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    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #1

    Oct 17, 2013, 08:11 AM
    Cat philosophy, or being philosophical about cats anyway
    I don't pretend to know philosophy as written by famous people. I even tried a book that summed them all up, and couldn't get into it.

    All I want to know is how to reconcile the softness, beauty, and charm of a cat with the grossest serial murder of birds. I feed my cat well, yet she is out there right now, getting birds as they fill up with seed berries from trees in my yard. Two on my doorstep by 9 am. I didn't complain when she rid the house of mice, and then the yard, where mouse half torsos and tails littered my path. I tried to have a talk with her about less gruesomeness, but we all know what that talk is like. Or any talk.

    If the biological imperative is to get food, then why does she eat my cat food instead of her kill? And how do I accept this? Is this what we humans are like, long after we got past any traits that might be considered biological imperative? Is this really not a philosophy question, but a biology one, because the nature of cats is such a mixture of wild and tame?

    Perhaps cats are a biological, sociological, and philosophical subject unto themselves. And I should just accept it as it is.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #2

    Oct 17, 2013, 08:32 AM
    I think it's the bird's movements that attract the cat. Same with mice and squirrels -- twitching and quick movements. Cats are programmed for and challenged by quick movements (e.g. chasing a laser spot on the floor).

    My cats sit in windows that are close to bushes and trees. They flick their ears and twitch their tails and shiver with excitement while they watch birds and squirrels (and now we have a chipmunk too!) gambol in the branches. In fact, sometimes I think those wild creatures deliberately up the ante because "I'm safe out here, and you're in there and can't get to me. Ha ha."

    I watch my cats play in the living room and know that if something is just lying there, they have no interest in it. As soon as it is moving (even if they are the ones batting it around), suddenly it becomes a game. A milk cap is just a milk cap until a cat makes it a hockey puck. Catnip toys are wrestled with, tossed into the air, and pushed under furniture and then retrieved with the scoop of a paw. Our rescued cat Kuro, who was born in our back yard and grew up eating mice, will kill one now and then in our basement, but then brings it upstairs as a gift for us to eat.

    It's the movement that's important and that attracts the cat. And a well-fed domesticated cat probably won't eat a twitchy prey object it has killed ("You expect me to eat THAT???").
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #3

    Oct 17, 2013, 08:42 AM
    OK... I'm getting more now... but I'm not going to keep my cat inside!
    Maybe I should invest in 10 lbs of catnip and hang dozens of little bags of it from every low tree branch?
    I guess my philosophy of cats is going the way of the dodo.
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    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #4

    Oct 17, 2013, 08:50 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    OK... I'm getting more now... but I'm not going to keep my cat inside!
    Maybe I should invest in 10 lbs of catnip and hang dozens of little bags of it from every low tree branch?
    I guess my philosophy of cats is going the way of the dodo.
    If your cat goes outside, twitchy wildlife is fair game for her. Not sure what you can do. It's pure instinct, and she doesn't even have to be hungry. Keeping her indoors would be the only solution.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #5

    Oct 17, 2013, 08:57 AM
    So no extrapolation to us, nada. Cats is cats.
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    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #6

    Oct 17, 2013, 08:59 AM
    On a side note, have you seen this?

    All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome: Kathy Hoopmann: 9781843104810: Amazon.com: Books
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #7

    Oct 17, 2013, 09:48 AM
    WG, have you written a book about you and yours (human, feline.. )?
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    #8

    Oct 17, 2013, 09:52 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    WG, have you written a book about you and yours (human, feline.. )?
    I do have a cat blog, but no connection to Asperger's so far. Maybe I should make that my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. 50,000 words in a month, 1667 per day.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #9

    Oct 17, 2013, 10:05 AM
    November! Hmm!
    1667 per day is the sort of calculation I would do - and then by the waking hour, and then by the minute.
    I sometimes think I have Asperger's, because I find simple arithmetic soothing, and measuring and drawing floor plans even more so. I have whole files stuffed with floor plans. I keep track of usage of things too - coffee, TP, spaghetti, exact usage of whatever I might need for 6 months of snow over the roof or some such unexpected event. I track where the sun comes up and goes down each day, out my living room window, and move furniture around to take advantage of it. Etc...
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    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #10

    Oct 17, 2013, 10:07 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    I keep track of usage of things too
    In good order, maybe ABC order? You would have been a good librarian.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #11

    Oct 17, 2013, 10:53 AM
    Sigh... I have a streak of ODD...
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    #12

    Oct 17, 2013, 10:58 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    Sigh... I have a streak of ODD...
    As do many of the librarians I know. :) Me too. My spices are in alphabetical order in my kitchen and the canned goods are all in good order. The arrangement of items in the freezer is a delight to see.

