The Will To Live- A Parable of a Cat: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God…..” (Luke 12:6-7-NIV) and in the New American Bible, the translation reads “Yet not one of them is neglected by God”. Both versions go on: “In fact, even the hairs on your head are counted! Don’t be afraid: You are worth more than a whole flock of sparrows”. Another very close version of these words of Jesus are also recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 10:29-31. Clearly, Jesus was interested in conveying the importance of all living things to our loving God, and in telling each of us to remember our importance to God. We are known and we are loved by our loving God. Pause a minute and let that sink in.

Later in Luke 12 (27-29) we are also reminded that The splendor of the lilies and flowers of the field is God’s gift of clothing to them, we are not to worry about what we will wear or eat or drink, because God knows our needs…and provides for all living things. We are to focus on building the world as God intended it -where all needs are met and no one is left out or left behind-for justice in its truest sense-and this is called ” seeking the kingdom of God” which Jesus came to enact, enliven and promote. And we are invited to follow Jesus in this, and in what it takes to make this happen.

But when we are worried about not having our basic needs met, or feeling that no one cares about us, or we just can’t find our way, we may waver in our work for the kingdom to come and become focussed on ourselves in a way that is not healthy for us or for the rest of the world. My guess would be that most of us have sometimes thought “I just feel like giving up”- “It’s all too hard for me”. And it is then that Jesus reminds us how much we are remembered and loved by God.

Even at our lowest, even when most discouraged or frightened or in despair over our lives we are encouraged by Jesus to take heart and buy back into life-to hold fast to the God-given will to live. To LIVE- to really live not go through the motions-not to give up- for God has not frogotten or neglected even the tiniest bird, and we are so known and loved that every hair on our head is counted by God…Wow!

Now buying into life and living every day to build the kingdom of God-the world as it was intended with true justice for all-is not at all easy when things are difficult in our lives. But, as is noted in the passages above about the sparrows and the flowers of the field, we have a lot to learn from all of God’s creatures and creation in trying to do this.


So now I will tell you Frankie’s story to open your heart and to encourage you. Frankie’s full name is Frank Sinatra Cat and he is an older cat with startling blue eyes who has lived most of his life outside and at the mercy of people who would feed him and give him the barest of shelter. Below is Frankie as he is now, but he almost did not make it to this state of health.

I first met Frankie about ten years ago when he followed some other cats to the place where I put out food for the kitties abandoned in the woods behind my house. I love my lake and all of the trees in back of my house. As you may have read in other blogs it is my peaceful and holy place. But I hated the fact that the woods behind the houses on the next street over, across the lake, were full of unwanted cats and kittens. Some had already found their way here, and finding my kitties sitting outside in the sun enjoying their days, attracted them. I felt I could not add any more but one was so persistent. Potsy actually started living on top of my screened lanai until he fell in. By then my cats knew him and in he came. The plight of the cats broke my heart and my cat population and my catching, neutering and adopting out some of them grew accordingly.

The other cats Frankie followed eventually went their own way except for Brooklyn who found his way in by finding and engaging me whenever I stepped out of the house. Brooklyn and Frankie looked very much alike, Siamese, tabby and white, large and blue eyed. But Brooklyn did not like Frankie. He would fight horribly with him and despite my trying to intervene, actually chased him away. One reason I let Brooklyn in was so that Frankie could still come and eat. But Frankie was no where to be seen for several months. Then, over a year later I saw him down the street being fed by some neighbors. He stayed near their garage but did not live with them. Sometimes he sat happily outside of the garage. Sometimes they went away and he did not eat for days or longer. He just laid nearby and waited. Another neighbor and I fed him at those times. So he knew us as people who did care about him, but he was no longer one to approach people. Maybe in our terrible rainy seasons he did stay inside of their garage, maybe not. But he kept on eating there as he could for years. He never came back to visit me at home- perhaps still fearful of Brooklyn, who sadly passed away with neurological disease rendering him unable to walk, in 2020.

About a year and a half ago an ill cared for young cat who lived outside in front of a house where he was sometimes fed developed an awful case of sarcoptic mange. The poor little fellow was covered in scales so that he was unrecognizable as a cat. I saw him once near Frankie but was not even sure what kind of animal he was. I wanted so much to help him but then he disappeared until another neighbor saw him near his “home” and called Animal Control. The officers from Animal Control captured him and said it was the worst case they had ever seen. He would be put down. We were all so saddened by this.

I was worried about Frankie as he was near this little fellow. In a few weeks Frankie disappeared from the place where he ate down the street. We all thought he had died. But, lo and behold, one day he appeared on my front porch. (There are other stories of cats coming here when ill or dying but I will not tell them now. Somehow cats know who will help them. I think maybe God leads them to help). He settled in under a chair and did not leave. He was also infected by the killer mange. But it had not gone quite as far as with the little cat. I built trust with him by feeding and talking with him. Soon he laid down and could not get up. So I was able to get him to our wonderful and caring Vet, Dr. Terry Sutton. Below is how Frankie looked when he got here. The mange covered all of his color and was spreading fast.

Dr. Sutton immediately, skillfully and compassionately went about the challenging process of treating him. From the start it was touch and go. After an initial hospitalization I brought him back for treatment regularly for four months as he continued to live on the porch. He was clearly trying to eat and fighting for his life. In that time we were so gratified to see that his mange was indeed cured. But he languished and tests revealed that he was in the final stage of Feline Aids. His eyes clouded over and he lost his sight. But he was still fighting to live. He would not give up. It was amazing.

I was able to house him in my Aviary,also connected to the house, as he could not bother or get near the birds and it was a sunny, safe and warm spot. There, he slowly improved each day.

His color came back and he could negotiate the area quite well without seeing. He was still fighting and began to eat quite well. He related to me increasingly well, but not closely. When the next awful rainy season came he was flooded out and he came into my bedroom adjourning the aviary and lived under the bed. It took about four months until he came out from under the bed into the rest of the room and in and out of the aviary. He began to actually start enjoying his life and was playing like a kitten!

It took a few more months until he found his way throughout the house. And in the last few months he found his way out of the cat door and he sits on the lanai with the other cats. And, his eyesight has improved. He can see shapes now and perhaps more. He can negotiate the whole house and the lanai. He is a happy cat who simply fought to live and did not give up. He has fit himself into the kitty group here and has a place where he is loved and accepted. I think the urgent,compassionate and immediate care from Dr. Terry Sutton saved him and reinforced his will to live. And the meeting of his basic needs and care here made it possible for him to succeed. But what was amazing was his will to live: he was covered in scales, then weak and blind but he fought on. And here he is today: one happy kitty.

If you have troubles and waver in the will to continue on and really live, take heart. God provides for all of God’s precious creatures and you are even more precious to God than you can ever understand.


Pastor Judy

Rev. Dr. Judith AB Lee, RCWP

Good Shepherd Ministries of Florida

4 responses to “The Will To Live- A Parable of a Cat: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest”

  1. Helen owens says :

    Amazing story Judy of a transformed cat and wonderful human beings including yourself who loved him and brought him back to life. Thank you 🙏

  2. Stella says :

    Judy, you are an embodiment of love for not only cats but all God’s creations. You are truly a blessed 😇 person.

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