An Analogy With Elephants & Stuff My Cat Has in Common With Patty Hearst

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When Nathan & I got back to New Jersey after a few days in Virginia for Thanksgiving (it was great, by the way, & not as emotional as I'd feared it might be), our cat, Whitmore, was just so excited to see us – like, meowing his little cat heart out & sitting in our laps. He's been weirdly obsessed with me ever since, doing things he never does, like sleeping in the crook of my arm & not destroying our home, both of which are really favorable.

The thing is that, prior to this, Whitmore was fond of acting like a total demon on a regular basis, tearing up our apartment & making me wanting to tear out my hair. Truth be told, I've had a tough time adjusting to being his cat mama, because while he's cute & all, he's no Stringer Bell, & I guess I'm just a crazy hermit cat lady who really misses her deceased feline BFF. But Whitmore's been so nice the last few days that I'm like, "Oh, hey, you're cute, let's keep you!" And this change in his personality got me thinking about housecats & about pets in general & about how they must sometimes feel so damn confused about how they ended up in this person's house.

Think about that.

Like, imagine that some massive creature of another species – an elephant, let's say – "adopts" you (meaning, imagine that an elephant come & takes you away from all the other people you see & hang out with every day) & takes you back to the savanna, where it lives with other elephants & no other people. And the elephant loves you a lot & regularly coos or grunts or whatever at you in some elephant language you don't understand, & it's clear that this elephant think you're its little elephant baby, but still, you know at heart that you aren't an elephant. And where are all the other people & why are you just hanging out in this savanna alone with a bunch of elephants?! So you scream & cry & throw things a lot, & it pisses the elephants off & they sometimes yell at you in their indecipherable language, but they're never, like, mean about it. Just grouchy. But hey, they can deal with it because they kidnapped you & this is what they get.

Except one day, the elephants abandon the savanna, & they don't take you with them. They leave you with a supply of sandwiches & potato chips & other non-elephant food because they're good to you like that, but you don't speak Elephant, so you have no idea where they went or if they're ever coming back. Why have they forsaken you? What will become of you? Will you ever see anyone again? People or elephants? Those crazy kidnapping elephants were, well, crazy kidnappers, but they were nice to you! And what if you run out of sandwiches while they're away?!

But in a few days, just when you're about to reisgn yourself to life & eventual death alone in the savanna, the elephants come back, & they're so happy to see you that they twirl you around & give you more sandwiches & coo/grunt at you in Elephant like they missed you. And you realize that even though you'll probably never see another human being again, these elephants aren't actually so bad, & even if they're crazy kidnappers, they're your crazy kidnappers, goddamnit, & maybe you're not living such a terrible life after all. "Hey, elephants," you think, "I kinda like you guys! There, I said it. Maybe I won't scream & cry all the time anymore, OK?" But you still can't speak Elephant, so you can't tell them this; instead, you cuddle up close to one of those elephants & you live happily ever after, or something.

Here's what I'm trying to say: I think housecats have Stockholm Syndrome.

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