Mother Nature Set Her Jewels in the Eyes of a Cat

Number 28 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Mother Nature Set Her Jewels in the Eyes of a Cat
~ Indian Proverb

cats eyes

It’s day 28 of my 28 day blog challenge – hurrah! And it’s a happy day, for so many reasons. I think the best reason of all is that I feel really motivated to keep writing. I wanted to create this month of momentum to kick start a new book project… And the question for me was – which book?!

You see, I have many ideas whirling around my head, waiting to fly out of my mind and be transferred into written word and these impulses have always been within me, since I have always had the sense that I was born to write… It feels like an urge that is zipped into my DNA, coiling round my being like a soft snake.

I then had a father who read to me every night as a child, developing a love of, and a loving security around, the written word. At school it was a favourite subject, some thing I was average to good at – or so my teachers said… And when I left with an ‘A’ at A’ Level in English Literature I remember one of those teachers telling me that he was so glad that he was wrong… (this at the time when A’ levels were at their hardest to pass and 90 % of the people I knew failed them…).

And from school I left my home, parents and cat to go to a red brick University and there gained a BA (Hons) in English Literature… So for three years I was immersed in words and genres; social history and personal mores; poetry and prose; novels and philosophies; all weaved through with the joy of language and literature’s spikes and nuances.

But that was the end of my time with words… A short life time lived with the protestant work ethic of my origins, meant that I felt impelled to go out into the world and earn a ‘serious’ living. I had no concept of how to do that with words… I didn’t want to teach; journalism was a tough nut to crack, and so I turned to another imbued inclination… The observation and support of people, rather than prose. So it was that I walked into my corporate career in Human Resources…

There followed a life of compartmentalisation, where I ruthlessly segmented my existence in to work, play, travel and occasionally – love… And there was no writing, unless you count the beautifully composed letters and policies at work, or the poetical letters, which evolved into emails, all made at ‘play’…

I shan’t bore you with my long life details after that, but some how, many decades later I am managing to better combine all the elements of my life… My people skills, my creativity, my writing and now of course – my cats! Having, during the course of this month of blogging, done some un-thorough research into my chosen subject, it confirms what I knew, that cats are the most popular pets on the planet – or the most Westernised pieces of it, any way… And this not just for all their fabulous feline features, but largely because they combine a measure of dependence (on us) and independence that renders them completely convenient and complimentary to the way of life that so many of we modern day humans find ourselves in.

For me there are clearly many feline lures and allures. Cats were childhood companions of mine and have accompanied me in my adult life too. I find that they suit me temperamentally – I love their independence and feline form of intelligence… I realise this usually where you can get drawn into the cats vs dog debate… But whilst I used to be polarised towards cats, I am more and more drawn to dogs – not to live with one (or not yet).

May be it’s a symptom of my more mellow middle age… Having reached this age, I have spent a lot of time in the company of cats, observing them and learning about them. Some of these musings have now been brought out and played with in this latest series of blogs. The vague research carried out during these four weeks, has also expanded my cat knowledge, width ways, joyously…

And so have used my moggies as metaphors and muses; I have used their behaviours to deepen my learning of life and find a subtle and easily accessible way to share my thoughts. Cats are popular in so many ways, they give so much pleasure to so many, and so it has been a perfect privilege to spend so much more quality time exploring with them.

And from the expansion of my experience of cats, the time I have with them can concertina in to a thousand tiny diamonds of time… This morning I woke up, came downstairs and found my littlest feline Sophia curled up on the sofa. She opened her sleepy eyes and looked at me with such sweet affection and blinked slowly – a cat’s display of trust and comfort.

The eyes of a cat express so much – Taz has huge green crocodile globes of eyes that bore into you and peer into the world, and quietly take so such in. And last, but never least of course, there is my George, with those azure blue orbs of his… so often he will sit by me and lift his eyes to look into mine, and then the purrs will start; and for a few soft seconds, we are locked into a tiny eternity of love…

So yes… Mother Nature did indeed ‘set her jewels in the eyes of a cat’, and not just of course the eyes….

