Prayers of Thanks for a Cat


Rick Hamlin shares how a cat named Fred has made his heart bigger.

Dear God, was it really your idea that I should be the owner of a cat? And not just any cat... this cat, this ornery, handsome, exasperating, demanding, standoffish Fred?

It must have been you, God, because you appealed to my compassion, that godly part of all of us, when Fred and I first met. A neighbor of ours showed us a pathetic, thin, trembling kitten rescued from the subway platform.

“We’ve got two cats already, and this kitten doesn’t really fit in. Can you take care of it?” she asked.

“Yes,” my wife said, “we’ll try.” And so “Yes,” I said, “I’ll try.” And so, yes, because he’d been found on the A-train platform near Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, we named him Fred. 

Dear God, did you really think I would enjoy being awakened at 2:00 a.m. by a meowing creature staring down at my face, asking to be fed, when, goodness, wasn’t he just fed before I went to sleep?

And when he decides at 5:45 a.m. that we should get up out of bed, is it because You Yourself want us to get up before the dawn and appreciate the day’s beauty? After all, as the psalmist said, “This is the day the Lord hath made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Yes, good Lord, I marvel at the wonder of your creatures and the beautiful white collar you’ve given fluffy gray Fred, but I have to admit we’ve worn out two Dirt Devils since his arrival, and there’s always some feathery bits of white or gray on our floors, as though we’re being made into a nest.

Just the other morning I looked down and thought, “Has Fred had upset tummy again?” But no, not this time. It was just more fur. Fred fur. When he lets me brush it I get to meditate on the greatness of the Almighty, how you make creatures with coats of endless fur.

Of course, good Lord, I’m grateful to have an animal who greets me at the door at the end of the day–if he’s not too involved in his nap–and scampers to the bed, waiting to be invited up, where he will purr endlessly as I rub the top of his head.

I wonder sometimes what goes on in his head when I rub him. Is he thinking I’m a poor replacement for his mother?  Is he grateful that we took him from the A-train platform? Is he glad to see me or is he just being nice because dinner will come soon?

A hundred metaphors and similes have suddenly been revealed to me, “like a cat on a hot tin roof,” (what would a cat be doing up there?) or “as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs” or my favorite “like a cat in need of a firefighter.” That would be us, right?

The point is, God, I’m not a cat person. I never was a cat person. I had no intention of becoming a cat person, but you can change all of us, you can expand our world, you can surprise us by showing us sides we never knew we had.

And here I am, showing off an incredibly cute photo of Fred begging for tuna. (Isn’t he adorable? Wouldn’t you take him home? Wouldn’t I?)

Thanks, God, for making my heart a little bigger than it was. Chalk it up to Fred.

Written by Rick Hamlin


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