Very Fine Cats Indeed

We are merging cat households here (as well as other things) and this means a little bit of tension among the felines. Slim wasn't eating and we couldn't tell whether it was a physical problem or just stress. She's pretty stressed; when she went to the vet last week, the vet wrote "fractious" on her chart. Slim was firmly opposed to anyone interfering with her person. Synonyms of fractious, I see on the internet, are "cranky, difficult, disobedient, hard, ill-natured, irritable, nettlesome, peckish, peevish, pettish, petulant, refractory, techy, testy, tetchy." Slim isn't fractious very often. But I feel sort of fractious toward the people who reproach me for spending money on Slim's well-being.

As a vegetarian I am often confronted by self-righteous carnivores who aggressively ask, in great detail, why I don't eat meat. They seem to want to dismantle my reasoning, and berate me for my vegetarianism. Maybe they feel guilty and want to take it out on someone. I don't know. One thing I do know: Slim is one carnivore who never once has complained that I don't eat meat.

Recently I've come across a different behavior pattern that I think must be related to self-righteous carnivorism. It's self-righteous "it's-so-obscene-that-people-spend-money-on-their-petsism." Some people get very aggressive about this. It's usually phrased as "I [or we] would NEVER spend that much money on a pet." Implication: you must be a silly, silly person indeed, and very wasteful, to give your kitty asthma medicine or antibiotics.

I won't say these people aren't frugal in general, though I do think they usually drive more expensive cars than I do. They're also people who've probably never lived alone with a cat or dog as their only companion (or protector), who are not helped by a guide dog, who haven't seen an animal in distress who could be helped by simple surgery or medicine. In any event they think of the money we spend on pets as an expression of our decadent, self-indulgent lifestyles. I agree that we have decadent, self-indulgent lifestyles, but I wonder why these people feel qualified to criticize my pet spending and not my spending on clothing or shoes.

I don't pretend it would be an easy decision if I needed to spend money I just didn't have on my pet. But if I do have the money, I can think of worse things to spend it on. For better or worse we have evolved in tandem with these beasts. We are capable of thinking of them as our beloved companions, and it's not just obscene late capitalism that caused this. Back in the early days of capitalism, Samuel Johnson fed oysters to his cat, Hodge. Hodge was "a very fine cat indeed." In my opinion, Slim, Mini and Birdie are too.


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