2005-12-30 / Columnists

The Progressive

Against All Odds
By John Paul Culotta


I have never been fond of cats. Cats always appeared ethereal and cunning. Unlike dogs that are loyal and can be trained, cats appear to be the rulers of a household and self-centered. My mother had an aversion to domestic animals. Her main ambition was to have a clean home free of allergies and dust. She equated domestic animals to disease and extra exertion.

My wife’s family always had cats. My wife always wanted a cat in the house after we married. I resisted the idea. To satisfy her desire I would send greeting cards with cats displayed prominently, bought feline figurines, and mystery novels where cats play a prominent role in the title. My mother-in law always felt cats would be a nice touch to our family. My six-year-old daughter prayed for a cat. She told me God must not exist if her prayers were not answered. I told my daughter God answers all prayers and sometimes says no. Despite my daughter’s desires and my wife’s continued requests, I resisted the idea of bringing a cat into the house.

The Mother’s Day after my mother-in-law passed away was traumatic. We all missed her and were worried about my father-in-law. Early that Sunday morning I went to his house. He told there was an injured cat in his yard. She gave birth to four kittens a few days ago. The cat had carefully hidden her progeny under the back porch of the house. The kittens were difficult to locate because of their colors. Each cat was grey or black. One was both black and white. The injured mother of the pride was obviously in extreme pain.

When I returned home, I told my wife of the plight of the mother and her meowing kittens that could not be located. I knew she would desire to help the mother cat. She told me to go see my mother and she would meet me at her house after taking the injured cat to a veterinarian. I also knew she would want to keep the mother and the kittens seeing the cats as a sign that mother interceded from heaven on her behalf. My daughter would see the cats as the answer to her prayers. In fact, she told she now believed God answered her prayers and said YES! I who resisted the idea of a cat now may have five.

At the vet, sad news was given to my wife and daughter. Mother cat who was quickly named Midnight by my daughter, had a broken spine and would not survive. She was most likely struck by an automobile. The kittens also quickly named Nick, Gigi, Precious, and Oreo by my wife and daughter needed to be taken care of. The vet explained they still could not see and would have to be bottle fed with special cat milk formula. They needed to be fed every two hours. The job was time consuming and tiresome. I sometimes helped. I told them that we would keep one after they were able to given away. I still resisted the idea of cats in my house.

Nick was the male of the pride and a beautiful shade of grey.. He was always more aggressive especially when he was being fed. I felt his teeth a few times. He almost swallowed the rubber nipple a few times. Gigi, which is almost entirely black as was her mother, is a loner. She usually gets into playful scrapes with Nick. Precious is grey female that desires attention and is quiet. She often sits on my wife’s lap for hours. Oreo, the black and white female cat unfortunately did not live long. The vet told us that her brain was not fully formed. In many cases an entire litter will have this affliction.

As I buried Oreo I knew something stronger than me was telling me that the three remaining kittens belonged in our home. Maybe it was my mother-in-law’s intercession or my daughter’s prayers that were answered, the signs of a force stronger than me was clearly at work. Those three kittens could survive such a traumatic loss of a mother’s life before being able to see has to be God’s work. I succumbed and Nick, Gigi, and Precious are now a part of my family.

Four years have passed and the cats have brought our home liveliness and loyalty. It is not canine loyalty but their love for us is evident everyday. I was once ill and Precious stayed next to me all day as if to comfort me. Cats can bring joy.

Miracles can occur any day of the week. As we end this year, we celebrate Christmas and Chanukah; holidays that celebrate the miracle of life and a victory over tyranny. This simple story I share with you is a story of love. May this blessed holiday season remind us of our obligation to love all of God’s creatures. A happy Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa to all my readers!

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