Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The psychology of cat terror pt2


So, there I was reading about Sophie the Cat's unfortunate demise.

Being a poorly wired kind of person, several disparate thoughts flashed through my brain in rapid sequence as I caught up on this latest local feline news:


Fairly obvious where I was coming from on that one.

A bizarre sense of appreciation of the cat-killer’s methodology

Initially, I asked myself what was the sense in mutilating the cat. It seemed plain evil. Then I thought about it some more and realised that the mutilation might actually give the cat’s death added meaning. Simply killing the cat might leave the owner with the impression that its demise was accidental. Chopping it up a little but afterwards left the owner in no doubt that some aspect of the cat’s, or the owner’s, behaviour had resulted in a third party having some issues that they wished to be addressed.

Similar logic can be applied to atrocities committed in parts of the World even less pleasant than Lambeth. Simply writing off the perpetrators of apparently mindless acts as being nutters can sometimes be too simplistic an approach. Maybe George Bush and Tony Blair should live in The Oval / Kennington for a while, and bring their pets with them.

Having said that. Mr Kitty Killer might just be a straightforward nutter

A sense of sadness for the cat’s owner

Not because her cat had been killed. Cats die. I felt sad for her because, and I’m revisiting old ground here, urban life in the 21st century has impoverished her life to a point where she clearly equated her cat with a real person.

I’m sorry, what’s … Sophie 31.10.2002 – 26.06.2005 …all about? Now you can either think, as I do, that there is a clear difference between animals and people or believe that animals and people are all part of a graded spectrum of life. If you believe the latter and start treating cats as semi-people, where’s the sense or compassion in holding them in higher esteem than any other creature? Or is Sophie’s owner in the habit of plastering up epitaphs around her neighbourhood every time she has a roast dinner?

Larry the Lamb 31.3.2004 – 30.6.2005 – Sadly missed but delicious with roast potatoes

I’m not standing up for the Kitten Killer here. Cruelty is cruelty. Even if you believe animals to be dumb, soulless lumps of meat, you’ve still got to have issues with a person committing cruel acts and wonder what nasty part of their psyche they are nurturing doing the things they do.

Contempt for the cat’s owner

The line ‘Unfortunately, the police are not interested in this matter’ struck a chord.

First off, I remembered that old joke about the cat with the bandaged arm riding into Tombstone ‘looking for the man who shot his paw’, then a mental image of a police wanted poster featuring a sparrow with a broadsword came to mind, then another picture of what the chalk marks around the dismembered cat’s body would look like, then I thought ‘well, if they get the same people in who investigated David Kelly’s death it’s a dead cert the verdict is going to be suicide’.

If this seems like callous thinking on my part look at it from my point of view.

I live in Lambeth. Lambeth is not a very nice place. We’ve got so much gun crime, drug addicts, sexual assaults and muggings that it’s just not funny any more.

Twenty minutes before I saw Sophie’s memorial I was standing in a bank queue in the Elephant and Castle. An unlikely couple were standing in front of me in the line. An emaciated woman somewhere between her early forties and mid sixties, it’s always difficult to tell with junkies, accompanied by a young well-dressed man in his early twenties. They seemed an ill-matched couple partly because of the difference in age and dress, partly because of their colour difference but mostly because she was shaking and looked terrified. The guy looked the opposite of terrified and had his arm round her, not in a nice way. When her turn came, the woman went to the counter whilst the man slouched on a chair and glared at her. She withdrew a very large amount of money and reacquired her escort, who shoved her roughly out of the bank. Outside she handed the money over to the guy, burst into hysterical tears and slumped to the ground.

After I finished my own business I left the bank, walked past the pair of them without a second glance and fucked off home.

And saw the cat poster.


So, what’s the moral of this tale and this post?

I’m not 100% sure.

First off, I was pretty depressed by the fact that even though it was full, absolutely no-one else in the bank noticed that there was something horrible going on. And make no mistake it was horrible. It’s not that people did as I did and kept their nose outside of someone else’s business. They really didn’t notice.

Second off, I came home with my head full of disgust at my own impotence and the sheer amount of vice and misery that passes unnoticed all around us. I came home to a poster moaning about some frickin cat, grumbling that the police who preside over this world of shit weren’t interested in the fate of that frickin’ cat.

The moral I think is that people are dissonant. They see without seeing. Their problems are the most important problems in the world and, when you get down to it, fuck everyone else. Genuine empathy is a truly scarce commodity.

Dissonance, on the other hand, is an integral part of being human and will always be there. Smokers will keep believing their addicton won’t kill them. Atheists will still get out of bed in the morning. Elton John will keep appearing at anti poverty concerts whilst spanking £100k a year on flowers. People will keep thinking their problems are worse than everyone else’s and pet owners in Lambeth will keep expecting the police, up to their necks in hardcore mayhem, to investigate the death of their cat.

So, tell me. If it ever really came to the crunch, how many of those people out there who think Live 8 and Global Poverty Relief and all those other noble causes are such great things, if they really had to choose between their own comfort and the well being of others, how many of those people would really give a damn?


Noel said...

The owner should have used a current photo of the cat for more visual impact.

Stef said...

@Noel: Harsh, naughty words, particularly coming from an acknowledged cat lover such as yourself. Must be an NZ thing. Tracy was all for chalking out a three part head / tail / torso outline on the pavement ...

PS Apologies for the super-chunky posts of late. I'm over-compensating for a dry spell as while ago. BTW when are you going to start your own Onanistic blog? Judging by your last few comments I reckon you're capable of offending more people than I could ever dream of. That's a compliment by the way

Sparkling said...

When it comes down to it, it's "every man to himself", or in this case cat.

Ellie said...

The main reason why I never agree with animal lovers. Already we have nations of homeless people living in uninmagineable poverty and we have jokers who think the lives of these helpless animals are more important. For me, I think I did my part by NOT being cruel to these animals.

Stef said...

Thanks for taking on quite a large post.

I did my part by NOT being cruel to these animals

...liked that one. I shall steal it

Anonymous said...

miaow..ouch :)...I bet that Cat still had a dump in somebody's garden even with it's head missing.

Slightly off topic, I love all those cheap laminated A4..'have you seen' notes all over London, I saw a classic the other day (perhaps it was in Soho)..."Lost a bag with two Passports and visas...."

I can just imagine everyone queueing up to hand it all back. Thinking about it:

Perhaps people should post a 'Lost all sense of social responsibilty, F**k you arsehole!'?


Stef said...

Ah yes, the laminated A4 plea for assistance, the new art form of our times.

Someone should get round to starting a Flickr Group devoted to them.

It's quite touching to think that there are people out there who believe that fellow London residents would return a couple of lost passports. On the other hand, it's quite funny as well ...

Stef said...

@Ellie: Your blog profile is hidden from me. Which is a shame as I was curious to see what you've been laying down ...

Ellie said...

I guess it's nothing to wow about that's why it's hidden. Anyway, it's at shootingellie.blogspot.com, please do not sue me if the blog manages to bored to death or something.. Mostly minuscule stuffs, don't say I didn't warn you!