THE CAT THAT GOD SENT
by Jim Kraus
I picked up this book because the title intrigued me and I’m so glad I did. It has an interesting style of writing whereby “thoughts” are written in bold print and they help carry the story along seamlessly. A novel concept.
The book tells the story of a young preacher, Jake Wilkerson, who has lost his faith and isn’t even sure if he ever had it. He confided this to his fiancé, who happened to be the niece of the head minister of their large church. Disregarding it was privileged knowledge she told her uncle who in turn fired Jake.
Having lost his position and fiancée, Jake eventually answers a request to be a pastor at a very small rural church in north central Pennsylvania. He keeps asking God for a sign to instill faith in him.
His arrival at the new church in Coudersport is met by a cat who watches him from a nearby field. A beat up truck drives up to the church and it’s an elder welcoming him. After he leaves, the cat approaches and adopts the new pastor by bringing a dead mouse as a welcome gift. Thus begins a series of oft times humorous incidences with a cat who is in the center of everything.
Jake takes the homeless cat to the vet and becomes friends with her. They name the cat Petey. In his thoughts, Petey realizes he has been sent by God to help Jake, but isn’t quite sure what is the role he is supposed to be playing.
Not even settled in his new residence, which is in a part of the small church, Jake answers the door to a young woman. She is looking for a place to spend the night and saw the church as she was walking by. She had been abandoned at the side of the road by her boyfriend and had nowhere to go. While finding himself in an awkward position, one of the elders drives up noisily with a huge motor home. His wife did not want it parked in their driveway any longer so it was going to be left behind the church. She was following in a car. The decision was made to let the young girl, Tassy, stay in their motor home for the time being.
Petey becomes an integral part of Jake’s life and eventually the talk of the town. During Jake’s first Sunday sermon he had left the door to his living quarters open. Petey walked right in along the back of the pulpit and sat on one of the chairs along the wall. He sat there ramrod straight totally focused on the sermon. Jake assured the elders that it would not happen again.
The following Sunday the door was locked. Undeterred, Petey walked to the front of the church and when a member went out for a quick smoke, Petey walked in, right down the center isle, amidst titters, and up to the same chair where he fully focused once more on the sermon.
Being a small town, word got around fast. People started to attend services, some out of curiosity to see the preacher’s cat who was always in attendance. Even though his sermons were well received, Jake still felt like a hypocrite.
He started to date Emma, the vet. Even though she was non-religious things were going along fine. She learned he had previously been engaged and on the spur of the moment one day called up his ex-fiancée who was a sort of social media celebrity. It was then she learned about his lack of faith but kept it to herself for the time being.
She and the homeless Tassy also became friends and she offered her a job at the clinic once she learned Tassy was diligently looking for one.
As the weeks progressed Tassy started to feel ill. Emma figured out she was pregnant, something the young girl was tying to deny without success. Emma, who held her own dark secret, convinced Tassy that she should “take care of it” and made all the arrangements. When she went to pick her up at the motor home Petey sensed something was wrong. He knew he had to protect Tassy. Voicing a growl he jumped up and with his mouth grabbed the leather keychain out of Emma’s hand and ran off into the woods. They rushed after him but couldn’t follow into the dense thicket.
Not having a second set of keys, Emma had to wait until the next day to take her friend. When Jake got back home he saw Tassy was distraught. She confessed to him what was happening and realized she really did not want an abortion.
Jake went to confront Emma who was livid at him for interfering. She said she was going to tell everyone what he was, a preacher without faith, a hypocrite! She yelled at him to leave!
That Sunday, when he stood before his congregation, he was wordless. What did they think of him? How could they continue to listen and believe in him knowing what he was? How can I tell them I betrayed them? He took off his coat and laid it on the chair next to Petey who gave him a look of encouragement.
He turned back to those gathered, put his hands firmly on either side of the lectern, and began to speak enlightened words of truth and confidence!
This is a nice story with a message that runs true. Whimsical as it may be it still presents essential life lessons. – Marilu Shellie