Janelle caught me off guard. I would even go so far as to say she misled me.
Four years ago, I lost Midnight, my beloved cat of 20 years, and after two weeks of floundering in a cat-free home, I decided to get another one.
When I first saw Janelle curled up in her cage at the Nebraska Humane Society adopt-a-pet drive, she was the picture of serenity. I asked if I could hold her and the attendant placed her into my arms.
Janelle purred and let me scratch her head and belly.
“Is she a lap cat?” I said.
The attendant nodded and handed me an informational sheet. “She is very loving. She loves to snuggle.”
Here’s what the sheet said:
She sounded like she was exactly what I was looking for in a new pet. I thought it over and went back to adopt her the next day. By then, I had chosen a new name for her: Latte – because she had the same coloring as the coffee she was being named after, and because she was as sweet as a latte.
I brought her home, showed her where her litter box was located and allowed her some time to get acclimated. I retired to my recliner and gave her some space. Within minutes, she jumped into my lap, curled up and went to sleep.
How perfect is that?
She finally jumped down a couple of hours later and went exploring in the kitchen. Within minutes, she had jumped on top of the refrigerator and pulled a package of hotdog buns onto the floor. When I walked in, she was biting the package while shredding it with her back paws.
This must be the lively and curious aspects of her personality mentioned on the sheet.
I took the buns away from her, storing them for safe keeping. But it didn’t end there.
In the first couple of weeks, she pulled the dishtowel off its holder – multiple times, hopped inside grocery store bags (and any other bag, including duffle bags, computer bags, suitcases, etc.), snagged pink packets of coffee sweetener from a basket, took a siesta in the kitchen sink, wedged her way inside kitchen cabinets when I opened them, climbed into the refrigerator the second I opened the door, and when I put my recliner back (leaving an opening between the material and the frame), she burrowed her way into the back of the chair.
At this point, I began thinking that the person who wrote the description of Latte at the Humane Society ought to either go into politics, or become a used car salesman. Every word that person wrote was accurate, technically, but it didn’t tell the rest of the story.
Latte’s liveliness really began working itself out at night. She hates being left alone, and if you do it for any length of time, she’ll howl at the walls and freak out when you get home – zooming from the kitchen to the front door in the living room and back again.
She also tends to howl at the walls when she sees shadows – sometimes even her own. And she has all sorts of other idiosyncrasies, including only eating when people are present (so I moved her food and water bowls into the living room, right next to my recliner), covering her food bowl with her toys, sleeping upside down on the floor, and when she crawls into my lap for a nap, she only sleeps on my left leg.
In spite of her naughtiness and odd personality traits, she can also be the most loving animal imaginable. Sometimes, she’ll move from my left leg to my chest – prompting me to put the recliner all the way back. She rests her head against my cheek and purrs so loudly that I can barely hear the television. Seeing it isn’t all that easy either.
I know this cat better than any human probably should, but just because I know what to expect from her doesn’t mean I actually understand why she does the things she does. She’s just wired differently than any cat I’ve ever seen. She’s naughty, odd and sometimes a little crazy.
In other words, she’s a lot like you and me.
But I love her to pieces.
In spite of all her behavioral problems and personality quirks, I believe God views our relationship with him in a similar manner. He looks at our disobedience, self-focus, and personality quirks – all of which keep us from connecting with him and others the way we should, and he loves us to pieces anyway.
I find great comfort in that.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.