Sleeping Cat (photo by Jeremy W. Lawrence)

The Definition of Success

Sleeping Cat (photo by Jeremy W. Lawrence)
Sleeping Cat (photo by Jeremy W. Lawrence)

I will freely admit that I am an animal person.  Not sure when it happened, whether it was growing up with the same dog in the house for 15 years or later, when I was on my own and had animals in the house.  Still, they are a part of my life and I can’t imagine a long-term life without some sort of animal. ( And for the record, I mean a dog or cat and not a hamster, gerbil, guinea pig or any other mouse like thing.)

That brings me to what could be considered success.  I know you’re probably thinking that the two ideas together make very little sense, but let me explain.

Our idea of success might be having the right kind of job.  It might be having the right kind of car or house.  Better yet, it might be having the right connections or marrying well.  For many people, the measure of success would be what they have in their bank account at the end of the day.

In the last several years, I have developed a new definition of the successful day.  It might seem quite simple, but I tend to think that the simple things in life mean the most and make the most sense.  My definition starts 15 years ago, with a little furball that decided she was going to come home with us.

That furball was the cat we didn’t expect to have around.  We had just lost our first cat after a sudden illness and death at the ripe old age of 4.  We were hesitant to get another cat.  In fact, we were ready to get a dog.  Still, as we visited the place where we would eventually get a dog, this cat just kept showing up.

Being that my wife and I are both animal people, we saw that this kitten was in a tree, having been chased there by one of the dogs that roamed the property.  It was a low tree, so we were able to rescue the cat with little trouble.  From that point on, she stuck to my wife and climbed all over her.  Since she is the cat person, she gave me that look and I knew it was all over.  We were getting a cat and a dog.

That was a great adventure getting both and they got along pretty well, eventually, when the dog got the idea that the cat was in charge.  Still, the cat was working her way into our lives in one of the more unusual ways possible.  She had buttered up the cat person to get into the home and now, she decided that I was the one that she needed to butter up.  She sat with me every chance she could and the unmistakable purr could be heard everywhere.

That led me to this discovery.  In the eyes of an animal, success is pretty simple.  The cat doesn’t care what kind of job I have.  She doesn’t care who I know or who I talked to.  She doesn’t care about the things that I do in the world everyday.  All she cares about is that I spend some time with her every single day.  That has led to moments like the one I have experienced countless times.  I pick her up and before too long, I hear that purr.  My day has been marked as a successful one.  I have made a cat purr.  That is all I really need according to her perspective.

The cat has been with us for some time now and I know that there are likely far fewer days ahead of us with her than what we have had, but I do know that as long as she is healthy and happy, she will continue to mark my days with her purr and the kind of simple magic that only pet ownership can provide.

Success found in the purr of a cat.  Simple.  Pure.  And exactly what an animal lover needs.