I can hear the groans already as you unsubscribe.
“He’s finally lost it. He’s blogging about cats. It’s over. Can’t take anymore. Done.”
Before you click that link though, (or close this tab or shut me out in some other way) I’d ask that you give me just a couple of minutes. This post will apply to you. It’s just a matter of how willing you are to come along on the journey with me.
This is, in fact, a tale about two cats. But not just any cats, mind you. These are my cats. And they’ve taught me an interesting lesson about business.
Bear with me for a second.
This handsome devil is Poncho. He’s about seven years old right now and I’ve had him since he was about six months. Believe it or not, this guy used to be feral. He was living under the home of an ex-coworker of mine and was in desperate need of four walls and a ceiling of his own.
My wife and I, at the time in a situation that didn’t formally allow pets, wanted to adopt a cat but we couldn’t get one from a shelter because…well, because they wanted documentation that stated that said feline wouldn’t be an issue. Said feline would be an issue so we had to go find a cat via…other means. This meant private adoption.
I love how I’m telling this like I’m detailing some kind of trafficking ring.
This is his brother Pixel. Pixel came into our lives about a year after Poncho via the same co-worker. Mom had had another litter and this guy wasn’t having a good go of it. He was constantly bullied by his brothers and sisters. They stole anything from him that he caught.
He came to us extremely underweight and infested with fleas. If we didn’t take him there was a good chance that he wasn’t going to make it through the coming winter.
Twist our arms – we took him.
Here’s where the lesson starts.
Poncho is one of the most emotional cats I’ve ever known. We share a very special bond, me and this cat. It may sound strange to some but we’re connected in a way. I love him from the bottom of my heart and I know that he cares about me a great deal as well.
But there are many, many times that Poncho is not the cat that has my attention when I’m home. It’s Pixel.
Because Pixel wants attention and he actively pursues it. Poncho sits and waits for that attention.
When I’m sitting on the couch and send out the call that there’s a lap available with free scratches, Pixel is the cat that comes running.
When both cats want to jump up on the bed for snuggles in the morning, Pixel is the cat that actually does, and usually gets the best spot as a result.
When I’m in the kitchen and they both want treats, Pixel will vocalize that desire while Poncho just stares at me with big eyes; basically willing me to drop something tasty on the floor for him.
I love him to death but truth be told it’s easier to say no to him than it is to a yowling, meowing cat doing everything he can to look adorable and get some food out of me. They get treats because of Pixel’s efforts – not Poncho’s.
The thing that sucks is that it really hurts to say these things.
A) it makes it seem like Poncho gets no attention in this house when nothing could be further from the truth. This is, of course, evidenced by b) the fact that Poncho is currently laying across my lap as I write this.
But there is a lesson to be learned here:
The cat that really goes after the stuff he wants makes more happen for himself in the house – even if my attachment is actually geared more toward his brother. I’m ever so slightly more Poncho’s human than Pixel’s. But, Pixel gets what he wants more than Poncho ever will simply because he knows how to get it.
Where that ingenuity might have been when he was fending off the other cats in his litter we will never know.
But, the cat that spent the first part of his life on death’s door because other cats realized that they could just take his food from him is now more alpha than the alpha cat whose house he moved into.
You think I’m kidding? Here’s one of the first pictures I have of Pixel. He’d been with us for less than a day.
Does that look like a cat who was in charge of anything or knew how to get what he wanted?
But he learned very quickly. He learned that one of the best ways to get something he wanted was simply to be the one who goes after it harder; to want it more than his competition. To get there first. To tell you that you want to scratch him.
So, which cat are you?
One of my themes for 2016 is to be more like Pixel.
Poncho is polite. He’s sweet, he’s tender, and he’s gentle but he relies on the goodwill and understanding of others to get the things he wants. He has a good life as a function of his connection to my wife and I. In a less caring situation, it’s easy to see Poncho, full of love to give and longing for attention, never getting the chance to show any of that affection.
Pixel is also sweet. But Pixel sees something he wants and he goes after it and he makes sure that he gets it. If he wants a lap all to himself he will slowly nudge and push Poncho out of the way until Poncho just gives up and leaves. If he wants to get to the food bowls first he will head Poncho off at the pass, colliding with him if necessary, in order to ensure a first place finish. If he wants scratches in the morning he will make sure that he’s first on the bed when the alarm goes off while Poncho sits on the floor and waits to be invited.
There’s nothing wrong with being polite.
But, at times, it will all but guarantee a second place finish – even when the crowd might actually be rooting for the other guy.