Grandma and grandson petting a yellow cat on a sofa

Can the love for cats become your passion pursuit? How do you achieve a state of flow with it?

“What’s your name,’ Coraline asked the cat. ‘Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?’
‘Cats don’t have names,’ it said.
‘No?’ said Coraline.
‘No,’ said the cat. ‘Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”

Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Have you ever heard about Ernest Hemingway’s cats? Did you know that the modernist writer, master of dramatic realism, was a cat lover?  Chances are that if you have ever visited his Key West, Florida residence, you learned about the story of Snow White, a cat he received from Stanley Dexter, a sailing captain, in the 1930s. Dexter and Hemingway were colleagues and shared a love for the sea and cats. The particularity of this story is that Snow White was a six-toed cat. Sailors consider that these polydactyl cats, sometimes called mitten cats, bring luck and are better hunters onboard a ship.  And today, around 45 descendants of Snow White still call Hemingway’s residence in Key West home.

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

Ernest Hemingway

But Hemingway was not the only one to hold the cats in such high regard. Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, a French historian, critic, and philosopher, considered the chief theoretical influence on French naturalism and a major proponent of sociological positivism, once said, “I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”

Hemingway and his cat Credits Hemingway Home and Museum

Surrounded by a halo of mystery, uber-intelligent creatures often regarded as superior beings, humans have rarely resisted the charm of cats. Writers, intellectuals, philosophers, and commoners have all contributed to creating an almost mythical cult around them. They are present in literature, movies, cartoons, and scientific research, are the topics of forums, and have taken over social media so massively that I wanted to understand the roots of the passion and love for cats, what it entails, and how a state of flow can be achieved through it. But let’s start with the science first.

Science explains the human-cat relationship and its effects on people.

Beyond popular culture, scientists haven’t escaped the enchantment of cats and have dedicated time to studying their relationships with humans and their effects on people’s mental and overall health.

For instance, several studies described the positive effects of cats on human moods and emotions. The research on the topic showed that it is not just about having a cat in the house; it is also about the interactions with the cat, which could reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and introversion among their owners. According to the studies, the depressive owner initiates fewer interactions with the cat. Still, when the cat approaches that person, they accept the intent of the cat to interact, which affects the human’s mood. The cat also changes its behavior in response to the depressiveness of the human when close to the person (but not at a distance), vocalizing more frequently with the person and head- and flank-rubbing more often on that person.

Curiously, some studies also shed light on the human-cat relationship. One research study showed that the more successful the person initiating the interactions, the shorter the total interaction time with the cat. This means that the cat determines how long the interaction lasts.

Research is extensive, so if you are into science and want to dig deeper into the topic, The Mechanics of Social Interactions Between Cats and Their Owners is one review I can recommend to you to satiate your hunger for more scientific material. You can access it through the NIH’s National Library of Medicine.

As the cats noted and history went, the jump from paperback books, plays, cartoons, TV shows, and movies to the Internet was an obvious and easy step. Conquering digital dialogue simply followed.

The internet of cats

Cats memes, videos, gifs, and all sorts of imagery and content populate the internet. Even in the early days of the World Wide Web, cat lovers found ways to connect through email or the first chat rooms at that time. This hasn’t changed; today, among the top-ranked forums on Reddit, you will find one dedicated to cats.

Some popular questions in forums include: are you a cat person? Why do some people like cats more than dogs? Why do most cats have attitudes and picky personalities? One thing we can tell, discussions around the topic get very vivid.

And on top of everything, of course, there are Caturdays, which celebrate anything and everything about cats on… yes, Saturdays.

Sharing and enjoying content around cats on the internet and social media brings instant joy to people’s days; however, as they say, nothing replaces the actual experience. And for that, Cat Cafes are a staple.

Cat Cafes

But what are cat cafes about? The love for cats was taken to new frontiers with the opening of these places, allowing cat lovers to live their passion by providing a space to engage with them. The first cat cafe is said to be the Cat Flower Garden, which opened in Taiwan in 1998. The concept expanded to Japan and the rest of the world, arriving in the US in 2014.

Cats playing in a cat cafe Passion pursuit

These cafes offer the opportunity to interact with cats and adopt them. I listed below some notable ones from different states across the country.

1. CatCafe Lounge – Los Angeles, California

Located in Los Angeles, CatCafe Lounge is not only a spot to relax with cats, but it also focuses on socializing cats that are more difficult to adopt. It’s the first non-profit cat cafe in the U.S. dedicated to this mission.

2. Meow Parlour – New York City, New York

Meow Parlour, in Manhattan, allows visitors to enjoy coffee and sweets purchased from their partner cafe while mingling with cats. They also offer yoga sessions with cats, combining relaxation and play.