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no. All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

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What Cats Teach Us About Life: Cats, Coffee and the Compliance of Civits

Number 27 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Indonesians Farm Civet Cats To Produce World's Most Valuable Coffee

The ‘Coffee Pooh’ Civit

Over the course of this month’s blog challenge on my twin themes of Coaching and Cats, I have been digging deeper into one of the coaching tools I often employ, which is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for the four main personality traits it describes: namely Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I have been gently evolving this in to DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall now be consciously combining the personality and the puss.

The cat trait I shall be investigating today is the ‘C’ of the DISC model, which stands for Compliance.   And my four legged muse to assist me in this exploration, is a very intelligent and self-possessed puss I used to be the guardian of – a handsome ginger tom by the name of Muttley.

Muttley was an urban tiger, twice the size of the average domestic cat and probably three times as clever.  He was a rescue cat I took guardianship of (from a cat charity) when he was, we guessed, around eighteen months old.

On first acquaintance he was neutrally grateful for his warm new home, then gradually, slowly, more of his personality started to emerge.  I only ever had to tell Muttley anything once and he got it.  I soon realised too that this cat understood all the rules of the house instantly, and in fact knew them better than I did.

Not long after he arrived in my life, I went away for a night and left him alone with a cat feeding device – a machine with a timer that was programmed to pop open at a pre-determined time, in order to dispense his dinner.  It was a new fangled, fan dango’ed sort of machine that took me around 2 hours to figure out, assemble and then set up.  Despite this complexity, I discovered, when I returned home 24 hours later, this same device, broken in to little pieces, easily dis-assembled by my cat and now scattered across the kitchen floor…

I never left Muttley on his own again – for he had taught me the intricacies of Compliance – not a sissy, ‘do as you are told’ sort of compliance, but a ‘I know it all, so let me show you how’ kind instead…

The C in this trait stands for Conscientious as well as Compliance.  It is all about detail, preciseness and perfectionism, which was why, when I was casting about for a wild cat to cast as a representative for it, that I thought of the Civit – or to be compliantly precise – the Asian Palm Civet…

Some where, way back, down along their long genetic lineages, it is thought that the cat and the civet had a common ancestor.  Over the morass of millennia, convergent and parallel evolution has produced different animal lines, which because of their common ancestry and habitat may even develop some similar traits, including the ‘C’ one.

The Asian Palm Civet is actually a small, (domestic) cat-sized grey / black, long tailed creature. It has a more pointed muzzle than a moggy – and looks like a hybrid between a cat and a raccoon.  In fact, rather than being a cat, it is more closely related to the modern mongoose.

It is a carnivorous creature, living most notably in Indonesia and feeding in the wild on rodents, insects, fruits and curiously (for us humans), coffee berries.  Because of its’ coffee habit, this Civit has a paw in the production of ‘Kopi Luwak’, a coffee that is prepared using the coffee berries which they eat and partially digest.  The beans are then harvested from their fecal matter.   The reason that this coffee is so prized, is that Civits only eat the finest and ripest beans – since by sense and smell they know exactly which are the very best.

The civet’s efforts allegedly add to the coffee’s prize aroma and flavour.  As such, this ‘Civit Pooh Coffee’ is therefore the gold dust of the caffeine world, commanding big dollars in comparison to its’ non-digested coffee cousins.

So just as my mog Muttley could see exactly how everything worked, consequently the ‘coffee pooh’ Civit can also only select the correct coffee berries.  It is, of vital importance to the ‘C’ trait, that things are done exactly the right way and according to the rules.

This all works when the ‘C’ characteristic knows what the rules actually are… I remember taking Muttley with me to stay with family for Christmas, and on the first night he wandered around the strange house, dis-planted from his territory and meowing constantly, whilst the rest of us attempted to sleep… At this juncture, if he were a human ‘C’ – out of his comfort zone, his meows would be signifying a whole range of questions – where, why, how and what..? All asked in order to re-establish the direction of his internal compass.

The ‘C’ then, is most comfortable when things are ‘right’.  So they tend to be motivated by getting things right and hence, by being right; and they are very good at it, for they are great listeners and attentive to corrective detail.  Then, with all these details established and to hand, they can then make sure and certain decisions; yet without all the data, statistics and cogent facts at their disposal, they are reluctant to commit to a conclusion. C’s do not tend to thrive on tension and will avoid it or will pick at the holes and flaws of its’ concern, (which they can see a hundred paces ahead), in order to steer clear of combustible conflict.

