Allegra close up

We’ve all heard of The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many of us strive to live by this rule. It implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated in exactly the same way you would like to be treated.

Then there’s The Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

Think about it for a moment. The Golden Rule is all about you: you simply assume that everyone should want what you want, and you’re going to treat them accordingly. It’s all about control. This was brought home to me the other day, when Allegra gave me one of her rare lap times. Allegra is a supersweet, affectionate cat, but she does not like to sit in my lap, nor does she like to be held. As a result, the times when she does make one of her rare lap appearances are extra special. As I found myself thinking once again “I wish she’d do this more often,” I realized that there was a big lesson there for me to learn. I can’t control how she gives back loving – you can’t force a cat to sit in your lap when she doesn’t want to be there – but I can appreciate how she expresses her love, on her own terms.

According to The Golden Rule, me loving on her should produce reciprocation – she should love on me, in the way I’d like to be loved on: by sitting in my lap endlessly. But that’s just not her personality, and I don’t love her any less for it.

The Platinum Rule allows me to honor her for the unique cat she is, and to give her loving in ways that she’s comfortable with: by stroking her when she rubs up against me or rolls over on the floor for me, by quietly sitting next to her, by having her tucked against my back when we’re sleeping at night.

This, of course, extends to people as well: The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus shifts from “this is what I would want, so I’m going to give exactly that to the other person” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.”

Dale Carnegie once wrote “you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” He then adds, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

Hmm. Was he really talking about cats?

Cats are uniquely suited to teach us to follow The Platinum Rule.

17 Comments on Sunday Purrs: The Platinum Rule

  1. But how to apply the Platinum Rule to another human being who might be a masochist? Lol, kidding, I could not resist…

    Wonderful post Ingrid, very true especially as it pertains to kitties and it takes so little to please them — a belly rub, some interactive play time or a few Jackson Galaxy “cat I love you” blinks, simple pleasures. 🙂

  2. Mr. The 1st feral I began feeding years ago taught me this principle , an it is so true, I found that doing this with everyone makes life less tense an more enjoyable. Thanks for sharing this with us. P.S. Mr never became tame but when it was cold he would come in the house an sleep with me , which made me feel so blessed

  3. This is so true! My lovely Snoes taught me this. She’s no longer with me but she showed me how to love her for who she was. Sheltercats can teach their new forever humans and I’m forever grateful that she educated me. I think she had a lot in common with Allegra.

  4. Or are we really very much like cats, and they like us?

    That’s the rule with taming feral cats and that taught me much about cats in general. I knew that Moses loved and trusted me when she slept under my chair and let me reach down and touch her with one or two fingers now and then, though I was bursting to give her more. And little Kelly was well into her teens before she sat on my lap, but once she did she was hooked. I hope Allegra doesn’t take that long! Hope you had a lovely Sunday.

  5. I’ve never thought o f’ ‘it’ like this, how very true. Thank you for posting this thoughtful post that teaches us all something very important. I’m constantly amazed at what we can learn from animals and become better people just from observation.

  6. I completly agree. I never get lap time, but spitfire is still a kitten (even though I forget sometimes as she is now twice the size of my last cat ) so that could change. I keep telling her I would love cuddle time in the evening as Im getting ready for bed, but she will have none of that. What she offers is that at about 6 am she climbs into bed next to me and I get to wake with ghe most adorable kitten in the world cuddling with me, and she will stay there until I get up to go to the bathroom where she follows me and sits on the counter to be pet. Im very grateful for this morning ritual! Im also glad that she is ok about being picked up, infact she insists on it when I come home…. Even if Ive only been gone 10 minutes, I get a warm wonderful purr/ holding session. I tease her and tell her Ishould leave the house more just so I can hear my purr machine more 🙂

    • For what it’s worth, I got no lap time from Allegra when I first adopted her at the age of seven months. Now that she’s almost four, she’s gracing me with her presence in my lap more frequently.

  7. This sounds like my kitten and really helps me understand him. I am not going to get the same responses that I would be getting from a dog. The only way I will get that is to get another dog to fulfill my maternal needs! Thanks!

  8. This is such a great post and so true. I have found that in showing interest in other people or animals, I make a bunch of friends. Just so you feel better, out of all these cats here, only one or two will sit in my lap. Have a wonderful day.

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