Warning: This post might be inappropriate for some audiences. Please use discretion.
If there is any way to truly judge humanity rightly, it is how we have treated – indeed created – other species. We tamed the flora and fauna of the wilderness, then tamed the wilderness itself to create agriculture. Humans have had a profound impact on the evolution of both dogs and cats, the former aiding in hunting and guarding the homestead, the latter controlling vermin and protecting grain. One of the things that has happened with both species is an emotional connection developed between humans and their resident animals. We selected these animals for their disposition and utility, and instead got something else – the capacity for a bond that links people with these creatures, transcending their utility.
What I have seen – and what I have been experiencing – is when that bond exists outside of any boundary, and the interaction between the animal and the human becomes one where the human derives self-esteem from the pet living under the same roof. This is the house I live in – four cats, one kitten, and a history of valuing pets over people. For me it is about one cat in particular and her first litter of kittens.
The cat’s name is Climber, born outside as a feral cat. Cautious but outgoing, she learned to climb up the porch roof and kneed at the glass. The occupant of that room reinforced the behavior with food as a reward for touch. So when he discovered that Climber was expecting at less than a year old she was brought inside.
I have tried in vain at suggesting either FACE and Indy Feral, but I hear a large number of excuses, including distrust of vets and animal clinics, believing that they are fronts for animal experimentation. What I really see is a festival of projection and transference onto the pet so that the human feels they themselves have value. It’s about an unwillingness to deal with responsibility and grief. It also means that the house smells bad and is dirty all the time. The man who owns the pets has a high tolerance for the messes animals make. Even if he is in a deep sleep I yell him awake and expect him to deal with it right then. I have worked to make the kitchen better (it is), but the rest of the house is awful.
We don’t know why, but the first three kittens that Climber had didn’t make it past day 3. I had to deal with a forth, “Tiger”, today. I don’t know if one man’s desire for validation by cat is responsible for this kitten’s death, but as I walk with that poor kitten’s body in my hand, I can’t help but feel that more and better could have been done.