"…cats do not need moral instruction."
February 7, 2017 4:22 PM   Subscribe

What cats can teach us about how to liveOne of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state. Unlike human beings – particularly of the modern variety – they do not spend their days in laborious pursuit of a fantasy of happiness. They are comfortable with themselves and their lives, and remain in that condition for as long as they are not threatened. When they are not eating or sleeping, they pass the time exploring and playing, never asking for reasons to live. Life itself is enough for them.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (51 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fair and Balanced™, hippybear.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:22 PM on February 7, 2017 [11 favorites]


I might change that quote to "Cats do not require moral instruction."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:37 PM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


Cats don't have to work with Ron from IT.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 PM on February 7, 2017 [22 favorites]


Also, they will eat your face when you die.
posted by BS Artisan at 4:44 PM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


When they are not eating or sleeping, they pass the time exploring and playing, never asking for reasons to live. Life itself is enough for them.

When I get someone to provide me with free food, shelter, toys, and pettins, "life itself" will be enough for me too. Good gig if you can get it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:52 PM on February 7, 2017 [51 favorites]


I'm sometimes envious of Herbert's complete lack of concern about fitting into externally-enforced body-image ideals. he's struts his chub with pride and nonchalance. I must endeavor to emulate his utter lack of having any fucks to give.
posted by supermedusa at 4:58 PM on February 7, 2017 [7 favorites]


imma pet all the cats tho
posted by entropicamericana at 5:03 PM on February 7, 2017 [9 favorites]


Calm, quiet, silent, peaceful, be cat like, sleep in the sun, watch carefully, quiet, then leap and bite the head off a little bird eating it all raw. Then meow and purr.
posted by sammyo at 5:09 PM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Also, they will eat your face when you die.

You have a patient cat. Mine will eat my face if I am not out of bed by 10 after 7.
posted by srboisvert at 5:10 PM on February 7, 2017 [22 favorites]


Hoping to acquire some of my cats' peaceful nature, I've taken to pooping in boxes too.

So far, it's going quite well.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:13 PM on February 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


Joy!
--Stimpy
posted by lazycomputerkids at 5:30 PM on February 7, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yes, well, being non-self aware and incapable of metacognition will do that I guess.

I'll take self awareness and the problems it sometimes causes.
posted by sotonohito at 5:53 PM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'd kind of like a mix tbh. Variety is the spice, and all that.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:56 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state.

Says some city person who has clearly never experienced a feral cat.
posted by lastobelus at 5:59 PM on February 7, 2017 [13 favorites]


Current contentment level: Bonus sized
posted by thivaia at 6:12 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Joy!
--Stimpy


In a VERY stoned moment back when the first season of Ren & Stimpy was a current, new, happening thing, I realized that the episode Stimpy's Invention was a complete and total metaphor for codependency. That realization suddenly made that entire cartoon series step out of just surrealist humor and take on a deeper, perhaps more sinister (but more insightful) vein that I've always treasured.

I've never treasured the firing of John K. [from the cartoon series he created] after the first season. R&S was never the same after that.

Also I have two cats who teach me a lot.
posted by hippybear at 6:13 PM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


Our family had a cat. He thought my box of baseball cards was a litter box and shit in it, ruining my Ozzie Smith rookie card. I like cats in general but that little varmint couldn't teach me doodly squat.
posted by jonmc at 6:18 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


He squatted. He doodled. He was teaching. You just weren't receptive to his lessons.
posted by hippybear at 6:21 PM on February 7, 2017 [13 favorites]


ruining my Ozzie Smith rookie card

That was a very bad cat.
posted by asperity at 6:26 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Dear lord: I don't want to ever come back to this earth, but if you insist on me reincarnating, please let it be in a cat.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:28 PM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


Our cat's current default state is, "You realize this is literally called a breakaway collar, right?" Last week, I found her collar in the backyard, near her climbing tree. This evening, I found it under the floorboards in my bedroom closet, in an old hiding place we were sure she had forgotten.
posted by emelenjr at 6:57 PM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


