Infant Empathy

Evs is obsessed with our cat. So I let him watch me give the cat her medicine.

She’s an elderly cat, 15 years old. Last week, we thought she might be dying. She stopped moving, eating, or drinking. She just lay on the bed, purring when I pet her, while she dwindled from her already-tiny 8 pounds to a quite-disturbing 6 pounds. It turned out that her pancreas had failed. Surprisingly, cat pancreatitis is actually treatable with extra fluids, enticing food, and antibiotics that address the related infections. So now she is back from the brink. All it took to revive her (besides expensive blood tests at the vet) is a twice-a-day dose of antibiotics. Every morning and evening, she lets us catch her — even seems to walk into the kitchen to ask for her medicine — and then she clenches her jaw while we force open her mouth and squirt in the antibiotics. Most of the medicine goes in, but some drools down her chin in a long white Ho-Chi-Minh-style beard. It’s pretty gross, but Evs doesn’t seem to mind grossness, so I thought it would be amusing for him to watch me give the cat her medicine.

Everett furrowed his brow and I realized — too late — that, to him, it looked like Mommy was hurting the cat. Then the cat scratched my hand, so I said “Ouch,” loudly. And Ev started to bawl. Louder than when he hurts himself, he cried because he saw that the cat hurt me.

My baby is brilliant.

I, on the other hand, was lacking in empathy for his ahead-of-expectations levels of empathy.


One response to “Infant Empathy

  1. e961

    Agreed. All four of you are brilliant.

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