inner world,  jesus,  pets and animals,  Uncategorized

kitty hospice

Our cat G.K. Chesterton, or “chester” for short has been acting a little out of it lately- not eating very much, sleeping a lot, even for a cat and throwing up. Today Dave called me on the way home from the vet and told me that Chester has cancer and will likely die this month.  I’m trying not to cry as I write this post (an am being thoroughly unsuccessful) and as much as I’d like to say “it’s just a cat”, I can’t.  Chester has purrrred his way into my heart and taught me too many things over the past 5 years to be “just a cat.”

we have always referred to chester as our "svelte supermodel" of a cat.

It’s funny that after crying, my first instinct was to write.  I really need to be studying right now but I know that I’ll just be too distracted thinking about chester’s last days, when he might die, if Dave will be away when he dies, how I’ll explain it to Reuben, if we should bury him in our backyard, if our already crazy other cat conan o’brian will become even more crazy in chester’s absence….and trying hard to think “it’s just a cat.”

chester with Dave when he first came home with us.

Dave used to do agricultural consulting before he joined staff with InterVarsity. His boss Cal turned a section of his barn into an office, complete with cubicles but with hay bales stacked up in the entryway and stray cats and dogs wandering around just outside of the room, because it was afterall a barn. Though my husband has TERRIBLE allergies, he has a soft spot in his heart for animals.  After seeing three grey kittens whom Cal had dubbed “smokey #1, #2 and #3” Dave decided to surprise me by bringing one home. I do not come from a family of cat lovers, nor have I ever wanted to own a cat in my adult life and I was adamant about keeping smokey #2 who later became Chester in our garage. As you can imagine, that didn’t last long and he weaseled his way into our home after our vet said he needed to come inside and recuperate from a cold.  Once he came inside he never left.

Chester was a true barncat when he first came to live with us. He would scratch us and bite us whenever we tried to pick him up or pet him and then lick us incessantly when he did allow us to scratch his belly. He was terrified of stairs and rarely ate because he was used to catching mice and birds and other things outdoor kitties eat.  Even though I had scratch marks all over my hands and arms, before long I couldn’t resist entertaining him with a lazer pointer, string or other toys.  Eventually he mellowed out and learned to be a normal cat when we got conan, who had lived his whole life in the animal shelter and was used to being petted, eating out of a bowl and sleeping 12 hours out of the day. It wasn’t long until he learned that cuddling up next to us on a cold January night wasn’t so bad. He loved to curl up next to my belly when I was pregnant.

chester snuggling up to my big ol' preggers belly

I have had a love/hate relationship with my cats. I love how they entertain me, love to pet them and love seeing how Reuben has responded to them throughout his life.  I have hated all the hair, Chester stealing bacon and other sorts of food off our plates when we weren’t looking and the fact that friends with cat allergies feel unwelcome in our home because it’s miserable for them with the itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing. I don’t like having do dose guests with zyrtec when they come over.

Having Chester the barn cat in my life has reminded me that nothing is unloveable and that with enough time, patience and meow mix anything can come around and open up to being loved. It’s reminded me of the simple truth of what it means to be  a Christian- those who follow Jesus go to the people and places that are regarded as unloveable, unwelcoming and painful with the belief that through the unstoppable love of Jesus, scars will be healed, hearts changed and communities created for people who have been stray cats.

kitty brothers chester & conan checking out the birds outside

So, however long Chester remains with us we’re making sure to run a kitty hospice and give him extra petting, put a little tuna in with his dry cat food, let him lounge outside in the sun with us while we play in the backyard and hope that the golf-ball sized tumor in his stomach doesn’t end his life painfully.


  • April

    Only you could pull off a post about the similarities between cats and the Gospel.
    And make people cry at the same time.
    I love Chester, and will miss him. I’ve enjoyed his cuddling on my lap a few times myself.
    Goodbye, G.K. Chesterton. May your last kitty days be the best of your life!!

  • Katie

    Oh, you poor dear! I’m so sorry – cancer is horrible, and it often seems more devastating in pets somehow. Probably because there are fewer treatment options than for humans. The idea of “pawspice” care is at least becoming more common these days.

    As a Christian vet, I often struggle with the concept of euthanasia, mainly why is it sinful for humans to elect euthanasia for themselves or a loved one, yet it is accepted to do the same thing for our pets. Whether it is the right answer or not, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot choose death for ourselves because God has authority over our lives and we must trust Him to care for our deaths in the same way we must trust Him with our lives.

    But with animals, God has ceded some of His authority to us. We have dominion over all creatures, to care for them, protect them, reap from them . . . and to choose (as much as possible) the time and method of their passing. As their earthly masters, we can say, “You have served me well; I ask nothing further of you. Go in peace and leave your suffering behind.” As with all great resposibilities in this fallen world, such authority can be both a blessing and a curse to us.

  • grace

    aww, how very sad. I’m sorry, Jess. 🙁 Poor Chester. It truly is a fallen, broken world with all of creation screaming out for God’s redemption when a sweet little cat has to die of cancer. How afwul.

  • Mae Ellen Fick


    This post is a gift to all of us who love Chester and know how much you love him. Thank you so much for sharing and you do it so well.
    Love and hugs,

  • Helga

    Don’t forget, your Chester will be at the Rainbow Bridge watching for you. Don’t forget you gave him love and a good home. Many, many cats die unloved abused, killed by disgusting, sick and mean people.

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