Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Cats, Cat Farmer, and Nutrition

While I certainly love all critters, I am especially fond of cats. Karen De Coster devoted a post on her blog recently to her hateful disposition toward cats, and I feel a need to come to the defense of my feline friends, despite the fact that cats are too strong minded to ever ask for such help.

One of her early claims was that cats have no personality or usefulness, which is obviously a subjective statement that holds no weight when applied to some cats. It's not fair to confuse the independant nature of most cats with a perceived lack of personality, lest of course that a similar claim is to be applied to independant humans who may not wish or need to be bogged down in any pack setting, or statist environment (yes, I've heard of similar complaints made of libertarians). As with dogs, different breeds of cats also have different temperaments. While many breeds of cats may be socially aloof, that's not the case with all breeds, such as with the breed of my cat. My cat, a Maine Coon, happens to be extremely friendly and sociable, although somewhat skittish due to the abusive environment that I had to rescue him from. Families who are interested in getting a cat are often encouraged to look into getting a Maine Coon because of their family-friendly temperament, not to mention their natural beauty (they are large, long-haired, and simply gorgeous).

Although I love dogs, when comparing them to cats I'm always reminded of Robert DiNiro's character from the movie Meet the Parents. When DiNiro realizes that his daughter's boyfriend is a dog person, he responds by saying “You need that assurance do you? You prefer a shallow animal?”. He then explains how dogs are slavish pack animals while cats have an independence of spirit that naturally allows them to spurn living a servile existance, finishing off with an apt remark (“Cats don't sell out like dogs do.”).

You would think that individualistic people with a penchant for libertarian ideals would appreciate this personality trait of cats far more than the temperament of dogs, a temperament that is reminiscient of hopelessly statist minds who are loyal to their leader. I suppose that some dog owners (not all, of course) not only need the assurance that dogs provide, but also relish in the opportunity to be a benevolent ruler or dictator, at least to one living being as opposed to, say, an entire nation. Finishing off on the comparisons between dogs and cats, it could be said that dogs could be used as a mascot among hyper-nationalistic sorts and state worshippers in general, while cats could be, and have been, used to represent free-thinking individuals who wish to defy the state.

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As for usefulness, it's all in the eye of the beholder. Cats were historically popular pets and companions due to their ability to catch and kill mice and keep other mischievous critters away. Even today, I often encounter cats while perusing certain used book stores or antique stores since the owners appreciate the fact that cats help to keep the store free of unwanted critters who may do damage to some of the merchandise. Aside from that, cats can also be warm and loving critters just like dogs despite their fiercely individualistic nature. I greatly value the love and companionship that my cat provides, and I would be a far less happy human being without him in my life. Just as independant people can be warm, friendly, and loving, so too can cats (and their owners, despite Karen's generalized claim to the contrary).

Most of Karen's other complaints about cats stem from the tendency of some cat owners to let their feline friends roam the outdoors freely. Not only are there many cat owners who do not let their cats do this (like myself), but there are also dog owners out there who are guilty of the same thing. Dogs can be just as capable, if not more capable, of getting into trouble, and are capable of some of the things that Karen attributes to cats, such as getting into peoples' garbage and tearing up garbage bags. Dogs that roam free may also engage in far worse behavior, such as attacking people. To this day, I am sometimes apprehensive around some dogs due to the many negative experiences I had with neighborhood roaming dogs in my childhood. I love dogs, but like with cats or any other living being, they are not perfect.

Now that I've spent some time defending cats, I'm gonna switch gears a bit and take a look at cat nutrition for a moment. Cat Farmer has a new column published at Endervidualism called Confessions of a Vegetable Addict. It's an interesting read that deals with issues ranging from vegetarianism to addiction, while also addressing the issue of cat diets and nutrition. While I agree that cat owners should not be encouraged to eliminate meat from their pet's diet and thus forcibly prevent a natually carnivorous critter from being carnivorous, it is important to keep nutritional issues to mind when deciding what to feed your cat.

Although I do give my cat a little can of Fancy Feast every day, he gets most of his sustenance from dry food. I used to feed him the typical brands of cat food, such as Whiskas and Iams, until I became concerned about his nutritional intake. I now give him a holistic natural formula that he absolutely loves. It is made by Bench and Field (click here for more info), and contains many wonderful ingredients that go beyond the typical stuff you'd expect, such as various greens, fruits, vegetables, flaxseed oil and other sources of essential fatty acids, and certified free-range chicken. I can tell that he loves it since he purrs while eating it in a way that he never used to while eating.

While pet nutrition is certainly important, it's also crucial for us human critters to eat a nutritious diet as well. Going back to Cat Farmer, she recently teamed up with Bob Wallace to come up with a humorous satire of the desire of certain busybodies to forcibly regulate our dietary decisions. It is called Home Cooking Outlawed for Child Safety and is available for all to read over at The Price of Liberty.

I also encourage you to read another new column at The Price of Liberty: Sunni Maravillosa's The FDA is Going to Kill Me. Being healthy and staying that way is not only promoted by a nutritious diet, but also by the choices we make in regards to supplements and medication, and Sunni's new article provides a quality critique of the government agency that does more to harm our health than protect it. Whether it's the long approval process for new pharmaceuticals, the hypocritical stances on certain vitamins and supplements, or the corrupted and coercive food regulatory guidelines, the FDA never manages to do anything right, and in fact makes things worse. Whenever I think of the FDA, I'm reminded of an improvisation performed by the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey a couple of years ago in Portland, OR that they called "The FDA Is Making Our Food Worse Than Drugs". Not only are they doing that, but they may also kill you.


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