This may sound scandalous, but it’s a fact:
At Tabby’s Place, we regularly see cats do Bad Things.
Yes, I said it.
You know it’s true.
When Boots pops Morgan like his own personal Whack-a-Mole, it’s wrong.
When Meatball looks you right in the eye, then wees on the wall, it’s wrong.
When Queen races up to meet me, then bites straight through my arm like a Great White Shark, it ain’t right.*
Cats are capable of doing wrong — at least, by our standards.
And that got me thinking. Cats never — ever, ever, ever, ever, ever — seek any sort of absolution. Tell me the last time you saw a cat doing penance or repenting for his iniquities, and I’ll tell you I’m a boiled egg.
Are they without shame because they’re without sin? Can they do wrong? Can they be wrong? To whose standards to they ultimately answer? Anyone’s? Even their own?
I’d stake my life on the fact that we answer to God’s standards. You may say you answer to your own, or Wiz Khalifa’s, but that’s between you and God. And none of us — not even those who stoutly say there’s no ultimate standard or Standard-Giver — lives without standards. We all answer to something higher and older and better and sturdier than ourselves, and when our answer is “NO!”, we feel wrong. Sad. Sorry. We seek absolution and reconciliation and restoration.
So why don’t cats do the same?
I’m forced to conclude that perhaps “wrong” is the one thing cats can’t do. Perhaps even wall-peeing and neighbor-bopping and human-slashing fails to reach the level of anything resembling “sin.” Perhaps they are, even in spite of themselves, as innocent as unfallen angels.
OK, now Queen is laughing so hard from her lair that I can’t concentrate.
The fact is, all my too-much education never answered this one. I’d sooner tell you how many angels dance on the head of a Kardashian than the degree to which cats are capable of corruption.
But this I know for sure: cats are always open to repentance. Ours, that is.
Maybe you bought the wrong — objectively wrong, by God’s standards — brand of cat treats. Your cat will forgive you.
Maybe you were so busy with something stupid, like “being in the hospital” or “running from warlords,” that you didn’t play with your cat with the laser toy for two whole days. Your cat will forgive you.
Or maybe you’ve done something really, truly, mortally wicked.
Maybe you’ve served innocent people vegan cheese.
Maybe you’ve genuinely, seriously neglected your cat for a serious, genuinely long period of time.
Maybe you changed the station when a Mumford and Sons song came on.
Maybe you’ve done things you’ll never tell a soul.
Your cat will forgive you.
Most likely, she already does.
And whatever life and humanity and all the evil in the world have thrown at her, your cat — like Adelaide, like Casper, like Baloo, like Jaeger — will forgive life itself.
No, cats don’t seek absolution. But they surely give it. And I suppose that makes the Tabby’s Place residents a kind of Truth and Reconciliation Commission that’s always open.
*It also ain’t funny. NO, IT’S NOT FUNNY, JONATHAN.
Photo credits from de top: AT, Mark, Mary B, Heather.