Libertarians and cats – UPDATED
Before a cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend
Some little token of esteem
is needed, like a dish of cream.
T. S. Eliot
Why is it that so many in the libertarian leaning bit of the blogosphere have or like cats? I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes to think that they’re natural libertarians but I’ve been watching ours today and I’m not so sure anymore.
Take the Non Aggression Principle, and take the fact that one of our cats just chased the other the length of the house for no readily apparent reason. And no, it wasn’t a game if the hissing and growling was any indication.* Cats like to have a territory and defend it aggressively, and what’s that if it’s not protectionism? They hunt and kill not because they’re hungry but because it pleases them to do so. And the remains of those garden creatures whose last sight in this world was five kilos of striped doom are often brought to us, their human companions, for… well, for reasons best understood if you’re a cat, obviously. What have you got there? A battered but still slightly warm mouse? Why, thank you, it’s what I’ve always wanted. It’ll go just perfectly with the partially dismembered frog you gave me last weekend.
And then there’s the whole thing with the domestic arrangements. We feed them, sometimes with food from our own plates – one of ours will literally take food out of your mouth.** We keep them in our houses and often provide per beds especially for their exclusive use, and they still want to get on our beds and sometimes even in our beds. That we might already be in there is irrelevant. We’re expected either to make room, stroke them, be a warm thing to sit on, or hold a book nice and steady so it can be nuzzled, butted and face-rubbed, and more private activities are permitted only if you don’t object to miaowing and scratching from the other side of the door. We are their healthcare provider and transport, as well as worming and flea control service. We praise them for being naturally clean animals but as often as not end up providing them with their own toilet facilities so they don’t have to go outside if it’s raining. And who cleans those toilet facilities and refills it with fresh litter? Yeah, that’s right.
And in return for all this they repay us by restricting the choice of furniture to something that is either claw-proof or too cheap to matter, and looking out for our safety by making us turn lights on while wandering the house at night so we can avoid any strategically placed hairballs and piles of sick. I’m sure they would keep mice and rats out of the granary if we had a granary, but since we don’t the arrangement seems a little one sided.
Nature’s libertarians? Orly?
Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy….Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance) that it’s often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.
P. J. O’Rourke
Perhaps the appeal is choice. Without having a practical need we choose the company of these preternaturally self-centred creatures knowing that we’ll have to provide so much for them. But what we get back is knowing that they stay with us because they choose to, and that they’ll seek out a hand to nuzzle or a lap to sit on not because they’re hungry or want warmth, but simply because they feel like being near us. So tomorrow morning when the retarded, howling vomit boxes decide they want breakfast about 45 minutes before either of us are really ready to wake up they’ll be forgiven. Because this evening they will, as usual, follow us into the bedroom and curl up by our knees, happily burbling away to themselves as we fall asleep.
What it comes down to is that when a creature that’s both utterly self-absorbed and afflicted with raging attention deficit disorder chooses to spend its time in your company of its own free will, it’s paying you the highest compliment it can.
The dog, on the other hand, just thinks you’re the boss.
UPDATE – Awwwwwww, cute!.
* Normally they get on but now and then a small war happens. Before long things are peaceful again. Cat lovers with more than one probably know this.
** Mrs Exile said I should never have been lying face up on the floor with bits of medium rare fillet steak held between my lips in the first place and that I have nobody else to blame.