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May 3rd, 2007

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01:58 pm - On Cats, Life, & Nature
I took my cat DJ to the vet yesterday, not because he was sick, but because after the digestive blockage he had 5 months ago, he has not gained back the weight he lost and thus remains slightly skinny, not alarmingly so, but still worrisome. After various tests, he's in good health except for what appears to be the early stage of kidney problems. There are various things we can do that aren't particularly difficult or expensive, and he's likely to live for quite a while, but the fact remains he's almost 14 and I have only known one cat to live to more than 20. In short, odds are he'll only be around for another 4 or 5 years, and that definitely makes me sad.

These revelations also again vividly remind me that nature is in no way a friend or an ally, it's a cold and ultimately (from the perspective of individuals at least) utterly hostile force to be fought with all manner of human skill and expertise. It also reminds me of the feelings about death I expressed here, when worrying about another cat's serious illness. As someone who knows very few people older than myself at all well, who is the only child of two only children, and who doesn't much are about blood-relatives anyway, cats remain my primary contact with mortality.

I'm also thinking more about these issues because one of the books I'm currently reading is Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature by William R. Newman, which examines how the current debate about using various (mostly biological) technologies to "tamper with nature" or "play god" (as some critics claim) is mirrored in similar arguments about the potentials and moral and spiritual implications of alchemy. The vision of nature as perfect and art (meaning both artistic and technological creations) was inherently inferior was almost universal in the classical era, but was challenged in the later days of the classical era by the ideas come out of the flowering of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and alchemy, and in the medieval and pre-modern eras, this debate became far more vigorous, and in places mirrored modern arguments on similar topics quite closely. It's interesting to see the intellectual antecedents to both my own views and to views that I vehemently oppose.

In any case, thinking of cats and aging also reminds me that because of their too short life-spans, cats also serve as markers of various life events. teaotter and I acquired Buddy and DJ in the first few years we were together, just as Aaron and I cared for Nicholai (who died 4 years ago) for 18 years, and first got him 2 years after we started living together (which we did for 11 years). With luck, DJ will be around as long or longer.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 3rd, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)
Awww...here's to more happy, healthy years for DJ and the rest of the kitty crew!
[User Picture]
Date:May 3rd, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
I suddenly remembered a post I wrote, back in 2002. Called "I can measure my life in dogs."

It's quite sad, as I was lamenting the fact that each one lasted about 10 years. Having mentioned it I feel I ought to provide a link though. http://andrewducker.livejournal.com/82202.html
[User Picture]
Date:May 4th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC)
Long life and good health to DJ.

Are you worried at all that the kidney problems might be a side effect of the contaminated pet food recall that just keeps growing?
[User Picture]
Date:May 4th, 2007 07:52 am (UTC)
Nope, not in the least. DJ is (quite fortuitously it turns out) allergic to all grains, so we have been feeding him entirely grain-free cat food. As a result, all three of our cats (who all eat the same food) are fine.
[User Picture]
Date:May 4th, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I hate those moments of being smacked with reminders of our pets mortality. I've become increasingly aware of how old my oldest two are getting, myself.
[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
nature is in no way a friend or an ally, it's a cold and ultimately (from the perspective of individuals at least) utterly hostile force to be fought with all manner of human skill and expertise.

On the other hand all human life arises out of the immense generosity of nature. Clean air, clean water, soil fertility. All shared freely. Even human skill and expertise are products of nature.

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