|Natasha and Abbey|
“There is no such thing as "Just a cat.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
One of the reasons I started this blog is to emphasize the value of cats as part of all of Nature, a part of God’s creation as important as any other.
How many of you have heard someone say these words: “It’s just a cat.” It could be when your cat dies, when a cat in a shelter is euthanized, when someone expresses concern for the welfare of an animal. “It’s just a cat” implies a devaluation of the animal. He or she just doesn’t matter, so why in the world are you getting so upset?
How many of you have heard people express hatred for cats? It’s not just a preference to have dogs in their home versus cats. It’s not just a desire not to be around any animals. It’s “I hate cats,” a socially acceptable thing to say.
How many of you have thought you were talking to a real cat person, one who felt the same way about felines as you do, only to find that people “love cats” in differing degrees?
Several years ago I sat next to a woman I did not know at a banquet. I noticed that she was wearing a cat-themed, very chic sweater. I thought I had found the perfect conversation starter.
I asked her if she liked cats. Oh, yes, she said. I told her about my cats.
Then she told me about the cat she had who had gotten sick. She had taken him to the vet, who said he could be treated, but the treatment would be costly. She had chosen not to have the treatment.
“A thousand dollars? For a cat?” she said, laughing. Yes, laughing.
Sometimes it’s a lack of funds that keep people from getting vet care for their cats. Sometimes it’s a matter of the cat not being worth the expense. He or she is just a cat.
When I was growing up on a farm, cats were always around outside, but I don’t remember any having names. I’m certain they never received vet care. And I’m certain they were never allowed indoors. They were just barn cats, farm cats.
Many people have barn cats or farm cats who live outdoors, but they are recognized, named, cared for. Not on our farm.
And only a handful of friends and relatives had a cat that lived indoors.
So I grew up not understanding cats, not really thinking about them except to think I probably didn’t want to live with one. I was mirroring the values I saw around me.
Of course, all of that changed when I adopted my first cat. Since I’ve been on the “other side”—the side that values cats—I’m more sensitive to the casual attitude people have about cats and the outright hatred that some people have.
I don’t expect everyone to be a cat lover. I don’t expect everyone to have a cat in the home. What I do want to see is universal respect for cats.
There is a lot to be explored with this subject—how values are created, how our culture shapes us, how the media shapes us. I’ll be writing more about it down the line. But please share your thoughts on this.
Have you noticed that the language about cats in the general public is not always respectful? Has anyone ever told you, “It’s just a cat”? Where do you think our attitudes about cats come from?