Looking down at the soft fur covered belly, I couldn’t help but think that it was an invitation to give her a belly rub. After all, she’d just plopped down in front of me belly up. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
In a flash my hand was gripped between her teeth and held there with her paws. Lest you think she intended to hurt me, let me clarify, her means of taking my hand hostage was always in a gentle but firm way. A way that left no doubt as to the meaning: ‘No, I am not asking for a belly rub’; ‘hey, that hurts me’; or ‘I am not in the mood to be touched right now’. Whatever the specific words, the meaning always came through clearly. “This is my body, and I don’t wish to be touched here at this time, please respect that.”
Adult cats can be very territorial. They don’t mince meows when they want to establish their territory. If another feline whom my cat deemed non-compatible showed up, she quickly let them know they must keep moving on.
My cat often taught me by example those lessons I most needed to learn. Lessons that I still, at times, struggle to put into practice. Standing up for myself. Being very clear in my message while not hurting anyone. Respecting myself by drawing boundaries. When someone steps over the boundary, you gently but firmly let them know their behavior is not acceptable. When you respect yourself, you demand respect from others.
There may be times when you have to raise your voice a little louder to be heard. Perhaps you’re being ignored or deliberately disrespected. If this happens continuously by the same person, you may want to stop and ask yourself, what am I getting out of this relationship? Is it time to move on? Should I be seeking another position? Do I need to foster new relationships based on mutual respect, similar interests, and with people who uplift and encourage me? Ask your cat….she will know.