February 2016

The surrogate mother: a case of Lac humanum

by Geoff Johnson

Oct 2015 consultation: Maya the cat stayed in her basket for ten minutes and then came half way out, looking around. She then emerged tentatively, slinking, and timid. She then went to her owner and stayed next to her for a few minutes before returning to her box. Then, she did the same again, jumped up, and stayed on the lady's lap for a while before returning to her box.

She seemed to have a small body compared to her head.


She was brought home from the RSPCA in February 2013, aged eighteen months; she was tiny, hiding under a blanket. She settled well at her new home and quickly became confident and curious. On return from holidays, Maya welcomed the owners home without sulking but her coat had gone thin, especially her back, hind quarters, and abdomen. It remained that way. The owners did not see excessive licking or grooming but suspected she did this when on her own.

Maya is an indoors cat, partly by her own choice, showing no interest in going out. If the door is left open, she stays inside and looks out the windows.

She is very loving and enjoys cuddles: “She sits in my arms like a baby and latches onto me,” says Sue, the owner. She often kneads when on Sue.

I ask Sue: Who are you to Maya? She replies: “The surrogate mother”.

What is the most extraordinary thing about Maya?

Sue’s partner replied: “The way she clings and attaches herself to Sue. She wants to be part of the human family – in fact she seems more human than feline.

“She would be sympathetic we think, but we are never ill or sad. She is never vicious and is always sweet and forgiving. If a visitor arrives, she sits observing from the top of the piano. She notices animals on TV. She likes a lap as soon as we return, and occasionally with a visitor that she knows. If there are loud voices, she goes to another room.”

She drinks normally but Sue describes her behaviour as 'secret drinking', as if she does not want to be seen.

She has a picky appetite. Her favourite food is salmon, and she won't touch milk, butter or cheese. She eats paper.


There is not a lot to go on. She is sweet and gentle, which could indicate many remedies. The aetiology was probably being left when the owners went on holiday and the neighbour came in and fed her. Again, this could indicate many remedies, but none of the usual possibilities like Pulsatilla, Staphysagria, Natrium muriaticum, Ignatia or Carcinosinum seemed right.

So what is unusual? Not a lot really!

I listened to the owners words: 'latched on', 'clings', 'attaches' are all words we would use to describe an animal suckling. The owner said “surrogate mother”, and “lies like a baby”. She is affectionate and likes a lap. She will not touch any dairy products, which is certainly unusual for a cat. A Lac remedy would have to be considered. There is a rubric: “Generalities – food and drinks – paper desires”. This rubric originally only had Lac caninum but has been expanded to two remedies with the addition of Lac felinum, which makes me think that maybe any Lac could be in there.

I decide to try a Lac – but which one? Maya does not seem like a predator or particularly like a prey animal. The owners say: “She wants to be part of the human family.” She has no wish to go outside into nature but likes the house.

I decide to give her Lac humanum 200C.


Two weeks later the owner phones, saying that “nothing has changed.” So, I tell them to wait.

Four weeks later: the hair is re-growing and she is fine for three months. When the hair again began to thin, I repeated the remedy, and Maya has had no further problems to this date, ten months later.

This is the first Lac humanum cat I have had, and the case intrigued me. I had postulated that a domesticated animal needing Lac humanum might be very vicious, arrogant and dangerous. For the animals on our earth, there is no more cruel or dangerous beast than a human. This is not the case with Maya.  I look forward to seeing more veterinary Lac humanum cases to possibly gain insight into what the animals think of us...

Photo: Shutterstock
Cat in carrying box; Vivienstock


Categories: Cases
Keywords: latching on, clinging, attaching, like a baby, desires paper, staying indoors, dislike milk

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