So where Muttley knew his territory, tricks and escape routes, he would stand his ground, yet where there was any element of uncertainty he would flee, back to his safe home and to me. So whether human, cat or small, (lithe-bodied, nocturnal), mongoose like mammal, the ‘C’ has its’ detailed role to play – notated and checked to the nth degree – to check and perfect and to get life right.

In amongst all the mnemonics in DISC I can see the need for ‘C’ and all the different elements in my world.  And, like a lot of people, cats and civits, have many of the traits blended to a certain degree, to make a constant and evolving recipe of me.

PS: Sadly the Asian Palm Civit’s coffee talents have been abused by some in their native Indonesia, who have force-fed them a debilitating diet of coffee berries in diabolical living conditions, in order to harness their excreted harvest.  Fortunately there is now a campaign under way to encourage ‘ethical’ civet coffee…

PPS: Today’s Civit centric information has been digested and regurgitated from the websites o: f A-Z Animals, Wikipedia, messybeast.com/cat-prehistory.htm, and Cat Poop Coffee Inc.

PPPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life: The Steadiness of the Leopard

Number 26 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

leopard

As a Coach and an admirer of Cats, I realised some time ago that these two things need not necessarily be mutually exclusive; in fact they could cogently combine, and so I find, that I am constantly developing my philosophies of and musings on, ‘Coaching with Cats’.

As a qualified Occupational Tester, one of the tools I use most often is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I am now gently developing this in to DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The trait that my cats and myself shall be scrutinizing today is the ‘S’ of the DISC model, which stands for Steadiness.   And my assistant in this task today is the living, loving teddy bear that is my cat Taz.

Taz is not always the most obvious of creatures, (apart from at meal times), and rarely is he bothering and badgering me for attention. A sweet but solitary creature, he often likes to hide out at the top of the stairs, squeeze into dark corners or park himself behind curtains – under desks or any where that offers him a good view and a secret blanket of safety.

He reminds me of a small Leopard, one of those graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars.  His wild cousins have territories spread across the vast reaches of Africa and Asia, and have been known to humans throughout long millennia, being featured in the art, mythology, and folklore of many places, from Arabia to Britain and far beyond.

Leopards are in nature elusive, solitary and largely nocturnal, of which aspects Taz quietly draws upon.  The key thing about personalities that belong to this type is their rhythmic pace and steadiness, and as such they can offer a calm predictability.  They are very grounded in the present, but are also great at meeting dedicated deadlines ahead of time.  Hence Taz will linger around for food, insinuating him self into my presence often two or three hours ahead of the pre-prescribed time.

Taz is definitely a lover rather than a fighter, preferring to do things the peaceful way – yet if the occasion calls for it, he will see off intruder cats from the garden, simply by staring them out.  It is a magnificent thing to observe – seeing him in his silent, steady power.
For all his independence and secrecy, Taz is too, very loving and steadily affectionate.  He is naturally friendly with everyone, but like all ‘S’ types, will take some time to get to know you before he loves you.  And since he is a true creature of habit, he likes to demonstrate his love, for me, with regularity, at round about 10.00 pm each night, when I will be sought out, then head butted, paw pounded and purred at.

It is always a two way scenario with this little Leopard and so I must, of course love him back…

Taz is one of the quietest cats I know, but when he has something to communicate, he draws on rich variety of methods.  Leopards too produce a number of vocalizations, including grunts, roars, growls, meows, and purrs.  My favourite Taz talk is his ‘thrup’ or what is known in the wild cat world as ‘prusten’ – a blown breathy nostril snort also made by tigers and snow leopards, as a sound of happy recognition.

Since they are such good communicators and excellent listeners – S’s tend to be great problem solvers too and will often reach their conclusions through group consensus.  Hence more and more Taz is to be found hanging out with all members of The Pride – especially during his patterned and favourite time of evening.

Taz rarely pushes or forces and loves to be quietly adorable and agreeable, even under pressure.  And unless it is a matter of food or safety, he would rather I called the shots and made all the decisions. This means that he can then just quietly takes his purring place in The Pride…

Taz is truly my own little Leopard.  He is a sweet hearted and gentle panther of a fluffy black cat, and a beautiful constant, quietly making his presence felt in my life and in the circle of The Peachey Pride.

