George Bowers Sr. Learning from a Sand Cat

Imagine an animal so elusive that it hasn’t been spotted in ten years. Imagine further that it appears unexpectedly on a trail camera in the dark of night and in the middle of the desert. Such was the case with the secretive Arabian Sand Cat.

Although it appears very similar to house cats in size, shape, and color, this peculiar critter is the subject of concentrated study and concern. It is native to wide swaths of Middle Eastern and North African deserts, but because of its nocturnal lifestyle and apparent desire to be left alone, little is known of its habits and behavior.

Without a ready supply of Meow Mix or Nine Lives, its food instead consists of small reptiles, mammals and birds. Because of the harsh desert conditions these food sources are not overly plentiful but, in addition to providing nutrition, they do supply all the water these kitties require. Although their cat dish is nonexistent, their litter box is enormous.

After a ten year drought of sightings in the western United Arab Emirates, researchers in Abu Dhabi successfully collected nearly 50 photos of three different individual animals. Needless to say, the excitement created quite a stir and even optimism among those who feared these cats had fallen into the ranks of the threatened, endangered, or extinct. Continued study will help ensure that this unique creation is better understood and protected.

One of the characteristics of this feline that differentiates it from our regular house cats is the extra-long hairs that guard its ears. Without these special protectors, the blowing desert sand could easily enter the ear and damage the animal’s crucial ability to hear. These “ear whiskers” allow the sounds of potential prey animals to enter freely while filtering out all the harmful grains of sand thus enabling this hunter to remain near the top of its food chain.

As I learned about these rare animals, I thought of our own need for ear filters. Even though we don’t live in the middle of a hot sandy desert, we are bombarded daily by a barrage of messages. We are inundated with everything from news to advertisements, from popular music to conversation, and from curses to blessings. It is sometimes difficult to sort through the cacophony of sounds to identify that which is right and true.

While the Scripture instructs us to set a guard for our lips, we also could benefit from one on our ears. We need to hear the truth of God’s Word and the encouragement of others, but we would be better off without much of the other sound pollution that can corrupt our minds, distract our focus, and jade our thinking.

Since we don’t have special hairs, we must filter our own incoming sound by selecting what television programs we will watch as well as what radio stations we will listen to. It’s also to our advantage to avoid frequent conversations with individuals who are either consistently negative or habitually foulmouthed. Although we can’t control everything we hear, we can and should use judgment to regulate what enters our ears as much as possible.

The old maxim, “Garbage in, garbage out” is also true in the opposite as well. Philippians 4:8 tells us to spend our time thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Because what we meditate on is often governed by the inputs we receive, it’s important that our inputs meet these same guidelines.

While the zoologists and researchers rejoice over the sighting of this long lost Arabian Sand Cat, let us learn a lesson from its unusual ear hairs and filter the auditory input we receive. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for other kitties that can remind us of them. In Jesus, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books including his latest, Valley Verses, Volume III. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.