Night Nurse: The Care of Humans, By Cats

Lately I’ve been suffering from a particularly virulent – ahem – strain of viral bronchitis. I’ll be fine, but anyone who has had a bad bout of bronchitis knows it can take quite a long time to clear. Fortunately, I have plenty of chicken soup, herbal tea, and a devoted night nurse, i.e., The Cat.

Cats often get short shrift from non – cat owners. They’re viewed as largely selfish, detached, and less intelligent than dogs. In my experience however, a good cat is a good furry friend indeed, particularly when you are under the weather.

The other day, I was having a painful time trying to breathe. I had overextended myself in trying to return to my normal level of activity too quickly, and returned home short of breath, frustrated, and a bit frightened. I lay on the couch, worried that my bronchitis was turning into pneumonia.

Into this situation sauntered The Cat. At first she climbed up on the back of the sofa, settled herself on top, and stared at me for a long time. After awhile, she came down, snuggled into the space between my right side and my right arm, and put her paw on my right ribcage, where my pain was more acute.

If this sounds surprising to you, it wasn’t really to me. Some years ago, when I was suffering from runner’s knee, she came into bed one night, settled down next to my bad knee, and did the same thing. She just knew.

Now, how a creature with a brain the size of a walnut can be so perceptive about human illness, who knows. A friend reminded me of the story of Oscar, who used to visit patients in the nursing home a few hours before they died. I don’t think The Cat here at home is a harbinger of my impending demise, of course, and yet there is a similar, uncanny ability on her part to know not only when something is wrong, but occasionally, exactly what hurts.

At night then, when not feeling my best, I can be reasonably sure that my night nurse will turn up, meowing and head-butting me, just to make sure I’m alive, and to stay with me until I fall asleep. It’s not a job I expect her to perform, and I don’t quite understand how or why she does it. And yet a little, furry comfort like this is certainly a gift from above that I am not about to question.


10 thoughts on “Night Nurse: The Care of Humans, By Cats

  1. I loved this. My Weasel (so named because he weaseled his way into the house and our hearts) will snuggle with me until I go to sleep.The other night (after I had taken a bath earlier and still had damp hair) Weasel began grooming me. Hope you get to feeling better!


  2. My cat never quite bonded with me until I got the answer I needed (that I wouldn’t get toxoplasmosis or any other nasty bug I’ve been reading about from letting the cat sleep on my bed since it’s indoor only and won’t bring home cooties from the ground or animal life it encountered), and I finally quit closing the door when I went to sleep. He’s never as happy as when he gets to cuddle under my chin when I go to sleep. A couple of times when I went to bed in pain, he’d stand there on my arm, evaluate, then rest his head on my cheek and purr hard until I fell asleep. When he’s on medication he surely can tell time, disappearing a half hour before dosage, before I even get to my “get the medicine” routine, so,it’s not from watching my actions. Then there’s the always fun (to him only) game of “touched your nose” as I’m trying to fall asleep.


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