HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Now, if you’re dealing with a dog and you come to help him in such a situation, the dog thinks, “Thank God, my best friend has come to save me!” With a cat, not so much. Indeed, Magic looked at me as if to say, “Come any closer with those scissors and I’ll tear the flesh from your bones.”


So it was back to the vet for another sedation and another cha-ching!


Since then, this cat has torn down the dining room wallpaper three times, destroyed two lampshades, two leather chairs and countless dining room tablecloths. He has so much cattitude he still needs to be sedated even for routine visits to the vet. The last time we were there, the vet mused perhaps time had mellowed Magic and we would forgo the sedation. As if on cue, from the cat carrier came a low, savage growllll. The vet immediately rethought her bright idea.


Most cat owners know their fur babies love to bring them gifts of prey, sometimes alive, sometimes dead. This spring, Magic has begun bringing me decapitated baby bunny carcasses. I look at this not as an offering but as a threat. It is my considered opinion that if you dumped holy water on that cat, he’d burst into flames.

I often come across feel-good articles written by everybody from veterinarians to cardiologists that talk about how having pets can boost your health. These articles claim pet ownership can lower blood pressure and stress levels and even relieve depression.


This is all well and good, but I can assure you, these writers have never met my cat, Magic.


Take my evil, satanic cat … please!


Magic came to us about four years ago. We returned home from vacation and he was just … there. The cute little all-black kitten with a white star on his chest and bright green eyes of course immediately attached himself to me. I couldn’t go in or out of the house without my little shadow meowing at me. He seemed to be saying, “I know I belong in a house, so why won’t you let me in … or at least feed me?”


Feeding strays is the last thing they tell you to. After all, I already had a cat, a very nice, quiet indoor resident named Jerry, so I decided against feeding the newcomer.


Bright and early one morning, I arose feeling somewhat unsure, but as I peered out the window, it seemed my strategy had worked.

PETS CAN LEAD TO A HAPPIER, HEALTHIER LIFE….. OR NOT

My new little buddy was nowhere in sight. As I headed out the door to retrieve my morning paper, congratulating myself on my resolve, from under the car came … you guessed it. He was still meowing and looking lost and very hungry.


My resolve shattered immediately, and I not only fed him, I brought him into the house. I reasoned, “Maybe he wasn’t abandoned. Maybe even now someone is looking for their lost kitty.” I would be sort of a foster parent and try to locate his lost family or, failing that, find him a good home.


I decided to take Magic to the vet and get whatever he needed health wise in the interim. The vet told me Magic needed to be sedated just for a routine checkup and necessary shots. I should have had an inkling of what was to come right then. After an audible cha-ching, I brought the newcomer back and, since he had been out in the wild, I fastened a flea collar around his little neck.


The next morning, I noted something wrong with the cat. He had managed to get the flea collar in his mouth, like a horse with a bit. I got a pair of scissors, planning to snip the collar and get it from between his teeth.

FRANK KOURT

Frank Kourt is a staff writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by Frank Kourt