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February 7, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Sam is the most worried cat in the world. Tard is the most unhappy cat. But are they really? The psychological process known as anthropomorphism may potentially have moral ramifications that extend beyond dressing your cat in adorable costumes.
posted by wolfdreams01 (112 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
My cats reject any sense of accountability for their actions, even though I constantly ask them questions and respond to their imagined replies
posted by angrycat at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


My cats have to constantly apologize to each other for sneak attacking, battery, assault. Inappropriate touching, unwanted grooming, toy stealing, you name it. And they are both very sorry when they apologize.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:27 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


My cats are asleep.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:30 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Somebody named their cat Tard?
posted by bondcliff at 7:33 AM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


So far, there are three replies from cat owners, yet no pictures? For shame.
posted by The Potate at 7:34 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Morgan's Canon
posted by Segundus at 7:35 AM on February 7, 2013


Somebody named their cat Tard?

No, they named her Tardar Sauce. That just doesn't roll off the tongue the same way though.
posted by pupdog at 7:36 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Somebody named their cat Tard?

The cat's full name is Tardar Sauce.

So.... yeah.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:36 AM on February 7, 2013


So far, there are three replies from cat owners, yet no pictures? For shame.

Sorry! Cosette and Herbie.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:37 AM on February 7, 2013


Grumpy cat is the best cat.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:38 AM on February 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


You are more than welcome to go to my Instagram account and marvel at the dozens upon dozens of pictures Shepherd and I have taken of Moxie Parker aka Hashtag Chubby Cat.

(also she is the cutest thing ever)
posted by Kitteh at 7:39 AM on February 7, 2013


"Daily Beast can bite my butt" --Grumpy Cat
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:39 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


So far, there are three replies from cat owners, yet no pictures? For shame.

Fine. Here is a picture of my cat, Jasper, with his legs shaved. I like to pretend he was getting ready for a swim meet.

Sadly, Jasper died a couple weeks ago at the age of 17. He had a good run and came close to dying a few years ago but managed to pull through.
posted by bondcliff at 7:39 AM on February 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


It's not anthropomorphism you people should be worrying about, it's ailuromania.
posted by Segundus at 7:42 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Allow me attempt to balance this thread by saying that I have about as much empathy for cats as I do for aphids. Except that aphids don't infect you with a brain parasite that makes you go all dopey about them. So there's that.
posted by pipeski at 7:42 AM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is "takin' a bath" an emotion?
posted by uncleozzy at 7:42 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tibetan Sand Fox does not approve of anthropomorphism.
posted by The Bellman at 7:44 AM on February 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


These cats know only the blank hatred for humanity common to all cats.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Enough with the parasite talk. You have a better chance of getting toxoplasmosis from that salad you ate.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's because the stupid things keep crapping in my vegetable beds. Grr.
posted by pipeski at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Allow me attempt to balance this thread by saying that I have about as much empathy for cats as I do for aphids. Except that aphids don't infect you with a brain parasite that makes you go all dopey about them. So there's that.

You realize making toxoplasmosis jokes in cat threads marks you as a dumbass, right?
posted by aught at 7:48 AM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is Moxie Parker here.
posted by Kitteh at 7:48 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


You really shouldn't anthropomorphize cats—they hate that.
posted by bouvin at 7:51 AM on February 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


My cat Muffet passed away the day after Christmas and I still feel horrible and guilty. She died as I was taking her out of her carrier at the vet. She had a seizure and her heart stopped. They couldn't restart it. I didn't even think she was sick, but she'd been acting weird, but cats ate weird. I was taking her there as a precaution. I would have done so the day prior, but you know, Christmas.

I anthropomorphize the hell out of my cats. I find nothing morally questionable about it.
Anthropomorphism goes beyond providing purely behavioral or dispositional descriptions of observable actions ([...]); it involves attributing characteristics that people intuitively perceive to be uniquely human to nonhuman agents or events.
Make up your mind. Do we perceive these things as uniquely human or do we ascribe them to most everything?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:52 AM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


You realize making toxoplasmosis jokes in cat threads marks you as a dumbass, right?