PS: Today thanks go to the Wikipedia and National Geographic websites for their excellent information on Leopards.

PPS: A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a book.  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a ‘purrfect’ present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

The Gorgeous Serendipity of Cats, Writing and World Book Night…

Number 25 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

World Book Night 15

Yesterday I received an email, which began:

“CONGRATULATIONS! We’re thrilled to tell you that you’ve been chosen as a World Book Night 2015 volunteer! You will be joining thousands of other volunteers across the country to share your love of reading and inspire others to begin their reading journey.”

I have taken part as a volunteer for World Book Night before, for a number of reasons – not least because I have a love of books and words, which I got from my father (now departed), who read to me every night as a child.  As a result I was transported to exciting new worlds and introduced to a host of characters; I learnt and grew my vocabulary: and to this day love where writing can take you, in every sense – allowing you to escape (from the every day), to learn, and to grow, and all this whilst being entertained.

Of course, not every one has had the start that I did, nor have formed a reading practice for what ever reason…

Run by The Reading Agency, World Book Night is celebrated in Britain on 23 April and the Their Website explains what it is all about:

“Reading for pleasure is a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health, yet in the UK 35% of people don’t regularly read.

World Book Night brings together a powerful collaboration of national partners – publishers, printers, distributors, libraries, booksellers, private donors, trusts and foundations – to inspire more people to read. Thousands of volunteers share their love of reading by giving out books to people in their communities who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books. National, regional and local events up and down the country celebrate the difference that reading makes to people’s lives.”

As an avid reader and a published author, my wish is that as many people as possible get the opportunity to receive and read.  Every year there are a number of titles that are donated by publishers to give away and when you apply to be a volunteer, you also apply for which particular titles you would like to give out.

The organisers weren’t always able to give everyone their first choice, but did manage to allocate volunteers one of their top three choices.  I am delighted to say that I got my first choice and I chose my title for a very specific set of reasons.

So, on the evening of the 23rd of April I will be giving out 18 copies of: ‘Street Cat Bob: How One Man and a Cat Saved Each Other’s Lives. A True Story.’ This is a brand new, ‘Quick Read’ edition of a book I read several years ago called: ‘A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets’.

Street Cat Bob

The book tells the true and uplifting story of James Bowen, a drug addict, busker and Big Issue seller, living off the streets of London, and his cat – a ginger tom called Bob.

When the author found this injured street cat in the hallway of his sheltered housing, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. Soon the two were best friends, and their funny and sometimes dangerous adventures would change both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.

It is an easy and inspiring read, taking you into the world of James and Bob and detailing the slow, not always easy redemption of each of them.

As a reader, writer and cat lover, it was therefore the perfect choice for me, not least because I am currently exploring ‘What Cats Teach Us About Life’ in a series of blogs that I have been posting online this month, as part of a blog challenge I have set myself.  My brief is to write a piece every day of the month of February and it has been a fabulous experience, exploring how cats can give us so much pleasure, support and if we choose to see it – learning too.

The serendipity of World Book Night offering the opportunity to be a volunteer (acceptance is not guaranteed); then offering this title (they offer a wide variety of options which are different every year) and then accepting me as a volunteer to give out this particular book, all in this month when I am writing about cats and what they can teach us, is completely perfect and also an opportunity for which I am gorgeously grateful.

Alongside this, I will also be giving away some free copies of my own book ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’, showing how the simple act of writing a letter, can be a healing release that any one who can write, can do…

During March, World Book Night will be releasing details of events across the United Kingdom so you will see more from them, me and the army of volunteers gearing up for the evening of 23rd April.

I now have to decide where and who the books will go to… I live near Coventry in the West Midlands, so will be staying as local as possible.  I already have some ideas, but would also welcome ideas for organisations, groups and individuals that would really love the opportunity to start, re-discover or develop a new reading routine.  Please feel free to contact me through my blog with any suggestions that you have.

I have three cats of my own of course – so George, Taz and Sophia – whether they know it or not, they are all lending me their support.  And this year, as far as I am concerned, four paws is most definitely the way to go…

Watch this space for more World Book Night news… 

PS: World Book Night can be found and followed on Facebook and Twitter.

