Monday 21 May 2012

The Spirituality of the Cat

We know that the current Pope (2012 - Pope Benedict XVI) adores cats. This might be because when he was growing up, his parents kept cats. I feel certain that Pope Benedict XVI's parents were very good cat caretakers. The Pope has a gentle character. He is like an academic. We know that smart people like cats. Educated older women are a typical profile. Einstein kept cats (a male called "Tiger") and so did Hemingway (polydactyl Maine Coon type), Dickens and Churchill (he has a fondness for cats). There is a long list of great men who appreciated the cat companion.

It is sad therefore that the Pope under the Vatican rules is forbidden from keeping his cat (any "pet") in his apartment. He must miss Chico, his black and white short haired cat, very much. However, he couldn't turn down the chance of being the Pope for that reason, could he?

Previous Popes have kept companion animals. Leo XII  kept a dog and a cat for instance. I wonder why this rather harsh Vatican rule exists. Cats are common on the streets of Rome and Italy generally. If you eat at a restaurant in Rome you are likely to see a feral cat wander by asking for a bit of what you are eating (I give them it - what else?). In general they are treated well. Italian law protects against animal cruelty and veterinary-led operations such as tail docking and declawing are outlawed in typical European style.

Cat amongst Rome's ruins - Photo Steve James (Flickr)

I think we can say with some confidence that the domestic cat and clergy make a nice partnership. That is certainly borne out by history and the current Pope is no exception. He has a particular affinity towards cats.

It is why I have called this post "The Spirituality of the Cat". The domestic cat does have a kind of spirituality. Their presence is calming. They have some extraordinary skills. They have a naturalness and honesty that we have comprehensively lost. Perhaps the clergy see the spirituality in the domestic cat and are drawn to it.

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