Home » Blogs » The Gentle Self » Lessons From My Cat

Lessons From My Cat

My cat Pepper had a violent encounter the other day.

She is an indoor-outdoor cat. She loves snooping around the yard and preying on birds and squirrels. Once she killed a baby rabbit right in front of our eyes. Pussycat is a predator after all.

But a couple of weeks ago she met her master. The huge red stray that walks around the neighborhood entered her territory and engaged her into a fight. I heard the screams from inside the house.

Shortly thereafter she came up the stairs. When she crouched down over her eating bowl I saw blood dripping into the food. Although hardly visible and camouflaged by her black hair, Pepper’s left ear had a deep tear.

We fixed her up and gave her penicillin, and after a tired day of sleeping she was as good as new.

But she wouldn’t leave the house.

After a few days she would climb out the window onto the roof for a visit, but she stayed put safely behind the walls of her home. Meanwhile, the ear began to heal.

Maybe a week later she was ready for a brief visit on the front stoop, while my husband cleaned out his car in the driveway. When he walked inside, she came right with him.

Another couple of days later she dared to embark on her first stroll into the great outdoors on her own. She was back in 15 minutes.

Yesterday the weather was warm and spring-like, and she was gone for three hours. She’s back to her own self. The old red fiend can come back.

I wish we humans could be so gracious when we go through a similar encounter. Most of us – after experiencing trauma – avoid equally challenging situations, and not just for a little while but often forever.

It’s easier for some of us when we go through a single traumatic event like a car accident or a severe fall. We can ease back into the previous routine by exposing ourselves slowly to the feared situation.

It’s more difficult when we deal with chronic or pervasive trauma that results in conditions like social anxiety or OCD. When it was people that harmed us, and not just once but over many years, it’s not so easy to shake off the effects of it.

And yet, the process is the same. When we are afraid of people we need to try to regain our trust by exposing ourselves to them. Avoiding them won’t do us any good. We need social contact and we need to step out of our cocoon and slowly rejoin the human race.

The pace and manner in which you do it is entirely up to you. It can be just one person for a short amount of time, or a bigger gathering in a quiet setting. It doesn’t have to be the most crowded pub in the neighborhood. Respect your own needs.

Just don’t give up on the rest of us.


Lessons From My Cat

Gerti Schoen, MA, LP

4 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Schoen, G. (2012). Lessons From My Cat. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Mar 2012
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.