Under their thumbs…if they had any
My first memory of cats goes way back to when I was around 7 or 8. I was with my mom and her friend who had a paper shopping bag full of cats with her. We were in a taxi when she suddenly got out and dumped all the cats out on the sidewalk. Did this really happen or was it something that I conjured up in my disturbed psyche?
My aunt once told me that cats were seen as bad luck animals by Koreans. Of course, it’s easier to throw out your unwanted animals if you can come up with a good justification for it, and hey, what’s more justifiable than getting rid of something that could bring you bad luck? People are good at coming up with these justifications for killing and consuming animals, think about the countries that swear by rhino horn and bear gall to increase their sexual endurance and performance in the sack.
And haven’t we gotten so comfortable with slapping that CULTURAL label on something thinking that’s enough to keep on with our exploitative practices towards animals in the wild and in captivity.
Our relationship with animals runs wild and loose with contradictions, and gets even more convoluted and tricky as we learn these attitudes and modes of thinking from our family and friends which in turn becomes influenced by societal norms and cultural practices. I look to the overbearing and self-righteous vegetarian (don’t we all know at least one?) as a prime example of human disconnect where animals are concerned: no, they won’t eat a burger, but they’ll judge others who do while ensconcing themselves in leather––jackets, bags, and shoes.
But you can find your own way in thinking and feeling about things because maybe you saw something that touched you deeply or you had a teacher who taught you it was okay to think differently from the pack. When I was in the third grade, I watched a film in school about animals being abandoned and tossed out on the street by their human owners and from that day on I understood that animals have feelings and the right not to be abused or made to suffer by people.
Cats Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin aka Sasha are a part of my family and they teach me that respect is foremost in the animal-human relationship because it can lead to love, which is exactly what they give me every day.
It’s interesting to note that in Japan cats are well thought of and you will see street cats near temples being fed and cared for by various people in and around these temples. A tad more enlightened than tossing your unwanted cats out of a cab.