Wednesday 21 September 2011

Our Confused Relations with the Cat

Our thoughts about, and our relations with the cat are contradictory and rather strange. We all know about the ancient Egyptians who were so captivated with the cat that they adopted them for their deities. But it wasn't all rosy for cats at that time. Cats were sacrificed and probably bred for that purposes. A highly contradictory state of affairs.

We use the name of the big cats in all manner of ways, particularly in commercial sporting enterprises. The tiger and lion represent strength, fearlessness and courage; characteristics that we often lack and desire to possess, particularly on the sports field. Yet we also like to declaw the big cats and make them caged pets, thereby totally denuding the animal that we admire of all that we admire about the animal. I find that highly contradictory too. And I find it sad.

We farm the wildcats for their fur. We do this in the wild through hunting or we simply treat captive wildcats as livestock. All the wildcats have beautiful coats. Some are stunning. The more stunning the cat's coat, the more eager we are to kill it, skin it, and possess the dead, cured coat. That too I find bizarre.

The rarer and more precious the wildcat the keener we are to kill it and possess the dead carcass to sell it on, thereby making the species more precious and more valuable until the inevitable conclusion arrives.

We draw cultural richness and great enjoyment from the wildcats. Yet we gobble up their habitats and kill their prey at the rate of knots, thereby extinguishing them from the planet. Very odd don't you think?

We treat our cat companions as family members. Yet in America this precious and lovable family member is brutally mutilated in an entirely legal fashion through the process of declawing, a word that is a gross misrepresentation designed to fool the people who do it.

We both admire and fear the cat. This is perhaps at the root of our contradictory behavior and emotions towards it. Millions love the cat and millions hate it. It is a companion and a pest. It is certainly the reason why the wildcat is being gradually removed from nature and why the domestic cat, an animal that we can truly manage at our convenience, is growing rapidly in numbers.

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