A lot of people think of cats as being standoffish with their human roommates, but Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, says it may be exactly that behavior — and your understanding of it — that could help you learn skills for your human relationships, too.
“Cats are so outside the human experience,” he told SheKnows. “Once you realize that concept that I call ‘mojo’ — the cat mojo… the thing that really makes them get up in the morning and go through the day — applies to you as well… What is it that makes you get up in the morning? What are your motivations? When you start thinking about how your day-to-day motivations drive you, you start to understand the inner workings of a cat on an emotional level.”
Galaxy thinks cats teach us how to live presently. Their impulses aren’t clouded by money or vanity or a host of other things that motivate humans. Humans can observe that and learn to live their own lives in a simpler, more direct way. He says one of the things people do when they meditate is try to achieve “catness — that in-the-moment state of just observing what’s there when you’re chillaxing in the window sill.”
Additionally, since cats, unlike dogs, don’t live to please their humans, we have to learn the fine art of compromise. “That goes for the people you live with, too,” he notes. “There’s no way you can impose your will on others and expect a successful domestic relationship.”
Galaxy says he thinks the reason women have historically been better with cats is their more innate ability to compromise. He thinks men are historically all about imposing their will. But cats won’t accept being conquered by another. While Galaxy acknowledges that he’s making some sweeping generalizations, he says men who learn patience, humility, an ability to compromise and humility can avoid imposing their will and become better men. “It’s made me a better man. It’s made me question and fight those sort of base manly ways… it makes me take a step back and appreciate mystery a little more.” In turn, men can apply their new worldview to their relationships with women.
In a recent episode of My Cat from Hell, we’re introduced to Francesco, whose cat Pootie is terrorizing him to the point he quite literally has to have safe zones for himself. Galaxy says that episode was one of the most personally gratifying in all six seasons of the show. Francesco’s willingness to set aside societal expectations of what makes a man and allow the world to see him at his most vulnerable allowed the relationship to ultimately blossom.
What that shows (and episode after episode has also shown), in Galaxy’s view, is that in order for a cat to be “fixed,” the human usually has to be fixed first. It’s similar in human relationships. If you feel like your partner needs to be fixed, you should get prepared to take a long look in the mirror, too.
More on cat care
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16 Cat facts to know before you adopt your first feline
An honest guide to adopting a traumatized animal
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