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Do Cats Show Compassion?

Lisa Marie Gabriel is a poet, composer and multi-genre author who lives and works in Lincolnshire and is not Anne Rice.

A rare shot of an elusive house panther.

Our house panther

Our house panther

A Potted History of the Night Stalker

This little chap came to us a year ago in a desperate state. He was starving, suffering from allergies and skin problems and semi-feral. We believe his owner may have passed away and he was surviving by raiding the hedgehog food. It took us quite some time to earn his trust. When we realised he was living on our conservatory roof in all weathers, we took him in. Attempts to find an owner failed. He is now our cat and although terrified of strangers, he is a happy little boy.

Oh, the name? Knightly because he came for supper each night but he is also a very gentle creature so it seemed to fit.

Knightly inspects the Guttering

A head for heights

A head for heights

Knightly Loves Heights

Apart from the conservatory under the eaves, another favourite look out spot was the roof. He would make his way over to the chimney and hide behind it., especially if Turpin, the local highwaycat, came prowling. Turpin is an intact Tom and he is not averse to protecting what he considers his territory. Despite being a big cat (over six kilos) and looking quite fierce, he is a very gentle soul and chooses to hide from trouble.

These days he spends most of his time curled up on my bed, at night he comes for his routine cuddle and I am not allowed to move for hours. There is still a touch of the wild kitty in him though and he loves to race around the garden and, obviously, climb up high when the mood strikes him.

The Holly Nest

He has a nest about eight feet up in the holly tree

He has a nest about eight feet up in the holly tree

The Holly Nest

Yes, that is the panther in the holly tree. We have allowed the clematis to grow in and out of the holly over the years and the panther has a nest up there. It looks beautiful when it flowers and cutting out the dead vines might be difficult. It is hard to see what is actually dead, so there is a platform of sorts up there which the blackbirds exploit, and so does the panther. Sometimes I think he believes he is a bird - which leads me neatly into our story.

Every morning after breakfast, he likes to prowl the garden; not just the safe enclosed wild garden that protects our little Persian girl, but both sides. You can't confine him, he runs up the fence as though it isn't there. Usually, I leave him for a while then walk round and he follows me back. On this occasion, he sat down by the water butt and wouldn't move.

I thought this odd, but as his habit is to eat a little, wander, come back and eat some more I left him to it. I checked him again in fifteen minutes. He was still there and he started to sniff around the drain below the downpipe.

"Oh, have you found a bug?"

He looked up at me and sat down by the water butt. Again he refused to follow me back in.

"OK, I suppose it's nice here, you can stay until you get hungry."

I left him and carried on with some household chores. Another fifteen minutes, still no night stalker, another check seemed in order. He had settled between the wall and the gutter.

"OK, is it a rat then?"

He looked up at me with those big green eyes and I heard a fluttering. It became clear what had caught his interest. There was a trapped bird in the downpipe. I went to fetch Colin and the two of us disconnected the water butt and tried to figure out for the first time ever how to dismantle guttering and drain pipes.

When I finally worked out how to move the bottom pipe, our hero scampered off and climbed the fence. Then he surveyed his catdom from the holly nest. He made no attempt to capture the bird, which scrambled out and flew away unharmed.

I really have no idea how long the bird was trapped in that pipe but he undoubtedly saved its life by refusing to leave its side. So, do cats show compassion? I think so. We rescued the panther, he knew we wouldn't want the bird to suffer and there was nothing he could do - but he knew just what to do to get us to act!

Knightly in his Natural Habitat

In his new home

In his new home

Do Animals Think?

Do Cats Show Compassion?

My own view is that we are not all that different, however much we humans like to think we are special. We are all too closely related by DNA for this not to be the case. Dogs nurse orphan kittens and cats have ducklings for friends. We have all seen this in action. Lions may indeed lay down with lambs. Perhaps we humans should learn a lesson from this.

Buddhism for Cats

© 2022 Lisa Marie Gabriel

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