And chocolate. Contrary to the panicky statements made by my cat loving friends that it is "bad for them!". "It's bad for you too," I say, "stop being such a finger wagging hypocrite." I don't give him much, he doesn't want much anyway. But I give him some. It seems mean to sit there eating delicious chocolate, with him sniffing around clearly interested, and not offer it. He is my friend after all. If you were sitting there with your best friend on the couch in front of the heater on a winter's night, enjoying each other's company, snuggling even depending on how close you and this friend were, and then you brought out a yummy stash of the finest organic chocolate laced with orange essence (or peppermint, both favourites in this house) and began eating it with relish, would you not offer your friend some? Would you continue eating your chocolate despite the pleading looks and suggestive motions of your friend? I think not. It would be rude. Well I think cats, and all our animal companions (I refuse to call them pets, that is so demeaning) deserve to be treated with the same respect one would give to a cherished human. Away with the double standard, I say! Even calling them "animal companions" is a bit daft, considering that I am also an animal, and therefore Mat could legitimately call me his animal companion. But then Peter Singer's coining of the term "non-human", although factually impeccable, is a bit humanocentric, despite it's attempts not to be. And "fluffy friend", although kinda nice, always makes people laugh at me, which doesn't quite work either. I don't know that there is an easy way out of this. So bear all of this in mind when I use the term "animal companion", please.
Anyway, back to the story of what my cat, Dr chops, eats. He eats chocolate, as I mentioned, but he also enjoys bits of cheese, and ham, and sliced turkey. Like all good food lovers he enjoys his deli goods. He also likes cream - he will tolerate milk if there is nothing else but only really the organic unhomogenised stuff, he won't touch regular milk. He likes KFC. When we are having an eggy fry up for breakfast he loves to have some runny egg yolk - I used to fry him up his own egg coz runny egg yolk is a favourite with everyone in this house. And tonight I discovered he likes coconut cake - a particularly yummy concoction I concocted up off the top of my head this afternoon (why it took me so long to combine the joys of coconut and vanilla I shall never know). He was licking the crumbs off the plate so I asked Mat to cut a thin slice for Dr Chops and crumble it for him. It's all gone now.
So my aim here is not really to showcase the gastronomic adventures of my wonderful spirit cat. I am actually making a point. A point about our animal companions. Humans have so successfully separated themselves from nature that we have decided that when we live with an animal they are our playthings, and that certain kinds of animals living in an urban setting must all be owned (such as cats, dogs, guinea pigs, miniature pot-belly pigs, or any kind of pig really), and that any cat, for example, that is living a free life that doesn't involve humans is a "stray", which must be captured and subdued, have it's genitals forcibly removed under sedation (!!) , and either given an "owner" so it can live in a house, or killed! I mean really, how shocking is this?!?! We buy and sell these beings without a second thought. We breed them, and then separate children from mothers at will, preventing almost every one of these poor creatures from ever spending more than 6-8 weeks with their mums. Those poor mums! I think this is so sad! It's actually really quite insane. We are all so conditioned to see this state of affairs as being quite normal, and even right, that chances are you are thinking that I am a bit loopy right now, and clearly "one of those people". But think about it. Our human systems of interaction are not set in stone. They were not handed down by some mystical deity. We made them up. And we can unmake them. Unfortunately for the non-humans we have opposable thumbs, more complicated brains and are often stronger (than the urban creatures anyway), so in this case might wins. But is this right?
I have a beautiful book that I bought from a lovely second hand bookstore in Warrandyte on one of my lovely random drives into the countryside that I used to enjoy once upon a time before I had my beloved daughter. It is called Cats of the Greek Islands, or some such thing, and is filled with the most beautiful pictures of these most fortunate of the world's feline creatures, living amongst the people of the Islands, never as pets, but as true citizens. They loll about in groups and clans. They wander. They have babies. They look after their babies, and stay by their side, until mother and child naturally feel the inclination to be more independent. They sleep curled amongst each other, and they play cheekily, as cats will do. They eat fish at the wharves when the fishing boats bring in their catch, and are loved by the residents, who also give them tasty tidbits from time to time. And most importantly they are free. They are truly free.
In my next life I'd like to be a well-fed and happy cat living on one of these islands. In the meantime, while I am a human in my current form, I take it upon myself to make the life of my beautiful feline companions, Dr Chops and The Mysterious Crunch, as comfortable and autonomous as possible. And I think I am doing a good job - they are two very happy cats. And very well fed.
Weekend reading - We went out to dinner at the local Korean BBQ last night with Kerry, Sunny and Jamie. The dinner was a little family celebration of Kerry and Sunny's new...
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