The Post-Work Idyll To Be Found In Post-Felinity

This post is part of our Work Symposium. An introduction to the symposium can be found here; all of the posts written for the symposium can be found here.

I’ve mentioned the summer of sixteen cats ad nauseum (short version: we trapped sixteen ferals in the back yard one summer because grief is one hell of a thing). I don’t really intend to bring it up again except to jump from the idea of work-as-meaning that I mistakenly have held in the past to whatever “the goal” of a post-work society will end up being.

Chumky was our marriage cat. Maribou adopted Chumky when she (Chumky) was about 4ish. I remember holding Chumky in my lap and petting her as she purred and kneaded and feeling somewhat sad that Chumky never knew the joys of being a momma cat… the joys of fulfilling her biological imperative before being named after Noam Chomsky (we think) and being dumped in a Montreal humane society. Maribou pointed out that, hey, Chumky was 4ish and could well have had a litter prior to our getting her. I nodded… but now I look back and think “what a strange thing to wish for a cat.”

Time passed and the cats in the back yard gave me something of an existential crisis after Chumky died. We caught the ferals, cut out their reproductive organs, then put them back (or, in the case of the kittens, got them adopted). The other day, I happened to mention to Maribou that that felt weird… like we were robbing the kittens of something. Hunting for their own food, that sort of thing. As it was, we took these mid-level predators our of the ecosystem and put them in our house to lounge around, eat catnip, eat pre-prepared food (some with hairball formula, some with urinary tract formula), sleep on beds, couches, chairs (and under them). It felt vaguely “unnatural”.

In talking to Maribou about this, she reminded me that the kittens we caught were very, very sick by the time we got them, to the point where some were going to die without treatment. All of them had to be put on both anti-biotics and anti-parasite medicine. One or two of the kitties were going to be dead before they saw six months had they continued living “authentically”.

Then I think about stuff like my job and whether I’m missing out by doing backups and checking logs and verifying that patches didn’t break the system instead of hunting and/or gathering my food and I shudder and am pleased that I go to the supermarket to purchase food prepared (to some degree) by another person to take it home to prepare it and eat it. I look forward to the evening where I can sleep on a really, really fluffy bed. I look forward to my retirement where I will be able to enjoy the human equivalent of catnip… but, most importantly, just spend my days surrounded by human and feline loved ones who are spending their days in similarly “inauthentic” ways.

The only thing that really bugs me is the whole “we spayed/neutered the cats” fact and I find myself wondering whether this is where the analogy breaks down or whether this is where the analogy really starts to get interesting.

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8 thoughts on “The Post-Work Idyll To Be Found In Post-Felinity

  1. The Russian bemoans the fact that all our furballs are fixed. He was particularly upset when I took Diesel in to be clipped because he really wanted Diesel to have a chance to mate. Yeah, it’s not natural that our cats don’t get to reproduce (as it’s something cats are very, very good at) but one trip to the shelter should be enough to cure any romantic views one might hold about letting too many cats do what comes naturally.

    The same could probably be said for people. Modern medicine might make it possible for humans to reproduce at Duggar-like levels given that a good percentage of the kids will survive to adulthood. But is this a good idea? There’s much to be said for effective birth control, even if it’s unnatural.

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    • +1. I see no way to get from where we are today to enough electricity to give 7B people access to anything like a developed country median lifestyle. Let alone 9.5B by 2050, assuming the UN’s latest medium-fertility estimate. Lots of ways to screw up the planet trying, though. But I’m an old cynical pessimist; maybe the optimistic youngsters will figure out something.

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  2. Odds are pretty good that your cat, out in the wild, is living a fairly unnatural existence anyway.

    Cats and dogs are practically symbiotic with people.

    And not being actual normal predators for their region, they do an awful lot of damage to local bird populations and whatnot.

    Pretty sure those bird populations are grateful for neutering of invasive predator species.

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    • But predators that the humans eliminate did eat birds, for example foxes do. (Let alone the wolves, since dogs will occasionally eat a stupid bird, then one may conclude that wolves will). In addtion the wild cat and lynx will eat birds. So it is not clear that compared to the totally wild environment that birds are in more danger with dogs and cats loose. Where I live I have seen a few foxes wander around, and wish them luck to get rid of the mice and rats.

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      • Do not underestimate house cats Lyle, they are incredible incredible killing machines when it comes to birds and with no natural predators they can absolutely ravage bird populations in ways that natural predators can’t.

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