My cats discuss current affairs

Last spring, I posted a two-part interview with my cats about how they viewed the relationship between us. The three of them were quite candid during the hour-long roundtable, offering a perception on many issues (the concept of pet “ownership,” animal rights, how often the catbox was cleaned) that I hadn’t previously considered.  

Thinking back on the unique opinions each of them voiced, I thought it might be valuable to touch base with them again on some of the key issues facing our planet today. It would be easy to dismiss the views of the common housecat as simplistic and self-centered. Yet I think many of the fundamental issues now facing our society may not be as complicated as we think. Perhaps a fresh perspective on the outside world — admittedly a bird-centered focus from the window sill above our kitchen sink — will offer some insight we’ve been unable to glean through the haze of our existing preconceptions.  

The panel includes Harriet, 13, a small white female with black patches; Taylor, 4, a sleek silvery-grey male; and Tom, 3, a large orange tabby male. We sat down for a wide-ranging discussion over the course of three days, resulting in a transcript I’ll edit down to two postings, one to run today and one on Wednesday.  

Q: Let’s start with the week’s big news, Afghanistan. President Obama has asked for an additional 30,000 troops to suppress the renewed Taliban threat and bring nation-building to that troubled region. Thoughts?  

Taylor: I know the terrorists are the most visible threat, but we have to remember the source of their problems lies with corruption and a tattered economy. The Golden Triangle region that provides over half the world’s supply of Afghan hounds is also a threat to international stability and our own self-interests. Those are some mean dogs and they really hate cats. As long as that pipeline is open to the West and the American market creates a demand for overgrown hounds with heads that look like long-haired women, that’s going to be a problem.  

Harriet: As you know, my interests are mostly with my own physical comfort, so I want to make sure we keep supply lines open so that afghans continue to get through, especially during the winter.  

Harriet: I want to make sure afghans get through

Q: Obviously, you don’t think massive emigration of the Afghan people is the answer…  

Harriet: I’m not talking about the people, I’m talking about the blankets. Afghans, you know, those crocheted shawls like we have on the couch. I love those.  

Tom: I believe an increased show of force in the region is vital. I hope an additional 30,000 troops are enough to pacify the countryside and win the people’s hearts and minds. If we don’t succeed right away, we shouldn’t cut-and-run because of some pre-established timetable. In fact, I would hope we’d ratchet up our assault on the terrorists to include a wider array of offensive weaponry, such as biting and scratching.  

Q: Probably the other big international story coming up is the climate summit scheduled for Copenhagen this week. Do you see a chance for real progress there?  

Harriet: I really do. And I hope the president will join in the international effort this time, unlike what we saw at Kyoto.  

Tom: I know a lot of cats hear about global warming and think, hey, that sounds pretty good to me. You know, we’re originally a desert species, so we love warmth. But too many of us forget the other part of that equation involves rising sea levels, and we hate water almost as much as we like hot temperatures.  

Harriet: I’m just concerned about the momentum on this issue, Davis. The leak of that email last week that discussed manipulating the data to make climate change more obvious really troubled me. I mean, I’m convinced that man is having a negative effect on the environment — just look at that mess in the utility room that you never clean up. I just don’t want to see opponents given ammunition to advance their arguments.  

Taylor: The science is clear. It’s the public policy that now has to follow suit, and I think a new international treaty can help make that happen.  

Taylor: The science is clear

Q: You don’t think the worldwide recession is going to slow progress on this front? The developing world wants to resume the strong growth trends of a few years ago and may not be willing to go along with proposals such as emission caps.  

Tom: I think the developing world needs to screw itself. They’re the biggest polluters out there these days.  

Taylor: Tom, you know it’s not that simple. They have the right to grow to the point where they can better feed their populations.  

Harriet: My biggest fear about the developing world is that those populations want to eat me for dinner.  

Q: Speaking of economic issues, new numbers released Friday showed that the growth of joblessness has slowed to its lowest point in almost two years. Do you think the recovery is finally taking hold?  

Taylor: Growth will continue to be anemic, I feel. But we’ve definitely turned the corner.  

