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.
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?