“There are few things more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat.”–Tay Hohoff
Do you love or hate cats? Usually it’s one or the other; it’s hard to be neutral concerning cats. Recently when I asked a friend at church to pray for a hard situation concerning a cat, he said, “Okay, pray for me to have more compassion for cats. I don’t like them and I’m allergic to them.” LOL. I have another friend who is highly allergic to them and sneezes terribly, even from their furs’ dander on our carpet.
Other complaints about cats are that they scratch and ruin furniture, they can spray the carpet with urine, and worse of all –they don’t obey, like dogs do when trained!
That’s one of the reasons I actually like cats. They are independent with a mind of their own (like me!).
My husband Ray and I have never had stray cats before. But at this house in Butler, Missouri, which we bought several years ago, we’ve had several stray cats coming around here. I’ve been feeding them since spring 2022. (It has gotten expensive, too!)
They’re all male cats. Some come more often than others to eat. I asked Ray to help me name them. They are:
Silas, a male tabby/mix breed (a vet said possibly Maine Coon because of his bushy tail; another vet said possibly Siamese mix), who I took inside our home this year and he’s now our second (inside only) cat. We got him neutered and his vaccinations, because he was doing the male mating call and yowling day and night. He was trying to mate with my female cat Natalya, even though she was fixed! He can still be aggressive at times with her and me, but he’s a sweet kitty. Ray also wanted him neutered so he wouldn’t spray our furniture and carpet with urine, as non-neutered males often do.
Nicodemus, a male. unneutered tabby mix cat with a bushy tail, who Ray and I think is Silas’ brother. However, Silas hisses at him when he sees him through the front screen door or the sunroom screens, and twice he has escaped out the door and chased him into the neighbor’s yard. (I’m thankful that Silas came back, so he must like it here! Or at least, the daily food and love!)
I think Nicodemus is beautiful and so sweet, and I want to keep him. But I know Silas would fight him and possibly hurt him. Plus, I don’t know if he has the contagious cat virus FIV or cat leukemia FLV. I wouldn’t want to possibly expose my cats to it. So he is one of our outdoor kitties right now. He comes every day, sometimes several times a day!
I’ve been worrying over him and Marmalade (the male, non-neutered orange tabby stray cat) with cold winter coming, so Ray and I bought a feral cat shelter for them. A vet recommended this kind. He said NOT to put straw or hay in a cat shelter, as it can get wet and then mildew and it can also draw pests.
However, this kind has a flat roof instead of a V-shaped one, so rain accumulates on top of it. The soft self-warming pads that I bought for both of them (to go inside the house) also got wet from rain, which defeats the purpose of a shelter. Cats dislike wet things so they won’t go into or sleep in them right now.
Ray and I have been trying to figure out what to do to protect them from rain and the cold winter, especially if it snows or ices. We’ve been looking at tarps and small tents. Last night, I was crying, thinking about them being cold. Temps in the Kansas City, Missouri area have been in the 30’s this week, and in the upper 20’s at night – -far too cold for a cat or any animal (or person!) I ordered an inexpensive, one-person tent with high reviews from Amazon and Ray and I are going to put that up today. Hopefully, they’ll use it!
I was especially worried about Phil, a male, non-neutered tabby mix who also had a bushy tail and Ray and I thought he was the brother of Silas and Nicodemus due to their tabby colors and bushy tails. From the first moment, I saw Phil, my heart went out to him. He looked pitiful!
He was very skinny then. I sensed that he wasn’t in good health, and I was right. Later, a vet that I took him to said that he tested positive for the contagious cat virus FIV (negative for cat leukemia, worms, and parasites. She saw no ticks, fleas, or ear mites, but treated him for those.).
I didn’t want to risk my cats getting FIV from Phil and believe that Silas would have fought him and possibly hurt him, or worse. One night, though, I saw him walking/running on 3 legs, apparently from an injury of some kind. My heart broke and I took him inside our house, keeping him in our downstairs bathroom, separated from Natalya and Silas, and to the vet twice.
God did a miracle to help me find a safe, loving place for Phil for the rest of his life at a cat sanctuary in Arkansas. You can read that story here.
Phil gained weight from me feeding him. He’s so sweet and loving and although I really miss Phil, I praise Jesus for this miracle!
While I’m still trying to figure out answers about keeping the other stray cats Nicodemus and Marmalade dry, safe, and protected from rain, wind, snow, and ice this cold winter, I’m thankful for them. Here’s some lessons I’ve learned from having stray cats for the first time around our house.
*Love is the greatest power there is. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) My heart has gone out to these stray cats. I’ve been feeding them since last year.
