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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:32 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
.I gave up adopting kittens when I realized that keeping an indoor cat is cruel to the cat and outdoor cats are cruel to the world.

My indoor cats have food, water, and shelter, and they are protected from anything that would seek to prey on them. Sure, they may try to bust through the door on occasion, but they are easily caught and put back inside. They are content to spend their days sleeping, looking out the windows and charging around the house.

As for feral cats, they are merely doing what instinct has had them doing for eons. Other predatory species would be more than willing to take up the slack if there were no feral cats.

The passage from s1m0n that I've quoted implies that a cat simply cannot win. As someone who has cared for several cats over the course of almost 40 years, that sentiment (be it expressed or implied) angers me.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:33 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
It's why cat videos like the one you posted are so ubiquitous on the web: we can't help projecting human thoughts and feelings into what we see.

Now who's projecting? We post cat vids because they're cute, not because we read anything deep into them. Well, some might, but I submit that those are very much the minority. I suspect most cat fanciers tend to be a more practical bunch.

So you've had four cats. Good for you. At least you've gotten your feet wet, but I can tell you that's as far as it goes. I know one fellow who's on his second, and he thought he knew all he needed to know. Big surprise for him; he picked the last one because he liked its looks, and then couldn't figure out why the cat would hide all the time and didn't really like him. After a couple of years - years! - the cat finally came out and started trying to be tentatively sociable. Thinking it was the thing to do, the fellow made a grab for the cat to pet it, and with that, he undid everything at a stroke. Well, he made the mistake of thinking cats were automatons. Who knows how long it'll take before that cat ever trusts him again? What a sad way for a cat to have to live. For the owner, too. And it's needless. I've had some talks with him about cat behavior, how to read it, and how to communicate back effectively, and what I thought was obvious proved a revelation to him. I ended up by urging him to go to cat care websites to learn better about what he was dealing with, because I couldn't cover it all person-to-person, meeting haphazardly in a bar. And next time at the adoption center, I told him, let the cat choose YOU.

s1m0n wrote:
Most felids aren't pack animals, so they likely do a lot less communicating in general.

Not true. Even the "solitary" ones socialize with each other - some more, some less - and that requires communication. All my housecats have been very communicative, but mostly though body language and behavior. Vocalization is really secondary. If you learn to read a cat's body language and behavior, you also learn that they communicate almost nonstop. It's usually very basic stuff, but it's communication, and once they know you're really paying attention to what they have to say, that covers a lot of ground in building loyalty and companionship.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:37 pm 
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Incidentally, the most interesting evolutionary biologist of the past century was a russian named Belayev who successfully domesticated red foxes by selecting for only one trait: tameness, which he measured as the animal's willingness to be approached by humans. The cubs with the shortest 'scare' distance got bred, as did a separate population of the least tame. The average went the way of all foxes (he was running a fur farm). Within a couple of decades, he was breeding foxes that would jump into a person's arms and cuddle up. It's the first wild animal to be domesticated by humans since the iron age.

Interestingly, while he bred only for tameness, he got all the neotenous traits dogs share: floppy ears, variable colour coats, shorter muzzles, vocal communication, etc. The theory is that these amount to a genetic cluster that tend to come together. So if you breed canids for low levels of fear, you automatically get an enhanced ability to communicate with humans.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:49 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
The passage from s1m0n that I've quoted implies that a cat simply cannot win. As someone who has cared for several cats over the course of almost 40 years, that sentiment (be it expressed or implied) angers me.


It might be different with multiple cats that can amuse each other, but I've never had more than one at a time, albeit sometimes also with a dog.

~~

But cats are killers. If you have a cat that goes outside, and it's not blind, obese, or ancient, it kills things. You can't stop it, even with a bell round its neck. My dog's about to turn five, and I know for a fact that she's never killed anything, despite copious amounts of off leash time out of doors. She's brave enough to chase a black bear out of the apple tree and out of the yard (a thing she's done many times), but doesn't have that feline need to kill. Not all dog breeds are like her, but no cat breeds are like that.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:50 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
s1m0n wrote:
It's why cat videos like the one you posted are so ubiquitous on the web: we can't help projecting human thoughts and feelings into what we see.

Now who's projecting?


Everyone, you included. Which was my point.

Nanohedron wrote:
s1m0n wrote:
Most felids aren't pack animals, so they likely do a lot less communicating in general.

Not true. Even the "solitary" ones socialize with each other - some more, some less - and that requires communication.


