Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: pets

Who is in charge here?


A friend, thinking to reprove my affection for cats, told this little fable:

A dog, upon being given shelter, food and lots of affection, begins to worship his master, thinking to himself: “Wow! this man must be a god!”

A cat, upon receiving the same kind of treatment and affection, thinks to himself: “Wow! I must be a god!”

My reaction to the fable was the opposite of what was expected. “So, if I don’t want to get a swelled head and start thinking of myself as a god, I’m better off not having a dog. A cat will keep me humble.”

OK. Dogs and cats don’t have that kind of reasoning ability. But there is a distinct difference in their attitude towards humans. Dogs are dependent on people, having lost the hunting abilities of their wild kin, wolves and coyotes. Dogs who go rogue seem to kill for pleasure rather than because they need a meal..

Feral cats have remarkable survival skills; they are excellent hunters, stealthy and patient. Perhaps for this reason they are more independent in nature. There is reason to suspect that cats became domesticated of their own volition, way back when people began to farm. Stored crops attracted vermin that provided an abundant source of food for cats. A special relationship developed from there, with farmers providing protection for cats in return for services rendered.

However it happened, any cat owner will tell you that the cat believes he is the one in charge. In return he appropriates the best chair in the house, expects to be fed and groomed on his schedule and to be let in or out a dozen times in a day.

Yet he can be affectionate when it suits his mood and has a genius for cuteness, and appears to think he is taking care of us. My cat, who looks much like the one at the top of the page, gets a little antsy when it is time for me to go to bed. When I finally get under the covers, he lays down beside me until I am asleep, then gets up and goes somewhere else. At the first glimmer of dawn he come back to wake me up.

Memories of Panda

Panda was our number one furry friend for over 15 years. We got her from a street cat rescue program when she was about six months old. She was part of a litter of long haired black cats found in an abandoned car in a back alley. She grew into a magnificent Maine Coon cat and lived with us in our last three homes.

In our first home, she would perch on the back of the couch, part the vertical blinds with her paw  to look out on the driveway and watch for our return.

She was the same age as our oldest grandchild and all our grandchildren learned from her that gentleness and kindness were the  keys to inspiring trust.

After spending hours at the computer I would turn around and see her on the floor quietly watching me. As soon as I made eye contact she was on her feet leading me to where I kept her brush and comb. A little time spent grooming her made her happy and gave me a needed break. She loved to be vacuumed, the air current through her long hair must have felt good.

The first evening afterwe moved onto this acreage she went outside to explore. When she didn’t come back we went looking for her with flashlights. We went all over the yard, searching and calling her. Finally we gave up and went back to the house. There she was, calmly sitting on the front step, as if to say “Where have you guys been? I’ve been waiting for you.”

I like cats because they are free. They could survive as feral anaimals but choose to make their home with us. They don’t often come when they are called, but when they feel like it they will jump on our lap and purr contentedly.

If I accidentally stepped on Panda’s tail or paw she would give a loud squawk, but that was all. She never believed that I had done it deliberately and it didn’t affect her trust in me. She would calmly sleep through sudden loud noises and commotions in the house, but if a can of salmon was opened she would wake from her sleep, wherever she was, and show up to ask for a share.

Yesterday we took her to the vet and had her put to sleep. Over the past few months she has lost weight until she was just skin and bones. Her blood pressure was high and her kidneys were failing. The vet gave us medicine and at times it seemed to be helping. Finally we had to face the reality that the things we were doing to try and relieve her distress were only causing her more distress. It is a relief to know her suffering is over.

I hope that I have learned something about respect and trust from my relationship with Pand that will transfer to my relationships with people.

Juggling jobs

I am getting old, I call myself semi-retired, but it seems that I have more demands on my time than ever before, and I’m not at all sure that I’m managing my time wisely.

I am a bookkeeper: A large part of my income is pension, but I still have five bookkeeping clients that I need to work for on a regular basis.

I am a member of the French editing committee of our church. This doesn’t take up a lot of time, but it is enjoyable and useful work. And I do get some payment for the time spent.

I am a writer: Besides this blog, and another one in French, I have other writing projects that are really important to me, but it is hard to find time for them.

I am a father and grandfather: At this stage that may mostly mean being a cheerleader. That means being there, paying attention. I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of it.

I am a husband: My wife is going through chemo-therapy treatments for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. I go with her to almost all her appointments. The treatments have worked, there are no more symptoms, but she still needs two more rounds of chem to keep it away as long as possible. Meanwhile, she needs a lot of rest and her resistance is low. One side benefit of the chemo is that it has pretty much eliminated her arthritis pain. I’m sure that is only temporary.

Monday was our 46th anniversary. To celebrate, I took her to our nearest town where one of the vets and her husband were doing a barbecue to raise money for their non-profit pet rescue organization. So we both had a hot dog, a can of pop and a cookie. I thought it was a good deal, Chris didn’t have to cook or do dishes and the money went to a good cause.

Yesterday we went out for a more formal meal at the Cave Restaurant in Saskatoon.

Cat oneupmanship

We moved to this acreage almost 8 years ago, just us two old folks and one cat. There is a farm yard right beside our yard with a heavy stand of trees between us. Panda was basically an indoor cat, but one evening she decided to explore the great outdoors.

