…but is he happy?
Too many people who philosophise about animals give the impression that they’ve never owned a pet. I’ve already blogged on John Gray’s Straw Dogs, which fails to develop the idea that humans are simply the most evolved animals over here and have just read Lilian Pizzichini’s How we cruelly lobotomise cats in the New Statesman. Lilian’s mostly concerned with the treatment of farm and laboratory animals, but includes neutering cats in her list of crimes; robbed of their natural instincts they become, ‘lobotomised balls of fluff that live only to eat and sleep’. But hold on, aren’t cats crepuscular?
When it rains, Critter looks outside, sighs and goes back to bed, but today is spring like and he’s returned with muddy paws. He’s been hunting on the banks of Chorlton Brook. He studies the water – there are fish – and has been known to jump in, but not today. At some point he’s chewed some wild plants that have a hallucinogenic affect; his eyes dilate wildly and he chases stuff that isn’t there; go too close and he’ll slash you. But once the effects of the drug wear off, he’s tired and insists on sleeping on your lap.
So I’m more convinced by Yann Martel’s excellent Life of Pi (which I reviewed over here) which offers this in chapter four, ‘Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity… where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must be constantly defended and parasites constantly endured’.
Sex wasn’t Critter’s only driving instinct. He doesn’t have to hunt, but on nice days he does – untroubled by worries that it’s cruel – and he has his weeds.