Cat Born to the Purple, 4th volume in the Yeshua’s Cats series, picks up the story from Yeshua’s Cat of a young woman who was stoned. After finding her battered and barely alive in the burning hills near Sepphoris, Yeshua healed her and renamed her Eliana, “God has answered my prayer.” He settled her in Cana with his friend Eli to keep her safe from her husband and mother-in-law, who had accused her falsely and incited the mob’s violence. Now, in Purple, she’s beginning to put her life back together—except for the memory of her stoning, which she has walled away in darkness. Eli’s wife Rachel encourages Eliana’s extraordinary gifts for weaving and needlework, hoping Eliana can make a living with her skills. But a year after her healing, Eliana’s in-laws begin to suspect that she’s still alive, and Yeshua returns to help Eli find her a new place of safety.
Eliana accompanies Yeshua and his cat Mari to the Phoenician coastal city of Acco, where her talent wins her an apprenticeship with a prominent merchant dealing in the royal purple murex dye. A Jewish widow, sold into slavery after the rebellions at Sepphoris and now a freedwoman living as an adopted member of the merchant’s family, takes Eliana in and helps her adjust to her new world. While in Acco, Yeshua discovers that the merchant’s peculiar devotion to the goddess Bast has twisted the hearts of the many feral cats living in his house. Believing that their descent from the cats of a ruined temple of Bast makes them divine, the merchant has convinced them that they are godlings in their own right—with unfortunate results. For the first time in his ministry, Yeshua reaches out to deliver non-human creatures ensnared by human wrong.
Eliana, now widowed and her name altered to the Greek “Aeliana,” prospers in her new home and learns the secrets of the priceless purple dye. A clever speaking kitten with a fascination for looms and a gift for dreaming becomes her constant companion, as well as the book’s narrator when Mari departs with Yeshua. After meeting a young Anatolian merchant, Aeliana finally begins to believe in the possibility of love, in spite of the constant threat of a co-worker’s violence. Still, although she follows the One’s light as best she can, she is shattered by the terrifying evil loosed on the world at Yeshua’s death. But together with all creation, Aeliana’s life is made whole at last in the miracle of the Resurrection.