Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is it ever justifiable to kick a cat against a wall?

In a comment, Aiden asks if it's ever excusable for someone to kick a cat against the wall. He paints a picture of a cat really revving someone up and driving him over the edge.

Here's my response.

Isolated incidents are one thing, when it comes to redemption. And tempers may be lost. And individual circumstances need to be evaluated.

I believe that people mostly do the best they can with the tools available to them at the time.

What would alarm me is if this one-off incident turned into several more incidents.

Consider my 'hood...

There are six units here. In the heart of Linden's suburban bliss. Four cats. None of them aggressive or horrid or peeing anywhere they shouldn't.

One of them, Moyo, has in the space of nine months become 'accident prone' since his owners moved into the complex. The most serious of his 'accidents' was a femur, broken in two places. It's the strongest bone in a cat's body. It takes effort to break it.

Of the other three, one is limping badly, possibly cos it has a broken femur, or other breaks. We don't know, cos she's terrified of humans. Particularly humans with bass and tenor voices. In other words, men.

Another is skeletal, possibly from starvation. Which is consistent with our observation of his eating habits. He's fine around me while I speak to him in a falsetto voice. When I go to my natural speaking voice, he bolts.

And the last one has a free-floating broken rib. And eats just as voraciously as the starving one. She's tiny. The size of a kitten. But she's an adult. Runt of the litter? Maybe. Undernourished while growing up? Probably. A healed free-floating broken rib may mean that she was not taken to the vet. For the injury. She doesn't feel it now.

So I look at this and think, 'One cat in four displaying signs of injury... Let's look to the cat for the cause. Four out of four cats showing signs? Lets look at the people around this place.

Unit 1: a man and a woman. Own three cats. Share an old Corsa between them. Never seen the man. The woman tells us that 'Skippy has always been this thin.' Refuses to tell us her name when we politely introduce ourselves as her neighbour.

Unit 2: A woman dying, with nursing care 24/7. Never been seen. But is wheelchair bound.

Unit 3: An aggressive, obnoxious couple who have screaming matches, during which household items get smashed. Who get aggressive when their neighbour (Roy) comes round to ask if all is well. They tell him, 'Keep your nose out of other people's business. Go away.' And, 'You're creepy, man.'

Unit 4: Jennifer and me. Cat-lovers. I'm a bit of a cat whisperer. When I meow, they respond. And they come to me when they won't come near other people.

Unit 5: Bart and Anna, two youngsters with a cat, Moyo. They're cat lovers too. He does yoga. They're decent kids. Spent three grand to sort Moyo's leg out. Money they don't have.

Unit 6: The owners of this complex. They use their unit as a stopover place when they drive from their home in Cape Town to Botswana. They've been here a total of seven nights over the past three months.

My money's on the invisible husband of the woman in Unit 1. My guess is that he's a wife-beater. And that part of his honed technique is to abuse his wife's cats and blame her for his actions. 'You made me do this. Everything that happens in this house is your fault.' I'm willing to bet also that he strictly rations her spending money. And that she's not allowed to buy enough cat food.

I'm also willing to bet that the only way this cat abuse can end is to remove the cats from that home.

My dad was a wife-beater. And my mom was an abusive alcoholic. And I know the patterns well. And I can spot bullshit at a million paces. I know what it means when someone doesn't say her name to strangers.

Doesn't mean I'm right about this particular situation. But it does mean I'm willing to put money on my reading of it.

Now here's the rub... If I can get away from a background of abuse, and not repeat the cycle, then that means others can too. There really is no reason for anyone to BE an abuser.

Losing one's temper isn't the same as abuse. Losing one's temper regularly, and with intent, and unpredictably, and with precision might possibly be abusive.

Someone in this complex is abusive. The behaviour of these cats is a reflection of this. I'm willing to bet that the dudes in units 1 and 3 are physical abusers. And that the cats are victim to the dude in unit 1.

I don't know what the answer is to the person who kicks a cat once. I do know that in the case of someone who kicks and hurts cats more than once, I'm not standing by and letting it continue. Cos that would make me an abuser too. And I'm not one.

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