My Cat the Alien

My Cat, the Alien

Pentecost 35


My cat is a rescue pet, adopted from a shelter and much loved by the family.  That does not change the fact that she may be an alien.  The word alien can mean many different things but seriously, my cat fits most of those definitions.  [Editor’s note:  My cat really is just a cat.  Do not expect pictures on some tabloid or anything like that.]


An alien is an entity that is extrinsic to things.  Extrinsic is a word we seldom hear used but it really is a delightful word.  Basically it means “coming from the outside of something”.  Having spent the first several years of her life as a feral cat, she meets that definition.  Feral refers to something living is a wild state.  Wild in animals is considered “untamed” or acting outside the social boundaries of domestication.  Some of our political candidates would qualify as feral with that definition!


Usually a feral cat is a cat that has in its heritage the lineage of a domesticated cat but, for a variety of reasons, has not lived in a domesticated setting.  The problem of stray animals can be attributed to one thing – Animals living according to natural instincts, breeding at will.  While everyone loves a cute kitten or sleepy puppy, the world cannot provide enough homes for these animals.  They live on the streets, homeless and often abandoned. 


Life is sometimes described in harsh clichés and one of this is “It’s a dog eat dog world.”  If you are a small kitten in that “dog eat dog” environment, you learn to fight for every single thing you need to stay alive.  My cat came to us distrusting of our other pets but we have made progress in the past years.  She accepts us marginally and we have come to accept her.


One of those things begging acceptance is her distrust of her next meal.  Having used feeder bowls for our pets, it has been quite the change to not be able to have food available at all times.  Cats are usually very good at eating only when hungry.  This particular cat, however, gorges herself whenever food is available.  She still has the memories of those days of hunger and makes good use of food when possible.  Of course, her stomach only holds so much and some comes back up. 


We all have things we don’t trust in our lives.  Past living leaves its mark and earning trust and having faith is hard.  Often what we need to trust is ourselves.  We allow the extrinsic aspects of life inside; we allow our basic goodness to become altered and uncultivated our belief in ourselves.


My cat’s propensity to eat everything whenever possible is not why I think she is an alien.  Quite honestly, she probably feels we are the aliens.  Remember, an alien is something or someone who is not in their originating habitat.  Conception is the body’s way of having faith in the future.  It is the continuance of life itself and yet, once we are self-sufficient, we tend to not take care of that life and the life of others.


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  What did you do yesterday for someone or something else (i.e., a pet or other animal)?  We seldom see aliens portrayed as helping each other.  The aliens of Dr. Who are a well-trained army but when one falls down, the others just walk right over them.  The aliens of countless other science fiction programs are similar. 


In the political world, aliens are portrayed as wanting to go to a new country and usurp all the resources for themselves.  Much like my cat, they are seen as gorging on all available jobs, housing, and amenities which leaves nothing for the natives of the area.  Candidates and politicians are constantly reminding us that the world cannot sustain everything in it and yet, somehow life does go on.


Aliens are portrayed as unsocial beings that simply are there – staring at the rest of us, saying very little.  We had been the roommates of this particular cat for almost three years before we heard her purr.  Purring is one of those great mysteries that cats like to maintain since the how and why of the vocalization is still one of the great unknowns.  We assume it is a sign of pleasure and I will confess to being troubled that this cat that had many creature comforts never purred.  Then one day she purred and anxiously looked around.  It was at that moment I realized her homeless lifestyle had relied on her silence and purring would have given away her hiding places.


Too many animals are forced to live without being able to express pleasure and if you thought today’s good deed was going to be about shelter pets and the thousands of homeless pets, you are correct – in part.  How we treat others says a great deal about ourselves and that includes these animals.  The ways to help them are easy.  Donate a bag of food to a shelter.  Volunteer to be a “petter”.  Stay aware of what your area’s laws are and become involved to make sure they are fair.  No one breed is a guarantee to be vicious or harmful to others.


Our pets are a reflection of ourselves and how we live.  My cat is an alien because never knew affection in her early years.  Her favorite television program is “Tanked” and it is not the fish that attracts her.  She actually has a crush on one of the hosts.  The fish are colorful but it is the antics of the family that own the aquarium company that really interest her.


Several have asked why emphasize good deeds.  Maybe they are aliens.  In a dog eat dog world, it might seem like we need to be cats, feral entities without any concern for others.  The fact is, though, when we care about another, we are doing good for ourselves. 


It might have taken my cat the alien a few years to trust us enough to purr but one thing she did from the day we adopted her was to care for others.  Whenever anyone is ill, that cat is sitting on the floor or bed right near them.  Her compassion has always been evident, even if it is sometimes annoying.


Many of us go through our daily schedule like aliens.  We never reach out to help others, fearful that by giving we might lose something.  The truth is we only gain when we give of ourselves.  You are just one person, I know.  You cannot solve all the world’s problems; I know.  Edward Everett Hale knew this as well when he wrote:  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.” 


Don’t be an alien today, simply going through the world without making a positive impact on it. You can do something positive for another.  It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself.

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