Three Cats as Apostles




Meriam Matthews


November, 2003


It struck me suddenly as my three cats jostled for choice positions on my lap, that although all three were just cats, they were as different one from the other as children within a human family. Through these creatures, as the Holy Spirit has done in the past, I was taught another lesson about Jesus’ love for His children – all His children. Not one is unlovable to Him.


Jimmy and Sarah are sable-brown Burmese littermates, now thirteen years old. Their fur is sleek, shiny, almost black and smooth. Their noses, paw pads and mouths are the same color as their fur. In low light, it seems as though only their bright, perfectly round amber eyes are visible. If they speak or yawn, a slash of pink will split their faces but otherwise, their eyes light up the room and their other features remain invisible. Maximillian is a lilac-point Siamese, now sixteen years old. All three have been together as a cat-family since they were kittens and each has their role within their threefold family unit and within their larger nuclear family which includes me and Jack.


Max is dominant, with exquisite beauty and haughtiness. His light gray coat is smooth, his tail long and tapered, his eyes are icy blue and almond-shaped while his ears are wide and high. He walks like a Pharaoh, with regal bearing. He is The Prince of Cats. Max is quite vocal and affectionate only to me, but he is very affectionate --- when he feels like it. Prone to a slight nervousness at times, in his dotage he’s calmed down a bit even though he still detests noise. Chatter and entertainment leave him jittery and annoyed, so he’d rather leave the room than suffer fools who clearly have far less breeding than he does. All things considered, Max is a snob with every claim to it.


Sarah is what in more innocent times may have been called a “coquette”; she flirts, then runs away. She teases for affection, then when you reach to pet her flounces off, tail in the air. She chirps to catch your eye but will gleefully whiz past your fingertips just for fun. She is adorable, petite, curious and playful and will talk only when she wants affection. She will accept attention from just about everyone, being something of an exhibitionist.


Jimmy is “the least of them”. He’s not very pretty, but has huge, expressive round yellow eyes like his sister. He is insecure and very vocal but submissive, and will respond paralytically to affection, afraid you’ll stop if he moves a muscle. If you do stop, he will instantly jump up and demand more, gently reaching up with a soft claw-retracted foot toward my face. Extra attention is always forthcoming but can be tiresome to the petter.  Jimmy is so grateful for any attention all the time that I get the feeling he considers himself unworthy of kindness for reasons only he knows about. Jimmy is the sweetest of all three cats, but is prone to bouts of melancholy. As loveable as he is, he’s not very bright.


Each evening when it comes time to brush them, Jimmy always sits in a semi-crouch far away from Sarah and Max, waiting self-consciously and patiently to have attention paid to him. Max will preen and demand his brushing, expecting extravagant attention, while Sarah will vie with Max for the brushing, interposing her tiny black snub-nose under the hairbrush as I brush Max.


Sarah takes the brushing for granted, enjoying it, but giving the impression she can take it or leave it.  Shy Jimmy, awaiting his brushing until I come to him brush in hand, will gaze adoringly into my eyes as I brush, never breaking eye contact with me. He has utmost humility and gratitude. By contrast, Max has ultimate hubris while Sarah has a refined, studied nonchalance and an elitist’s sense of entitlement.


I was led to ponder the differences among the three cats as we interacted, each vying for my affection and attention. It is important to note here that I love all three cats equally in their differences.


The Holy Spirit watches as I write this and it just became clear that I know people who exhibit the same personality traits as my cats. Like Max, some are haughty and vocal and dominant. They talk a lot, mostly to draw attention to themselves because they are prideful. Nonetheless, they need to be loved.


Like Jimmy, some are physically unattractive by today’s glamour-magazine standards and may not be very bright but are wonderful, shy, grateful people who often stay in the background by choice. They will respond with great love when you pay attention to them and will try to keep your attention as long as possible. They are easily hurt if you turn away and will attempt just about anything to regain your favor.


Then there are the Sarahs of the world who believe that their coquettishness entitles them to extra attention. They are outgoing, living their lives on the privileged "voted prettiest girl in school" pedestal. These people respond to love but only so far as it serves their own needs. They are not quick to return the love unless there is something in it for them, yet the Sarahs of the world maintain a following of slavish sycophantic others who bask in reflected light by proximity alone. Sarahs have a certain charm, but behind the mask is a yearning to be loved. If love is withheld, they seek it until they find it, from whatever source.


That I love all three of these creatures equally has told me something about God, about humanity and about myself. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that all people are different but all are loved equally by our Lord. No matter their irritating personalities and often manipulative methods, God loves them as much as I love my cats in spite of their shortcomings. Or perhaps because of their shortcomings. What I learned about myself is that if I apply the same standards of love and attention to other people as I do to my cats, regardless of what my flesh tells me, I will love these people as God does.


I thank God daily for these little creatures who have taught me so much over the years about other human beings. How very God that is.


In His mercy and because of my intense desire to learn more about Him and because of my hungry attention to all channels by which he speaks to me, He chose my dearest treasures, my cats, with which to teach me something about humanity. More, He has shown me why God loves every one of His children ---- because they are His children and by virtue of that fact alone, they deserve to be loved.


I am supremely happy and grateful that He loves me too, even when I don’t deserve it.


Thank you, Jesus.