Lilly believes that Carole is her mother. Of that I have no doubt. Oh, she knows that she's a cat, all right. But somehow she thinks Carole is her mum. Every night she jumps up on the bed, marches across my carcass, and climbs up on Carole's chest where she gives Carole one big kiss after another with her sandpaper tongue. That's a greeting that is reserved specifically for momma.
If Carole is working the night shift delivering babies Lilly will still jump up on the bed at the usual time. And then she is always surprised to find only me there. She looks at the situation with some surprise, marches across my carcass as usual, checks the place where Carole should be, looks once more at me, and then jumps down. I am definitely not the momma.
The only time I'm ever treated with anything like the affection reserved for Carole is when Carole is at work and Lilly is lonesome. Generally these fits of loneliness occur when I'm working on a manuscript. Lilly will come into the office, hop on the desk and stand in front of the video screen and stare at me. Then I have to sit back and allow her to hop into my lap. She will then give me one, very brief kiss on the tip of my nose and settle down in my lap to be rubbed. I'm not the one she needs, but I'll do in the meantime.
Lilly and the cats constantly remind me that animals are persons with emotions and free will. They are not robots. They do not merely respond to the forces around them, but make their own decisions.
A tortoise with compassion. Yeah. It's the real deal.