Sorry. Thought it was a anthropomorphism thread.

Make up your mind. Do we perceive these things as uniquely human or do we ascribe them to most everything?


Again, Morgan's Canon. It's kind of the Occam's Razor of animal behaviour.
posted by pipeski at 7:54 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


A little more on the name of Tarder Sauce. The little girl from the cat's family wanted to name her 'Tartar Sauce', because as a kitten, TS apparently looked like tartar sauce - creamy, with dark bits here and there. Unfortunately, the spelling wasn't up to snuff, and thus she was named Tarder Sauce instead. Which gets shortened to the insensitive moniker 'Tard'.

I probably know more than is healthy about the Grumpy Cat.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:57 AM on February 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


People anthropomorphize me all the time. Drives me mad.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:58 AM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Morgan's Canon
posted by Segundus


Am I the only one that saw this link and was disappointed about it not involving a cat named Morgan and its cannon?

Drives me mad.

You should probably stop eating all that cat feces then.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


At least my cats are biological beings with a meat-brain. They may not have the cognitive capacity for emotions as humans experience them, but at least when they curl up in bed and purr w/ us, it's an understandable interspecies communication implying contentedness in the cat's experience.

People who anthropomorphize machines freak me out. I don't even use Siri because I don't want a machine addressing me in a human voice like its a person. That's how they lull you into not keeping watch on them.

If I ever get a personal wish granted, it would be to smash an android like that scene in The Animatrix, so I can earn my merit badge.

And I love my cats, but I don't remember a single feline making theyself useful by sniffing out Terminators trying to infiltrate. Here, Fido...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I love my cats, but I don't remember a single feline making theyself useful by sniffing out Terminators trying to infiltrate.

I take it you've never had a serious mouse problem.
posted by bondcliff at 8:02 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Forget anthropomorphism. Worry about zoomorphism; that's when animals project their nature onto humans. This results in things such as being woken up by the sandpaper tongue of a cat scraping across your forehead.
posted by asnider at 8:03 AM on February 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


I anthropomorphize the hell out of my cats. I find nothing morally questionable about it.

Depends on the level of anthropomorphization, I reckon, But cats are not human beings, and their facial expressions, body language, preferences about physical contact, and vocalizations do not have one-to-one correlations with the same actions in humans. Imagine, if you will, that you had been born in captivity, had your sex organs surgically removed by your captors, separated for your entire life from any other creatures of your species (or maybe you're trapped with one or two other humans, potentially people who you dislike), and given food, physical affection, and other pleasures at the whim of your captors, and discouraged from doing all of the things you find fun, interesting or necessary for psychological survival. Say you'd love to ride a bicycle if only you could get outside and try. But you've never been outside, and furthermore, because your feet muss up the carpeting and furniture of your captors, your toes have also been surgically removed. So there's never actually any chance of you getting to even try riding a bicycle ever. Then your captors have the gall to pretend that you are part of their family, and refer to you as if you are one of them, operating under the pretense that you possess any agency beyond the small amount of mischief they allow you to make and maybe where you're allowed to sleep.

Yeah, your cats are totally people. Totally.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:05 AM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


I take it you've never had a serious mouse problem.

Minor one, many years ago, before I married a woman w/ cats. Snap-trap took care of the problem.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:06 AM on February 7, 2013


I don't need to anthropomorphize my cat, she loves me (and I love her) as she is: a not very intelligent but still fully sentient being with needs, desires, moods and emotions of her own.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:07 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I found this interesting: "If feeling isolated increases the tendency to anthropomorphize nonhuman agents, then feeling socially connected may likewise increase the tendency to dehumanize other people—that is, to fail to attribute basic features of personhood to other people."

More proof for me that it's better to spend my time with my kittehs than with other humans.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:09 AM on February 7, 2013


This results in things such as being woken up by the sandpaper tongue of a cat scraping across your forehead.

This is my common half asleep conversation with the cat who likes to lick me: "Matty. Matty no I'm clean now. I'm clean, I don't need it I'm clean. Lemme sleep I'm clean. Matty Cut It Out!"

