Your Cat Is Silent and Observant

How to Think Like a Cat - Stephane Garnier 2018

Your Cat Is Silent and Observant

’I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream’

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, HENRY IV, PART I

Feral cats don’t meow, except during periods of reproduction, when they produce something more akin to a roar to keep their rivals at bay.

When a cat is just a kitten, it will meow to assert itself, to be heard, but as the months pass, it will become increasingly quieter.

The higher-pitched meow of an adult cat is aimed solely at us humans. It is an attempt to speak to us, and of course we can’t understand a thing. So most of the time, cats stop the meowing and turn back to their thoughts, their observations and their wellbeing. There are no sterile discussions with another cat or with a human who can’t understand anything.

Just like the kitten, we babble away constantly when we’re children in order to express ourselves. But as we get older and our language skills advance, we talk more and more, even if it’s sometimes a whole load of nonsense.

Unlike us, cats become ’old adults’ very quickly, and therefore learn to keep their counsel much faster. They watch in silence, not missing a single thing we do, or any changes to their environment, but it is rare that they will comment on anything.

Our propensity to express ourselves about everything all of the time (and being a big chatterbox myself, I am more than familiar with what I’m talking about) sometimes obscures an important element for our wellbeing: learning to keep quiet.

And as a big chatterbox I know all too well that sometimes we really do talk a lot of rubbish. There are times when we even go too far, or are in a bad mood, and what we say is misconstrued. It wasn’t what we meant to say, but it’s too late and the words are out there, unfiltered.

Learning to keep your counsel means controlling your impulsiveness, avoiding talking drivel, and reflecting on and weighing up your thoughts before expressing them. It also means listening to what others have to say, not monopolising a conversation, and not asserting your own opinion as the last word on the matter.

Learning to keep your counsel means keeping a slight distance, and maintaining a little secrecy in your life. Be sincere, but don’t be absolutely transparent about everything with everyone all of the time, so as to protect yourself from the worst of the backbiters.

Expressing yourself is not the same as laying it on thick, and while discussion is vital, observation and listening are sometimes just as persuasive as any argument.

Learn to keep your counsel. Learn to no longer be the centre of everything at every moment through talking. Listen in order to learn, and know when to keep quiet so as to have more impact when you do speak.

Food for Thought

’If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then a cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air’

DORIS LESSING