PPS: A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a book.  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a ‘purrfect’ present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Time to Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Number 24 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

GandS Oct 13

George & Sophia, sweetly snoozing…

One afternoon, after a delicious snooze on my sofa, I awoke to find George as always, sweetly and soundly asleep at my side.  Coming to, I realised that I had lost sight of my mobile phone.  After groping around in all the usual crevices that like to suck my most wanted possessions into their insidious vortexes, I was still none the wiser.

So I grabbed the land line and dialled my mobile.  I was relieved to hear it ring almost instantly.  But the ringing did not come from a telephone, it came instead, from my cat.

George had turned into a giant ring tone.  Like a mothering hen, he was cradling the warm digital device under his soft stomach, and I so snatched my precious ‘egg’ from under him, laughing out very loud as I did so.  Startled out of his very important sleep, George was clearly not amused.  How dare I: a) disturb him and in such an uncouth manner and b) ridicule him for his kindly tea-cosying of my telecommunications handset??

He gave me such a look of haughty distain that I then felt impelled to use the camera on the phone to capture that perfect moment of affront, and here is the resulting picture…

Far be it from me to deliberately disturb a cat’s self satisfied sleep.  In reality I am so much better at doing that to myself thank you very much.

My head is a busy one, certainly busier than my body.  Life is often hectic and fast, but I’m not so sure that I am.  I remember a younger version of me who was always on the move, on the run, organising social events, keeping busy, always with a short boredom threshold, looking for variety, for change.

I would run home from a long day at work: eat, have a bath, get changed and dash out again, night after night, weekend after weekend.  Desperately being any where but in my head and heart.  The trouble was, that I always took them with me…

But now, I’ve slowed down; may be it’s middle age, maybe it’s a realisation that back in my mad gypsy days, I didn’t like to stop and think and feel and face up to myself.

So back then, I’d often have a single cat companion, a constant in my life, someone to come home to, because oddly, despite all my running around, I’ve always known I’m a little home bird too.  Well, that’s me, truly contradictory.

And now I give in to the lazy – to the sweet neutrality of doing nothing, bugger all, sweet F.A.

Let’s start with sleeping, in common with cats I’m really good at it.  It is definitely one of my real talents.  My head will hit the pillow and I’ll be gone, cradled in the arms of Morpheus until morning. And Morpheus morphs into a form of morphine, it is a drug – too little and I’m light headed and divorced from the world, too much and I have a hang over of excess heaviness.

But cats some how have the balance right.  Did I say balance?!  In their case sleep is the majority of their daily activity.  Apparently they sleep for two thirds of their lives.  As a lover of sweet sleep I so envy a cat’s ability to nap with such constant certainty and consistency.

And there I am, of an evening, awake and possibly alert, sitting in my living room, when silently and suddenly I find that I am surrounded by three snoozing felines of various hues.

George is nearly always besides me, my constant guardian, whilst opposite us, Taz occupies the right hand side and Sophia has carved the left hand side of the other sofa, as her own soft sleeping place.

Often I’m not even aware that they have even entered the room, and then I look up and a quiet threesome of zizzing cats will just be there, insinuated, and all curled up, like a scatter of perfect tight commas, sharing the sofas with each other and with me.

There is an infinite perfection in the curl of a sleeping cat. A gorgeous, soft circle, in the aligned circumference of head, body, limbs, paws and then tail.  And after a while the circle gently unfurls, and stretches out into contented poses of bodied out bliss.

If you have ever practised Yoga or Tai Chi or any form of slow enervated movement that allows you to stretch into a calm coming together of body and stilled mind; then you will, just about, start to appreciate the unrestrained, pure pleasure of a cat reaching out to the Universe to express its’ sheer and utter surrender to the simple ecstasy of its own soul felt and physical existence.

Ah yes, nearly all the cats I know are smugly at one with their place on this planet and completely ‘into’ their bodies.

