Who is Renfrew the Cat?


Renfrew the cat is being supported above the head of my dear friend with her two hands, as she walks him from room to room in their home. Is this animal cruelty or some sort of twisted exercise program? It suddenly dawns on me that the cat seems to really like it.

In fact, a high perch is usually what a cat seeks out, to get a better vantage point of his surroundings. It’s a built-in survival technique, as cats are both predator and prey. Changing Renfrew’s perspective by lifting him high in the air feeds his natural tendency to view his life from all angles.

Perspective (definition: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view).

Changing our point of view or perspective on things, takes work for us humans. Our perspectives can be hardwired into us as “old habits that die hard”. They are shaped by our belief system which is comprised of the way we think about ourselves, others and the outside world. Our beliefs are formed by past events, culture, values and one’s current situation.

It’s the way we view life. The more our belief systems are established, the harder it is for us to see things differently.

Our minds are fantastic at recognizing patterns and forming habits; this enables us to be more efficient. For example, look at the picture below. What do you see in the pattern?


Most likely you recognize the word optical. Once we see some pattern, shape or meaning in what we’re looking at, we generally move on without much thought of further exploration and this lessens our ability to recognize the full extent of what is waiting to be discovered…

Although you recognized the word optical, you probably failed to recognize the word illusion. The more accustomed we are to seeing things with one meaning (and do things habitually), the more difficult it is to be open to seeing (and doing) something new.

“I begin to wonder how many things I know, would suddenly take on new meanings if only I could perceive the connections.” – Robert Scott-Bernstein

Perception (definition: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses).

Perception is intuitive and allows us to develop an impression or feeling of the world around us. Although it’s our perceptions that initially shape our perspective, as we age, the opposite often happens and our perspective shapes our perceptions.

To change this, we need to be attentive and as the saying goes, “walk a mile in another’s shoes” and discover the way others interpret life. Developing empathy (or you could say, tuning into another’s perception) allows us to see more and be open-minded to new things.

‘There are things known and unknown, and in-between are the doors of perception.’
– Aldous Huxley

In society it takes work to challenge many popular perceptions of disability. Often, unfortunately, it comes from experiencing disability directly, or indirectly by living with someone who has a disability or is aging.

How does Renfrew the cat come in? Well you don’t have to wait for someone to carry you around over their head to see the world differently. But it is important to see things from different angles/meanings and always be open to changing one’s habits.

Challenge yourself by consciously changing things up.

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
– unknown



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