My cats' current default state is, "Yay! Here comes the lunch lady!" Of course their default state is content -- humans are their servants...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:17 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Until they get a little cash under their belt, then it's all - u cant haz munnies
posted by unliteral at 7:52 PM on February 7, 2017 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't say cats were content. They're more smug. The difference being a constant awareness of the inferiority of others relative to oneself. This makes them susceptible to humiliation, thus all the memes.
posted by Diablevert at 8:34 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


After living with a few cats I think most of them look content because their brains are just empty. There is nothing going on up there at all. They're a small bundle of reflexes bring driven by a super minimal UI that shuts dwn to save battery life after a few minutes. I have met a few smart cats but their default state was "what will happen if I...". All the rest were basically cabbages, cognitively speaking.
posted by fshgrl at 8:51 PM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


Their brains are not empty. They are contemplating the mystery of their third and most secret of names.
posted by hippybear at 8:53 PM on February 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state.

Will someone tell this to the cat who's been screaming at me roughly every ten minutes all evening because none of her approved petting locations in this apartment are the places that Sequence actually spends time in the evening?

Where are these content cats? I've never owned one. People talk about cats being "aloof" and I'm trying to remember a point between my first cat, who used to wake me up by chewing on my nose, and my current cats, one of whom spends all her time sitting right next to me when I'm home and the other of whom spends all her time complaining about this state of affairs, when I had a cat who fit these definitions.

They're content only after the point where they've made me go above and beyond to demonstrate my commitment to them.
posted by Sequence at 9:24 PM on February 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


The independence of cats is one of the features most admired by those of us who love them. Given their evolutionary history as solitary hunters, it is easily explained

This attitude is so bizarre to me. Has this guy ever lived with cats? Have any of the "lol cats don't care about you and they'll eat your face" people ever lived with cats? Are they themselves incapable of forming connections with animals? Emotionally illiterate? Do they just take some shitty teenage nihilist pleasure in invalidating cat people's relationships with their pets? What is up with this mentality?

One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state. Unlike human beings – particularly of the modern variety – Again, ????? All of my family's cats have had pretty complex emotional lives and strong bonds to the humans they live with. They've been depressed; they've mourned deaths in the family and pined after people who moved away. I've seen more "Timmy's fallen down the well!" emergency rescue behavior from cats than I have from any of my family's dogs. This urge to erase the emotional range of an entire species of domestic animal and/or people who bond with them and then be immovably smug about it is some kind of pathology, I swear to god.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:58 PM on February 7, 2017 [33 favorites]


Gah. Even for NS's usual beanplating smugpieces, this is beansmuggery of the lowest kind. Well, I suppose it makes a change from centrist technocratic handwringing about Corbyn/Brexit/Trump/The Essential Immorality Of Punching Nazis.
posted by prismatic7 at 11:24 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: beansmuggery
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:56 PM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


"…cats do not need moral instruction."

The writer has not met youngercatbailard. Who, yesterday, pulled down my nearly-dry flannel shirt off the drying rail. Three times. She has a cat basket. She has co-ownership of a cat carrier with a fresh towel in it and a 4W heating bad. She has co-ownership of a UFO 'Pod' cat bowl with a 6W heating pad. She has co-ownership of a queen size bed. She has co-ownership of heatherlogan's nearly-dry towel on the drying rail. And that's just the upstairs, not counting her room the sewing room with her the futon.

But no, it has to be my freshly washed flannel shirt.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:27 AM on February 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


Do they just take some shitty teenage nihilist pleasure in invalidating cat people's relationships with their pets? What is up with this mentality?

