We all long for genuine connection with other human beings. Connecting with others not only makes life richer, it appears that we are actually wired to form relationships with others. In Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, psychologist Matthew Lieberman explores groundbreaking research in social neuroscience, revealing that our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental than our need for food or shelter.
Genuine connection feeds the soul
Connection feeds the soul. We need it to be happy, it expands our lives, boosts creativity, and opens our world to opportunities we might otherwise not even be aware of. In this world of social media, it has never been easier, or harder, to connect with others. Easier, because there’s always someone online that you can “talk” to, and harder, because genuine connection requires more than just an occasional “like” or comment while scrolling through your FB newsfeed.
For me, a lot of the connections in my life have been brought about by cats. Fifteen years ago, after my first soul mate cat Feebee had passed away, I went to a local pet loss support group. This was long before there was Facebook, and online communities were in their infancy. The leader of the group became one of my closest friends. I firmly believe that Feebee had a paw in sending me to that first meeting.
He also led me to my career in veterinary medicine, which ultimately, although in a bit of a roundabout way, led to my writing career. And once I started writing, the floodgates opened: Buckley, through her book, Amber, through this site that she inspired, and now Allegra and Ruby, have connected me with thousands of cat lovers around the world.
Are online connections genuine connections?
A recent survey by Petsmart Charities of 1,023 people found that more than half of the cat guardians surveyed said they talk about their cat or share cat videos online. The internet has become the cat guardian’s version of the dog park.
Are all of these connections genuine? I think they are. Our Facebook page is more than 173,000 strong. This blog reaches more than 100,000 readers each month. Do I have a connection with each and every one of these followers? Not in the traditional sense. But I do feel that we’re all part of the same community, united by our common love for cats and the desire to make their lives as good as they can be.
Many of my “cat-induced” connections began as online friendships, but have become treasured “real life” friendships as time went on (you know who you are.)
Connections help us grow
I have always believed that cats come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love, but they also teach us to expand our consciousness. Since most of life’s most profound lessons happen as a result of our interactions with others, perhaps, cats also facilitate connection so that we may grow beyond what we might even imagine to be possible.
I feel blessed to have all of these cat connections in my life. In this day and age, nobody needs to ever be really alone, except by choice. Connection is only an email, a blog post, a phonecall, or a get together away. And it’s all because of these amazing and beautiful and special cats.
Truer words have not been spoken. I wrote a story about a cat who mended a huge neighborhood battle that had been going on for so long neither one of us remembered what it was all about but the day I took on an outdoor cat to prevent him from going to the shelter, my neighbor and I connected when I asked he if she wanted to officially adopt this beautiful boy. She smiled, said yes, and we were neighbors again. My quote that day was “cat people will always find common ground”
I love it, Monica!
Great site Ingrid,lots for me to scoop into my mind about our beloved Loved Cats.thanks
The Conscious Cat has long been the first place I come to for trusted information, advice and solutions to all my cat-guardianship questions, and I don’t hesitate to direct others here either.
When I lost my Jack, it felt like the end of the world for me. Here, I found understanding, companionship, ways to cope and, most of all, acceptance. Ingrid, through your site, you made me feel like I wasn’t alone OR crazy.
Online friends ARE friends; online relationships ARE relationships because people are always people.
Thank you for your kind words, Lynda. It means so much to me to hear that The Conscious Cat has helped someone.
No one in my ‘real’ life gets my connection to my girls. Losing Zesty was barely a blip on their radar screens and they don’t realize that for me it was like losing a child.
I’m going to be dealing with this loss for a long time alone.
If not for people that I can share with online that understand…
thank you for a beautifully written article.
To me, losing a cat is like losing a child, Susan. I’ve always felt that Nadine M. Rosin expressed that feeling so perfectly in her book, The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood, after losing her nineteen-year-old dog Buttons: “…being out in public felt totally bizarre, as if the world had come to an end because of some horrible disaster, life as we’d known it on the planet was over, but I seemed to be the only person who knew about it.”
I am in that position as well Susan,my 2 always feel like a child,then after 1 goes,I say im not ready yet to get one,but somehow another comes into my life,and I have 2 kids again:)
Nice post. I love connecting with other cat lovers.
Thanks, Ellen. Connecting with cat lovers is what keeps me inspired!