Posts tagged cats
Perhaps because we’re bombarded on all sides by animal cuteness, there’s something appealing about a book called “Animal Madness.” Enough with all the cuddling, you might think; it’s time for the real story, which Laurel Braitman, a historian of science with a Ph.D. from M.I.T., aims to tell. 

Where the BuzzFeed Animals page, for example, urges us to see animals as an undifferentiated mass of squee-worthy fluff, Braitman wants us to take animals seriously—to see them as individuals with life histories and psychologies as dramatic and intense as our own. 

Despite the winsome book design (there’s an adorably sad dog on the cover, and drawings of a glum raccoon and gorilla on the inside), there’s nothing remotely cute about this goal. “Animal Madness” is so upsetting, in fact, that I wanted to stop reading it about halfway through. 

It’s obvious, of course, that animals of all sorts suffer from physical pain. It’s also obvious that many animals can be tense, unhappy, anxious, enraged, compulsive, impulsive, sad, depressed, and so on. 

Still, it’s tempting for many people, even sympathetic ones, to put those words in scare quotes—to see animal “depression” or “anxiety” as a less intense or consequential version of their human equivalents. Braitman pushes back against that tendency. She has an absolute, not a comparative, sense of the animal soul. 

What matters isn’t how much an animal’s mental life is “worth,” compared to a person’s, but how wholly and powerfully it is illuminated by happiness or darkened by anguish. “Every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time,” she writes. An animal’s life can be changed utterly by mental illness, just like a person’s. 

A gorilla that sees her family killed, and that is kidnapped and brought to a zoo to live out her life on display, may have her whole existence reshaped by trauma, loneliness, and fear. Why argue about how intelligent she is? The point is that her life has been knocked off course and that she is suffering; she is no longer the animal she was. 

Laurel Braitman’s “Animal Madness”

Perhaps because we’re bombarded on all sides by animal cuteness, there’s something appealing about a book called “Animal Madness.” Enough with all the cuddling, you might think; it’s time for the real story, which Laurel Braitman, a historian of science with a Ph.D. from M.I.T., aims to tell.

Where the BuzzFeed Animals page, for example, urges us to see animals as an undifferentiated mass of squee-worthy fluff, Braitman wants us to take animals seriously—to see them as individuals with life histories and psychologies as dramatic and intense as our own.

Despite the winsome book design (there’s an adorably sad dog on the cover, and drawings of a glum raccoon and gorilla on the inside), there’s nothing remotely cute about this goal. “Animal Madness” is so upsetting, in fact, that I wanted to stop reading it about halfway through.

It’s obvious, of course, that animals of all sorts suffer from physical pain. It’s also obvious that many animals can be tense, unhappy, anxious, enraged, compulsive, impulsive, sad, depressed, and so on.

Still, it’s tempting for many people, even sympathetic ones, to put those words in scare quotes—to see animal “depression” or “anxiety” as a less intense or consequential version of their human equivalents. Braitman pushes back against that tendency. She has an absolute, not a comparative, sense of the animal soul.

What matters isn’t how much an animal’s mental life is “worth,” compared to a person’s, but how wholly and powerfully it is illuminated by happiness or darkened by anguish. “Every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time,” she writes. An animal’s life can be changed utterly by mental illness, just like a person’s.

A gorilla that sees her family killed, and that is kidnapped and brought to a zoo to live out her life on display, may have her whole existence reshaped by trauma, loneliness, and fear. Why argue about how intelligent she is? The point is that her life has been knocked off course and that she is suffering; she is no longer the animal she was.

Laurel Braitman’s “Animal Madness”

theatlantic:

How Humans Created Cats

Why do people keep cats?
As a non-cat person, I have long been perplexed by this state of affairs, in which millions and millions of humans around the world have wound up sharing a home with these odd (and, fine, kind of cute) creatures. How did this come to be?
For a long time, archaeologists have hunted for early evidence of this relationship between humans and cats. They’ve found a wildcat buried near a human on Cyprus from about 9,500 years ago, a proximity suggesting some sort of relationship between the two species. And from ancient Egypt there are paintings, about 4,000 years old, that depict cats, often sitting beneath the chairs of women.
But these bits of history did little to reveal how man and cat first reached, paw to hand, across that species divide.
Read more. [Image: Universal Pictures/The Atlantic]

theatlantic:

How Humans Created Cats

Why do people keep cats?

As a non-cat person, I have long been perplexed by this state of affairs, in which millions and millions of humans around the world have wound up sharing a home with these odd (and, fine, kind of cute) creatures. How did this come to be?

For a long time, archaeologists have hunted for early evidence of this relationship between humans and cats. They’ve found a wildcat buried near a human on Cyprus from about 9,500 years ago, a proximity suggesting some sort of relationship between the two species. And from ancient Egypt there are paintings, about 4,000 years old, that depict cats, often sitting beneath the chairs of women.

But these bits of history did little to reveal how man and cat first reached, paw to hand, across that species divide.

Read more. [Image: Universal Pictures/The Atlantic]

theclearlydope:

WORTH SEEING: No big deal guys, just a cat lip-syncing Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock-n-Roll. That’s all. I mean you don’t have to watch but what’s the point of you being on the Internet.

Thanks Sam. Via

OK so let’s analyze this, sleuths. They are maybe scratching his/her spot by the tail and the cat does that goofy thing as a result? Or is it just a big Bob Seger fan. Somebody help nwktumblr understand our world.

buzzfeed:

This cat knows he’s not supposed to be in this tree.

Think that tree knows she’s not supposed to be around that cat.

buzzfeed:

This cat knows he’s not supposed to be in this tree.

Think that tree knows she’s not supposed to be around that cat.

If you live in Minneapolis and love cat videos, boy, do we have an event for you:

On Aug. 30, the well-respected Minneapolis institution the Walker Art Center will hold the first-ever film festival of Internet cat videos… It’s “more of a social experiment,” says the organizer and a Walker programming director, Katie Hill. It was started to see whether the online cat community would even go outside, says Hill, who has two cats herself.

thedailywhat:

Early Bird Special: The staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital is back with another heartwarming tearjerker – and darn if isn’t tailor-made for us softies:

Maga is a cat-loving teen patient with cancer at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She’s had to be in the hospital many times, and during her stays what she misses most is her own cat Merry. We asked our Facebook fans to share their favorite cat photos with us, and got an awesome response — 3,000+ photos! We used these pictures to create this “cat immersion” for Maga — an audio/visual experience to bring thousands of “virtual” cats to Maga’s room.

[seattlechildrens]

This is THE BEST. Way to go, Seattle Children’s Hospital.

(Source: thedailywhat)