A few weeks ago I wrote about Take Your Dog to Work Day and The Humane Society of the United States’ canine colleagues. But the month of June didn’t go entirely to the dogs—it also marked Adopt-A-Cat Month.
It is estimated that there are a staggering 88 million cats who live in 38 million American households, providing joy and companionship and enriching lives in untold ways. Environmental and animal welfare advocate Rachel Carson recognized this connection and was rarely without one or two cats in her home. In the mid-1950s, Carson wrote:
I have always found that a cat has a truly great capacity for friendship. He asks only that we respect his personal rights and his individuality; in return, he gives his devotion, understanding, and companionship. Cats are extremely sensitive to the joys and sorrows of their human friends, they share our interests.
My old boss Cleveland Amory of The Fund for Animals loved his cat Polar Bear and wrote a series of biographical books about his rescued cat. His books were read by millions, underscoring the hold that these creatures have on us. Cleveland did a great thing for all animals and especially for cats, reminding people of the special bond that comes from rescuing a creature in need.
Just last week, The New York Times reported on mitochondrial DNA studies that reveal that the domesticated cat derives from the Near Eastern wildcat, a desert cat native to the Middle East. Probably helping to control rodent populations, the cats were gradually welcomed by the local communities. The cats, I would imagine, took to the people more slowly, but eventually did take a diffident liking to the humans. That human-animal bond has now lasted more than 10,000 years, and it’s going stronger than ever.
Oftentimes, I talk about human cruelty on this blog, but there’s also the human-animal bond that should be celebrated. There’s a wrong way to deal with animals and a right way, and our love of cats is one of the best indicators of our tremendous potential to deal properly and even affectionately with the animal kingdom.
My staff is constantly sending me pictures of their cats, and asking if they can get the cats into our magazine or online. I want to reward their devotion to their cats by presenting some of them to you. Let me know which one you think is the most endearing by voting in the poll below. That way I can settle a long-standing debate within the office.
© Lou Hinds