A cat has nine lives the saying goes. Well our cat just lost one.
We were enjoying quiet and relaxing Wednesday evening when suddenly my eldest daughter burst through the front door in tears crying, “I just saw a cat get hit by a car – I think it was Nico.”
A numbing sensation took hold of me. A zillion thoughts raced through my head – too many, too fast – I was experiencing a major short-circuit.
Oh no, I thought. Surely not. This can’t be.
Those of you who are closer to us may remember a facebook post we put up a couple of weeks back. Our cat disappeared one day and we couldn’t find him. Almost a week later he suddenly turned up, jumping through the cat-flap. We all leaped out of our seats. He was home.
And now this? I walked out the front door and toward the road, hoping against hope that there was some kind of mistake. She saw another cat – perhaps one of the neighbour’s. It just looked like Nico. It wasn’t really him. I instantly spotted him in the middle of the road – his colouring – the familiar white and brown coat and thick fur. It was Nico all right. And he wasn’t moving.
I stepped into the middle of the road, oblivious to the flashing headlights of the cars swerving to avoid me. Our street is reasonably quiet except for two times of the day – morning and evening. That’s because it’s used as a shortcut from the main part of town to the outer suburbs. Before and after work – that’s when it’s the busiest. You chose a bad time Nico, to run across the street.
I knelt down beside him. Blood was seeping from his nose. Darn you cat, what did you have to do this? Don’t you think of looking before you cross the road?
Obviously not. I gently picked him up. He felt dead. He looked dead. And if he wasn’t dead, he had to be heading in that direction. I’ve seen enough cats bowled by cars in my lifetime. The survival rate is zero, minus 10 (try to imagine being hit by a Kenworth truck on a pedestrian crossing). If they do live, it’s usually only for a few minutes.
I laid him down on the footpath. The tears and sobs from my family in the background only added to my agony. My mind was in a fuzz. How am I going to deal with this? That’s when I noticed his tummy slowly rising and falling. He’s still breathing… poor thing… I’ll take him to the vet. If he’s going to die, at least he can die peacefully and in good care.
Emma decided to come with me. I thought that was brave of her. Francelle wrapped him in a towel and then put him in her arms. The first Veterinary Clinic was closed, but I knew of another one close by our home. I did a 180 and headed back into Richmond. It was about then that the cat started coming around. He put his head up, looked at me, and closed his eyes again.
Still doesn’t look good, I thought… but then maybe…. perhaps – is it actually possible for a cat to survive this? Well my son Mark did, after nearly being cut in half. God made men and cats. And he made them both pretty resilient. I started praying.
The lights were on at the Town and Country Vet. That’s a good sign. I parked the car and went to the door. It looked like some kind of puppy class going on. I didn’t see any vet staff. But what do I have to lose? I knocked on the door. A young woman in uniform opened the door.
“Do you know any after-hours vets? Our cat just got hit by a car. He’s still alive.”
“We do after hours,” she said. “Come right in.”
Praise God, I thought. Then I started getting one of those sensations – I can’t explain it, it’s only something a believer in Jesus can experience. It’s a peace – a quiet assurance that somehow, everything was going to be alright. They don’t always experience it. And not everything always works out right (at least, according to our terms). But I did experience it then.
It took quite some time for Molly (the nice vet nurse who let us in), and a number of phone calls to get hold of the vet. Meanwhile she did an examination of Nico, taking his heart rate and temperature and asking questions and writing things down. It’s not that much different from A&E (or ER if you’re an American). She even had Emma feed Nico some oxygen to aid recovery. Somehow I never thought you would give a cat oxygen.
He still did not look good. Thoughts of internal bleeding seeping into his system went through my mind. I put those thoughts away and started praying again. It seemed like an eternity before I heard a car pull up outside and a man walked in. “Hi, I’m Roger” he said, smiling and shaking my hand. The jolly cat is dying and you’re shaking my hand. He was absolutely calm (unlike me) and went about his business like he was working on a model aeroplane. Well, I guess this is his job.
He felt around Nico carefully, looked into his mouth (white gums is a sign of blood loss – Nico’s were pink). He then gently picked the cat up and put him on his all-fours. The cat stayed upright. Emma and I looked at each other in disbelief.
“Well, well” he said “This is remarkable. This is not the way it usually turns out”
“You mean the cat is OK?”
“Well, he’s pretty sore and concussed but there’s no broken bones or internal bleeding that I can see. I’ll give him a shot of pain-killer and antibiotic – in case he has a slight cut in the lung or bowel, and then you can take him home.”
Emma and I looked at each other again. A little smile broke out on her face. This really was unbelievable.
Or was it? Jesus says if God takes care of the birds and the flowers how much more will he be looking out for us. Sometimes we think God is only concerned about the big things in life – the things that really matter, like people being crushed in earthquakes (the reports of the 6.2 magnitude quake in Italy were just coming through) and cities being swept away in tsunamis. And he IS concerned about those things – deeply. But he is also interested in the little things as well; particularly those things that matter dearly to those who know and love him.
“Do not be afraid little flock,” Jesus says in Luke 12:32, “because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.” Now I know in the context, Jesus is speaking directly about God providing for our needs which frees us up to give generously and joyfully to others. But this verse also tells us something about the nature of God and what kind of heart God has. It’s about what makes God glad — not merely about what He will do or what he has to do, but what he delights to do, what he takes pleasure in doing.
He takes pleasure in loving, caring and taking care of his own. God was concerned about Nico because we were concerned about Nico. Our concerns became his concerns. He knew what we could take as a family. And he decided, in his infinite love and wisdom and mercy, to spare us from this grief.
So Nico loses one his nine lives. He has eight left. If he wants to experience them all, he better keep off that road.