The Lost Gnostic Gospel of Feline Mercy01/31/2008
By Jane Lebak • Illustration by Michael Walker
While many have heard of the Gnostic Gospels, such as the recently recovered third century manuscript of “The Gospel of Judas,” few know the early Christians specialized in animal rescue. The previously unknown Epistle of Philip to the Rescuers is excerpted below.
(1) As for those who rescue cats, thou shalt keep as many cats in thy home as thou reasonably can. (2) Thou shalt estimate how much thou canst reasonably handle by dividing the number of rooms in thy house by 1.5 and acquiring one litter box per cat.
(3) This number is iron-clad and must not be violated unless one sees a cat which is unbearably cute, or sick and cannot survive without tender loving care, or which butteth his head against thy chin in a very sweet way while thou attemptest to clean his cage, or has an adorable meow, (4) or someone asketh thee for help with a box of abandoned kittens, or the cat wandereth up onto thy porch one cold night and thou thinkest of his little bare feet being chilly in the brisk air of the night.
(5) Nay, I tell thee, increase not the number of cats thou shalt have, but only if God droppeth the cat in thy lap, or if thou really wantest the cat, or if thy co-worker is getting rid of his seventeen-year-old cat because he lay with his wife and she hath conceived, or if thou thinkest thou might know someone who knoweth someone who might take the cat off thy hands in the next few days.
(6) Neither shalt thou take in additional guinea pigs, parakeets, tiny dogs, reptiles, gerbils, hamsters, nor tropical fish whose owners are simply tired of them, unless thou feelest sorry for the animals. (7) When thou art asked if thou hast room in thy home, this is how thou must answer: (8) “No, I’m afraid I can’t. I really can’t. I’d like to, but no. Oh, he’s so cute. Well, maybe if I move my bed out of the bedroom and sleep on the floor in the kitchen I could make a place for him, but only this once.”
(9) For I tell you, no one shall give up one cat in this lifetime for his own selfishness who shall not be “rewarded” in the next life by seeing what sparse love he gave and received. (10) And lo the Very Angry Cats will torment him with much nibbling of their needle-like teeth.
(11) But for thee, the rescuer who dost sacrifice time and money and dost endure much eye-rolling from thy spouse for thy feeding and worrying about homeless cats, I say to thee, (12) Be glad and rejoice. Thy reward is great in Paradise.