Sunday, May 18, 2008

BYBS: Respect for the Beast

A long time friend of mine had a cat named "La Bete" which he said was French for "the Beast."

Many years ago, he and I found a sick bird. We put it in a shoebox and attempted to nurse it back to health. At least until the cat found it.

"Why did it kill the bird?! I mean it has all the food it wants, but nonetheless it killed the poor thing!"

In retrospect, I could have rephrased the question: "What else would you expect the cat to do?"

As I'm fond of telling people, cats are obligate predators: their teeth and digestive tracts are not set up for plants. The cells of a cat are able to directly use protein for energy in more ways that those of an omnivore. When fed largely carbohydrates (i.e., dry cat food), they have a tendency to develop diabetes.

With an animal like that, hunting is not a matter of choice - it is "hard wired."

To coin a phrase, a cat is a beast.

Realizing this and planning around it gives me a measure of control. I can rage about how the cat should not kill a bird I found…or I can ask the next door neighbor to take care of it. I can lecture the cat about how it should moderate how much food it eats…but it would probably work better if I feed it wet cat food.

Understanding and planning around the nature of a cat is what I mean by "respecting the beast." What I find remarkable is that I can be rational about a cat, but I still find myself trying to change what I cannot in other situations.

"Why don't I exercise more?!!" Well, I've tried to change all my life by "reasoning" with myself with no success. On the other hand, putting on a good movie or DVD only when I exercise actually seems to work.

"I really should not buy junk food when I go to the supermarket!!" I tell myself that a lot, but making sure that I don't go shopping when I'm hungry has actually resulted in lost weight.

Looking around, I see a lot of other situations where this logic applies…


Paulie said...

Makes sense o me! (Poor birdie. . . next time keep in seperate rooms if you have to play nurse. Ü)

CyberCelt said...

I once heard of a concept for the two sides of man. Imagine a rider on a horse. The rider is the upper brain functioning and the horse is our beastly primitive brain.

What you cat did was natural.

SandyCarlson said...

Accepting the true nature of things can be a challenge as much as a source of wisdom. I wonder if humans are the only beasts who desire to change reality to suit themselves. Perhaps this is the essential beastly quality in us!

Happy BYB Sunday.

storyteller said...

Reading your post this morning causes me to reflect upon life with the ‘feral cat’ who adopted me more than a decade ago. Once upon a time she fed herself … dining on the birds in my yard (and an occasion baby opposum), but these days she’s content to wait at my front door (now that my lab, Molly, dominates the back yard Ms. Kitty once had ‘claimed’ for herself after my previous dog died in 2001) in the morning and evening for a meal I provide. Although this cat still suns herself on my patio and hangs out in the yard ‘watching’ birds, she no longer ‘hunts’ for food. A friend of mine who is a ‘cat person’ tells me well-fed cats ‘lose their edge’ and perhaps that’s the case. It’s also possible Ms. Kitty is growing older and is not a quick as when she was young. In any case, the ‘relationship’ serves us both since I enjoy watching the birds ‘hang out’ … feeding themselves in my yard w/o worrying about the cat.

Like you, I endeavor to find ways to release habits that don't serve my well-being by substituting ones that do ... creatively.

Thanks for sharing your blessing this week and for stopping by Sacred Ruminations. Sorry I didn’t get my BYBS/Sacred Life Sunday 'published' yesterday. I may get around to it this morning after I respond to comments … or not. Life’s been busier than usual for me so I’ve not spent as much time online lately ... though I have posted daily at my other blog ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Sue said...

I agree with the other commentators, particularly Sandy's thoughts on accepting the true nature of the beast. Great post! Happy BYB Sunday!

Tanis said...

Nature can be so harsh. Thinking about how strong vs. weak works, darwinism, etc. really can pull at the heartstrings. Until you apply it to people. Then they just deserve it *evil grin*.
Good post, and your endless knowledge of cats is really amazing.
Talk to you soon,

stev said...

we (almost) always do have a choice

thanks for the reminder ;)