When sickness strikes one member of a group, it can bring out protective attitudes in other group members who normally exhibit only hostile behavior. This picture, by Amy Thompson, captures a unique moment in the Thompson household.
Cats, like people, compete for social status within a group and often show aggression towards those who threaten their position in the group. This can change when one of the cats in a groups falls ill.
Tonight Dr Jekyll, normally one of the most aggressive cats in the Thompson household, took on the role of nursing Loki, who has been exhibiting signs of feline epilepsy.
Jekyll licked Loki awake, then walked him to the litter box where he stood guard. Then he stood guard while the kitten fed from the community feeding station. Normally the kitten is pushed out of the way by the larger cats, including Jekyll, so this new behavior by Jekyll was highly unusual, to say the least.
Loki has had several brief seizures since we arrived. At first we thought they might be nightmares, because they usually occurred when he was sleeping, sometimes even when he was purring. When it happened, he would shake uncontrollably for almost a minute and then collapse in a semi-conscious state with irregular breathing and trembling. He recovered each time after we comforted him. The other cats were in attendance during some of these attacks, so it may have been evident to them that the kitten was unwell.
Doug and Amy will be taking Loki to see the vet as soon as possible, but it is a good sign, to me at least, that he is getting special attention from another cat as well.
We have seen for ourselves how our cats will become especially protective of us whenever we get sick or injured, but this is the first time I had seen an aggressive cat become protective of another.
I hope you are all well during this holiday season and if you are not, I hope that you are receiving the same love and attention that we are able to give Loki. It is a difficult time when you are sick or injured. Having a friend or loved one to look after you is the best that you can ask for.
Be well and take care of each other. May we all start the new year in good health and a good state of mind.