3. KitTea Cat Cafe – San Francisco, California

KitTea Cat Cafe was one of the first permanent cat cafes in the United States. It offers a variety of experiences, including “cat therapy” sessions, where guests can unwind in the company of roaming felines.

4. Denver Cat Company – Denver, Colorado

Denver Cat Company is one of Colorado’s premier cat cafes, featuring many cats from partner rescues that are all adoptable. It’s a cozy spot known for its art sessions and quiet atmosphere.

5. The Cat’s Meow Cafe – Miami, Florida

Located in Miami, this cafe offers a relaxing environment to interact with cats and possibly adopt one. They work closely with local shelters to help cats find homes.

6. Pounce Cat Cafe – Charleston, South Carolina

Pounce Cat Cafe is a cozy cafe where visitors can sip wine, beer, or coffee while playing with dozens of cats, all of whom are adoptable through their partnership with local shelters.

7. Blue Cat Cafe – Austin, Texas

Blue Cat Cafe in Austin, Texas, was known for its vegan menu and various cats roaming freely. It offered a quirky, artsy vibe reflective of its city.

8. The Cat Cafe – San Diego, California

In the heart of San Diego, The Cat Cafe lets visitors enjoy coffee and cats in the downtown area. It’s a great spot for tourists enjoying the city’s laid-back atmosphere.

9. Crumbs & Whiskers – Washington, D.C.

Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, D.C., offers a more upscale cat cafe experience, with beautifully designed interiors and a variety of coffee and tea offerings. They also have a location in Los Angeles.

10. Catsbury Park – Asbury Park, New Jersey

Catsbury Park is a cafe and tea house where guests can interact with cats up for adoption. Its mission is to promote cat adoption and provide education on cat care.

These cafes are more than just places to relax; they are vital links between cats in need and potential adoptive families. Each cafe has its unique flair and mission, but all share the goal of improving the lives of cats through adoption.

The love for cats as a passion pursuit

What does a passion for cats entail? And is it possible for a person to achieve a flow state through a passion for cats?

First, being passionate about cats often entails a profound affection and commitment to their well-being and happiness, understanding their needs, and advocating for their rights. Second, achieving a state of flow through a passion for cats involves immersing oneself in engaging and rewarding cat-related activities. Flow, a concept introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes a state of deep absorption and enjoyment in one’s passion, often leading to a sense of timelessness and intrinsic satisfaction.

Here are some of the dimensions of a life passion around cats and how to achieve a state of flow.

1. Advocacy and welfare

Passion pursuit. A person who is passionate about cats often advocates for their welfare. This includes supporting animal rights, participating in efforts against animal cruelty, and working with organizations promoting the humane treatment of cats. Advocacy might also involve educating others about responsible cat ownership and the specific needs of cats.

On flow. Advocating for the welfare of animals, particularly cats, might be a challenging activity that requires a person to master planning, canvassing, and fundraising. Developing expertise on the matter will certainly require attention, dedication, and focus. A cat lover will certainly enjoy the process, the challenges, and the rewarding results when they happen.

If you want to take this direction, here are some of the United States associations you can contact.

  • The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). While not exclusively focused on cats, the HSUS is one of the country’s most prominent animal welfare organizations. They work to address all kinds of animal welfare issues, including those affecting domestic pets like cats. They run campaigns against animal cruelty, help in disaster response, and advocate for laws that protect animals.
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA is a major player in the fight for animal rights in the U.S. and works extensively with cats. They provide resources for cat care, conduct rescue operations, and actively work on legislative reforms to ensure better animal treatment. They also run adoption centers and promote national programs such as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for community cats.
  • Alley Cat Allies. Dedicated specifically to advocating for stray and feral cats, Alley Cat Allies is renowned for promoting the TNR approach, considered the most humane and effective method for managing feral cat populations. They provide extensive education on feral cat care, advocate for protective laws, and help community caregivers with resources and support.
Volunteer with a cat Love for cats a life passion
  • Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends works nationwide in rescue operations, advocacy, and running their famous animal sanctuary in Utah. They have programs specifically designed to address the challenges faced by cats in shelters and those living as community cats, aiming to reduce the number of animals euthanized in shelters through various initiatives.

2. Education and understanding

Passion pursuit. Those passionate about cats are often deeply interested in understanding everything about them. This includes learning about different breeds, behavior, nutrition, health care, and the best practices in cat care. This knowledge helps them provide the best possible environment and care for their cats and the cats in the community.

On flow. Delving deep into feline behavior, health, and welfare can also lead to flow. One might spend hours researching and sharing this knowledge with others and the community. The challenge of finding information, conducting research, fact-checking for accuracy, and contributing to expanding one’s and society’s knowledge can absorb our time and keep us engaged with the task.

