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Henri’s correspondents

Will Braden’s Henri, Le Chat Noir is one of the most successful series of the internet cat era. And so it was inevitable that Braden’s work has spawned a number of imitators, ostensibly honouring or responding to Henri’s existential musings. The sincerest form of flattery may be imitation, but are these videos up to the quality of Le Chat Noir?

Heinrich, die Katze, is billed as a parody. I’d say it’s more like a ripoff–and the subtitles (Heinrich speaks in German) are sometimes difficult to read:

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Next up, a filmed letter to Henri from Suipacha, another philosophically-minded cat. The video is from French filmmaker “Capitan Coco,” with accordion music by Yann Tierson. Presented as a faux old-movie, it has a certain charm.

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Another video love letter, from Anais Mittens (by filmmaker Lizzi Reid). Ms Mittens is looking for the lover who will have “the courage to treat me like a queen,”

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Even dogs have been inspired by Henri. Check out this video by Trixie, le chien noir:

I’m still a big fan of Braden’s carefully staged work, as evidenced in his latest video (12/2014), “Reigning Cat and Dog.”

And don’t forget my interview with Will, filmed outside Henri’s mansion in Seattle, where I learn the shocking truth about the filmmaker’s troubled relationship with Henri. I hope by now things have improved…

Please visit Henri’s channel, with the full collection of his videos.

engineer’s guide to cats

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A droll and clever sequel, in The Engineer’s Guide to Cats 2.0, Paul and his assistant TJ offer technical analysis of Ginger, Oskar, Zoey and Sweet William the Furst, a one-eyed cat. Paul claims that cats are “among the most destructive forces of productivity the world has ever seen.”

ScreenCapture_ 2015-02-07 at 11.31.08And that, “”just like engineers, cats evolve and grow over time.” Already viewed over 1 million times, this is a fine technical overview of the cat:

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Here, Zoey uses gravity to apply 11.2 lbs/square inch crotch pressure.

my cat, my struggle

As most of you know, “Mein Kat” is a sly reference to Mein Kampf, besides being the title of an autobiographical diatribe by one of history’s nastiest politicians, and the German title of a six-part autobiographical novel by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, means: my struggle. And that Pumpkin is, that she is.

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For the third time since we adopted one another, me voluntarily, she had no choice in the adoption (although she did act very cute when I met her at the foster couple’s apartment—little did I know this was an act), I had to take her to the local veterinary clinic to get her nails clipped. I’d tried doing it myself a few months into our now ten-month association, and only managed to get one nail cut before she turned on me. Then I called a former veterinary assistant to come over and do a house clipping. Five minutes into her visit I was ripping open two bandages while she rinsed her arm under the kitchen tap. She didn’t cut Pumpkin’s nails and she didn’t charge me anything for the abortive visit. So I was on my own. I had to take her to the clinic, which meant getting her into the cat carrier. Now, I have reviewed this soft-sided pet carrier and I actually think it’s quite good for travel, being light, foldable, breathable, and has several securement points for seatbelts. But try getting a reluctant cat into one, single-handed! I might have made a mistake in picking her up while I wore black leather gloves, but I wasn’t going to get scratched. Only–those fangs! Those nails! Leather isn’t protection enough.

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I arrived at the clinic blood streaming down both hands, rather put out. “Got any hydrogen peroxide?” was the first thing I said as I put the carrier on the counter. Now, what really gets me is that the previous two times I’ve brought her here after epic battles getting her into the carrier, they’ve taken her in the back, I’ve waited out front maybe five minutes, they bring her back out and each time say “She was no trouble at all!” or “She’s such a darling thing!”

This time I was already in the back, rinsing my wounds, as they opened the carrier. I expected Pumpkin to bolt, but she lay there, albeit with a pair of strong hands holding her, but she didn’t struggle as they took each paw in turn and clipped. The nails that had punctured my skin were torn from the leather, so they had to add some ointment to stop her own bleeding, but other than that, she was fine. Back into the carrier, and home I took her, stopping to let her watch a squirrel and some chickadees feeding on a lawn.

The rest of the day I was angry. Angry at her for wounding me (those punctures are now bluish bruises), angry at myself for having to be so indelicate, so rough, to get her into the carrier. “Use the burrito method next time,” they told me at the clinic. Wrap her tightly in a towel, then drop the burrito, or sausage, into the up-ended carrier. It will be easier if it is one of the hardshell carriers, which I have somewhere. Just heavier to carry her the three blocks to the clinic.

The struggle was forgotten the next day. She jumped onto my chest in the morning, purring and kneading my abdomen, which of course is all about food and making me even more desperate to get up and go to the bathoom. We’re still friends. Just…wary.

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Highly recommended tv program on cats

CBC-TV’s “The Nature of Things,” a long-running science show hosted by Dr. David Suzuki, has an episode available online on cats. Some of it shot at the RAPS cat shelter, here in Metro Vancouver, which I’ve written about in an earlier post. The show is 44 minutes long. A YouTube teaser:

the full program can be streamed from either of these links:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/ID/2648075635/
or
http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/the-lion-in-your-living-room

do you think of your cat as a non-human person?

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We share our homes with them, talk to them, play with them, and consider them family and sometimes our best friends. But can we claim them as non-human persons, philosophically or legally? A landmark case in Argentina has brought renewed attention to this debate. Colin Schultz, writing for The Smithsonian:

Sandra was born 28 years ago in Germany, and for the past two decades she’s been living as a prisoner in Buenos Aires. Trapped by an unjust system, her freedom systematically restrained, Sandra had spent her life living like a caged animal.

Mostly because Sandra is an orangutan, and she was living in the Buenos Aires zoo.

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The story as reported by the BBC:

Lawyers for Argentina’s Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (Afada) said Sandra was “a person” in the philosophical, not biological, sense.

She was, they argued, in a situation of illegal deprivation of freedom as a “non-human person”.

They had filed a “habeas corpus” writ in her favour last November over “the unjustified confinement of an animal with probable cognitive capability”.

Afada lawyer Paul Buompadre was quoted as saying by La Nacion newspaper: “This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories.”

BBC World Service report (2 minutes audio).

For more background on the philosophy of non-human rights, watch my interview from 2013 with Gary Steiner.

What do you think? Should great apes be granted some limited form of human rights? Should this eventually be extended to other sentient beings? Will owning an animal be considered a form of slavery or unlawful imprisonment, no matter how comfortable and loved they are? With human rights come human responsibilities: do we give animals the right to vote next? Love to read and share your thoughts.