The Mangiest Cat in Jerusalem

I call my apartment the Cat Palace.

There is an older woman who lives next door who feeds them. She is a pied-piper in orange crocs singing Israeli songs as she dances outside the apartment. Cats creep out from bushes, awake from lazed lounging, and pursue her like cheetahs when she passes by because they know it’s feeding time. I do too, as my feet dodge trickles and streams of cats flowing on the sidewalk following her siren song. She tosses out dry food and wet to high-pitched mewing from my neighbors: little pumas, long-haired fatties, splotched beasts, and camouflaged tabbies.

The most fascinating feline I met, though, looked nothing like the others and I didn’t see it at Feeding Time. Its fur was matted and unkempt, bunched in some places and missing in others. Its scrunched-up face peered from the edge of a giant green dumpster. It yelled at me with slitted eyes, “BACK OFF. I know I’m ugly and I know those other cats get fed, but I’m hungry right now and this is my dumpster.”

This cat was near death. It was clear to me from its scabs, caving sides, and scowl.

Yet, there was a force radiating from it, the pulse of life in its veins. I witnessed the cat’s gnawing hunger as a humble dream, and its rotten meal as meager redemption. Its suffering and striving revealed its divinity. You can see God even here, in the mangiest cat in all of Jerusalem.

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