There is plenty of resources available to help you build your education and knowledge on cats. Here is our list:

Find and cultivate your passion for cats further by joining Joyhood

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Get the resources you need, inspire, get inspired, and experience the nurturing power of communities

  • Websites
  • Online Courses and Webinars
  • YouTube Channels
    • Jackson Galaxy – A cat behaviorist who offers practical advice on understanding cat behaviors and how to manage them.
  • Blogs and Forums
    • The Conscious Cat – A blog that offers information on holistic health, behavior, and lifestyle for cats.
    • Catster – This website and magazine provide articles on cat behavior, health issues, funny stories, and more.
  • Organizations
  • Apps
    • Cat Training Apps – Some apps offer training advice and help track health and grooming schedules.

3. Volunteering and fostering

Passion pursuit. Many cat enthusiasts volunteer their time at cat shelters or rescues or may foster cats in need. This commitment extends to helping cats beyond their own home, aiding those without permanent homes to receive care and affection until they find their forever families.

Regularly volunteering at cat shelters might include feeding, grooming, socializing, and playing with cats. The emotional engagement and the challenge of managing different cats with different needs can be very absorbing.

On flow. For those who engage in rescue operations or foster care, helping cats from rescue to recovery involves significant emotional and physical involvement. The challenges and rewards of improving cats’ lives provide a deep sense of engagement and fulfillment.

Here are some of the organizations and programs in the US:

  • Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends is one of the leading animal welfare organizations in the U.S., with programs nationwide. They operate the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals and offer extensive volunteer and foster opportunities, including for cats, at their facility in Utah and through their network partners across the country.
  • Alley Cat Allies. Focused primarily on advocacy for stray and feral cats, Alley Cat Allies also supports TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs and helps manage community cat colonies. They offer resources for those interested in fostering and provide guidance and support for volunteers who work to improve the lives of community cats.
  • The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) operates across the country and works with local shelters and rescues to provide volunteer opportunities, including fostering cats. HSUS also engages volunteers in advocacy, education, and fundraising events to support animal welfare.
  • ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The ASPCA has a variety of volunteer and foster programs, particularly in New York City, where they are based. They provide training for volunteers and foster families and support a nationwide network of shelters.
  • Cat Adoption Team (CAT). Based in Sherwood, Oregon, CAT is the largest cat-only shelter in the Pacific Northwest. It offers a variety of volunteer positions and foster opportunities and specializes in caring for and finding homes for cats.
  • Kitten Rescue. Based in Los Angeles, California, Kitten Rescue is dedicated to rescuing and adopting cats across the city. They have a dedicated kitten nursery and help adult cats. They offer extensive opportunities for fostering and volunteering, including caring for cats, helping with adoptions, and administrative support.
  • Tree House Humane Society. Located in Chicago, Tree House specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured, abused, and neglected cats. They offer comprehensive volunteer opportunities, including fostering, helping in their cat café, and assisting in their clinic.
  • Austin Pets Alive! This organization is known for pioneering comprehensive, innovative programs designed to save animals most at risk for euthanasia. They offer numerous volunteer opportunities, including cat fostering, particularly for their special programs like the neonatal kitten nursery and ringworm ward.

4. Creative expression

Passion pursuit. Some express their passion for cats through creative avenues like writing, photography, or artwork that features cats. They might also use these skills to help promote awareness about cats and support for cat welfare initiatives.

On flow. For those with a creative streak, photographing or making cats the focus of our art can be a flow-inducing activity. Capturing the expression, pose, or moment requires focus, timing, and mastering the complexities of working with animals in addition to the technical skills.

Love for cats and passion for cats expressed through creativity and digital art

Like photography and art, creating homemade toys, building cat furniture, or sewing cat costumes involves creativity and the use of technical skills. The challenge of DIY projects, especially those that require learning new skills like woodworking or sewing, can captivate one’s full attention and lead to a satisfying outcome.

Plenty of options exist to express your creativity and make art around your passion for cats. We have explored some places that, while not focused entirely on cat, offer theme classes; you just need to check it out.

5. Career choices

Passion pursuit. A passion for cats might influence one’s career choices, leading to roles such as veterinarian specializing in felines, professional cat sitter, cat behaviorist, or working in the pet industry focusing on cat products and services.

On flow. Though less common than dog training, cat training can lead to a state of flow. Teaching tricks to cats or training them to participate in agility courses requires patience, creativity, and problem-solving. Seeing incremental progress in the cat’s behavior can be deeply rewarding and absorbing.

Also, starting and running a business focused on cats, whether a product, service or a café, requires a deep dive into entrepreneurial skills mixed with a passion for cats.

Indeed, it published (and is updated) a list of jobs for cat lovers. Check it out.

