Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Problem with Cats


The escaping mama cat

Max and Spike are my barn cats. I was overrun with mice at the barn and just about insane from trying to deal with them, so I decided to hire some cats. For someone who is a dog person, this took considerable investigation. How do you  judge a cat? How can you tell if a kitten will grow up to be a good mouser? There doesn't seem to be much science to it, so I asked several cat lovers. They all assured me that a kitten will be a good mouser if it's parents were. My thought, which I kept to myself, is that cat genetics must be quite a bit different from human genetics or else they were just making it up to humor me.  

Finally, I took the plunge. I found a mama cat with a kitten. The mama cat was guaranteed as a mouse-catching kind of cat. How perfect was that?  I loaded up mama and kitten and carried them to my barn, where things quickly deteriorated. Mama climbed straight up the wall, hit the ceiling, looked back at me, and decided not to come down. She dug her claws into the tack room wall and just hung there. Her poor little kitten was looking around for his mama and he was meowing like crazy. He couldn't figure out why his mama was up in the sky, and he was not happy about it. No amount of coaxing would bring her down. No offers of tasty canned food would entice her. Finally, I settled the baby kitty on a little baby kitty bed, showed it the food and the litter box, and closed the tack room door. I figured she would eventually calm down and come back to the baby. What did I know about cats? Nothing! 

Just about the time I got out the door, I heard a commotion, looked around, and saw mama cat. She had somehow worked her way around the tack room wall, hopped over on top of the upright freezer, and jumped out the open window. I've seen her once since then. She was having a close encounter with a tom cat, but they are both long gone now. 

The little kitty, now known as Spike, was left to figure it out on his own. As far as I can tell, mouse-catching is either not a genetic trait or Spike missed that gene. If he's ever caught a mouse, he's kept it secret from me. When he was abandoned by his heartless mama, I had pity on him and hired another kitten to help. Max was billed as a crippled kitten from good mouse-catching stock. He also had a mouse-catching mama. Supposedly. Max was living inside at his birth house when, somehow, a bed fell down on his arm. Since he was just a kitten, that does seem preposterous, but I didn't argue. If he was crippled, I couldn't tell it. He was free, and I figured he and Spike could be happy together. I settled Max in the barn with Spike. 

What a terrible mistake. Spike had some potential as a barn cat, but Max only wanted to be an inside cat. They stayed at the barn long enough to grow a bit. Once their legs were long enough to make the journey, they headed done the gravel driveway to my house, where they have made their home on my back steps. As far as I can tell, neither of them has ever caught a mouse. One time my dog caught a mole, but the cats don't catch anything but supper time. 

With that history, I should not expect much from these cats, but I am accustomed to Maggie the Wonder Dog, who makes all animals look exceptionally good. Tonight, someone had given my a deer hindquarter. After I processed the meat, I took the bone (with some tender parts of meat still attached) outside to the cats. You may not be surprised by this, but I was astonished. Spike wouldn't even look at the bone. Max took a brief look, turned up his nose and walked away. He wanted cat food. Forget fresh raw meat. 

What is wrong with this cat? When did cats start rejecting meat?  It is no wonder the world is full of dog lovers.  Cats are too unpredictable.   

When Ryan was little, his class at school learned a cute little song that started out "I don't want to be a goat, nope". Tonight, I was thinking, "I don't want to be a cat, nope". I don't want to choose what's only acceptable for me and reject what is better for me. Really how dumb is that?  We do it all the time, though, don't we? We eat dessert but skip our vegetables. We listen to the Bible study video but skip the homework. We make a start but skip the hard part. Even worse, sometimes we are like Max, leading those around us to a place we would do better to avoid. 

Let's try hard this year to be less "Max-like" in our behavior and more like Christ. Let's be the example that leads people in the right direction and be the one who comsistently does what is right and best. Let's be what we were created to be.