Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Most Delightful Cat Tree

When we were kittens our daddy surprised us one day by building us a cat tree. Part of the reason for our surprise was the fact that we didn't know what a cat tree is, but it sure sounded like a spiffy thing. And our daddy even let us help him build. The picture on the right is Kaycee holding something in place while daddy got ready to hit it with a big metal thing.

We weren't sure what a cat tree should look like, so we had to defer to daddy's judgment. We have to admit it turned out pretty neat, and we like to spend a lot of time laying on it, scratching the posts, and generally showing our daddy how much we love his gift.

I don't know all of the technical details of its construction, but daddy explained that it was relatively easy to do. He began with a plywood platform, which he covered with a soft material. Then he attached 4 4" x 4" posts of different heights. He used some big pointy spiral things (I think they are called lag bolts) to attach the posts. He covered these posts with different things, but mostly he used a heavy rope.

He then attached plywood platforms to the tops of the posts. This was for us to sit on. He covered the platforms with the soft material too. He tried attaching several toys on strings, but Kaycee kept pulling them off. (I would never do such a thing, because I am very respectful of daddy's work.) He even added a tube for us to hide in, though Kaycee isn't very good at hiding.

If we had to make another cat tree I would have some suggestions this time. For example, we don't have anywhere to put our book if we want to lounge on the cat tree and read. Also, now that we are bigger the platforms can get a little crowded if two of us want to lay on one at the same time. But these are pretty minor complaints.

If you want to build a cat tree for your cats, and why wouldn't you, you can get some pretty cool ideas here. Your cats would really love you if were as nice to them as our daddy is to us.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Favorite Cat Toy

When I was a kitten, most of my time was spent playing with the various toys that my human companions dutifully provided for my entertainment. As the demands of adulthood have foisted themselves upon me, I find less and less time for such activities. But I still occasionally find time between staring out the window and napping to engage in a few minutes of carefree frolicking.

By far my favorite companion is Fishy Fun. It has a delightful aroma and its hard body feels good in my mouth. I love to roll around while chewing on it. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this toy is the fact that it slides very easily, so the slightest swat can send it scurrying just like a real fish might do if I was allowed to have one. This allows me to practice my pouncing.

However, the ease with which is slides can be a problem on some flooring, like ceramic tile and laminates. The damn thing will slide under the refrigerator or under the sofa and hide just like a fish out of water. I then have to go find one of my human companions and instruct them to remove my toy so that I can continue. This can be very disruptive when one only has a short time to play before resuming a nap.

My sister and brother have their own favorite toys, though they do occasionally like to play with my fish. Fortunately, we have a lot of them laying all over the place, so I can usually find one pretty easily. (I've also hidden a few, but don't tell anyone.)

What, you may ask, do cat toys have to do with philosophy? In a word, everything. If the purpose of one's life is one's own personal happiness (which it is), then having the proper toys is a crucial element. And if your cats can't express it quite that well, then trust me. I'm one of the philosophical cats.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thoughts on Animal "Rights"

The philosopher Peter Singer, among others, has written that it is "speciesist" to ignore the suffering inflicted upon animals by humans for food, clothing, entertainment, and other activities and values. In his book, Animal Liberation, he writes:
Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. Sexists violate the principle of equality by favoring the interests of their own sex. Similarly, speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species. The pattern is identical in each case.
I may only be a cat, but this strikes me as patently absurd. If it is "speciesist" for humans to treat other animals differently from humans, then it is equally "speciesist" for me (or other animals) to do the same. For example, I prefer the company of other cats and find great enjoyment in pouncing on the occasional mouse or lizard that finds its way into my vicinity. But according to Mr. Singer, I must consider the feelings of these pathetic little rodents and reptiles:
If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration.
To be honest, I haven't given any thought to the suffering I inflict on these creatures. I have no choice in the matter. Does this make me immoral? Mr. Singer might argue that my lack of volition excuses me of any moral culpability. If this is the case, then volition would seem to be a distinguishing characteristic and one of vast importance.

But regardless of Mr. Singer's argument, the fact is that my very nature is fundamentally different from humans. I lack reason and the ability to make conceptual choices. The entire realm of morality does not apply to me, for morality applies only to that which is volitional. One cannot be held responsible for that which is beyond one's capacity to choose.

To further illustrate the absurdity of Mr. Singer's position, last night I wanted some Tuna and Egg instead of my normal dry food dinner. My human companions refused to satisfy this desire, resulting in what I can only describe as a brief period of intense suffering. Should I consider my human companions immoral for failing to provide me with Tuna and Egg? While I was admittedly disappointed, I don't think that any reasonable cat could declare such an oversight immoral.

I have more thoughts on this issue, but I just saw a lizard.