What to do with a stray

Dinah Jane, five, stenciled this likeness to GraceCat.
Dinah Jane, five, stenciled this likeness to GraceCat.

My newspaper column about the stray cat that recently adopted us generated several inquiries from owners of lost cats. But His Grace, (also Grace Cat, Crazy Gracey, depending on everyone’s moods) as we christened the cat, didn’t match any of their descriptions. Nevertheless, I caught my breath when I opened one email.

The writer’s cat had disappeared several months earlier from Prince Edward Island. She’d included a photo. When I opened it, the sweet face of a cat very like ours stared back at me. I read further, sensing her hope. “Could our Mozie have gone on a cross-country adventure to Saskatchewan?” she wondered. “Stranger things have happened.”

In my return email, I told her a bit about our prairie stray; his evident youth, his markings, his dizzying nocturnal gallops, and a few other distinctive traits. “Does this sound like Mozie?” I asked. “We’ve come to love our little visitor, but wouldn’t it be marvelous if your cat came back with the story of a cross-country adventure?”

“That’s definitely not our Mozart,” she replied. Her cat was twelve. A pretty old sage. Pretty big, too. Eighteen pounds.  “I knew it was an impossible longshot,” she wrote, “but I couldn’t resist after seeing his face in the newspaper.”

“I hope,” she said, “that he’s made friends and someone else is loving him.” But she feared an animal may have gotten him. A coyote perhaps. Mostly, she worried about the threat posed by cat-hating people who enjoy tormenting cats.

I sensed unfinished business in her heart. I know what it’s like to miss a cat. We had to give away Moses, our own gentle giant, a half-dozen years ago. With Grace’s coming, we’d once again grown accustomed to a fuzzy face butting up against ours each morning. To cat nips on our ankles, and scratches on our hands. He’s spicy, His Grace. Very different from old Moses. But he’s worth it.

Grace is fully installed now. He has claimed us, and we him. We feed him. Pay his vet bills. Laugh at his antics. Sigh over the things he breaks (lots), the furniture he scratches (all of it) and the redecorating he’s done. (My dining chairs now wear pillowcases.) We love him anyway.

Sometimes I wonder if, like the lady who wrote me, someone misses and wonders about their lost kitten. I wish I could tell them we’re taking good care of him. That we saved him from certain death in our frigid winters. That he’s welcome in our home.

In matters of faith in Christ, people stray too. Rebellious choices lead downwards and hell’s predators lurk at every turn. But like the hopeful cat owner who emailed me, our original owner doesn’t give up on us when we’re lost. His habit is to seek. His heart is to save. If you’ve lost your way—or love someone who has, remember that. But if a lost one seeks you out, open the door and love them in Jesus’ name. They’re worth it.