There are so many myths surrounding cats, many of them unkind. Cats and babies are one of the richest sources of these 'bad cat' myths, such as "the cat will suck the baby's breath," or "take its milk." Hogwash!
Cats, like people, each have their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. Some are sweet, some are aloof, some are shy, some are grumpy, some are silly. Very few are mean, and those that are usually have a history of having been mistreated.
Most of the time, cats are very affectionate and surprisingly social animals. Like people, they can have their 'off' days, or have disagreements with each other. Any serious change in a cat's behavior lasting more than a day usually warrants an investigation for health issues.
Those are but the basics. Today's story is about one particular myth-busting incident I heard about first-hand from the people who owned this particular cat. This happened probably 30 years ago; I heard the story from them on the order of 20 years ago. Now, I'm putting it out for everyone to see what amazing creatures cats really are.
This family had a cat, and then had a baby. The child, at the tender age of 4 months, came down with pneumonia. It was imperative that the child be kept warm, especially that his chest was wrapped up. The doctor instructed the parents to swaddle the child, and put him to sleep on his stomach, so the warmth would stay against his chest, and he (theoretically) could not undo the wrappings.
Unfortunately, this is the age at which a baby has just about learned how to roll over by himself, and he kept doing so. The parents would hear him cry, and go find him on his back, crying and coughing. If they could not keep the infant covered and warm, he would have ended up in the hospital, and the outlook was not good.
At the time, they had a good-sized black kitty, who had been simply sitting on the dresser watching this routine: the parents came in, re-wrapped the infant, turned him back on his belly, soothed him back to sleep with comforting sounds or a lullaby, and left the room once again.
After about five times of going through this routine, Mom and Dad decided they had better go check on the baby, as they realized they'd not heard him crying for some time.
When they entered the room, the baby was sleeping peacefully, and the cat was lying on the baby's back, both keeping him warm, and preventing him from rolling over and uncovering his chest. The cat was purring, which is a soothing sound, helping the child to sleep.
They simply looked at each other in astonishment, petted the cat, and left the baby to sleep, checking in on him every so often. The cat continued her vigil over the next few days, and the child recovered with no ill effects.
When they told the doctor what had happened, he told them, "That cat saved this baby's life."
Now, the point of this story is not to initiate any discussion of child-rearing methods; whether or not they should have simply held the child, or what have you. You cannot reasonably hold a baby all day and all night. Even though you spend more time soothing and comforting a sick child, there remains the running of the household and the care of the other kids.
None of that is the point. The point is, cats are not evil; they are not stupid; they have good instincts, and given loving care and gentle handling themselves, they are capable of returning that treatment in kind.
There are many who claim that animals "can't think." I beg to differ. If this story does not illustrate an animal's ability to think and act, nothing will, and I feel sorry for those who remain unconvinced.
This is but one story. Search the Internet--you'll find plenty of stories about cats saving lives....sometimes at the cost of their own. Love a cat; you'll be better for it.
"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
..... Mark Twain, 1894