Before there were liberal-tear daquiris, there was griefing cat enthusiasts; this dates back to at least the alt.tasteless invasion of rec.pets.cats back in the antediluvian epoch. Basically, cat owners are coded as “snowflakes”, i.e., people who exhibit vulnerability, and to paraphrase the Canada Bill Jones quote about letting suckers keep their money, a small but significant proportion of people believe it is morally wrong to leave a snowflake untriggered or a vulnerability unattacked.
posted by acb at 4:31 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


Scientists have considered despatching Tasmanian devils (carnivorous marsupials that live wild only on the island of Tasmania) to dismember cats.
Attention scientists! Please give up considering this kind of thing. You have done more than enough damage with it already.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:39 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've been lucky to have always had contented cats. Content with different things, naturally – from my ankle-bombing childhood cat, to my first adult cat who loved nothing more than a good lap, to my fluffy-fluff Coon inventor of innovative napping spaces, to the grey tabby I had only a year whose meaning in life was to tell me all the goings-on, to my lively black cat who has shown me just how far feline intelligence can go. She is whip smart, this cat. She plays fetch, knows how to throw balls and aim them (she goes for my feet), has taught me her distinct meow for "there is a feline invader on my territory," and if I take a photo of her fluffy pal, she'll wait until I've finished, divebomb him and take over his pose with an expectant look on her face until I also take her photo.

They live, absorbed in the present moment. It will be said that this is because they cannot envision the past or future.

Oh yes they can. Both my cats get sad and anxious as soon as I take out my travel trolley. Miss black kitty has taken to hopping onto it (she will push it over to make that easier if needed) and glaring at me pointedly. In case anyone thinks it's merely because the trolley is comfortable: when I try to pick her up off it, she wails at me and goes limp. She does not do that for anything else. When I leave the house with it, which will mean a day or two gone, they both turn their backs on me. Whereas for a normal work day they're like "hey yeah see ya later *yawn*".
posted by fraula at 5:24 AM on February 8, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yesterday Professor Pumpkin Pants the Great Pumpkin Cat sat on my empty breakfast plate and began licking my forehead while I was trying to drink my tea. Did not care I was trying to finish. She had a job to do and kept at it following my dodging head until she got my forehead and cheeks groomed and stuck her nose in my ear. Job for the day done, she laid in the window watching birds.

It's a tough life.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 7:14 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


There are not nearly enough pics of MeFelines in this comment thread.
posted by tzikeh at 7:19 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


Hang on. Need to upload some.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:24 AM on February 8, 2017


One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state.

The author clearly has not met one of our two cats. She is somewhat feral (she was born in an alley) and spends most of her time preparing to flee from one imagined terror or another. The rest of the time, when she is not sleeping, she obsessively grooms herself until bald patches appear on her fur.

I am the only human she will let go anywhere near her, and even I have to approach her with caution.

I am afflicted by the usual number of human anxieties and existential dreads, and I am several orders of magnitude calmer than this cat.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:30 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


Professor Pumpkin Pants the Great Pumpkin Cat, E.S.A.

She's my son's prescribed emotional support animal.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:47 AM on February 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


Wiggins, who has no unvoiced thoughts.

Saracen, whom my wife named for a fictional quarterback.

We acquired them at the same time, from the same rescue organization, about 6 weeks after the passing of Bob The Amazing But Sadly Not Everlasting. The former is My cat. The latter is Her cat. These are choices they made independently of us.

For example: I work at home, and Wiggins usually spends much of any given day asleep under my desk making tiny kitty snores. Saracen is usually unseen until late enough in the day that she feels the need to yell at me about my wife's absence.
posted by uberchet at 9:33 AM on February 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


First off, it's unfair that Science has let us all share pictures of these super fuzzy whiny babies and have yet to make it possible for me to reach through the screen and see for myself how soft Wiggins is. Because Wiggins looks like a Level Three or Four floof and I cannot be sure unless I can rub those fuzzy cheeks.

Get on that, Science.

