Are cats for true Christians?
Is it appropriate for a Christian to own a cat, in light of their past pagan religious affiliation and the medical information that is now coming to light? -J.R., U.S.A.
It would be misleading to answer this question with either a simple 'Yes' or a 'No.' The Scriptural answer of necessity must be a 'qualified' one, and it is easy to see why. Many conscientious ones among Jehovah's people today have wondered if Christians should own cats in view of their somewhat sordid symbolic history and the many health risks associated therewith. While we would not wish to state an opinion on what must remain a matter of personal preference, what is acceptable to one person may, although unintentionally, stumble another. This can become a life-or-death issue since to move the steps of a brother away from the path of Christ's ransom sacrifice is tantamount to 'putting a millstone around the neck and being thrown into the sea.' -Matt. 18:6. Clearly, in a matter where our eternal salvation is involved, the mature Christian will not pursue a purely selfish course based on his own personal choices, but will adopt a congregational viewpoint as scripturally prescribed.
First, let us consider what most scholars agree is the etymology (word derivation) for the English term 'cat'. When analyzed with the Latin 'felis cattus domesticus', the original Koine Greek is 'cur.io huma bes-tia', means 'a contemporary housecat with all of its beastly identifying characteristics and behavior.' A faithful servant of Jehovah would quickly notice that the nature of a cat is so marked as being 'beastly'. The Bible makes clear reference to this condition when describing parts of Satan's organizations, both past and present. For instance, consider the fearsome 'beasts' as described in the book of Daniel or the 'scarlet colored wild beast' in Rev. 17:3. The demons entered the swine when rebuked by Jesus showing the potential harm and malevolent spirit control to which a Christian may be potentially exposed. Lest we forget the story of Nebuchadnezzar and the condition of God's enemy when being humbled by Jehovah, the student of God's Holy word would ask - is it by accident that the Bible in the book of Daniel describes his experience as a 'beast' of the field? Hardly so!
Clearly, the Bible - by using this kind of terminology - shows beyond any reasonable doubt that the basic nature of cats, while created perfect by God, has become evil or 'beastlike' since the fall of Adam six thousand years ago, and more probably, since the Great Flood of Noah's time (c2350 B.C.E.). This is a development of the condition borne by the 'Original Serpent', the 'Great Dragon' Lucifer himself. (Gen. 3:1) Indeed, modern studies of classification of cats, while not necessarily being reliable as they may be based on the discredited 'theory' of evolution, strongly associate felines with serpents (despite some external differences in physiology and morphology, which confuse those who do not study these matters deeply).
There are numerous reasons why a loyal dedicated servant of God should use his Bible-trained conscience to arrive at a proper understanding of why cats are not advisable as pets or companions for Christians. Consider, then, the following facts:
It was a common practice in ancient Egypt to worship or idolize cats as 'gods'. Indeed, after death many cats were mummified, venerated and sacrifices were made to them. As Christians we observe not only the Mosaic Law, but also the 'necessary things,' identified by the Apostles at Jerusalem, to include the following edict: '(1) Abstain from sacrifices to idols'. We are to 'guard ourselves from idols' and 'worship no other gods'. Such feline influence could lead to idolatry and thereby 'grieve Jehovah's Spirit' with tragic consequences. May we never take for granted Jehovah's wise and generous counsel brought to you by your spiritual brothers in the pages of this magazine!
The Bible does not say that cats were not present at Herod's birthday party when John the Baptist was beheaded. History shows that cats were most likely present at this tragic party that Jehovah did not approve of. Clearly then, as loyal Christians, why would we even want to associate with animals that are without a doubt of such bad influence, remembering how true are the Bible's words: 'Bad associations spoil useful habits'! -1 Cor. 15:33. Some have exposed themselves to possible spiritual contamination in this way. To invite cats in our house is to toy with disaster. Can one deny that the chance exists that the same grave consequences could visit your home that fell upon John? Clearly, God disapproved of this 'birthday' party. Should we not then disapprove (without showing any malicious intent, only Godly hatred) of cats the way the scriptures recommend?
Throughout history, particularly in the middle ages and reaching its climax in the Salem Witch trials of the seventeenth century, cats were recognized by the forces of Christendom as familiars and carriers if not direct incarnates of demons. While, in common with most beliefs of the empire of false religion, no evidence has ever been found to support this, the symbolism of cats still remain within the public psyche, and involvement with them reflects poorly on God's footstools and footstep followers. Many pagan faiths still conclude that black cats bring ill-luck and possess demonic forces, while we have shown that it is, instead, all cats that share these perceived characteristics. Since cats were associated with the devil, could we as faithful and dedicated servants of God therefore contaminate ourselves by exposure to a 'living symbol' of satanic incarnation? How would this reflect on God's name and that of his visible, earthly organization? Would we want to be linked with a symbol of Satan, the 'god of this beastly system of things'?
