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Good Relationships are a 2 way experience – even with cats

Good Relationships are a 2 way experience – even with cats

I dedicate this blog post to my (Anglo Burmese) good friend Dean and his lovely Queen Silvia who passed away recently. She was the apple of his eye and bonded since birth. Looking at their relationship gives me hope for mine with Kayli and Bella.

 

I picked up, on July 9th with the help of my brother, 2 female kitties from the Toronto Cat Rescue https://torontocatrescue.ca/ around 7-8 months as they were found – sisters I am told and not feral. They are still learning their names which I changed as one was named Blue. Bella and Kayli are not my first cats, remember Daisy my last (2018) cat? I was close with all my feline family but this time our bonding is taking longer.

Interacting with them, I started to think about relationships because the first thing they did was to hide from me. If they could not see me all was well. So I kept them in my large bathroom for a few days. Safety was their number one goal as their food was not a problem – they ate when I was not around. No matter how much I felt love for them or spoke in a sweet voice, they were having none of me until on the 4th day they did not hide but stayed far so I could not touch them. Then I let them into my bedroom and locked the door so they could not hide in the rest of the home where it would be difficult to find them. Another step in the relationship. Now they live in the bedroom but still aloof. They know I bring them their food and treats – that’s nice but go away so we can eat. One step at a time. They have to learn to trust.

Made me think about how many other relationships are much the same. The lack of trust hinders a relationship where both parties can enjoy the interactions understanding the comfort level of each party. Sometimes letting another person into a paired relationship (they have each other – I am the outsider) can be problematic. I saw this as both would come and look at me and then one would run calling the other (they talk a lot to each other). There I was left alone. In human relationships, we can lock other people from joining our groups when we view them as intruders – the outsider who just is not one of us. They don’t look like us, speak the same language or behaviours that are different. We humans can learn from our furry friends – their loyalty and love when they trust you.

As the days went on since July 9, every day showed improvements. I could touch one or both on the heads when I was in bed and they were on the floor. Then they would run. Last night both Bella and Kayli jumped on my bed, (I am sure they did this when I was asleep) and allowed me to pet their heads – nothing more, and off they went after a few minutes. I was elated, wanting more but knowing the relationship was on their terms. I acknowledged that they now trust me a little more because when I am in the room they no longer hide but have begun to play non stop – but I must not go near them or off they go under the bed or chair where they love to sleep – that is where they still feel safe. Yes, I could grab them and force them to let me pet them, but I am building trust on their terms.

Take away thought – trust and feeling safe are the foundation of a good relationship even with other humans. Sometimes we have to wait for people to come and interact with us and not push them on our timeline. ©

Merle Jacobs

From Rangoon to London then to Canada, now home. Professor in Toronto. Research areas - health and equity, the nursing profession, Anglo Burmese culture Published in the areas of Nursing, health, racism

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Did COVID19 make us count our blessings?

Did COVID19 make us count our blessings?

Models use mathematical equations to estimate how many cases of a disease may occur in the coming weeks or months. They help researchers simulate real-world possibilities in a virtual environment. COVID19 has provided researchers to understand how many cases occur linked to our behaviours.

Big moments like graduations and weddings not held in the usual rituals, meetings on Zoom or Skype, loved ones dying alone, no hugs as people were told to social distance and now wear masks. No more bumping into another person in a store and automatically saying “sorry’ even if they bumped into you. Humans are inherently social creatures where memories are made from interactions. The need to belong, to enjoy the company of others which is called bonding can be seen worldwide according to cultural norms and values. Social contact is said to influence our behaviour, cognitive, and emotional responses.

With the entry of COVID19 into our world, we have been experiencing Social exclusion which is in usual societal interactions an effective form of punishment. We know that Social Networks are part of the Social Determinants of Health in Canada. It is very important as we have learned from research that support from families, friends & communities is associated with better health. Those enjoying strong social ties appear to be at low risk for psychosocial and physical impairment. The lack of social support is associated with depression and other psychological problems and in some cases even mortality. In general, social support seems to be an important moderating factor in the stress process and it’s consequences to health.

COVID 19 has made us limit ourselves to engaging in social support other than virtually. Virtual humans cannot substitute the real human experience. Research has detailed that when people do even an easy task, and another person is nearby, they tend to do that task better than when they are alone. Research than placed virtual humans and found performance in the virtual human condition was worse than in the alone condition. We have learned the value of our relationships in a new way – sometimes the very relationships taken for granted. I have often said, “Love never dies”. Sitting with myself during social distancing, I have found this to be true. Loving relationships do stay with us even when we are apart.

With the above in mind, I understand that need for missing the extra hug from a grandchild, a face to face meal with parents, or a BBQ with friends. The new normal of wearing a mask has allowed for us to socialise and meet – even if it is in units of 2 to 3 bubbles. All this has allowed me to become more grateful for having family, friends, and work colleagues. I value all of them in my life with the differences and caring that each brings to our relationships. The flowers on this page are for all of you – saying thank you for being in my life.

Perhaps, COVID19 has made us count our blessings.

Merle Jacobs

From Rangoon to London then to Canada, now home. Professor in Toronto. Research areas - health and equity, the nursing profession, Anglo Burmese culture Published in the areas of Nursing, health, racism

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