His Excellency the Cat

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

December 29, 2010


Fr. Peter Daly talks about his cat Russell.


            I have a new cat. His name is Russell. I named him after his first owner, Russell Robertson.

Russell, the cat, came to me as an emergency adoption last August. His owner, Russell the person, was taken to the Emergency Room in an unconscious state. He remained in the hospital for several weeks. Meanwhile, Russell the cat came to live with me.

Cats do not like change much. Once they settle in, they like to stay where they are. Dogs seem to be attached to people. Cats seem to be attached to places. 

After a few weeks, the Russell the cat took over the rectory. Then there was no dislodging him. When his previous owner got out of the hospital, it was clear that the kitty was not to be moved.

He was the proverbial “cat who came to dinner.”  Came and never left.

My previous cat was named Paddy. He died last year in a freak accident with a telephone cord.

Like Paddy, Russell is a male orange Tabby. They are both calm and friendly cats.

But there the similarity ends. Paddy was thin and sickly. Russell is chubby but athletic. If Russell were a human, he would be a football player.  He is definitely a “fat cat”.

Paddy was arthritic. Just getting up was painful for him.

Russell has the sturdy athleticism. When I open a can of cat food, he stands on his hind legs and dances. He should appear on a feline “Dancing with the Stars.”  Maybe I will put him on YouTube.

In general, cats think we work for them.

I have a bumper sticker on my office door that expresses our relationship. It says, “Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.”

There is an old joke that sums up the difference between dogs and cats.

Dogs see their “masters” feeding them, walking them, and caring for them. They think, “He must be God.” Cats, on the other hand, see their human “servants” feeding them, changing their liter boxes, and brushing their fir. They think, “I must be God.”

Sometimes I call Russell, the cat, “Your Excellency.” He seems to like it.  

I do not, of course, in any way compare him to any human member of the hierarchy.

However, he does seem to have certain hierarchical qualities.

For one thing, he is rather particular about his food. He likes quality. He will only eat a certain brand of cat food and then only certain flavors.  It must be the fish or chicken paste dinner. He accepts no substitutes. His Excellency, Russell the cat, is a creature of fixed habits.

His Excellency, Russell the cat, is not much of a talker like many bishops. However, he is a surprisingly good listener. I think he would make an excellent confessor. He listens in a non-judgmental way but never repeats a word. Unfortunately he falls asleep when I am talking to him.  

The rectory definitely belongs to his Excellency, Russell the cat.  He tolerates my presence but he is the Lord of the manor. I often find him stretched out in my favorite chair. I move meekly to the couch.

His Excellency, Russell the cat, does not like other cats on his territory. There can be only one “fat cat” around here.

On the other hand, he is very forgiving. No matter how grouchy I have been in the morning, he forgives and forgets completely by evening.  

His Excellency, Russell the cat, has many fine qualities. It is a pleasure to serve him.