It hasn’t been easy (cat food, especially the soft cat treats they love, are expensive! And I’ve run back and forth from the front porch to the back patio to feed them at different times.) The hardest part has been keeping my cats Silas and Natalya from running out the door when I go outside to feed them, especially Silas, who’s extremely territorial and has chased Nicodemus into the neighbor’s yard twice! The stray cats are also territorial and can fight over the food!
As I learned from God and me rescuing Phil, God went so far to rescue Phil from the cold winter in snow and ice, and dogs, cats, and cars that might hurt or kill him. How much further God has gone to save you and me through His Son Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us, so we may have eternal life and live with God forever in Heaven!
God wants us to love others like I have loved Nicodemus, Phil, and Marmalade, with His unconditional (agape) love. Will we say “Yes” to doing this for God, the way God loves us?
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8, NKJV)
*There’s always a need. Jesus saw and sees people’s need, and meets them, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Will you and I do this? I saw the stray cats’ needs (they were hungry), and fed them and gave them water. I also helped protect Phil from this coming cold winter, fast cars, dogs, and other cats around the neighborhood who might hurt or kill him, by finding him a safe, loving cat sanctuary to go to (praise God!).
“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.'” (Matthew 15:32)
*Cats are competitive and try to dominate one another. If you’ve ever heard a cat fight, you know how scary it is. They sound like they’re going to kill each other (and sometimes do!). Silas ran out our door twice to chase Nicodemus; Phil chased off Nicodemus and Marmalade from his food that I set outside for him on the patio.
People can be this way, too. We need to surrender control of our lives and others’ lives to God, and submit to Him.
We don’t need to try to judge, control, dominate, or manipulate other people. I’m guilty of this. I call myself a recovering perfectionist (my friend Shelley Valasek’s term) and a recovering control freak.
The best thing we can do is to have a humble, repentant heart, and let go and let God, trusting our loved ones and others to God. We must duck and get out of the way of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to convict them of sin and change their hearts, minds, and lives.
*Things can become an idol, out of balance and control. The Bible says in Exodus 20:3, NKJV, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Anything can become an idol, or false god, in our lives: entertainment, sports, food, money, success, busyness, people, or even cats!
The term “crazy cat lady” can be accurate. I wonder, how many cats are too many? I haven’t reached that point yet, apparently! But my husband Ray told me recently, “No more cats after this one, Beth!”
And yet, now HE is feeding the stray cats when he goes out the door on his way to work, haha! Ray told a funny story about one morning when he was getting ready for work. He heard a knock at the front door. He went to the door, and looked out the little window and saw no one there. He went back to the bedroom and heard it again. This time, he opened it and saw Nicodemus sitting there, looking at him with pleading eyes. He said apparently Nicodemus had learned to knock on the door for his food, lol! That or else an angel did so he’d be fed breakfast!
Ray even bought a toy this week for our cats, Natalya and Silas, and was disappointed when they just stared at it and didn’t play with it, LOL.
At times, I’ve realized that things were getting out of control with trying to feed multiple cats, numerous times a day. I still have to watch this. I don’t want the cats to become an idol in my life. Or even our own children or grandchildren to be more important than Jesus.
At times this year, I’ve sensed that my two cats and the stray cats have been distracting me from my God-given purpose of speaking, writing, and coaching. I’ve had to repent, the topic of my newest book, available for sale on Amazon. You can buy it here.
I don’t regret helping the sweet, cute kitties, but I need to keep things in balance! God is a God of Divine order, and our lives should reflect that order.
*Cats are funny. Some people dislike or even hate them, but I think they’re extremely amusing and interesting. They can be cuteness overload! They are curious, intelligent, aloof, independent (they can be stubborn), and content as long as you take good care of them! [This actually reminds me of myself!]
Cats make me laugh, which I desperately need in my life due to stress! We all need more smiling and laughter in our lives. The Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Research has shown that having cats or other pets contribute to mental well-being.
*The final lesson (or perhaps there are more lessons ahead) is that cats are easier than people. Recently my sweet, wise friend Doreen Penner asked me to look deeper beneath the surface of why I’ve been feeling so obsessed with taking care of the stray cats around our house and feeding them. She asked me, “What about stray people? God is just as concerned about them. Shouldn’t we be, too?” She said it was a question she was also asking herself.
It gave me a moment’s pause. Do I care about and love “stray” people –those in spiritual darkness who don’t know Jesus as Savior; the drug addicts and the alcoholics; the prostitutes; children, teenagers, women (and even men) caught in the terror and suffering of human trafficking; the aborted babies, whose blood cries out to God daily; the poor; the sick; the prisoners?
