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Jane Bates: Animal magic in tending the sick

How would you test a patient’s mobility after an operation? Jane Bates didn’t need to thanks to the creative intervention of her friend’s cat Fergus.
Jane Bates

How would you test a patients mobility after an operation? Jane Bates didnt need to thanks to the creative intervention of her friends cat Fergus

Most people are given grapes or flowers when they are ill or a magazine or two. My friend got a dead magpie from her moggie Fergus.

Although hes not usually a voracious hunter, when his owner was languishing in bed in a post-anaesthetic haze he popped through the catflap with this gift, plonking it on her duvet with a satisfied yowl.

Even though she screamed and made a rapid exit more avian offerings followed. As a member of my local wildlife trust I was spared the details, but I know the local pigeon population took a heavy hit.

And an early morning frog, another present from her cat, made her run around the bedroom like an Olympic athlete as she

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How would you test a patient’s mobility after an operation? Jane Bates didn’t need to thanks to the creative intervention of her friend’s cat Fergus

Most people are given grapes or flowers when they are ill or a magazine or two. My friend got a dead magpie from her moggie Fergus.

Although he’s not usually a voracious hunter, when his owner was languishing in bed in a post-anaesthetic haze he popped through the catflap with this gift, plonking it on her duvet with a satisfied yowl.

Even though she screamed and made a rapid exit more avian offerings followed. As a member of my local wildlife trust I was spared the details, but I know the local pigeon population took a heavy hit.

And an early morning frog, another present from her cat, made her run around the bedroom like an Olympic athlete as she has a phobia of amphibians. So when Fergus fetched her another one I knew there was no need to worry about her post-operative mobilisation.

We used to have a terrier who smothered the family with affection if they were sick. It was heart-warming, although maybe she was worrying about lunch.

We expect dogs to be attuned to human illness or distress, not cats. But not only did Fergus leave presents, he hardly left my friend’s side. Instead of basking in a sunny spot or using the neighbour’s garden as a lavatory, he snuggled up to her.

It illustrates what a comfort pets can be. Unless you are a magpie. Or a pigeon. Or a frog. 


About the author

Jane Bates

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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