The Cat Named Casper
My grandparents, or Mimi and Papa as I like to call them, have lived down in Corpus Christi for several several years. Taking a trips down there was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. They didn’t happen super often, so I kind of lost my mind whenever I my parents informed me that we were taking a trip to visit Mimi and Papa. Their house has always had a wonderfully strange fragrance that reminds me of cookies and hugs. I’m not sure if it’s the candles they use or what, but it always smells fantastic in that house. Coming down to Corpus meant three things when I was younger: getting a shower of love from Mimi and Papa, smelling and living in their wonderful home for a few days, and of course Casper the cat.
NO. Not this guy
I have no idea when my grandparents got Casper, I just always remember it being a very prevalent part of my Corpus experience. He or she (I don’t remember the gender) had a beautiful white as snow coat and ice blue eyes. It was a very calm creature that went anywhere that it pleased. Sometimes it would lounge around outside on a bench, sometimes it would go in the backyard, and sometimes it would find a human toddler to scratch the living daylights out of and exert its dominance.
Casper was the worst. He/she/it, for whatever reason, decided that I was not welcome and constantly reminded me of my unwelcome-ness every opportunity it had.
On one particular afternoon while I was visiting Corpus, Casper was apparently feeling especially despicable. I was doing little kid things outside and decided to sit down on a bench out in the front yard. Casper must have sensed my presence. Immediately it apparated or used the floo network or something and materialized on the opposite end of the bench, silently staring me down.
At this point in my short life I understood there were two things that could hurt me:
1. Banging my head on the kitchen tile (long story)
And more importantly
“DOES THIS LOOK LIKE THE FACE OF MERCY, BOY?”
I didn’t have a lot of time to get myself out of the predicament.
If I moved around Casper would instinctually leap out and scratch any exposed surface of skin with the precision of a skilled marksman. I also knew that sitting around and waiting for Casper to get bored was also not an option. I could see that it was systematically trying to locate a crippling weak spot in my three year old body that it could sink its devilish fangs into and calculating the perfect moment to strike. With no viable options on the table, I did the only thing that I could think of: I sounded the alarm.
Surely, if there was anyone who would provide the sanctuary that I was looking for, it would be my mother. And immediately she came over and sat between myself and Casper.
The cat was not pleased when a larger, more capable human obstructed the smaller, less competent child that it so longed to torture. I looked on with sigh of relief. And for a fleeting moment it looked like Casper might just leave me alone now that Mom was here. But I hadn’t been that wrong since I tried banging my head on the kitchen tile back home (long story).
“What’s the matter?” my mother asked me.
What’s the matter? What do you mean what’s the matter? Don’t you see the white demonic prince of darkness on the other side of the bench? That’s what’s the matter. It’s gonna kill us all. MOM WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING
“Casper scares me.” I replied.
“Oh don’t worry about Casper!” she says.
“Casper just wants to play!” she says.
“[He/she/it/spawn of hellfire] is gentle!” she says.
“Look at those eyes! It wouldn’t hurt a fly!” she says.
I looked back into the eyes of my adversary. Where my mother must have seen kindness, I saw the mark of the beast and an impending apocalypse.
Then my mom, who is a nurse and is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, picked my hand up and began guiding it over towards the cat in an effort to show that this thing was not as bad as I had come to think.
What. Are. You. Doing.
Both Casper and myself became suddenly astonished. I was surprised at how liberally Mom was acting with my life. On the other hand, the evil cat was shocked that the very human that once sat as an obstacle in the path of its desired destruction had transformed into the vessel that delivered its prey directly into its salivating mouth.
After that it was like taking candy from a baby, except the candy was my hand.
Casper acted quickly and precisely, making sure to encapsulate all of my fingers within its jaw before clamping down with a very painful chomp. As I cried in pain I looked at my mom and thought to myself something that I would never have the chance to say throughout my life under her roof, “I told you so.”
It was at this point that I began hating cats.
Cats are evil, man.
Smokey Outliers and the Cat Condition
While I like to believe that cats are simply henchmen for the Dark Lord, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I’m also very aware that not every cat is a demon in disguise patiently waiting to wipe out the human race.
After Casper passed away, my grandparents owned a much better cat called Smokey. Smokey was wonderful. He had dark grey fur and big yellow eyes. He would always saunter up to you when he felt your presence and would lay very calmly rub his coat against your leg and then adoringly look up at you. He didn’t do it for attention. He was just glad you were around.
Where Casper embodied brilliant villainy, Smokey displayed wise loyalty. Casper’s face was always contorted with a scowl, while Smokey always wore a placid and faint smile. Casper demanded your attention, but Smokey just wanted someone he could lie around with for a spell. He was a fantastic little cat and unfortunately passed before his time. But even as great as Smokey was, I am quite confident that he had some typical cat and Casper-esque tendencies.
Like it or not, cats are selfish, lazy, pretentious creatures that walk around as if they are God’s gift to the planet. They go anywhere they please and tend to leave a path of destruction and spilled water glasses behind them. Cats will do things simply because it’s against the rules. The truth of the matter is that the worst part about cats is that they act just like humans.
Like I said, cats are selfish, lazy, pretentious creatures that walk around as if they are God’s gift to the planet. You know, kind of like people.
In the wise words of the great philosopher Justin Timberlake, “It’s like your my mirror. O-O. My mirror’s staring back at me.”
This mirror just happens to be a little smaller and coughs up more fur balls.
The Reality of The Feline
It took me several years to discover why God placed the house cat on this earth.
I often found myself asking, “Hey God. What’s up? It’s me Josh. So… What’s the deal with cats, right? They are kind of like, really terrible.”
After a lot of thought I came to the conclusion that God created the cat so that we could have an everyday illustration of how we treat Him.
Christopher Hitchens said:
“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
Initially I laughed at this quote. And then after I thought about it, I became really sad because I do this all the time to God.
Every day I find new ways to look at the blessings in my life and conclude that I have somehow deserved them. I constantly put myself in the center of the galaxy and seek praise that only belongs to the Lord. I am self-seeking and I view God as someone who serves me and not the other way around. It’s really stupid. But thankfully, we have a God who, for the purpose of this illustration and this illustration only, is kind of a great big crazy cat lady in the sky.*
We claw, bite, hiss, and scratch, but He desires a relationship with us despite our myriad of flaws. God still pursues and loves us even through our selfishness, impatience, and sin.
The reality of Casper and the feline is the reality of us. Our flesh and sinful nature will constantly try to make us the center of our respective universe. Fortunately, the Lord continues to work in us. He makes it a point that though we fallen short of His glory and rebelled against Him, He loves us. He has made a way for us to overcome our Feline-ness and be reconciled through his son, Jesus. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:6-11)
Not all cats are awful, and the same can be said for people to some degree. But we’ve all missed the mark. Praise God that he loves a bunch of Caspers like ourselves and gives us the chance to leave that life behind us.
*I Cannot stress enough that I do not actually think that the creator of the entire universe, master of space and time, the author and perfecter of our faith, and the mastermind behind the Doritos Locos Taco is a crazy cat lady.