Pick up cat, deposit outside room, lock door. (He can open the door if it's not locked. Turn the handle and everything.)
posted by sweetkid at 8:09 AM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


My bengal cat is smarter than your honor student. (And prettier too.)
Who's a pretty kitty? You are! Yes, you are! *smooch smooch smooch*
posted by entropicamericana at 8:09 AM on February 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Minor one, many years ago, before I married a woman w/ cats. Snap-trap took care of the problem.

Does your wife know your nickname for her?
posted by srboisvert at 8:10 AM on February 7, 2013 [30 favorites]


My cat is an evil overlord.
posted by pjern at 8:10 AM on February 7, 2013


I'm about to be the owner of a baby but I still agree with this, despite its being in Comic Sans.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


(He can open the door if it's not locked. Turn the handle and everything.)

Ugh, mine finally (re-)learned this trick last week. And if we leave the door locked, he'll noisily jiggle the handle anyhow.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:13 AM on February 7, 2013




I take it you've never had a serious mouse problem.

I had frivolous mice, which are a much bigger problem than serious mice. Those fuckers party all night.
posted by The Bellman at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


They may not have the cognitive capacity for emotions as humans experience them,

But isn't the distinction not so much in the range of emotions non-human animals experience, but in higher level conceptualizing, language, abstract reasoning? Mammals in particular seem to do the basic range of emotions pretty well, actually. I'm not a neuroscientist by any means but it's always seemed to me the basic set of emotional responses in mammals is fairly standard across the class.
posted by aught at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I anthropomorphize the hell out of my cats. I find nothing morally questionable about it.

Luckily, there are 13 states where it's still legal to anthropomorphize the hell out of a cat.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2013


Mon chat. Told you she was sleeping.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:17 AM on February 7, 2013


The craziest thing uncleozzy is he can turn the handle BOTH ways - he can not only push it open, but also pull it towards him. It's one of those push down and push/pull handles, not a knob. He can't open my front door with a knob, but he tries putting his little paws around it and turning.

Let me tell you, it's really creepy when I lock them out of my room and wake up in the middle of the night to - something - trying the door.
posted by sweetkid at 8:17 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never thought that anthropomorphism could be the other extreme to dehumanization. It makes sense and the way they make it an issue makes a lot of sense too. There seem to be far more popular internet movements to save kitties and puppies from potential harm than there are to save fellow human beings from death. The average cyberbro has a better presumed understanding of the latest cat celebrity than he or she does about the situation of someone living in North Waziristan.

Social justice on the internet is more about putting the lady who threw that cat into a trash can in jail than it is about making sure that your basic human rights are enforced all around the world. Which isn't to say that there isn't any attention given to human rights abuses but there's a really good point to be made about how we seem to spend much more energy looking inward, fawning over pets to a point of neoteny and quibbling over really niche cultural phenomenons than we do facing outwards and seeing the world for all of its ugliness and suffering.
posted by dubusadus at 8:19 AM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


OMGZ I love that video where Grumpy Cat "speaks." It makes me get all squeeee!

I also imagine my cats have cutesy kid voices but they tend to be pretty foul-mouthed.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:21 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somebody named their cat Tardar Sauce?
posted by 2N2222 at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, your cats are totally people. Totally.

Cool. We understand each other.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


My cat has eyebrows too!
posted by cazoo at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like Grumpy Cat, but the "Tarder Sauce" name seems like total backpedaling to me.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Good going, guys. Thanks to this discussion all I want to do is go home and snuggle my cats but my workday's barely half over.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:30 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




People love Tard.

I have a Tard t-shirt, it gets way too much attention, someone even stopped me on the street to take a picture of it. I had to stop wearing it outside.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I usually answer my coworkers in Grumpy Cat memes attachments. That cat says it all.
posted by stormpooper at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Official Grumpy Cat website. Has her origin story, semi-grumpy brother Pokey and more.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've very glad for this thread, because a little clickety-click and I have discovered that my philosophical position has a name: New Mysterian:
New mysterianism is a philosophical position proposing that the hard problem of consciousness cannot be resolved by humans. The unresolvable problem is how to explain the existence of qualia...