The sun set, our bed seemed pretty inviting after a day of unpacking and arranging furniture, dishes, books, clothing, but Panda had not come home. We called, no response. We set out with flashlights to search for her. We walked around the back yard, the woods, searching and calling. Nothing. We gave up and walked back to the house, thinking dark thoughts. We came around to the front of the house and there on the front step was Panda, calmly stretched out and looking at us as if to say: “Where have you guys been? I’ve been waiting for you.”

We recently made a trip to Montréal and asked our daughter to care for our cats, there are now three of them. When we returned home Tuesday, she reported that she had seen the middle cat, Angus, only once. Panda and Pookie were happy to see us and we expected Angus would hear that we were home and make his appearance. When he didn’t, my wife went next door (the neighbours are away now) and soon found him. He was overjoyed to see us and spent the next 24 hours anxiously checking on us to see that we weren’t going to abandon him again.

Pookie went out that evening and didn’t come back. When he still hadn’t shown up yesterday evening after I got back from the city, we took our flashlights and went looking. We checked around all the many buildings of the farm yard, thinking he might have accidentally been shut in one of them. There was neither sight nor sound to indicate he was anywhere around.

Once again thinking dark thoughts, punctuated by the howling of coyotes not far away, we trudged homeward. As we walked down our lane and got near the house Pookie came trotting out to welcome us home. Why do cats have this infuriating habit of outsmarting us?

I admit it, we are quite attached to our cats, and they to us. I think this is quite normal, not everyone agrees. I believe that people who are patient and kind with animals are more apt to be patient and kind with people, too. And people who are indifferent and even cruel to animals are apt to be that way to people. What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree?  (There are, of course, a few individuals with an emotional imbalance that hinders them from having a real relationship with other people and who try to fill that void with their pets, I’m not thinking of that sort of extreme.)

A home with two people and three cats

We share our home with animals.  I know that there are people who find this horrifying.  I guess we just don’t know any better, having always lived this way.

There is another cat who earnestly desires to join the three under our roof, but I think we have reached our limit.  The others came into our home one by one as kittens and have adjusted to each other.  To bring another adult cat into the mix would surely upset the ecological balance, or something.  It would at least upset the lives of all three cats and both people.  This cat has a home in the village two km away.  Twice we have taken him there only to find him back here a couple days later.  He is welcome at the farm next door which has three barn yard cats, but I suspect he has noticed that our cats have a warmer home and get better food.

The interaction between our cats is fascinating.  Panda, a black long-haired Maine Coon Cat is the grumpy old maiden aunt.  She has been with us for 11 years and has greeted each newcomer with pretty stern language.  Angus is 2 ½, a large all black Siamese, if you can imagine such a creature.  Pookie is 1 ½, a flame point Siamese.  He is the smallest, cutest and the most belligerent of the lot.  All three now cohabit peaceably.  We were quite sure that we didn’t need a third cat when Pookie showed up on our doorstep a year ago.  Now we see that it is all to the  good that Angus and Pookie have each other to tease and plague, it saves Panda a lot of aggravation.

Many years ago the prophet Nathan came to King David with the story of a poor man who had one little lamb that he had raised as a daughter, letting her eat the food he ate and drink from his cup.  Let us pause here and consider, if this was not a story from the Bible and if we didn’t know what followed, how many of us would be disgusted at this story and say the man deserved no sympathy for having this lamb taken from him?

That was not David’s reaction.  It all made perfect sense to him and his indignation  was directed toward the one who had taken the lamb.  Surely it was the softness of David’s heart, as revealed in this account and elsewhere, that caused God to call David a man after His own heart.

I hope that my love of cats, and my tolerance for their foibles, is  teaching me to show the same love and tolerance toward people.  There are too many people today who profess to care deeply about mankind, but can’t seem to stand people.  Let me not be one of them.

Pet Therapy

But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.  And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.  And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die (2 Samuel 12:3-5).

Nathan knew how to approach the king in a way that would touch his heart.  Other men may have scoffed at the foolishness of the poor man who fell in love with a lamb.  Not King David, his heart was still the heart of a shepherd.  His indignant reaction opened the way for Nathan to bring him face to face with the reality of his own sin.

Falling in love with an animal has helped many people through times of sorrow and stress, or even mental illness.  A stray cat found its way to the home of a lady who was showing signs of paranoid schizophrenia.  She felt sorry for the half-starved creature, began to study the care and feeding of cats and was rewarded with an affectionate pet who has been with her for many years.  In the process, her symptoms diminished and she is better able to cope with life.  Being responsible for the feeding and care of a dependent animal helps to take a person’s mind off their own problems.

Farm children who are given a calf or a pony to care for may avoid many temptations that other young people fall into.  A lonely single lady will rejoice at the thought of her dog who eagerly awaits her return.  A dog who needs to be taken for a walk can lift his owner from the slough of despond.

I can spend hours at my computer doing bookkeeping, growing more frustrated by the minute with a client’s slaphappy record keeping.  Then I become aware of a pair of golden eyes staring at me, silently and patiently.  After I have spent a little time combing my cat and fussing over her, I return to the keyboard and find my frustrations have vanished.  We have another cat who doesn’t want to be held.  But when I a sit in the recliner and put my feet up he will jump up on my lap, curl up and fall asleep.  I find it especially endearing when an aloof cat shows such evidence of trust.

There are cat ladies who want to take in every stray in the neighbourhood.  There are people who thought it would be a good idea to have a pet, but do not have time or patience to care for it.  I am not talking about such instances.  But when a poor family showers affection on a cherished pet and takes good care of it, let’s not scoff and say they are wasting money.  That pet is probably doing more good for the family than we imagine.

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