Our 16 year old basset hound, Abigail, passed away May 29, 2012. We decided to take down the old fence that had been in our back yard for over a decade and possibly replace it if we decided to get another dog. It’s amazing what a fence will keep out of your yard. Immediately, we began to see stray cats, deer, dogs, etc. coming and going in our back yard. We don’t know if it was the lack of a fence or the absence of our dog that caused the animals such freedom of “visiting” us. We even joked that Abigail was up in heaven directing the strays to our house, since we had rescued her nearly 15 years earlier and she had quite the life of luxury.
We first met “kitty” a couple of weeks ago and after a couple of days of hanging around, we named him Judah. He was a grey cat that looked emaciated and scared. On our first introduction, he had found the bowl of cat food and water left for another stray cat that showed up in the early morning hours. When I opened the door, Judah took off running to the edge of the yard and then turned around and stared at me. I did the usual “kitty, kitty, kitty” and with apprehension he began to slowly make his way toward me. He returned to the bowls of food and water and watched me out of the corner of his eye. I returned to the house as he continued to eat, and took a cup of fresh dry cat food out to the bowl he was eating from. On my approach, he retreated about 10 feet and watched, returning when I left the food bowl. When he had finished and left the area, I brought the food and water bowls closer to the house and placed them at the edge of the patio and returned to the house to wait him out. A short while later, I noticed he was again at the food bowl and I went out of the house and toward the cat. He did not move or run away, but allowed me to approach him. I bent down to touch him and he continued to stay at the food bowl. The next morning, there he was again at the food bowl and after eating he found a place to sleep on the cool bricks of the patio. He appeared to be a very gentle cat and one who had been on his own for some time, possibly his entire life. When he allowed me to touch him, I could feel his little ribs and hip bones as if they were sticking through the skin.
On further observation, I noticed he had a quarter size wound on his chest on which he allowed us to put an antibacterial ointment. He was becoming more and more friendly and would now jump on our lap for cuddling. It was difficult to determine his age because of his small size and condition, but he did not appear to be very old. He began to sleep on a small bed we made for him on the patio and he seemed to be settling in as part of the family. He had all the food and water he needed and was receiving love, for probably the first time in his short life. Based on his seeming acceptance of us and our fondness of him and the possibility he might come inside at some point, my husband and I decided to take him to the vet to get him checked out and to get the necessary feline inoculations. On arrival, the vet did a quick blood test and unfortunately our new friend was a very sick cat with the very contagious Feline Leukemia and a retrovirus that cats frequently get when they have been allowed to roam wild. The vet advised us to put the cat down, indicating the cat would not live much longer and was definitely not feeling well. Also, the danger of infecting other cats was a strong possibility. So, we followed the advice of the vet and went back home without our new friend.
My husband and I almost immediately came to the same conclusion about the cat. And that conclusion was, “at least he got to know what love and care was even if it was only for 3 or 4 days before he died”. But as I have pondered little Judah and his short time with us, I began to think about mankind and how it must break God’s heart to see all those strays running around looking for love and care and being prey for the enemy of their souls.
I began to think about how mankind gets infected with dis-ease in his soul from the attacks of the enemy and how many have no idea of the love and care that is available for them, if they will just find God as Judah found us. Many like Judah spend all of their lives roaming in the wilds of the world, looking for something they really don’t even know exists. But God in His mercy and grace is still extending His hand of love to them, even when the end is so close, just hoping they can experience His love and care though it is only for a brief period before they die.
I would observe Judah and ask “what is your story? Were you thrown away by someone when you were a kitten? Were you a runaway cat that lost your way back home?” The vet supposed he was at least 2 years of age and possibly older. Had he never known the security of an owner who cared for him? So many people are the same way. Those who don’t know The Owner are throw aways that the god of this world plays with and then lets them off at the first convenient corner only to become more infected by the attacks of others like them. Many don’t realize that with the cross of Christ, The true Owner has taken down the fence that separated Him from the world and His water and food bowl never get dry or empty. He too has a place for us to sleep in peace in Him and He comforts us when we need a gentle touch.
Little Judah was a joy for a few days and we thank God that we had the privilege of loving one of His creatures. I do believe that our pets will be with us in heaven and that just those few short days with Judah won him a place with our other two who have gone ahead. What brought Judah to us? We may never know, but we choose to believe that God just saw a little cat that had a short time to live and that needed a loving touch. I pray the Lord will do the same with people. May He bring to us those who need to know they are loved and that they can have a future and a hope in Him. They may look pretty scraggly, dirty, emaciated from life in the world and with a sordid past, but never the less, they are God’s creation. May we qualify as one whom God can trust with His most fragile of people who need to know His love. God give us Your Heart!