May 4th, 2010


Family Cat

This began as a comment to someone's response to the recent LJ Writer's Block question: "Some animal rights activists are fighting to replace the term 'owner' with 'guardian' to convey a more balanced relationship between a person and her or his pet. Do you agree or disagree with the importance of this mission?" I decided to blog my comment; the response became moot after I began typing.

Trudy has been part of the family since 1990 when we adopted her. We have watched her grow from tiny kitten to kitten to cat to middle aged cat to old cat to very old cat. She will be 20 on May 25. My friends know her by her name and her screech. Over the years, my family and I have spent upwards of several thousand dollars in food, supplies, and medical visits and shots, etc. on Trudy alone, not including the other animals in our care for those years. Now, comparing a pet owner to a car owner, I supposed there is not much difference in that respect. But my car doesn't come when called, even when it's running. My car doesn't look orgasmic when it's scratched beneath the chin. My car doesn't lie purring on my chest until it falls asleep. (You don't need to make the obvious joke that a car shouldn't do that anyway because it would crush me.) On the other hand, my cat doesn't break down; she becomes ill. Trudy doesn't require maintenance to keep her running; she requires yearly shots and checkups to ensure she is healthy and to extend her life. And when the day comes that she is unable to live without serious pain, I will relieve that pain rather than watch her suffer needlessly at the end of her long cat life, as sadly I have had to do before with other animals.

Most of all, however, is this: when I am sick of my car, I can trade it in or sell it because I have no attachment to it other than the fact that I need it to get back and forth to work and travel some other places. When I'm sick of my cat, I can't just stick her in the trash or put her outside (Trudy is strictly an indoor cat) with a price tag and be done with her, nor could I trade her in for the freshest, newest model of kitten. She is not a thing to be abandoned, traded, sold, or discarded. She is every bit mine as is my mother, my brother, my loved ones, including my friends. Believe me, I get sick of her. Trudy is crotchety and screams and complains and gets in the way for attention. God forbid you try to sneak a few pieces of cheese as a snack; once she smells it, she goes bonkers and won't leave you along until it's gone or you give her enough to satisfy her. But that's part of life and loving other souls. Yeah, I said it. I don't claim that my cat (nor you, nor I) has a Christian Heaven/Hell type of soul, but when she's gone, the essence of what she was will be gone from her organic body, and her energy will be released into the universe near and far... the same as any other living thing when it dies. And as I watch the old girl this very moment while typing, as she's doing that thing a cat does when she licks the side of her paw and then wipes her ear in a forward motion with it, repeatedly, I can tell you once again that I don't own her. I may be her guardian; that's true. But whatever mojo, juju, fate, or ________ brought us together, we are what we are to each other. Ownership has nothing to do with it.

(Trudy is pictured in my icon.)