Faithful Living: Purr-fect love

Some may be allergic to this column

If you are not a cat lover, I offer you my sincerest sympathy as well as fair warning: reading further may bring on a sneeze, a shiver, or cause a gag or two. But I press on, nonetheless, because I adore cats and feel not an ounce of shame admitting my fondness for them.

I have parameters, however, and this amounts to one neutered cat in our household. That’s because when I look at statistics about cats in our nation, it’s a troubling picture. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone there are 73 million domestic and 60-100 million feral cats. As astounding as these figures are, their numbers are understandable when a mature female can produce 2 to 3 litters a year with 4 to 8 kittens in each litter.

Cats live longer and are far more personable when they reside indoors. They are also less likely to capture songbirds, according to my husband who serves on the Department of Defense Partners in Flight Committee. Dedicated to improving the number of songbirds in our nation, the group is quick to point out that there are fewer than 10 percent of songbirds living today than did 100 years ago. It’s a tragic fact due in part to losses in habitat and the rise in feral cats, who are natural hunters and typically target family bird feeders.

Therefore, I own just one cat and will tolerate a regularly cleaned cat box. I also insist on spaying and neutering, refuse to sacrifice my furniture, and have been known to leap across kitchen floors with a squirt bottle in hand to prevent cat paws from perusing clean counters and table tops.

With all this said, can you imagine the flood of compassion and alarm I experienced earlier this week when my daughter came home with a kitten, rescued from a closed plastic bag thrown into a dumpster?

Sometimes loves stinks.

Defenseless kittens occasionally dumped by irresponsible owners can be tough to calm down. With persistence, however, they can be tamed and if you’re anything like me, they can swiftly move into your heart like little else.

Sometimes love is unexpected.

To say this spunky little feline with yellow eyes and a solid black coat stole the hearts of my entire family is an understatement. We all went a bit goofy. All, that is, except for the king, who found himself at one point last summer in a shelter when his family had to move and he could not possibly go with them. That’s when we entered his life, looking for an orange tabby who could tolerate a busy household and multiple pets. But even the magnificent Oliver has his limits and he was downright miffed at the turn of events. Never have we witnessed more hissing and slinking. Never has he sat in the windowsill with a more determined glare or claimed our laps out of spite.

Sometimes it’s hard to love someone new.

As for my take on the kitten’s reaction to the whole matter, it is nothing but love that I have observed, as well as extreme gratitude.

“You can’t place human emotion onto a kitten!” my husband teased. He’s probably right. But it is that undeniable connection one can make with a cat that I like most. It is watching wild, scared eyes soften, then widen with adoration. It is hearing a kitten call from the other room then run in your direction as you walk in the door, to rub its sweet face and curved back under the palm of your hand and reward your presence with an audible, spontaneous purrrrrr.

Love is spoken in many languages.

What delights me most is how playful kittens can get. I had forgotten how fun it is to watch a kitten lie inside a pair of shoes and chew the laces, wildly push a tiny ball across the floor, or bat a child’s toe sticking out from under the edge of a down comforter.

Love is silly and laughable.

Love also comes at good times in our lives, when the days are long and we have more time to play. When putting out the hammock or lying in a lounge chair on the deck to take in some stray rays of sunshine calls you outdoors.

Love is warm.

Cats can bring out the tenderness that too often lies dormant inside us when the hustle and bustle of life keeps us on the edge, scheduled and hurried.

Better still, this little kitten has reminded my family that while love is occasionally stinky and complicating, it also has the potential to be fun, warming, and surprising. Imagine how wonderful it felt when a new friend, having recently lost his cat, walked into our living room only to spot the fluffy black bundle of energy, scooting across the carpet. That he immediately filled with a desire to love another feline was apparent.

How great it was to realize in an instant that God had planned their meeting all along.

Love is meant to be shared.

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