Cats and Dogs

I was a little disappointed with the absence of dog and cat on the menu while I was in china. I did eat a donkey sandwich though, it tasted nothing like chicken.

After making some inquiries I discovered that these things are very regional. In different parts of the country I might have seen dog or cat on the menu. You might be squirming in your seat right now or assuming that I am joking, which means unless you are a vegetarian I consider you to be a bigoted, western centric hypocrite. The ethical value of killing and eating animals, however moral it is, or isn’t, is not decided by which animals we choose to kill. Aside from Peter Singer’s attempts to weigh the moral costs of eating different kinds of creatures (which the rest of the world seems to be ignoring), there is no reasonable way in which one animal’s life can be weighed against another. Killing something conscious is just plain killing, regardless of whether it is fluffy, feathered or scaly. There is no absolute hierarchy in which some animals deserve to be farmed and others not, only ones we invented for our own convenience. If you are prepared to kill things to eat them, do not pretend that you have a morally superior position to someone who chooses to eat dogs.

I myself can’t decide which I would prefer to eat: dogs or cats. If I stopped to consider the number of dogs that have bitten me over the years, then I should think that they owe me a few sandwiches. In no particular order I have bitten been by : a German shepard, several kelpies, a cattle dog, a doberman, a saint Bernard, a corgi, and more mongrels than I can remember. Yet I still find myself aligned with dogs in the great cats versus dogs dichotomy, hence I think I would prefer to eat a cat. Sadly, I will have to wait until my next trip to try a cat stir fry.

    • David Human
    • June 27th, 2011

    I consider dogs to be quasi-humans, so I wouldn’t eat dog.
    They are broadly speaking members of our society and play a functional as well as social role; much more than cats.

    Which is strange, because wolves were once natural enemies just like rats and snakes.

    So I guess I’d eat cat way before dog. I’d also console myself with the fact that cats are predatory hunting carnivores, so it’s not like they wouldn’t do it to you if given the chance. (yes, I know that’s also true for dogs).

    • Well, hmmm, yeah. I glossed over lots of arguments one could put forth to promote certain animals to quasi-human status. I am not entirely convinced that the answer is obvious, many people would feel that their cats play and essential role in their life, they provide support that no human gives them.

      The social status of animals is an interesting topic. Given that the history of social rights has tended generally to become more and more inclusive, it is worth asking if we will ever grant animals some kind of citizenship?

      If so will it be dogs or cats that get it first?

    • David Human
    • June 29th, 2011

    I was being flippant, but I do regard dogs as quasi humans, and I think they’ll get increasing rights over time. Yeah, cats are too, but dogs are actually full-blown contibutors. Look at the varied career paths they have: disability worker (ie ‘guide dog’); security guard; police; drug sniffer; farm-hand (cattle dogs and sheep dogs); and others.

    Cats can’t do any of that stuff. Plus, critically in my view, dogs can understand some human language. Quite a bit, it turns out.

    But I’m honestly not sure if that means we shouldn’t eat them. Maybe it has no bearing on the issue. Maybe not eating other creatures is the bizarre luxury of a super-successful species with a resource surplus.

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