An Ode To My Cat, Who Might One Day Eat My Face
In morbid praise of our feline companions
There is a fact that gives me solace in the darkest of moments, a small flame of truth that burns like a candle flickering in the wind.
If I were to die in my home and no one found me, my beloved cats would eat me, starting with my face.
"No!" You say. "Surely my loyal, loving pet would never do such a thing!"
Alas, once you've shuffled off this mortal coil, you're fair game. Even a cursory search reveals the fact of it:
And many more, if you've got the stomach for it.
While you're knocking at the pearly gates, your best friend is getting the ultimate Fancy Feast. You might find it morbid, unsettling, or distasteful.
I, for one, find it supremely comforting.
Allow me to explain.
I have two cats, and I have no illusions about my relationship with them. It's a patron-client system; in exchange for affection, companionship, and the occasional stint as the household mouser, I provide my charges with protection, shelter, and regular meals. We are friends, insofar as any two of different species can be. We know each other's routines and quirks, we each know what to expect from the other. In short, we have an understanding.
But genes-deep, our fluffy friends are just miniature versions of the saber-toothed horrors that haunt our deepest ancestral nightmares. We have a longstanding business arrangement (since 7,500 B.C!), but the devil, as they say, is in the deoxyribose. Behind every adorable cat video is a bloodthirsty hunter built to be the most efficient killing machine 3.7 billion years of evolution could produce. Every line of their predator's body oozes murder; every instinct drives them to hunt and kill with ruthless efficiency. Mercy is not in their biological vocabulary.
And yet we keep them around, put funny hats on them, and film their antics for strangers.
Even as I write, a cat sits purring on my lap. It's warm and comforting, but I know that if the chips were down, she wouldn't hesitate for an instant before chowing down.
To me, it's a kind of justice. We Homo Sapiens have become accustomed to getting our own way. Few of us here in the Anthropocene will ever have to worry about being chased by a lion or mauled by a bear. We've created a place where wildness can no longer hurt us, where the greatest threat to human life is other humans. But in many of our households, a little piece of that wildness lives with us. They may look cuddly, but our cats are still wild. Their blood still sings the old songs. Despite our best efforts to build a wall between ourselves and the terrors of our evolutionary past, the monsters still lurk among us. When all is said and done, the timeless law of the jungle still holds sway.
It comforts me to know that at the end of the day, I'm still just an animal. My cat knows the score; there is nothing so precious or unique about me that she would starve herself on my behalf, no bond between us that could take the wildness out of her bones. I trust my cat to be precisely what she is, without pretense or apology, and to give me a glorious living room sky burial if the need arises.
It comforts me to know that for all we humans have built and achieved, we're still just one bad fall away from being Friskies.