I keep looking out the window, but he is no longer there. Multiple times a day I walk to the window that looks out onto our front porch, hoping once more to see that familiar face patiently waiting for me to come out. But he’s not there.
For over a year my wife Barbara and I fed a feral cat who visited our front porch, but two weeks ago he stopped showing up. He was there every morning before we left for work and would often be on the porch, waiting for us, when we returned home. Even though I knew the day would come when that cat would no longer be with us, I miss seeing him. Even though we never heard him meow, much less purr, and we could never approach him without him running away, I still keep looking out the window every morning and evening. We even turn on the porch light for him so he knows we’re home.
It seems I miss that cat more that I miss some people who are no longer in my life. What does it say that I would spend more time looking for the return of a stray cat than I would some people returning to church? Is my heart really that big and that small at the same time?
Over the last year I’ve learned that if you have the compassion to wait, the endurance to remain calm and a heart that is willing to listen, even a feral cat can teach you lessons about love, patience and our relationship with God. At least, those are some of the things I learned while feeding a cat that didn’t really want me; it just wanted what I had to offer. In other words, this cat was taught me some interesting things not only about people, but also about my own relationship with God – a God I don’t always want except for the things I think He has to offer. And even though this cat no longer shows up on my porch, I’m finding the lessons continue.
I Own a Cat?
Let me tell you Barbara and I came to care for an unfriendly, feral cat. Shortly after we bought our house last year but prior to moving in, we were visiting with the former owners, Larry and Lynn, who were kind enough to show us around. They were telling us which light switch worked which lights, how the alarm system worked, where to turn off the water to the house and how to use the gas fireplace. You know, all the little ins and outs we didn’t want to discover on our own.
As we were standing in the front room talking, I glanced out on the porch and saw a nice looking grey and white cat glaring at me through the storm door. Not looking, not inquiring and certainly interested in me. Just, as any of you cat owners can testify, glaring. I said to Larry, “Oh, I didn’t know you owned a cat.”
“I don’t,” Larry said with a big grin, “But now you do.”
“What?” I said, with a bit of desperation in my voice.
I’m not really a big fan of cats. They are selfish, shed a lot of hair, and even though you give it a name it rarely comes when you call it. Plus, if I pet a cat too long I start to get itchy eyes and sneeze a lot. And though I’ve never known a cat to have that same reaction to being in my presence, the glare I was getting from the front porch told me this cat was not a big fan of me, either.
Larry continued, “That’s a feral cat that I’ve seen come up out of the sewers. It started coming around a while ago and I felt sorry for it so I fed it. Now it comes every day wanting food. So like I said, now it’s your cat.”
“Does this cat have a name?” I asked.
“No,” said Larry. “We just refer to it as the cat.”
“Can you pet the cat?” I asked.
“No. It runs down the porch steps and hides in the bushes every time you walk out the door. It waits until you’ve gone in the house and closed the door before it comes back onto the porch to eat.”
“Okay,” I said. Now I owned a cat that knows two tricks: glaring at me through the window and running every time it sees me walk outside. I’m now about to feed a cat that doesn’t really want me; it just wants whoever lives in this house to feed it.
I asked Larry if this feral cat was a male or female, but Larry never got a chance to discern this bit of trivia. Not that it made any difference. I owned a feral cat, be it male or female, who wanted little to do with me other than my continued and timely attention to his/her food bowl.