All creatures great and small

Happy New Year everyone.

Hard to believe we are already over a week into the New Year and so much has happened already.

Many of you would have heard about our cat Murray, but for those who haven’t, I am retelling the story here.

Evan and I got Murray as a four-year-old cat from the animal shelter. We had lost a cat not long before and were wanting a second cat to complement our female tortoiseshell CD, but didn’t want to have to deal with a kitten all over again.

This was over 14 years ago. At that time, we didn’t choose Murray so much as he chose us. He was the only cat who was more interested in us than in escaping from the enclosure which was his temporary home.

The idea of a companion to our cat CD who was by then 3 years old and had been with us since a kitten, went out the window. They co-existed, but were never friends.

As a training ground for having children, they were excellent :), as well as being wonderful lap-warmers and company. We ended up with one cat each.

After the kids came along, the cats became more family pets and Maddy adopted Murray for her own. He was a friendly, compliant cat, who you could do almost anything with, although he was very eloquent when displeased and had an ear-screeching yowl rather than a meow, which shocked more than a fair share of visitors.

Then about 7 years ago, Murray went out one night and didn’t come home. Long story short, 10 months later he turned up in Endeavour Hills and was returned to us.

CD died two years ago, but Murray continued on, seeming like he could live forever. He survived the introduction of our labrador Toby to the family, with a grace belying his old age.

Then in March last year, he disappeared again. This time, we thought he had gone away to die. After much searching and pain, we eventually moved on and finally got two older kittens from the animal shelter to return us to a two-cat family. (with a dog too)

Then, much to our shock and amazement, he turned up again. After being missing for 6 months, he was found and returned to us from Hallam this time. But he was in terrible condition, almost skeletal and at 18 years of age, it was very hard. But we were very happy to have him home and restored to his place on Maddy’s bed and in our hearts.

He adjusted well to the new kittens, almost acting like a grumpy old man dealing with rambunctious children. He even adjusted to his things being moved around - as we tried to accommodate him around the needs of the kittens.

He wasn’t well and we spent a bit of time at the vet trying to clear him of various infections and getting him to put weight on - fortunately with quite some success.

However, old age and an experience beyond what his age could handle, were finally too much.

A week ago last Friday night, Murray fell off Maddy’s bed and got stuck head down between the wall and the bed. We don’t know how long he was stuck there for. Evan took him to the vet on the Saturday whilst I was at work and another long story short, it was time to say goodbye.

Murray came home on Saturday and we spent as much time with him as we could - making sure he had the comfortable sleeping places, telling stories of his adventures and the fun we had with him.

Last Sunday, our family went to the vet together. We all wanted to be there, so went into the surgery as a family. We all gave him a cuddle, kissed him goodbye, prayed together and Evan held him as we patted him as he quickly and quietly slipped away.

We were a very subdued family who went home without him, but were grateful to the kittens and a very loving labrador, who sensed the loss and our need for something. Our friends were amazing with their support and words of encouragement as we posted about it online and a visit from Tina and Ken with condolence gifts on hearing the news, was heart-warming. Our vet surgery even sent us condolence flowers.

We had Murray for 14 years and although its painful to think of his loss, I would not change any of that time for the world.

So how does this relate to God. His grace is amazing - He brought Murray back to us so that we could spend this time with him - he was a family member as much as any of us. And he gave us the ability to make the decision to let him go, much as we wanted to keep him with us.

And then when the time came, he gave us the strength to go through with the decision and ensured we were surrounded by people to share their love and understanding. And this was all after he made sure we were brought together in the first place.

I don’t know what the situation is with pets and the afterlife - I have heard many opposing viewpoints. I do know that God gave mankind dominion over the beasts of the earth and the responsbility to care for them. I believe we did right by Murray and fulfilled that responsibility and that it was all based in love. And I thank God that he gave the responsibility for a black and white, gut-wrenching yowling, many returning, brash and loving cat to us. I think we got the better end of that deal.