Thinking Out Loud

Giving Attention

My friend Al has a twenty-one-year-old cat. Not many cats live that long. Al has a few cats and takes good care of them. Two of them are pretty young, frisky, and demand attention. As expected, the old cat has become quieter and less active.

Earlier this spring, the old cat seemed to be fading. In fact, he was fading dramatically enough that Al was very close to having him “put down.” Al loves the cat and would wait until it was absolutely necessary before making such a big and painful decision.

Al began focusing consistent attention on the old cat, holding and petting him, as well as talking to him. Over the next few days, the old cat came back to life in pretty full force. He was more active around the house and back to his usual self.

It’s now been two full months since this occurred and the old cat is in good shape, the vet can hardly believe it, and Al is very happy. When Al was telling me the story, he summarized it this way: “The younger cats were getting most of the attention without my realizing it. Once I gave more attention to the old guy, everything changed. And it was pretty distressing to think how close I came to having him put down.”

Most of the time when parents are concerned about one of their kids, the first bit of advice I give is, “Spend a little bit more one-on-one time with your child.” It never hurts and often it helps more than you’d think. Usually this increase in attention results in more physical contact (a recent post discussed the importance of touch) and affection, as well. Giving our direct attention and affection to loved ones is something we should never take for granted. It’s a simple truth, but hard to do in our busy lives.

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