And taking all this into consideration – if sleeping sweetly and smugly was an Olympic event, this species would win the Gold medal, paws down, without fault, a perfect ten, every single time…

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life: How to find the ‘I’ in Serval…

Number 23 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Serval

I am blending and blurring the lines of my life… Linking the disparate and disciplined, making a whole picture out of all the multi coloured jigsaw pieces of my creation – born and made. And by doing so, I am bringing more of me into who I am and what I do, in everything, so that life is more natural and more easy… Blissful sigh… Smug pause…

Whilst I am practising the art of being more of myself, being more ‘natural and easy’, cats of course, are just getting on with it.  And the elements of my life that I shall be drawing together today, are the observation and interaction of (human) personality theories, as applied to cats…

As a qualified Occupational Tester, one of the tools I use most often is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I shall now gently develop this in DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The trait I shall be investigating with my cats today is the ‘I’ of the DISC model, which stands for Influence.   And my four legged muse to assist me in this exploration, is the youngest member of The Pride – my kitten-cat Sophia.

I know a lot about this particular trait since I, most definitely am a ‘High I’, so far be it from me to chastise Sophia for displaying all its’ inherent aspects – really loudly and really intensely.  Now, aside from the delivery, the ‘I’ is about influencing, so Sophia always wants me to be on her side and therefore keeps up a constant barrage of conversational mews, meows, trills, chirrups, and squeaks. These linguistic gambits play on a constant, incessant communication – of what she wants, how she feels, and where she is.

In the wild cat world, this would make her a Serval, a creature which lives in the savannahs and grasslands of Africa. Servals are show off cats, being the only wild feline that has both spots and stripes, allowing them to camouflage perfectly in to their grassy habitat. This helps them to be both an efficient hunter and a hider – ensuring that they are not seen by larger predators.  And just in case they then happen to be happened upon, the Serval also has markings on the back of its ears that look like big, scary, ‘leave me alone’ eyes.

Servals fit into the ‘I’ trait in that they are very well adapted to their environment. Most I’s have a quick paced flexibility to react to and fit into their surroundings; and also with their peers.  They will also have a tendency to hide from trouble rather than meet it head on. Servals have very large ears, enabling them to hear prey from up to 20 feet away, just as Sophia can hear the opening of a cat food pouch through walls, doors and fields away.

After the Cheetah, the Serval is the fastest of the wild cats, reaching running speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.   Any one who has met Sophia will know that she displays the typical High I characteristics of being incredibly fast paced, virtually all of the time.  These adaptations serve the Serval well and so this cat catches nearly half the prey that it goes after, in comparison to the lion, which only catches about 30 percent.  Sophia too is speedily adept at being the first to the food bowl, to the lap and out of the cat flat, all three achieved, usually within the space of speedy seconds.

If you were to ask an ‘I’ how to go about doing – just about anything, you would invariably find them carrying it out in the most fun, sociable or brightest way.   Servals and Sophia alike, want to get to the bottom of things and so as a type, are typified by the question ‘why’, and as arch socialisers, will want to know ‘who’ too. Sophia is always whizzing around, focussing on the next best thing, paws flying definitively towards the future.  She loves to be acknowledged and praised and will squeak back her undisguised pleasure at your ministrations, be they physical or verbal.

She is, most definitely an ‘I’ in that she is like quick silver – sensitive, reactive and intuitive, blowing with the wind or racing like a Serval across the Savannah (of the garden).  Her mission is to entertain and amuse you; but put her under stress or cross her, and the claws will (literally) be out and she will hiss out her (rare) displeasure.

The Serval type is a natural motivator, coercing you firmly and positively towards the end goal – usually of food or love.   This can all become all too much when a salvo of deliberate posing, posturing and purrs can just amount to manipulative attention seeking tactics, with  desperate striving to get to something or some one, regardless of whether the object of all that forced attention, wishes for the same thing.

Usually though you are on the same page, and visitors are enchanted by her obvious charms.  I had a recent guest who had not met my I-type cat before and wondered where she was. I explained with a twinkle that one thing is for certain – you will never miss Miss Sophia’s entrance into any room; and sure enough, in she soon flashed, meowing her little head off, demanding every one’s attention and then enthusiastically checking them all out.

I like to think that some how I am more soothing and subtle to be around, yet appreciate that this I-trait, is after all, all about the ‘I’… And in that respect Sophia and I are most definitely twin attention seeking souls…

PS: The source of the Serval information was: georginadp6.weebly.com/characteristics.html

PPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

The Ancient History and Wisdom of Cats…

Number 22 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’. bast

Bastet – worshipped Egyptian Goddess: part woman, part cat…

As a relatively sane woman with a respectable number of decades lived under her purple belt, why would I be revering cats, recounting their exploits and expounding upon what we humans can learn from them?  There are any number of reasons – starting with a simple love of cats and how a prolonged meditation upon them is turning into a treatise that is intended to entertaining and to gently teaching.

