Happiness Secret 1: You’ll never miss a single, glorious springtime dawn.
No matter how early the sun is coming up now that daylight saving time has kicked in. Sure, you hadn’t planned on waking up quite so early—you got home from the after-party at, what, 2 a.m.? But now, the light is filtering in through the blinds, and a certain someone is stalking around your pillow, licking your face and—when you try to bury it in your arm—poking her paw under your elbow…oh, you’re awake? Why, what a coincidence—my food dish is empty!
Happiness Secret 2: No matter how poor you think your sense of humor is—No one ever laughs at my jokes. Why can’t I land a punch line? And why on earth couldn’t I come up with something devastatingly clever to say when I ran into my ex last night with his new girlfriend?—you live with at least one creature who has an even worse one.
Who, in fact, possesses absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever. This doesn’t mean that cats don’t do hilarious things by mistake. (See: all of YouTube.) They just never let on.
Happiness Secret 3: Who knew? Your down comforter does fit into your washing machine.
Something you’d never have discovered were it not for… well, never mind. After all, it washed right out, and now you know. Aren’t you happier?
Happiness Secret 4: Fickle expressions of love can be quite gratifying.
Your cat has ignored you all day, but then… the sudden weight landing on the bed, just as you’re tumbling to sleep, the little cat’s feet pick-pocking over your own and the warm lump curling up behind your knees. This must be what it feels like to have a teenage child who’s been distant and disdaining for months suddenly turn to you in the car and ask for your take on a cryptic text from a crush. You don’t know how it happened, but you’ve become cool again. Or at least tolerable. And with a cat, you know for sure that it’s not because someone just remembered who will be paying for college in a few years.
Happiness Secret 5: You and your cat have your own secret language.
Studies on feral cat colonies have turned up the surprising fact that cats living together in the wild, without humans, don’t meow to one another. They rarely vocalize at all. Researchers believe that cats meow to us because we talk to them. What’s more, there is no universal cat-human dictionary. In his 2013 book,Cat Sense, John Bradshaw writes that “each cat and its owner gradually develop an individual ‘language’ that they both understand, but that is not shared by other cats or other owners.” So, yes, your cat really does understand you, and you her.
Happiness Secret 6: You don’t need to go on a hike to get in touch with nature.
Felis catus is an ambassador of the wild kingdom who’s taken shelter under your roof. This is a realization that may hit you unexpectedly, when you catch the eye of a fox, or a squirrel, or a deer or even a songbird on the lawn and see the essence of something familiar, something you see in your own home, in your own cat’s eyes.
Happiness Secret 7: Mystery makes the heart grow fonder.
Your cat’s love for catnip doesn’t surprise you, but ziplock bags? She’ll steal one and play with it for hours. And why does she ignore the slice of cheddar and carefully pull the cracker underneath it onto the floor to eat? You have no idea, but she does, then finishes the whole thing.
Happiness Secret 8: The world is so much better with you around.
The proof being your cat, waiting for you at the end of a long, exhausting day, standing on his hind legs at the patio door, stretching up toward the handle (looking exactly like Dustin Hoffman banging on the church doors at the end of The Graduate). Once you get inside, there’s the official dance of welcome, as he does his best to weave between your legs as you do your best to walk down the hall carrying the groceries. This is, of course, before he decides to punish you for your abandonment by ignoring you until he hears you open the can of cat food. Diagnosis: cat.