Revd Steve Morris

Holy cats

It is claimed that the prophet Muhammad loved cats. His favourite was called Muezza and he would do without his cloak on a cold day rather than disturb his sleeping pet.

Muhammad was not alone in finding these creatures beguiling. Indeed, despite there being no mention of them in the Bible, cats have a prestigious holy pedigree in Christianity too.

The medieval mystic St Julian of Norwich locked herself away in a room attached to a church, dispensing prayer and advice to those who passed. It was a tough calling for she was alone, anchored to the church — which was why she was known as an anchoress. Her one companion was her tabby who would sit with her while she prayed with the lonely, the desperate and the conscience-struck.

Then there’s the old legend about the new-born Jesus in his crib. A local tabby, having given itself a good wash, instinctively jumped in and laid down next to the Lord. The cat’s warmth and comforting purr helped the saviour of the world get a good night’s sleep — and anyone who lets their cat into the bedroom know the sleep-inducing properties of both these things.

C.S. Lewis also loved cats. He referred to the Siamese owned by his wife Joy as his ‘step-cat’, and took in a stray tom of his own, which he treated with great affection. Each day he would doff his hat to the cat and say a sonorous ‘Good morning’. When advised by the vet that the old fella needed putting down Lewis refused to give up on his friend. For years afterwards, he fed him a special diet of cooked fish and nursed him through a well-earned retirement.

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