I know cats have a stigma of being evil little robots who care for nobody but themselves. I don’t deny that there are some out there like this. But in defense of the large majority of darling cats who have been given a bad name due to the wicked few, I would like to tell you a story…
I am asthmatic. I’m not as bad as some; my asthma is generally well-controlled, and I don’t have much trouble with it on a daily basis. However, as all asthmatics know, getting sick becomes a nightmare. Even a small cold can turn into a days-long asthma attack, one that is very painful, and very annoying for me and those around me. The asthma cough sounds like an ill seal at best, or an angry moose with a nasal condition at worst. Y'all with asthma, and y'all with asthmatic friends, know exactly what I’m talking about. The bark. The hack. The Cough Heard Round The World. It’s painful, it’s loud, and it doesn’t stop. Even the rescue inhaler can only do so much to calm it. It just has to run its course with the cold.
Well, this week I caught the crud, and in the past few days it deteriorated into The Cough. Last night, I took some NyQuil to try and stave it off for as long as I could, just to try and get some sleep. That meant that for a few hours, I was cough-free. After that, I was still doped up enough to sleep through some of it. However, by 2am the sleep aid had worn off and The Cough woke me up. Since lying down makes it worse, and I didn’t want to wake my sister, I sneaked out of my bedroom into the living room, where I sat on the recliner and proceeded to hack up a lung while I waited for my next dose of NyQuil to kick in. That is when I noticed Simon.
Simon is a Russian Blue with a masterful resting-witch-face and an attitude to match. She (yes, she’s a girl, that’s another story) is old, fat, proprietary, and attitudinal. She isn’t shy about telling you when she is displeased, and does so with a loud shriek and some teeth or claws thrown in. She is convinced she owns the place, and owns all of us in turn. She is particular about where you can pet her, like most cats; and, like most cats, she loves her sleep and hates to be woken up.
And of course, my hacking woke her up.
Attempting to whisper an apology in between bouts of coughing, I noticed she was getting off her perch atop the chair nearby. She stretched, made a little squeaking sound, and trotted over to me.
I expected her to demand petting as payment for having woken her precious sleep, but she did not. Instead, this traditionally cranky dragon of a cat did something that amazed me.
She began to purr loudly, and sat herself directly on my aching chest. She kneaded my sternum softly, and nosed my chin as if to say, “I’ve got this, you sleep.” Even though I was still coughing, and bouncing her horridly in the process, she remained settled on my chest right above my diaphragm, purring loudly so that it vibrated through my ribs. I don’t know what magic spell she was chanting between her boat-like purrs, but within minutes my cough had subsided and I was able to sleep.
I didn’t wake up until about 4:30. When I did, it was to discover that my lap and chest were devoid of Simon’s presence, and I was coughing again. As I started coughing once more, I heard her familiar “I’m here” squeak from the area of the water dish. I heard some hurried lapping, and then her heavy gallop across the floor. She flumped onto my lap again, and resumed her purring and kneading. She had evidently been doing that for the past 2 hours, and had only left to get some water. Hydrated, she had returned to take care of me.
So yes, she has her share of evil, jerk-cat moments, but I can no longer pretend that Simon is entirely heartless. For that matter, I now refuse to believe that about any cat. Just because they act like a jerk doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.