At the moment, on my unschooling blog, Stories of an Unschooling Family, we're talking about love. I remembered a post I wrote a long time ago about love and Mother Teresa and cats. I wrote this story at the beginning of my blogging career and it has only had 29 page views. It wouldn't be cheating if I posted it again, would it?

Sammy and Jenny have no idea who Mother Teresa is. Why should they? They're only cats. So how could they know that if it wasn't for Mother, they wouldn't be here?

A text message arrives on my phone: “You know how I'm your favourite middle son? Please can I have two cats? They need a home.” The wheedling tone is loud and clear.

“You’ll have to ask Dad," I text back, neatly sidestepping the issue. I'm sure Andy will say no.

When my husband arrives home from work, I say, “Callum wants to ask you a question.”

“He wants something," says Andy instantly. He has had previous experience with his second son. And then, "How much does it cost?” He knows Callum well.

“It doesn’t cost anything. It’s free.”

“Free? Well, then he can have it.”

“He can?” A moment’s silence. 

Andy looks at my face and is suddenly suspicious. “It’s not an animal, is it?” 

“No, it’s not one animal," I reply honestly. "It's two.” I tell him about the two adult cats that need a new home.

And then Andy surprises me again: "Okay. Callum can have them."

So Sammy and Jenny, two grey and white moggies joined our household much to the displeasure of our resident upper-class feline, Poppy. Yes, our Himalayan Persian didn't like her territory invaded at all She felt she was more than enough cat for one adoring family. What could we have been thinking of when we let two ordinary moggie cats into our home?

It wasn’t long before we were asking ourselves the same question. The new cats didn’t know the rules. They jumped onto the tops of bookshelves and walked over chests of drawers and desks, scattering everything underfoot. Food was no longer safe on the kitchen bench-tops. Unlike Poppy, they didn't know how to behave.

Callum kept on defending the cats (perhaps he felt guilty) - “They’ll settle in soon, Mum”- until the day Sammy chewed up two sets of his expensive headphones. Another set of ruined headphones later and we’d all had enough. “Yes,” we crooned to Poppy as we stroked her magnificent long fur, “We should have stuck to you. You’re a perfect cat.” (We conveniently forgot her bad habit of scratching at doors.) Poppy purred at us, while glaring at the other cats from the safety of our arms. She thoroughly agreed.

We had a big problem. Could we get rid of the two unwanted adult cats and go back to being a one cat family? Would Sammy and Jenny’s former owner have them back? (No) Could we persuade another family to adopt two fully grown moggies? (Unlikely) Could we take them to the animal shelter? (Would that be bad?) Such thoughts circulated my mind until the day we met several nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa.

The nuns were eager to share the wisdom of ‘Mother’, who poured her love on the unloved and the ‘unlovable’. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta searched out and helped the unloved and the unlovable in the slums of the world. But the nuns told us we needn’t travel so far. We only have to look at our own families to find the unlovable. And when we have found them, we need to remember that the unlovable are the ones most in need of our love.

I went home to my own family and looked. And what I saw were two unlovable cats. There they were milling about my feet hoping to be fed, nagging me with their strange unattractive, squeaky meows, Jenny gazing with her cross-eyed look, Sammy butting his big head against my legs. I felt like pushing them back and making room for Poppy. But I didn’t. I looked at the cats and thought: “What would it be like living in a house where no one wanted you? Would I like to be dependent on the goodwill of people who’d rather I wasn’t there? What would it feel like to be ignored because I was plain and ordinary while all the attention was being lavished on someone more beautiful? What if I was thought of as a problem rather than as someone who was in need of love?

Sammy and Jenny are now part of the family. They may not be as good looking as Poppy but we've discovered they have charms of their own. We've learnt to love cross-eyed Jenny and big tough Sammy and in return they seem to love us, snuggling up on our laps and thrusting out their chins for a rub. As far as behaviour goes, they're learning the rules of the house. We just need to be patient.

Of course, when Mother Teresa talked about the unlovable in our families she wasn’t referring to cats. Instead she might have wanted us to think about the less lovable child, the child we don’t find easy to love, the one who in reality needs our love the most. 

I began thinking about the family I grew up in. Who was the  less lovable in this family? Was it one of my sisters, my brother, or was it in fact me? That is quite a thought. Why should I not love the unlovable when someone loved me?

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  1. Sue, so glad you shared this again. I just love the way you think. I'm glad you are enjoying your "moggies" now. We adopted a little rescue cat three years ago. He had no manners, and was quite feisty as well. I so much missed my gorgeous tuxedo cat, Nick, who had passed away the month before. Nick was love and joy and never gave us a problem. Then we got Benedict..naming him after our Holy Father didn't help at all. :)

    But, three years later, he has come so far. It's been quite a challenge, but it's rewarding as well. I will forever miss my sweet Nick, but little Benedict deserves a chance at life too. (I think he started off as a feral kitten.)

    I learn so much about God from my pets...and I see that you do too. Love that...and you! xo

    1. Patricia,

      I love your own cat story!

      "Then we got Benedict..naming him after our Holy Father didn't help at all" That is so funny! A no manners, feisty cat... I can just imagine him. So glad Benedict is still with you. Though I guess you could hardly get rid of a cat named after a pope!

      If we look I think we can learn so much from everything around us, including our pets. I love hearing other people's stories. Mary has her dog and Colleen likes ducks. I wonder if Nancy has a pet. Animals really are entertaining, if a little troublesome too at times!

      Love you too!

  2. Wow, what a unique way of looking at the 'unlovable' cat! Very interesting and a caring point of view!

    I love how your dialogue makes me feel as if I'm right there in the moment! You should write a novel, Sue! so happy you shared this post again.:)

    Be well and enjoy this day!

    Love ya

    1. Chris,

      I guess lots of people have experience of unlovable cats. Ours could have ended up at the animal shelter if it hadn't been for Mother Teresa!

      I like writing dialogue so I'm glad it was effective in this story. Writing novels is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. I have a children's story manuscript finished, and two others I am 'working' on. Actually I'm not doing much work on them at all. Every day I think about them, and every day I end up doing no further work. I don't think I"d make a good novelist because I am very lazy!

      I hope all is well with you, and you're settling back into life at home after your exciting trip away. xx

  3. I'm sure St. Francis of Assisi would have related to this, Sue:)

    Does Poppy like her new friends, now? I wonder if she learnt how to love the unlovable, too?

    God bless, Sue:)

    1. Vicky,

      St Francis of Assisi.. Yes! I'm sure he wouldn't even have considered putting the cats into the animal shelter. He would have understood them perfectly.

      Poppy tolerates the other two cats. I can't say she likes them. She keeps herself aloof and refuses to sleep with them or play with them. She was a kitten when the cats arrived so I thought she'd get used to them easily, but it seems she has never forgotten she once used to be the queen cat around here!


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