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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

A Few Words about Cats

A while ago, I did a blog on dogs. Since then, a few readers (one friend in particular!) have asked, “When are you going to write about cats?” Well, today is that day. But today is also Presidents’ Day in the US, so I wondered how might I connect this holiday with cats? Here’s how.

President Abraham Lincoln liked cats. In fact, someone once asked his wife if the president had any hobbies. She supposedly replied, “Cats.” The truth is, many US Presidents had cats while in the White House—including Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Now that I’ve connected today’s holiday with my topic, let’s talk about cats.

Domestic cats today are the world’s most popular pet. They can be found almost everywhere—including on the internet! But where did domestic cats come from? They are likely descended from the African wildcat. We know domestic cats were in ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago. The Egyptians regarded cats as sacred because they curbed disease and helped protect crops from rodents and other pests.

In China, cats were owned primarily by the wealthy. But soon they became so numerous, they eventually spread to India and Japan. Egyptian traders introduced cats to the Greeks and the Romans and other parts of Europe.

This is Marley who belongs to my friend alluded to in the opening paragraph. Isn’t he beautiful?

During the Middle Ages, cats fell out of favor. They were blamed for the Bubonic Plague. Some rulers ordered all cats to be killed. By killing the cats, the rats (the real culprits in spreading the disease) increased and multiplied. Only in 1600 was the reputation of the cat finally restored.

Here are some fun facts about cats:

A group of cats is called a clowder or a glaring… A male cat is a tom while a female is a molly or a queen... A cat lover is called an ailurophile (from the Greek: ailuros = cat; –phile = lover of.)

The average domestic cat lives about 12-15 years. Cats were thought to have nine lives—probably because cats have an innate sense of equilibrium that helps them land on their feet if they fall. Cats also sleep 13-14 hours a day! They are neat animals and spend 30-50% of their waking hours grooming themselves.

Cats also have powerful night vision. They can see at light levels six times lower than what we humans need to see. Wild cats are nocturnal. Some domestic cats may seem to be most active at night, but some people say domestic cats are really crepuscular, most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.

What are some of the benefits of owning a cat?

Cats can be a great emotional support during difficult times.

In one survey, 82% of women said they are more attracted to men who like animals. About 90% of those women said that men who own cats are “nicer” than guys who don’t.

A cat leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than a dog.

A cat is good for the human heart. Cats have been known to lower their owner’s stress levels.

I’ll conclude with a personal story. Growing up on a farm, we always had outdoor cats: Tommy, Babs, and Lucifer. (We didn’t give Lucifer his name. We adopted him when our neighbors moved away.) I also named several kittens after my favorite Cleveland Indians: Herbie (Herb Score), Rocky (Rocky Colavito), and Roger (Roger Maris who played for Cleveland years before he became a Yankee and earned an * for his 61 home runs in a season!)

One day, someone dumped a cat off in front of our farm. It was a lean black and white tom with a rather dour face. My brother, Pauly, and I fed him on the sly. The next day when our Dad saw the cat on the side porch, he yelled, “No more cats!” and shooed the cat off the porch and down the driveway. But Dad eventually gave in and the cat was added to our feline menagerie. My brother Pauly named the cat “Meow,” saying, “I want my cat to be able to say his own name!”

PS: Last week I ask for your prayers for my work on my new book on beauty. I just had to tell you that last week was one of the BEST and most productive weeks I’ve had so far writing this book. Wow! You’re amazing! Thank you!!!

What do you think of cats? If you are a cat lover, what makes you love cats? If you don’t like cats, why not?

Can you name other benefits a cat can provide?

Do you find cats affectionate or aloof or both?

I thought I’d conclude this reflection with two videos. The first is a cat video. The second is a music video.

Here’s the cat video. I trust that no cats were harmed in the making of this video.

Cats have a way of relieving stress. This song by Josh Baldwin is called “Peace.” It reminds us to lay our worries at the feet of Jesus.

Please respond to anything in this reflection below. I especially hope to hear from some of you cat lovers!

23 Responses

  1. Animals have a way of creating peace. Thank you for this entertaining cat piece to start the week. Could you please repeat the dog article you have written?
    Thank you for all of your wisdom.
    Have a wonderful week.

  2. Renee, Thanks for writing. On the right side of my blog, is a box marked “Search.” Type these words into that box: “Learn a lesson from Fido.” The blog will come up. Type in “Puppy Love” and another blog post will come up. Hope that helps! Sr. Melannie

  3. Loved this reflection on cats! Cats have definitely added to the fun of our family life. I was not fond of cats in my younger days, but when our first daughter turned 8 yrs old and wanted a cat, we made some conditions, which she fulfilled, and as a result, she got to pick out a cat from a local shelter. That is when we took Aladdin into our home. Then she learned the responsibility of caring for an animal.

    I learned how affectionate and calming cats can be.

