You guys have probably seen earlier posts about my cat, Scarlet. I don’t know if it is because of how she had to survive before I found her, but she is a crazy intense hunter.
I’ll wake in the middle of the night, to her growling under the chair by my bed. She’ll have the corpse of some small animal or bird in her mouth, and she will proceed to eat the entire thing, without sharing a bit of it with the other cats.
She teaches her babies to hunt, by bringing live mice to them (usually right into my bedroom, where she turns the mouse loose :~/. They often escape under my bed…). She is a tiny thing, but sort of turns into a little lioness when it’s hunting time, despite the fact that she is definitely fed enough.
Despite this aggression, she is incredibly tender with her babies. Some Mother cats do the bare minimum with their babies. They feed them, and that’s about it. They perch on a tree near the nest so they can see if something tries to attack the babies, but they aren’t interested in snuggling.
Heck, we’ve had cats who give birth and walk away without a glance at the babies.
But Scarlet loves her babies.
I go out to look at them, and she purrs, giving me a look as though saying, “These are mine, I made them. Aren’t they awesome?”
She’ll come out of the nest for about five seconds of attention, but has to go back with the babies quickly.
I tried to take them out of the nest, to get them used to me, but she was very insistent that they needed to stay in the nest, and I could pet them there.
Within the last few days though, she’s been letting me take them out of the nest. I put a blanket on the ground nearby, and put all of the babies on it. Then Scarlet joins us.
The first day, she sniffed at them, as though deciding if they were safe, then laid down with/on top of them, and snuggled with them, purring loudly.
She only let me keep them out for about 15 minutes the first day, then let me know that it was time to put them back in.
The second time though, I was with them for about an hour, and only had to leave when the mosquitoes started biting. The babies keep growing, and I think their nest is getting a little small for all of them. Scarlet seems to enjoy being able to stretch while she snuggles with her babies.
She wraps her paws around the babies, hugging them close as she licks them. Then she just lays there, holding them.
There are people who say that animals don’t have emotions like people have. And they say especially that cats only care for themselves.
But I think that is nonsense.
Yes, a lot of things that animals do have to do with instinct. And I have seen Mother cats who care for their kittens more out of a sense of instinct rather than fondness. But I genuinely believe that the way that Scarlet acts toward her kittens is beyond simple instinct.
What about it? Is this tenderness genuine affection, or mere instinct? My mind isn’t likely to change on the matter, but I would love to hear what others think.