Note: This was inspired by me spotting a cat in 1x02 during Cora and Violet's conversation during tea.
Isobel climbed the stairs towards Violet's bedroom. The formidable Dowager Countess was recovering from her attack of bronchitis, but it was slow going. Violet had been adamant that Robert not be contacted or told about her illness, which surprised Isobel, given how much Violet disliked Cora's family and Robert's trip to help them out, but she suspected that Violet didn't want her son to worry about her. She couldn't fault her, she'd done the same when Matthew had been in the army, thinking that he had more important things to worry about than her having a cold.
As she approached Violet's bedroom door, she was surprised to hear the older woman talking. Easing the door open, she was surprised to find Violet sitting up in bed, playing with her cat.
"Minerva, what're you doing, you ridiculous kitty?" Isobel was amazed to hear the affection in Violet's voice, which belied her words. The cat was on its back, playfully swatting at Violet's fingers while the older woman was tickling its belly.
Isobel was amazed. She'd known about Violet's cat, but had assumed that the cat was simply there to rid the house of rodents. It had never occurred to her that Violet was genuinely fond of the animal. The sight of the Dowager Countess of Grantham playing with her cat and sweet talking to it was something she would've never believed the other woman capable of.
She watched Violet play with the cat for a few more minutes before closing the door and slipping back down the stairs, she needed time to process this new view of her sometime collaborator. She'd visit Violet and Minerva later.