After an eight-year hiatus from cat ownership, four-month old Prisca moved in late last June. A refugee from some hardship, Prisca and I met at the local animal shelter where more than four hundred cats awaited adoption.
Then named Sarah, Prisca was the smallest and youngest of the fifteen cats living in a separate room. Frisky and curious, she started a meow conversation when we were alone in the “meet and greet” room that hasn’t stopped. At this initial encounter, a mysterious bond formed. Though I’m her owner, I can’t fully explain why I chose her.
After one week, it was hard to remember life before the cat dish under the kitchen window and the litterbox in the basement. As much as I loved her and her antics, it was apparent that for this to be a livable arrangement between me and her, a somewhat domesticated feline, rules were necessary. Her licking the salmon filet on the kitchen island ready for the grill or slurping yogurt out of a cereal bowl on the table weren’t acceptable to me though natural for her.
Prisca doesn’t understand why her freedom and free will need any limits. She can’t understand why two paws on the kitchen island is the same as four paws on the island or why the kitchen table is off limits and the bedroom nightstands are fine for running across. She can’t understand that vaccinations and eye drops are better than rabies and blindness. I do, but it’s hard to explain these intricacies to a cat. Plus we don’t speak the same language.
Life with Prisca varies widely. Some days she proudly lays her toys at my feet, other times she hides them. Tuesday she might wake up in a rebellious mood, and Wednesday want to snuggle and use the scratching post instead of the upholstered chair. Whatever her frame of mind or fancies of the day, hopefully she knows I love her unconditionally because she’s my cat, and not because of good behavior.
When she turns on the clock radio at 4:00 a.m. or climbs horizontally across the sofa back or knocks canvas prints off the fireplace mantle or chews Romans 8 in an opened Bible, I ask myself why I thought living in close quarters with an animal would be a good thing. When she curls at my knees on a cold night or chases puddles on the shower floor or relishes the shaft of sunlight slung across the carpet or looks like a gymnast in pursuit of a flying Japanese beetle, I marvel at her relish for simple pleasures.
Will she one day decide to stay off the kitchen island for good? Will she keep all the cat litter in the litter box next week? Will she know it’s Saturday and let me sleep in? No. She’s a cat, and all that comes with loving her. But when she cuddles on my lap, purrs, and does the slow blink, her misdeeds are forgotten.
After four months of life with Prisca, I’ve thought more about my heavenly Father and how we relate. Though not a perfect parallel, my love, patience and desire to shape Prisca’s habits mimic God’s heart for me. His ways will remain beyond my understanding, but I am thankful he has redeemed me from the pit and loves me unconditionally.* Now I want to follow Prisca’s example and learn to rest securely in his presence and enjoy his gifts hidden in the mundane.
*Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalm 103:4, Romans 5:8.