It is common wisdom that dogs think we are gods, while cats know that they are gods. However, it is my experience that cats possess uncommon wisdom, and therefore rarely underestimate our influence upon their lives. I think that, for the most part, my cats have faith in me; that is, they trust me. I do not know if that made it easier or harder to make the decision to end middle cat’s life, rather than let it peter out into pain.
I did not feel godlike, in that moment, cradling his head and assuring him that everything would be just fine. I felt helpless, my hands occupied with his fur, even to wipe away tears. Is that what being a god is like?
In the beginning, we adopted him out of loss, as grief, death, and confusion give way to new life. I was on the way back from my mother’s funeral. My family had picked me up from the airport and nearly let me get all the way home before,
“We found a kitten. We want him.”
My husband reminded the children that they had promised to at least let me get through the front door before they started on the kitten thing, but they were besotted, and they hadn’t just come from my father’s house, so they couldn’t wait. We went to the place where the adoption agency had set up cages the very next day, but the kitten was gone. We found this one instead. We named him Micah.
It would be difficult to say he was a good cat. He sometimes peed in inappropriate places, and he bullied the baby cat when we got her, later. But he loved us without rhyme or reason, or restraint. That kind of appeal is hard to resist. And, after all, when a creature is dependent upon you for its redemption (from the cage), its sustenance, and in the end its very life or death, one can either become cruel, or one has to break open one’s heart and let it crawl into love’s shelter.
Is that what it feels like, to be a god?
We acclaim you, holy Lord, glorious in power. Your mighty works reveal your wisdom and love. You formed us in your own image, giving the whole world into our care, so that, in obedience to you, our Creator, we might rule and serve all your creatures. When our disobedience took us far from you, you did not abandon us to the power of death. In your mercy you came to our help, so that in seeking we might find you. Again and again you called us into covenant with you, and through the prophets you taught us to hope for salvation. – Eucharistic Prayer D, BCP 373
Through the prophets, and through, perhaps, a few prophetically named cats.
The Revd Rosalind C Hughes is the Rector of the Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio. Micah attended church once for the pet blessing. It didn’t have a noticeable effect on his less appropriate behaviours.