I thought about renaming Fake Deimos as Io but by now calling him anything else kind of weirds me out.

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      1. I also had Moshi, who died but then appeared at my bedroom door. It literally took 30+ seconds to remember Moshi was dead and confirm I was seeing a real cat. That’s how GhostMoshi got his name!

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            1. I imagined those 30 seconds were quite emotional. When I was younger, I used to have a ginger cat, his name was Cook, and I loved him to pieces. I would love to see him again, even if it was only a mistake. I tear up just writing this.

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              1. I was so sure it was him that I wasn’t sad at all. I completely forgot that he had died. When I remembered, I was too confused to be sad.

                But otherwise…. ohhh, thinking lost pets DESTROYS me!!

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                  1. Same… and my dog died roughly 40yrs ago. But most of my pets have had horribly tragic deaths which left me completely traumatized. Only AdamCat, who died in June, was “normal” and expected.

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          1. I am doing better since coming home from the hospital 🙂 I still have a lot of treatments to do at home for my asthma but it’s better than being in the hospital! Thankfully cats don’t bother or trigger my asthma!

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  14. Beautiful post!! I grew up having cats and they are just exceptional animals that can enrichen our lives and teach us so much. Your kitties are absolutely adorable!

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  15. Very nice post. We have a cat, too, and we enjoy her very much. I adopted her back when I worked for a community college. They had a Vet Tech program. They would get animals from the shelter, and the students would “work” on the cats, learning and performing the necessary procedures. So, I like to say my cat went to college. She is a very affectionate cat. As far as my biggest love lesson – there are many. Love is a verb as you say. That is a great sentence. Love is a decision – not just a feeling. Lastly, I think you have to love yourself before you can love another. Thanks for your post. Love you guys! 🙂

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    1. That is hilarious! I wish I can send our cats to college, too. Haha! And excellent points, Betty. Cannot agree with you more – it is indeed a decision, an ongoing project, and something that starts with us. We cannot ask a partner to give us things that we can only provide for ourselves. I think this is one reason why most relationships fall apart, too.

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  16. Very sweet. I admire your commitment to loving on someone else’s terms. Sometimes it’s hard to love without the usual signs of returned affection, but you seem to have found some smaller signals of appreciation that reinforce your own choice to give. Very selfless, and the cats are lucky creatures as a result!

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    1. Thank you. With us, our love for the cats does not depend on their response or what they give us. We love them because we love them, not because they love us back. Thank you for visiting us and welcome to our blog!

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    1. They are lovely. Waiting for the time when we can also give Phobos and Fake Deimos scratchies. I suspect Phobos will be next. And yes, I suspect the strays stole something and they were poured warm liquid or something in retaliation. Heartbreaking. I am just glad our cats can relax now and are cared for. Thank you for sharing such a good love lesson – cannot agree more. In a way, this is how Markus and I were able to come together. Just going with the flow and living our separate lives until it naturally came together.

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    1. The cats were local strays who decided to live with us when we moved into our tiny house. We finished building it just before the lockdowns started. We got really lucky there.

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  17. Awww your adopted kitties are so cute! I’ve had a few that adopted me over my lifetime as well. I love your guys’ garden! And I’d definitely agree that love is something that requires work but makes us better for it. Happy new year!

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    1. Thank you. The cats are the overlords of the garden. They have their own corners but they eat together. Sometimes they are irritated with each other, but they do not fight a lot, which we are grateful for. They are all males. Happy 2021, too!

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  18. What a delightful post! I think cats are great teachers when it comes to love: you have to accept them for who they are, and in turn they will accept us (somewhat). My cat adopted me one freezing cold night—she screamed for help while standing on the roof of my cottage while staring down the bathroom vent at me. I was surprised at how trusting she was, and assumed she’d been abandoned by one of the many renters who constantly shuttled in and out of the house behind us. She has turned out to be the nicest cat I’ve ever had, and the most affectionate. She also appeared when I was recovering from a traumatic event. I felt then it was a sign that I was ready to heal.

    (Another cat love story: My previous cat was a true feral who never really liked humans and hissed at everyone except me and my younger daughter. Talk about learning to love and trust someone! The first two months, she hid behind the stove and didn’t come out except to eat and use the litter box.Then we went on vacation for three weeks and a housesitter took over. On our first night back home, I was shocked to find Eliza sleeping on the pillow next to my head. She apparently missed me, though it was her first time out from her hiding spot.)

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    1. Oh, thank you for sharing these stories. The first cat would have scared me if I just see it staring like that. Haha! I am happy she has found a home with you. It is sad when people abandon pets. How is that okay? Your second cat story made me laugh. My father had a wild cat, a civet actually, that jated everyone except him. It terrified me. Glad yours came along nicely!

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    1. Did you get in a lot of trouble then? Yes, Markus and I also worked together on this to understand each other better. It is not just us in this relationship, but also years and years of trauma from different people and circumstances that shaped how we relate to each other. Definitely not easy and a continuing project but really worth the effort.

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      1. Being in a relationship has definitely turned out to be a lot trickier than I originally anticipated but, yes, definitely worth the effort

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          1. I’m not very good at getting things done immediately unless it’s something my heart is set on. Procrastinator all the way! It’s more so around things that I have on my bucket lists and resolving issues with anyone I’ve had a misunderstanding with!

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  19. It’s amazing that you are not allergic to cats. You are lucky. Joy was gifted a Persian cat (Happy) but had to let go eventually because of me. They now have Gizmo but he’s just outside, again, because of me.

    Your cats have cool names, especially Fake Deimos 😀

    What is the most important love lesson that you have learned?
    -Continue loving the people you love, even if you hate them… love them anyway.

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    1. I am. But that is why antihistamines were invented. Haha! The cats only stay outside. No animals inside the tiny house. We named the cats after the moons of Mars, and Fake Deimos came a little after, at a time when we did not see Deimos for a few days. They looked alike and we just called him that. Deimos soon returned after whoring in another street. Now we do not worry when the cats go missing for some days. Just means a female cat is in heat somewhere.

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        1. Yes, they do. I remember looking at Deimos before as he squashes our plants and I just wish he would let me give him scratchies already. Oh well, they just take their time. The plants are the real heroes here. Haha!

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  20. I learned from my children to accept people as they are and love them without wishing to change them. There were two widowers on our street. One was a kind, grandfatherly man, and the other was a crusty curmudgeon. I cringed inside when the testy man criticized the children, but they didn’t talk back. The next time we were sharing cookies or bread with neighbors, they offered to deliver them to both the older men.

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    1. Your kids are lovely. And that is an awesome lesson that you shared, Anne. Wonder how this applies to parenting in the East? Here, kids are raised to a certain standard: we must be this and that. I imagine parents saying they want the kids to be who they are, exactly as what the parents mold them to be. Haha!

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