It's a weird menagerie we have here. Three cats are the new normal for a while.
We used to have the oldest cat, who is no more - a black and white domestic short hair I referred to as "The Monk". Whereas cats usually hiss at and try to fight with unknown cats and get into a sort of dominance combat, he was completely uninterested. He greeted any creature of any species with a gentle kindness, was never in any hurry to get anywhere, and seemed to contemplate the universe at all times. Even when you did something to him that hurt, as I discovered when I had to try and clean out a burst tumor that reeked and ejected foul thick pus and showed a wound clear down to the shoulder muscle, he'd register his disapproval by gently attempting to move your hand away with his paw ONCE, but then would come to understand that you knew his objection but were doing it anyway and therefore you had a reason.
He died of kidney failure last year. Well, we had him euthanized but it was kinder than watching his weight drop below four pounds, whereas at one point he was eighteen. He went out in the carrier one day and never came back, and I'm sure that had an effect on the other cats.
The oldest we have now was one we got as a bundle of whacking at things, and she's a domestic longhair, ginger in color. She has a furiously bushy tail which she wraps theatrically around her like a 40s movie star adjusting her stole. She hates all other living creatures except the two humans in the house, and refuses to interact with any other cat. She had a fondness for the Monk - when she was a kitten he playfighted with her as she wished, even though that was completely against his nature. Now she spends her days hissing at the other cats to keep them away. She's gorgeous in a flowing lines way, graceful and curves.
We then acquired the oldest middle one we have now by finding him in our yard - he was a half-starved angular pile of tiger stripes and a white chest I called "Hobbes". I've written a few times about him, and his transformation has been incredible. Not only physically - he went from a wobbly legged meowing kitten to a well-muscled, handsome adult cat. But he also went from always sleeping by my side to moving from that position to make room for the youngest. He also went from attacking and playfighting with The Monk to leaving him alone when it was clear to him that he was too sick to play. Now he spends his time playfighting with the second youngest, and being a kind of den father to the rest - from a flip-flop chewing "little shit" as the wife called him to a mature individual who still sleeps within an arm's distance, but clearly has a protective and paternal role.
The younger middle one is a stunted-growth black and white domestic shorthair, who will never achieve adult size. We adopted her from a huge load of cats taken from a hoarder home. She never receieved enough to eat, which is why she'll always be stunted. She attacks the other cats in a "jail house" mentality. The oldest runs and hisses, and Hobbes simply runs over and pins her down until she starts to cry, and then lets her go and she runs away. If she's the jailhouse cat needing to prove she's not one to be messed with, Hobbes is the guard. Psychologically, she'll probably never change - she'll steal any food left out and eat as much of it as she can before someone tries to take it away. That includes white bread, vegetables, and even things that aren't food by cat standards. No matter how much we feed her she's genuinely scared she'll never see a meal again. But even then, she purrs very regularly as soon as you touch her (you're not allowed to pick her up, though) and she WILL pin down the youngest and bathe thim furiously, because she is VERY unhappy with his lack of hygiene (by her standards).
The one in hospital is a very handsome cat who has female markings and is a riot of black, white and tan. He's tiny, and perhaps he'll stay so. He was a bundle of energy until one day he stopped playing and slept a lot. Cried for food but never ate it. Hobbes scowled at us accusatorily as if we could fix this but didn't, and was even angrier when we took him away. He knows what a cat carrier is but doesn't seem to remember what it's for, he associates it with an animal leaving and doesn't really know for sure if it means that animal is coming back. There's still some kind of inherent trust, even as he communicates he isn't happy with the little one being sick and us seemingly doing nothing about it.
Because I brought him home and stayed with him the first day and a half, the little one has almost mother-bonded to me. He'll sleep alongside me where Hobbes used to, oblivious that that was Hobbes' spot. Hobbes has absolutely ceded this in a kind of gesture I never expected from him.
What's interesting is how the dynamic of the house has changed now that it's day three of the kitten being away. Hobbes' progression from rambunctious kitten to father figure, complete with fatherly concern couldn't be more obvious.
The hoarder cat cares on some level but is frightened there is one less food bowl, the more of them that are out the more comfortable she is, and she eats from all of them.
The diva can finally get more attention from us, so she's happy.
Only we know what's going on, but we can't tell them. It'll be interesting to see how they react to him being better, but not recovered. It's just been an interesting ride to see the psychologies and relationships in the cat brood change.
EDIT: we got the news from the vet that the kitten went into cardiac arrest and died. He had not one but two ailments, and the second one, FIP, is absolutely fatal. They determined this when they tried cardiac epinephrine on him, and the needle hit nothing but fluid. And when they saw the fluid they knew then and there it was absolutely hopeless.