Mr. Pope, Meet Our Cat

Mr. Pope, Meet Our Cat

Here she is – the most precious creature on Earth. She is Princess Sashimi, the ruler of our house. The whole reason we exist is to support her needs and give her the highest possible quality of life.

It’s not too hard to do, because she spends most of her time sleeping. How can a creature sleep for so many hours in the day? It boggles my mind. But it’s her prerogative. She can sleep all day if she wants. It’s not my place to say otherwise.

The important thing for us humans is to be attentive, and notice if there is any problem that requires an adjustment to her routine. Once, when she was having trouble pooping, it completely discombobulated the household dynamic. There was no tranquility here while we dealt with the changes in her behavior and her obvious discomfort. We changed her litter and we changed her food, and only when she returned to her normal pooping habits was peace restored. Her wellbeing is central to the normal functioning of the household.

Is it so strange that humans, supposedly the most evolutionarily advanced beings on Earth, should devote themselves to pampering a creature from another species? I think it’s only proper. We humans have achieved unprecedented levels of comfort and security in our easy First World lives, and we should extend the possibility of that mode of existence to other beings.

Of course there is the question of the morality of pampering a cat when there are humans on Earth who don’t experience the same degree of affluence as our family. Not that we’re particularly affluent, just that there are masses of humans in poverty and precarity, even here in our own First World country. But of course, as an ordinary middle class American family, we don’t command the resources to uplift the teeming masses of the underprivileged, so what could be expected of us?

We do have the resources to take good care of a cat, which is what we do. And as we’ve approached the empty nest phase of life, with one son out of the house already and the other one growing up too fast, I’ve noticed that Sashimi the cat is getting more attention lately. It’s like we’re transferring our nurturing urges to her, the one creature who won’t grow up any more or ever leave us.

Now I heard that the Pope was chiding people for putting pets ahead of children. I can’t believe he would really begrudge us the joy we take in loving and caring for our precious cat. Just look at how adorable she is!

I think the Pope is naturally concerning himself with his spiritual duties, in the light of his traditional religion. Possibly he has in mind the first commandment in the Bible, Genesis 1:28. But what does that command us to do? To be fruitful and multiply, but also to have dominion over every living thing – which I take to mean to care for them lovingly, even if they are just a cat.

It’s a well known fact that as income increases in a country, fertility declines. Perhaps this reflects different reproductive strategies for the wealthy versus the poor. Perhaps when a certain level of affluence is reached, life can be about more than reproduction, despite what the Pope says. What it means to be human can take on more possibilities that what tradition has dictated in the past. Naturally, some people who are childless are going to want companionship, and domesticated pets are there to fulfill that need.

These days I spend most of my time at home, and as I go through my rarely changing routine I am grateful for the opportunity to serve sweet Princess Sashimi. What does it matter in the long run what I am doing with my time? All human effort is in vain. All my aspirations and accomplishments will amount to nothing in the end, but if in the meantime I have the energy to make a cat’s life perfect, then I should. What matters in life is the joy and love in immediate existence, and to embrace the nonhuman creatures of the world with that love is only righteous. Surely the Pope can understand that.

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