Cactus-Tailed Cat

Cactus-Tailed Cat, Photo by Cheryl Batavia

Cactus-Tailed Cat

In nineteen thirty-six, in Sunday school,

someone said: Did you hear about Harvey?

You mean that guy who always acts the fool?

I heard that he has Hepatitis B!

Oh, wow! I didn’t know that he was sick!

They think he could die. We might lose a friend.

We’ll cheer Harvey up. Think of something quick!

A dozen roses would be nice to send.

The Sunday school class wanted to be kind…

Roses were too expensive, it was clear.

A cat with a cactus tail…What a find!

What a perfect gift to bring Harvey cheer!

Harvey, my Dad, was too stubborn to die!

Fifteen-year-old Harvey dodged tragedy!

That cactus-tailed cat was the reason why

they joined the Church…Harvey’s whole family!

Harvey became a Methodist preacher,

devoted to service for fifty years.

He was a story-teller and teacher;

he visited the sick and calmed their fears.

My Grandma gave me the cactus-tailed cat

that changed the family’s way of living.

The cat’s now a gift for my daughter that

honors her life of service and giving.


CopyrightΒ© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


This poem is based on a true family story as told to me by my grandmother and my father. The first three verses are an imagined conversation showing how the Sunday school class decided to send the cactus cat to my father in the hospital.

The cactus-tailed cat is ready to send to my daughter, Ellen, in Texas. Ellen is an ordained Baptist chaplain and is taking seminary classes. She has taught Recovery classes for several years and is an administrator for the program.. I am not sure what her future plans are.

Disclosure: The cat is posing for this photo with an improvised cucumber tail. She is looking forward to getting a new cactus tail when she arrives in Texas.

92 Comments

    1. Thank you, Ashok! ❀ The funny little cat and the story have been part of our family lore for about eighty-five years. Glad you like them! Your good wishes to my daughter are very much appreciated! ❀ Though our point of view may differ, she is a wonderful person, and I am very proud of her! Have a great week, Ashok! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you, Offshorewriter, for your lovely comment! ❀ If it weren't for the little cat, I wouldn't be here. πŸ™‚ It means a lot that young people are interested in hearing my old stories. This one goes back for about 85 years in my family. Have a wonderful day! ❀

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  1. This is how culture is handed over from generation to generation, sometimes in form of tales, sometimes nostalgic pictures, and sometimes even as a cat with a cactus tail. A simple gift of love that far outlasted the dozen roses. This is what is to love about friends really! we too have such memorabilia carefully stored in a showcase over many years, and a large collection of books by my father, which me and my daughter enjoy whenever we visit home.

    I loved this poem of compassion and culture hidden inside a funny cat. Your dad did rich payback to the society for the kindness he received, and I see it was well handed over to you too Cheryl on the way to the future generations πŸ’–. A lovely read!

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    1. Deb, I don’t know where to begin telling you how much I appreciate the kind thoughts you share. ❀ Thank you so much for telling me about your family mementos and books by your father. The cat and the story have been in my family for about eighty-five years. I like very much your observation that the cat "far outlasted a dozen roses". Indeed! πŸ™‚ Have a great day and a wonderful week ahead! ❀

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    1. Thank you, David, for your kind comments and good wishes. I am hoping that this poem and the cat will be meaningful to my daughter, She is following in her grandfather’s footsteps in that she is always helping others. We don’t agree on a number of things, but I am very proud of her! All the best! ❀

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    1. One chaplain? Wow, what a narrow attitude, Kate! How many different religions and denominations are represented in your area? And what about individual preferences? Maybe things will change. Have you ever worked in disaster areas? My daughter has expressed an interest in doing that. Enjoy your week! ❀ ❀ ❀

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      1. doubt it Cheryl … we seem quick to feed and give temporary shelter but even those with fully insured houses haven’t started the rebuild one year on from our bad fires! Now they face heat waves in tents with no running water 😦

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  2. What a great poem for your family history and such a great “hand me down” of faith. Good luck to your daughter from your father, Cheyrl! It was a lovely read and such a cute little cactus tailed cat! ❀️❀️❀️ Cindy

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    1. Thank you, Cindy, for your wonderful response! ❀ That silly little cat represents a positive change for my father's family. I don't think I would have ever been born if it were not for the cactus-tailed cat. I thought it might be meaningful to my daughter as she seems to be following in her grandfather's footsteps. I don't share my daughter's religious views, but I am very proud of her for her lifetime of serving others.

      Stay well and be happy. I admire your work which helps many people find health and happiness! ❀ ❀ ❀

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      1. You are so welcome!!!
        WOW! I hadn’t even thought of that Cheyrl and if you were not woth us, we would have missed your beautiful and insightful presence. 3 cheers for the Cat Cacti 🌡 and You πŸ€—
        I honor and salute you! Oh I sure can’t understand things about my children either but we live them in-spite of it. Sometimes I wonder: β€œwait, who raised you?” Lol.

        You stay well too and thank you so much for that very kind comment! πŸ’•β€οΈhugs and love! πŸ’•C

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    1. Thank you, Michel, for the kind and beautiful response. I am so happy that you liked the poem, and I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

      Yesterday, I planted a cactus in the cat and mailed it to my daughter. I am hoping it will be meaningful to her as she follows in her grandfather’s footsteps.

      All the best!
      Love ❀
      Cheryl

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    1. Thank you, Dwight, for your kind response. Yes, a simple act of kindness transformed my father’s whole family for generations to come. I am very proud of my daughter. She has lived a life of service to others. ❀ I hope you are enjoying your Christmas festivities πŸ™‚

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  3. I put together a new wreath for the outside and bought a couple of poinsettias for the porch. When my daughters were here, they used to help me trim a tree, but I have decided to keep it simple this year. I will also make latkes sometime during Hanukkah! Enjoy the tree trimming with your grandchildren. That sounds like a wonderful tradition! ❀

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