Unexpected Sabbath: How a Cat Saved Thanksgiving

Last week, Fred and I made an impulsive decision.

We adopted a new cat.

Having a second cat is considered impulsive for us. We are a couple who plans everything—but only after cost-benefit and perceived risk analyses, of course.

In January, when we became guardians of Truffy, a geriatric cat whose legal name is Truffles Lee Trent, it was because my mother was unable to care for her 16-year-old orange male tabby. Truffy and I had lived together during college breaks when I was home in Reidsville. He was always fiercely independent. He’d been the best barn-cat-hunter his farmer father could have ever hoped for. The farmer only reluctantly allowed Truffy to be adopted because his favorite female cat had just had another litter.

But in late October Truffy began losing weight; his independence declined rapidly. A quick trip to the vet revealed a large tumor in his belly—kitty cancer.

When we brought him home from the appointment, I told Fred I couldn’t possibly endure Truffy’s death so close to Mom’s and just weeks before Thanksgiving. That’s when Fred began looking at local cat rescue options.

Two days following his diagnosis, we visited our county’s animal shelter—just to look. When we walked down the first cat corridor, I spotted an adoption tag for a stray kitty the shelter staff had named “Truffle Hunter.”

Inside the crate was a male orange tabby crouched along the back wall—a true Truffy Jr.

       

What are the odds?

“It’s meant to be,” everyone has said.

But, introducing the 16-year-old Truffy to his one-and-a-half year old doppelganger required patience and presence. We followed all the recommendations (temporarily sequestering Truffle Hunter in his own room; sharing each cat’s scent with the other prior to the meet-up).

For seven days, we’ve been completely absorbed with these two cats. It’s been a week of mindfulness: each meal, each snuggle, each play time, each second of their introduction.

Deadlines have had to wait; chores have piled up. My attention has been totally devoted to the affection and care of two animals: one just beginning his new life, and the other preparing to say goodbye.

It’s the most present I’ve been in a long time.

“This is one-thousand of the infatuation and exhaustion new parents feel,” I told Fred, when we couldn’t take our eyes off Truffle Hunter.

I can’t think of a better way to enter into this first holiday season without my mom. These are sabbath moments of ceasing from work to rest on the floor with the attention-grabbing Truffle Hunter, to pray fervent prayers for Truffy’s comfort, or to referee these May-December cats is sabbath. Why? Because I’m completely present in the rest, spirituality, and the community of this shared time together.

We’ll say goodbye to Truffy soon. Truffle Hunter will live on—a sign of hope amid a Thanksgiving that will be different from all the rest.

I’m embracing the joy and the loss, because I was raised by a mother who taught me that the sabbath is for reflecting on such things. It’s the one day per week that shapes all the remainder, because we stop long enough to realize who we are and whose we are. When we remember the sabbath, we live into the image in which we were created: to be steadfast servants who love and care for all of God’s creation—even two orange tabby cats.

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