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.