    Since then we have taken two more cats into our home. One was found by our youngest child as a kitten, the other we adopted from a family where the woman passed away and the man went to a nursing home.

    They all have their own personalities, and good (and bad) points, but we love them.

    Oh, and that very first cat, Aladdin? He lived to be 21 years old!

    Thanks, Sr. Melannie, for a nice reflection today.

  4. I love both cats and dogs? I especially love kittens. My cats were lovable. They were at times independent but other times very affectionate. My last cat came to me from the farm across the road. We lived on farm land where Sarah could hunt, bring her prey to my porch, for my attention then after being congratulated, she consumed her treat . She ate all but certain organs which ” she left for me” to clean up and dispose of.
    When I prepared my class work she would jump on my preparation book,, lay down on it and look at me smiling and very comfortable. Needing to continue my preparation, I cleared the first drawer of my desk to make space for her and this became her favorite spot. We had no idea how old Sarah was but one day we met a lady coming down our road, liking for her Sweetheart. She explained that she moved to Florida and not being able to take her beloved car with her, she gave her to the farmer who accepted to keep her with many others. Her description was definitely th a of Sarah, so I told her she was out “mousing” at the time and would return in a couple of hours. The nice lady returned soon after Sarah did. Her eyes teared up as I put Sarah in her arms as she claimed: This is my baby who seems to be very happy. I offered her to take her back but she refused, saying she could not knowing Sarah was so happy with me/us. Sarah gave us many happy moments until I had to have her “put down” because I was moving and could not keep her where I was going.

  5. Good morning Sr. Melannie

    Thank you once again for your beautiful and whimsical reflection on cats.
    I wish I wasn’t allergic to their dander because would love to welcome one into my home. They exude royalty, now I see why.
    I’ll keep the prayers coming your way!


    Nancy Frederico

  6. Thank you for including Marley’s photo in the cat reflection. I think he is the same Marley who plays with my purse or scarf at his home. Blessings.

  7. The pastor of a local parish owned a Persian cat named Billy – very often not seen around the rectory only when his owner was around. During the air show we had someone washing windows and I helped put the storm windows back. The phone rang and I left the window wide open. With the Blue Angels flying nearby Billy was definitely in hiding so much so that when the Pastor returned he could not bring Billy out. All day I kept thinking Billy jumped out of the window and was meandering around the neighborhood never to be found. Suddenly out of no where Billy appeared much to my delight and frustration.

  8. Good morning, Sr. Melannie….
    Good morning, all…

    What a great topic! A “clowder” of cats…who knew? Love it!

    We had a tiny (runt of the litter, to be sure) black cat named Jazzy for fourteen wonderful years. She was an outdoor cat who dropped a litter early. We called her a kitten having kittens!

    Once, when she was just a kitten, she climbed up my back and curled into a tight ball of sleep on the nape of my neck as I sat at the kitchen table correcting papers. It was a magical moment, I didn’t want to move, and, sadly, it never happened again.

    When she died, we buried her under the barberry bush by the bulkhead in the side yard. We had a little ceremony, said some last words.

    Good old Jazzy!

  9. I am a recent subscriber to your blog and look forward to your Sunflower Seeds. For whatever reason, pets have never interested me. A dog named Gretchen was a wedding gift from my father-in-law. She was a great dog. My dear father decreed that 7 kids were enough mouths to feed, no pets. Obviously, the whole world of ‘companion pets’ is puzzling to me. I have experienced a couple of unexpected and unprovoked attacks by cats. I’m a nice guy, love my kids and grand kids. Interesting fun facts about cats.
    Blessings to all.

  10. We’ve had cats and dogs all of our lives until now, in our twilight years. When I had my farm, people used to drop off kittens, thinking the farm needs them. Now, I love cats and dogs even more, OTHER people’s cats and dogs. When our children go away with their families, we get to baby sit for our grand dogs. Perfect! 2 or 3 days and they go home. When we visit them at their house, they know us and welcome us and look at us and say,” Hey, where have you been? We missed you.” Animals always seem to love you , no matter what. Peace

  11. I don’t have any cats but I do have three grand cats! Whenever we visit our daughter we are treated by Trunks, the youngest, who is very sleek and slim and coal black. She will jump up on your shoulder ( from the floor, no less) and wrap herself around your neck! Gohan is the elder at 13 years. When she hears my voice she will meow her way to the closet where the treats are kept. She knows that gramma will give her a treat. Ivy is the newest in the family who was brought in from Georgia by my grandson(along with his beagle) to stay until he returned from Italy in three years. Both are still there after 6 years. I’m sure it’s their new home. So, I get to visit with the three cats plus the two dogs any time I can!

  12. Our outdoor cat Einstein just turned 15 on February 16. He rolls around in the snow and ice to greet us. What a blessing!


