Tuck(er) and Roll With the Punches

I took a big step in recent weeks. On Saturday, July 2, I adopted a cat from PAWS. His name is Tucker, and he is ten-month old ball of energy who has already stolen my heart.

Because I am a first-time cat owner and a major nerd, I thought of a few ways I’d keep track of how well I’m doing. My family had cats growing up, but I don’t really know all the ins and outs of owning one myself. I wanted to make sure I had a way of tracking my success and his health and wellness in his new home.

I should tell you my goal was just to have a happy and healthy cat who seemed to tolerate me well enough.

So this was the list I drafted before I went to PAWS:

  1. Percent successful uses of the litter box – the higher, the better
  2. Number of meows per day – the lower, the better (less complaining from him)
  3. Number of times he approaches me without encouragement – the higher, the better
  4. Hours of sleep per night (for me) – the higher, the better
  5. Hours spent playing per day – the higher, the better

Hang with me, there’s a reason I’m sharing this with you.

If I were to judge myself purely by these metrics alone, I’ve majorly failed as a first-time pet owner.

  1. Tucker is young and adjusting to a new environment, I’ve been assured missing the litter box a few times is OK. And he’s so so close!
  2. I’ve learned that Tucker is a talker. He meows when he’s hungry, when he’s playing, when he wants attention and for no apparent reason at all.
  3. OK, I’m doing good on this one. He’s warmed up to me and comes over for love a lot.
  4. I have NOT been sleeping well, but it’s not really his fault. If he moves at all, or I hear a new noise, I sit straight up in bed. I’m a worried little cat mama, so I don’t know that this can be blamed on him.
  5. Again, this one is actually going pretty well. He’s got a ton of energy and loves to play with this fish-on-a-pole he has.

By the metrics, I’ve pretty much failed. But if you look at qualitative evidence, I’m actually doing quite well. You can never rely simply on quantitative data because numbers alone can never tell the whole story.

But even more importantly, sometimes you have to adjust your metrics. I’m still meeting my goal when you look at the whole picture (to have a happy and healthy cat), but by my original standards, I’m not. It’s OK to reassess and rebuild your metrics as long as you always base them on your goals.

At the end of the day, no matter which numbers you choose to focus on, make sure that they’re telling the whole story. Don’t use only the numbers that will make you look good and make sure to use anecdotal evidence to reveal the entire picture. There’s a delicate balance, but it’s one you can strike with practice.