animal cat gus face 3
Originally uploaded by LauraS.
NOTE: What follows is not a theoretical discussion, but a tragically practical and theological one.

Right now, confined to the kitchen linoleum, is a cat I have known for well over a decade. He is a cat. He is also my friend—in a kitty sort of way. My friend is failing. He can barely control his bowels. His back legs are wobbly and often collapse. His abdomen is bloated from some sort of liver failure. He was on medication, but weeks and weeks of it made no difference. He is no longer on medication.

I would say he is dying, but that very thing is the crux of the issue. He is nearing death, but he does not seem to be dying. Rather, he is living. Yes, his life fairly sucks, but he is living.

I am radically pro-life (which is a different sort of thing than a pro-life radical…I am not one of those). I believe that all human and animal life is given and sustained by the breath of God. On the other hand, I am not a vegan, so I do believe there is a sliding scale of sorts. Human life is created in the image of God and is always worth saving—unless that life has willfully taken another human life. By this willful choice, life is forfeit.

The question I struggle with—at this very moment—is determining the criteria for deciding when my cat’s life is forfeit. I cannot stand before God and say that my cat’s life is forfeit because my life is inconvenienced or because my sadness is too deep to bear. This may well be sufficient criteria for others. It is not sufficient for me. Honestly, I do not believe it to be sufficient criteria at all. But such things must be decided by God.

Today, for me, the question remains: when is it just to take his life?

While there is still life, it is unjust. When his life is still and he begins dying, then it may be just. When that will come, I do not know. For now he remains confined to the linoleum. For now, we clean his mess and we clean him. For now we love him and comfort him. For now, he lives.


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