Abbot Tryphon and his friend the Mountain Cat

The Abbot and I

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Hammi the Norwegian Forest Cat and his Norwegian Abbot Friend

Soon after moving our monastery from a rental house and into the temporary quarters of an old trailer house, Hammi arrived. We startled each other midway between the foundations of what is now the library and the trailer. I reached down to him and he came right over to greet me. Picking him up, I took him to the trailer and introduced him to Father Paul. Both of us had talked about the need of getting a cat as a mouser. This cat seemed to be ideal.

Father Paul was less enthusiastic, since we were both allergic to cat dander. Father was a bit upset when I opened a large can of salmon, giving a small portion to this visiting cat, yet within a week the cat was sleeping on Father Paul’s bed and we were wondering why we were not having allergic reactions to our new housemate.

From the beginning this cat was a real ham, so we named him Hammi. It was a number of years before we discovered Hammi was a Norwegian Forest Cat, known for having personalities similar to dogs, and NO cat dander. Perfect fit!

Anyone who’s ever visited the monastery has been met in the parking lot by our beloved Hammi. He always runs down to greet visitors, accompanying them up the steps to the courtyard. Whenever we are sitting on the porch or in the library, Hammi is usually nearby. If he sees one of us heading into the forest for a walk, Hammi is right there with us.

Hammi the Norwegian Forest Cat

Many Orthodox children are familiar with the book, The Abbot and I, a story told by a cat who resides in the cell of the abbot of a monastery. When children visit with their parents and meet Hammi and the Abbot, they are of course reminded of this book. I have a copy in my study and will gladly read it to visiting children.

Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows how important they can be to the life of a family. Children learn to be responsible and compassionate when caring for their pets. Older people, especially whose living alone, find companionship and unconditional love from their pets.

Our lives are enriched when we share our homes with animals, for that special bond which develops between we humans and our pets enriches and sustains us. Truly, pets are gifts from God.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon