IMG_3006Robert Fulghum may have learned all he needed to know in Kindergarten, but honestly, I can’t remember back that far. My education is much more recent . . . and furry. Is it possible that all we really need to know about being pastors we can learn from our cats?

Assuming you are the cat parent:

  • If there is a mess, you should clean it up right away before someone walks through it, making a bigger mess and leaving little kitty paw prints all over the house.
  • If there’s not a mess, there will be one soon.
  • Some people will be purring one minute and try to bite you the next.
  • And “love nibbles” are a real thing. Just because someone bites doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
  • If you are in a vulnerable position (like laying in bed on your back), it is very likely that someone (the cat) will find your most tender parts (nipples) and gingerly walk right on top of them. This hurts. But they don’t mean to hurt you. (Still, you should probably sleep on your stomach.)
  • It is really hard to convince yourself to actually get out of a comfortable position and get to the work ahead. When you are just about ready to make this move, someone will surely settle in right next to you and start purring. And you will be tempted to use their comfort as an excuse to stay settled for just a little longer.IMG_2569
  • No matter how much time, energy, and/or money you put into a shiny new thing, people will most appreciate the comfort of familiar packaging.


Assuming you are the cat:

  • Sometimes you want to be around your people. Sometimes you want to hide under the laundry. And that is OK.


  • It’s best to maintain a slight air of mystery.
  • Purring will often get you what you want. But hissing can also be effective.
  • It’s perfectly all right to change your mind. Repeatedly.
  • Balance is important in life. And when you do fall, just act like that’s exactly what you meant to do all along.
  • You should take sufficient time for personal grooming.
  • Often a little nudge is all it takes to get people to do what you want (like pet you).
  • Sometimes people don’t need you to do anything special. If you just show up and snuggle in for awhile, it is enough.
  • If a new possibility (or cabinet door) opens up, you really should check it out. And if you get yourself stuck, someone will come rescue you. Eventually. If you meow and scratch enough.
  • Naps are always a good idea.IMG_3134

Everything we need to know is in here somewhere. Pastoral care and self care. How to encourage volunteers and deal with hostile forces. The quirkiness of life and the joy of a warm sunbeam.

So may we all have a little more of the cat’s grace—and sass—as we pastor God’s people.

Rev. Joanna Harader pastors at Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, KS. She and her family share their home with a perfectly nonchalant feline named Christina and, much to Christina’s dismay, a large fluffy dog named Chap. She blogs at

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4 thoughts on “Wits’ Ends Day: All I Really Need to Know (About Pastoring) I Learned from my Cat

  1. My Ivan the (recently) Terrible is famous for choosing to cuddle right when I need to move. Cuddling, for Mr. Terrible, is sitting close enough to be pressed up against me, but under no circumstances am I allowed to touch him. Maybe three strokes of the top of his head. No more!


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