Over this past year or so, I have learned a lot from cats.
I have never been a pet owner, per se, and it isn’t so much not wanting the responsibilities, as I have plenty of those.
No, it is the belief that no creature should own another. In many ways it makes a slave of the “lesser” creature, loved and taken care of as they well may be. The notion that any animal can only eat at another’s will, or poop where they are supposed to, or stay when they want to go out … well, frankly, it all smacks a little of slavery to me.
Which is why the kitties down here in the office are free to come and go. The door is open all day and at night they are given a choice to come in for food and protection from the night, should they wish. Mostly they choose to but occasionally they choose not and I have to be ok with that.
Daisy was the first of the feral cats to live with me as such and her first litter had many of the qualities that you associate with ferality (there you go, I invented another word. Meaning “having the behavior and characteristics normally associated with wild creatures”). They have a marked level of independence, a strong degree of jittery (necessary in the wild), and an acute skill for survival.
Last week’s loss of Fluffy, who unlike his feral friends here was a domestic kitty, was incredibly hard for me to take. I doubt that I will ever get over the loss and I curse those that abandoned him in the first place along with the murderer that ran him over. But, it reinforced in a way the strengths that ferality brings and the advantage that it bestows on the bearers.
Lincoln came in yesterday afternoon while I was working on the PC and I looked over and saw her with her hand in the water fountain, cutely playing while she drank. I ever-so-quietly grabbed the camera and was just about to take the first shot when she turned around and caught me.
I swear that I made no noise. But her sixth sense kicked in and she knew she was being watched.
She doesn’t trust me at all and she has been through some horrific wars that she is holding me responsible for. There was the time she was stuck in the engine compartment as a kitten as I drove the 20 minutes to Walmart. How she survived that I will never know, but she hates me for it. She definitely used up one of her nine lives on that adventure.
And most recently was the hand-to-hand combat that I had to engage in catching her to bring her to get spayed. She bit so hard and clawed with all her might. After that, she got into some savage exchange with someone outside that left a nasty gash on her cheek. But I was never brave enough to try to put cream on it. It healed slowly … but it healed.
So yesterday, though I bribed her with some treats on the ground, she watched me with every bite, ready to run if I encroached our 2 meter demilitarized zone.
There are a few pics of her here at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy.
Lincoln is now about 10 months old and from a time when I couldn’t tell her apart from her identical siblings, she has blossomed into a uniquely wild little lady.
She climbs trees higher and faster than anyone else here and is continually chasing squirrels. The squirrels think they can outrun and out-maneuver her but I am not so sure. One day, we will probably see, much to the chagrin of an over-confident squirrel, methinks.
There is always an hour or two where she stays outside chasing things, rather than coming inside for the night and occasionally it becomes an all-nighter.
Much as she hates me, I adore her. I see all the lovely qualities that a wild little creature should have. Her independence is entirely feral and she is acutely tuned in to what is happening around her. If you have heard of a cat sleeping with one eye open, it is her. She is razor sharp.
So it all got me thinking about why humans seek to domesticate and breed away all the wild attributes of creatures that they wish to empet (there you go … another word. Means to turn something into a pet)?
We take little creatures from their own habitat and get them used to ours. We spay them. We train them. We groom them. We then assign human characteristics to them. When Disney includes them in movies they have almost entirely human characteristics.
Is it their independence that we fear? Does it remind us of something that we humans do not have? An animal in the wild is entirely free. Only humans capture them. Other creatures may kill them for food and occasionally different creatures have a symbiotic relationship with each other, but they remain free thinking, free behaving … totally free.
We have traded our freedom for certain comfort and socialization aspects.
In America we proclaim ourselves as “the land of the free” but it is just words. No human is truly free.
And maybe that is why we try to eradicate freedom everywhere we find it. We are jealous of any creatures that we haven’t enslaved … “why should they have the freedoms we can’t have?”
So we destroy their environments, kill en masse, and rehabilitate the survivors so that they can function within our environment with the rules we set for them. “No, Rover, bad boy. Hold your pee until my show is over and then I will take you for a walk over by the neighbors yard.”
Can you imagine a world where you were only allowed go to the toilet when it suited some other controlling creature?
So, I look at little creatures like Lincoln and I admire them for their ferality (I really love my new word).
They may live by their wits and their longevity in life may be determined by factors related to where they are on the food chain. But they live THEIR life. Not mine.
Our ancestors determined thousands of years ago that humans were weak and unable to survive as solitary individuals or small-pack groups. So we learned how to live in larger protected groups (safety in numbers) and our socialization characteristics came from there.
We had to establish rules in order to live together in large groups … rules that were able to protect the weakest among us from the strongest (in theory).
But it is important to understand that this civilization was therefore fashioned from fear and not freedom. Fear is what kept us safe within our caves until we could develop weapons and numbers that helped establish a superiority. Freedom is what the creatures outside the cave experienced.
… just a thought.