There is also the fact that cats are the most popular pet on the planet and almost inevitably to be found living with or by, a huge proportion of man’s global population.

In fact it is believed that the ancestors of the modern domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) have been man’s companion since the Neolithic age – around 9500 years ago.

As man came out of the cave and started civilisations, so too he started to form more formal bonds with the feline; and so it is surmised that around 6000 years ago the African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) entered Egyptian towns in search of food – catching rats in grain stores – and choosing to live close to humans.

AWC

The African Wild Cat

We can only guess at how and why a wild cat would come out of the jungle and allow its’ species to become domesticated, but as a result their destiny was precluded by many human friendly, inherent characteristics such as their attractive appearance, small size, social and affectionate nature, their love of play / hunting and a recognisable level of intelligence, all of which combined with an innate tameness, to make them ideal human companions.

So it was that after two more millennia have passed, cats had evolved from convenient rodent catchers, to cult status.  The feline had, (it is believed) through natural inclination and selective breeding, become the helpmeet and companion of humans; and the Egyptians have long since welcomed them into their homes.  And beyond being a pet, the cat was worshipped as a truly sacred animal and as a species had its’ very own Goddess – Bastet or Bast.

In the history of Eqyptian worship, Bastet appears as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness.  The lioness was known as the fiercest hunter in the African animal kingdom, hunting as she did, in co-operative groups of related females.

Originally Bastet was viewed as a protector goddess.  Over time and with the waxing and waning of the royal dynasties and their deity preferences, her worship also waxed and waned.  Yet when domesticated cats became an every day part of Egyptian life, Bastet began to be represented as a woman with the head of a cat and ultimately emerged as the quintessential Egyptian cat.

Cats were adored in life and the vast graves full of mummified feline remains attest to their status in death.  The Egyptians relegated their revered deified pets to remain in their own country and did not allow them across their borders.  Yet cats still crossed those borders, being secretly traded, and so spread across South East Asia and into India.

The Romans, as travellers and conquerors of so much of the world, absorbed the cult of the cat in to their Empire.  Whilst cats were highly revered in ancient Egypt, the Romans evolved this admiration, considering the feline to be their God of Liberty.  Cats were in fact, the only animals allowed in to Roman temples. They were often also kept as mascots by the Roman army. And as a result, when the Romans conquered Britain, they brought the domestic cat with them, and into our pagan lives.

Our sea faring ancestors of more recent centuries took cats with them to the colonies, and so our feline friends found their way to America, Australia and much of the rest of the world too.

So it is that cats have a long history of being worshipped and adored by man, woman and child. May be this explains their inherent self satisfaction – it has been bred into them, marching through their DNA, from then, till today.

And for all this, the modern day moggy that sleeps by your side has changed very little in body or instinct from his ancestors of ancient millennia.  Compare a striped tabby to an African Jungle cat and what you will see, is familiarity.   Restricting breeding stock has encouraged beautiful coats, colourings and other managed characteristics such as the blue eyes of my own pedigree Birman – George.  However – most domesticated cats still have all the instincts and capabilities needed to succeed in the ‘wild’, or in the streets, or where ever fate or their inclination may pitch them.

Yet compare a Chihuahua to a wolf and see the gulf from a dog’s ancestor to the present day; the modern canine being so often mutated into something physically unrecognisable from its’ ancient sire.

Something instead, has stabilised the cat’s evolution; perhaps that it is already perfect and perfectly adapted, having solid feline genetics that have confounded the world it regally inhabits.

And despite history and black cat witch hunts, felines have remained with us, even serving human kind in the First World War – sniffing out poisonous gas in the murderous muddy trenches, and being stationed on war ships to root out rats.

So as for thousands of years we have chosen to co-habit with these creatures, then as we have observed them, created a sympathetic symbiosis then small wonder  that having worshipped them, we now have so much to learn from them…

PS: My reference sources include: the Wikipedia and Cats Protection League websites; many books read; many years spent in observation; many hours spent in speculation, and needless to say – in wonder of, cats…

PPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)