In the view of the New mysterians, their contention that the hard problem of consciousness is unsolvable is not a presupposition, but rather a philosophical conclusion reached by thinking carefully about the issue. The standard argument is as follows:

Subjective experiences by their very nature cannot be shared or compared side-by-side. Therefore it is impossible to know what subjective experiences another person is having.

Noam Chomsky distinguishes between problems, which seem solvable, at least in principle, through scientific methods, and mysteries, which do not seem solvable, even in principle. He notes that the cognitive capabilities of all organisms are limited by biology, e.g. a mouse will never speak like a human. In the same way, certain problems may be beyond our understanding.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never thought that anthropomorphism could be the other extreme to dehumanization.

Well, we don't know that it is. This paper just postulates that as a framework for understanding the processes. There's no data presented that shows the likelihood of this framework being how things really work; what would come next would be devising experiments to see if there is more to be discovered to support or discredit the theory.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like Grumpy Cat, but the "Tarder Sauce" name seems like total backpedaling to me.

Actually the Grumpy Cat is the backpedaling.

Tard started being called "Grumpy Cat" about the time the owners were doing the TV rounds.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never thought that anthropomorphism could be the other extreme to dehumanization.

I'm not sure, though; the paper approached anthropomorphism and dehumanization as both troublesome outgrowths of a secular-humanist baseline. The axiomatic normalization of that baseline struck me as a little bit question-begging.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Greg Nog: "CATS LOVE POMELO RINDS JUST LIKE HUMANS DO"

"Thunder Perfect Cat" is the best name.
posted by boo_radley at 8:54 AM on February 7, 2013


Sorry. Thought it was a anthropomorphism thread.

Okay then.
posted by aught at 8:54 AM on February 7, 2013


Contrary to the idea that humans are wasting a finite supply of empathy on animals, in the late 1800's the newly formed American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was the only group who would take on a case of child abuse, leading directly to a movement for children's rights (wiki). The more creatures we think of as human the better for all of us.
posted by velebita at 8:56 AM on February 7, 2013 [30 favorites]


I found this interesting: "If feeling isolated increases the tendency to anthropomorphize nonhuman agents, then feeling socially connected may likewise increase the tendency to dehumanize other people—that is, to fail to attribute basic features of personhood to other people."

More proof for me that it's better to spend my time with my kittehs than with other humans


The paper doesn't seem to have reached that as a conclusion but rather is proposing it is a possible set of bookends for a spectrum of human anthropomorphization tendencies. In short, it reads to me like conjecture, not conclusion, and one that my limited experience leads me to doubt, both in that the people I personally know who are cat owners are more likely to be anti-social and less likely to be empathetic to humans they don't personally know. And the people I know who live in large, heavily-populated urban areas seem to be more empathetic to human beings they've never personally met and with whom they share little to no political or ethnic ties. So to be convincing, this framework would need to be abel to describe both of the above phenomena satisfactorily, which, right now, in its pithy phrasing, it does not do.

Obviously, my personal experience is anecdotal, and not a reliable data set (I may, for example, have had the misfortune to only meet cat owners who are anti-social and cranky, but those may still be in the minority of cat owners; I may also have had the good fortune to meet mostly people in living in Chicago or New York who tend to be empathetic, but who still may be in a minority of city-dwellers.) But without data or further argument, I have a hard time with reading that statement as much more than a conjecture.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:00 AM on February 7, 2013


Probably the flip side to Grumpy Cat is Lil Bub another cat with multiple birth defects leading to a different flavor of anthropomorphism.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:02 AM on February 7, 2013


Tibetan Sand Fox does not approve of anthropomorphism.