    Although... one librarian we had hired as a temp noticed we put in numerical order the large envelopes we used for pamphlets that were checked out (1 pamphlet inside, 2 pamphlets inside, etc.) and remarked on what a great idea that was so it would be easy to match up the number of pamphlets checked out with the envelope to use. He had been a library director at one time, and his claim to fame in that job was resurfacing the parking lot.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #13

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:07 AM
    Do you mean OCD?
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    #14

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:22 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    Do you mean OCD?
    That too. Or what do you mean by ODD? Oppositional Defiant Disorder? Two out of the last three directors we had were micromanagers and mostly nuts. So ODD came in handy as we acted out passive aggressively.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #15

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:26 AM
    Yes, the defiant ODD. Maybe odd too.
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    #16

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:28 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    Yes, the defiant ODD. Maybe odd too.
    I had added more about our directors as you were posting, so please check back and read what I wrote in my previous post.

    Odd is always good. Keeps 'em guessing!
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    #17

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:29 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    Yes, the defiant ODD. Maybe odd too.
    I had typed defiant and it got changed to deviant. So I changed it back.
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    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #18

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:47 AM
    My last library encounter was during a freak snow storm in October 3 years ago. Power was out for weeks over a wide area. The library had a generator and the computers were in demand. I was using one, but unbeknownst to me, it was the only one connected to the printer, and someone who wanted to print told the librarian that I wasn't using the printer. She chided me with the most unctuous, carefully spaced words, complete with tilted head and frown and pursed lips showing the most admirable restraint for such a flagrant criminal as I.
    I wanted to give a lecture about all the countless neat little signs that didn't include one about this being the only computer connected to the printer. But about 12 people were frozen in space with mouths open, waiting to see what would happen, so I apologized to the waiting person and left.

    No wait - as I was leaving I told her that all the library files on the computer were easily accessible. She thanked me but looked a bit dubious, as though maybe I had been about to nuke them all if she hadn't stopped me.
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    Wondergirl Posts: 37,870, Reputation: 5429
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    #19

    Oct 17, 2013, 11:51 AM
    The library could easily have connected all the computers to the printer. The print jobs could have been done in order as received. Grrrr.

    I admire your restraint. That library staff needs a resident cat to calm them down.
    Tuttyd's Avatar
    Tuttyd Posts: 53, Reputation: 4
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    #20

    Oct 17, 2013, 10:47 PM
    Hi Joy,

    Yes this is very much a philosophical question and is usually discussed under the umbrella of animal consciousness This is actually an area I am very much interested in at the moment. Naturally, biology will also come into the picture as well.

    We have moved a long way from the early Cartesian idea that animals are simply a product of automata. In other words, animals are just pre-programmed machines. Cats chase and kill birds because that is what nature has programmed them to do, regardless of the hunger factor.

    Today they talk about the extent to which animals are conscious. Animal consciousness is a very controversial topic because consciousness is hard to define. What we do know is that some animals, elephants, dolphins and chimps do have some sort of self consciousness. What we can reasonably say about cats and dogs is that they have experience.

    Basically what this means from a dog's point of view is that he aware of what humans do and attempts to interact with them to his benefit. Every time I go into the yard I am ambushed by my dog. He grabs the tennis ball and drops it at my feet. It seems clear to me that he wants me to throw the ball so he can chance after it and bring it back.

    From this behaviour I think it is reasonable to assume that he does this because he finds the activity enjoyable and not because he is like a robot that lacks experience. He certainly gives me the impression he enjoys it. If this is actually the case then animals do have experiences.

    I find the story about your cat an interesting one because cats more than likely have experience so they tend to play with their live prey just like they would play with a ball of twine.

    I often ask myself is this cat is having an enjoyable experience playing with this animal before he/she eats it? The first question from my point of view is is fairly easy to answer. Yes, it it having fun. This immediately raises the question as to whether the cat is also enjoying the misery it is inflicting upon this poor animal?

    The answer to the second question would be generally no, because as far as we know it is only humans that seek gratification when it comes to inflicting pain and misery on other animals or other humans.

    I will have to leave it there for the moment as I have a prior engagement to attend to.

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