When I was a teenager, living in my parents’ house, we had a cat. Growing up, we only ever had the one cat, who showed up one day and decided to move in. He was a beautiful tonkinese, and probably influenced me to love them more than any other breed of cat. Prior to that, we were a dog family, and my mom would not have a cat in the house. My brother and I decided that he should be named ‘Cat’ and started feeding him.
Much to our surprise, my mom was utterly smitten with ‘Cat.’ If you’ve ever spent time around one of this breed, you would understand. She promptly corrected the spelling of his name to ‘Khat’, and gave him a prominent place in the household. Rather, he carved out for himself a most beloved place in the household.
He was a lover, but still wild. He was a mighty hunter who culled the acreage of birds, lizards, mice, and pretty much any other hors d’oeuvres he could catch in the yard. This was usually a good thing…
One day, my mom caught me while she was in a frantic state, “Khat is chasing a bunny!” she cried.
“Cool,” I responded.
“No,” she said, “you have to save it!”
“Why?” I asked in my teenage surliness.
She explained, “Because it’s a baby!”
I rolled my eyes and tried to explain that this was the way of nature, and that the baby bunny’s sacrifice would serve to strengthen its stronger, faster bretheren, but she would hear none of it. Since there was obviously no other possible way to console her, I went to the back yard.
So, there I was, chasing the cat, chasing the young rabbit (In vain, as far as I was concerned). I understood that Khat smelled blood. He would not hear my calls, which only made the rabbit run faster, which only made the cat run faster. I knew full well that either of them could easily outrun me. But, as they zigzagged in a chase around they yard, imagine my surprise when the rabbit passed only a step in front of me!
In an instant, I reached my hand down and scooped up the terrified rodent who was shaking hard from the chase. Khat sat down at my feet, cocked his head and said, “Maaaow?!?!?” which directly translates to, “Put that down, I’m going to eat it!” Once the cat was put inside, the rabbit was released into the woods, and its story diverged from mine.
Fortunately, Khat was easier to console than my mom, and he went on to have many more lap snuggles and eat many more yard vermin. Sadly, his early demise was due to some kind of illness that he contracted from eating wild meat. It was fast acting and killed him before he could be diagnosed. You can’t cut the claws off and contain the wild creature you love without taking away their quality of life. I know full well that Khat would likely still be alive if we had confined him to an ‘inside’ cat. But, he would not have been nearly as happy.
People are like that too. We aren’t tame. When we try to tame each other, it might prolong life, but it will take quality away from it. My grandfather turns 90 in the next 12-month cycle. As far as I know, he is still crawling in his attic and climbing ladders to repair his house, and doing other stuff that makes us cringe.
When grandpa was a child, the pediatrician told his parents that he would not live to see thirty due to a congenital heart valve deformity. He warned them to never let him run to catch the bus because his heart would explode. Now, he’s tripled his maximum life expectancy and leads a very active lifestyle. His physician recommended that he have the valve replaced a few years ago. He declined, and cited that God has kept him around this long and would dispense him in His own time.
So, what’s the point? Even though old men shouldn’t climb ladders, you probably shouldn’t keep them from it. Even though cats should probably be allowed to catch their prey, sometimes it should be prevented for the sensibilities of others. Life is complicated like that. Be thoughtful and mindful of what goes on around you. The right decision is not always the obvious one.