Until a couple of years ago we had seven cats, we are now cleverly down to three. I say ‘we’ but I am their main—often their sole—carer. I love my goats, I am planning to keep poultry again soon, but I am not really a pet person. Having seven cats happened as a result of lacking the resistance to the charm of kittens. One—Mouli, the Mother Cat—died of old age, another, Soap, befriended neighbours and got herself adopted and turned into a house cat, two—Am Stram Gram and Couscous—went away with L (the wild Am Stram Gram escaped and may reappear back at the farm any day now, we hope she is ok). I slow cook the same stew every week : one heart and marrow bones and the dwindling number of eaters may go a long way towards explaining their soft cuddliness.
Those farm cats insist on mistaking my beds for litter trays and I often feel like strangling them, even Pumpkin, the most wonderful cat of them all. As a young male kitten he let the newcomers, who had been separated from their mother too early, suck on the fur of his tummy to comfort them. Some males make truly great mothers.
He is now very very sick and may not survive. His appetite is good but he has problems eating and needs to be hand fed which takes time. I have to push away the other two from the morsels I select for his dinner. They act a little envious but the way I see it is that it is reassuring for them to see that particular care is given to the sick weakened one. Suddenly the world they live in is a place where they do not need to dread being old or sick.
How many man-made places/societies/nation states/countries reassure humans in that way ? Not really the trend these days, days of übercapitalism where the welfare (?) of corporations or banks are put before that of the majority of humans by governments supposed to look after the citizens that elected them. So we protect ourselves from the fear of becoming the rejected by acting tough and superior and thus reassuring ourselves that it will never happen to us. What ? lose our job ? succumb to depression ? lose our home ? need substances to just feel normal ? lose the use of our limbs and become wheelchair bound ? Stashing money aside, driving the big car, does not seem to work at removing the anxiety…
The image I have for you is this : Step into a toilet designed for wheelchair users. What luxury ! There is room to swing a cat in—even a large one like Pumpkin but he does not feel like being swung, so we won’t—there is a wash-hand basin, the toilet is lower making it more comfortable for short and tall people alike to sit or hover above (lift the seat first, though), there is a mirror where one can look at oneself in the comfort of one’s own company. This is a good starting point to realize that a place that provides for the needs of the challenged, the weaker or temporarily weakened people is a better—more human—place for everyone to—pee and—be, as, without the use of some popular expensive substances, it is not really possible to feel strong every day.
The NGO France terre d’asile did a census in the Calais camp ‘la jungle’ between 9 and 12 February and counted 326 unaccompanied children aiming to cross over to the UK, a quarter of which are under 15, the youngest 7 years of age—humans all, having survived—unlike so many more—the harrowing trip from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt or Eritrea. This brings me to useless tears, I wish I knew of something I could do to help this nightmare come to an end. In truth by caring for those who need it we care for ourselves. Let us be humans together, but how do we start ? There is life, there is light, there is hope everywhere.