Parable of the Feral Cat
She was wild when she came to us, born of wildness to a wild mother, whose mother had been wild before her.
She would never tame, not completely. There was a streak in her that drove her from our hand, reached out in affection.
But—we chose her. She became our cat. We named her.
So, we fed her.
Feral cats, by nature, are usually on their own for sustenance.
Because we fed her, she came to understand that she was not completely on her own for sustenance. Twice a day we fed her. Put her bowls of food and water on the deck. Moved the bowls under the deck roof when it rained.
Feral cats are usually on their own to find shelter.
One Christmas, we bought her a fluffy, cozy bed which we put on our deck under the table. She began using it on cold days. She came to understand that she was not completely on her own for shelter. I even washed that fluffy bed once in a while. For her. Because we loved her. She was our cat.
But she still skittered away when we put out a hand to stroke her.
She can see me through the kitchen window when I come in the early mornings to read at the table with my lighted candle. I am not yet ready for bright lights. I’m also not ready to feed my cat, so I don’t want to let her know I’m there. But she sees me through the window in the candlelight and scowls. I am there to feed her! The scowl is my reminder!
She is my cat. I love her. So, I get out of my chair at the kitchen table and go to the garage for her food. And feed her.
Some days, she does not come for her food. She goes off on her own, hunting. A cat is by nature independent and self-seeking. Sometimes she is successful, sometimes not. Then, she comes back to see if anything is in her bowl.
Now, as you can see, she is partially tamed. She sees us as her benefactors. She is not on her own. She expects us to feed her.
So—why, when her bowl is empty, does she meow incessantly? Begging, begging—aren’t you going to feed me? When are you going to feed me?
I’m going to feed you! —I respond to her begging. I always feed you! JUST WAIT!
This happens regularly.
And then, one day—I got it.
(“And how will you understand all the parables?”)[i]
I, too, was born of wildness, born to a mother of wildness like her mother before her, feral by nature. Independent. Self-seeking.
But there is a streak in me that wants to be protected, wants to be fed. Wants what I want when I want it. Wants to be chosen, to belong. But I also want my freedom to go off, to wander, to do my own hunting. I’m usually not successful.
So, I come back to where I’ve always found my sustenance and my shelter. To where I belong.
But then—when my bowl looks empty? I beg. I beg incessantly, as if I had forgotten that I was chosen, that I have protection, that my food and my shelter are continually provided.
That I am cared for.
The One who cares for me loves me. Why do I sometimes skitter away when He reaches out a hand? Have I not learned to trust His hand? To believe that His hand is for my good and not for my harm?
Above all, why do I beg? Why do I beg as if I did not know His care for me? Why do I scowl as if to make sure He knows what I want? Why do I demand—now! Feed me!
Sometimes, I get it. He wants to tame my wild, feral nature. To remind me that He named me. That I am His. That He will meet my needs.
When my bowl looks empty, and I wait impatiently, I sometimes remember what I say to my cat, and then I smile when I think He may be saying to me—
I love you. I will always feed you. I haven’t forgotten!
[i] Jesus, The Gospel of Mark 4:13 [ii] “For God alone, O my soul, wait…for my hope is from Him.” Psalm 62:5