I thought it was missing something.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:04 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]




I really love that the ASPCA had child rights early on in their history but it's hard not to treat that as something exceptional. The state of society we have today is that the general population knows less about the fact that the US still hasn't ratified the UDHR's Declaration of the Rights of the Child (joining South Sudan and Somalia; the primary argument there is the US still reserves the right to imprison for life or execute juvenile offenders) than they do about some stranger's cat on the internet. Whether or not there was ever a chance for this sort of thing to make it into the mainstream is debatable but it is just to say that there's a lot of wasted potential there, especially on social media sites where this sort of thing can be raised but will probably end up getting drowned out by a deluge of cat pictures :)
posted by dubusadus at 9:12 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think empathy for animals and empathy for humans are mutually exclusive. People still tend to think in primitive, tribal patterns, as the paper mentions. It's easy for us to find the vast quantity of other humans in less-than-ideal conditions too overwhelmingly "other" or far-off to invest emotionally in their plight. Not the greatest feature of the human mind, but there it is.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:21 AM on February 7, 2013


Fritz went to a kitty rave :)

He also got wedged into a scanner, but I have no idea how or why.

A typical pose.

He's always on the alert, though.

A little known fact: Fritz is royalty (at least in his own mind).
posted by pjern at 9:24 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]



Most of the cats that have lived with me over the past 15 years or so have just shown up. I haven't gone out and purposely got a cat for a very long time. The rest of my family plus some of their friends all have these cats and their offspring living with them. At least two have shown up with buns in the oven.

The latest group are mother and two sons. BK short for basement kitty was a cat that made her way into the basement of my parents farmhouse while my husband and I were looking after the place. She stayed in the basement for several weeks before cautiously making her way upstairs. Then blam more cats. Two of those stayed with me, Smudge and Trip and the rest went to relatives.

I now have a basement cat in my house. He's a cat that was living around this house when we bought it. He wasn't vicious and would occasionally let himself be petted. For the first couple of years he stayed outside year round. In the winter I felt really bad when it was cold and made him a cat house to stay inside and make sure he had food. Then one winter I opened the door and he streaked inside. We had a discussion about the litter box. Ok you can stay down here as long as you use this thing. He complied. As soon as spring came he rushed outside again. Then a couple of winters ago he didn't go back outside in the spring. When I tried to put him out he rushed back in. So here is a cat who spent many years lively freely out in the world and now seems to have chosen his spot. For the last two years he's just hung out in the basement and yowls day or night when he's hungry or thirsty. Occasionally when I go do laundry he'll come close for a very brief pat but that's it. That cat has got me suckered into being it's damn servant.
posted by Jalliah at 9:31 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is his typical reaction to having a phone camera shoved in his face.

"What has been seen cannot be unseen."
posted by dirigibleman at 9:39 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That cat has got me suckered into being it's damn servant.

Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:39 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]



Oh I forgot my comment related to the post. I imagine my cats to be calculating creatures who when they found themselves out in the world for whatever reason surveyed potential homes and figured out that my homes were easy pickings in terms of the humans living there having the emotional incapability of saying 'no.' Years back I was living in a place where a cat literally plastered itself to the screen door with all four paws and mewed pitifully until he was let in. A month later my Dad was visiting and saw a cat outside. When he called to it the thing ran, lept into his arms and cuddled him like crazy. When he was brought inside he immediately plopped himself down in the middle of the living room carpet like he owned the place and started calmly cleaning himself. I imagined him thinking, "Alright. I'm in I can relax now. suckers"
posted by Jalliah at 9:41 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Depends on the level of anthropomorphization, I reckon, But cats are not human beings, and their facial expressions, body language, preferences about physical contact, and vocalizations do not have one-to-one correlations with the same actions in humans. Imagine, if you will, that you had been born in captivity, had your sex organs surgically removed by your captors, separated for your entire life from any other creatures of your species (or maybe you're trapped with one or two other humans, potentially people who you dislike), and given food, physical affection, and other pleasures at the whim of your captors, and discouraged from doing all of the things you find fun, interesting or necessary for psychological survival. Say you'd love to ride a bicycle if only you could get outside and try. But you've never been outside, and furthermore, because your feet muss up the carpeting and furniture of your captors, your toes have also been surgically removed. So there's never actually any chance of you getting to even try riding a bicycle ever. Then your captors have the gall to pretend that you are part of their family, and refer to you as if you are one of them, operating under the pretense that you possess any agency beyond the small amount of mischief they allow you to make and maybe where you're allowed to sleep.

