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An Afterlife For Pets?
by Wayne Blank
I live in a rural area where there are stray cats. A few years ago, one of them, then about a year or two old, decided to move into our yard, definitely not because he liked people, but because he found the menu around our bird feeder rather good. I didn't hold it against him for trying to make a living, but I didn't appreciate his ambushing the song birds that had put their trust in us. So, intended as much a favor to the birds as the cat, I began leaving food out for him.
Although entirely wild, this big all-black tomcat (seen in the photograph) took to his always-full food bowl immediately. Little by little, he even let me get a little closer while he was having his meals. The first time I tried to pet him didn't work out very well. As he was eating, I reached down and touched the top of his head - to which he instantly turned and literally bit the hand that fed him (I realize now how lucky I am that he didn't have rabies or something).
From "Cat" To "Diesel"
Day by day, the cat became slightly more civilized, at least to me, and even somewhat useful in the yard that he had decided was home. Our neighbor's dog had been in the habit of stealing our newspaper from the end of the driveway from time to time (his owner gives him a cookie for bringing their newspaper in, so apparently the dog decided to go into the newspaper business), until one day he came over just as the cat was making his rounds. That was the first time that I have ever seen a 15 pound cat chase a 50 pound dog. With the dog hiding on the neighbor's porch, the cat then strutted back and forth on the highway in front of their house with every hair on his body standing straight out. It was that day that he got his name, "Diesel."
Because he remained somewhat unpredictable in the use of his very sharp teeth and claws, no one else in the family wanted much to do with him, so it was decided that Diesel was going to be "my cat" (me being "his human" might actually be more accurate). It wasn't long before he was sitting in my office while I was working or writing Daily Bible Study. He actually became quite tame when he felt like it. This went on for nearly 3 years, during which I grew somewhat fond of "my little buddy."
A few months ago, I noticed that Diesel wasn't eating very well, and was drinking far more water than normal. He was losing weight and didn't look good at all. I took him to the veterinarian, who after running some tests (without much co-operation from the cat - the vet said that I should have called him "Turbo-Diesel") found that he was suffering from "end stage" kidney failure. I couldn't understand it - why would a cat only about 4 years old have kidney failure?
Further testing revealed the answer - acute pesticide poisoning. I live in a rural area where highly toxic chemicals are used on nearby farms, and apparently even the local golf course, in season - where Diesel also happened to sometimes go roaming for the day. He apparently had been drenched in the poison from somewhere that had just been sprayed. The vet said that his situation was hopeless, and suggested euthanasia right then. I refused.
With a special low-protein diet, diuretic medication, and returns to the vet for IV "flush-outs," the cat managed to live another six months, at times seemingly quite healthy. But overall, the decline continued until he weighed only about 5 pounds, and he could barely walk anymore. His last few days were spent laying on a little bed that I made for him, moaning in obvious pain, unable to even stand up. I've never had a pet "put to sleep" before, but as hard as it was going to be, the time had come. To have made him suffer like that for any longer (the vet said his otherwise strong young heart could have made him go on for another week in complete agony) would have been an act of cruelty.
As the vet was injecting the drug into a vein in his back leg, I lifted up Diesel's head in my hand, looked him straight in the eyes and said, "OK, buddy?" At that moment, as he was trustingly looking up at me, his eyes suddenly went from their normal bright green to shiny black, just as they used to do when he was in "attack mode." But this time, it was caused by the deadly drug - as it was stopping his heart, it also caused his pupils to relax wide-open. Within 5 seconds of the injection, before the vet had even pulled the needle out, Diesel was dead.
I brought Diesel home, and buried him in one of his favorite places along the hedge. I'm still not much of a cat lover, but I really felt very sad when he died. I will miss him.
A Question From A Reader
So, what's this story doing in a Bible Study?
I mentioned Diesel a couple of weeks ago in "Web Site News," in the hope that others may take precautions to prevent their own pets from getting poisoned - I would not want anyone else having a pet die like that. A subscriber wrote back to tell me about her cat who had died of kidney malfunction not long ago, although from old age failure rather than chemical damage. She ended her email with an interesting question - while we will be able to see deceased family and friends again, what about cherished pets? Do animals have some sort of an afterlife?
Only Humans Made To Inherit Eternal Life. But...
We will of course see departed family members and friends again. The vast majority of people will choose life - glorious eternal life.
Animals are not Christians - only we were made in the image of God. There is nothing in The Word of God about an afterlife for cats and dogs. But, there is a great amount in The Bible about the afterlife of humans and the supernatural things that we will one day be capable of. For those who accept God's offer of eternal life, the word "impossible" (within bounds of righteousness) will soon have no meaning - visiting the years when a pet was alive, or restoring the animal to physical life from time to time at some point in the future, will be a very simple matter.
Will we one day be able to enjoy the company of lost pets again if ever we want to do so? Definitely! It's just a matter of time.
Fact Finder: Do the righteous take good care of their animals?