Tag Archives: domestication

Cats that aren’t just Cats

One dreaded SAT test that I took had a passage about how cats are different than dogs. I’m not sure exactly what it said, but based on my life, it should have been about cats and humans.

Take my cat for example. He sits on our chairs at the dinner table, tries to eat off the table and loves people food much more than he loves people food. I find that weird. He should eat that processed junk that all other cats has to eat, and he’s not gonna say please and thank you and eat with a knife and fork, he should not get to eat at the table. But he tries, again and again.

Then there is my aunt and uncles cat. He was too fat so they put him on a diet. He has specific meal times, with a specific amount of food that he gets. But once you go fat you can never truly go back, so he always begs for a handout. But he is not aggressive like my cat. This cat keeps all four on the floor as if to say, I’m hungry but I’m going to stay within the realm of cathood. But then again, this is coming from a cat who is not allowed to go outside (he has kitty AIDS and is therefore a menace to cat society) and has mealtimes.

On the other side of my family, another set of aunt and uncles have two cats. This is a house that I have lived in for a week at a time, and still have only seen the cats when their food bowl is empty of when I pursue them. Like my cat, they have a bowl of food that is continually filled and can be nibbled at when they please. But these cats don’t go for anything further. Do they just love the cat food? Hate the people food. Or are cats supposed to realize their place, and my cat is just wack? I would like to say it comes back down to nature vs. nurture, but we’ve had other cats that don’t act like this and my aunt and uncle’s (the unseen cats) have had a fairly similar upbringing.

I think, that it is therefore inevitable that all cats will eventually be like mine. He was named ‘Big’ for his size, but now I find it more reflective of his dreams. To start the long journey towards human traditions. After all, isn’t that what domestication is all about? Now they are just doing it for us?

 

 

I’m not sure we give cats enough credit as a species.

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忠犬ハチ公

Most people would agree that dogs are the most loyal creatures. As long as you provide them with food and lots of love, they’ll remain by your side no matter what happens. This loyalty is displayed as its full extent in the case of Hachiko (the title says Hachiko in Japanese), a dog from Tokyo, Japan, who remained loyal to his master even after his master died.

The story goes that everyday when Hachiko’s master, a professor at the University of Tokyo, goes off to work, the dog see off his master from the front door, then greets him at the Shibuya station at the end of the day. Until one day, the professor suffered a stroke at the university, died, and never returned to where Hachiko was waiting. After tries to give Hachiko away to new families and numerous escapes back to his old home, Hachiko realized that his master no longer lived in that house. So he went to the station where he usually greeted his master, and waited there for his return. And so for the next 10 years until Hachiko’s death, he waited at the train station every evening at the time when his master’s train would come.

This kind of devotion is exemplified in many dogs, who loves their owners even more than they love themselves. People argue over whether domestication is good or bad. It is shown here that what resulted from the domestication of dogs is definitely a mutual relationship of love and trust. Both sides gained from living in the same community. While cases of abuse still exist, the relationship between humans and dogs is something that perfectly integrates nature into society.

We Can’t Control Everything

Travis the chimpAbout a week ago, Oprah featured a woman named Charla Nash (see part 1 of the video here). She came on the show behind a black veil, guided by Oprah into her chair. The story that brought her to national television happened in February, 2009. Nash received a call from her friend, Sandra Herold, asking help to get her 200-lb pet chimpanzee, Travis, back into his cage. Upon Nash’s arrival, the chimp suddenly attacked her and started to rip off her nose, eyes, and upper jaw. By the time the police arrived, Nash’s face and fingers was almost completely gone. Travis went for a police, and was subsequently shot and killed.

Humans have a desire to be in control. Our technology gives us the ability to manipulate our surroundings, which only adds fire to the appeal of conquering nature. The romanticized idea of being in control of a wild animals is present in stories throughout history, real and fictional. Being the proud owner of a vicious animal is looked upon with admiration. But bringing a wild animal to one’s home as a pet will only cause trouble on both sides, and Nash’s story is just another reminder of that fact.

As renowned primatologist Jane Goodall said in this opinion piece, “a chimpanzee can never be totally domesticated”. Wild animals are called wild for a reason: they have primal instincts that can’t be nurtured away. In Travis’ case, the chimp had done commercials as a baby, wore humans clothes, and entertained himself with TV. However, even living a life in captivity couldn’t erase the violent nature of the animal. Because of his captivity, the abilities Travis should have had, like knowing how to interact with other chimps and finding himself food, had been replaced by human traits such as being toilet trained and eating from a table. This results in the chimp losing the life it could’ve had in is natural habitat, and instead, received a life of confinement and forced adaption. No matter how good we are at using nature to our advantage, there are some things that we just can’t change.

Sometimes the wild should remain in the wild.