I was out walking the other morning, when I was suddenly transfixed by… a streetlight.
I’d seen the same one and many just like it countless times before, but this time I stopped and stared at it. It wasn’t because it was shining so brightly it had caught me in its glare like a hypnotised rabbit – in fact nothing to do with the illumination from it at all - but because of its height.
I looked up at it, gauging – in relationship to my own height – that it must have been around ten meters, and I thought: “That’s how tall I must look to a cat.”
I imagined a huge, lumbering humanoid bounding over towards me, saying: “Come here, little human! I just want to give you a kiss and a cuddle.”
I would immediately call the Ministry of Defence and request an airstrike. And they’d send it.
With that sort of difference in size, you’d hardly expect the approaching ogre to be gentle, would you? To be able to pick you up without squeezing the life out of you; to ruffle your hair without accidentally snapping your neck?
No wonder birds fly away. It doesn’t matter how kind a heart you have – I would make a quick getaway, too, if something the size of an office block was approaching.
It should really come as no surprise that kittens let out that very worrying ‘mew’ when they’re picked up and dragged into the sky.
And try to empathise with the fright of a spider when it sees some mountain-sized figure with a cup and a piece of paper chasing after them?
Yet, you watch the average human when they’re playing with their pets, and how delicate and soft their touch is (unless it’s rough and tumble with a dog) or how carefully they hold a bird with a broken wing, or oil in its feathers, in their hands.
In the vast majority, we are a caring, kind, considerate and compassionate species, with an immense appreciation of life.
If we didn’t care, there would be no happily rehomed dogs, no kittens and cats rescued from trees, no mass efforts to save oil-soaked shags* after environmental disasters, or hosing water onto distressed, beached whales, sitting with them and comforting them while waiting for the tide to come back in. There would be stains of former spiders everywhere.
* Shags are goose-sized dark, long-necked birds similar to cormorants. Always gives me a titter, mentioning them. Juvenile. Sorry.
We are giants to these beautiful creatures in more ways than one.
Many times, I’ve heard people say, about their cats or dogs, that these animals show them complete and utter love, without judgement or criticism or any condition attached…
Do you see why this is, though? It’s because we show them complete and utter love, without judgement or criticism or any conditions attached.
If a cat could express itself, vocally, in English, it would probably say something like: “I don’t know why you love me as much as you do, but I love you, too. Now, can I have some din-dins, please?”
Compare a relationship between a human and a human, compared to a human and a pet..?
If, five years ago, your cat had peed on the television and shorted it, you wouldn’t – all that time later – hold it against them, would you?
If your husband or wife did it, you’d probably have divorced, and you’d be telling your friends, up to this day and probably for the rest of your life: “Well, it was the time they peed on the television which stands out as last straw in our marriage.”
If you’d stood on your dog’s paw and it had turned and snapped at you, you wouldn’t say to it, years after: “I can’t believe you did that. I’m never, never going to forgive you.”
Yet, in an argument with a human, perhaps in the heat of the moment, hurtful words are spoken and held on to… rarely forgotten… played over in the mind again and again and again.
So… why do we perpetuate conflict with humans when we let misdemeanours slide so quickly with our pets?
It’s another trick of the mind. We are capable of forgiveness to all, but we selectively hold these things against our fellow humans, when we would let go of them with animals.
Another thing I realised… a cat lover is a cat lover… a dog lover is a dog lover… a bird lover loves birds. There are many different types, colours and personalities amongst those species, but we generally don’t have a sense of prejudice against a particular colour or breed.
How absurd would it be for some woman to love her ginger pussy ** but have a bitter hatred of grey or black cats? Or for a guy to see his male dog trying to hump another male dog, and being outraged that the pet he used to love was displaying homosexual tendencies, so he abandons the dog in the street or calls for it to be put down?
** Juvenile again. Sorry!
I find it very worrying when people announce that they hate cats, or they hate dogs… it’s a strong sign that they’re of a generally hateful nature, however unconscious that nature is.
We could learn so much from the relationship we have with our pets… in that love is love; it is expressed without demand and without condition. Mistakes are quickly forgiven and we do not judge them by colour or actions, however curious we may find them.
Imagine if all in the human species could treat their fellow humans with such unconditional respect and love?
We’d be living in Nirvana.
And… you know what? It is possible. We could have it today if we all woke up to ourselves.