Why Are Cats Not Mentioned in Holy Writ?

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), one of the greatest of Renaissance artists, has a painting entitled Adam and Eve (1504) in which there is the most curious of things: a cat (for the painting, see http://www.metmuseum.org/TOAH/ho/08/euwc/ho_19.73.1.htm)! The cat, experts in artistic metaphor tell us, represents the choleric temperament in man. In Dürer’s rendition, the cat seems to be sleeping, while very close to it is a mouse, utterly unconcerned for its safety. The scene is pre-fall, and thus the fact that there is no danger for the mouse. Now, what I find most curious is this: cats are never mentioned in Scripture. How strange in that case to find one at the feet of Dürer’s Adam and Eve. That other prolific western pet, dogs, are mentioned in the Bible, though they rarely come off well. But cats make no showing at all. It is a good reminder that Scripture is not to meant to give us an exhaustive encyclopedia of all human knowledge nor is it designed as a comprehensive guide to every conceivable human decision.

Should I buy a cat? Well, cats are not even mentioned! So, no way. If God had wanted me to have a cat, he would have told me in his Word.

No, this is a misuse of Scripture. There are principles of guidance about buying and selling—which, we must say, are utterly sufficient—but as to the specifics of the question above in relation to cats, no details. This, it seems, has convinced some in the western tradition that cats are evil. Otherwise, why no mention of them? No, cats are not inherently evil—our flame-point Siamese Chai is rambunctious, but hardly evil—they are part of the goodness of God’s creation which our Maker has given us to enjoy.

All of this is a good reminder that we must ask questions of God’s Holy Word it is designed to answer. And the most critical of those is how can a Holy God deal with the sin of us post-fall human beings and yet still love the creation he has made and do it good? This is a weighty question indeed (and we heard some good answers at this year’s T4G this past week).