My cat, over the Christmas holiday, stopped eating.
She wasn’t interested in her kibble. Or treats. Or, horror of horrors, even in tuna. And although she seemed otherwise fine, as hours turned into a full day and we realized her appetite wasn’t returning any time soon, our stomachs knotted up and we took her to the vet.
She’s thirteen years old.
It was troublesome to get her there. She hates the cat carrier; she hates us for putting her in the cat carrier. She especially hates the vet, and as her pitiful meows turned into hissing and growling and yowling during the examination, my husband and I smiled sheepishly at the two bemused vets handling her: “She’s never like this at home. Really.”
And then we fretted, and waited for a whole full day to hear results on her bloodwork. We worried over the little shaved spots where they’d had to give her injections, we rejoiced when she ate tuna, we fed her treat after treat once we realized they sparked her appetite.
The results came back: pancreatitis. In our cat! Not ideal, but certainly not fatal. We were hugely relieved – the vet’s out-loud wondering about renal failure or feline diabetes had set our teeth on edge. She immediately started eating her new, healthy kibble. She perked up. She started hopping in and out of drawers again.
But we have to give her medicine now, and that’s a whole new nightmare. She hates taking pills. She refuses them in treats and in food. The instant she sees us coming, she runs, and then she shrieks and fights and throws a fit while we try to get the pill into her. The whole process makes my husband break out in a sweat.
But we do it. We stuff her into a cat carrier and we feed her pills even though she loathes it (and us) and we refuse to intervene when the Big Mean Veterinarian tries to take her temperature. We dance together when she eats her new kibble and we delight when she purrs. Because we love her.
We love her even though she cannot really do anything for us that we could ever need or want. We love her even though sometimes she is ungrateful and spiteful and completely oblivious to everything we do to keep her little life running smoothly. We love her even though, sometimes, we perceive that she has no idea she is A Little Small Cat at the mercy of Two Giant Humans and thinks she is in control of us.
We love her because we just do.
And loving our cat has always taught me something about how God loves us: because He just does. Because He’s good, even though we’re not. And it has taught me how God – in spite of my yowling, protesting, complaining, fleeing – loves me, and worries over me, and celebrates in my victories, and delights in being allowed into my life.
We are small, frail, spiteful, powerless, irritable, ungrateful, and so, so loved.
That’s the miracle.