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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cages: A Very Loaded Analogy

My old cat Isis is yowling to be set free from her kennel.

Her kennel is large and clean, with a soft padded sleeping platform, a private litter box behind a curtain, fresh food and cool water. It is a nice kennel. And she hates it.

She is kenneled because she is incontinent. Too, when she is in her kennel she is protected from our other three cats, two of whom like to ambush her when they think the humans aren't looking. Isis is a feisty cat, but she will be 20 this Halloween, and her eyesight is failing, and she's all of eight pounds, and she is no match for her 15-pound housemates. So I tell myself that the kennel is as much for her comfort as my own, but it isn't, not really. She's in the kennel because I don't want cat pee all over the house.

It's a perfectly legitimate reason, and I see you nodding your head. Nevertheless, she still hates it.

Each morning I come downstairs to her yowling, and I open her kennel, and out she trots, and within minutes she is sleeping in her favorite chair, an old woven-seated wooden kitchen chair, where she more or less remains all day. It's not as though she wants the run of the house. She doesn't follow the sun, like the other cats, she doesn't go upstairs to sleep on a soft bed. She isn't looking for human companionship, either; she's more likely to get that in the room where her kennel is, since it's our music room, and one of our computers is in there, and someone is almost always working or playing in there. No, it's not soft places or friendly people she wants. What she wants is to be out of that kennel.

That's all: just out.

Kennels are cages, of course, and cages are places where we put living creatures who would otherwise wander off, led by their own desires, curiosity, interests, needs. It ought to go without saying that there are all kinds of cages in this world, all kinds of ways to get stuck in a box -- most of which do not involve incontinence. And there are all kinds of justifications for sticking others in a box: convention, control, conformity, convenience.

Isis doesn't like living in a cage, and being the sour old cat that she is, will probably never accept it. And her yowling is so annoying that sooner or later she is let out, and off she goes, tail in the air.

We could learn a lot from that cat.

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