If I do care (and I believe that I do), then why don’t I care more –and do more? It’s an excellent question for us all. God loves “stray” people. I was one of them, and I’m so thankful that Jesus forgave and saved me!
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:34-36, NKJV)
*Cats are all different. Some are more aggressive and territorial (like Silas and Phil); some are more sweet-natured (like Natalya and Nicodemus). Some are loud and demanding, like Marmalade.
Some are “lap cats,” snuggling and even sleeping with with their human friends (Natalya is like this and follows me everywhere!). Some are more playful than others (like Leah’s cat Jax, when she was a kitten, and now her cat Astrid is).
Others are feral, running from people (like Nicodemus, but lately he’s allowing me to even pet him on the head for several minutes. This is HUGE for a feral cat, showing that he is beginning to TRUST me. This has taken a long time.)
They are different breeds, colors, sizes, ages, weight, length, and temperament. Some are healthy; others are sick or have FLV or FIV like Phil. (Many cats with FIV live long, healthy, happy lives. This is what I prayed over Phil before he left for the foster cat mom’s and the cat sanctuary!)
But what I’m discovering is that even with feral or partly-feral cats, all I have to do is feed them and they LIKE and LOVE me. They even begin to TRUST me. Like Natalya and Phil, they’re my little friends! They are easier than people are.
One night, sweet, loving Phil sat with me in the dark and the cold when I accidentally got locked outside my house trying to feed him, until my neighbor was able to help me get back into our house. (Ray was on an ambulance call and couldn’t come to help me.) What loyalty of Phil’s! This really blessed me!
Later one night, I bawled crying for hours, thinking about him doing this and me possibly having to put him back outside, to protect him from Silas and to protect my own cats from the FIV. I just couldn’t put him back outside and prayed fervently for God to intervene–and He did, a MIRACLE for sweet Phil!
Maybe why I’m so “obsessed” with these stray cats is that I don’t have to go through acrobatics to get their attention, trust, and love. I don’t have to earn their love, other than feeding them and being loving to them.
People are far more difficult to deal with! They can be rude, mean, hateful, mocking, critical, cold, and judgmental–and that’s just the Christians, to start with! (Such a sad testimony! We need to be like Jesus!) They can hurt you deeply (even loved ones). They can hold onto offenses and unforgiveness, and try to punish you for years for something you did wrong to them (or even if you did nothing wrong). Yet, I can be the same way! Cats just accept and love you for who you are!
Of course, we can’t just be around cats or other animals all the time. When God said about Adam, “It isn’t good for man to be alone,” He meant a woman for Adam. He had already created the animals, fish, birds, etc. What He meant was that Adam needed a helpmeet, a human companion, a WOMAN to love, have sex with, have children with, and live with for the rest of his life on Earth.
Animals bring us companionship and great joy, but they can’t take the place of human beings, or of God! Animals also shouldn’t take a higher place than human beings. I know some people who place animals above the importance of humans and this is wrong. God told Adam to “take dominion” over the Earth and all creation–including animals. (Genesis 1:26-31. Although we should NEVER mistreat or abuse them! They are precious and loved by God, too, because He created them for His glory and for our love and enjoyment.
Just like people who play video games all the time and are on social media all the time, isolating themselves from other human beings, people who only have animals in their lives become–well, a little weird! We need human RELATIONSHIPS and a relationship, most of all, with GOD!
I’m personally thankful to Jesus for my sweet cats Natalya and Silas and these stray cats. I’ve never had strays around our house before. It is time-consuming to take care of them, when I could certainly be doing other things. Vet bills, litter, and food can be exorbitant in price. But our pets and these stray cats have brought smiles to my face and laughter. My family and I have lost pets in my life and I know other people who have lost theirs, too. It’s heart-breaking, especially for children.
One of my friends, Rita, suffered much emotionally after losing her precious cat Hadassah to FIV and another cat to it, too (not all cats have symptoms from this, though!). I have friends who had to have a vet put down their pets, due to the pet suffering. They really do become part of your family! Take great care of them and love them well! (I personally believe we’ll see our beloved pets in Heaven!)
I’m praying for Nicodemus, Marmalade, and other stray animals to survive and even thrive this cold winter. Please keep them in your prayers. Yes, God hears our prayers even for a cat! (Phil is proof of this!) God does miracles for them, too.
Have you ever had stray cats or animals around your house? Did you feed them and take care of them? Share your comments below –and any great tips you might have for stray cats/animals.