Harriet: I know they say that a “recession” is when your neighbor loses his job, and a “depression” is when you lose your job. We were almost to the point that cats were going to have to get jobs. We’ve definitely pulled back from the brink of catastrophe, but I’m still not confident I won’t be forced into the job market. And I absolutely refuse to work retail.  

Tom: It’s the quality of the jobs out there that concerns me. Our manufacturing base is drying up. A service economy cannot support a broad middle class, and those are the homes that adopt us most frequently. If you have an owner who’s working two jobs just to keep cat food on the floor — yeah, it’s good that they’re almost never around, but it doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy.  

Taylor: Actually, we’re always warm and fuzzy.  

Tom: Hah! Good one, Taylor. (Lifts paw for “high five”). Meet me upstairs!  

Q: How do you see the brighter economic news affecting the debate over healthcare reform? Will it have any noticeable impact?  

Harriet: I don’t see that playing a significant role. Both sides seem so entrenched right now.  

Tom: I’m still not convinced of the need for any so-called “reform” anyway. I think we’d all admit how much we hate going to the vet. Anything that makes that easier is not something I can support.  

Taylor: That’s so short-sighted of you, Tom. It’s those frequent vet visits and the emergency pet hospitals that are making our healthcare the most expensive in the pet world. We need to invest in preventative care.  

Tom: I know what preventative care tastes like, and it’s awful. There’s little protein, no sodium, no phosphorous. I’d rather eat catfood with ash in it and enjoy a slightly shorter lifespan than to eat one of those terrible science diets.  

Harriet: Just eat off the humans’ plates when they’re not looking. That’s what I do.  

Taylor: You’re both missing the point, I think. We can’t keep going down the road we’re on now. It’ll bankrupt the country.  

Tom: We don’t need to be in the road, anyway. Remember what happened to that squirrel we were watching through the front door? Now he’s a “science diet” … for the crows.  

Tom: We don't need to be in the road

Q: Turning to another healthcare issue, it seems like the swine flu outbreak may be on its way to relative containment. Do you think that’s due to vaccination efforts, or was the whole thing overblown from the beginning?  

Harriet: I don’t trust the medical establishment enough to think much about the benefits of vaccines and other so-called medicines. I don’t care how far you stick the pill down the back of my throat, how long you hold my snout shut, or how much you stroke my neck to make me swallow, I just don’t trust “Big Pharm.” They’re all about profits, not medical care.  

Tom: They can be about both, you know. This whole conspiracy-theory mentality going on right now is a very dangerous thing. I believe in being startled by loud or unexpected noises, and being afraid of people ringing the door bell or operating vacuum cleaners. Those are common-sense fears. But to think there are no longer any authority figures that can be trusted, I just don’t buy it.  

Taylor: Swine flu was definitely a big media hype, that’s for sure. The mainstream media turned it into a catastrophe even though it’s not as bad as regular seasonal flu. I’ve stopped reading the newspapers and watching regular network TV news. The only news I trust any more is that delivered by my fellow small, stealthy mammals.  

Harriet: He watches Fox.  

Taylor: Damn right I do. Fox, Animal Planet, the Lifetime Movie Channel and the Outdoor Network, that’s enough for me. I love seeing deer get shot on the Outdoor Network. And I adore Karl Rove.

Wednesday: Some thoughts on the lighter side of the news.

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4 Responses to “My cats discuss current affairs”

  1. fakename2 Says:

    Hopefully in Part 2 you will get around to asking them about Tiger Woods. I would be especially interested to get Harriet’s take on it, her being older, wiser, and female. I do fear they will be unable to be objective due to the “tiger” connection.

  2. tom1950 Says:

    There is also the issue of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals). Taylor should have strong opinions on that as well as just “seeing deer get shot”. I would enjoy hearing his opinion on the whole gun-control issue.

    T.O.M.

  3. fakename2 Says:

    Also, it’s absolutely amazing that you got such good photos of the cats…what did you do? Hang a mouse from the camera lens?

  4. Rocky Humbert Says:

    I sense some repressed hostility in Taylor and Tom’s remarks….perhaps attributable to their involuntary castration???

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