Inspiration from unexpected places

I am a man in my forties with aspirations and ideals like anyone else from my generation. But my life is different from other people’s lives in one major way: I go to dialysis three times a week. As someone with a chronic condition, I am always searching for things that bring me pleasure. Life, I have learned, is precious and I genuinely treasure every happy moment. But above all, I am a very determined person with goals that I strive to reach, however challenging the way there might be. Nowadays it’s trendy to talk about goals. How to set them and what to do to cross the finish line. Some people even participate in training classes about personal development, read intensively about the topic or ask a specialist for advice. Well, my fellow patients, I person personally know the world’s best coach when it comes to turning dreams into reality. Her name is Pisi and she is a very motivated…cat.  

At a young age, she achieved all she set out in life to accomplish: she found a warm place to live, tasty food to eat and somebody to love her. Pisi and I met several years ago and through the course of our friendship, I have often reflected on how much she has taught me about reaching my goals. Yes, dear friends, I have learned an awful lot from my cat.


Once upon a time, on a summer’s day with dismal autumn-like weather, I was walking home with my mind adrift. Suddenly right in front of me was a dirty snowball, with big bright eyes that were staring me down. Oh no, I thought, what a poor creature. Then it started conversing with me. ‘Meow.’ A short pause. ‘Meow’, it said again. Have you ever seen a snowball meowing in the middle of summer? I bet not. Alas, it was a little female kitten, dirty and skinny, but on the prowl and looking to socialise. She was not afraid of me and, unlike any ordinary cat she did not run away when I approached. What do you want?’ I asked, sincerely. ‘Meow’, was her immediate response. Was it food she was after, I wondered. No, she was not hungry; it was something else. Unsure of what to do, I glanced again in her direction. She looked very determined and now I could see that she was in pain. Which brings us to the first lesson I learnt from my soon-to-be new friend: Communicate and ask for help when you need it. As soon as I understood her needs, I realised it would be a shame to leave her there. So I was left with no choice but to take her home with me. First order of business for my new, incredibly filthy housemate: a nice warm bath.

The connection

As soon as I understood her needs, I realised it would be a shame to leave her there. So I was left with no choice but to take her home with me. First order of business for my new, incredibly filthy housemate: a nice warm bath. And because bathing notoriously makes you hungry, I followed up by offering the kitten a bowl of warm milk. After licking up the last drop, she fell asleep in my arms and started to purr. She knew just the right trick to tug at my emotions.   But what am I going to do with her was the next logical question. As it was raining I decided she could stay for the night. But tomorrow, I will let her out. Keep the cat? No way. I do not need or want a pet, I firmly reminded myself. An animal like that would only add messy tassels to my curtains while gleefully sharpening her claws. She would also decorate the sofa with her fur and perfume the house with that typical feline smell. No, thank you, no cat. We both fell into a deep slumber and before long morning came. When she woke up, she looked up at me and all I could see was love in her eyes. She washed herself, stretched her agile limbs and then ran to the fridge where she stood still, like a guard at an important ceremony. Our fate was obvious: this was her new home and I had to keep her. I shared the good news with her, which she accepted with a purr. Then I promptly named her Pisi.

The cooperation

Like any honeymoon period, the first few months together were enjoyable, but whenever her teeth and claws emerged her mood also changed. She was very naughty and my beloved sofa became unusable. There was no way a wild cat like Pisi could stay inside all day, so I decided to take her out and feed her there. In the garden she could play, pounce and chase mice, or whatever else cats do, while also being protected from stray dogs. But after just half a day outdoors the newly spoilt cat realised she preferred the warmth and comfort of indoors. The following days were a nightmare for her – and for me – as we tried to find a way to live together in harmony. I insisted she try to acclimatise to the great outdoors. Pisi insisted she wanted to stay inside, which she showed me by gluing herself to the rug at the entrance door. So after giving her a speech about being respectful of my belongings and watching her moodiness, I gave her a second chance. Low and behold, this time she actually behaved. Here I learnt my second lesson: do not give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try over and over again. This situation taught me lesson number three as well: follow the rules of the house you live in if you want a good life. Today Pisi is a fully-grown cat and we have shared so many wonderful moments. Everybody in the family loves her. She has taught me to be bold and persistent as well as respectful and brave. She has also taught me the importance of loving those around me. I learnt that I alone am in charge of my attitude, my actions and reaching my personal goals. Even with chronic illness, my life and my happiness are in my hands. As Walt Disney famously said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”.