Cat in a Vet When the love for cats is a life passion

I get it; you can’t get enough cat content, and somehow, I cannot stop writing about cats. So, I decided to explore cats in relation to one topic that I like, history, and a passion that I have, martial arts. Because the thing about passions is that one must cultivate them.

The cats in ancient history, mythology, and the zodiac

Throughout history, cats have been revered in many cultures. Cats have a rich and storied cultural heritage from ancient Egypt, where they were worshipped as gods, to their role as familiar spirits in European folklore. This historical significance adds another layer to human fascination with cats.

In Egyptian society, cats were domesticated for their practical role in controlling pests and revered as magical creatures, embodying grace, and divine protection. The goddess Bastet, often depicted as a lioness or as a woman with the head of a lioness or a domestic cat, was a figure of worship who represented fertility, domesticity, and protection. Homes and temples often housed statues of Bastet as symbols of safeguarding and reverence.

This respect for cats extended beyond Egypt. In ancient Rome, cats were seen as symbols of liberty. In Norse mythology, the goddess Freyja, associated with love, beauty, and fertility, rode a chariot drawn by cats. Across these cultures, cats were appreciated for their beauty, grace, and spiritual and protective qualities.

But have you ever wondered why a venerated animal like the cat is missing from the Chinese zodiac? Of course, there is a reason for that, because it might be missing, but no, without a great story which brings it back to the picture.

It is said that the Jade emperor organized a race to select the animals that would make it to the zodiac, and of course, the cat was part of the race. However, at some point, the animals had to cross a river, and the cat and the rat were the worst swimmers among all the animals. So, they convinced the ox to let them ride across the river on his back. The rat, a good friend of the cat until this moment, tricked it and pushed it off the ox’s back into the river. When the ox approached the finish line, the rat ran off the ox’s back into the ox’s head and jumped across the finish line to get in first and be the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac. The cat, of course, didn’t make it. Since then, it has been believed that the rat and the cat are enemies.

Cats in martial arts

The idea of cats in martial arts might initially seem unusual. Still, connections and inspirations are drawn from cats’ graceful and agile nature in various martial arts disciplines.

  1. Cat stance in Kung Fu. In Chinese martial arts, particularly Kung Fu, there is a specific stance known as the cat stance. In this stance, around 90% of a person’s weight is on the back leg while bending the legs at the knees. This stance resembles a cautious cat that is well prepared to defend itself and ready to move forward in an attack.
  2. Inspirational movements. Cats are renowned for their agility, flexibility, and balance. These qualities are highly valued in martial arts, where mastering body control is crucial. How cats can suddenly sprint, change direction, leap impressively high, or land softly from a fall inspires martial artists to incorporate similar fluid and precise movements into their training.
  3. The concept of relaxation. In many martial arts, particularly those that fall under the internal category like Tai Chi, the concept of relaxation is fundamental. Here, the inspiration comes from the relaxed yet ready posture of cats. Cats are often observed to be completely relaxed but can move into action instantly without any apparent preparation. Martial artists strive to emulate this state of relaxed readiness in their forms and sparring.
  4. Mental focus. Cats are also admired for their focus and concentration, especially when hunting or playing. This level of focus is akin to the mental discipline required in martial arts, where being present and mentally engaged is crucial for effective practice and self-defense.
  5. Adaptive tactics. How cats adapt to different situations, using stealth or overt aggression depending on the scenario, mirrors the adaptive tactics taught in martial arts. Martial artists learn to read their opponents and environments, adapting their strategies accordingly, much like a cat ensuring its approach is suited to the specific challenge it faces.
  6. Teaching reflexes and responses. Observing cats can also be beneficial in developing reflexes. A cat’s quick reactions to stimuli offer a great real-world example of how one should respond reflexively to sudden threats or opportunities, a skill highly relevant in martial arts encounters.

Martial artists often look to nature for principles that can be applied in human movement and combat strategy, and cats provide a perfect example of efficient, graceful, and effective motion.

With this, I wrap the article because, clearly, when it comes to cats, one can easily start writing and end up with a cat encyclopedia without even noticing it (yes, tell me about flow)

author avatar
Eleonora Leone
I’ve always been inspired by people who are deeply passionate about something, those who can talk for hours about what they love and relate it to almost anything in life. This admiration led me to ponder my own passions, which I discovered in the disciplines of martial arts, specifically tai chi, kung fu, and qi gong. These practices offer not just physical challenges but also a philosophy that intertwines mind and body. My focus on life passions was sharpened in 2021, when I lost two aunts within a fortnight—one to cancer and the other to an unclear illness. Tragically, they passed away without family by their side. This experience underscored the value of engaging in activities that not only bring joy but also foster a supportive community. Since then, I have become an advocate for pursuing passions, believing that everyone deserves to have a life passion and a community to share it with.

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