The careful student of the Bible will acknowledge that nowhere within it is any species ('kind') of cat referred to in favorable terms. In fact, was it not lions of the first century who the Devil used to devour faithful Christians? Jehovah Himself 'stopped up the mouths of the lions' (Dan. 6:22) in Daniel's day. True, the small housecats of today are not quite lions, but being of the same accursed animal family used by God's enemies on numerous occasions throughout history, would it be wise or prudent to own one? In addition, by owing any type of cat (feline), would we not give an appearance of condoning their evil deeds throughout recorded Bible and secular history? The Bible makes clear that God's people are 'no part of this world' (John 15:19) and that we are 'not to share in the sins of others', consume lecithin within nutritive cereal or 'candy' bars, or do other things directly banned in Holy Scripture.
The demeanor of a cat is seen by many honest-hearted observers as reflecting some supernatural, unnatural proclivity towards malice or evil. And, it is a well-known fact that cats are impossible to tame, teach or raise in the truth. The cat has a rebellious, independent spirit. While the animal itself may be unaware of this tragic condition, it serves only its true master - Satan, the Devil.
The scriptures clearly indicate that neither Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, faithful Job, the Apostles, Jesus nor any other human bearing God's favor himself owned a cat. Should we simply assume that this is a mere coincidence? Surely not! This was most likely because they didn't want to be like the pagan contemporaries of their respective days who showed no regard for how God feels about owning a cat. In harmony with the pattern set by the faithful prophets and worthies of old, it would therefore not be fitting for the true Christian today to own a cat.
But, the most modern scientific evidence also supports the Biblical view. Contrary to popular beliefs among worldly people, cats are unhygienic animals. Recently the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that 'Cats .. can shed Salmonella in their feces, which can spread the bacterial infection to humans'. Salmonella (salmonella typhimurium) creates a condition of 'week-long diarrhea, abdominal cramps and in some instances, hospitalization.' Would we be showing the proper respect to our life, Creator and to our 'neighbor' by exposing ourselves and others to this potentially deadly disease? Would this be seen by your brothers, and by those showing an interest in God's word, as giving a good witness?
Additionally, cats practice many unclean habits not befitting a Christian household: coughing up fur balls, licking inappropriate body areas on their own bodies (inappropriate handling) and even, in some cases, on the bodies of their human owners (wrongful motive?), urination on the floor, vocal and blatant promiscuity (unknown to any other species, all others being endowed with Godly chastity and decorum) and widespread sexual misconduct without the benefit or sanctity of holy matrimony, even orgiastic practices, substance abuse of catnip (an intoxicating herb) which produces conditions akin to drunkenness, stealing food from the table, producing ungodly sounds, excessive playfulness and the employment of devices not known to have been used by Jesus, the conducting of its unholy business under the cover of the darkness of night, and so on. What sort of example does this give our young ones endeavoring to faithfully serve Jehovah? The Bible clearly shows that 'neither fornicators .. nor thieves .. nor drunkards .. nor revilers .. will inherit the Kingdom.' (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
It must not be forgotten that the feline is a killer. It eats mice and their kind, which is forbidden to Christians and their pets (Lev. 11:29, Isa. 66:17). But, far more serious, is the matter of the wanton consumption of the undrained corpses of the victims of this nocturnal creature; eating bodies filled with God's sacred blood is not a matter to be trifled with (Gen. 9:3,4; Lev. 3:17; Deut. 12:16,23,24; Acts 15:20,28,29). In an earlier article in The Watchtower, we have shown that it would be improper for a Christian to permit a veterinarian to give blood transfusions to his pet, for animal feed known to contain blood to be served to a pet or a farm animal under one's jurisdiction, or to employ any fertilizer that is known to have blood in it (w64 2/15 127-8). By allowing one's cat to roam uncontrolled, the Christian becomes a willing party to, even a conspirator within, this serious breach of God's law of life.
In addition, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to 'quit mixing in company .. not even eating with such an unclean [one].' -1 Cor. 5:9-11; Mark 2:13-17. Although Paul was speaking primarily about Christians who fell into sin, there is no reason to conclude that this inspired Biblical principle cannot be applied to association with cats. Uncleanness in any form is condemned by Jehovah and the fact that the Apostle Paul made no distinction when it came to associating with housecats proves beyond a doubt to the right-thinking worshiper of Jehovah that loyal Christians must avoid all association with all sources of uncleanness. This would logically include animals that either harbor these tendencies or indulge in such practices.
