Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Asking for What You Want and Getting It – Lessons From a Cat

My cat is teaching me a new trick.

I wrote about her a year ago, describing how she gets me up from my desk to feed her, watch her drink, and open doors for her. She gets all this by tapping on my leg and meowing to me. But lately, I’ve been pretty busy, and I sometimes ignore her first few requests. As a result, she’s developed a new technique.

No matter how deep in thought I am, I always respond when I hear her yowling from the bathroom because it means that she’s jumped up over the glass shower door and now can’t get out unless I open the door. So I get up to go help her. But, lately, she’s not in the shower. She’s just sitting on the bathroom counter, and she jumps down and runs to the door, or to her food bowl, or to wherever it is she needs me to do something for her. She learned that if she yowled from the bathroom, I always leave my desk. Now she’s using that to teach me to come when she calls.

I think this is pretty funny, because she’s reminding me of some of the lessons I’ve learned about asking for help. Like this:

Sometimes we don’t get what we want because the person we’re asking for is just too busy solving other problems, helping other people, or is all tied up in red tape and paperwork. The solution? Well, like Molly the cat, I can ask in a way that tells them that this is urgent; maybe not, “help I’m stuck in the shower,” but “Help! My cattle could run out of water and I need some ideas on….”

Sometimes I don’t get the help I need because of timing. Molly has figured this out too. She knows that I stop for lunch around noon, and that if she sits and stares at the door, I’ll open it and we’ll go for a walk. But if she tries this other times of day, I won’t go out, no matter how many times she asks. Translated to getting help on a farming/ranching operation, I figure out what my potential helpers’ annual schedules are and then ask at times I know they’re freer than others. It’s hard to get someone’s attention if they’re in the middle of grant writing, or budgeting, or conference planning.

Maybe I’m asking the wrong person. Molly almost always asks me to do things for her and not my husband, because he doesn’t know what she’s saying. The same is true for asking for help from folks working at NRCS, Conservation Districts, or Extension offices. They’re all just people with different experience and capabilities. If you don’t get what you need from one, ask someone else.

One more thing I’ve found that helps me get the help I need, is food. It’s not just livestock or your pets that are more cooperative when you give them treats. People respond just as well to a cup of coffee, or a cupcake, or even lunch. Sitting down to a snack or a meal gives us time to get to know each other on a more personal basis, and working together as friends makes things go a little more smoothly.

Those are just a few of the things my cat has reminded me of today. I’d sure love to hear what you’ve found gets you what you need!

Thanks for reading!


P.S. Persistence! That’s what Molly has the most of and what makes her successful in getting what she wants. I bet it works for you too!

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. As a novice farmer, I’m finding that knowing when, where, and how to ask for help are essential farming skills.
    Thanks for sharing how Molly does it!

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