But isn't...? But didn't you just...?
posted by eugenen at 9:42 AM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


The state of society we have today is that the general population knows less about the fact that the US still hasn't ratified the UDHR's Declaration of the Rights of the Child (joining South Sudan and Somalia; the primary argument there is the US still reserves the right to imprison for life or execute juvenile offenders) than they do about some stranger's cat on the internet.

I don't think that's a result of humans preferring cats to humans, though; I think it's due to the human inability to empathize with large groups over individuals. The "Charlie Bit My Finger" kid gets more attention than a nation full of poverty-stricken children, and Lil' Bub gets more attention than the nation of feral cats we should currently be Trap-Neuter-Releasing.

But when a larger issue gets whittled down to a single individual, it's way easier to get people to engage. Like, you can say, "There are a lot of orphans in Africa who could use help," and get very little engagement, but if you say "Here's a man with a story about defending an orphanage," you can get thousands of people donating thousands of dollars.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh I forgot my comment related to the post. I imagine my cats to be calculating creatures who when they found themselves out in the world for whatever reason surveyed potential homes and figured out that my homes were easy pickings in terms of the humans living there having the emotional incapability of saying 'no.

You reminded me of this story:
Once upon a time the cat did not live in the houses of men. She lived only in the bush or in the jungle.

One cat became friendly with a rabbit. She went everywhere with the rabbit and was astonished at the craftiness of her friend. One day a duiker (duiker or duyker: small african antelope), fought with the rabbit and killed it with its horns. As her friend was dead the cat lived with the duiker. Then the duiker was killed by a leopard, so the cat decided to live with the leopard. A few days later they met with a lion. The lion fought the leopard and killed it. The poor cat then made friends with the lion and lived with him until one day they met a herd of elephant. A huge bull fought with the lion and killed it.

The cat thought to herself, "I must make friends with an animal as large and strong as this elephant - surely nothing can defeat it!"

But her troubles were not yet over, for one day a hunter shot the elephant with a poisoned arrow and the elephant died.

Now the cat did not know what to do, for she had never seen a two-legged animal such as this. She thought hard and said to herself, "if this man can kill a huge animal like an elephant, I had better make friends with him so that I can live in safety."

She followed the hunter back to his home, and when the hunter entered his hut the cat crept up on to the verandah. She heard sounds of quarrelling in the hut and saw the man in flight from a woman who was beating him with a stick for stirring porridge.

The cat said to herself, "Now I have seen the strongest of all creatures - a woman!"

Ever after this the cat has lived in the huts with the women, because it is they who are all-powerful.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:49 AM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Fritz went to a kitty rave :)

He also got wedged into a scanner, but I have no idea how or why.

A typical pose.

He's always on the alert, though.

A little known fact: Fritz is royalty (at least in his own mind).


posted by pjern at 12:24 PM on February 7 [1 favorite +] [!]

Thank you for that pjern! Fritz is adorable.
posted by sweetkid at 10:01 AM on February 7, 2013


I had frivolous mice, which are a much bigger problem than serious mice. Those fuckers party all night.

I would like to propose a solution to your problem.
posted by maryr at 10:05 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yoda has markings that tend to make him look vexed or angry.

But he really is a very chill cat.

bonus
posted by Kabanos at 10:09 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


But isn't...? But didn't you just...?

I did, and I'd do it again.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:35 AM on February 7, 2013


Hi guys, whatcha talking about?
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 10:40 AM on February 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Leo, I don't care for your demeanor.
posted by cmoj at 11:15 AM on February 7, 2013


Surprised there's been no mention of the existential philosopher cat with the terrible French accent: Henri, le chat noir.
posted by desjardins at 11:37 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like Grumpy Cat, but the "Tarder Sauce" name seems like total backpedaling to me.