Of course, while demonstrating one's obedience to God's lovingly-issued commandments, one must do so without any spirit of meanness or ill-will towards these Satanic creatures, though they represent God's enemies. Instead, mature Christians 'feel a loathing' toward those, including cats, who have voluntarily or otherwise made themselves God's enemies, and they leave it to Jehovah to execute vengeance. -Job 13:16; Romans 12:19; 2 John 9,10.
Are we not grateful for this insight on God's viewpoint regarding such matters? True worshipers follow closely God's mandates on cleanness to their eternal benefit! Sister N.K. from Virginia, U.S.A. tells us that since getting rid of her cat, she has not had to be preoccupied with cleaning the litter box or wasting valuable time better spent pursuing kingdom interests with the burden of purchasing cat food. This has allowed her to become a full-time pioneer; she finds that it is now easier to meet her allotted hours in field service. Godwin, a brother from Sierra Leone, puts it this way: 'I'm so grateful that God's organization is kept clean! It has freed me from the burden of owning a cat and all the spiritual pitfalls and financial commitments that go with it. I hope all the brothers will realize how the Devil subtly uses cats to corrupt and distract us from the disciple-making work.' (Matt. 24:14). What fine examples of faithfulness!
The question of how to dispose of one's unwanted cat is a serious matter. Would it be proper to hand over such a creature of Satan to a person of the world? We see no immediate problem with this, as such a person is already immersed in the wicked ways of this system of things, and so a beastly companion would be a fitting one indeed. They could accompany eachother on the road to destruction, through ignoring God's generous gift of life proffered via His spirit-begotten earthly organization. It is on this same sound principle that a Christian doctor would have no reason to deny blood transfusions to a worldly patient. If, on the other hand, one took the view stated on page 128 of the abovementioned Watchtower, and consider that the pet or any other animal is under the ultimate jurisdiction of a Christian, who therefore bears responsibilities (Eccl. 12:13,14; Jas. 4:17, 1 Pet. 3:21) that are essentially parental in nature. The cat is a dependant. In harmony with this, surely it is the parent's obligation before God to ensure the feline pet is treated as one would an unruly child who repeatedly refused to obey its parents, or of one who committed apostasy. Unfortunately in the case of human offspring, one is limited by the laws of the higher authorities of the land as to what scripturally-ordained punishment may be meted out, as compliance with both sets of laws is necessary in such areas. This may not always be the case in terms of felines, where the fact that we are not living in theocratic countries may not prove such an impediment to what God requires of us, as manmade law may not afford such unmerited protection to cats as it does to humans. God's soldiers would be mindful to apply, where the case merited it and local custom did not prohibit it, the principle of Deut. 21:18-21 which states that: 'In case a man happens to have a [dependant] who is stubborn and rebellious, he not listening to the voice of his [guardian], and they have corrected him but he will not listen to them, his [guardian] must also take hold of him and bring him out to the older men of his city and to the gate of his place, and they must say to the older men of his city, 'This [dependant] of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he is not listening to our voice, being a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his city must pelt him with stones, and he must die.' The mature follower of Jehovah will do well to be reminded of God's advice in page 503 of The Watchtower of November 15, 1952 where it was held that 'In the case where a father or mother or son or daughter is disfellowshiped, how should such person be treated by members of the family in their family relationship? .. We are not living today among theocratic nations where such members of our fleshly family relationship could be exterminated for apostasy from God and his theocratic organization, as was possible and was ordered in the nation of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai and in the land of Palestine. 'Thou shalt surely kill him; thy hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him to death with stones, because he hath sought to draw thee away from Jehovah thy God, .. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is in the midst of thee.' -Deut. 13:6-11, AS.' Of course, we can take no legal responsibility for anything which results from your voluntary application of your interpretation of such Biblical principles as you may believe that we have brought to your attention.
As loyal followers of Jehovah's thinking on this matter, we can rejoice in the fact that in the new system, the incoming theocracy and World Order, the 'lion will lie down with the lamb' -Isa. 11:6-7. Yes, when Satan is finally abyssed, the 'beastly' nature of felines will be forever abolished, and they will be fit companions for humans on Paradise Earth! But until that rapidly-approaching time, God will reward all of our efforts to maintain integrity by loyally submitting to the leading of his spirit expressed through the loving guidance of the 'faithful and discreet slave'. -Matt. 24:45-47