If patience is a virtue, cats are virtuous

Have you noticed how patient domestic cats can be? It is one of their great strengths. It is manifested in many ways, two of which I’ll mention. Domestic cats have various ways of hunting prey just like their wild counterparts. One way is to locate a place where the cat knows there is prey, such as a mouse nest, and wait. Their enormous patience allows them to outmanoeuvre mice. Eventually a mouse comes out and is entrapped. Cats are also very still and silent when hunting in this fashion. Hours can go by as nothing happens and then, quick as a flash, the hunt is over.

Cat patience

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Domestic cats wait for our return with great patience. Many cat guardians spend the entire day at work and/or doing other activities. They may go direct from work to a bar and return home very late. Their cat will wait with inordinate patience for their return. There will be no complaints.

Perhaps in the second example the cat is too patient for their own good. Their patience presents as an acceptance of their human companion’s absence which encourages further absence. A lot of cat owners might think it is perfectly acceptable to leave their cat alone all day, every day. It might be. But it might not because cats will feel the separation from their human companion and caretaker. It might cause stress and stress can come out in health issues such as idiopathic cystitis.

Cats have a silent patience. They can be almost invisible in the home. Sometimes you have to search for your patient, silent cat. The old age ‘patience is a virtue’ comes to mind. It comes from a poem of about 1360 by William Langland. The ‘virtue’ element of the phrase refers to the benefits that patience can bring to a person.

In a speeded up world, thanks largely to the internet, which encourages young people to demand instant everything, patience as a virtue is being forgotten. Patience can achieve things that other characteristics cannot. Some of the best decisions are made by patiently waiting for the answer to reveal itself. There is a time for urgency and speed and a time for going slowly and patience. Sometimes patience resolves problems because time resolves them.

The patient cat can teach us the benefits of certain character traits. Patience is one of them. For the cat it facilitates a successful hunt and kill. For humans it can help achieve a goal.

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