I sort of agree, but I could also see them actually naming the cat that. People name animals all sorts of bizarre things* (especially children), and there's no way that they could have predicted that this cat would rocket to Internet stardom, capturing the hearts and minds of all. And then confronted with how amazingly insensitive the name could be seen as. Hell, Tarder Sauce's older brother, Pokey, has the same facial issue, yet it makes him look merely disgruntled. And thus not the subject of hilarious memes and worldwide fame.

* I know this from experience. When I was a kid, I wanted to name a cat 'Johnson St.', after my favorite bus route. (Yes, I had a favorite bus route. DON'T JUDGE.) Luckily, the parents intervened, and Cat was named 'Nakoma' instead. I also lived with a cat that I named after a small town in Saskatchewan (Qu'Appelle), and I currently live with a cat in which I gave the moniker 'Mall Cop'.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:45 AM on February 7, 2013


I currently live with a cat in which I gave the moniker 'Mall Cop'.

I believe you've mentioned Mall Cop before on Metafilter. I enjoyed it then and now.

I almost named my cat Matty "Doctor" because when I had just brought him home, one of the first things he did was do a rounds of the whole apartment, checking out every corner and window. Then he sat on my desk, on the xray of my broken finger.
posted by sweetkid at 11:49 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I almost named my cat Matty "Doctor"

"My cat. I call him the Lord. I am kind to him."
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have mentioned Mall Cop before on here. Because he is the best cat.

My aunt used to have the kindest, sweetest little lady tabby cat, who loved nothing more than to chase toys and sleep in sunbeams. Her name? Fido Fathead.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2013


I have mentioned Mall Cop before on here. Because he is the best cat.

FIGHTING WORDS.
posted by sweetkid at 12:07 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


FIGHTING WORDS.

Thankfully, there is an internet service that can settle this.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:32 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


People name animals all sorts of bizarre things*

* Butterface, because Calico with a mostly-white head with patches of orange, turned into Butterhead, which of course rapidly turned into Butthead.
posted by achrise at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2013


People name animals all sorts of bizarre things*

I named my cat Macrophage after my favourite immune cell. And his sister is named Juniper after the berries used for making gin.

It kind of creeps me out when people talk of their cats as if they were their children. It's just basic biology, e.g. there is no way I am the mother of two cats given I am not a cat. And calling an animal which you own your 'child' makes me shudder quietly inside. Cats are definitely capable of being happy or sad or content or upset, but I'm also OK with them being animals rather than small furry humans.
posted by shelleycat at 12:51 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Names of cats I have had over the years, 'Smudge, BK (Basement Kitty), Molly, Trip, Tiger, Sammy I, Sammy II (short for Samson), his sister Deliah, Muggins, Scruffy 1 and 2, Sasha, Cabbage, Mr. Tibbs, Hopper, Gwendolyn and Peanut. There's more but I hate to say that I can't remember a few from when I was small. Some stayed with a short time and went to other homes.

Growing up my Dad got a veto over the names before they were finalized as he said that there was no way he was going to yell out the door, "Here Squiggy Poo, here squiggy poo'. He saved many a cat from little kid naming fate. I wish I could remember some of the name my sisters and I wanted to name our kitties that Dad vetoed.
posted by Jalliah at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, cats should always be named after famous Greek philosophers, because they act in much the same way as I envision those philosophers would behave in if they had claws and fangs but utterly lacked the ability to express their complex ideas.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


the paper approached anthropomorphism and dehumanization as both troublesome outgrowths of a secular-humanist baseline.

From the paper's conclusion:
In the 2008 California state election, citizens voted to pass Proposition 2, which required farm animals to be kept in less restricting confines, and also Proposition 8, which denied to homosexual couples marriage privileges that had already been granted within the state.
Here's my cat Torgo, high on catnip.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fine, here's Fitz and Gatsby chilling in their brand new home (I moved them up to Brooklyn from DC last night.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:51 PM on February 7, 2013


Growing up my Dad got a veto over the names before they were finalized as he said that there was no way he was going to yell out the door, "Here Squiggy Poo, here squiggy poo'.

My husband's dad named our dog Scully specifically because he wanted to run down the street yelling SCULLLLYYY!!!!

