THE BLOG

To Truly Learn How to Communicate, Love a Cat

02/14/2014 06:28 pm ET | Updated Apr 16, 2014

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It's Valentine's Day, and men and women everywhere are scurrying around trying to find just the right gift or card to show their special someone they care. Some turn to chocolates, some roses, but do you really know what your sweetie loves? Do you know deep down, in your heart, their likes, dislikes, what makes them happy and what they like to eat?

This Valentine's Day, I am one step closer to understanding how to figure that out. Today, we said goodbye to our beloved kitty, Gryffen, essentially breaking our hearts in the process. But it was time, and he told us so.

The fact is, in the 14 years we had the honor of having him in our lives, he pretty much told us everything he needed. I like this food, I don't like that one, I want to go on the porch, I want you to wake up and feed me, I love you. You get the picture. He couldn't speak to us, but he conveyed his wishes, wants and desires in ways many humans never can.

Or maybe we do and the other person simply isn't hearing it. When Gryffen didn't like a particular type or flavor of food, we took it away and gave him something else. And then my son Matt would write it down so we never bought it again. Spoiled cat? Maybe, but the point is we wanted him to eat. He had thyroid issues and was getting too thin. If he didn't eat, it worried us.

We came to know his likes which were basically; if I'm on one side of the door, I want to be on the other. So we listened for his meow. He loved to sleep curled up in the sun on our screened-in porch. Did he want to go out? Did he want to come in? All he had to do was come into our office, meow once or twice, and one of us (literally) pussy-whipped humans would get up and follow him. If he led us to the door, then out he went. If he went to his food or his water, guess it's time to eat.

The point is we were ready and attuned to listen to his cues. Ok, maybe we were slaves to our kitty, but he really gave as much love as he got. One whistle from Matt and he would come running like a devoted dog. He slept at the foot of Matt's bed every night, slept in the bed when he went away to college and then somehow, he knew when Matt was coming home and waited at the window for him. They got each other.

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Sure, it's easy to ask someone, "Are you ok"? Not so easy with a cat. Chances are the person you ask might not be able to share his or her feelings with you, or may be afraid to let you know what they're thinking. Our Griffy always let us know, and we were always responsive, trying to meet his needs.

The Internet is filled with cat videos and GIF's of all the ways cats rule our lives. But truthfully, I think they're just trying to teach us to open our hearts and our ears and learn to listen to each other as well as we do to our beloved pets.

So this Valentine's Day as we tend our broken hearts over the emptiness in our lives, I'm taking time to open my heart and truly start listening more to my family and friends. That way we can learn to communicate and discover what we need from each other without ever really having to speak.

May you bask in the sunshine forever, Griffy!