Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Cat Whisperer

"Temper is a weapon that we hold by the blade." ~James M. Barrie

"He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances." ~David Hume

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." ~Isaiah 40:11

I figured he would punish us when we got home.

Before we left, I even wrapped the curtains up over the drapery bar so he couldn’t shred them in his angst. He settled for tattering the couch instead.

Poor guy, the cat stayed home virtually alone while we were gone for five out of six weeks. My friend who came over to feed him told me that toward the end of our absence he relinquished any particular expectations of how things should be done (pet me this way, brush me here, I want that kind of treat, etc.) and, throwing caution to the wind, planted himself on her feet in a desperate attempt to acquire even the smallest morsel of attention.

Though quite talkative before, he has now added to his repertoire psychotic whines and calls that ring of a horror movie. It’s like he’s having a conversation with himself about the frightening dream he just had.

Last night I crawled in bed and he meowed and quickly settled at my side. As I petted him, he thought it best to crawl up onto my chest. (I thought it best to let him; what’s wrong with me?) After turning around a couple of times, he laid down with his fluffy bum against my right cheek. (Oh, lovely.) Eventually he curled his head around and began licking my left cheek, bum still firmly planted on my right. He gave me about seven or eight sweet little kitty kisses and then demonstrated, lest anyone think differently, that he’s not a woosy-cat.

What are you doing?” I exclaimed. “Surely you did not just bite me!”

He bit me again.

When I protested, he got altogether feisty, rearing back and glaring at me with “you-wanna-piece-o’-me?” eyes.

We exchanged aggressive sentiments as he bit my shoulder (that one broke the skin a bit) and I snatched him up and headed for the garage.

Cat Whisperer, I am not.

Before I’d gone to bed, I had read Angie’s new blog entry. The way she described her continuing struggle to surrender her right to Audrey was not altogether unlike the encounter I subsequently had with the cat. Hurt by my actions (leaving him alone for weeks), he is struggling with the tension between his desperate love for me (I know, it’s a stretch) and his feelings of betrayal and abandonment, and both emotions are subject to display at any moment and without specific provocation.

Yesterday, too, I came across a synopsis I had recorded five years ago of a bad night we experienced with our son. Just barely one year old, he awoke in the middle of the night screaming wildly. We desperately looked for what could possibly be wrong, but could find nothing. My husband and I engaged in zone defense as we took turns trying to sleep and dealing with his fit. He would scream until he was completely exhausted and fall asleep, but the reprieve would soon end and the fit ensue. Finally, at about 6AM, we both wearily sat on the couch and watched him fully engage in the height of his tantrum. He screamed, threw things, cried, flopped himself face first on the floor. Any attempt to reach out to him, to comfort him, was met with disdain and ire. Like the cat, he gave us his best “you-wanna-piece-o’-me?” look.

Finally, when he was all tantrumed-out, he looked at me with pitiful eyes and came running to me. Hot tears stained his cheeks as he melted into my arms, releasing his feelings of anger in an exhausted surrender. Of course, I was more than ready to comfort and hold my precious child. The struggle he’d gone through was no longer important. All that mattered was he had come back to his momma and given up his own desires. I just had to wait patiently for him to get it out of his system.

God is like that. I am so very grateful for a Savior who is not intimidated or put off by my emotions. (Apparently, he created them.) There are times when I, too, engage in an all-out fit, feeling like God has let me down and glaring at him with “you-wanna-piece-o’-me?” eyes.

He isn’t woken up in the middle of the night so he has no reason to nap. Instead, he sits on his couch and watches me with warm, empathetic, sovereign eyes, just waiting for me to get it out of my system. And when I’m finally willing to surrender, his arms are open wide, ready to enfold me in his grace. He gathers me up into his lap, wipes hot tears from my cheeks, and whispers words of comfort to me, his precious child.

Shhh, it’s okay. I love you.


  1. BTW, I have never personally met your cat, but I see myself in his many attitudes and behaviors. Is that bad?

  2. I should have let Rebecca spend the night, then they both would have been happy!

  3. And that's why I'm a dog person! :)

  4. I really love that you can find a spiritual analogy in a tempermental cat, but I think I'll stick to dogs just the same. However, your cat is welcome to come spend the night in my garage.


We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)