R.I.P. Scully
posted by desjardins at 2:20 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and we have a cat named Damon, who was named that for who-knows-what reason when I got him at the Humane Society, and I have to explain every-single-time that his name is not Damien, though it would surely be more appropriate.
posted by desjardins at 2:24 PM on February 7, 2013


I don't have a flickr thing but I do have the Angrycat blog, in which pictures of Parker and Trudles are captioned with statements expressing anger. I am particularly proud of my latest effort, in which I caught Trudles mid-sneeze and, to celebrate PA Gov Corbett's need to eat a hundred bags of dicks, I captioned: Angrycat sez: I eat children and sick people and SNEEZE THEM OUT MY BUTT.
posted by angrycat at 3:13 PM on February 7, 2013


Surprised there's been no mention of the existential philosopher cat with the terrible French accent: Henri, le chat noir.

I always translate that in my head to Ennui, le chat dour. It seems to fit.
posted by eviemath at 4:11 PM on February 7, 2013


Somebody named their cat Tard?
posted by bondcliff at 3:33 PM on February 7


I agree this is an appalling lapse of judgement. That is clearly a much more suitable name for a dog.
posted by Decani at 6:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I tried to put him out he rushed back in. So here is a cat who spent many years lively freely out in the world and now seems to have chosen his spot. For the last two years he's just hung out in the basement and yowls day or night when he's hungry or thirsty. Occasionally when I go do laundry he'll come close for a very brief pat but that's it.

This is easily the best opening to an objectivist supernatural romance I've encountered all year.
posted by passerby at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bella & Penelope

Bella (on the left, mother) got her name for being so incredibly beautiful. Penelope (daughter)... just seemed like a Penelope, and Lexica believes that if you give cats long enough, they name themselves. And so her name is Penelope. They are both Oakland shelter girls (Bella was a teen mother at 8 months).
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:35 PM on February 7, 2013


More Bella & Penelope.

And yes, I do believe that if you give them time and hold yourself open so you can hear it when it happens, cats name themselves. I distinctly remember (from about age 11 or so) a moment when my mom was walking through the living room on her way somewhere else, when suddenly she stopped in her tracks, took half a step back to make eye contact with the as-yet-unnamed kitten sitting under the coffee table, and said, "…Boothby? Is your name… Boothby?"

And sure enough, it was. We speculated for ages about where the name had come from — Shakespeare? (Mom was a theatre director.) No. It wasn't from Star Trek or historical cocktalians, either. We never did figure out where it came from. But yes indeed, that fluffy brown tabby boy-cat (neutered, of course) was Boothby, until the day he died.
posted by Lexica at 9:14 PM on February 7, 2013


Cody in a typical pose.

Midnight looking like a lump.
posted by mike3k at 10:41 PM on February 7, 2013


World's bestest cats.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:20 AM on February 8, 2013


My favorite internet cats are Tard, who always looks grumpy, and Bub, who usually looks ecstatic.

My favorite cat is my brother's cat, Hypatia, who I call Hippy-Potty. She is a sweetheart who enjoys drinking from faucets, sitting on laps, and being hand-fed turkey from the table at Thanksgiving.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:32 AM on February 8, 2013


Oh, and we have a cat named Damon, who was named that for who-knows-what reason when I got him at the Humane Society, and I have to explain every-single-time that his name is not Damien, though it would surely be more appropriate.


Are you sure it wasn't meant to be Daemon?
posted by maryr at 1:16 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


No idea, but the conversation goes like this:

Me: And this is my cat, Damon.
Other person: Damien?
Me: Damon. Like Matt Damon.
OP: But ... why did you ... ?

I was going to change it, but he actually answers to it.

OTOH, this one was named Amos at the Humane Society, and we promptly changed it to Ninja because we couldn't have cats called Damon and Amos. But we had to scrap that when he proved to be quite clumsy and decidedly non-ninja like. We call him Squeaky now (he doesn't meow, only squeaks).
posted by desjardins at 2:33 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Worry about zoomorphism; that's when animals project their nature onto humans.

There was the time that I nuzzled my cat and rubbed my cheek on her. She patted my forehead.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:41 AM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


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