Meditations on the Death of a Cat


God can use strange things to teach you how wonderful he is.

The other day he used a dead cat named Merlin to teach me a thing or two.

Merlin was a nineteen-year-old tabby who belonged to Penny, a woman who’d come to a writer’s conference where I was speaking. She’d signed up for a one-on-one critique session with me and had brought a devotional about Merlin, the cat she’d loved as devotedly as the child she’d never had.

One day Penny had come home from work expecting her usual loving greeting from Merlin at the door. But no Merlin. And no husband. Merlin had become gravely ill and been taken to the vet, who reported to Penny over the phone that Merlin would most likely not make it through the night.

Penny was devastated and spent the night grieving the cat she had loved so dearly for nearly two decades. In the morning, she headed to the vet’s office, where she was ushered into a room with Merlin. He lay unconscious and unresponsive, and she was devastated.

Penny told me how in that moment, she turned to God and cried out, begging him to allow her to see her cat one final time. As she told me how Merlin opened his eyes, rose to his feet, and marked her face as she heard the voices of a choir sing It Is Well with My Soul, I could feel myself struggling not to roll my eyes.

Merlin was a cat, for heaven’s sake. “Get a grip, woman,” I whispered silently to Penny as I smiled politely.

But as she spoke, something inside me shifted.



God knows our deepest desires. Our deepest longings. Penny and her husband hadn’t have a child. God had fulfilled Penny’s longing to nurture through Merlin. She’d loved her cat in many of the same ways she would have loved a child. God had honored the prayer she’d poured out in her grief.

Yes, Merlin was a cat. For heaven’s sake. And he’d helped Penny get a grip–on God’s love.

Suddenly I was ashamed of my judgmental spirit and in awe of a God who would stir a cat to its feet in answer to the heart-cry of one of his children.

Because he loves enough to feel our pain and meet us wherever we are.

2 thoughts on “Meditations on the Death of a Cat

  1. This is the first time anyone ever got through to me about this subject. Thank God and thank you and Penny (and Merlin)

    • Thanks for writing, Tex. Ironic that I’ve also written a book about self-talk (The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk). Thank God for shining a light on my ego and his love for us.

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