Anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes with me will have heard all about Bella, my beloved cat familiar, faithful feline friend and constant companion (insert witch/ crazy cat lady/ Mrs. Slocam’s pussy joke here). Bella has taught me many valuable lessons about life and love. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Sensei Bella is a purring example of Eckhart Tolle’s words, ‘I have lived with several Zen masters-all of them cats’. Here are some lessons from the master.

Put your own needs first: Value yourself and your comfort above all else. If someone looks like they need a hug, ignore them. If they are about to stand up, jump on their lap. Demand to go outside, until the door is opened and then demand to stay inside, until the door is closed and repeat. Be aloof when meeting cat lovers and throw yourself at non-cat people. Be vocal about your desire for food whenever you feel like it. Be it the middle of the night or ridiculously early in the morning. The world revolves around you (lesson: self-love).

Don’t be afraid to take up space: Sprawl yourself across the ground and preferably the hallway. Claw a lap until it’s soft and fluffy. Perch yourself at awkward and inconvenient angles and walk across sleeping people and perhaps recline across their head. You are gorgeous and don’t you forget it! Parade around and purr, do flexible poses, carry yourself with grace in spite of age and weight. Jump on tables, on piles of washing and get cosy with the corner of the lap-top (lesson: self-confidence).

Always keep them guessing: Be mysterious. One moment, a pat may be much desired, the next, it’s a transgression worthy of losing a hand over! You reserve the right to change your mind. Too little pat or too much pat can result in a spat. Once again, demand to go outside, until the door is opened and then demand to stay inside again, until the door is closed and repeat. Change your mind about food, people and preferences. Don’t conform to expectations and keep them on their toes! Do I love them or hate them today? They will have to try their luck and see…(lesson: maintain your mystery).

Sleep it off: Catch 40 winks whenever and wherever possible. Hard day? Easy day? Morning? Afternoon? Evening? Sleep is the always the answer. Nap in the morning sunshine, get under the covers in the afternoon and snooze on laps and chairs throughout the evening and night. Aim for 20 hours a day. Never feel guilty about sleep. It is one of your needs and your needs come first! (lesson: prioritise pleasure)

Fight or flight: Go from 0 to 100 and back again when needed. Always be prepared to scrap with a neighbouring cat (neighbours do not always make good friends), pounce on pesky prey or run and hide in impossibly tight spaces. As soon as the need for fight or flight is over, go back to what you were doing without a second thought. Namely eating or sleeping. (lesson: trust your instincts)

Even though my pussy was out of control last night, I still love her. Bless you Bella! You really have taught me a thing or two about valuing myself, maintaining an aura of mystery and living in the moment. Thanks for all the good times on the couch and I forgive you for the occasional scratch. You are a Zen goddess!

Love and light and purrs! Xxx Yvette