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Cats in Birth, Death, Life, and the Here-After

May 26, 2011

Cats in Birth Death Life and the Here After by Genny White

Phillip and I are reading Heaven is for Real each night before we go to bed. This book is the account t of 4-year- old Colton Burpo’s experience of heaven as he walks through a catastrophic illness and associative surgeries. Colton answers the question whether or not animals are in heaven. He says yes and I hope that this experience for once and for all lays the question to rest whether or not animals go to heaven. I always thought that those who have said “no,” have been individuals who have never known the benefits of caring for and receiving care from a companion animal. Here in the White household we are owners of 2 cats that are as different as night and day. Arthur is an older Himalayan, stoic and self -confident; Dinky, on the other hand, is a small-sized black Burmese who is both skittish and affectionate.  Recently I came home from a weekend conference. I found Arthur outside stretching and sharpening is claws on the bark of a tree and laying lazily in the sunshine.  Inside I wondered where Dinky was. I found her cowering in the linen closet, after all she is my cat, and she follows me around and sleeps at my feet. It was probably most traumatic for her for me to be away and left with a man and two adolescent pre-men.

My cats have always been a source of comfort to me.  I think Phil is a dog person, but he puts up with my cats: He might even like them.  Most notably in the loss of our daughter these quadrupeds stepped up their care. I can visibly remember in the harrowing hours following Corban’s death sitting on the side of my bed with tears just spilling from my eyes and Dinky sitting right beside me, licking my checks wiping away the tears from my face.  For a moment I had visions of my visiting a doctor and having to explain how I had come to have some kind of funky cat virus in my eyes. Thankfully this vision never came to fruition.   At that time also I remember coming home from burying my daughter and going to bed. Arthur jumped up on the foot of my bed and at my feet lay down wrapped his paw over his eyes and whined the most mournful purr I had ever heard:   He was grieving Corban’s loss too.

As I have worked with pregnant woman and birth, I have had the happy occasion to witness how cats respond to their “ladies” during the course of labor and birth. They most assuredly recognize something out of the ordinary is happening. One of my favorite Midwife Kitty experiences is of a Blessingway for an expectant mother, but no, this was not any ordinary Blessing Way this was a Blessing Way for a Midwife about to give birth.

As the evening began at the pregnant woman’s home, the Mother-to-be gave instruction for her spouse to put her kitty in the garage out of concern that some guests might be allergic or not appreciate the participation of the cat.  So out this exotic and exquisite kitty went into the forlorn garage. The evening’s activities passed along with an occasional meow and clawing being heard coming from the garage.   Kitty was in the background, but did not take away from the ambience of the evening until the very end.   As is customary in some circles the evening was closed by a circle of friends gathered around this expectant mother each taking a turn to offer up a prayer for her safety and care in childbirth. This mother-to-be’s cat had a fit. He was now jumping four feet in the air and hitting the glass window with his claws screeching to be let in, so much to the point that here in this sacred circle,  the expectant mother had to break the solemnest of this occasion and raise her voice to her spouse and request that he let Puddims back in. Immediately the cat proudly came in walked directly to his master the pregnant midwife who was reclining in the middle of the circle. This cat lay down at her side and outstretched his paws so that they were touching her, and then bowed his head, then and only then did the prayers resumed and that cat did not move until the final “Amen” had been said.

I have seen cats curl up next to their laboring owners and purr them thru contractions.  I have seen cats kicked out of birthing rooms only to set up a sentinel outside the door and not move from their master’s doorposts.  I have seen cats behave better than a lot of people at births.  I have also observed dogs and birds at births and they understand something is happening of a sacred nature.

Yesterday afternoon I was jolted to attention by the banging noise of my screen door. Who are there but the neighbor’s children, 2 toddlers a pigtailed girl at most 4 and her younger brother stand behind the screen door. I am happy to see them, what is it that they want? The cats, yes the cats they want to see the cats. I have to inform them that I have just fed the cats.  I know that an earthquake itself would not separate Author from his kibbles, and that Dinky is not going out unless Arthur is; so I had to tell the children that the cats are busy eating right now. Off they scamper. The cats are not available, and that is what they are there for to see my cats not me.

When we had this family portrait done we had no idea we would lose both Corban and Arthur.

When we had this family portrait done we had no idea we would lose both Corban and Arthur.

We lost our beloved Himalayan Arthur on July 7, 2012. As my husband and I returned to our home from delivering Arthur’s body for cremation facing the deafening silence of entering a home struck by grief I was pierced by perceiving the voice of our daughter who preceded us into heaven in the clearest resonance of her sweet voice I heard her exclaim Arthur! From this I am confident that both my daughter and our Arthur are together in Paradise.Cats provide an integral part of our journeys as they participate with us through birth, death, life and the here-after.

Heaven is purrfect after all.

Everything going okay up there, my lady.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2011 7:01 pm

    This was a truly lovely piece. I admit to being a cat lover, and I know full well the empathy animals have for their human companions. I had a cat named D’Artagnan, and while he was neither bold nor daring, he knew how to express his love for others, especially me. About 5-6 years ago, I had surgery for gallstones. My sister came up to help me out, as our parents were busy taking our youngest sister to college. Dart immediately kept watch over me like a hawk, sitting next to me as I lay in bed, insisting he accompany me to the bathroom, because he made such a ruckus when he was shut outside. He would inspect me thoroughly before and after I left the bed, and if I tried to get up without his permission, he would lie across my legs to prevent me from moving. My sister saw this, and we were both convinced that he was doing his part to make sure I recuperated well. I’ll never forget that.

  2. Scherrill McNutt permalink
    May 29, 2011 1:07 pm

    What lovely thoughts shared so eloquintely! Many years ago, when I was operating a birthing center, I lived in my center with my cat and my dog, as I was going through a divorce. I had a client giving birth there. She had a 37 hour labor. She was such a trooper, but she attributes her getting through all of those hours to Willow, my russian blue cat, who would not leave her side. not even to eat. It was very touching to watch my client lying there on the bed with Willow curled up to her and mama just stroking and stroking my kitty. Her little one will be turning 8 years old next month (June) and mama still talks about Willow.

  3. April 17, 2013 9:05 am

    This was so beautiful. I have been a cat lover my entire life, and I dream of being the old crazy cat lady someday 🙂 My husband is just like yours, he was raised with parents who didn’t believe animals belong inside, so it took a few years of begging and he finally gave in, and while at times they drive him crazy, he really has come to appreciate them and spends a lot of time playing with them and taking care of them while I am at work, and of course he is their favorite now! lol.
    Cats are extremely intuitive and I have come to think of them as magical beings ❤

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