My cat, Salty, meowed in distress and threw up on the carpet. I hurried him outside to the deck and watched him throw up again. The last few days he’d been lethargic, hadn’t been eating, and drank way too much water. I called my vet to make an appointment.
I had gotten Salty eight years earlier when my mother passed. She’d been the last member of my childhood family and in addition to the grief of losing her, I felt so alone. I needed a companion. Someone playful, warm, and cuddly to soften the edges of my loss.
Even wandering the halls of the Humane Society looking for a kitten, helped me forget my sadness for brief periods. But I soon grew discouraged when the only cats I found were seniors. I couldn’t allow myself to get attached only to suffer another loss a few years later.
The day I heard about a kitten adoption event, I raced to the pet store. The first cage I opened held the cutest tuxedo kitten I’d ever seen. He had a black goatee and paws that looked as if he’d wandered through a puddle of milk. His eyes reminded me of spring leaves.
I fell in love, laughing for the first time since my mother’s death as he leapt at imaginary shadows and played with my dangling shoelaces.
I was irritated at first when he followed me around the house while I took photos for my early chapter book, Stuffed Animal Tales. But I finally gave up trying to keep him out of the pictures and he became the star of the story.
At age eight, he was too lazy to follow me around the house, but he still insisted on overseeing my writing projects.
As we drove to the vet, I wasn't very worried. Salty was too young to have a serious illness. When we got there, the nurse coaxed him out of his cage and took his temperature. Salty had a fever. After they took him away for a blood draw, the doctor told me that despite all his drinking, he was dehydrated. I was shocked to learn that at age eight, Salty was considered a senior.
At home, I offered him special foods and treats, but he just crawled under the bed to hide, coming out only to drink too much water.
On Monday morning, the vet called to tell me that Salty had advanced kidney disease. I stood shocked in place, my mind refusing to accept the news. Salty was far too young to have a serious disease like that. I just couldn't lose my baby boy so soon.
When I got off the phone, I complained to God, ‘It isn’t fair. Haven’t I had enough loss? Yes, I know he’s just a cat, but he’s my baby boy.’
I didn’t have enough faith to pray for his healing. I’d lost too many beloved family members for that. But I texted my friend and cat lover, Lorna, to tell her about Salty, and to ask her to pray. It was a comfort when she wrote back to tell me she’d pray for us both.
Then I began to prepare emotionally for a long goodbye. In the meantime, I’d try to make his last years the best I could.
On Sunday, I learned that Lorna’s daughter, Jen, was suffering from extreme pain and would soon undergo surgery. I set aside my doubts as we prayed together for her healing.
At the time, my own problem seemed trivial in comparison. But when I got home, I texted to tell Jen about Salty and to ask her to pray for me too. She wrote back to tell me she would add us to her prayers.
Jen and Lorna
I was surprised when Salty began to eat more and drink less. He had more energy, too. A week later, when it was time for us to go back to the vet, Salty seemed like his old self.
The doctor was skeptical when I told him Salty seemed better. “Advanced kidney disease just doesn’t go away. But let’s do another round of tests to see what’s going on. Maybe he’s learning to live with his disease.”
We were both surprised when the tests came back showing no sign of kidney disease. He frowned and told me we needed to keep our eye on him to make sure he was really okay.
I felt lit by joy and delight when I told him my friends had been praying. The doctor just smiled and said, “That can help.”
All the way home, I celebrated God’s miraculous intervention.
As I praised, I thought of Jen. If God had healed Salty, surely, he’d healed her too. I couldn’t wait to hear her good news.
I texted Lorna and Jen to tell them about Salty and they texted me back with hearts and confetti. But when I asked how Jen was feeling, she said she was still suffering great pain and had many weeks to wait until her surgery.
I was mystified. If God miraculously healed Salty, he could heal Jen too. Why was she still suffering? I still don’t know the answer to that question.
But each day I take comfort in knowing that the God who created the universe healed my cat. I don't know if he did it to dispel my doubt, or just to show me how much he loved me. But through it all, I’ve been reminded of this Word:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55: 8-9