Secondly, KITTIES! They're so pretty!
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:04 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


I am disturbed by the thought of dozens of cats in a group disguise wanting to be able to virtually explore the softness of another, non-disguised cat. If you aren't, you should think about it for a while.
posted by hippybear at 10:14 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


Using the Castaneda scale from the Cincinnati Zoo, I believe Wiggins is comfortably into Level Four Floof, particularly in the belly area -- which she would be happy to let you pet, by the way.
posted by uberchet at 10:15 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]



When I get someone to provide me with free food, shelter, toys, and pettins, "life itself" will be enough for me too. Good gig if you can get it.


You say that now, but I've certainly met persons for whom this was not enough. ymmv.
posted by some loser at 10:16 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


¬_¬
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:16 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state.

Cats' personal default state-of-being may rest somewhere near contentment, but their perception of the world is not simply accepting/content as a default. See also: "This thing is sitting on that other thing and therefore I must knock it off of thing."

*cat knocks thing off of other thing, watches it fall, achieves satisfaction*
posted by mudpuppie at 11:42 AM on February 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


My cat's two moods are "pissed-off anarchist" and "I demand attention, mortal." Even while he's getting attention, he's convinced he's not getting enough attention.
posted by Foosnark at 11:45 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]



my cat used to steal and pretend to eat rubber bands just to freak me out. I could leave one on the counter and go in the other room and she'd never touch it if I wasn't watching, it's all for show for my benefit. once I really panicked when I thought she'd gone too far with the game and swallowed one before I could grab it, but she was only sitting on it. crafty.

and she eats books when she can't get what she wants by yowling. I got to where I could sleep through anything including her trying to eat my arm, but I have to get up when I hear tearing paper. it is the most terrible of alarm clocks. she figured out what I value all on her own just by watching what things I pick up most often that aren't her.

anyway she is not happy, stupid, or inscrutable. she does her terrible things for reasons. more than I do, probably.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:43 PM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


Snyps, Sammi, Georgie, and the Little Bastard, are all rescue cats. Born feral, they live in the house and use the cat door I've installed in the bedroom window. We have a safe back yard, to include a former cat feeder we thought was a bird feeder. (We stopped putting seeds in the socks after noticing that the cats sat patiently under the socks, waiting for lunch to flutter to far down.) Now the metal arch holding the socks serves as a frame for a tangle of morning glories. Other toys in the back yard amuse the cats living with us, plus the few transient felines that pass through.

All our resident cats use the cuddle-buddy tactic to gently establish rank and petting order. Now and then they wrestle to display their moves. All of them drop by my easy chair now and then to lie across my legs for a little while, until the cat-signal (some device that can't be heard or seen by humans) summons them to do several laps at a full gallop between the two furthest rooms in the house: four or five laps; they seem to especially like skidding around the corner on the hardwood floor to hit the bedroom rug at full throttle. The Little Bastard likes to leap to the back of Mrs mule's chair (when she's not in it), causing it to spin around a few times before he attacks some invisible thing running across the floor. Sammi can sit in a corner and look at the wall for hour at a time. He'll switch his tail from time to time, a reaction I suppose, from some image he's viewing. Cats can see the other world, you know.

Almost every morning I awake looking into the face of the Little Bastard, who sits a mere four or five inches from my head. When he sees my eyes open, he touches my face--well, my moustache--gently with a paw. I used to think it was a gesture of endearment until I realized that he was just deigning to give me a quiet moment to adore him before he lays across my head to purr for a while. I can hear his little heart beat. Sometimes he snores. My bladder can wait.
posted by mule98J at 1:39 PM on February 8, 2017 [9 favorites]


So many lovely cats!
I wasn't aware that there are cat-hating people out there. How can that be?
posted by mumimor at 3:53 PM on February 8, 2017


There are not nearly enough pics of MeFelines
I couldn't resist - my daughter and son-in-laws new flatmate - T.C. providing it's with dignity.
posted by unliteral at 4:01 PM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


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