8 Career Lessons I've Learned from my Cat

Over the years, I've learned to work like a cat.
By: Kate Ward
Career lessons learned from my cat

Working as the Editor-in-Chief of two websites in the digital publishing era is difficult, constant work-if I could surgically affix my iPhone to my body, I would, considering how often I carry it in my hand. (New iPhone 7 feature?!) Ive regularly been told that I work like a dog, but I would disagree with this statement entirely. Because I’ve found myself to be most successful when I take my cues from elsewhere. Over the years, I’ve learned to work like a cat. And doing so has been pawsatively enlightening. (I know, I know, groan.)

I adopted my cat, Semmi, back in 2007 — conveniently enough, the first year I was officially a post-college working woman. I might have graduated school with a degree in journalism, but, when it came to the real world, my core competencies lied only in AP Style and knowing how to cook penne vodka just long enough so it still gave you slight buzz. Yes, I soon picked up far more marketable skills upon entering the workplace, but, when it comes to a constantly evolving industry, new challenges are introduced on a daily basis. But being introduced to my cat helped me realize ways to navigate them, then and meow. (Ugh, I’m the worst, I know!)

Semmi has taught me much more than love, affection, and creative ways to sleep — she’s also made me a better working woman.

Here are eight career lessons I learned from Semmi. No kitten. (I’ll stop!)

Never Be Afraid To Ask For More

According to a 2015 study in Glamour, a whopping 57 percent of women surveyed had never asked for a raise. Though the wage gap is still a very real problem that will require federal and company action to fix, women should feel empowered to ask for what they’re worth. It’s a challenge I have faced in early jobs — it’s not easy to fight for yourself, especially when, institutionally, we’ve been taught to be polite, and not ask for anything. My cat? Well, she hardly has that issue. She is a boss feline, demanding more — treats, attention, playtime — when she feels she deserves it. And, guess what? She does deserve it… and she often gets it. Now, your attempts to get fair pay in our current climate might not be as simple, but considering a Citi/LinkedIn survey found that 84 percent of the 27 percent of women polled who asked for raises got them, it’s time we all stop being so polite.

Kate Ward

Let Your Mind, And Self, Wander

Yes, it’s important to focus on any given task in the workplace. But it’s equally important to observe the world around you. After immersing yourself in a project for several hours, make sure you freshen your mind by taking 10 minutes to talk to a co-worker, take a walk around the block, or shimmy through the dusty area under the bed. Okay, the last pastime might just interest my cat, but more oxygen flow in the body means more great ideas in the future. Even if that great idea is figuring out how to clean white dust off your black cat.

Don’t Sh*t Where You Eat

Figuratively and, as Semmi has taught me, literally. Just, like, trust me.

Take Out Your Aggressions At The Right Time

Someone stole your yogurt. Someone stole your power chord. Someone stole your sense of zen by stealing your yogurt and power chord. At any job, it’s impossible to escape daily frustrations, but channel aggression into healthy after-hours activities, like jogging, socializing, or, in my cat’s case, swiping playfully at her owner when she’s under a bed sheet. It’s the perfect example of shifting your attitude depending on the environment - once Semmi exits the bed sheet, and can be seen in broad daylight, she returns to her stoic self. When you’re at home, under that bed sheet, feel free to implode, but, at work? Steal back some of that zen.

Kate Ward

If You’re Bored With Your Routine, Try A New One

My cat’s first favorite toy was a bottle cap. Then it was a shoelace string. Then a pair of my earrings. (If you ever find them, along with my yogurt and power chord, let me know.) Now, she’s moved onto a string that was mysteriously removed from a pair of my gym shorts. Point is, Semmi is proof that you never have to stick to one routine — when things start to feel repetitive and monotonous, you have the agency to mix things up. Take a different route to work, or ask your manager for a new project to focus on. Like finding my earrings.

Manage Up

On paper, I might own Semmi, but anyone who visits our apartment — complete with, I kid you not, an actual painting of Semmi — knows that she owns me.

She might not be allowed to sit on the kitchen counter, or scratch the leather couch, but she is somehow allowed to take up three-fourths of the bed at night. Because she works her manager — me.

It’s not easy to manage up — to make the person who tells you what to do as happy as humanly possible - but when you make it a priority, the rewards are queen-sized. And (hopefully soon) king-sized.

Kill ‘Em With Kindness

So, rubbing up against your co-worker’s face might only land you a trip to Human Resources, but I still find it worthwhile to lead by Semmi’s example. It might be easier to verbally swipe at someone who’s swiping at you, but there’s no better way to tame a beast than to spread love and respect. (And, in a cat’s case, plenty of hair.)

Always Jump Higher

Catching that red dot might seem impossible, but never. Stop. Reaching.