Saturday, July 18, 2009
I am Most Certainly Not Domesticated
It has recently come to my attention that a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences* claims that not only are cats lazy, they domesticated themselves. Rubbish!
Firstly, cats are not lazy. It is a testament to our brilliance and our skill that our actions look effortless. Furthermore, rushing hither and thither is not only unnecessarily tiring, it is rarely effective. Far better results are achieved from choosing tasks wisely and then taking one's time to complete them. Humans could stand to learn a thing or two from cats. Which brings me to my second point.
Secondly, cats did not domesticate themselves. I would argue that cats should not even be considered as a domesticated species. Horses, cows, chickens, and even dogs are domesticated animals. It is sheer foolishness to put felines in the same group with such creatures for reasons that should be obvious. But the real insult is that we would willing put ourselves in such company! According to the study, many thousands of years ago cats noticed that human settlements made excellent hunting grounds and so adapted themselves to living alongside humans. Given how messy humans are, it is no surprise that my forebears realized that this was too good of an opportunity to let pass. Certain physical adjustments were also likely necessary to hunt in an urban environment. Why large cats such as tigers and panthers are a wonder to behold and a testament too our species, they are a bit to big to hunt successfully in the tight places favored by rodents in man-made structures. This, however, does not constitute domestication but a well-planned, comprehensive strategy to take advantage of situation.
Quite frankly, if anyone has been domesticated it is the humans themselves. We have managed to create a partnership in which the humans provide us with food and shelter and in return we grace their homes with our presence. I enjoy hunting for my supper as much as the next cat, but when the weather is disagreeable I also enjoy watching the humans brave the elements to aquire my kibble while I sit warm and dry indoors. Perhaps the human scientists were also aware of this and their study is an attempt to obscure the true nature of the relationship and increase their own sense of worthiness.
*This link will take you to the New York Times' response to this study. My scientifically inclined readers will find a link the study itself there as well.