The Care and Feeding of Feral Cats

The Care and Feeding of Feral Cats

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

Brent Pollard

During my father’s recuperation from quadruple bypass surgery, I’ve had a Sisyphean task: feeding and caring for feral cats. Yes, we have been killed by kindness at the Pollard home nestled in the northeast Georgia mountains. In the summer of 2016, a desperate kitty with soulful eyes showed up begging for food. We do have a soft spot for God’s critters and thought having a mouser around would be useful. Plus, cats are also good at taking care of snakes. So, we fed her, not realizing that her desperation to approach us, though feral, was fueled by her pregnancy. I think you know what is coming next. Yes, we are now a cat sanctuary, a FERAL cat sanctuary.  

I must use a broom to sweep the doorway so that no feral cats come inside. (Being feral, they would quickly tear the house apart. We know this from experience.) Once I exit, the cats start meowing at me as if starving. A few of the cats I am trying to feed will batt at the other cats, effectively bullying them, attempting to jockey for a better position at the bowls. Sometimes, I must retrieve many of their bowls since they have knocked them off the porch into the yard. One of the more annoying things they do is stick their heads over the food bowl I am trying to fill, and the kibble often bounces off their heads, scattering everywhere. When I move to a new bowl, many will abandon a bowl, I just put food into, coming to eat at the new bowl even though it is the same food! I realize that they cannot understand me, but I still tell them that I don’t feed certain ones anything “special” and do my best to give them the same amount of food in every bowl.  

Despite my equal food distribution efforts, some larger cats will gobble up more food than they should eat. There are cats with timid personalities who will hang back and eat the remnants. I will try to sneak them some more kibble, but their characters cause them to yield that extra portion to the assertive one who is willing to steal. It is very frustrating since they cannot understand. And how can we achieve understanding? God gave me dominion over them, and the difference between our kinds is too significant. One idiomatic expression keeps coming to mind, “Like trying to herd cats.” It feels like an impossible task. 

But, then, when you are about to make a phone call and turn yourself in to animal control, one of the cats rubs up against your leg rather than joining the tumult clamoring for the food bowl. Despite being feral, a few cats learn to appreciate their benefactors. These same cats allow you to pet them and may even approach you for the same. A select couple will even walk with you as you walk down to the mailbox or go on a two-mile hike. Yes, I know, that kind of behavior is more what one associates with canines.  Yet, some cats manage to worm their way into your heart.  

I want to tread with care as I make an application. First, we brought this situation on ourselves.  Second, if we had moved after the first cat had delivered her kitten, having her spayed, we would have nipped our current situation in the bud. But catching them to spay and neuter them would be another nigh-impossible task under our circumstances. 

As I think about our feline predicament, though, I wonder what it must be like to be God looking down on a creation choosing rebellion over obedience. Could it be that He feels as if He is “herding cats?” He sends His rain on the just and unjust, but there are still the unscrupulous, defrauding others, failing to be benevolent. There are people He made in His image attacking others He has likewise made in His image. How often does He hear complaints rather than thanksgiving? Why won’t these people listen to what He says? But there are also the few on the “strait and narrow.” These desire a relationship with their benefactor, despite being feral. These walk with God. Do they buoy His heart? We do know God promised Abram that He would have spared Sodom for the sake of ten righteous souls (Genesis 18.32). It is possible. It is upon this consideration of God’s vantage over His feral creation that I ask with David, “What is man that You think of him?” (Psalm 8.4) Yes, I think that feral cats’ feeding and care is a fitting metaphor to describe God’s task of dealing with fallen humanity.   


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