  13. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is also fond of cats. When he was in Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008, a little cat was part of the accommodation where he stayed at the Kenhurst Retreat Centre. Besides partaking in daily prayers, and he was able to do things he enjoyed, such as enjoying classical music, playing the piano and taking walks in the gardens. It is a blessing to enjoy the simple things in life.

  14. Meow, meow, meow!!! I know you do not understand cat talk, or perhaps you do. Anyway, my mom read this blog to me and showed me my picture included in the piece, I purred with delight seeing myself in this mom was happy too. So thank you Sister Melannie for writing this!
    I want to add a few things that I feel are important about me and many other felines.
    I love to sit on mom’s lap in the early morning when she prays. She puts a soft blanked on her lap, then plays the gong on the Centering Prayer app. That is my signal! I jump up, give a quick face wash , I just finished my breakfast, then settle in to sleep, for as long as she sits there. You see cats respond very well to energy levels and prayer sure lowers hers!! I also like soft music, makes me purr. Also I can sit and stare for the longest time without moving . I, as most cats, am VERY intuitive! But besides sleep, I love to run around the house, watch birds, play with stuffed mice, and then fall over in exhaustion. I am now 10 years old, was a stray, adopted from Love-a-Stray,and came to live with my mom when I was 9 months old. I have many human friends, mainly women, and greet each one when they come to visit mom. I love their purses…such great smells and interesting items hidden inside. Well mom said this was enough.
    So goodbye and God Bless you, Marley……..Purrrrrrr!

    1. Marley, Thank you so much for writing–with a little help from your mom. This was the first time a cat responded to my blog. Thank you too for allowing me to use your beautiful picture! May you continue to pray with your mom each day and bring her companionship, joy, a little bit of mischief to keep her on her toes! Love, Sr. Melannie

  15. Cats are one of God’s great gifts to the world. Thank you on behalf of the many cats who have enriched my life over the years: Panchita, Florecita, Panchito, Calpurnia, Octavian, Candy Spots, Smoky, Clarita, and more. (And a shout out to Skippy, the best dog in the world!)

  16. Great blog today; must be because I have 6 wonderful cats who keep me very busy and laughing! I thought I knew everything about cats but I learned a lot reading this column today. Thanks Sister Melannie

  17. Hello Sister Melanie,
    As I type this my cat Bella is resting on my lap and arm, so I’m typing with two fingers. She also likes to sit on me when I pray in the morning. I also have three other cats, Chatty Cathy, her son Wolf, and Neko [lucky cat in Japanese].
    St. Gertrude of Nivelles (626-659) is the patron Saint of cats and cat people.
    Thanks for all your wonderful Monday meditations. God is so good!

  18. I am looking for a good home for my 6 year old Cat “Alleluia” (Lui for short) here in Michigan since I will be moving back to Ohio where I will not be able to keep him. Also, he loves to go outside for walks on his leash and I can no longer take him for walks because of some leg problems. to read more about him go to

    He has been God’s presence to me these past 6 years living so far from my family friends and community. Wishbone Kitten Adoption center is helping me to find him the best home possible. Lui and I have helped foster 9 kittens in the past 6 years for them. Lui teaches the orphan feral kittens how to be good house cats. All nine have now been adopted into loving furrever homes.

  19. Sr. Melannie – I could write a book of cat stories! Like you, we had “barn” cats when we were growing up … some had names, some didn’t. My first “indoor” cat was one that I agreed to pet-sit for the summer months while her family vacationed. Trouble was, when they came back home, I kindof refused to give Lydia back to them, I had grown so attached! They were thankfully amenable to the trade and Lydia was a fine companion for many years. Then there was Shadow, a stray who showed up one evening – hungry (and pregnant, we discovered later). Originally we named her Shadow because she was gray and she came to us in the twilight, but it turns out that she became my husband’s “shadow” – following him everywhere. She would even climb a ladder to follow him onto the roof.
    If you haven’t done so already, google “kittens swim to fishing boat”. I can watch this video over and over.
    Thank you for blogging about cats – surely one of God’s most regal, inscrutable, happiness-inducing & mystifying creatures!

  20. My cat’s name is Gracie and I feel that because of her I am living with grace!
    When I don’t feel well, she is near. When I take a bath she sits outside the door or sometimes even on the rug next to the tub.
    She knows my habits. Yesterday I told her I would feed her right after I put the laundry in the washer. 10 minutes later she “caught” me at the computer and reminded me of my promise.
    She is a wonderful presence in my life and I am blessed.

  21. My vet has a sign in his office: Dogs have masters. Cats have staff. It makes me laugh every time I see it. So true. Every morning after I feed my two feline friends, I prepare my coffee. “The girls” beat me into my little prayer room where one perches herself on the top of chair as she waits for my arrival. The other one waits till I sit down and insists on sitting on top of my Office book. Eventually, she gives in to sitting on the arm of the chair. They’re probably Catholic by now. At least I know they enjoy praying Morning and Evening Prayer, in community.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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