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’.


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)