We have two cats. One is gentle and sweet, and likes to sit on my desk while I work.
The other is a thieving scoundrel.
Sydney is constantly where she knows not to be. When she hears my footsteps, often there is a resounding thud as she hits the floor to run and hide, whether or not she managed to swipe whatever had tempted her. Just this week, she stole another cheese rind from the not-yet-emptied compost bowl. There’s no way I’ll let meat defrost on the counter–such delicacies go into the toaster oven so they are visible to me but away from her. She ate through the plastic to pizza dough once. She has stolen treats from right in front of her sister-cat. Sydney zooms in, swipes, swallows and scampers away before her heart beats again.
I’ve never seen a kitty so quick and precise.
Lynxy is a dozen years old, and my goodness she’s had a tough time. Lynxy is a tunneller–she’ll crawl under most blankets, and often sticks out a relaxed paw and her nose, as though she’s pulled the covers up before she naps. Unfortunately, more than once, the new cat–Sydney–has attacked Lynxy when Lynxy can’t see her. The result? More often than not, Lynxy takes a hard fall from the bed to the floor. Because of the blanket, she can’t always stop herself, and she doesn’t always land on her feet.
Sydney was a year old, more or less, when we adopted her. She is small and adorable, but she is quite a different cat. She prefers the company of my husband by far–but the only time she’ll really cuddle with him is when he doesn’t know she’s there. Sydney will sneak in behind his knees while he sleeps, but won’t let him hold her, and struggles when he pets her. Still, no matter where else she may be when she hears his car or his voice, she’s at the door to greet him. She shows her excitement by quivering her tail as though she’d borrowed it from a rattlesnake.
She never purrs. She seems to be delighted much of the time, but she never purrs, and I’ve never had a cat who hadn’t learned that. Most times, she tucks her head into her chest and shies away when a hand comes near to pet her. I’ve no doubt that she’s been abused sometime in her short life. She runs away from me regularly.
But she’s been with us now for three months. It seems to me she should KNOW by now that we won’t leave her, we won’t hurt her, and we’ll feed her every day. She sleeps many hours, but I’m not sure she ever relaxes. She always has a heightened sensitivity to her surroundings. Her favourite daytime place is the same box she had at the shelter. We added a blanket and put it by the front window behind the couch–and it is still her safe place. She is on guard constantly, never trusting her environment, never accepting that we love her, never letting herself believe it could be true, that she is worthy of our care. She mimics a submissive cat, but honestly, she’s anything but.
I find myself wondering how often I’m like that.
How often do I not trust the gifts I’ve been given, or even see they are there? How often do I try to do something on my own, even though I know I’m going about it the wrong way, just because I don’t think it’s going to be there later? How often do I try to prove myself, again and again or feign submissiveness while secretly rebelling?
How often do I steal the joy of someone who loves me by not believing that I’m worthy of it?
I hate to admit that it’s true more often than it should be.
Is it also true for you? How do we change these ingrained behaviours?
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.
Matthew 6:26 The Voice