Of felines and humans.
Sometimes, we humans think we are unique in the animal world, in ways which, actually, we are not. There is a tendency to attribute to humans a special set of values and behaviours which, of course, we think, no animal could ever have. Recently, I have come to observe how similar another animal is, to us, in what, to me, were surprising ways.
At our house in Kuala Lumpur, we have five cats – well, one mother cat and four kittens. We didn’t actually buy these cats…the mother turned up one day, and miaowed in search of food…and we, touched, perhaps, gave her some. She has stayed ever since.
Now, not long ago, I noted something very sweet about the mummy cat’s behaviour. Whenever I put out food for her and her family of kittens, she would not eat anything. She would sit off to one side and let her kittens eat, watching them warmly. She was never seen to eat, until her kittens had had their fill. Sometimes, this meant that they left nothing for her…but she would not complain.
This was quite affecting to see. It seemed to speak of a motherly love, of the cat, for her kittens. She was putting their needs before her own. This is something which a human mother might readily do, of course – but it was a surprise, to me, to see a cat…an animal with quite a small brain…do so.
On another occasion, I saw another behaviour which is very familiar from human conduct. One of her kittens, has what I would call a bad personality. He is always hissing at everyone – be it human, or animal. He even hisses when he seeks food from us. It is a nasty little hiss and sounds quite offensive, in a way. Well, one day, he hissed at his own mother. She reacted swiftly by hissing back at him, then swiping him, stiffly, with her paw. He was knocked back.
This again, seemed very “human”. It was of a mother scolding her child and then slapping him, for his poor manners. Again, I found it unexpected, since the behaviours were exactly akin to what one would find in a human, in similar circumstances.
It is observations and reflections like this that lead me to understand that we should all be much more kindly to our fellow animals in this world. They are much more like us, than you might believe. Yes, they are simpler – but they often share common “emotions” , which allow us to see parts of ourselves in them. It would not surprise me if there were not some common nature and set of responses, spread widely throughout the animal kingdom. I have seen enough of such, in our cats, to believe so.
If you have any interesting animal stories, please share them below.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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