Some communication. Note that 'less' is not 'none'. The difference is that wolves have to communication to make a living. Wild cats don't; except for lions.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Last edited by s1m0n on Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:51 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
s1m0n wrote:
I gave up adopting kittens when I realized that keeping an indoor cat is cruel to the cat and outdoor cats are cruel to the world.
The passage from s1m0n that I've quoted implies that a cat simply cannot win. As someone who has cared for several cats over the course of almost 40 years, that sentiment (be it expressed or implied) angers me.

Well, it's simplistic, and I sympathize. The world is not simple, and pat statements like "cruel to the world" are too melodramatic to hit the target. It also tells us which side s1m0n's bread is buttered on, but that's fine. I'm not here to convert anyone to cat ownership. But I am here to face down ignorance where I see it.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:54 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
s1m0n wrote:
It's why cat videos like the one you posted are so ubiquitous on the web: we can't help projecting human thoughts and feelings into what we see.

Now who's projecting?

Everyone, you included. Which was my point.

No, s1m0n. That doesn't fly. I'm starting to think you just like to hear yourself talk.

s1m0n wrote:
Not all dog breeds are like her, but no cat breeds are like that.

No cat breeds are like what?

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:59 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
No cat breeds are like what?


Free of the 'kill' instinct.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:02 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
No, s1m0n. That doesn't fly. I'm starting to think you just like to hear yourself talk.


I'm making actual arguments. You're merely contradicting.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:13 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
No cat breeds are like what?

Free of the 'kill' instinct.

Well, you're probably right, there, at least in a general sense. But remember that Mubu never hunted. She initially tried, yes, but not for long and it didn't stick. My point is that one really should acknowledge the exceptions when making broader statements. It's not just only good form, it shows that you value the truth enough to embrace it.

s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
No, s1m0n. That doesn't fly. I'm starting to think you just like to hear yourself talk.

I'm making actual arguments. You're merely contradicting.

I'll consider an argument made when I see some backing for it. Simply saying we're all projecting, and leaving it at that, says nothing better than "So's yer mom."

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:19 pm 
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I now feel compelled to bring up a few more points:

If a cat takes years to warm up to its human caretaker, that is clearly not a good match. I've known feral cats who adjusted to life indoors within two months!

A lot of our pets chose us. Theo and Sascha both walked up to our front door. Our little dog, Walter, crawled under the fence while I was at work one day.

The one pet I've had who killed anything (that Im aware of) was a dog. She was in the backyard while I was at work one day, and she killed a squirrel.

I don't let my cats go outdoors (I've never had one who, like Lester, was extremely unhappy being indoors exclusively)...so anything they would kill doesn't belong in the house anyway.

It is true that, generally speaking, cats never lose their predatory instinct. Sascha used to look out the window and "hunt" birds. He made amusing little noises when he did that, too! But he seems less interested in that today. This afternoon, when I put him by the window so he could observe a gaggle of birds, he just watched them and purred. Theo, on the other hand, was never really much of a hunter.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:48 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
If a cat takes years to warm up to its human caretaker, that is clearly not a good match. I've known feral cats who adjusted to life indoors within two months!

Yeah, not ideal to say the least. The misfortune was compounded because here he had this real chance of making things work - the cat was finally coming around - but he bollixed it up on the assumption that good intentions will make up for all, regardless of what you do, regardless of the cat's behavioral communication. Cats are not dogs. Your dog seeks to understand you; your cat wants you to understand it. Big difference. That cat needed to be allowed to do things on its own terms, no strings attached. If the cat spent the two previous years hiding, how did my friend expect the cat was going to react to being grabbed? Sigh. I mean, c'mon.

If that sort of insight is what you insist on calling projection, s1m0n, then it's just as well you left off with cats.

Dan A. wrote:
The one pet I've had who killed anything (that Im aware of) was a dog. She was in the backyard while I was at work one day, and she killed a squirrel.

My family had this old mutt, Bernie. We were all having a walk together along with Bernie and some poodle whose name I forget, and old lame and near-blind Bernie walked right up to a crow standing off of the road, and as if it were nothing, calmly put his mouth around it and carried it off. No chase, and not even hardly a flutter. We'd never seen anything like it, and much less would we expect it from an old dog at that.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:52 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I'll consider an argument made when I see some backing for it. Simply saying we're all projecting, and leaving it at that, says nothing better than "So's yer mom."


