Stray cats can teach a lesson about our behavior

By Helen Guilford - Expositor columnist

It has probably been two or three years since we had a resident house cat. Then the neighborhood tom cat decided this property might be an easy target for some food. He came regularly and just as regularly achieved his goal – a meal. This was thanks to my roommate.

Next a smaller cat showed up with the tom. In the spring we were presented with three pretty, playful kittens under the deck. At the very outset I mandated the cats and kittens must not gain access to the house. These were neighborhood, transient cats and must remain outdoors! That edict was accepted.

The original tom cat, whom I call Tommy, began to inhabit the deck. Whenever the door opened, he was ready to pounce. The kittens grew up without human contact, mostly, but they, too, developed the pouncing ability when the door opens.

Now without a roommate, I developed the habit of feeding them dry food once a day. My thinking was they would lose interest and go hunting. After all, they had been self-sufficient for quite some time.

Though the tom cat kept up his vigil, I could sometimes get in/out without interference from him. Now, though I have maintained the once a day routine, they seem to believe there is food in that house and they intend to have it.

One day recently, I came home carrying some grocery bags and, with Bebe on leash, couldn’t manage to get in the house without cats. Yes, cats, plural! The tommy and two kittens, now nearly full grown, bombarded the door and gained access. I got one of the young ones out and then the tomcat, but couldn’t catch the other kitten!

Human contact is foreign to these youngsters. The one remaining in the house was not going to be caught or in any way have contact with this monster human trying to catch it. Of course, Bebe was also in the picture, not chasing, not involved in any way, but she was just there – something else for the kitten to be scared of.

At bedtime, when I was still unsuccessful in getting the cat out the door, I put some torn-up newspaper in a plastic pan, hoping it would be attractive if the cat needed a litter box, and went to bed. First thing in the morning, I checked. Of course, this non-housebroken animal had not used the make-shift litter box but had not used anything else either.

Leaving Bebe outdoors, I prepared a pan of moist (dog) food and lured the cat out the door!

How could my good intentions for these wayfarers have gone so wrong? I blame my love of all animals. That I had only fed them, not made pets of them, didn’t seem to deter their interest in me and the house. I still represented food to them.

You know that’s not so very different from the way we humans who claim to be Christians can be lured into sinful practices. Just like the cats, we look for the easy way! And that easy way can be the route to non-Christlike behavior. Sometimes it takes the aroma of tempting food of some sort to get us back where we belong. That “food” may be fellowship with other Christians, Bible reading or the pastor’s message. It’s all there for us. Let’s avail ourselves of it and live closer to Jesus, our Savior.

By Helen Guilford

Expositor columnist