I love having a cat, and Laila adds a lot to my life. But I realized recently that she is utterly lacking in empathy when it comes to human sickness.
I've been sick with a cold for about the past week and a half now. I initially thought I'd be able to kick it pretty fast since, after all, it's just a cold. But of course colds come in gradations, from the "just a cold" variety to the "monster viruses that bring on secondary infections and leave your abdomen sore from all the coughing" variety. My cold belongs to the latter category. Throughout this ordeal, it has been clear that Laila doesn't like my coughing, particularly when I have a coughing fit while she's in my lap. But she hasn't seemed to connect the annoying sound to any discomfort on my part.
Her lack of empathy became very apparent Friday night, when I had hoped for a good night of sleep that would put me on a fast track to feeling better. I got up for the second time at around 4 AM when it became clear that I wasn't going to be able to sleep because of all my coughing. When I came out to the living room, Laila concluded it was cat breakfast time and started meowing loudly. I told her it wasn't time for breakfast yet, and started making myself a cup of hot herbal tea to try to calm my cough.
The worst moment was when I sat on the couch with my hot tea in hand, started coughing before I could set the cup down, spilled scalding hot water on my thigh, and yelped. Laila's response? Industriously scratching the couch. She didn't even look up at the sound of my yelp.
I still highly recommend cat ownership to anyone. After all, cats are fun most of the time. But don't buy expensive furniture if you're going to have a cat. And don't expect any concern from them at all when you're sick.