You even quoted it. I provided as an example a video, which (quite cleverly, I thought) you yourself had introduced into evidence. Cat videos are extraordinarily popular on the net. Much more popular than dog videos, I might add. The reason for this popularity is that it is very difficult to not attribute human motives and emotions to what we're seeing, which turns clips like the one you posted into comedy.

Let's take another look at your "Lester of the Uncanny Mind" passage. You accused me of being over the top, but Nano, that's practically purple prose. It's nearly an epic. You're right, I didn't pick up the fact that it was also an epitaph for a beloved pet, and I mocked it's exalted claims. If I'd noticed, I likely would have let it slide.

Nanohedron wrote:
Lester of the Uncanny Mind roamed, but it was for pure fun and adventure, and in particular to try to get into people's homes to satisfy his massive curiosity and have a visit, and the daily phone calls and texts letting me know where he was back that up. If he came across prey on his travels, that was a bonus, but honestly I have reason to believe that hunting wasn't his primary purpose in roaming. I mostly saw him do his serious hunting on his own patch - even with a cat around there was no shortage of wildlife - but being hyper-intelligent he got bored easily, so the easy-to-catch stuff soon fell off the to-do list. In the end his main thing was not the actual kill, but the challenge - he always had to beat the house - and his main goal became that hardest-to-catch (and most dangerous!) of urban quarry: squirrels. He was obsessed with them more than any other. For him it was like the Maasai warrior who'd go out alone to bag a lion, naked, with no shield and only a spear, the only purpose being to test his skills and mettle against something that could seriously put the hurt on him. After months and months he eventually caught only one that I know of, and that got him mauled big time. Knowing Lester, had he prevailed he would have brought the squirrel home to show me his triumph, so I know the squirrel came out on top and got away. But defeats never stopped Lester; he learned strategy by them. Had he lived longer, I fully believe he would have eventually gotten a decent handle on squirrel-hunting, because he had the drive, and the smarts, to work it out. So for him it wasn't about mere killing, but mastery. He believed he was the best, and he was always out to prove it.


But you've attributed no less than about a dozen advanced emotions and complex thoughts to Lester, all on the basis of behaviour that reflects instincts - curiousity (explore territory), and chase the prey - that all cats display. All these complicated motivations you've attributed to Lester might be just a little bit of a stretch. All cats will behave like this, and do it because their instincts tell them to.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:18 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
You accused me of being over the top, but Nano, that's practically purple prose. It's nearly an epic.

Now I feel complimented. I do try. :love:

s1m0n wrote:
But you've attributed no less than about a dozen advanced emotions and complex thoughts to Lester, all on the basis of behaviour that reflects instincts - curiousity (explore territory), and chase the prey - that all cats display. All these complicated motivations you've attributed to Lester might be just a little bit of a stretch. All cats will behave like this, and do it because their instincts tell them to.

I get your point, but I'm talking about matters of degree and nuance. An instinct is not monolithic, but expresses in various ways. All I can say is that if you'd met Lester, you'd know you were confronted with an extraordinary animal. I don't recall if I already told this story, but here goes anyway: In the wintertime, if it was too cold outside for his liking I'd let Lester out into the apartment building hallways so he could gallop and let off steam - and go visiting, of course. Officially I wan't supposed to do that, but everyone and the landlord generously made allowances because they realized and accepted that in Lester's case, allowances had to be made. Everyone was fine with it, and he was a prime source of general amusement. Local color, that was him. Anyway, one day as I was out in the hall with Lester - he was helping me with the laundry, probably - one of the tenants came home from bicycling, and as she lugged her bike up the stairs, Lester got this look of inspiration - you could almost see the light bulb go on - and immediately he went up the back stairs. Shortly thereafter was the sound of a cat galloping full-blast down the hall above, and a shriek from the tenant. It was hilarious.

You may say that I'm only projecting when I speak of a look of inspiration, but I say I'm observant. I'm wondering, s1m0n; what part of all that episode would you say was only instinct? Cats are capable of a sense of humor; it comes out in play, and I've seen it many a time from many a cat. What about the one that counted coup on me and did a victory dance? What about the one that was banging around in the tub and pulled aside the shower curtain to glare at me when I laughed, then let go of the curtain to bang around again? I have many more. When you have a good relationship with a cat, it will often be a clown for you if that is in its personality.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:45 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I'm wondering, s1m0n; what part of all that episode would you say was only instinct?


I'm not sure what you're getting at. Lester heard a noise in the hall and mock-charged it? That's the play instinct. Any cat'll do that. In your head, is it a witty practical joke?

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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