Sunday, November 16, 2014

A defense of cats (not that they need it)

For some reason, I have been annoyedly mulling over, for a couple of weeks now, an article that appeared in Ezra Klein's Vox blog concerning cats.  The case it sought to make, essentially, was "cats are bad."

Okay, I'll grant Vox the fact that cats kill a whole lot of birds.  But that obviously is only outdoor cats.  Our four have no chance of meeting wildlife other than creatures that we unabashedly classify as vermin if they cross the threshold into our house.  (I am far more benign towards these creatures when they remain outside.)

Then there was another point I suppose I have to grant, concerning the risk of getting diseases from your cat.  But lots of things that one may want to do have downside risk - and if that's dispositive, why ever leave your house or cross the street.

The point that really annoyed me in the Vox article was this section about how cats don't really love us.  Although in a sense, ahem, not entirely, completely, 100 percent untrue, my thought was: How pathetic and neurotic one would have to be to find oneself thinking, about one's cats:  "Do they love me? Are my feelings not fully requited? (whimper, sob)."

BTW, as I type this I have little Gary sitting on the tabletop next to the keyboard - he finds the cursor interesting and I have to save occasionally and keep him off the keyboard if I want to keep going.  But I digress.  Back to the "love" question.

If you are spending your life with a (human) significant other, the question of whether there is genuinely reciprocal love strikes me as rather important.  But suppose instead that we are talking about a pet.  Suppose that he* is beautiful, active, interesting, at times hilarious, playful, has strong feelings and distinctive personality traits, is definitely interested in you, often follows you around, sometimes likes to be petted and/or held (depending on individual feline taste), likes to rub against you sometimes (OK, granted that they also rub against the furniture), is extra friendly if he hasn't seen you for a while (this is true of ours, though not of all cats), puts you to some extent in the "mother" slot in his brain, purrs when you pet or hold him and he is in the mood, etcetera.  If, despite all this, you are going to start blubbering to yourself: "But does he love me as much as I love him?," then you are way too needy.  Enjoy the good things, and if that's not enough for you stick to dogs (or get yourself some helpful psychoactive medication) but recognize that it is your problem, not cats'.  (BTW, I have nothing bad to say about dogs - I agree that they're great, it's just that they're a whole lot of work, especially in an urban setting.)

If cats are simply not to your taste, then fine, no quarrel here, lots of us have different tastes in various respects and yet can have mutual respect, some of my best friends don't like cats, etcetera, although I'll admit to not counting it as a point in one's favor.

*I say "he" because all four of our cats are boys.

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