Domestic cats were rare in Judea.  This must be true since there is no word in ancient Hebrew for a ‘feline friend’ or house cat.   But you can be sure there were cats taking care of business just outside Judea’s doors.

We know from ancient records that Egyptian palace workers watched the diet of their royal working cats to be sure they guarded grain bins from rodents.  Judea’s working cats were just as critical to protect the harvests and health of its citizens.  Who can forget that a bite from an infected rodent flea caused the Bubonic Plague?  Or that your Salmonellosis food poisoning started from rodent feces that spoiled an ingredient in your meal?

The Christmas creche or nativity scene features cattle, sheep, oxen and donkey, but rarely includes a working cat.  I think it should.  And to make it fun, here’s a slightly revised version of Baker & Regney’s 1962 Christmas song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  Bet you can’t read it without humming along!

Said the night wind to the working cat:

Do you see what I see?  Way up in the sky, working cat
Do you see what I see?  A star, a star, dancing in the night
With its tail raised high, twitching bright
With its tail raised high, twitching bright

Said the working cat to the shepherd boy:

Do you hear what I hear?  Way up in the loft, shepherd boy?
Do you hear what I hear?  A mouse – wait, mice! – creeping through the night!
I will find them fast despite poor sight!  They will soon feel claws and my might!”

Said the working cat to the mighty king:

Do you rule where I rule?  Not your palace warm, mighty king
Do you rule where I rule?  Your kingdom now is sleeping safe from harm.
I have killed the rodents that swarm, and the slithering snakes never warm.

Said the king to the working cat so hailed,

Listen to what I say:  Guard the crops of people everywhere!
Listen to what I say:  Guard the night, hunt creatures causing harm.
And spay/neuter ‘til your number falls.  Show your eartip proudly to all!

This article by Head Cat Susan Kumpf appeared in the December 2019 issue of Vicinitus Haywood as “The Gifts of the Magi”.