I am not a fan of cats.
They leave excrement in my orchard and pee on my windfall apples.
But, I have a grudging respect for William the cat. He is white, sleek – turning to a little tubbiness as he ages – but will kill anything smaller than he. That characteristic would be psychotic in a human being, but defines a cat.
I’ve never seen him pee on my apples or crap in my garden, so he is – in that catlike manner – returning my respect. Or so I like to think. If I am realistic he probably regards me as an occasional source of food and gruffly masculine tummy rubs but is indifferent to my opinion of him. He has repeatedly tried to get into my house after one successful raid. We are now engaged in a cat and man game, which he believes he will win. He is seeking to wear me down with persistence, but I have owned many dogs who knew more about persistence than any creature living or dead when it came to precise feeding and walking times, so he will be disappointed.
For some reason he has a liking for my garage and is often locked in for long periods of time. We have a thriving community of field mice to keep him entertained, but I think it may be an attempt to show me how easy my garage is. Logically, that ties in with his belief that my house will one day be his.
He has no remorse, no sense of guilt when some small creature is struggling in his jaws, little understanding or sympathy with anything living and zero interest in anything with which he has played and which has now stopped moving.
So, why do I respect William the cat?
Because he is being a cat.
It’s what cats do. He has no choice.
I respect human beings who tell the truth, help others, attempt to raise mankind from the gutter and try to behave in a kindly manner to their neighbours for a similar, but perhaps not the same, reason.
Not all humans behave like that. Some of William is built into our DNA and we occasionally behave badly towards our fellows.
The difference is that we have a choice. We can think rationally about whether it is a good idea to kill people smaller, weaker, less intelligent than, or different from, ourselves.
There are exceptions, of course. The sociopathic or psychotic personality may have no choice, but we do.
My previous post was about Truth and this is a (sort of) continuation. My belief is that there is nothing to be gained by being unpleasant or violent to strangers and that it is a part of our journey to the status of rational beings for us to be kind to people – do unto others and all that.
Of course, if they attack you with a machete then one should adopt the William attitude and either run away or get a bigger machete.
My own journey through life tells me that most people harbour few truly evil thoughts towards others. Occasionally, hatred will spring up in the fight for sex, resources or survival (perceived or real) but unless there is a continuing need for the above then it often dies away and people (mostly) play nice, or at least become tolerant.
So, as William wanders past with something furry clamped in his jaws I wonder how I would feel trapped in behaviours I cannot control, without choice and destined to repeat the same patterns, again and again.
Got to stop now. It’s 12.30pm, time for my Ploughman’s Lunch, a short walk, the BBC News, a nap at 1.27pm for exactly 21 minutes and a quick chase around the garden looking for small rodents or baby birds to eat.
Unless William has been there before me.
That’s the problem with writing, and usually with living: one has to get into character.