First of all, let it be known that while I'm settling in well here in Rockford and love my apartment...I miss my cat. Emme has been living with my parents (and their three cats!) for a month now, and I don't like the fact that a year from now she might not remember me! But she's a very cuddly, loving cat. I think that she'll readjust to living with Matt and me in our Chicago apartment...but I'm a bit possessive. When I go back to Villa Park for, say, Thanksgiving and Christmas, or for a Sunday afternoon visit, she'd better come sit on my lap!
One of the things that I love about Emme is that she knows when we are feeling off, either physically or emotionally. If I had a headache and curled up on the couch with a blanket to try to rest it off, she'd pick up on that and curl up by me. On a few Saturday mornings after Matt had pulled a week of all-nighters and thus earned his sleeping in until noon, she'd pick up on that and stretch out next to him, refusing to leave his side. This isn't specific to Emme, either. Last summer, during CPE, when I spent the first three weeks feeling sick, not really eating, and not sleeping well, I spent a lot of nights curled up on the couch in the middle of the night, watching the Home and Garden Network or something innocuous like that, hoping that I could distract myself into falling asleep. Bert, one of my parents' cats, would come and curl up by my feet to take care of me. I really do believe that cats have some sense of what we humans are going through and have an urge to be caregivers.
So when I read about this cat this morning, my first instinct was to think about him as another example of a cat who has caregiving instincts, albeit of a more morbid variety. There's something comforting about this animal who appears to want to care for and comfort those in the last hours of life, even if they aren't able to recognize his presence.
It is also a bit terrifying to me. Can you imagine coming in to visit your loved one and finding that cat curled up next to him or her? All of the sudden knowing that they are about to die? I suppose that my own set of (probably unhealthy) biases and fears about death and dying make me want to leave a bit more mystery to the dying process. That is to say, I don't know that I would want my loved one's death to be predicted, y'know? I suppose that if someone has been dying for a while, or if death is expected, then having this cat clue you in to the fact that this person was in their last hours might be ok. It's just a little bit creepy, even as it's amazing and comforting.