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I’ve been almost two weeks now so I feel like I’ve come to a point where I can rationally put my thoughts together on this. On Saturday, June 11th, I had to say good-bye to my cat, Sylvester. He had health problems ever since my wife brought him home from the shelter and over the last two months he was getting really bad. I guess it was just his time.
Sylvester came to us because my wife was volunteering at the animal shelter. She felt sorry for Sylvester because he had been in the shelter for almost a year. He was an older cat with a bad attitude. He would always get quarantined for biting people. In addition to his attitude, he had digestive issues that forced him to be on a special diet. No one was going to adopt him so out of pity, my wife brought him home.
His original name was “Scooter” but I decided that “Sylvester” was a better name. He reminded me of the Sylvester the cat from the cartoons. He had the same black and white coloring pattern and he used to drool and spit just like the cartoon character. It seemed like he would drool when he was happy. He would climb into my lap and start purring and the drool would start flowing. Then he would shake like a dog and saliva would go flying all over the place. Duck and cover!
He was obsessed with sitting on me. The second I sat down on the couch he would come hunting for me. He would try to be sneaky about it. He’d come around from behind me and try to move in very slowly as if I wouldn’t notice. I wouldn’t have minded him sitting on me so much if he would sit still. He would never sit for more than 2 minutes before he would get up and move around and sit down again. Between that and the drool, I had a hard time letting him sit on me. He would do the same thing when I would sleep. I had to sleep with a pillow over my chest so when he would jump up on me while I was sleeping, I would have a little bit of cushioning for the blow. If he couldn’t get to my chest, he would try to sleep on my face. It was a no win situation.
As he got older, he got more annoying. I’m afraid that I didn’t treat him as well as I should have. Even though he bugged the crap out of me, I loved that cat. He was like one of my children.
We could tell that he was getting old. He was starting to have trouble getting around. He was walking funny and could barely get up on the couch. I assumed it was arthritis by the way he was walking. We ended up putting out little steps for him to get up onto the couch as well as up to his food.
One day, when we let the cats out on the patio to hang out in the sun, my wife noticed that one of his eyes remained dilated even out in the bright sun. My wife took him to the vet and they didn’t find anything wrong with his eye. Doing research online, I found that there was a possibility of a brain disorder that could have been the cause. It was all downhill from there. His motor functions get worse and soon both of his eyes were dilated. Flashing a light in his face caused no reaction. I think that his last couple of weeks, he had gone blind. We would have to put his food directly in front of him to get him to eat. I would have to carry him over to the litter box so he could go to the bathroom. He would barely move and when he did, I would find him in a corner like a kid on time out and I would carry him back to his bed. Eventually, he would just stay downstairs all the time.
His time was coming but I wasn’t willing to give up on him so soon. My wife wanted to take him to the vet and have him put down. I felt like he could get better. Maybe his problem with his eyes were just temporary. We could get him medication for his arthritis. I felt like he still had a chance so I wanted to wait. My wife was going to visit her sister in Los Angeles for the weekend and we had made an appointment to see the vet after she get back. I wanted to make sure that he was too far gone before we put him down.
The day after my wife left, Sylvester got really bad. It was weird because the night before, he was doing better than usual. He managed to walk to the litter box on his own. He ate a big plate of food and he helped himself to the water fountain. The next afternoon was very different. I was upstairs taking a nap and when I woke up, I came down to find him lying on the floor motionless with his eyes open. I thought he was dead. I put my ear up to his chest and found he was still breathing and his heart was still beating. I immediately called my wife and asked he what I should do. I took him to the nearest vets office. They took him in the back right away. I met with the doctor and she told me that he was in a bad state and clinging on to life. I didn’t want him to suffer anymore. My wife and I decided it was time to let him go. They let me in the operation area as they administered the drugs to put him down. I held on to him as the told me that his heart had stopped and he was gone. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do.
They brought him into one of the rooms so I could be with him for a little bit. I held him and I cried my eyes out. I felt so guilty for all the times that I got annoyed with him. I felt like I should have treated him better but now it was too late. I had chosen to let me cat die. I knew he was going to die eventually but at the time, all I could think of was how I should have been better to him and how I decided that his life should end. It was a depressing weekend.
Normally, when I feel bad like this, I turn to my religious beliefs for comfort. If a friend or family member passes away, I take comfort in knowing that they have gone to a better place. But there is a big problem with that in this case. My Coptic church teaches that animals do not have the “Spirit of God” in them and therefore do not go to Heaven. This belief isn’t just a Coptic belief but pretty much all Christians believe this. I do not. This is probably the only point of contention between me and my religious beliefs. My religious beliefs that usually provide comfort do exactly the opposite for me.
How can a God that full of love and kindness allow one of his creations to not enter into his kingdom? Man, by his own choice, chooses not to accept God and his gift of salvation. Animals do not have that choice. Animals don’t have original sin. Why can’t they go to Heaven too?
When God created man, he placed him in the Garden of Eden. He was surrounded by trees and plants and God created each animal and brought them to Adam to give names. So before there was sin, God had placed man in the situation that he had intended for him and he was among the animals he created for him. Why would Heaven be any different?
When God saw that man was full of wickedness and decided he would wipe the earth of man, he had Noah build an Ark and spared Noah, his family and all the animals. The animals were worth saving but the rest of humanity was not.
When Jesus Christ was born, he was born among animals in a manger. Other than Mary and Joseph, the animals in that manger were the first to lay eyes on the Living God.
When Jesus entered in Jerusalem as king, he rode on a colt. It was a very specific colt that he had his disciples find and bring to him.
Animals are more than just creatures. They have personalities. They have life. I don’t see how a God that is full of love would abandon his creation to nothingness. Animals did not eat of the tree of knowledge and therefore have no sin and sin is what keeps us from God. Man needs redemption from God in order to enter Heaven but animals do not. There is nothing that I can see that should prevent animals from being in Heaven. Animals don’t need redemption so they all go to Heaven.
I believe that Heaven will be like the Garden of Eden that God originally created for Man to live in. It will be full of trees and plants and animals. I know that God, if he accepts me into Heaven, will place me with the animals that I have grown to love.
Isaiah 11:6-9 – “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
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